Tuesday, November 27, 2007

DeathTalker: Chapter 1

Obi-Wan and Yoda left the chamber. Obi-Wan walked tall, looking about and smiling. Yoda seemed lost in though, his form bent, staring at the ground as he walked. Rounding a corner, Obi-Wan collided with Anakin, who had been running in the other direction. The boy bounced off of Obi-Wan, landing on his back and staring up at the new Jedi Knight. "Whoa there Anakin! What’s the hurry?" Anakin stared up at Obi-Won, his face drawn into a look of fear that only a child can have. He was silent for a second and then blurted out: "I’m staying on Naboo!" "You can’t stay on Naboo, you need to come with me to Coruscant." "I’m not going to Coruscant!" "But that’s where the Jedi Academy is." "I’m not going to become a Jedi!" "Yes you are! I promised Qui-Gon that I’d train you!" Anakin leapt to his feet and backed away. As Obi-Wan advanced on him, Anakin’s back hit the wall behind him. He inched along the wall. "I wont let you hurt me, I’m not going to kill anyone and I’m not going to be called Darth!" Kneeling in front of the boy Obi-Won held Anakin by the shoulders. "What are you talking about? What’s gotten into you?!" "Where heard you this word, ‘Darth?’" Momentarily forgotten by the two, Yoda glanced up at Anakin, as if he had been mulling something over. Obi-Wan looked over at Yoda. During this distraction, Anakin wrenched himself free of Obi’s grasp and bounded away, running around the corner. "Anakin!" Obi-Won was about to follow when Yoda’s "staff" cut off his pursuit. "Patience Obi-Won. Until calm, he is, talking, useless, will be." Now exasperated, Obi-Won glanced down at Yoda, looked at the corner around which Anakin had dashed, sighed, and then sagged a bit. "Yes master." "Calm you must be, as well." "Yes master." "His own decision, must he make." "But it was Qui-Gon’s dying wish!" "Never the less, train him, you cannot, if consent, he will not." "Assuming he doesn’t change his mind by dinner." As it turned out, Anakin did not change his mind by dinnertime; or even the next morning. As the person responsible for destroying the droid control ship, as well as being instrumental in helping the queen leave Tatooine, Anakin had become a planetary hero to the people of Naboo literally overnight. His request to remain was met with joy, and a further request to free his mother was the source of celebration. Obi-Wan’s repeated attempts to talk to Anakin were met with fear at first, and later a determined rejection. Not even offering to have someone else train him would change Anakin’s mind. While Obi-Wan relented in his attempts to change Anakin’s mind, he did insist on keeping track of the boy. This Yoda readily agreed to since the Jedi council wanted to keep an eye on this possible "chosen one" anyways. Obi-Wan was at first exasperated by the change in events, but, as it became clear that Anakin was not going to become a Jedi, he resigned himself to the situation. Yoda, on the other hand, seemed greatly relieved – the vague threats that he had seen as a result of Anakin’s training had disappeared. In their place, however, he sensed something else. A gathering storm. In any case, there was still the mystery of the Sith Lord to be resolved, as well as increasing problems in the Senate. Obi-Wan managed 5 visits in the first year, but after it became clear that Anakin was staying, he gradually dropped by less and less. 10 years after first meeting him, Obi-Won had only been by once in the last year. While Anakin still seemed to have the lightning reflexes that were a result of his strong affinity for the Force, he did not seem to display any other Jedi abilities. At least as far as Obi-Won could tell… Anakin drummed his finger impatiently on the helmet sitting on the crate in front of him. The other members of the squad were standing around, chatting with the techs or looking over their fighters. Turning to R2, Anakin addressed the astro-mech. "How long has it been?" Beep-badda-weep-weep! "You’re always in such a hurry!" Glancing over at his wingman, Anakin did a double take. For just a second, it seemed like someone was standing behind Lance. When he had been younger, it seemed like he had seen them more, but the doctors at the time attributed it to an over-active imagination. Anakin smiled ruefully. "Yeah, I guess you’re right. Just seems like everything is screwed up today. First they want us to launch a full patrol on the double, then they tell us to wait, then launch, then wait…what the heck is going on around here?! I mean, all I want to do is try out a few modifications I made to my fighter and then…" "Brap-nud-beep" "Now don’t you start with that R2. It’s just a few changes." "Weep-nap-noop!" "Is too!" Interrupting the two, Anakin’s burly wingman spoke up. "Fascinating. I personally would prefer to drop by the admin area and discuss the new formations with that lieutenant." Anakin rolled his eyes. "The only ‘formation’ you want to discuss with her involves…" "Red squadron, launch immediately! Red squadron, to your craft!" The loudspeaker hat cut them off in mid-gossip. The two men glanced at each other and then hurried over to their fighters. As the sleek craft powered up and began to leave the hanger, Anakin’s wingman chimed in again. "Now remember what the tower chief said about using your afterburners in the hanger…" He was cut off as Anakin’s fighter leapt into the sky, scattering some nearby crates and causing a nearby tech to dash for cover. Doing that never seemed to get old. Anakin grinned happily as he flew away. He always felt so free and alive when he was in the cockpit! Swooshing about he tested the new accelerators he had installed, satisfied that nothing was going to explode…at least for the moment. "Red 3, get back in formation!" "There goes Capt. Belsharon again." With some resignation, he looped around back and joined the others. "And turn on your sensors! How you manage to do that without…" Anakin turned down the volume and snapped on the radar. He couldn’t explain it either; he just knew where everyone was. Experienced pilots could do something similar, but Anakin was by the far the youngest and most gifted aviator in the ranks. But he did set his officer’s teeth on edge. "Hey, can we hit the practice range after the sweep, I’d like to try out…" "We’ll see Red 3. OK, form up and survey points alpha, beta and delta. Use frequency oh nine thirty during…" Blah, blah, blah. Same stuff that they had been through a hundred times. In mid-blather, however, the Capt. stopped talking. "Red 1, say again please." "Stand by wing." A few minutes passed as the group left the atmosphere and entered the blackness of space. "Alright pilots, change of plan. Head to point omega and rendezvous with craft and assume escort." "Escort to where?" "Orders will be given after rendezvous, in the meantime, maintain radio silence." Could the day get any stranger? When the wing arrived at the rendezvous point, there was nothing there. What a surprise. After about 5 minutes, however, a Nabooian cruiser showed up, already accompanied by a fighter wing. Anakin rubbed his face. "Yellow 1 and 2 from fighter escort will accompany Red 3 and 4 to point iota. Myself and Red 2 will replace Yellows 1 and 2 and accompany transport to destination." "Yes sir. Any other fire drills you want us to run while we’re at it?" The last bit Anakin managed to grumble under his breath. "Red 3 has the lead." Two of the fighters from the cruiser peeled away as Anakin and his wingman broke off to head for the other point. "OK, form up on my wing." The transport and the other 4 fighters headed off to wherever they were going. As Anakin and the rest headed to the rendezvous point, it seemed like one of the new pilots was a bit sloppy. "Tighten up yellow 2 – where’d you learn to fly that thing?" "Ummm…sorry sir, this is my first assignment." "(Great, a rookie). Either of you guys know what the heck is going on today." "Negative Red 3, other than that we are to keep comm. traffic to a minimum." "(And a rules lawyer). Rodger that, over and out." The four of them arrived at the second point where an identical cruiser waited for them. "Naboo transport, this is Red 3. We have been ordered to accompany you. What is our destination." "Rodger escort wing. Destination: Corsant. Form up and prepare to jump on my mark." OK, the day just got stranger. Anakin glanced nervously at his instruments. "Umm…R2? How are those mods to the stabilizers holding up? I’d hate to hold up this little outing because of…" "Mark!" The transport entered hyperspace, followed immediately by the fighters. Anakin grinned as the engines performed flawlessly. It’s the little things that count. The approach and arrival at Corsant were rather routine, though the operators in the area seemed a bit tense for some reason. It was only as the ships were touching down that Anakin realized who they were escorting. "Welcome to Corsant, Senator Amidala." "Padme?" Anakin glanced over at the transport as his ship touched down. He was about to dash over to the transport when he noticed the rookie touch down hard enough to cause the platform to bounce a bit. Gritting his teeth, he walked deliberately over to the fighter. "Look, I don’t know who approved having you escort the Senator, but if you ask me you barely belong in a flight suit! When we get back…" "That’s enough pilot." Looking behind him, Anakin recognized security chief Banaka. "Tie? Er…I mean Capt. Banaka! Your pardon, but what the heck are we using a rookie for…LOOKOUT!" Anakin grabbed the other pilot and hit the deck. An instant later a loud explosion threw the Capt. to the ground as well. Several other explosions shook the platform before Anakin could look up. Desperately searching the wreckage, he made out the prone and bloody form of the Senator. "Padme!" Running to her side, Anakin knelt and gingerly turned the body over. Immediately, there was someone else on her other side; then Capt. Banaka shoved Anakin out of the way. "Corday!" Anakin was about to jump up and shove back when he glanced up at the other person. Either she was a spitting image for the Senator or… "I have failed you senator…so sorry…" Anakin glanced back and forth between the prone form and Padme, attired in a pilot’s outfit. Capt. Banaka was now trying to coax Padme up. "We are still in danger here!" Anakin and Padme go to their feet. Somewhat sheepishly, Anakin drew his sidearm and glanced about, looking for any would-be assassins. "Beep-wedal-beep!" R2 had activated a shuttle and was by the open door. "Your highness please!" "Come on Padme, we have to go." Anakin gently took her arm and led her towards the transport. The three of them boarded the shuttle along with R2. Padme looked back at the platform as they sped away, then glanced at Anakin, peering at him as if she had just noticed him. "Annie?" "Padme!" "Beeweep!" Glancing down, Padme’s face lit up. "R2!" "Padme!" "Anakin!" "Cut that out!" The last was snapped by Banaka, who glared at Anakin. "And put that blaster away." Anakin complied as Banaka followed suit and ran a hand through his hair. He returned his gaze to Anakin. "How did you know the ship was about to blow?" "I…I…just did." Anakin’s face flushed. "Umm…I’m force sensitive you see, in fact I was going to become a Jedi…" "It’s OK Tie, he’s telling the truth. The Jedi will vouch for him." Capt. Banaka looked at Padme with a raised eyebrow. She turned her attention back to Anakin. "Thank you." "Of course." Banaka glanced at Anakin thoughtfully. "Has that ever happened before?" "Well, no. I don’t see transports explode every day." "I mean that warning you had." "Well yes…" "Is it reliable?" "Uh…yeah, most of the time…probably…sort of…" The transport can to a stop. With a start Anakin recognized the building that the Queen had used on her last visit to Corsant. "Alright, go get cleaned up and report back to me in 30min." "But…but…" Banaka turned to the senator as if Anakin had been switched off. The door to the transport opened and Padme and the captain left. "Beep?" Still staring in the direction that Padme had gone, Anakin did not respond at once. "Burp-badda-eep?" "What? Of course she was glad to see me!" "Oopa-boopa…" "Don’t give me that you self-centered tin can! And to think of all those adjustments I made for you!" The astromech seemed to be concentrating on giving directions to the transport as the craft lurched forward and headed off to the pilots’ quarters. "Noopa, boopa, oop-oop." "Are you sure?" "Brap." Anakin glowered at R2 as the transport sped away. Table of Contents, Next Chapter

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