Clones and Droids on two sides of the vast plain of nothingness. Vibrant colours of red and blue being shewn across the golden landscape; evil and good, or good and evil, there was no real way to distinguish the two. A pair of Jedi in the midst of it all, backs turned against one another, working together so seamlessly, that one could say that they were almost the same person in different forms. The battle appeared to have reached a turning point in the way of the clones, but the conditions of the day were affecting the living and breathing not the cold, dead machines.
“Master! I’m hit!” Ahsoka Tano suddenly yelled out, trying to grab the attention of her mentor, Anakin Skywalker. Wincing in pain, she held onto her wounded leg, limping as she tried to defend with her remaining strength. It was getting more and more tiring for her and the ferocious heat of the sun wasn’t helping either.
“Just hold on Snips for a few more seconds. We’re nearly there.” He shouted back. Anakin let out some words of frustration, occasionally glancing at the sky, hoping his master could fix the problem he had got himself and Ahsoka into.
They were in another peace negotiation gone wrong; a desert planet, somewhere in the outer rim. The republic trying to stop the separatists from taking control of the trade roots, of the nomadic life forms on this planet. Obi-wan Kenobi, the supposed ‘negotiator,’ had taken a ship off the barren land to sort out another issue arising on a different planet. A few moments after Kenobi’s departure, and it seemed the separatists weren’t happy with the way the negotiator had left them. An attack led to a full out battle. All hell broke loose, and Anakin, Ahsoka and a few fifty clones were left to clean up the mess.
Even after Ahsoka’s injury, the republic still managed to achieve a victory. Rex, the captain of the squadron, thrust his hands in the air with the taste of success on his lips.
“Another well deserved win” Ahsoka said proudly, a little shaky from the shock of getting hit from a blaster gun. She took a much-needed seat on the dirt ground and breathed a sigh of relief. It didn’t bother her too much that she had just sat in the middle of the debris of the demolished droids.
“You did great kid” Rex told her, before heading over towards his men for a debrief and celebration.
“Just an ordinary day for a Jedi.” She said, waving him off.
Ahsoka turned to see her master approaching her.
“I was almost worried for a second Snips, didn’t want you dying on me.” Anakin half joked coming over and crouching down to be eye level with her.
“Have you seen a med droid yet?” He asked, checking her leg to see if it was okay.
“He’s coming now. I’ll be fine, just a little shocked, but nothing I haven’t handled before.” She replied with a smile.
The two sat in silence as the medical droid came to assess her injuries. After bandaging her up, it gave her an all clear.
“I counted twenty five today” Ashoka said with a cheeky grin.
“Well I was almost certain that I counted thirty for myself, so I guess you loose again.”
“Liar” She told him and gave Anakin a shove on the shoulder, making him chuckle.
“I can just see Obi-Wan shaking his head in disapproval at you. Sometimes I wonder why I even both-“ Ahsoka was cut short as she mimicked Obi-Wan’s lecturing voice. Anakin had given her a playful shove back at her.
“I can’t believe he left us to deal with his peace negotiation failure.” Anakin said, shaking his head.
“We have to give the old guy a break, I mean, this is probably the first time his ‘negotiations’ haven’t gone to plan.” Ahsoka pointed out.
For some unknown reason, whether it be the heat or just plain tiredness, the two cracked up into uncontrollable laughter. Ahsoka realised it was the first time she had heard her master actually laugh. It was a nice sound to hear for a change. Sometimes the yelling and constant scolding could get under her skin. Ahsoka felt their connection as master and padawan grow stronger in that moment. That along with the conditions of the desert planet brought on the sudden urge to ask him a question. A question she had been waiting to ask him since the day she officially met him.
“When are you going to talk to me about your past, master?”
The laughter stopped abruptly and Anakin’s face darkened. For a split second, Ahsoka thought he was going to shut her down again. His mouth opened and closed and then he shook his head.
“Let’s find a quieter place, shall we?” He darted his eyes to Rex and the other troopers who were still celebrating.
Ahsoka’s eyes widened in surprise.
It was finally time for her to hear the true story of Anakin Skywalker.
“I was raised on Tattoine… as a slave” Anakin started. He sifted through the course yellow sand between his fingers as he spoke. His mind drifted to another place. A place where his mother sung songs to lull him to sleep and where the two most important things in the world were pod racing and coming home in time for dinner.
Ahsoka merely nodded. She new this already, as did almost everyone in the Jedi order.
“I never knew my father, only my mother. My mother claimed I didn’t have one. Said I was born of the force. I loved her so much, it was us against the world for nine whole years, since the day I was born. Shmi was her name.” He said quietly. A tinge of wistfulness could be heard in his tone, as he spoke of his mother. But what was even more confronting, was the obvious pain and hurt Anakin felt opening up his old wounds.
Ashoka became aware of the past tense used to describe Shmi. She’s not in this world anymore she realised.
“Life was a struggle for us. But somehow we managed, and I was happy. Not content, but happy. I spent my last two years as a slave making C-3PO. He was meant for my mum.”
“I didn’t know that!” Was all Ahsoka could say. Her master managed a grin.
Anakin continued, telling the story of how Qui-Gon Jinn, Obi-Wan and Padme stumbled across him. She knew most of this story, but the detail in which her master told her made it seem so much more real and different. It was far better than hearing it from the gossiping youngling who wouldn’t go to bed.
“Did you know I was the youngest being to win the Boonta Eve Classic?”
Ahsoka raised her eyebrow.
“You don’t know what that is? It was a very dangerous pod race.” He looked astonished at her lack of knowledge.
“I won the race in return for my freedom and a ticket off the planet. Qui-Gon took me in and told me I had the capability of becoming a Jedi. But the hardest thing was leaving my mother behind. It is still to this day the hardest thing that I have ever done. The regret and pain I feel… is beyond anything.” He continued.
Yet again Ahsoka was speechless. Even after all the troubles he had encountered, watching friends die for the causes of war and loosing an arm, leaving his mother was still the toughest point of his life.
“The Jedi council said I was far too old to become a Jedi. I had already formed an almost unbreakable attachment with my mother. But they couldn’t deny the highest midi-chlorine count they had ever seen in a possible jedi, neither could they refuse the idea that I may be the chosen one. They accepted me even though fear and emotion coursed through my veins.” The last bit of her master’s words was somewhat chilling.
Hero with no Fear
“You must hate it when they call you the hero with no fear” Ashoka observed.
“You my young padawan are the first person I have ever heard say that. Yes I hate it because the most ironic thing is that fear is in my very soul. It is in everyone’s soul, no matter if Jedi or bounty hunter. Some with more fear than others. You’d be a fool to deny it. But what makes a master from a knight is how you handle that fear and emotion. Remember that snips.” He said wisely.
“Because I trust you, I am going to tell you this. But you must not tell anyone. Not even Obi-Wan, because I don’t think he’ll understand the way you do. This memory I can’t describe in words, and I don’t think I ever will.” He told her seriously.
Before Ahsoka could speak, Anakin placed his hands on either side of her head and used the force to transmit his memories into her mind.
Ahsoka saw and felt everything.
She saw Shmi die in her son’s arms. She saw the slaughter of innocents. She felt the grief and pain, the anger and hatred, the guilt and remorse. But after witnessing all those horrors, Ahsoka saw goodness and light.
She saw a young boy and his mother dancing on the eve of a celebration. Both of them laughing and obviously having a good time. She felt a deep and unconditional feeling; what could only possibly be the purest form of love. But whom did her master feel this toward? Ahsoka couldn’t figure it out.
She pulled out two conflicting emotions from the flickering images that crossed her eyes. Good and Evil. It was as though the two were trying to overbalance each other, a ferocious tug of war that wouldn’t end.
All at once Anakin let go of her mind. He let out a sigh of relief as if sharing his mind released some of the burden on his shoulders.
“How much did you see? That’s the first time I’ve ever done that.” He whispered.
“Enough to know that you’re the strongest person I’ve ever met. Sure you’ve made mistakes, but the fact that you keep going is an honour in itself. I’m proud to call you my master skyguy. And don’t worry. I won’t tell Obi-Wan about what happened with the sand people. ” Ahsoka said sincerely. Anakin winced but nonetheless gave a light-hearted grin in return.
“I saw stuff in your mind too Ahsoka, I didn’t realise sharing memories in the force goes both ways”
Ahsoka’s eyes broadened.
“But it only made me realise that you’ve got so much potential to be a powerful and influencial Jedi. You’re destined to be something great Ahsoka. I can just feel it.” He told her proudly putting a hand on her shoulder as they both stood up.
Ahsoka hugged her master, for what she thought would be the first and last time. She knew Jedi weren’t supposed to show emotion, but Ahsoka thought it was the right thing to do in that moment. Anakin was caught by surprise and all he could do was pat her back awkwardly.
“I felt like I should do that, and I promise you I am never doing that again Skyguy. That is the only hug you’re getting out of me.” Ahsoka told him.
“Don’t make promises you can’t keep snips.” He dared.
Her glare was enough to send Dooku to his grave.
“General Skywalker, You ready to leave this dustbowl?” Rex yelled out.
“You bet” Anakin muttered in reply.
He turned, and found Ahoska still siting, staring distantly at the sun, with a look of deep concentration and her eyes closed.
“You coming Ahsoka?” He motioned toward their way home. Her eyes opened suddenly as if she had come out of a different world.
“Yes master. I’m just gathering all my thoughts in that’s all.” She stood up and dusted herself off.
And so Anakin walked, and Ahsoka limped toward the ship…
…The two knowing more about each other than they had ever known before.