The doors closed behind Darth Vader. The soft glow coming in
from the big windows allowed him to see the hidden younglings, despite the darkest night outside.
His senses were enhanced by the turmoil of fear, hatred and
thirst for power that had taken over his mind and heart. But underneath the raging beast he had unleashed, a spark of something,
the shadow of the man he had been not too long ago perhaps, made him hesitate for a millisecond.
That very human hesitation reassured the younglings of who the
big man who had burst in, was. It was Anakin Skywalker, Jedi Knight. A hero and an example to all of them. They were safe
now. This strong young man, one of the greatest Jedi ever, would protect them. And they would protect him too, with their
every bit of strength. They were young in age, but not in courage.
Jarrod Jart, a seven year old child, precocious and intelligent
beyond his years, abandoned his hiding place and hurried to the newcomer’s side.
"Master Skywalker, there are too many of them. What are we going
to do?" Not a word about fear, fear for their security, for the mayhem and carnage happening only a few doors away. Unaware
of the carnage that was about to happen, at their expense.
Vader allowed himself a fleeting feeling of admiration for the
little boy looking up at him from those big blue eyes, that stared at him full of trust. Trust he was about to betray and
destroy, along with that young life. Along with all the young lives in that room.
An electric buzz filled the room, and only then did he realize
he had ignited his lightsaber.
Detachment. Nonemotion. No softness. No compassion. No mercy.
This was for the best. This was for Padme. This was for his unborn child.
The thought of his unborn child infused his spirit with more
determination than he had thought possible, considering what he was about to do. He wouldn’t lose his child as he had
lost his mother. He wouldn’t lose his beloved wife. He would do anything to prevent that from happening, even
selling his very soul. If others had to die... then so be it. Even if they were children.
He was killing Jedi, not children. He was wiping out future
enemies. His and his master’s enemies, he justified in his deranged mind.
The blade surged up and prepared itself to begin the slaughter.
Jarrod’s blue eyes opened wide, and in a heartbeat of
horror beyond belief, he understood what that young man he admired as a big brother was going to do. Instinctively, he stepped
backwards, but his own shock made him trip and he fell flat on his backside.
"NO!" he cried out, raising an arm, trying uselessly to protect
The lightsaber remained suspended above the young man’s
head, as his eyes sparkled yellow.
Frozen in place by a spell he couldn’t break, Jarrod looked
in terrified fascination at the pure evil that Anakin Skywalker exuded in waves.
But that man wasn’t Anakin Skywalker anymore. He was someone
else. Something else.
Still, he tried to appeal to whatever humanity remained in that
grotesque sneer of hatred, in those twisted features, in that victorious snarl. Reaching for the Force, the strangest words
left his lips.
The descending blade came to a dead stop five centimetres away
from his neck.
The handsome features twisted in a face of dawning comprehension,
as if a ray of sanity had found its way into the maelstrom of Darkness surrounding it. Because those weren’t the words
"Daddy, no!" were the words that reached his ears.
A brutal shudder shook the distraught warrior and the lightsaber
trembled in his hand. His eyes opened wide as he realized what he was about to do.
Children. These were children, not enemies. This blond, blue-eyed
boy could be his own son. His Luke. Because he knew that one day, he would have a boy.
He was about to murder a bunch of innocent children to save
the life of his unborn child.
His free hand closed around his face and he squeezed hard, as
if he wanted to tear his own flesh apart.
An indescribable animal scream resounded in the Hall’s
walls, as the former Jedi sank to his knees.
How would he ever be able to look at the faces of his future
children, knowing that to save them, he had defiled himself as a sentient being? Would they ever understand? Would Padme ever
forgive him? Would he ever forgive himself, once this orgy of blood and infamy was over? Would he ever be able to live with
"HELP ME!" he roared, for once demanding the Force to obey him.
But he received no answer.
He didn’t know how long he stayed there, clinging desperately
to the few torn shreds of sanity he had left, his blood still boiling in his veins, hungry for the emptiness inside him to
be filled at all costs.
A sudden touch in his hand made him jump.
Jarrod jumped too.
And in those innocent eyes, Vader saw forgiveness and absolution.
And then, Vader broke down. Turning off and throwing his lightsaber
aside, he brought the small body to him and held it in a crushing hug.
The youngling didn’t fight him, quite the contrary. The
little boy returned the hug and the Dark Lord felt the touch of tiny hands burying themselves in his hair, petting him comfortingly.
"Oh, Luke. Luke! Forgive me! What I was about to do for you,
Jarrod made a surprised face and looked at his companions with
a shrug. But he didn’t ease up the pressure.
"I can’t do this, not even for you, my little angel. Forgive
me! Now I’ll lose you both, because your mother will be gone too, just as I dreamed. Oh, Force! What will I do now?
I’ve lost it all!"
"No, you haven’t," an almost forgotten male voice whispered
into his ear. "You came to the turning point in your life and made a decision. The right decision. Now you are truly
free. Follow your heart and your instincts, Anakin. They will serve you well, as long as you don’t stray from them.
Fear not, young one. Trust yourself and your love. That is your greatest strength. Love will make you wise."
The young man’s head snapped up.
"Master Qui-Gon?!" he exclaimed. But there was only a little
boy in front of him.
Jarrod blinked, as if coming out of a trance. He looked at Anakin,
"Master Qui-Gon!" he called, grabbing the boy’s shoulders
and shaking him.
"Who?" the child asked, in total confusion.
Anakin shook his head, trying to put together what was left
of his sanity. His heart was beating wildly in his chest, and he was gasping and panting, as if he had reached the limit of
his physical and emotional endurance.
Qui-Gon had come to him when he had needed it the most. He was
not alone. Not completely.
Then, he made the choice to return to the Light.
A heartbeat later, he found himself on his feet and with Jarrod
in his arms.
"Come with me, younglings, I will get you all out of here, before
it’s too late. I’ll try to set right what I helped to unleash."
"Master," a little voice said.
"Yes?" Anakin looked down at the little twi’lek.
"Your lightsaber," there was no trace of fear in her, as she
gave back to him the weapon that had been about to kill them all.
Anakin’s trembling hand took the weapon from the little
girl’s hands, barely able to look at it, and tied it to his belt.
"Be very quiet. I’ll take you to the escape pods," his
eyes turned to Jarrod. "You will plot a course to the Outer Rim and leave. But don’t tell me where. No one must know.
Not even me. We’ll look for you when it is safe."
The little boy swallowed visibly.
"Don’t be afraid," a sort of smile crossed the young man’s
lips. "Trust the Force. It will watch over you, wherever you go. And I promise I will return to look for you when the time
is right. Be brave, little Jedi. Everything will be all right, one day."
Pulling himself together with an awesome courage that made Anakin
feel unworthy, the boy looked deeply into his eyes and nodded.
Anakin watched the escape pods disappearing from his sight in
Coruscant’s sky. He allowed himself a brief prayer for the younglings to reach a safe destination, far, far away.
Without looking back, running as if the devil himself was on
his tail, he returned to the only place where he felt safe.
"Anakin!" Padmé exclaimed when she saw her husband bursting
into their apartment as if all the Furies were chasing him. "What’s wrong?"
The young man fell to his knees before her, wrapped his arms
around her waist and buried his face in her protruding belly. Even through the many layers of cloth, Padmé could feel the
wetness of his tears. Instinctively, she threw her arms around him and held him tight.
"Please, Anakin, talk to me! I can’t stand this
situation any more," she pleaded. "You claim you want to help me, to save me, but you’re only growing apart from me.
I’m so afraid. I fear for you, for me, for all of us! Tell me what’s disturbing you so, I beg you!"
"I-I..." Anakin stammered, his frantic mind still denying what
he had been about to do. "I went to the Jedi Temple... to murder."
"Murder? Murder who?" Padme asked, befuddled.
"All the Jedi. Even the children," the young man moaned, burying
his face in her even harder.
Padme stiffened, and her caresses on his head stopped.
"Anakin," her voice was devoid of all emotion. For a second,
she couldn’t recognize the man she had in front of her.
"I wanted to save you and our child, but I couldn’t do
it. I just couldn’t! I couldn’t murder a bunch of innocent children to save my own. And now, I will lose
you both, as I lost my mother."
"And how would the murdering of innocent children save us?"
Padme began seriously doubting her beloved’s sanity. What had driven this passionate, sweet, and fair young man she
had known for almost two decades, to defile himself in such a way? What kind of nasty demon lurked in his soul?
"Palpatine," Anakin let out in a strangled wail.
"What about him?" she asked.
"He’s a Sith Lord. He told me there are ways to fool Death.
He said he would teach me to master those ways, so we could save you."
"And he told you to murder your fellow Jedi to obtain those
secrets?" Padme made a disgusted face.
Anakin nodded against her belly.
"I can’t trust anyone anymore, Padme. Not even Obi-Wan."
"Anakin, that’s crazy!" Things were happening faster than
Padme’s brain could process. She was short-circuiting with all the insane words coming out of her husband’s mouth.
"Obi-Wan is like a father to you. You told me yourself. Keeping this secret has torn you apart. We can’t go on like
this. Go to him, go to master Yoda. Talk to them. They’ll understand!"
"You don’t understand!" Anakin tore himself away
from her and began pacing the room like a caged beast. "They can only talk about detachment and nonemotion, to rejoice in
the losses and to learn to let go. And I can’t do it, Padme! I’m not like them! I never was! I fooled myself into
believing that if I trained hard enough, if I worked hard enough, I would be like them one day. But I’ve reached a point
where I can’t go on any longer. What I feel and what they’re telling me to achieve, are mutually exclusive, and
it’s tearing me apart." He stopped his relentless pacing and turned to her, his arms open wide. "Look at me! I made
a deal with the Devil himself, to ensure your safety and our child’s! Palpatine wants my soul, and the Jedi demand something
from me that it’s beyond my ability to give. They don’t trust me, and I can’t trust them anymore. I’m
losing my mind!"
Padme stared at her beloved, her heart breaking for him, for
them, for the entire galaxy, that was doomed now.
"I’m the biggest fool in history! I considered him my
friend, the only one who truly understood my feelings. Even now... But there’s no spark of compassion or goodness in
him. I can see it now so clearly! Oh, Force, how could I be so blind?!" He covered his face with his hands. "I handed the
Republic to him on a plate. I can still feel the pull! It’s like a siren song, demanding me to surrender my soul to
"Anakin!" Horror appeared on Padme’s features, and she
rushed to her husband.
They embraced and clung to each other desperately, fighting
to keep their demons away with the power of their love.
"We must go, Padme. As far away as we can," he whispered into
her ear, and she could feel him tremble like a leaf. "I already ensured the younglings’ safety. I put them in the escape
pods. But if we stay here, he’ll go after me, and I love you and our baby too much to resist his temptations. All I
know is that I must trust my feelings, and everything I am, is screaming at me that we must go. Now, before it’s too
late for me, for us and for the galaxy’s sake."
Padme moved back and stared at the man she loved more than her
very life. She was torn. She didn’t know what to say, what to do, for the first time in her life.
"Please, trust me!" he grabbed her shoulders. "I know it feels
like we’re deserting them all, but sometimes, a retreat in time is a victory. We’ll regroup and we’ll strike
back when he least expects it. But I’m in no condition to be of any help to anyone. Not even to myself. All I want now
is to take care of you and our child, until..." he choked on his words. "How will we be able to help others if we can’t
help ourselves first? Charity begins at home, Padme. Come with me." He stepped back and reached out to her. "I need you. You’re
everything I care about in this life. I don’t want to lose you. I love you so much!" he broke down again.
And his tears were Padme’s undoing.
"Yes, Anakin. I’ll go with you." The moment she said the
words, she knew she had made the right decision. For him, for herself, and for their child.
His face illuminated for the first time since she had told him
she was pregnant. Relief and joy, that had been lost from that noble face for far too long, made him shine from within.
He crushed her to him so hard that he almost smashed her belly.
"Thank you, my love. Thank you! We’ll take your ship.
We’ll pack a suitcase with the most basic things, and you can plot a course to the Outer Rim. Don’t tell me where.
The farther we are from him, the less his influence will be upon me. Perhaps it will even shatter our link."
"Are you two linked?" she looked at him, repulsed by the mere
"It’s mostly a directional link, but the closer to each
other we are, the bigger the risk. I think I’m succeeding in shielding my actions and thoughts from him. He still doesn’t
know that I didn’t carry out his orders. But he will find out on his own soon enough. He keeps haunting me with promises
of saving you and preventing your death, and I’m weakening." Sheer terror appeared on his face. "Please, Padme. My time
is running short."
Those words spurred her to action. They hurried to their bedroom,
and between the two of them, they packed a suitcase with their most essential items and clothes. Then, they rushed to the
private docking bay where Padme’s ship waited for them. The two cloaked figures got inside, safe in the shadows of the
night, and the ramp closed after them. The little ship took off and a few seconds later, it left Coruscant for a very long
time to come.
"Have you already plotted a course?" Anakin asked his wife after
"Yes," Padme replied. "What about your link with him?"
she spat the words.
"Debilitating, but it’s not broken yet. I’m shielding
as hard as I can," beads of sweat appeared on the young man’s forehead with the effort.
Padme got up and dabbed at the sweating forehead with a handkerchief.
She made a sudden grimace, but she covered it just as quickly. Anakin grabbed her hand and kissed the back of it, interlacing
his fingers with hers.
"We must rest now. It will take us several hours to get there,
and we need to save our strength," he said.
She sat next to him and cuddled up to his big bulk, emotionally
exhausted. He wrapped her in his strong arms protectively, but needing her strength just as much. She returned the embrace
with the same passion and protectiveness. A few minutes later, she was sound asleep. Not even the sharp twinges of pain in
her belly awakened her.
He twisted and turned his head in his sleep. He was there,
right at the edge of his consciousness. Looking for him relentlessly. Closer and closer. The harder he tried to shield the
closer he got. A few seconds more, and he would know. There was nothing he could do about it. He felt so vulnerable
Almost... there... Almost!
Anakin woke up with a start, gasping and all drenched in sweat.
Instinctively, he knew that if Padme had awakened him a heartbeat later, it would have been too late.
"W-what?" he asked, looking around him, wondering for a moment
where they were. He brought her warm body closer, trying to stop his helpless trembling.
"The baby’s coming," she told him, looking fearfully into
"What?! Here? Now?" Anakin was immediately alert.
"Yes," Padme nodded. "I’m having contractions every six
minutes now. I think I’m about to break waters."
"But the baby isn’t due for two more weeks! You can’t
have it now!" Anakin paled. "Could it be a false alarm?"
Padme shook her head in the middle of her pain, wondering how
men could lose their brains at times like this, when women needed them to be strong for them, for once.
She felt a sudden wetness below.
"I’m afraid not. We must land, Anakin, wherever we are.
I can’t have it here, it’s too risky."
Seeing they had no choice, Anakin nodded his head.
"How close are we to our destination?" he asked.
The ship’s brutal lurch threw them to the floor. Padme
landed on her belly and she moaned in pain. Anakin was beside her in an instant, helping her up.
When they turned to the window, they gasped. They had entered
a planet’s atmosphere, and the ship’s hull was overheating dangerously due to the wrong entry angle.
"We have to stabilize the ship or we’ll burn in the atmosphere!"
Anakin cried out, sitting at the controls. "Fasten your seatbelt, Padme! Hold on!"
The ship was travelling at full speed and it had already covered
half of the planet’s atmosphere. It was a miracle it was still in one piece. Anakin started the retrothrusters, trying
to slow down the ship’s manic speed and raising its nose at the same time, looking blindly for the right entry angle.
It looked an impossible task. The ship was shaking mercilessly in all directions and he couldn’t control it.
The heat in the cabin was unbearable. They felt as if they were
"Anakin!" Padme cried out in the midst of the roar around them,
an arm around her belly.
"I’m trying, Padme. I’m trying!" Anakin yelled,
grabbing the controls for all he was worth. He had to do it. He had to save his wife and his child! It couldn’t end
like this, with them burned to death in an unknown planet’s atmosphere, like a shooting star. A very poetic death, certainly,
but not one he wanted to contemplate in the next few decades, if ever.
Amazed at the weird thoughts that crossed his mind at such a
moment, Anakin blinked in astonished confusion when the sudden silence broke through his senses.
Somehow, they had crossed the atmosphere, but the badly damaged
ship was heading for the surface of the planet, spinning out of control. If anything, it seemed to have gained speed, which
was quite possible, now that the atmosphere was much thinner and couldn’t slow down their fall.
‘Force, don’t let us die now!’ he begged, as the ground seemed to rise and grow closer and closer to them.
At the last moment, Anakin made a sharp turn, managing to clear
the surface of the planet. The ship crashed and slid a couple of kilometres on its belly, until it came to a dead stop. Smoke
and fire filled the cabin.
"We have to get out of here, Padme! The ship will explode any
minute!" Anakin screamed, unfastening his seatbelt and turning to his wife.
Padme was unconscious beside him, her seatbelt still safely
fastened around her torso. He could hardly see her through the dense smoke around them, and the fire was closing in on them.
He tore at her seatbelt and scooped her up in his arms. He rushed
for the hatch, but it wouldn’t open. He tried it several times, coughing hard. His lungs felt about to collapse under
the intense heat and intoxicating smoke. He didn’t dare to guess what those fumes would be doing to Padme’s system
and their child’s.
He cried out desperately, kicking the hatch with his boots,
until something hit the floor.
Almost blind and with his eyes watering in reaction to the smoke,
Anakin made out the shape of his lightsaber on the floor. Summoning it up to his open palm and cradling Padme with one arm,
he ignited it and used the blade as a blowtorch, cutting the already melting metal. He opened a hole in the ship’s hull,
big enough for him to pass.
He jumped blindly and something soft cushioned his fall. Without
thinking, he broke into a run, as fast as his legs allowed him. When he had covered about eighty metres, a huge explosion
threw him to the ground.
Covering Padme with his own body, he remained still as fragments
of metal rained all around them. There was a series of secondary explosions, as the fuel tanks exploded one after another.
Finally, everything was mostly silent, except for the crackle of the fire as it consumed what was left of the ship.
Anakin opened his eyes and looked around him. What he saw made
his heart sink. They were in the middle of a desert. Miles of orange sand spread in all directions. There were no plants anywhere,
not even cacti. Only small rocks and medium-sized boulders. Looking up, he saw the globes of twin suns shining high in the
Tatooine was the first thought that crossed his mind, but there
were several desert planets like Tatooine orbiting binary systems in the Outer Rim, so it could be any of them.
Whatever planet it was, they were in a desperate situation.
Their suitcase had blown up with the ship, so they only had the clothes on their backs. And what was worse, they had no food,
no water, and their baby was coming.
A muffled moan beneath him made him move off his wife. Padme
was slowly coming to.
"Anakin?" she asked, her eyes blinking open.
The young Jedi sat her up halfway and turned her head to him.
"Yes, Padme. I’m right here, my love." He put a loose
lock of hair aside and caressed her cheek with the back of his hand.
"I’m wet," her face contorted in pain and she let out
Looking down, Anakin saw there was a pool under his wife. She
had broken waters. His eyes opened wide in raw fear when he realized there was no turning back. The baby was coming. It was
a matter of minutes now.
Sheer despair crossed his features. His worst nightmare was
coming true. Their situation was worse than desperate. And it was all his fault. He had dreamed of Padme dying in childbirth,
and what had he done? He had taken her to a desert planet, where they would have no medical help and no instruments. Not even
the minimum hygienic conditions to deliver the baby.
Anakin looked around him, wishing this was a bad dream. This
couldn’t be happening! It was as if destiny was laughing in his face. He couldn’t have done things worse if he’d
Padme grabbed the front of his cloak and bit her lower lip,
trying to hold back a scream.
"Anakin, it hurts!" she let out in a strangled cry.
Casting self-pity to the wind, Anakin got to work. He had to
help his wife. If she and the baby were meant to die, at least they were together, and the three of them would die together;
because there was no way he would go on living after his two reasons to live were gone.
He picked her up in his arms again and took her to a boulder
nearby. He put her on the ground on her feet, and took out her cloak. He spread it on the sand and made her sit down on it,
leaning her back against the boulder. Fortunately, its surface was smooth, so no sharp edges would stick into her back.
"Are you comfortable, so to speak?" he asked, trying to bring
some levity to the moment.
Padme tried to smile and nodded sadly.
"I’m going to undress you from your waist down now. Raise
your hips a little," Anakin instructed, his voice full of love and tenderness.
Padme obeyed and Anakin unfastened her baggy bottoms. His eyes
opened wide in relief when he saw she carried a little water bottle attached to her belt. It was all they had, but it was
better than nothing. He unscrewed the top and poured a little on his left hand. He put the bottle on the sand next to him,
making sure it wouldn’t spill, and he rubbed his hands. So much for a sterilized environment!
"Ani," her small, pleading voice broke his heart. He met her
eyes and saw his own fear reflected back in them.
"I’m just as frightened as you are, my love," he smiled
shakily. "All I know about delivering a baby are the books we read and the documentaries we’ve seen on the holos. We’ll
have to play it by ear," he made an ironical face. "You have to help me. Tell me everything you’re feeling, when you
think things are going right or wrong."
"I only feel pain," Padme closed her eyes and ground her teeth,
holding back a moan.
"Well, it’s supposed to hurt, so we’re doing okay
so far," Anakin’s eyes misted at her face of utter agony. "I’m going to take a look now. Hang on."
"All right," she said, grabbing the edge of her cloak and squeezing
"You’re quite dilated already, but I still don’t
see the baby’s head," Anakin announced after a few moments. "Try to relax and breathe. Fast, deep breaths. When you
feel like pushing, just do it."
"Right," she agreed in a hoarse voice, her face bathed in sweat
Anakin tore his own cloak in several pieces, some of them bigger
than others. He used one of the smaller ones to dab at her forehead.
"Want some water?" he asked. "We must keep you hydrated."
"Just a little," she nodded. "We must save it."
Anakin brought the bottle to her lips and she took a small sip.
Right then, a deep shudder shook her body.
"Ah!" she cried out.
"You feel like pushing?" Anakin hurried to put the bottle on
"YES!" she shrieked, grabbing her own knees and surging forward.
"Easy, easy, Padme!" Anakin tried to calm her down. "Let me
"Oh, my!" she let out a loud wail.
"I can see the top of its head!" Anakin cried out excitedly.
Reaching out with trembling arms, Anakin placed the fingertips of his left hand on the baby, sending it all his love and support.
"Push, Padme. Push! That’s right! Take deep breaths and push when you’re letting all the air out."
"Argh!" she was beyond words. It hurt more than she could bear.
"Half its head is out already," Anakin told her. "One more push,
"All... right!" she screamed, taking a deep breath and pushing
for all she was worth.
"That’s it!" Anakin encouraged her lovingly. "All its
head is out now," he wiped away the sweat on his forehead with his rolled up sleeve. "Rest for a second now, my love. The
shoulders are coming next."
Padme trembled at her husband’s words. That was the worst
part of all, but she swallowed her fear bravely and saved her strength.
In the meantime, Anakin was using a piece of cloth to wipe the
baby’s head and his own hands.
"It’s almost bald, but there’s a little dark fleece
on its head, Padme," he informed his wife, his voice dripping with love. "Come on now. Push! It’ll be out before you
know it. Push hard!"
"O-kay," she complied, pushing as hard as she could.
"Harder!" Anakin shouted.
Padme felt as if her insides were being torn apart. The pain
was relentless. Merciless.
"Yes, you can! Come on! One more push. I can see most of its
shoulders already. One more time and it’ll slide out like a Rivan eel."
"What a comparison!" she made a disgusted face.
"Do it! NOW!" he commanded.
"You got it!!" she shouted back and pushed angrily.
Anakin smiled to himself. He knew his beloved only too well.
Her determination redoubled when she was angry or frustrated. It would serve her well now. He closed his eyes for a second
and focused all his senses on their child. This was the trickiest moment. If he pulled too hard while trying to help her,
he could damage the baby’s neck. He only had to ride the moment with her and pull as hard as she was pushing.
All of a sudden, there was a loud popping sound, and the baby
burst out of its mother’s womb in a flood of blood and liquid, following its mother’s searing scream.
"It’s here, Padme!! It’s here!" Anakin cried, as
tears rolled unheeded down his face. This was the most perfect moment of his life. It overwhelmed him, it swept him away in
its transcendence. He had never felt more a part of something than right here and now.
Padme was too exhausted to let out more than a tiny moan of
acknowledgment. She panted non-stop, leaning back against the boulder, as the pain receded noticeably.
"Is... is it... all right?" she asked in the weakest voice.
"Perfectly!" Anakin’s voice shook. "Five fingers on every
hand and five toes on every foot. And it’s... a girl, Padme! We had a baby girl! Our baby girl!"
"A girl," she gasped, her contorted features shining with more
joy than she had ever felt.
"Let me see if she’s breathing normally," Anakin told
her, turning all his attention to his daughter for a second. He picked up a piece of his torn cloak and wiped her small body
with it as best as he could. Then, he wiped her nose and massaged her chest, compelling her to start using her lungs for the
first time. She was all wrinkled and almost grey, but to him, she was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. After a few
seconds, he felt movement under his fingers.
"Oh, thank heavens," Padme sighed, looking up and offering a
brief prayer of thanks. But then, she gave a start. "The umbilical cord, Anakin! You must cut it!"
The urgency in her voice made Anakin lose his focus. He looked
around him frantically, looking for something sharp he could use. But there was nothing.
"I have nothing to cut it with!" he exclaimed, freezing in panic.
"Use your lightsaber!" Padme cried out.
"My lightsaber?!" Anakin was horrified, thinking of what
the blade could do, should his hand falter for an instant.
"I trust you, Anakin. You can do it, don’t be afraid,"
her voice sounded so calm and trusting that it seemed in complete contradiction with what she was asking her husband to do.
Anakin swallowed audibly, realizing they had no choice. He drew
out his lightsaber, forcing himself not to tremble, not to hesitate. He held up the umbilical cord, keeping it as far away
from his daughter as he could, and with a deep intake of breath, he ignited it. The buzzing sound of the blade resounded like
a thunder in the quiet of the scene. With a quick, desperate prayer, Anakin brought it down and in a swift movement, he cut
the cord. Then, he turned off the weapon and attached it to his belt. He realized then that his hands were shaking. The irony
of what he had done was almost too much to bear. The same weapon that had been about to defile him forever, had been used
now to help his child.
Padme’s hand grabbed his gloved mechanical hand and squeezed
it lovingly. Closing his eyes, moved beyond words by her insight, Anakin sniffled as his free hand stroked his daughter’s
"Will you tell me her name now?" he asked, braving her adoring
She smiled tiredly and nodded.
"Leia," she said simply.
Anakin’s eyes shone in delight. No name had ever sounded
so right. A name as beautiful and regal as his little princess.
"Of course. Leia." He nodded, feeling completely at peace and
placing her in the hood of his cloak, that he had spared intentionally. Its form was perfect to hold a baby.
"Anakin, something’s coming out now," Padme stiffened
in alarm, as new contractions racked her belly.
"Don’t worry, my love. It’s the placenta," Anakin
soothed her, focusing again on his wife.
"Oh, of course!" Relieved now, Padme tried to relax and let
nature follow its course.
"Here it is, in one piece," Anakin said a while later, throwing
it aside. "Are you all right now?" The young Jedi couldn’t believe everything was over.
"I think so," Padme replied after a while.
"Want to hold our little angel?"
Her reddened and sweaty face glowed with love and joy, and she
reached out her arms.
"Yes!" she exclaimed, fighting back tears.
Anakin put their baby in her mother’s arms.
"She’s beautiful," Padme whispered in awe.
"Like her mother," Anakin whispered back, kissing her brow,
bursting with love for them both.
Padme took one of her little fingers.
"Hello, Leia. We’re mummy and daddy, and we love you so
much," she brought the little finger to her lips and kissed it. Anakin bent forward too and kissed the back of the tiny hand.
"I can’t believe it’s over, Padme," he told her,
shaking his head in stunned disbelief. "My dreams were so vivid that I..."
"Ah!" Padme moaned suddenly.
"What is it?" Anakin asked, sobering immediately.
"Something’s wrong," she said, looking down at herself.
"I feel like pushing again."
"What do you mean, ‘pushing again’?" the young Jedi
"I’m having contractions, Anakin. I feel something moving
inside me," Padme’s scared eyes bored into her husband’s.
"But what the... Oh, shit!!" he cried out, after checking on
"What?! What is it?!" Anakin had never used such a word in all
the years she had known him. What had he seen for him to use it now?
"I see another head, Padme!"
"What do you mean, ‘another head’?" she yelled,
reason deserting her completely.
"Another baby’s coming! We’re having twins!"
"Oh, my goodness!" she moaned, throwing her head back.
"This one’s coming faster," the young man commented, amazingly
calm by now. "It’s almost bald like its sister, but I think it’s blond." He smiled, elated. "Come on, little one,"
he murmured to his second child, as he stroked the top of the blond head with his fingertips. "Help your mother a bit. She’s
exhausted after giving birth to your sister." He looked up at his wife and shrugged shyly. "Push, Padme. You’re doing
great, my angel. Keep pushing and breathe deeply. It’ll be over very soon."
"Aaaaah!!" Padme screamed all at once, wrapping one arm around
her belly and holding Leia with the other. She felt something tearing inside her.
"Padme!!" Anakin cried out as a gush of blood burst out of her.
Instinctively, he closed the baby’s nose and mouth, to prevent it from choking on it. "Hold on. The baby’s head
is all out now. Rest for a moment." His heart was beating savagely in his chest, and a feeling of foreboding shook his body
from head to foot.
"Something’s wrong, Anakin. I can feel it. I feel like
I’m tearing apart inside." The look in her eyes was of raw panic.
"Your body’s exhausted after delivering our daughter,
and you’re feeling the pain more strongly, that’s all," Anakin reassured her unconvincingly. "But it’ll
be faster now. Come on. Push! This is the hardest part, but once the shoulders are out, it’ll be out in the blink of
an eye. Push hard, Padme. Trust me! I won’t let anything happen to you and this baby."
Padme felt dizzy. Everything was spiralling like crazy and she
closed her eyes to try and make the feeling stop. She felt suddenly detached from her surroundings. Her eyesight and her hearing
were abandoning her gradually. She felt disconnected, out of synch.
"I think I’m going to pass out," she said, recognizing
"NO! You mustn’t!" Anakin exclaimed. "You could bleed
to death if you lose consciousness, Padme." His eyes darted desperately from the baby to his wife. "Hold on just two minutes
more, please! Fix your gaze on a single spot and don’t look away. It’ll help."
"I- I’ll try," her own voice seemed to come from far away,
but she struggled to stay awake with her every bit of strength.
"Push! Hard!" Anakin cried out.
She growled deep in her throat, as she pushed with her last
burst of strength.
"It’s out!" Anakin announced, his voice thick with relief
and dread. Along with the child and amniotic fluid, a scary gush of blood had come out as well. Controlling the fear as best
as he could, he grabbed a piece of cloth and wiped the baby’s face, paying special attention to his nose and mouth.
"Oh, Padme! It’s a boy! We killed two birds with one stone, my love. We’ve got our little Luke, too!" Anakin’s
heart had never felt so full.
"Luke. Oh, Luke!" she moaned, her head dangling from side to
side, unable to hold it up anymore. Reaching down, she brushed her fingertips across the baby’s legs.
"I’ll cut the umbilical cord now," Anakin told her, igniting
his lightsaber and cutting the cord with practised ease. "I’ll make sure he’s breathing," he said next, attaching
the lightsaber to his belt again after turning it off. He rubbed the baby’s chest with his hand briskly, forcing the
boy to breathe.
"Come on, Luke. Breathe. Don’t be a tease," he rubbed
the baby’s chest in circles now and applied a little bit of pressure.
"What’s going on?" Padme asked in the weakest voice.
"I don’t know," Anakin replied, worrying at his lips,
"I can’t make him breathe." He turned the boy on to his side gently and rubbed both his chest and back, sandwiching
the tiny body between his hands. He massaged the back of the bald head tenderly. Right then, he realized the wrinkled little
face was more blue than grey. "Luke!!" he shouted.
"What’s happening?" Padme wailed, as she felt her strength
"His face is getting blue! He’s suffocating!!"
"No! Anakin, do something! Don’t let him die! Please,
don’t let him die!" Padme sobbed, trying to sit up. But she had no strength left. She could only hold Leia to her breast
before blacking out.
"I won’t! I’ll die first!" Anakin vowed, as he bent
forward and opened the baby’s mouth with his fingers. His airways had to be obstructed at some point and the oxygen
didn’t reach his lungs. At least, he prayed that was the reason.
The young Jedi knew the basic first aid manoeuvres. He knew
how to apply mouth-to-mouth resuscitation, so he guessed that if he wanted to clear his child’s respiratory tract, he
had to suck out instead of breathing in. Closing the tiny nose delicately with his gloved fingers, he held the little mouth
open and brought his own mouth down on it, sucking out hard. He heard a gurgling sound within the small ribcage.
"Come on, Luke! Don’t do this to us!" Anakin encouraged
his son before trying again. The little body’s total stillness gave him the creeps. He almost seemed to be... Refusing
to consider the idea, Anakin went on, ignoring the increasingly blue colour that spread all over the baby’s face, and
paying no attention to the tears that streamed down his cheeks.
All of a sudden, a presence that he had forgotten completely
in the last few hours, assaulted his mind in a brutal wave.
‘I can save her and your child. Come to me and I will
save them, Darth Vader. Return to me. Return to me... Return to me!’
"Nooooo!!!" Anakin cried out, his head snapping up. What he
saw made him jerk backwards and hold back a scream.
His wife lay unconscious on a pool of blood. Leia moved her
little arms and legs across her mother’s torso, clinging to her top, as if trying to wake her up.
"Padme!" he moaned. Terror as he had never experienced before
filled his senses. He looked from his dying wife to his dying child, torn.
What could he do now? Whom to help? He had to make a decision.
Either Padme, or Luke.
Whatever choice he made, it would kill him.
He brought up his dirty hands and covered his eyes with his
fists. He knew fear led to the Dark Side, but fear was the only emotion in him right here and now. From the inside
‘I will save them. Return to me. Return to me now...’ the evilly seductive voice resounded closer and closer inside him, breaking through
the mental shields he had erected, one by one.
Either his soul or his loved ones. Either Darkness or Light.
Now or never.
‘Don’t let him die! Please, don’t let him
Padme’s last words resounded strong and resolute in his
weakening mind. And blindly obeying them, Anakin bent down and started sucking out again.
‘Come on, boy. Come to me. Open your mind to me and I
will save them. Tell me where you are and I will send a shuttle to find you. I will save your wife. I will save your child.
You will never be alone again. You will belong forever. With me. The power over life and death, young one. Unlimited power.
Open your mind to me again. I will save them. I will save them...’
Anakin’s mind spun in a whirlpool of torment and indecision.
Damned bastard! He knew he was taking advantage of his weakness. Palpatine had found his price and he wouldn’t give
up until he yielded, until he owned him, knowing this was the only way he could win.
His blurry eyes settled then on the inert form of his son. He
reached out and cradled Luke’s head in one hand and caressed his blue lips with the other.
"Come on, my little one. Fight! I need you! His pull is so strong
that I can’t resist it! My mind is yielding already. I’m not as strong as I thought I was. You are my strength
and my love. If I lose you, I’ll lose myself forever."
Silence was his only answer.
Anakin closed his eyes in defeat, knowing this was the end.
Bending forward one last time, he brought his mouth over the baby’s and he sucked out with his last hope.
And just as the final barrier within Anakin’s mind collapsed
and Palpatine’s vicious, greedy mind surged forward through the now open link to take him, a stronger consciousness,
full of Light and love, penetrated through the open pathways, took firm root and merged with the young Jedi’s, cutting
all access to Palpatine’s malign mind. Anakin heard the Sith Lord’s animal scream as he beat a hasty retreat;
the prey he almost had, lost to him for good.
The young man moved back with a start and spat out the thick
liquid that had been obstructing his son’s airways. His eyes opened wide when they met his child’s equally open
eyes. They were big and blue, just like his own. The baby took deep and fast intakes of breath, and the bluish colour began
disappearing from his face.
"T-that’s it, Luke. Come on, angel, come back to me,"
Anakin encouraged, stroking his son’s chest lovingly, desperate for the physical contact, tears rolling in rivulets
down his face.
A few seconds later, the baby’s respiration returned to
normal. He looked at Anakin and his lips curved upward in an unmistakable, adoring smile. His little arms jerked up and down
excitedly, reaching out to him, and the happiest laughter burst from him, resounding through every corner of his father’s
Bursting out crying at last, Anakin took the little body in
his arms and held it to his chest. Luke reached up and took hold of his thumb in his tiny hand.
The young man gasped as a mental link flashed open. He immediately
recognized the strong, warm and loving presence that had thrown Palpatine from his mind, disabling it to the Sith Lord for
"It was you!" he exclaimed, moving back and staring at his son,
in total awe.
The baby smiled at him non-stop, making funny gurgling noises,
his eyes riveted on Anakin.
The underdeveloped consciousness touching his own didn’t
send any words. It couldn’t. But it flooded his mind with feelings. Feelings of warmth, protection and love. So much
love that Anakin drowned in it, starved for it.
Truly never alone. Truly never unloved. Belonging forever with
everything that truly mattered. He recognized those feelings. He had felt them the night he had bonded with his children while
Padme slept in their apartment in Coruscant.
His eyes turned to his wife, then. The sight made him let out
an agonizing moan, as his heart shattered in a billion tiny pieces.
He had made a choice. Now, he would have to live with it for
the rest of his life.
Instinctively, he edged closer to Padme’s dead body. She
was leaning back against the boulder, her eyes closed. She seemed to be sound asleep, but the young Jedi knew better. She
The pain was so all-encompassing that Anakin couldn’t
breathe. He bit his lower lip until he drew blood.
Luke’s loud cry snapped him out of that state, and he
looked down at him.
"This is your mother, my little one," Anakin tried not to choke
on his words, turning the baby in his arms so he could look at her. "She loved you more than her own life, and she gave it
up for you. You will never get to know her, but I swear you will never forget her, as long as I’m around to tell you
everything about her. To you and your sister." His eyes turned to Leia, who still wriggled on her mother’s chest, pulling
at her top desperately.
Luke’s eyes turned from his mother to his sister then,
just as Leia’s turned to him.
The moment the two babies’ eyes met, something crackled
all around them. Anakin felt it all over his body, as if a shockwave had hit him at point-blank.
Time and space disappeared. The young man felt as if he had
entered an alternate dimension of reality, where he had no physical body and the laws of physics didn’t apply.
Following his instinct, he brought Luke closer to his sister,
and the two siblings held hands. Anakin felt a surge of something, like electricity. But it was so much more than that. Like
a higher consciousness the three of them had formed. A consciousness of Love beyond any boundaries, beyond any limits. And
Anakin recognized it with his heart, not with his mind.
The Force. In its purest, most genuine form. Like a living entity
that beat deep within each one of them, and had reached out of their bodies and connected with the others’. It enveloped
them in a bubble of warmth and power. The most selfless power.
Anakin had never known such beauty. It cleansed his soul and
washed away his every dream of control and greed. Under such glorious perfection, his arrogance and pride shamed him and made
him feel small and ugly.
But then, he felt that consciousness wrapping itself around
him, making him feel worthy and infinitely welcomed. He had transcended his own faults through his unselfish love for his
children. He had redeemed himself through his offspring’s love for him.
Unaware of what he was doing, his left hand grasped Padme’s
A blast of white light, more beautiful that his mind could stand,
burst behind his eyes, and that was the last thing he knew.
Anakin’s eyes fluttered open when he felt the touch of
a hand sliding through his hair.
He knew that touch, he had felt it countless times when he lay
beside Padme in the warm safety of their bed, as they rested in each other’s arms.
Those heartbreakingly loving fingers moved lazily, as if they
had all the time in the world. He purred happily, until his eyes grew accustomed to the fading light of the setting suns.
He sat up with a start, remembering in a flash everything that
had transpired in the last few hours.
Padme! His Padme had...
He turned about and froze.
His wife was smiling at him, her arms full of sleeping babies.
"PADME!" he exclaimed, surging forward and holding her in a
"Careful, darling!" she warned him, her voice full of love and
But Anakin didn’t let go. He opened his arms wider and
included their children in his bearhug.
"Oh, my love! I thought I had lost you!"
"Never, Anakin. Never!" She reassured him, unable to return
his hug, but nuzzling his hair and cuddling up to him needfully.
Anakin couldn’t let go. Everything felt like a
dream. The most cherished dream come true; and he feared that should he let go, this miracle would slip through his fingers,
just like his mother’s life had years ago.
"We are here with you. You will be stuck with us forever,"
Padme whispered into his ear, as if she had read his thoughts.
"Yes, forever," he nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat
and wiping his tears away with her silky brown hair.
A soft baby gurgle made the young Jedi move back. Leia’s
eyes were open and looked at him curiously, her little mouth forming a big round "O."
"Hello, my little princess," Anakin smiled lovingly at her,
bending down and rubbing his nose with hers playfully.
Leia wrinkled her nose, trying to relieve the ticklish sensation.
She reached out and touched her father’s cheeks. Anakin turned his head and kissed the tiny palms, blinking back tears.
"We must find a shelter for the night," he said, looking up
at his wife, his thumb, index and middle fingers automatically holding his daughter’s hand.
Padme looked around them. There was nothing but sand as far
as the eye could see. She was in no condition to walk, and she knew that Anakin would never leave them alone, not even for
five minutes, to look for help. They would share the same destiny.
The young man stood up and his eyes searched all around them,
verifying what his wife had already seen. He bit his lips in despair. How would they survive the night in the desert? They
would freeze to death. His Jedi training gave him an edge on his family, but Padme and especially the children didn’t
stand a chance. He dropped to one knee and his eyes met his wife’s.
Padme smiled at him shakily, knowing what her husband didn’t
dare to voice.
Without saying a word, Anakin picked up the water bottle that
was half-buried in the sand, and made Padme take a few sips. Then, he softly placed the bottle over Leia’s lips and
made her swallow a little. Then, he turned to his sleeping son.
"Luke," he called softly.
Immediately, the breathtaking blue eyes opened and the baby
looked at his father, totally alert.
"I can’t believe it," Padme muttered to herself.
Anakin smiled at his wife.
"I will explain later," he said with a wink. He brought the
bottle above Luke’s lips and poured a trickle of water down his son’s throat. Luke swallowed eagerly and then
he looked up at Anakin, letting out a soft, chirpy sound.
Anakin smiled back, his chest bursting with love. He bent down
and kissed one chubby cheek and then the other.
All of a sudden, his sharpened senses felt something. His head
"Someone’s coming," he announced. He jumped to his feet
and scanned their surroundings. Beyond the still smoking remains of Padme’s ship, he made out the shape of something
approaching. His acute hearing picked up faint noises of engines.
It could be anyone, from natives riding to the rescue to scavengers,
or even worse, looters. They had nowhere to hide, so they would only know their intentions when they were face to face.
"Cover the children," the young Jedi instructed his wife.
Padme nodded silently and covered Luke and Leia with the few
pieces of Anakin’s cloak they still hadn’t used. Then, she tried to keep them hidden by pressing them up against
her body. The siblings didn’t make a sound of protest at being so rudely squashed.
The engine noises gradually got closer and closer. Anakin half-closed
his eyes, trying to make out the forms of those approaching, but they were against the light, and the suns were setting awfully
He didn’t want to be taken by surprise, so he drew out
his lightsaber and ignited it, adopting a defensive stance.
More than a dozen speeders surrounded them a few seconds later,
bypassing the ship, obviously uninterested in its remains. Anakin stepped back a little, shielding his wife and his children
with his own body, his lightsaber high above his head, in an impressively threatening pose.
"Take it easy, son!" a muffled male voice cried out, from behind
the mask that protected the man’s face from the desert winds.
Something in Anakin recognized the voice. His instinct made
him look at the man’s legs. The right one was missing.
It was then that the pieces finally fell into place. Where they
were and why the desert and the twin suns had a familiar look to them. Heaving a sigh of relief, he turned off his weapon.
"Cliegg Lars!" he exclaimed, relaxing visibly. He walked up
to the speeder and reached out.
Cliegg shook warmly the outstretched hand, putting his mask
"It seems like you had a bumpy landing," he commented, looking
at Padme, who was leaning back against the boulder, an expression of utter relief on her features.
"To put it mildly," she replied.
"Are you all right?" Owen asked her, getting off his speeder
and approaching her. She was a bit pale, and the fact that she hadn’t stood up on seeing them made the young man suspicious.
"We must take them to Anchorhead’s medical centre as soon
as possible," Anakin knelt down beside his wife. "I think they will be fine, but I’m not willing to take any chances."
He wrapped his arms around a bundle that was pressed up against Padme’s side.
Owen asked, perplexed.
Anakin stood up and held out the bundle to his step-brother,
so he could take a look at it.
"I’ll be damned!" the young man exclaimed. "It’s
"They’re two weeks premature," Padme said, cradling Leia
to her chest. "We need a doctor to take a look at them."
"Of course!" Cliegg smiled at Shmi’s son. His deceased
wife would be so happy to know that her beloved child was a father now. He could almost see her holding the babies in her
arms and coming up with the most extraordinary similarities between them and their parents. He held back the pang of bitter
nostalgia. He would miss her for as long as he lived, but life had to go on. And go on it did. He only had to look at those
two children to feel the sweetest feeling of hope, of comforting continuity. A new generation of Skywalkers. "Owen, ride with
me and give your speeder to Anakin and his family," he instructed his son.
The young Jedi’s chest filled with gentle pride. His family.
The source of all his strength and courage. Nothing and no one could harm him now, as long as he had his wife and his children
beside him. He would love them and protect them with his very life, but never giving in to fear and anger. He had a new sense
of purpose. Life had taken on a whole new meaning. He belonged now to something bigger than him. Bigger than Padme. Bigger
than the two of them together. It was their duty and their greatest joy to provide, and nurture, and teach, and love those
two little angels with everything they had to give, for Luke and Leia were the best part of them.
He had almost lost himself forever. Love had taken him to the
breaking point, terrified as he had been of losing it; of losing everything worth living for.
Now, he had everything worth dying for. It didn’t depend
on him any longer, but the will of the Force.
The little angel in his arms whose mind was forever linked with
his own, and his sister, were everything. They were hope and the promise of a better tomorrow, of a brighter future for them
In the last few days, he had walked the path of self-destruction,
of absolute depravation, only to emerge, redeemed and purified by his wife and his children’s love. And also, by his
own inner strength. Strength he didn’t even know he had, and he had discovered when he had thought there was nothing
left in him to resist and believe in.
He had found a greater wisdom, a higher sense of being. And
he had learned to let go. To give up his unhealthy need to control and bend Destiny to his will. Sometimes, he would be able
to change things, but not always. That was life, as much as it hurt. He was more privileged than most in some ways, and he
had to be grateful for that.
Lost in his musings, he picked up Padme in his arms, who carried
Leia in her arms in turn, and placed them on the speeder very gently. Then, he reclaimed Luke from Owen’s arms and cradled
him to his chest. The baby cooed to him soothingly, and Anakin lost himself in the lulling sound.
‘Yes, little one. I love you, too. With all my heart,’ he sent mentally.
His son cuddled against him with a purr, and sent back a myriad
of loving feelings and emotions that made the young man want to cry.
Anakin put Luke in his leather vest carefully, making sure that
the little ear was pressed up to his heartbeat. Contentment poured out of the baby’s mind in waves, and the reborn Jedi
knew he had found his Destiny.
He sat behind Padme and looked at his precious daughter, safely
held to her mother’s bosom.
Hope and future, indeed.
As the speeders zoomed past the crash site, leaving the still
smoking wreckage behind, Anakin found it to be a fitting metaphor. The galaxy had entered its darkest time, but it wasn’t
the time to strike back. Not yet. For him, it was the time to heal and pick up the pieces of his almost wasted life. The right
time would come, and along with the Jedi who had survived abominable Order 66 and those still loyal to the Republic, they
would bring true Peace to the galaxy.
He briefly thought of Mace Windu and Obi-Wan. He prayed that
master Windu had survived his treacherous action that had allowed Palpatine to get rid of him. As for Obi-Wan... Everything
had been so beautiful between them when they had bid each other good-bye! Now he just wanted to disappear someplace where
they had never heard of the words Jedi, Palpatine, Republic, war or duty.
His duty now was to his family, and he would commit himself
to them in body and soul. He would be patient and trust his feelings. One day, the Force would bring them all together.
And then, Palpatine’s reign of terror would be over.
Perhaps it was no coincidence they had happened to crash on
Tatooine. It would have been his last choice, but thinking about it, it made sense. It was a hard environment to raise a child,
but life had a different pace on Tatooine. Days were longer, slower, perfect for meditation and contemplation. Perfect for
a lost man to find his way again.
As long as they had each other, everything would be all right.
Padme pressed back against him and with a smile, Anakin kissed
the top of her head, knowing that somehow, she understood and supported him. That was all he had ever needed.
For the first time in his life, Anakin trusted his Destiny and
his own to the Force. It would guide them well.
And for the first time in centuries, an eerie rainbow shone
for a few seconds in the planet’s atmosphere, with the last rays of the twin setting suns.