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Gungan to the left

His Mother's Last Request (G)

By : Sue

Archived on: Monday, July 21, 2003

In the aftermath of the Sand People's destruction, Anakin makes a bid for redemption. A missing scene...

The strengthening light of dawn from the first of Tatooine's suns peeked above the horizon. The night had seemed to last an eternity, as had his rage...

Gradually awakening in stages, Anakin heaved a sigh and stared straight up at the bright cloudless sky for several minutes. Where was he? He couldn't recall for a moment or so, but it felt as if he had lost an entire day. Vivid impressions sifted through his mind as he lounged on the flat-faced rock that he had fallen asleep on. In time, he faltered to his feet. For having slept out in the open, physically, he felt no worse for wear. His state of mind was something else entirely.

The early morning air was dead still, not even the whisper of a breeze stirred. Although it was very early, it was already very warm. With heat this intense at this hour, this day promised to be a scorcher.

Anakin stretched a bit before shaking his head to clear it. The stench of death was unmistakable; it was cloying and hung heavily in the lifeless air. It hung like an invisible funereal shroud over everything. Dispassionately, the young Jedi surveyed the destruction that he had wrought late last night. The surprise and vehemence of his attack had been the decisive deciders. All the Sand People were dead-- good! He could taste their filthy blood in his dry mouth. He had burned all the slain and most of the camp that they had once inhabited.

A grim smile partnered his murky thoughts, and a burning thirst for water was driving him mad. There had to be some, he considered, closing his watering eyes to relive the part he had played in his mother's tormentors' swift demise. In his mind, his master's well-meaning counsel whispered to him, Killing is never an easy thing, young one. Obi-Wan had the habit of reducing most things to either being black or white. The man treated gray areas as though they didn't exist.

Before opening his eyes, Anakin reflected that killing wasn't that hard a thing, not when it was fueled by revenge. If there had been more Tuskens than there had been, he would have killed them too-- all deserved to die! The battered, bloodied body of his dear mother fogged all other thoughts until his eyes fell upon her form. He had swaddled her in sackcloth, once a bag that he had ripped up, having found it in one of the tents he had not burned to the ground. He had secured Shmi's body on the swoop bike prior to his drifting off into a troubled sleep. His fit of bloodletting had rendered him exhausted. The crackling of the smelly fires had lulled him to sleep.

What? He strained to hear, wanting to be sure. As had occurred once he had taken his initial swipes with his lightsaber, cutting down many Sand People who had rushed him after he had killed the two at the entrance of the tent they had held his mother in, Anakin heard the agitated voice appeal to him. It wasn't as strong and not as urgent now as it had been then. He stared at his hands upon raising them; they trembled a little. Kicking at the dusty ground, the angsty apprentice tried turning a deaf ear to the paternal-sounding plea. Perhaps if he blocked the plaintive entreaty out, it would go away, in time.

How could it have been Qui-Gon? He was dead. Jedi died, as the felled man who had befriended him had once said. Was it his conscience? Anakin considered, realizing that sometimes it wasn't always so simple to distinguish his own from his initial master's censure. Blinking several times then, the young man decided that he did not care what the murmurings within him actually were, he concentrated on darker feelings. Doing so helped him to blot out any remorse; he would not feel guilty-- he just wouldn't!

Anakin stopped debating with himself, and decided that his first priority before setting off for the Lars' homestead was to find that water-- before he died of thirst. He kicked at the dusty ground once again. His mouth and throat felt so parched, it was as if he'd gone without water for days. Most of the former camp was nothing more than smoldering ruins. When the heat of his fury had reached its zenith, he had lost count of how many tents he had set on fire, while Force-chucking his enemies' limp, saggy bodies into the roaring conflagrations. He hoped that he'd find water in one of the few tents he had left unscathed.

Maniacal determination urged him to hunt, snooping in one former dwelling place, and when his efforts proved fruitless, he raced to the next. He found nothing-- not even one drained skin bottle! The raw stench of half-burnt remains nearly overwhelmed him; it was greasy, rancid-- awful. Anakin grunted in renewed disgust. He yanked a sizeable cloth that was scratchy from an inner pocket of his tunic, using it as a mask.

The last intact tent that remained to be searched was to his far left, bordering what had once been the nomadic community's arbitrary perimeter. Hurrying to it, he tied his makeshift mask into place and breathed easier. Before he was even close to the tent's flapping entrance, he heard it...

The sound was faint, and he could not place it right away. It was as though something smothered was mewling. Upset, he crossly told himself to focus. The Force was with him, but he could perceive nothing at the moment. He hesitated at the ragged entrance of the tent, trying to decide whether or not his imagination was getting the better of him. Was his guilty conscience responsible for his hearing their anguished cries? Some of his terrified victims had begged for mercy before he had struck them down; it had been the women, mostly.

The women, along with their children had tried to flee from the devastation embodied in the rampaging Jedi, but their feeble attempts had been in vain. He had slaughtered them all without compassion, in the ardor of his insatiable fury. And now their silenced voices haunted him...

NO-- it wasn't that. The wind had picked up some, he rationalized; it was that-- nothing more!

But it was more than that. He heard whimpering, coming from inside this last tent. He feared the sound, and yet felt compelled to learn its source. Sucking in a breath, Anakin entered the tent, which was surprisingly cool. The mewling stopped, and so did Anakin's breathing, until he heard it again. The soft cries were plaintive and reached into the depths of his heart. They sounded as though they emanated from the center of the primitive dwelling.

Anakin turned around to secure the flap, allowing the light from outside to penetrate the physical darkness that had momentarily blinded him. He blinked, startled for half of a moment, believing that he saw Padme lurking behind a taut skin stretched over a framework of wooden struts-- a form of screen. Mistaken, of course, he slowed his breathing down. His excitable imagination had conjured her up and thinking about her hurt. Would he tell her what he had done? Would she understand? Fear over her reaction gripped him.

Before hearing another bleat-like cry, he promised himself that he would never confess his vengeful course of action to Padme. He wasn't going to risk losing her forever if he dared speak of the unspeakable. His eyes homed in on the spot where the cries came, and as though spellbound, he was drawn to them.

What he saw was unbelievable-- there, wrapped in what looked to be a badly soiled cowl, was a Tusken-- an infant-- perhaps not even two weeks old! In the aftermath of all the destruction and subsequent carnage, this fragile life had survived!

The littlest Sand Person's smooth though mottled skin was the color of the Dune Sea. The baby was bound from the crown of its delicate head to the soles of its small feet in fabric that was porous yet durable; only the littlest flailing arms he had ever seen were exposed. As though knowing there was an audience now, the infant sobbed with more conviction.

What lungs, Anakin thought, fascinated by the little one's stamina. Woozy, he wobbled on shaky legs before squatting over the hole where the newborn was plugged into. Why had he spared this tent? And then he realized that at one point he had considered burning this one down too. He couldn't remember why he'd changed his mind. A chill swept through him when he considered if he had gone through with it.

In-between the infant's tiny snuffles and a few sneezes, Anakin gazed upon the helpless creature and felt compassion; it welled up inside, threatening to overwhelm him. He wondered if the baby was hungry or as thirsty as he was. Anakin reached the conclusion that the baby needed water. The Jedi closed his eyes, and focused, and it wasn't long before he pulsed with strong Force sensations. A water source was near.

Shutting out the infant's distractions, Anakin breathed deeply. He felt the pace of the blood in his veins slow. Gradually, concrete imagery took shape and suggested that he investigate beneath the craggy obsidian rock that was a bit off to his and the infant's left. Lifting the dull obstruction with a flick of his hand and an undulation of his fingers, Anakin was rewarded by the touch of cool dampness when he knelt at the sizeable pock mark in the ground.

While thinking about how handy Artoo would be to have around right now, he fashioned a crude digging implement from what was available and unearthed soil until he was up to his ankles in sweet water. Repeatedly, he raised cupped hands to his mouth, feeling himself revive.

The infant's whimpers summoned Anakin. Kneeling, he drew the little one into his arms protectively and carried the baby to the shallow pool he had made. He moistened his fingers, dripping a few water droplets upon the child's fleshy pink lips and gently he coaxed water into the infant's mouth that was one of the smallest openings he'd ever seen.

Anakin smiled, watching intently as the baby greedily sucked his finger. The water wasn't very clean, but it was water all the same and the littlest Tusken wasn't fretting. He wondered whether this was a girl or a boy; referring to the baby as an it, was unsatisfactory so he decided this was a girl, for argument's sake. She was tiny. The Jedi blinked back tears that misted his eyes all at once. The memory of the numerous children he had massacred re-asserted itself, assailing him, and his turmoil was acute.

But wallowing in recrimination served no purpose. He had to take action if this little one was going to survive. But what was he going to do with this child? The question made his breath hitch. What would his mother have him do?

Help her, Ani...she needs you...

The newborn squirmed in his arms. Settling her against his chest so her chin rested upon his shoulder quieted her as he hoped it would. He imagined he heard his mother speaking to him in a hushed voice again, and this time he did not feel as conflicted. Gently, he rubbed the little back up and down, and the baby cooed-trilled. Oddly, Anakin thought that she sounded content; it was a contentment far removed from matters such as they were. She was an orphan in the truest sense of the word, and the one responsible for her plight was the only one who could rescue her now.

"If you only knew," he whispered into her pinkish pasty face that was swathed in dirty, gauzy cloth. She yawned. "You'd hate me. You'd want me dead." Thoughtfully then, he continued, "We're alike, you know. We're both orphans..."

The gurgling baby stuck her dusty, loosely wrapped fist into her mouth, gumming it.

"I bet you're hungry too." Anakin's eyes scoured the disheveled surroundings, doubting there was anything edible on hand, at least nothing he would find appetizing. Just what did baby Tuskens eat, he mused. Adult Tuskens were widely known to pretty much scarf whatever they could scrounge. "Toothy," he said, and the girl gummed her fist harder, opening and closing her deep sloe eyes that seemed slightly unfocused. They were dull eyes, but somehow they shone for Anakin. So defenseless, he thought, sighing, as he established that he liked the nickname he'd sytled for her. He called her by it again, then divulged, "Mom'd want me to find you a new life, and by Qui-Gon's grizzled beard, I will-- for her!"

The vagrant odor of roasting bantha meat was the first indication that their camp was close by. The smell was sharp and greasy. The air vibrated with the bellows and shrieks of their crude language. Gruff words grated in the Jedi's ears.

High atop his lofty perch, Anakin surveyed the modest camp that was less populated than the one he had decimated. The Sand People scurried about like dandaweevils, oblivious to his presence; their various activities consumed their attention. The swoopbike was parked high atop a flat eastern ridge with spiry earthern peaks as a backdrop. His mother's body, which he had had to re-secure several times to prevent it from jiggling loose, was bathed in shade, protected from the searing rays of the double suns.

Getting back to the Lars homestead was his prime consideration, or risk having the corpse reek to high heaven in this sweltering heat. But first, despite his grief over the loss of his mother...he had to find Toothy new parents, as Shmi would have wished.

The prospective parents would have to be young, truly wanting a little one to fuss over. Anakin realized the challenge, and put his faith in the Force. Through it, he sensed strong bonds of affection between parents and children. While in the throes of destroying these people, he had felt it, and he felt it again, now, in his quest to unite this baby with a deserving couple who would give her a good home.

"C'mon, Toothy, let's...go-- " Pausing, Anakin observed the infant. Her mouth was drenched with frothy, beads of saliva. Like a seasoned caregiver, he lightly flicked the wetness away. A rush of sentimentality made him hesitate several moments longer before pressing her close to his body, and enveloping her in his cape. Mentally, he counted to three before making the careful, well-timed drop to the ground, which lay many meters off.

For a crazy moment, he considered taking her back with him, but knew better, although the new life that he held had touched his heart. Adopting her was out of the question; it was purely a rash impulse. Padme would want to know what he was doing with her. And he could already hear Obi-Wan berate him for the senseless butchery. He, raising a Tusken would never work. He was training for his trials, not for becoming a substitute father. "You'll be fine. You'll see," he spoke softly, aware of the lump in his throat. "They'll take good care of you." Kissing the top of her little head, he murmured, "Well, here goes..."

Their landing was gentle, and went completely unseen by the busy Tuskens, going about their daily routines, souls of industriousness on this dusty inferno. The infant's hiccups sounded like giggles, and made Anakin smile as he filtered in and out of long shadows, making for the camp. He hung its perimeter when they were in hailing distance. His perceptions grew stronger, more clarified, from this vantage. Not more than the length of two lightsabers put end to end sat a tent where she might be taken in. Anakin perceived that a couple that had recently paired up lived there; they wanted children, but the female had not conceived as yet.

Anakin locked in, firm in his resolve. He pulled the girl's body closer to him and set off, flitting his way to the targeted destination where he would forge a new family. He skulked to the back of the weatherbeaten tent, located a section where the give of the hide felt just right. Carefully, he extracted the precious bundle from beneath the warm folds of his billowing cape. He paused a moment before bidding his tiny find farewell.

About to kiss the top of her delicate head, Anakin started when a piercing shriek spoiled the tender goodbye. He froze for a moment, stunned into paralysis, as the gush of irate-sounding gibberish got louder. The infant was noisy too, her mewling audible enough to capture the source of the shouter's startled attention.

Reacting impulsively, Anakin presented the infant hidden beneath the bulk of his cloak. The sight of the swaddled baby spurred Anakin's discoverer to keen louder. "I'm not stealing this child!" Anakin shouted, keeping his eyes trained on the defender's raised spear. Already feeling the ridged hilt of his lightsaber within his hand, he tensed in anticipation. The affection he felt for the child stayed his second impulse, but dying wasn't something he had planned on doing this day.

The taller than average Tusken brayed more insults at him, and Anakin, not altogether ignorant of the dialect, bristled. The familiar anger welled up inside of him, and for an instant, he saw himself repeating the carnage he had wreaked on the other band. Moments away from igniting his weapon, Anakin gulped a breath when he heard a calmer, lighter voice intervene. Both Anakin and the seething Sand Person backed off from trading baleful looks with each other.

The Tusken lowered his weapon, the bladed gaderffii, in stages while the Sand Person who was far less truculent, and whose face was covered by an elaborate jeweled mask with eyeslits that distinguished her as female, approached Anakin. She was this male's mate. Meekly, with arms outstretched, she waited for the human to place the infant, who had begun whimpering, into her waiting hands.

Obediently as he complied, Anakin assured them as best he could in their difficult language, "I was only bringing her to a good home. I found her in the wasteland-- her folks are dead. I couldn't leave her there to die also, could I? Take care of her, all right?"

The male, grunting loudly, brandished the spear at Anakin, making it clear by his combative jabs that the choice of words had been poor, and the way that they had been spoken was even worse. The Tusken lunged at Anakin menacingly, forcing him to to a fighting stance as his hand slipped to the hilt of his lightsaber.

It was then that the female barked sharply at her threatening mate, and then by her softer tone, made him back down. Anakin's hand remained on his lightsaber, but he also took his cues from the female who held Toothy snugly to her bosom. Raising her voice, the female addressed all of the spectators who had gathered, and who were all too eager to punish this intruder whom they had concluded was trying to steal away with one of their own.

One by one, following a good deal of boisterous discussion, members of the milling crowd returned to their own concerns as the female instructed them to. There was nothing to dispute here, nothing to mete out punishment for. This was an admirable case of a responsible young human male doing a good deed, saving a life from certain death. No one-- most of all her hot-tempered mate-- would be doing him any harm.

From the gist that Anakin understood, and as he watched them back off, he could not help but think how would this outspoken female judge him if she knew the truth about him. With the female turned in his direction, striking an accommodating pose, he condemned himself for the merciless way he had cut down the terrified female Tuskens. The metallic taste of bile stuck in his throat and he coughed several, times. His thirst for water was again acute.

"I'm so thirsty..."

The female barked at her docile mate again, and her husband beat a hasty retreat into their tent. Just as Anakin was licking his badly chapped lips, the male returned, carrying a skin bottle that looked as though it was bursting at its seams. It was offered, and the apprentice drank his fill, nearly draining the bottle. When he made to return it to the male, who still acted as though he did not trust the mysterious human altogether, his wife insisted that Anakin keep it for the long journey back to wherever it was that he'd come from.

"Thank you," Anakin told them both, steadily keeping his eyes on the little one who had made deep inroads into his heart. He smiled, approached the new mother with the foundling and said, "You be a good girl, Toothy." He leaned in as he bent down, kissing the baby upon her head that had found a warm niche against the female's bosom. "Take good care of her," he whispered to the female who was soughing softly to the girl, and kept thanking Anakin over and over.

"You're welcome," he replied. "Thank you..." Taking a final look at the baby before snapping his cloak in a flourish and walking away, he surveyed the camp one last time. Nothing could atone for what he had done to her village, but he did what he could for her. He headed for the small rise of mounds that led to his swoopbike and the precious cargo loaded on it.

There was no doubt whatsoever that he heard his mother's lilting voice, and it commended, Well done, Ani. I'm so proud of you. I love you, always...

At long last, the appearance of the stark, sun-blasted dwellings of the Lars homestead was a welcoming site. The way back had seemed more arduous than his going forth. He was tired, dusty and dirty. He needed to eat, he longed for his sweetheart's embrace, but first he needed to lay his mother, the only soul in the universe who had loved him unconditionally, to rest...

As Anakin unloaded his mother's lifeless body off the swoopbike, his heart suddenly burned with the same fierce darkness that had festered in the hearts of those who had caused her senseless death. He thought about the baby who had been spared by a fluke; she, a victim of his dark side, just as his mother had been one, as a result of the band of Sand People who had let their baser nature overrule any bit of compassion that might have saved her.

Despite all of the reasonable explanations Obi-Wan had ever given him, life was a gamble that rarely made sense.

Unseen by his new relatives, and the flawless woman he loved who was looking on, he shed tears. He need not have looked away. Having been pent up all this time, they fell rapidly, but never touched is face. Evaporated by the stultifying heat of mid-afternoon, his tears were phantoms.

The End

Original cover by THeMPIRE. HTML formatting copyright 2003 TheForce.Net LLC.

Fan Fiction Rating

Current Rating is 8.96 in 54 total ratings.

Reader Comments

Add a comment about this Fan Fiction

Author: Tanara
Date posted: 7/21/2003 9:17:24 PM
Tanara's Comments:

Ooooh... first comment, tee hee!
Definitely tops... you portrayed Anakin perfectly... write more!

Author: THeMPIRE
Date posted: 7/21/2003 9:47:20 PM
THeMPIRE's Comments:

I loved this Fic when i first read it. I think that it was a great way to deal with Anakin's first real anger, and Shmi's death. Great job, and congratualtions on getting it in.

Author: morwenestela
Date posted: 7/22/2003 5:12:58 AM
morwenestela's Comments:

Congrats on geting this submitted. I knew you could do it when I first beta-read this story for you. Keep up the good work!

Author: naboogal520
Date posted: 7/22/2003 7:08:41 AM
naboogal520's Comments:

awesome fanfic! Anakin emotions were written so well! keep writing, especially about Anakin:)

Author: pencilnek
Date posted: 7/22/2003 1:31:23 PM
pencilnek's Comments:

Wow, such irony! Anakin saving the baby of the Tuskens who killed his mother, what a great twist! Loved the irony you put in it!

Author: Katie
Date posted: 7/22/2003 6:56:11 PM
Katie's Comments:

This is a great story! It shows the good side of Anakin, the side that wants to do good. Which is excellent!

Author: JC
Date posted: 7/22/2003 8:59:00 PM
JC's Comments:

If Anakin actually had that sensibility, he wouldn't have indulged in the slaughter to begin with. And Obi-Wan "berate" him? Please. He should have Anakion's sorry, whiny, self-absorbed, murderous ass kicked out of the Jedi Order at the very least, if not locked up.

Author: Jedi_Author
Date posted: 8/3/2003 12:54:44 PM
Jedi_Author's Comments:

great story - keep up the good work!!! all you have to do now is get george lucas to add that in to episode 2!!

Author: Kristeh  (signed)
Date posted: 9/9/2003 7:52:33 PM
Kristeh's Comments:

I really enjoyed this story. It was wonderful to see how compassionate Anakin could be even in the midst of his grief and recovering from the terrible rage that had consumed him. Very appropriate, too, seeing as how light and darkness war within him most of life. It's just tragic that he let the darkness rob him of all he could have been.

Author: dark armored one
Date posted: 9/27/2003 10:35:05 PM
dark armored one's Comments:

The events around this scence are what defined the movie for me( his first steps towards darkness), so your addition to the plot/ story was important in looking at how Anakin reacted right after the killings. Your version shows the pergatory he is in now. He can't go back to the good person he was, because its too late (he's just committed a mass murder)but he knows he is a good person that is trying to come to grips with his actions. It was a good writing, and I look forward to reading more from you. Please Email me when you write another.

Toothy was an odd choice for a name, did you ever think of Sandy?

Author: Ani-maniac
Date posted: 11/12/2004 10:23:15 AM
Ani-maniac's Comments:

This was a very good story. You did a great job of capturing both the good and bad sides of Anakin.

Author: Rhaya  (signed)
Date posted: 6/2/2005 12:39:11 PM
Rhaya's Comments:

The story was a brilliant insight into the state of mind Anikin would have been in after the mass murder, and I love how you portray him in this. Wonderful story. But I have to agree with the comment that Toothy was a bit of an odd choice in nicknames.

Author: darth_stimpy  (signed)
Date posted: 11/30/2008 11:16:37 AM
darth_stimpy's Comments:

I must say that story was breath-taking. I really love the descriptions of Anakin's emotions and inner thoughts. The sadness was well mixed with a somewhat happy ending of the story creating an overall intriguing and melancholic plot. Good job!

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Archived: Monday, July 21, 2003

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