The Last Weapon
Anakin stood on the edge of the massive, floating city. A strong breeze tugged at his hair and jacket, bringing the smell of the salt water to his nose. Lowering his head slightly, he gripped the railing in front of him, squeezing it tightly, fighting back tears.
From the depths of the city, he could hear the celebrations. The raucous cries of the citizens of the New Republic celebrating the total defeat of the Yuuzhan Vong.
At first, most of the Defense Fleet did not know what was happening.
Did not know why the Vong offensive had suddenly stalled.
Why every single Yuuzhan Vong biot had suddenly taken ill and died over the course of the past two weeks. It did not matter if it was the lowest of the communication devices or the grandest of their worldships. Every single living creature associated with the Yuuzhan Vong had died.
Then the announcement had been made.
Cal Omas, Dif Scaur, and his own uncle appeared on the holonet and told the galaxy about Alpha Red. The Last Weapon. The end of the Yuuzhan Vong.
The New Republic's victory was total.
In Anakin's opinion their failure was just as total.
Finally, a tear fell, and splashed against the metal railing. A slight discoloration against the silver shine of the metal. His fists convulsed, and for a second he lost control of his Force powers, they enhanced his strength, and with a slight squeal the metal handrail crumpled in his hands.
Then he felt someone's presence beside him. A tightly-coiled spring in the Force. Calm. Professional. As much family as anyone related to him by blood.
Blowing out a breath, an effort to calm and center himself, he straightened and looked at his Aunt Mara. She was dressed in her Jedi robes. He knew that she disliked those clothes, preferring the jumpsuits. Yet the more formal clothing was appropriate, considering the event they had just attended.
"So, tell me Aunt Mara," he said, a quaver in his voice. "Just how long ago did we know about this... this abomination?"
"Farmboy's High Council found out about Alpha Red about three months ago," she replied. "Dif Scaur informed us all, and they released the virus over the Jedi's objections."
"Why? Why would they do it?"
She shook her head. "I ... I don't think I have an answer for that, Solo. I know that they didn't ever stop and think about all the ... repercussions of using it. I know neither Luke nor I realized them all."
He barked a short bitter laugh. One that sounded much older than his seventeen years. One that was too bitter for a seventeen year old boy. "Repercussions? Is that what they're calling it?"
"Some of the slaves that they've found are still alive."
"That's a small consolation."
"Shavit, Solo," she hissed as she glared at him, anger flashing in her green eyes. "The self-centered spoiled brat routine got old years ago, and your older brother does it better. So cut it out, and get over it. Now. It's happened. Nothing we can do to change it. And don't think for a moment, that your Uncle or I wouldn't give anything to do so."
He twisted his hands, ripping out the metal railing. Shocked, they both stared at the twisted, useless piece of metal in his hands. After a moment, he let it drop; allowed it to fall away into the seas of Mon Calamari. As the railing splashed into the water, he closed his eyes, and drew in a deep breath.
He held it for a five count and then slowly exhaled. Feeling centered once more, he opened his eyes and turned to face Mara.
"You don't understand do you? She's dead," he snarled at her. "Not because of a battle or a fight. Not because of a stupid mistake that someone made. It wasn't even an accident. The government. Our government. The one that we Jedi fight and bleed and die for every day, made the decision to kill her."
He spun away from her, and stomped a few paces away, breathing heavily. After a few moments, he turned back towards her, tears burning in his eyes. "As surely as if he had pulled the trigger, Cal Omas murdered her."
"Solo... Anakin. I know. Just now, I was there with you at her funeral. Luke was there with you when she finally died."
Anakin shook his head. "I hope I never see something like that again. I've seen people die before, killed by amphistaff, blaster and my own blade... but to watch her be ate away like that ... ate away by our own creation."
He stumbled towards the wall, and when he reached it, he slumped to the ground, leaning against it. Screwing a fist against his eyes, he gave another of those bitter, harsh laughs. Then in a soft voice, he said, "You know I loved her, right?"
Mara nodded her head.
"You know we had started dating."
Mara silently nodded her head again.
"You know I married her," Anakin said, still using that soft voice. He glanced up towards his aunt, and noticed the shock etched onto her face as her mouth hung open.
Mara gave a twist of her head. "What? When? How?"
He snorted. "Glad, I can still hide something from all of you. Actually, according to Tusken tradition, we were married when she was 9 and I was 11. By helping her on her rite of passage, I announced to the tribe that we were one person. As for our society? After Coruscant's fall, while you and Uncle Luke were off playing on Coruscant, I had Uncle Wedge do it."
Mara laughed and shook her head. "That sounds like something you'd do."
He unclipped his lightsaber, and held it out, thumbing the activation plate. He let out a small sigh as it did not ignite. For a few more minutes, he stared at the useless shaft of metal. "Why Aunt Mara? Why did my wife have to die?"
"I don't have an answer. No one does. But think of this, if she hadn't died. If Alpha Red hadn't killed her and those billion or so slaves, we would still be fighting the Vong. That means billions more would have died or been enslaved. Would you happily let all those billions die, just so that she wouldn't?"
His looked up from his lightsaber, and stared into Mara's green eyes, pondering her question. Would he willingly let the billions of people die who would have, if the Vong War had continued? Would he do it, just to have Tahiri back? Could he?
Anakin stood up, and returned to the railing. He glanced down at his saber once more, and then cocked his arm back and threw it out. It spun through the air, the sunlight flashing off the steel handle. Spun end over end, through the arc of his throw, until it made a small splash in the distance.
And was gone.
Just like her.
He stared at the ripples as they slowly spread out from the saber's point of impact.
"I just threw away my 'saber, Aunt Mara. I've made my fighting prowess less effective. I've weakened myself and the Jedi. What I just did, saved all the lives that that saber could have taken. And let's be honest, if I fell, even for a short time, that number could be huge." Then he turned from the sea to face her. "So tell me, Aunt Mara. Is what I did right? Did I do the right thing?"
Mara shook her head. "No ... you have no idea how many lives that saber may or may not have taken. All you did was weaken your own defenses. Plus, you don't know what other problems a saber just sitting out there could cause."
Anakin nodded his head. "Then ask me again. Should I be happy that my government, my people, threw away my wife? Ask me again to pick between a billion potential deaths and hers. Because, I know what my answer would be."
He stared at her hard for a few more moments. Waiting, daring her to speak again. Finally he spun away, and stood on the edge, staring out at the water.
His hand reached up, and caressed the small pendants he now wore on a thin chain around his neck. Pendants which contained the fingerprints of Tahiri's real parents, her foster father, and herself. The last of those, Anakin had taken just hours before her death. His thumb rubbed up against the material, feeling the almost imperceptible ridges.
"As always," he whispered to the sea. "I would have chosen you, Tahiri ..."
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