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Hard Reset

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Anakin wakes up to red. Everything is tinted red, and somewhere a voice is speaking in that flat monotone of a medical droid, droning on about head injuries and asking him how he feels.

He feels.. he’s not sure. There’s Darkness everywhere.  He feels like a nerf in a gundark nest, and pulls his Force presence in as tight as he can, making himself smaller, less obvious. It’s all around him, worse than Dooku, worse than the muck and mire of everyday Darkness during the war.  

A com chirps.  “Lord Vader, the damage to the hyperdrives have been repaired.  We are ready to get underway at your command.”

There’s no response.

“Lord Vader?” the voice asks again, cool and impersonal.

“Uh,” Anakin says, and nearly jumps as his voice comes out deep, harsh.  His lungs feel clogged, and he aches all over, not the least of which is the throbbing in his head.

“Lord Vader, are you alright?”

“I’m.. fine.”  Anakin says, not sure of anything at all, and certainly not fine.

“Should…we get underway?”

“Are we in a hurry?” Anakin says it without thinking, a flip remark that his new voice turns into a growling threat.

“N-no sir, of course not. We await your commands, as always.” There’s a moment of awkward silence, then the voice continues,  “Captain Marse, out.”  The com goes dead.

“You are sufficiently recovered to return to duty, Lord Vader,” the droid announces, leaving Anakin at loose ends. But there’s another presence in the murk of Darkness, a light that he recognizes.  Maybe that will get him some answers.

He marches out of the room as if he has every right to be here, wherever here is, and nobody stops him. It’s a starcruiser, he soon finds, but at the same time not.  It’s larger, for one thing.

Narrowing in on the presence isn’t easy, but nobody stops him or even looks him in the eye as he walks past, so he keeps up the purposeful stride and wonders if this is some kind of nightmare or hallucination.  There are clones, or at least troopers, but he doesn’t get the sense that they’re his, and everywhere, there’s the Darkness.

He stops outside a cell that has a guard posted outside, wondering if he’s going to have to knock someone out, but the guard lowers his eyes, and murmurs a respectful  ‘Lord Vader.’

Well, that was too easy, he thinks as he walks into the cell.

Ahsoka. She’s.. older. Has to be as old as him, or more. Maybe thirty?  It’s hard to tell, under all the blood and bruises, but it’s definitely Ahsoka.  She lifts her head, and the defiant tilt of her chin makes his heart clench. “Ahsoka…”

“You don’t-  get to call me that- Vader.”

“What did they do to you?” he asks, moving forward to free her hands.  She braces, as if for a blow, and Anakin’s stomach drops like a stone. “Ahsoka?”

“What is this, some kind of trick?” she spits as he cracks her cuffs open with the Force.

“Ahsoka, it’s me, Anakin.”

“Bullshit. Nice try though – that’s a different tactic.” She bares her teeth at him. “Or did the knock on your head scramble your brains?” There’s just a hint of satisfaction in her voice.

“You did that?” He asks, accusation and bewilderment in one.

She tries to hit him with one freed hand, and almost succeeds, his aches and pains translating into slower movements.

“Ahsoka, listen to me,” he tries again as he catches her wrists as gently as he can and sits her up again, “I don’t know what’s going on, but I’m going to get you out of here. I don’t know how long we have before someone tries to stop me though, so I’m going to need your help.”

“I won’t lead you to the Rebels, you have to know that.” There are tears in her eyes, but her voice is determined, hard.

What Rebels? “I don’t care about any kriffing Rebels, now are you going to walk or do I have to carry you?”

“You can’t be serious.”

“I feel like I got trampled by a bantha, I have no damn clue what’s going on, and I am extremely serious.”

Her eyes narrow.  “If you’re so serious, give me back my lightsabers.”

“Where are they?”

“How the hell should I- this can’t be real.”

“Do you want to escape, or do you want to sit here complaining until whoever’s monitoring the camera notices something’s up.  C’mon Snips-“

This time the hit connects, though he barely feels it through the layers of padding he has on. She looks at him, wild-eyed, hurt and anger radiating in the Force, before she brings it down, smooths it out like she’s a Jedi Knight for real.  “I won’t let you get to me.”

“Okay, fine, but are you going to escape or not? The Ahsoka I knew would have been halfway down the corridor by now.”

“Anakin Skywalker is dead.” He can hear the utter certainty in her voice. “This is a trap.”

“So you’re just going to sit around?”  Anakin’s new voice is harsher than usual with frustration and confusion.

She gives him a hard, cold look.  “This doesn’t mean I trust you.”

“Good to know,” he says, the mechanical voice stripping his words of sarcasm.

This day was just getting better and better.