Ahsoka's head rang with pain. She turned her face into the soft cushioning she rested on, groaning aloud. Even her montrals hurt.
She blinked, wondering why the deck of the Resolute was so comfortable, and pulled herself upright shakily. There was a hand outstretched before her and she struggled to focus on it.
"Master?" she asked blearily. Her vision sharpened: Obi-Wan, looking similarly pained and out of sorts, and Padme with her hand extended. She latched onto Padme, letting the woman heave her upright and leaning heavily on her as she tried to keep her balance. "What happened?"
"Another of Anakin's brilliant plans, I fear," Obi-Wan said.
Padme cast him a look and he shrugged apologetically. If the churning nausea in Ahsoka's gut was anything to go off of, he probably felt twice as bad as he looked, and he honestly looked terrible. For once, it seemed he was the snippy one.
"Grievous," Padme explained. Ahsoka vaguely remembered that. There'd been a battle, going well for the most part, until Grievous unexpectedly jumped in. "He got a lucky hit on the Resolute. Cracked our hyperdrive."
"So how did we … "Ahsoka trailed off, eyes widening as she remembered. "He didn't!"
Even Padme looked rueful.
"He did. Somehow."
"I will have to ask him precisely what Force technique that was," Obi-Wan said. "After I get through killing him. Force, this headache alone."
"Me too, Master. But he's probably got it even worse, don't you think?"
Whatever Anakin had done to keep the Resolute's hyperdrive intact through their jump had warped the Force around them. Ahsoka remembered the Force sliding out of her grasp before she suddenly felt like she was being torn asunder herself. As bad as that felt for her and Obi-Wan, she could only imagine how the Chosen One felt.
"Indeed. Perhaps that will be punishment enough," Obi-Wan said. He sounded doubtful.
"Where is he?" Ahsoka asked. She frowned, peering around at the room they were in. They definitely weren't on the Resolute, though it didn't seem like they had been captured either. Grievous didn't ever give them furniture this nice. "Where are we?"
Cautiously, she tried to reach out to touch the Force to figure things out, only to double over in pain.
It was there – it was just wrong, incomplete, quiet and strange and awful. She felt dizzy again and pressed her face into Padme's arm until she recovered.
Obi-Wan stepped over to them, hand gentle on her shoulder. Ahsoka looked up at him in surprise; in lieu of the Force, though, touch was all they had.
"We shall have to be patient to learn that, young one," he said. "I do not believe we are in any danger, however."
"But what about Master Anakin? Why isn't he here with us?"
"I don't know," Padme replied tightly. "But I agree with Obi-Wan."
Ahsoka exhaled, trying to steady herself without the Force.
"If you would sit, I may be able to explain," said a familiar voice. Ahsoka turned in surprise; she'd been so focused on herself that she hadn't heard the door. Obi-Wan displayed similar discomfort and stepped back cautiously from the woman in the doorway.
Padme's hand went to her mouth.
"Mon?" she asked.
Senator Mon Mothma stepped through the doorway, followed by a young, dark haired woman who Ahsoka couldn't quite place, though she almost felt like she'd seen her before.
"It is good to see you, Padme," Mon Mothma said.
There were wrinkles at the corners of her eyes, her hair was completely gray. Her gestures were still graceful and she motioned for everyone to sit. They slowly gathered on the furniture, Obi-Wan on a small settee to the side while Ahsoka and Padme took the sofa. Mon Mothma sat down across from them while the younger woman stood behind her, watching them with a dark, unyielding gaze.
"Your ship is largely undamaged," Mon Mothma said. She seemed distracted, eyes locked on Padme with an intensity Ahsoka found disquieting. Padme tilted her head, curious as the attention though it did not appear to bother her. Briefly, Mon Mothma looked to Obi-Wan, telling him, "Your crew is safe with us. Few of them were affected as you Jedi were."
"But you took them from the Resolute nonetheless."
Mon dipped her head in acknowledgment but did not explain.
"Where are they?" Obi-Wan asked.
"Quartered with the members of the system defense fleet, for the moment."
"Then we are on Coruscant," Padme breathed. She gestured at their surroundings: beautiful, but stark. It didn't look at all like Coruscanti decoration to Ahsoka – but then again, she'd just woken up. Blind to the Force, she'd just have to take Padme's word. Padme turned a look on Obi-Wan. "Anakin succeeded, after all."
He rubbed a finger across his mustache.
"I would not be so sure of that, my lady."
Mon Mothma and her companion had tensed at Anakin's name, though Mon Mothma did a better job hiding it. Ahsoka glared at them both.
"So we're on Coruscant. Nice. Where's my Master?"
"Your –?" the dark haired woman started before cutting herself off. A muscle twitched in her jaw and again she looked so familiar to Ahsoka, but she just couldn't place the woman.
"Anakin Skywalker is in the medical facility," Mon Mothma said smoothly. She gave them a small smile. "I assure you, he is recuperating in good hands. In the mean time, I would like again to tell you how wonderful it is to see you. Perhaps you have other questions I could answer?"
Ahsoka narrowed her eyes at the other woman, opening her mouth to ask just who the hell she was and why she wouldn't introduce herself, but Obi-Wan interrupted.
"It is wonderful to see you as well, Mon. But though you have told us where we are, I feel you have left out salient information. Such as when we are?" he asked pleasantly, though there was durasteel in his voice.
Ahsoka jolted at the words. She shot a look to Padme, who shrugged a shoulder. Mon Mothma did look significantly older than the woman Ahsoka remembered but... time travel? Seriously?
If Padme was surprised, she contained her reaction and the dark haired woman appeared to be annoyed at the idea, really, rather than doubtful.
"Judging from your uniform, Master Kenobi," Mon Mothma said, calmly. "You are twenty five years into the future."
It wasn't the first time Anakin had woken chained to a bed. But at least in Padme's apartment, he knew where she kept the keys to the handcuffs.
He cracked his eyes open slowly, surveying his surroundings carefully. The Force was implacably distant – present but somehow beyond his reach. He didn't like that thought at all, but he'd deal with it later, when every single one of his cells wasn't screaming in pain. For the moment, he took in the spare white walls of what was obviously a med bay, the machinery and droids that hummed around him, and the guard standing at attention, blaster aimed straight at him.
"At ease, soldier," Anakin said hoarsely. His mouth was dry and he grimaced at the sound of his own voice.
The guard did not lower his weapon.
Separatists, then. He hadn't figured on the Republic locking him up, but for some reason he'd thought he was in Republic territory. His last thought before blacking out had been that he wanted to guide the Resolute home.
"Take a breather," Anakin advised the guard. He rattled the cuff against the bed railing and the man somehow tensed further. He raised his eyebrows at the guard, nonplussed. "I don't know what you think I'm going to do, but I'm a little tied up at the moment."
If anything, the joke just seemed to disconcert the guard more. Anakin sighed, throwing his head back into his stiff, military issue pillow. He tried not to groan, pain surging back after even such a small expenditure of energy.
But he really wasn't to get anywhere if he just gave up. So the guard wasn't a gateway out of here. Anakin had other tricks up his sleeve. He closed his eyes, gritting his teeth against the pain as he reached for the Force. It was an odd and terrible experience. He'd never had to seek the Force. It was always there with him, whispering and beckoning. He felt dizzy, a flush rising on his cheeks with the effort as he cast about.
There. The Force was there, rippling in the distance. Fierfek, it'd never been this difficult before, but all at once, it suddenly came back to him. Not in a rush as he expected, but a cautious trickle.
Anakin gasped, eyes flying open. He could feel again and it really wasn't helping matters at all. The Force, somehow, seemed as confused as he was. Nothing felt right.
The guard had come closer, blaster barrel aimed directly into Anakin's face.
"I know about your tricks," the guard snarled. His hands were trembling on the blaster. "Don't even think it."
Anakin smirked at him despite the sick feeling coiling inside him. He narrowed his eyes, finger twitching as he slapped the blaster out of the guard's hands.
"That's all I have to do," he said.
Next he pushed the guard to the wall, holding him there with the Force as he turned his attention to the cuff. It was a simple enough device, though the design wasn't familiar. Seppies and their toys, he thought sardonically, cracking the lock apart rather than bothering to pick it. The energy tether faded and Anakin swung his legs down from the bed, rubbing at his wrist with his prosthetic hand. A thread of fear quivered across the Force to Anakin and he looked up to see stark terror in the eyes of the guard.
"Are you going to tell me where I am?" Anakin asked.
He glanced away from the guard, looking for anywhere the Seppies might have stashed his lightsaber. Or his boots. When he looked back, he was surprised to see that the guard had fainted dead away. Anakin shook out his hand, wondering if he'd pressed that hard in the Force, but frankly, he was barely managing to do anything in the Force, let alone a choke hold. Gently, he lowered the guard down. Walking over cautiously, he felt for the man's pulse, finding it steady but slow.
Anakin snorted to himself.
"I guess this is why they use droids."
It would have been useful if the man had stayed awake long enough to tell Anakin where Padme, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka were, but Anakin felt the Force returning slowly but surely. He'd be able to find them. He eyed the guard's blaster ruefully before taking it up. It was better than nothing, he supposed.
Leia glared at the assembled group. Arguments had been heated between the Chief of State and the New Republic Navy High Command over what to do with the ship that had suddenly appeared in system, well past the first barrier of Coruscant's internal defense grid, nearly a full solar day ago. High Command had wanted to blast it out of the sky, but Mon stayed their hand. And, despite the possible repercussions for Leia's own existence, she still sided with High Command.
He was here. In the building. Leia battened down her Force presence, just as Luke had taught her, pulling it in around her as closely as she could until it felt like a second skin. She couldn't bear him seeking her out the way he once had Luke – didn't matter that he was younger, that he'd barely known she was his daughter before he died. She wasn't risking it.
The other Jedi hadn't noticed yet, so she seemed to be doing something right.
Mon Mothma wasn't lying about the Resolute's crew. The non-clones were currently quartered, with supervision, at Naval headquarters. The clones were on lock down within the ship itself, impounded in high orbit.
Vader, despite Leia's protests, was in the Palace infirmary. Force, she was glad Luke was off planet. She did not relish explaining the situation to him, let alone restraining him from visiting their young, time traveling father.
Of course, she thought with a pang, it wasn't fair that she was meeting their mother before he did. She settled her gaze on the woman, Senator Padme Amidala as Mon Mothma had introduced her.
When Mon spoke, it had been of an old friend, one of the founders of the Rebellion. She had not said that Amidala was Leia's mother. Leia had only realized that herself when she stepped into this room, feeling how vibrant Amidala was in the Force, echoing Luke though she lacked his power. Leia swallowed deeply as Amidala caught her gaze, curiosity tempered by shrewd distrust.
She, like the girl, still wanted to know where Vader was.
"Mon," Amidala said after a moment, cutting off speculation between the Chief of State and General Kenobi about precisely how the time travel may have occurred. She was still looking at Leia. "Even if we do believe you – and we have been caught in a fair number of Separatist traps, so please forgive my skepticism – why are you holding us separately?"
"The longer we are here, the more I feel that this must be the future," Kenobi said quietly. "There is something off about the Force here."
The Togruta girl nodded vigorous and then hissed in pain, bringing a hand to her head.
"Yeah, I agree with Master Obi-Wan. It seems like it should be impossible, but it somehow feels right."
Mon smiled graciously at them, but Amidala's gaze did not waver.
It was still up for debate how much they were going to tell the group. It seemed injudicious at best to just lay the truth on them. Mon Mothma herself had advocated putting them into a windowless room; to see Coruscant's skyline, the wreckage of the Temple, wouldn't at all calm the situation.
"He was hurt. More than the other Jedi," Leia said, feeling as if the words were wrenched from her. Amidala looked distressed, but smoothed her expression into polite concern. The idea that her mother was upset for that monster made Leia suddenly furious and she couldn't help but add, "And he's been known to be violent, so we took precautions for that as well."
If she expected anyone to protest, she was disappointed. Instead, Kenobi merely sighed while the Togruta girl looked mildly embarrassed – and a bit insulted. If she really was Vader's apprentice, then it made sense that she would be annoyed that she did not yet have the reputation her master did.
Amidala, however, did not look impressed.
"I have also been known to be violent," she said softly, dark eyes glittering with a look Leia recognized from herself. "I would like to see him."
Leia made a frustrated sound.
"If you wish to parlay with us, it will be now."
Mon Mothma let out a light chuff of laughter.
"Oh, Padme, how I have missed you," she said. She reached out her hands to clasp Amidala's, and the hard lines of Amidala's face softened some. She was still plainly suspicious that this was a plot of some sort, but Mon Mothma's presence alone was doing much to allay those concerns.
And it was into that moment of assurance that Anakin Skywalker burst.
Leia sensed him only a moment before he blew open the door, blaster held lightly by his fingertips, as if with disgust. He ducked into the room, putting his back to the wall and peered out the smoldering door before turning his attention to the group. He had a wide, fierce grin on his face, Jedi uniform still intact and restraints completely gone. He was, however, still bare foot. So at least we managed that, Leia thought, rolling her eyes. She'd petitioned for more security, but Mon Mothma reminded her that given the time he came from, he shouldn't have been a threat yet at all.
"I –" he cut himself off, staring at them. He gestured with the blaster, expression disgruntled. "I'm rescuing you! You could at least stand up for it."
Amidala was the only one who stood. She held her hand out to Vader and he placed the blaster into it happily. He looked over to the other Jedi, eyes flicking down to their belts.
"Wait, why do you still have your lightsabers? Why was I the only one chained up?"
Amidala hefted the blaster. Kenobi went to stand by her side, arms crossed, while the girl fingered one of the lightsabers on her belt.
"Just what I was asking," Amidala said sweetly. "And I still don't feel the answer was adequate."
"However, I do not believe we are in any danger," Kenobi added. He gave Vader a sidelong glance. "So you can stop dancing around like an impatient bantha."
"I'm not – Are you calling me fat?"
"Anakin," Kenobi said warningly.
"I just think," Vader said, "we should get going. This is a rescue, after all."
The time travelers turned as one to look at him, horror dawning on their faces.
"What did you do?"
Leia dropped her hands to her side, running to the comm panel near the still smoking wreckage of the door. She could feel Vader next to her, taking a threatening step closer.
"Status report!" she snapped.
"Everything is fine, Princess," a tech assured her.
Leia glared at Vader.
"What did you do?" she snapped, echoing the others.
He scratched at the back of his neck, pulling a face.
"Hey, when I wake up imprisoned, I generally assume I need to escape. It's just good sense. And if you wanted to be diplomatic, maybe you shouldn't have put so many armed guards in between me and my friends." A series of small explosions went off in the hall and Vader added, "And you should look into blasters that don't overload so easily."
Leia let out a growl of frustration, Force pushing Vader to sit and stay the hell out of things just as the tech called back, panic lacing his voice.
Lightsaber blades snapped on in front of her and she found herself facing down the barrel of Amidala's blaster. And behind Amidala, she could see Vader, his blue eyes so like Luke's, looking at her in surprise and recognition.