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Fatal Flaw

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Fatal Flaw

By Maia’s Pen

 

Chapter 1

The stun charges pelt us like a sideways hailstorm. This is no Christophsis, but the countless droids versus three Jedi make this situation potentially worse. 

Much worse.  

We ventured through the outer rim to this wasteland of a planet, Oleh Minor. We came to investigate a rumor about the separatist’s new ‘secret weapon’. As it turns out, it’s not one weapon . . . it’s hundreds upon hundreds of them. Freshly manufactured LM-432 crab droids. Over the years we’ve fought crab droids of all shapes and sizes — from four-Wookiees-high tanks to Padmé-size attackers; but this variation is new indeed. They barely reach my knee, but sure are tough little bastards. Each unit is coated with coppery armorplast-shielding; they have four stabbing legs and pincers that could crush my skull. They also have mini cannons strapped to their bellies. No doubt the crabs can fire-off blaster bolts; but they’ve been programmed to stun us, not kill us. Just one of these things would be a nuisance, but hundreds of them together . . . this isn’t good. 

It’s like I’m fighting in a landmine — circuitry and armored plates explode all around me! Fortunately there are no actual bombs, it’s my lightsaber that’s busting these crabs to bits.

I’m powered by some concoction of the Force, adrenaline and the absolute need to keep Obi-Wan safe. 

And Fisto, too, I guess. 

Innumerable stun charges pinpoint me at once, and I sense where each one is headed before it’s even discharged. Deflecting is as natural as breathing, and yet I’m drenched in sweat. As physically fit and full of ‘Chosen One’ Force as I am, my heart feels like it’s gonna ‘play crabby’ and burst next. My legs, my arms, every cell in my body, groans like I’ve been battling for hours. But in realtime Obi-Wan, Fisto and I hightailed it outta the storage facility just minutes ago. The crabs break easy, but they have the numbers. And they just keep spewing outta their facility like it’s a volcano blowing droids! The incessant barrage is forcing us fight at lightspeed. 

I feel my comrade’s fatigue weighing me down like some burdensome cloak. We can’t keep this up for much longer. I can’t keep dodging, deflecting and destroying without fail. Eventually I’m gonna miss a blast, or Fisto is gonna miss or Obi-Wan is. One of us, or all of us, are gonna get stunned into convulsing heaps of flesh.

Kriffing unbelievable!

This wasn’t supposed to happen! Padmé doesn’t deserve this. My wife even asked me to reconsider my part in this mission — this mission that Obi-Wan, Fisto and I volunteered for. This was supposed to be easy. We were instructed to: fly incognito to Oleh Minor and, if the new weapon was real, then commence operation ‘sneak-in-blow-shit-up-sneak-out’. No part of the assignment even suggested that we’d be walking into a storage facility for a legion of crab droids. 

When we opened the facility doors we released a floodgate of crabs. We were instantly overrun by a stampede of them! The crabs acted like murderous nerf herders, cleverly dividing me from my companions and forcing us to spread out across the desert outside.

During the initial chaos, I . . . got distracted. Fisto and Obi-Wan were fighting back-to-back, irritatingly well-synchronized, and . . . anyway, while being nearly steamrolled by crabs, I dropped the bag of explosive charges. By now the bag is half a kilometer away and buried under a sea of stabbing metal legs. So we’re doing the only thing that’s left for us to do: run and fight for our kriffing-lives back toward the shuttle! 

Well, while ‘run’ maybe have been our intention, it’s not our current action. We are fighting for our kriffing-lives, but our rate of travel would fail to impress a sand slug. For every three steps we advance toward our shit shuttle, we end up taking two backward to keep the droids at bay.  

Obi-Wan is about twelve meters to my left. His lightsaber is a sapphire beacon within the gloom. Without it I would’t be able to see him at all. It’s nighttime and this blasted planet only has one moon, and that moon is bantha shit. It’s about as useful as a candle in a sarlacc's gut.

Stang-stang-stang,” I fire-out curses faster than the droids can fire-out shots, until —

Obi-Wan’s alarm nearly drops me! The kriffing sensation . . . it burns through him —burns through our bond— hot and blinding as a solar flare.

A hoard of crabs swarm him like desert ants on a carcass. Obi-Wan goes down. They’ve knocked the wind out of him, but not the fight. My master’s lightsaber is still in his grasp. Even on his back Obi-Wan is like some professional crab butcher! That blaze of blue slices and dices the droids into snack-sized bits. Obi-Wan’s been scratched up, but he’s okay. He leaps to his feet with the grace of a Loth-cat, and is already annihilating the next menacing wave.

The relief.  

Feeling him dodge danger, again — it’s better than anything, even sex. I wouldn’t prefer it, but I could live without sex. I could not live without Obi-Wan.

I can’t attest to the depth of bond other padawan’s forge with their masters, but I assume it’s like a casual handshake compared to what Obi-Wan and I share. Our bond is intimate on a level that transcends physical touch. When we meditate together or fight side-by-side, like this, I am more connected to Obi-Wan than even Padmé — even when I’m deep inside her, fucking her senseless. 

Obi-Wan and I are one with the Force, but we are also one with each other. ‘Kenobi and Skywalker’. Even our names are synonymous.

For such a gifted speaker, Obi-Wan is not exactly ‘good at’ expressing his own feelings. Granted, for his entire life he’s been perpetually drilled to be wary of them. As Jedi we are trained to release anything ‘non-Jedi like’ (which is almost every normal human feeling) out of our bodies and into the Force — as though our emotions, our attachments, are a poison within us that needs some good-old-fashion blood-letting. As a padawan I tried to live-up to the ‘ideal’. Now, as a knight who is secretly married, well, I own my ‘failure’; though I don’t see it as such. I feel what I feel. I need what I need. And, so far, I’m handling my double-life. And I’ll continue to do so because, if Obi-Wan ever found out . . . 

I couldn’t handle that. 

It would destroy him, destroy us. Obi-Wan would blame himself for 'failing me' because he raised me, taught me, to be better. Which he did, I'm just not.

His duty would compel him to tell The Counsel and we’d be separated. I’d be forced out of The Order and into a mundane life; and Obi-Wan would continue on without me — battling for the republic, for galactic peace — and horrible things would happen to him and I wouldn’t be there to save him and what if he died alone and-and-and—

Stun charges sear my tunic like acid rain. Just my sleeves, not my skin. 

That was close. 

I have to breathe. I have to focus. 

No one is taking me away from Obi-Wan. No one is taking Obi-Wan away from me. Everything is fine (well, not really ‘fine’). I have to yank myself out of myself and give myself to the Force instead. If I can’t stay calm we’ll be fried by crabs, and then nothing will be fine at all.  

Fortunately I’m me, I buckle-down and multitask. I can’t ‘just stop’ thinking about Obi-Wan any more than I can ‘just stop’ breaking these droids. The survival of my sanity depends on one and the survival of my body depends on the other. And so I do both. 

Simply put, because of all that, my master and I have never discussed the breadth of our bond. But that’s okay, because I know that — try as he might to have the sentiments of a stone— Obi-Wan feels the same way about ‘Kenobi and Skywalker’ as I do. 

Words would be inadequate anyway. There might be trillions of languages in existence, but not one of them has invented words powerful enough to describe what Obi-Wan and I are to each other. Our bond is everything. He is everything, and everything else is just everything else. We belong together as much as our own hearts belong in our chests. If anything ever happened to Obi-Wan — if the Force ever dared to end his life— my heart would either stop dead or I’d slash the universe into shreds until I found a way to bring him back to me. 

I’ve achieved inter-galactic fame as the ‘Hero With No Fear’, but nothing could be further from the truth. I’m not afraid of harm, or even death, finding my own body; but if it finds those I love . . . 

As a podracer I was no stranger to experiencing the (often grizzly) demise of other sentients, some even friends; but Master Qui-Gon was my first introduction to loss. His absence deeply saddened me and I missed him, but I learned to release my sorrow into the Force and carry on. I was not attached to Master Qui-Gon like I was to my mother. I loved my mother. I could not, never will, be able to release her tragic death away.

My second meeting with ‘loss’ is what fortified my bond with, and my attachment to, Obi-Wan. When I was twelve-years-old, Obi-Wan and I were sent on our first mission together to Zonama Sekot. While there we were viciously attacked and separated and, for the first time, fear possessed me like a demon. I feared that I’d lost my master forever, that he was dead. I experienced his loss. Loss in its full unmatched and unmerciful agony. My young, beautiful master who was so strong physically, so strong with the Force . . . the best Jedi Knight there was! Defeater of the first Sith in a millennia! And . . . he was gone. His fate was not something I could control like a podracer. I had no control at all. And Obi-Wan's loss burst inside me like an abscess, infecting my heart, my mind . . . I could not even imagine a universe without him in it. Fortunately, Obi-Wan Kenobi is tougher than beskar. 

And now, almost ten years later, my feelings haven’t changed—no, that’s a lie. They have changed, because I love and need Obi-Wan even more. I love and need him more every day, every hour-minute-second-nanosecond that passes. Like a primary organ, I depend on his existence to function. But when Obi-Wan is in danger . . .  when I think that ‘this time’ will be ‘the time’ that his body finally breaks beyond repair — that I don’t save him on time, I . . . I can’t function. I’m like a dangerous droid that hasn’t been properly programmed or maintained and could glitch and blow at any kriffing moment!

I can’t share these feelings with anyone. Not even Padmé, because I’d come across as having a stalkerish-level obsession with Obi-Wan. Which . . . wouldn’t be wrong, but my obsession isn’t creepy. I don’t need sexual intimacy with him, though. . . I mean, just because I don’t ‘need’ it doesn’t mean I don’t wan- okay, there’s a lot to unpack here. I’m not blind, he’s an attractive man—stop. I can’t allow my conscious thoughts to go there . . . no. I’m over this. I have to be. Obi-Wan is my friend, my mentor, my family, my everything. 

Everything except that. 

I banish that inkling into the Force where it belongs.

I have Padmé for that. And I love my wife, but the intensity of my need for each of them is different. If anyone ever hurt Padmé, I’d kill them. If anyone ever hurt Obi-Wan, I’d kill them and everyone they love and blow up every slab of ground they’d ever walked on. Many have indeed succeeded in harming my master, and many have died by my hand. As for the others: my mind harbors a hit-list with all of their names. Ventress being at the top of it.

The burning, repetitive ‘hummming’ of Obi-Wan’s lightsaber cuts me out of my battle trance. While I’ve been obsessing over my master (something I do a lot), the Force has been piloting my body — deflecting shot after shot after shot. 

Obi-Wan and I have fought our ways closer together, only about seven meters (and seventy droids) separate us. And, about fifteen meters beyond Obi-Wan, an emerald lightsaber spins like a windmill powered by caf! 

Matser Kit Fisto. 

I really did not want the Nautolan tagging along but, given present circumstances, I suppose that I’m somewhat okay that he’s here. 

Fisto is flipping through the air like an acrobat on a trampoline! He saw Obi-Wan get overrun by crabs, so he’s not gonna stay on the ground long enough to let them do the same to him. While airborne Fisto parries shots almost faster than my eyes can follow. Every time he touches down he whacks through droids like overgrown weeds, and then he’s airborne again before they can try and mob him. It’s a clever strategy, albeit a bit showy. Between the darkness, distance, and his erratic movements, I can’t see Fisto’s face . . . but, I’d bet my left nut that he’s grinning from ear-slots to ear-slots. 

The fucker is an outlandishly talented fighter, and he knows it.

“We must fall back faster!” Obi-Wan shouts, no doubt rupturing his voice-box so that we can hear him over the blur of our blades and the detonating droids.

I agree with Obi-Wan. I’m not particularly enjoying my time as a crabshell shucker; but our shit shuttle is still at least three kilometers back across this wasteland. We’ll have to Force sprint, but we have to do it together. If one of us falls behind he will be immediately overwhelmed and shucked by the crabs! 

Exploding droid by exploding droid, I battle my way closer to Obi-Wan. Sweat and splattering machine grease sting my eyes, but there’s no time to stop deflecting to wipe them dry. I blink against the blur, squinting . . . 

I still can’t make out Fisto’s face, but I see his cranial tentacles and matching blade whirling ever closer. Once we are within speaking-range we can plan our sprint. However, while running it will be very challenging for me to deflect stun charges. And — at the risk of sounding inwardly cocky— if the task is ‘very challenging’ for me, it will be nearly impossible for my comrades. 

Our survival rate would increase if there was even a slight pause in the droid’s pursuit. If the crabs could get knocked over, or held back somehow? Something, anything, to ensure that we got a head-start. We need to get out of their firing range before we can turn our backs to them.

Maybe the three of us can Force push them together? We could cover a wide berth, knock over dozens of them. If we took down the closer crabs, then those behind would be momentarily slowed to climb over them. And those that are flipped over would need time to reorient and clamber upright. 

Obi-Wan’s adrenaline ignites my blood like oil. He senses my plan and he likes it, but . . . he’s modifying it . . . no, no, that’s too risky!

“You two, start running!” Obi-Wan urges Fisto and  me through voice and Force. “I’ll catch up!” 

My master inhales like he’s about to dive under water. He’s focusing, preparing his body and mind for— KRIFFING-HELLS! 

The Force is going nuclear around him!

Obi-Wan becomes the eye of some fucktastical-Force storm. Power surges toward him, around, inside him, until Obi-Wan can no longer be compared to any single force of nature — he is so much more than wind-rain-fire-ice! In this moment he simply is The Force. 

And Obi-Wan unleashes the mother of all Force pushes.

Scores of droids hurtle backward! It’s as if a gale force wind and earthquake have double-teamed their metal asses! It’s a knock-on effect. One droid row topples back and then hits the next and the next, until all I see are rows of twitching, kicking metal legs!

Neither Fisto or I heed Obi-Wan’s stupidly-self-sacrificing order to sprint away and leave him. As if I ever could. And a damn good thing we didn’t, because the crabs aren’t the only things toppling over. 

Obi-Wan’s consciousness abandons him.

The light of his saber blinks out. 

The power Obi-Wan exerted was too much! 

What was he thinking?!

I’m already sprinting! Retracting my lightsaber, I leap downed droids like fitness hurtles! I plunge into this good-for-nothing ground —arms outstretched! I’m going to catch my master before his head can strike down—

I get a face-full of glossy, green tentacles.

Kriffing Fisto.  

The Nautolan beat me to Obi-Wan. 

Fisto catches my master so easily, so perfectly, as though Obi-Wan’s fainting was some rehearsed act for a HoloNet drama. Fisto is on his knees, cradling Obi-Wan’s head like it’s some precious Nautolan egg. Then a green finger taps a pale forehead, sending recuperative waves into my master.

Of course Fisto can preform healing. 

I’m shit at healing.

As dark as this planet is, Fisto’s eyes are darker. They are blacker and glossier than Naboolian beetle hides. Oh, and he never blinks. Granted, he’s not doing it on purpose . . . he doesn’t have eyelids. But it’s still creepy. And those unblinking, black, beetle hide eyes are fixed on Obi-Wan’s closed ones. 

I’d have an easier time cracking durasteel with my teeth than Fisto’s Force shields; but, I’d swear on a Sith that he’s enjoying himself right now . . . holding Obi-Wan like that . . . 

Fisto looks up at me and tilts his head, causing his tresses to sway. He’s studying me like I’m some kinda mysterious star-chart. My Force shields are up, and I don’t feel him prodding; so what is he . . . those tentacles quiver. 

Stang. The Nautolan doesn’t need the Force to gauge my emotions — his blasted tentacles are pheromone sensors. 

Fisto straightens his head, and then . . . he flashes me the most cocksure smirk on this side of the cosmos. 

It takes everything I have to shove my desire to shove him into the Force. 

“I’m- I’m alright . . . thank you, Kit . . .” Obi-Wan slurs, blinking like he’s reemerging from that dive. 

“A most excellent Force push,” Fisto praises. “You never cease to impress, Obi-Wan.”

Okay, Fisto is clearly kissing Kenobi ass. Ha, shows how well he knows my master! Obi-Wan is immune to ass-kissy-flattery.

Obi-Wan gazes up at his rescuer and he’s kriffing starry-eyed. I’ve saved his ass countless times and I’ve never gotten ‘starry eyes’! I just get ‘what took you so long’ eyes! 

“Well, I do wish I'd stayed upright, but I thank you for the flattery, Kit.”

What the kriffing-kriff?! Frustration rips through my innards like one of the crabs is gutting me. 

“That was stupid!” I berate Obi-Wan with the truth, wishing I could hit him with it and make him see real stars! “You knocked yourself out! If we’d actually run off then you would’ve been stunned and captured or killed!”

My master glares at me like I’m the stupid one. “Not now, Anakin.” 

“We volunteered to be here because we wanted to accompany you,” I growl, gesturing between Fisto and myself. “You don’t get to have some kriffed-up sense of guilt or responsibility for our safety! We’re Jedi, we know the risks! You want to keep me safe?! Then you need to stay safe! I can’t believe you’d even think that I’d run off and leave you!”

Obi-Wan looks at me like he wants to smack the stupid outta me! 

“It doesn’t matter now,” Obi-Wan says, wincing against the brain hemorrhage he probably gave himself with that obnoxious, showboating Force push! Or, maybe Fisto’s lap is uncomfortable. I hope it’s that.

“We will talk about this later,” I warn him. “I’m not gonna let this go like last time—” 

“Excuse me, my friends,” Fisto interjects quite casually, like he’s about to ask for directions to the nearest caf shop. “But we truly must make haste,” he points toward the battalions of droids clambering upright. Many are already taking aim.

Fisto helps Obi-Wan to his feet, and those amphibian-ish fingers linger on my master’s arm. 

“Quite right,” Obi-Wan agrees, drawing on the Force for stamina. “Let’s go.”

The Force assures me that my master is fit enough to run, hells, there’s no time to ask him. And so we all just run! 

We accelerate like we’ve been shot outta blaster cannons — we’re a blur of Jedi robes! Tinnies and SBD’s wouldn’t stand a chance of catching us, but these little crab droids aren’t slouches! They crank their motors into high-gear and RACE after us! If their speed wasn’t so horrifying I’d be impressed! It’s like I built them! 

Long-range stun charges lash toward us like electro-whips! 

The droids are almost on us! Even I don’t have time to deflect the barrage and maintain speed! My comrades and I have to rely on the Force to know when to weave or jump or duck or-- why does Fisto have to run right between me and Obi-Wan--

I’m hit.  

Right . . . 

. . . between . . . the . . . 

. . . shoulder . . . 

. . . . . . . . blades . . . 

An electric current sizzles through my blood — short-circuiting my nervous system . . . and oxygen doesn’t seem to reach my lungs anymore.

“Anakin!” Obi-Wan’s panic covers us like an airtight sack; and the suffocating sensation has me gagging on my last meal. 

My throat is tight . . . my mouth is sticky . . . 

The dirt feels slippery . . . or my boots are slippery . . . ? Either way, my balance has been fried and I’m not gonna reach the shuttle. 

My destination has changed. 

I’m pitching forward into a blackhole. Or maybe I’m just falling into Fisto’s dark, bottomless eyes? An eerie thought, but I’m . . .

. . . too weak, too tired . . .

. . . to . . .

. . . do anything . . . about . . .