Chapter 25

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Anakin


Sifting through the dataverse was relaxing. Sort of like swimming in an enclosed pool, it allowed Anakin to pretend he was free. While he couldn't will away the memory of recent events, of torture and betrayal, out of sight was a close second to out of mind. It was better than being constantly reminded of his captivity in a cleaning supplies room.

He was just glad the datajack hadn't been ruined by the soup or turned out to be a trap. At least, it hadn't yet.

Floating ribbons of data circled Anakin, upon which were nested scenes from SKYE's takeover, Krul's trials, and interviews with released non-human hostages. He saw his father's friend, Oslog, a man who'd taken him and Owen out to a shooting range, secured to a mining droid's legs. The older man struggled to stay afoot with the RX-9's long strides.

"Anakin," Owen said distantly, "Discovered anything from the news yet?"

"Wha-? Yeah. Working on it." It was disorienting having one foot in the dataverse and another loosely in reality, straining communication and thought.

Anakin dipped into speeches upon speeches: by Premier Mubatoo, Republic officials, even Jedi. He heard Human hate speeches by members of the Righteous Flame, and the barkings of a like-minded Municipate Adjooto.

"Come on bro," Owen said anxiously. "What's their rescue plan?"

"Ur, words."

"Words?"

"Sorry." Anakin emerged from the dataverse to explain. His vision focused on Owen. "Everyone's alluding to a rescue or release, without giving details. The Republic makes vague promises for 'conflict resolution.' The Jedi don't even bother with that. The autori are mobilized, but look on parade."

"Pooshba," Owen mumbled. "Someone should be doing something to free us."

"But what is that something?"

"I..." Owen's voice trailed off, as if embarrassed to discover his mind was an empty pantry.

"I've got nothing too. Let me get back to work."

"Wait. Can we contact mom and dad, and let them know we're alright?"

The question stung. Anakin wanted to to reach out to their parents desperately, but he couldn't.

"I've thought about this. Even if we knew what node they accessed, what if they're under constant surveillance and our messages got intercepted?" He shuttered to think what Chona might do to him or them.

"Yeah, communication's too risky. It's just... we might never speak to them again. It'd be nice to say something, you know? One last word. To share appreciation."

Anakin swallowed hard, his eyes misting. He knew what he'd say. I love you, for giving us life and these experiences, for being who you are, for showing me how to live.

Owen breathed deep, Anakin sensing his distress. "Enough for dead hopes," his older brother continued. "Let's plan our getaway before Chona's back."

"Right." To think about something else was a relief. Freeing themselves was a complex problem to solve, which could keep his mind occupied.

There was no easy way for escape. Sure, the door was electronically locked, but a datajack didn't mean Anakin could magically unlock it.

Even if he could, how would he and Owen overpower Citizen Husi and the patrolling guards outside the doors? Say they did, what would they do then that wouldn't land them back in the cell, get them killed, or worse?

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