Chapter 45, Part 2

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Anakin watched the countdown nervously as Krul's diatribe continued. How long would this trail last? Could his father and mother string it out long enough to delay their fate? At what point would Krul simply snap and order their executions?

These and other thoughts tumbled in his mind as the countdown timer's seconds ticked from 5:10, then 5:05, and finally 5:00.

"It's time," Anakin whispered to Owen.

Anakin reached out to Husi's mind, and immediately sensed a soul inflamed by Krul's speech. Anakin had few Rodian words, so instead he stoked the Rodian's anger with visions. The smell of burning Rodian flesh, as the human Sith blasted a family's home into cinders. A Sith crushing a Rodian servant's throat and flinging the corpse aside like an insect. Throngs of Rodians toiling and coughing blood in mines while human overlords celebrated another mindless social gathering.

Owen began to insult the guard in her own tongue. "Te wermo vindu pulo, windo da human. Te minu da droida a noo. Noo te ool, noo te ril, noo te garl!" Most of this slipped Anakin, but he caught "stupid green skin."

To these images Anakin added the feelings that had built up in him as he was kidnapped, beaten, and tortured. Wave after wave of rage, powerlessness, fear, confusion, hopelessness, loss. He began to shudder as the feelings roiled in his chest, flowing out through the force into the guard's mind.

"Noo moocha te chik, e..." Halfway through his second insult, the door opened and Citizen Husi rushed through, kicking Owen savagely in the chest.

Owen and Anakin hadn't expected Husi to crack so quickly. The Rodian lept onto Owen and began to rain blows on him. Anakin saw the pain on his brother's face, the bloodlust in Husi's eyes, and channeled his anguish and the force into the cracks that had already formed in his weakened dermaplast. Still the bonds would not budge.

With a feral snarl he wrenched at his arms with all his might. He yearned for justice, for vengeance, and he promised himself that he would be their avatar as long as he was alive. A soft crack rippled into a crackle as his bonds split apart, dermaplast shards hanging on his inner forearms. With a bound, Anakin closed the gap with Husi, wrapped his dermaplast-sharded arms on the guard's throat, and sawed viciously downward.

Blood showered Anakin's arms and legs as he furiously sawed his arms back and forth. A ferocious grin curled on his lips, and a feeling radiated outwards in goosebumps along his flesh. Power. His mind drifted to questions a Jedi Master once asked him years ago, as the life seeped out of the Rodian in his arms.

* * *

Anakin sprinted to a disabled heavy landspeeder, finding cover next to Republic soldiers and classmate Holis Veladrian. The firing of the vehicle's functioning turret pounded in his ears and shook his body. It joined a chorus of spitfire that engulfed the passway through a biolithic stone forest on Ord Mantell. Enormous creatures once roamed this region in bygone ages, which deposited layers of stones through physiological processes. Erosion wore away at the stones unevenly, such that columns rivaling a bantha's height jutted from the ground.

Unfortunately, the natural wonder provided effective cover for the enemy guerilla forces blasting on the Republic force's location.

"This is Gold Leader," came a voice in Anakin's ear. "The convoy has successfully been redirected along Worwack pass. Advance party, fall back to where the defensive perimeter is stronger. You must hold off the insurgents as long as you can, while we get the cargo to safety."

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