Some looked up and noticed him, nodding in his direction. A nice man Anakin knew from Accounting pointed towards a halo of people lingering near a form stretched out on a pulldown counter.

His father.

How could this have happened? All within what--a day? Deebu, Krul, the Kur'zo, Dad... and Chona. Her ship disappeared right off of the astrogation maps within moments of the Halcyon being hit. It was her. He'd hold her responsible.

His hand shook on the railing. It wasn't supposed to be like this. The joy of escape robbed. Chona needed to pay. Stop it. You need to be down there, with him. Not fixating on some impossible revenge fantasy.

Anakin lifted his feet and let them fall onto each stairway step. When he got to the bottom, A Rodian lady from HR, which Krul had not released, rushed over and hugged him. What was her name, Shuje? With his mind in a haze, he couldn't be sure. He numbly accepted her embrace, but couldn't hold it for long. He passed by a damaged droid, and made it over to his father.

Father's body was slightly blue-purple and swollen. Much of the skin looked puffy, except for his left shoulder and arm. Much of that was black-red, deformed, as if the skin had burst and then shriveled. This must have been where the evo-suit had burned. Reflexively, food came up, but Anakin swallowed it back down.

Sergeant Ayalla had his Dad hooked up to some medical equipment apparently designed to help with oxygen and fluids. A tube had been inserted in his mouth. He looked at his father's stomach: he was breathing. A good sign at least.

"How's he doing?"

"Anakin, right?" Ayalla asked, looking up from her device. "I've been treating your father's burns, and the gas bubbles in his body fluids. But he's still hypoxic -- his body needs more oxygen. My scans show he's suffered pulmonary and cerebral damage. I've stabilized him, but there's little more I can do at this point." She wiped her brow. "I'm sorry."

"Will he...?" Could anyone live from this?

She looked at him with questionable confidence. "He's a fighter. We're doing everything we can to help him win this fight."

"Let me be clear -- Not this." He pointed down on his father's form. "Not just the body. Will he live?"

She hesitated. "Anakin, I'm not a specialist; I can't make that assessment. I promise you we'll get him to the best care facility on Druckenwell -- Level 1 -- where real experts can work on him and determine the extent of his injuries. That's all I can say. I... should leave you two alone. If anything changes, I'll be back immediately." She walked away.

No one's willing to talk to me straight. That's a bad sign. A bacta tank and tissue regrowth therapy might repair his dad's body, but would his mind be the same?

Perhaps he could know now. Anakin reached out with the force, desperately trying to sense a feeling, some coherent thought from his father. A snippet of a dream would be encouraging.

Nothing. Don't you be gone; dead to the world, Dad. Anakin wanted to hug his father, hold his hand, but he didn't know if it would hurt him. Do more damage. At this point, he couldn't bear the thought of adding more. It was all too much.

He felt a hand on his shoulder and tensed. Glancing back briefly, the hand was bandaged and belonged to an intense looking man. One of the soldiers.

"Can't thank you enough for saving us up there. You know, we were sent to rescue you."

Anakin shrugged dismissively. He should piss off. Can't he tell my father's in critical condition and I ought to be left alone? Soldiers... they might be used to loss and death. Normal people aren't.

"I was there. When it happened." Anakin turned around to look at the soldier.

"When the Halcyon was hit by those ship fragments, an electrical fire started," the soldier motioned to a spot against the cargo bay wall, which was blackened and where wiring was exposed from a generator. "Your father just feet away from it, lit up like a matchstick. Your ma was screaming. I tried to reach your father..."

With the force, Anakin caught images: this soldier pulling his father to the ground, and trying to roll out the fire. The soldier's own arm catching fire and burning, him hardly giving it mind, when the cargo bay was depressurized. Anakin winced. The soldier was lucky his own suit held pressure.

"I... didn't react soon enough. And now this." The soldier motioned to his dad. "If you're anything like me, you're feeling nothing right now. And that ticks you off. But that's just shock. You'll feel the wrongness soon, that the world's upside down, tears falling randomly in coming months. Cause losing a dad's like God dying." Anakin swallowed. Losing? So was Ayalla just not willing to tell me the hard truth?

"I had something like a family I was close to once," the soldier continued, "My squad, and I lost most of them. So this is what I've learned: If you want to remember and love someone -- your dad -- then give of yourself. Your will. Make it your mission to make his ideals live on through you." The soldier snorted. "Hell, aren't I a hypocritical windbag? I hate shrinks, and here I go being one myself. Figures." The soldier turned from Anakin. "I've had my say."

"Thanks, uh --" I don't know his name. "Sir. For trying."

"Sir?" The soldier grunted. "That'll be the day. It's just Fett, chief. Just Fett." He wandered away.

Anakin looked back at his father's unsightly body. Give of myself? Make father's vision real through my actions? What this soldier said sounded right, but parsing it out into something tangible remained difficult.

How could he carry on his father's objectives? And what did his father really stand for, anyway? A few things came to mind. Giving others opportunities they didn't have, or could even expect to have. Expanding your horizons and being accepting of other ways of life and different cultures, even when it's at your expense. Not being so idealistic and preachy that you aren't willing to get dirty in the work of the world to get things done. These were good things.

And yet my father's work was ruined by a raving madman. Had he been too accepting? Was what his father stood for impractical and foolhardy, not worth trying to embody himself?

Maybe. If it hadn't been for these soldiers, and that Jedi Obi-wan Kenobi, they surely would have all been killed: Owen, his mom, his family friends. These troopers were men and women who made a difference, who preserved the good. If I were a Jedi, I could protect those who are like my father. I could deal with scum like Chona. He closed his eyes. But I closed that chapter of my life, didn't I?

He thought of what he'd just accomplished flying the Halcyon, fending off jookees and the Kur'zo. He had the ability to protect; he could do it. Maybe he could just join the Republic navy like he'd eventually planned on. But who was he kidding? His family needed him most right now. He'd figure the rest out later.

He gripped the counter his father was lying on. I swear to you father, I swear that no matter what I'll strive to be a good man, and protect our family and those like you.

***** If you enjoyed the chapter, please vote and comment! *****

STAR WARS: HERALD OF FURYRead this story for FREE!