He was going to make it. Obi-Wan hadn’t commed him that long ago had he? Picking up the pace of his steps, Anakin dodged past troopers and weaved his way through the ship’s halls.
Striding into the meeting room, Anakin huffed slightly upon realising that everybody was already gathered. Nope, of course he was late.
“Ah Anakin,” Obi-Wan said, his voice entirely too smug as he raised an eyebrow, “Nice of you to join us.”
“Yeah yeah, I’m here now, let’s just get started already.” Shaking his head, Obi-Wan addressed the crowd of orange and blue troopers in front of him while Anakin moved to stand next to his padawan, Ahsoka elbowing him playfully.
“We have been sent to locate an artefact on the planet Jendifunn. Supposedly it should give us vital information on how to defeat the Separatist army. Something we could always use, as I’m sure you all know by this point.” Around him, clones nodded vehemently and Anakin found himself nodding with them.
This war had been going on for far too long now, it was getting ridiculous if he was being honest. He barely got to spend any time with Padme anymore, resorting to hologram meetings where nobody would be able to bother them or discover their true relationship. He just wanted to be with his wife yet the war seemed intent on dragging them away from one another.
Quite frankly, he was exhausted and if this artefact would help end the war, he was all for locating it.
In the end, the journey to Jendifunn took only a few days yet Anakin found himself unable to relax during this time. Instead he remained in a state of fitful unrest, oftentimes finding himself fidgeting with some piece of machinery to distract from the feeling of unease echoing through the force.
Perhaps it was just his jittery excitement at the idea of an end to the war keeping him awake? Or maybe it was his nerves getting the better of him. No matter how he tried to justify it, Anakin simply couldn’t shake the idea that this mission would end up being something big.
Touching down on the planet, Anakin groaned upon realising sand was the only sight for miles. “Great.” He muttered sarcastically, cringing slightly as he stepped onto the grainy landscape. The sooner they could get this mission over, the better.
“Obi-Wan, where exactly are we supposed to find an artefact here? All I see is sand.” He questioned, spitting the last word as if it was venom.
“Patience padawan,” Obi-Wan replied while Anakin muttered a quick “Not your padawan” under his breath, though by now he knew it was in vain. “There should be a cave not far from here that our artefact should be held within, if our sources are to be trusted of course.”
Kicking the sand, in a very mature and not at all childish manner, Anakin looked over to see Ahsoka chatting to Rex and Cody as the two clones sorted through their men.
Making her way towards the two other Jedi, Ahsoka grinned sharply, looking far too entertained considering the situation they were in. “Master, isn’t this place great?” Her tone was practically dripping with sarcastic teasing. “I mean really, look at all this course, rough sand.” Beside him, Obi-Wan turned away to hide his amused look.
His hatred for sand was hardly a secret, especially considering how much he complained about it. “Very funny padawan.” He huffed, though couldn’t help his small smile. She deserved to have some form of amusement in this war, even if it was directed towards his hatred of a certain landscape.
Overhead the sun blazed down in its uncaring demeanor, heedless of those on the planet’s surface as they trekked through the waves of blistering, shifting sand. Squinting, Anakin realised that a new image was appearing in the distance.
Walking faster now, the Jedi Knight ignored the sand sinking into his boots and instead focused on the cave that could potentially house their artefact. Behind him, clone troopers made small noises of relief as they too spotted the cave.
Coming to the mouth of the tunnel, the Jedi made quick work to separate the clones into groups, one small group guarding the outside of the cave and a larger group working with them to find their supposed artefact.
‘Hopefully,’ Anakin thought to himself, ‘Bringing more men should mean we can locate this thing sooner and get off this kriffing sand-ridden planet. At this rate I’ll be finding sand in my clothes for the next year.’
Finally, after what felt like hours of stumbling through the main tunnel, searching diligently for any signs of the supposed artefact, the group came to a stop at a large opening in the cave. Ahead of them, ten tunnels opened up, each spiralling into a dark unknown.
“Ok, looks like we’re gonna be splitting up.” Anakin said, pivoting on his heels to address the troops.
“Rex, Fives you two take the first tunnel. Jesse and Tup to the next-” He continued to list teams, assigning them all a tunnel until he got to the final one, pointing towards his padawan. “Ahsoka, you’re with me.”
With the instructions laid out before them, the troopers each paired up and moved into their given tunnel, disappearing into the depths within seconds.
Obi-Wan called out to him just as he and Ahsoka started towards the furthest tunnel, “Anakin, please do be careful.” The man sighed, exhaustion clear in his tone.
“When am I not.” He grinned cheekily while Ahsoka threw her hands up in a ‘what can you do’ gesture. Obi-Wan merely shook his head before turning to Cody, the two making their way to their assigned tunnel.
After a moment of silently following the path ahead of them, the soft sound of their footsteps the only audible noise, Ahsoka spoke up.
“So, this artefact,” She began, “What exactly does it look like?”
“Your guess is as good as mine Snips.” He responded with a shrug. “The Council, as usual, refrained from telling me the details. All I know is that we ‘should be able to spot it from a mile away’”. He rolled his eyes at that. It was so typical of the Council to dismiss him like that.
While they hadn’t told Obi-Wan either, Anakin figured he was a member of the Council, surely he had to already know. They probably just hadn’t told him because they didn’t trust him. Scowling at the ground, Anakin roughly pushed those thoughts back.
Turning to look at his padawan, Anakin noted for the first time how dark the cave had become. Ahsoka would still be able to see clearly for a while due to her Togruta physiology, however he already found himself straining to make out the rocky ground ahead of him.
Unclipping his lightsaber, Anakin ignited it, drawing a questioning look from the Togruta at his side as she tried to sense any potential danger.
“Don’t worry Snips, just getting a bit dark in here, that’s all.” He forced himself to sound nonchalant about it, trying his best to ignore the slightly amused look on Ahsoka’s face.
Yet, despite her expression and quiet mirth, Ahsoka wordlessly ignited her own lightsabers, their glow adding to Anakin’s own and further lighting the way.
As the pair continued down the dark corridor, their lightsabers casting an almost eerie glow against the cave walls, they finally came to a halt as the tunnel’s path stopped directly in front of them. Rather, a small opening illuminated a smaller section of the cave, some sort of light source visible within.
Upon entering, the two were met with the sight of brightly glowing intricate markings against the flat stone wall.
“Wow.” Ahsoka whispered beside him, barely audible as she was, and Anakin found himself silently sharing the sentiment. It was a truly beautiful sight.
Stepping closer to the wall, Anakin peered at the markings. They didn’t seem to be a writing of any sort, nor did they resemble any drawings he had seen. Reaching out, Anakin brushed his fingers over the strange markings, eyes widening as they started to glow brighter until he had to hold up a hand to avoid being blinded.
Vaguely he realised that Ahsoka was calling his name, she might have been distressed but he couldn’t tell, it was almost as if he was hearing her underwater. Her voice was so distorted that he couldn’t even be sure that she was in fact calling him. The last thing he felt before blacking out was the sensation of a huge weight settling over his back.
Coming to, the first thing Anakin realised was that he was no longer in the caves on Jendifuun. Rather, he was in the Halls of Healing back at the Temple, which was strange given the fact that he couldn’t feel any pain. Looking up wearily, the second thing he realised was that he was laid on his stomach and there was some sort of weight holding him down.
Reaching back with a groan, his ungloved hand met with… feathers?
Now thoroughly confused, the Jedi Knight pushed himself into a sitting position. The weight wasn’t so bad that he had to strain to move, rather it was a weight that he simply wasn’t used to. Twisting around, he paused, unsure of what he was seeing, blinking a few times to confirm that he wasn’t still asleep.
Behind his shoulders were wings.
Cautiously stretching out the huge tawny appendages, Anakin took a moment to take it all in. Each feather was a golden-brown tone, streaked here and there with a darker shade, creating complex stripes running across the expanse of each wing. He had to admit, the pattern was beautiful but it very much did not belong on his shoulders.
Hesitantly lifting his left hand to the opposite wing, Anakin moved beneath the feathers, feeling warm muscle beneath. Taking in a shaky breath he concluded that they were in fact, very much connected to him.
The sound of a door opening distracted him from inspecting any further. “Knight Skywalker, it is good to see you awake though I really must recommend you lay back down.” Vokara Che stated plainly, the Twi’lek’s firm gaze narrowed in on him.
Rather than heeding her suggestion, Anakin instead sat up further, his mind buzzing with questions that threatened to spill out. “What happened? I don’t remember anything since… since the caves on Jendifuun. I don’t even remember getting back to Coruscant.” He muttered, confusion clearly laced through his tone.
“I imagine you wouldn’t, considering you have been unconscious for the past 72 hours and-”
“72 HOURS?!” Anakin shouted, cutting her off. “What have I missed?! Is Ahsoka ok? What about Obi-Wan? And my men?” As he rambled on, the healer made her way around to his bedside, a hand coming up to inspect the new wings, running her fingers over the humerus and down to where the feathers melded with skin causing him to jolt involuntarily.
“Your padawan and old master are both fine, as are the clone troopers. You were the only one to come back harmed in any way. Although I don’t suppose this could truly count as harm. Only a rather permanent change that you shall have to grow used to.”
Shaking the wings out, Anakin snapped out of his rambling in shock, only just catching her last sentence. Huffing out a breath of laughter, Anakin tucked the wings back as best he could, only getting them caught once before they folded back properly.
“Sorry, for a second there I thought you said they were permanent.” His chuckling slowed to a stop and he felt his heart sink as the look in her eyes hardened.
“That’s exactly what I said Knight Skywalker.”
… Well kriff.