Tahiri Veila has never been happier. Anakin Solo has proposed, and in two months' time, she will be his wife, and a permanent fixture in the Solo family.
But her perfect life is about to be turned upside down.
Waiting in the shadows, a sinister force is about to reveal itself, hell-bent on revenge. In order to save those she loves most, Tahiri will be forced to travel to the edge of a distant galaxy to find the answers needed to combat an ancient power that even the skill of the Jedi cannot match. (Crossover with Star Wars).
This will eventually become a series of four novel-sized stories, set in both the Star Wars (post-film) and Twilight eras. Told from the POV of SW character Tahiri Veila.
1. Chapter 1: Losing Control
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And it grew both day and night,
Till it bore an apple bright,
And my foe beheld it shine,
And he knew that it was mine.
- A Poison Tree, William Blake.
If I fall and all is lost,
It’s where I belong.
- Cloud Nine, Evanescence.
I was never one to shy away from danger.
In my short lifetime, I had fought against the might of Krayt Dragons, rogue Jedi, and matched the supreme power of the Yuuzhan Vong. Yet nothing, not one of those near-death experiences, could prepare me for what I was about to face.
My lover, twisted beyond recognition, and dizzy with bloodthirsty desire to see me cold in my grave. If I were lucky, I would make it out with my life. And if I weren’t lucky, he would make it out with his.
Either way, life as I’d known it was over for me.
One way or another, it would end here.
And there was nothing I could do, nothing anyone could do, to stop it.
Chapter 1: Losing Control.
It was the most exquisitely beautiful thing I had ever seen.
Long, soft lines of ivory and crystal shone up at me; portions of lace interspersed with intricate clusters of hand-stitched Mon Calamarian pearls and Hoth ice diamonds covered the length of my crimson duvet, an ocean of fabric that had been created especially for me.
I sighed in quiet awe as I continued to stare at the marvel lying before me, my pink lips upturned in the kind of silly grin only a hopelessly lovesick girl would wear.
It was true: I was in love. The deep, head-over-heels kind – and I was stupidly, goofily ecstatic for it.
In two months’ time, I would be walking down the aisle in this glorious example of a gown, the eyes of over one hundred Galactic Alliance dignitaries all turned towards me and my blushing face.
I was over the moon. Literally.
The fabric felt like sugared air beneath my fingertips as I trailed my hand down the length of the tiered skirt, my mind drifting back to the night he proposed. The night my most treasured of dreams had come true.
He hadn’t taken me to a fancy restaurant like most men would: he knew that I’d never cared for the finer things in life, and was most impressed by thoughtful little gestures of the heart than anything on a grand scale.
We ate a picnic under the stars, just the two of us and a glittering river, gazing up at the vast canopy of twinkling lights. Even now, some four months later, the memory of that night still manages to bring tears to my eyes.
I gripped the fabric tighter, my fingers snagging gently in a section of ivory lace. But he didn’t propose by the river under a sea of stars. After the meal, which he had lovingly prepared with all my favourite dishes – papua fruit, nerf steak kebabs and an ice-cold bottle of Dathomirian wine – he’d taken me to a place that had set my blood racing in my veins, and my heart soar until I thought it would leap out of my open mouth.
It was an old, makeshift locker: a special durasteel and metal compound blend that was dented in several places, and had definitely been through the wars. Whether it was the same locker I was familiar with or not didn’t really matter; what mattered was that he’d gone to the trouble of re-creating the location of our very first kiss – minus the life-threatening situation, of course!
My hands were around my face and covering the gasp that had fallen from my lips when he’d dropped down on one knee, his blue eyes locking with mine with such intensity that it had taken my breath away.
He’d asked me then, four little words that had had me squealing with joy. “Oh, Anakin, of course! Yes, of course!”
The ring had been on my finger in an instant: a dazzling arrangement of diamonds, emeralds and sapphires, encased in a shell of white gold. I stared at it now as the gemstones shone under the artificial light, little diamond-shaped beams of rainbow light bouncing across the room and over the expanse of fabric, making my dress seem like it was alive with the most stunning of fires.
I picked up my dress – carefully, so as not to catch my ring in the tiny holes of the lace – and held it up against my body as I gazed at my reflection in the full-length mirror on my wardrobe door. It truly was exquisite, I sighed.
Now, if I could only try it on for a second…
I’d rarely managed to slip my tank top off when I felt a ripple in the Force. It was only the smallest of ripples, so much so that any normal Jedi would simply ignore it and continue with whatever it was they were doing. But I was so in tune with my new fiancé – on a spiritual level – that I recognised his approach in an instant.
He was much closer than I’d first thought, too – as in “right-outside-my-door” close. He’d probably thought it would be funny to practice his newfound aura-masking technique on me; but given what I’d just been about to do, his game was about as amusing as a Wookiee on bath day!
In a blind panic, I picked up my discarded tank top and threw it on, my arms getting caught in the sleeves and wasting valuable time as I was forced to unhook myself. The dress I was more careful with, putting it gently – albeit quickly – back on its satin hanger and placing it inside my wardrobe. It would have to wait to be put back in its protective calico bag.
I breathed a sigh of relief: the evidence was hidden, and not a moment too soon! The door hissed behind me, and as I whirled around to face the intruder, Anakin Solo’s amused face peered at me from the other side.
“I didn’t startle you, did I?” he asked me, his trademark Solo grin twisting into a knowing smirk. No doubt he was taking in my flushed cheeks, laboured breathing and the sharp movement of my left foot as I tried to discreetly push the empty calico bag under the bed without him noticing.
I was hopeless at this. I could never hide anything from Anakin.
Instead of admitting it outright, I decided to go on the defensive and play to my strength – and his weakness. My guilty expression quickly transformed into one of blind indignation, and I took a step towards him with my hands firmly planted on my hips.
“No!” I responded, outraged. “I knew you were coming a mile off. Looks like you need a bit more practice with that technique of yours, Solo.”
For his part, Anakin managed to look quite abashed at this. His own cheeks took on a soft pink hue as his gaze momentarily fell away from mine, and he began to worry his bottom lip with his teeth.
I felt a pang of remorse as I watched his bravado deflate, but brushed it away before it would show in my appearance or our Force-bond; after all, didn’t Anakin always tell me we needed to overcome our weaknesses? And if so, it was really my duty to help him curb his cockiness. It was his biggest weakness, after all.
It was all I could do not to smile like an idiot as Anakin looked up at me, his face set in an adorable grimace. “That bad, huh?”
I played along, my fury dying down in favour of a more pacifying expression. “Oh, yes. I half-thought about pretending to be surprised when you burst in here, but then decided that wouldn’t really be fair. You really want to get a handle on this technique before our next assignment, and I wouldn’t be a very good girlfriend if I didn’t at least try and help.”
“Fiancé,” Anakin corrected smoothly.
I blushed, not even bothering to stop the goofy grin from spreading across my face.
Anakin was smiling now, too: really smiling, his face set in a big, wide grin that showed two rows of perfect, white teeth. I could feel my façade slipping as I stared longingly at his parted lips (Anakin had the audacity to grin even more then, if that was even possible).
I was a goner.
Anakin laughed, and I groaned. “How did you know?” I asked him, face between my hands in utter mortification. My cheeks were blazing so red that they were like a furnace against my palms.
He chuckled lightly. “Well, if your shirt wasn’t inside out and back-to-front, I might have bought it.”
I groaned again, the sound muffled from my hands. Something soft and warm touched my wrists, the gentle pressure pushing my hands downward and away from my flaming face.
I looked up and opened my eyes. Anakin stood before me in all his beauty, his lips quirked to one side and his ice blue eyes glittering in delight. He was still holding onto my wrists.
His breath ghosted over my lips as he leaned closer still, and all thoughts of breathing were quickly pushed from my mind. I let my tongue peek out for the briefest of moments as I held my breath, wetting my bottom lip and waiting, with great anticipation, for what was sure to come.
It had been six days since we’d seen each other last. If Anakin had missed me even half as much as I’d missed him, he’d be ravenous just thinking about being able to kiss and hold me again.
I wet my lips again and swallowed thickly. I could feel Anakin’s pulse quicken through his fingertips. He sighed softly, and my eyelids fluttered shut.
This was it… Any second now…
“So… I really did surprise you, didn’t I?”
I pulled out of his grasp and slapped him in the centre of his chest with an open palm.
“Hey!” he exclaimed, though it wasn’t said in a shocked or an exasperated tone. He was chuckling again.
He was playing with me, I realised, and my reaction was just what he’d been hunting for. Jerk!
“Anakin Solo, you’re incogitable!”
I threw myself down on the bed in an effort to look like he’d disparaged me, but it was a half-hearted attempt. He was at my side in an instant, wrapping his arms around me and dragging me onto his lap. I happily obliged, snuggling closer to his taut chest and ducking my head into the crook of his neck.
I exhaled with a breathy little hum as his arms tightened around me. This was what I’d missed so much, even though it had only been six days. No matter where we were or what we were doing – even if we were in the midst of a deadly battle – if Anakin was by my side, I always felt safe and content.
He gave me a soft kiss on the top of my head and I almost melted from the tenderness the flowed through our Force-bond at the gesture. He’d definitely missed me, too.
I leant my head up towards his, and at the same time, he bent his to meet mine. Our lips came together in the most gentle of kisses; Anakin’s parting beneath my sweet breath as it politely asked for admittance.
I sighed, but the sound was lost in our kiss as it deepened, Anakin’s fingers winding in the loose curls of my hair. My own fingers were also busy, working their way from button to button as they deftly endeavoured to divest him of his shirt.
Once the task was complete, I pushed the ebony fabric away from his skin, letting my hands roam free over his naked chest. My nails skimmed over his pert pectorals and down his chiselled abdomen, but were stopped on their journey further southward by a firm grip.
I glanced up in confusion as Anakin slowly pushed me away, letting go of my wrist when his booted feet had managed to find the floor again. He gave me a soft kiss on the tip of my nose and threw me an apologetic grin.
“Sorry,” he said. “I always lose control when I’m around you.”
I wasn’t entirely sure what he was talking about, but I was still desperately craving his touch, and so far, he hadn’t moved far enough away so that he was completely out of my reach.
Acting on impulse, I stretched out with one hand, and, letting the Force aide me, pulled him back onto the bed beside me. Before he had time to protest I straddled his hips and leant towards him, my breath sweet with desire.
“Don’t be sorry. Maybe I want you to lose control.”
Anakin groaned and pushed again, this time so that I rolled off him. He ducked out from underneath me and paced his way to the opposite end of the room, running his hands through his sandy hair and cursing under his breath.
I’d never seen him so frustrated before, not since our time spent fighting the Yuuzhan Vong, and it worried me that he should be this worked up now. Something was very wrong.
I tried not to let my fear get the better of me, but with Anakin falling to pieces in front of my very eyes, it was virtually pointless. My lips quivered as I tried to find the right words. I took a deep breath to steady myself, and then asked the dreaded question.
“Anakin, what’s going on?”
Even to my ears, my voice sounded foreign and wrong, like someone else had possessed my body and was speaking for me. Anakin’s head snapped up at my words, but he said nothing; the first thing I noticed was that he didn’t even try to disguise the pain in his eyes.
I shuddered at the combination of his pained expression and the feeling he was projecting through the Force and plunged on, regardless.
“Whatever it is, you can tell me.”
Still, he said nothing, though he continued to stare at me with clear torment etched all over his face. Now I was falling to pieces. I could feel my hands start to shake, so I sat on them in an effort to bring some control back.
“You know me, Anakin. We trust each other. Please, just tell me what’s going on!”
I was begging now, but I was grasping at straws. If he didn’t tell me what was so obviously distressing him soon, I had a feeling my head would explode with the effort to keep my emotions in check.
At last he let out a deep, juddering breath, and divulged the whole, shocking story in one mouthful. “I blew it, Tahiri. I blew it big time, and now Jysella Horn is… is gone! I thought I knew what I was doing, I was masking my presence and I was sure none of them knew I was there, but they must have known, because the next thing I remember is seeing black and waking up with a splitting headache… and Jysella is gone! She’s gone, and it’s all my fault!”
I tried to make sense of everything he’d said, but the only thing that had really sunk in was the mention of Jysella. I clutched at the name like a lifeline; desperate to understand the jumbled explanation I’d received.
“What do you mean, ‘gone?’” I whispered.
Anakin had bowed his head, but he looked up at me again, his eyes red around the edges and two long tear tracks visible on his flushed cheeks. He croaked out his response.
“They took her.”
My mind went back over the events of the last week and a half: the news of the missing Force-sensitive children on Denon, the bizarre cloaked men seen lurking around the old Jedi Temple on Ossus, and Master Skywalker asking Anakin to assist in the investigation of the strange kidnappings.
I still didn’t understand what had gone wrong. Clearly Anakin’s distress, the mysterious men and Jysella Horn’s disappearance were all linked to the unexplained incidents of the past few days, but what could possibly make Anakin blame himself?
And then I knew – without even having to really think – what had happened.
It all suddenly made sense: his effort to hide himself from me this afternoon, the way his expression had faltered when I’d teased him about his lack of skill at masking his presence, and the heartbreaking tenderness in his touch as he’d held me and rocked me in his arms. None of this was about me, or our wedding, or even missing me during his six days on assignment: he was in deep, agonizing pain over Jysella’s kidnapping – something I was sure must have resulted from his overconfidence in his own ability – and he was trying to keep it from me.
What I couldn’t comprehend was why he would want to keep something like that from me. And then I knew the answer to that question as well – Anakin was trying to minimise my pain, and the only reason I would be in great bouts of pain would be if he were going somewhere for an indefinite amount of time, with considerable risk.
He was going after Jysella!
I gasped in spite of myself and Anakin leant against the far wall, a sad sort of smile playing at the edges of his lips.
“I knew you’d figure it out,” he said. A small amount of pride had snuck into his tone. “Uncle Luke doesn’t give you nearly enough credit.”
“Anakin…” I breathed.
His smile fell away, and the shutters closed over his eyes at once, until his expression was both hard and blank. “Don’t,” he told me. “I already know what you’re going to say, and it isn’t necessary. I know what I did and didn’t do.”
“But that wasn’t what I was going to say at all!” I protested, leaping to my feet, the lights in the room flickering with the rise of my anguish.
Anakin’s attention shifted briefly to the lights in the ceiling, before once again reverting to my face. The shutters were still firmly down on his emotions; I could feel nothing but coldness through the Force.
I wanted to tell him that this wasn’t his fault, that things happen for a reason, but I knew the sentiment wouldn’t be appreciated, so instead I said what I knew he really wouldn’t want to hear, making sure to put as much conviction into my speech as possible.
“You’re not going to do this alone, you know. I’m going with you.”
He growled his reply, and at the same time kicked off from the wall, charging at me until we were mere inches apart. “You don’t understand the risk,” he started to say, but I cut him off, spitting my retort in his face.
“I understand the risk perfectly, flyboy! Remember, you’re not the only Jedi Knight in this room.”
I was fuming now, my desire to hold him forgotten as we glared at each other, our eyes glinting with mirrored sheets of durasteel. Anakin cracked first, groaning wildly as he spun himself around and fisted his hair, almost pulling out a fair portion of it in the process.
I flinched at the animal quality to his cry but said nothing and stood my ground, waiting for him to counteract my argument. He didn’t disappoint.
“That’s not what I meant at all and you know it!” he cried. He took a deep, calming breath. “What I meant was that I’m not willing to risk you, Tahiri; not now, not on this mission. You’re too important to me.”
He stretched out to put a hand on my cheek but I batted it away, uncaring for the time being of the flash of hurt that flittered over his face. I’d reached breaking point; I’d never been so incensed in all my life. It wasn’t a pleasant feeling.
“And what are you, rancor bait?” I screeched. I couldn’t help it – my voice had risen to a pitchy crescendo, and I was certain anyone without a one-mile radius of my apartment would be able to hear every word I said. I didn’t’ care.
“No!” I interjected wildly. “Don’t you dare, Anakin Solo! Don’t you dare try and placate me! I love you – don’t ask me why, because for the life of me right now I have no idea – but I do, and if you think for one second that I’m going to let you go off on some crazy mission without me, you’ve got another thing coming. If I have to manipulate every Jedi on the Council, I’ll do it; if I have to bribe the shipping guards to let me within a mile of your ship, I’ll do it; if I have to sneak aboard your ship and spend the entire journey in the cooling ducts… I’ll do whatever it takes to make sure I’m there with you, whether you like it or not!”
Anakin was staring at me, his mouth open and his blue eyes wide. I threw him a half-smirk and added: “The gentlemanly thing to do here would be to give in and let me go with you.”
His eyes narrowed.
“It was just a suggestion,” I supplied, sheepish.
He cleared his throat and was about to say something when the comm. hanging from his belt started to beep, interrupting our conversation. Anakin’s eyebrows furrowed – no doubt because of the timing of the interruption – but he didn’t turn away from me as he picked up the small device and clicked it once to answer the call.
His eyes gave me the “we’re-not-done-here-yet” stare as he listened to the person on the other end through a headset he’d just procured from a side pocket. Obviously he didn’t trust me enough to listen in on both sides of the exchange. I rolled my eyes in mild disgust.
Most of the conversation – on Anakin’s end – was conducted in short, noncommittal grunts (affirmatives, I gathered). Just as things looked to be wrapping up, his hard gaze connected with mine again, and his mouth formed a tight line.
“Yes, I’m with her now,” he said, his tone clipped.
My ears pricked up. He was talking about me.
“Of course. We’ll be right there.”
Anakin pressed the side button and the discussion was terminated. He slowly packed away the comm. device and the headset, refusing to meet my probing gaze as he did this.
I pushed as hard as I could through our Force-bond, as well, but his mind was like a durasteel fortress when he wanted it to be: impenetrable even for those closest to him, but especially for me.
Finally, his eyes met mine again, his face chiselled into a cold, hard mask as he looked at me. I was suddenly nervous; my lips were dry, and every ounce of blood had drained from my neck, upward.
“It looks like you’ll get your wish after all,” he said. “That was Uncle Luke. He wants to see us.”