Obi-wan allowed the Force to hold him, slowing his fall and landing him softly on the street in front of the hangar bay. As his feet touched the ground, he ignited his lightsabre, staring through the haze of brilliant green light at the gathered imperials before him.
He stretched out with his feelings.
As was to be expected, the clonetroopers themselves were calm, though a hint of anticipation tinged their feelings. He sensed more intense emotions from the gang members who had accompanied them – fear, excitement, anger, menace. Pulsing through that maelstrom of differing emotions was an intense thirst for revenge. Revenge against him and Anakin for their humiliation.
Not that they were looking to face him directly, of course. They had all moved swiftly as possible to get out of the way the moment he had appeared, the Hutt in particular slithering out of sight with surprising speed. His whining tones now made themselves heard from behind the nearest wall.
"That's one of them, boss. He's one of them Jedi."
"Thank you,” the lead trooper said drily, eyeing Kenobi’s sabre. “A highly useful piece of information. If you hadn’t been here, we would never have known.”
Interesting, Kenobi thought with an inner smile. Looks like Fett’s personality is asserting itself in these new models.
Before he could pursue the thought, the trooper took a step towards him, hands raised. “We don't want any trouble, Master Jedi."
"Of course you don't," Obi-wan retorted with a tight smile. "That's why you've surrounded this hangar bay and have your blasters pointed at me."
"A precaution," the trooper said, “nothing more. Now, if you'll let us past, I'm sure we can discuss this unfortunate situation and come to some kind of a solution."
They negotiate as well. Still, he shook his head.
"Oh, you're not getting inside."
The leader’s whole stance changed, becoming more threatening. "I can assure you, Master Jedi, we will. You may have the Force, but you're only one man." His voice hardened. "And we’ve had lots of practice against Jedi. Now. Let us through."
The quip about practice against Jedi firmed Obi-wan’s resolve. He shifted his own stance to match the trooper’s. "No."
Obi-wan would have sworn the trooper hesitated. Then he shook his head. "Very well."
He must have had some kind of silent signalling system in his helmet, because the moment he finished speaking his troop went on the attack. Spreading out to cut off every exit, they began to fire their blasters. Obi-wan swept his lightsabre around in a wide arc, the Force allowing him to perfectly time his movement to deflect every single blaster bolt. Then he dropped back a step, allowing the troopers to move towards him.
Hurry up Anakin
, he thought as the Force enfolded him and began to guide his movements. Began to guide him towards his inevitable death.
The sound of blaster fire echoed through the hangar bay.
Anakin sensed Ana glance at him from the other side of the hyperdrive. "I'm sure he'll be alright,” she said. “He’s a Jedi.”
Anakin found he couldn't meet her eyes. Gaze locked on the malfunctioning machine, he shook his head. "No. He won't be." But thanks to him, we will.
Oath shouted suddenly from the doorway where he was standing guard, a blaster rifle in both hands. "He's... He's holding them off! For now.” He looked over at them. “How much longer?"
Anakin reattached three wires, tightening them with a laserplaz welder. That should do it. He pushed the unit back into the hull. Or tried to, at least. It stuck. He pressed on it with all of his strength, but the damned thing wouldn't budge. The screws that held it together began to groan, but he just kept on pushing. He would make it work, if it was the last thing he did. He --
Ana's hand suddenly appeared on top of his. He looked up. She was smiling at him sadly. Without saying a word, she tipped her hand back and forth, rocking the unit slightly. After a few seconds, it slid easily into its socket. She didn’t let go of his hand, squeezing it until he met her eyes.
“Go,” she said.
"Go help your friend."
He shook his head. "But what about --"
She smiled and squeezed his hand. "We'll get you out, don't worry."
He still hesitated. If he did this, he was putting all of their lives in danger not just his. He might be wasting Obi-wan's sacrifice. And he might be putting paid to his chance of saving Luke. At the end of the day, though, he realised he didn't really have a choice.
Leaning forward, he kissed Ana gently on the lips. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. Now move. And get your ass back here in one piece."
"I'll do my best."
He jumped down from the small shelf and ran across the hangar to the door. He stopped, catching his breath. Oath looked up at him in surprise, but before he could ask him what was going on, Ana called out from the ship’s hatch, ordering him to move his mangy butt over to the ship. The big hairy alien seemed to hesitate, then shook his head, grumbling about damned humans before heading towards the ship. Anakin watched him go, then turned to the door.
Peered round the doorframe, all he could see was a hail of light. The troopers fired round after round at Obi-wan, who knocked back every bolt with economy of motion. His every twitch was designed to maximise his effectiveness. The sight brought back memories of the Wars, of fighting side by side with Obi-wan against the separatists. Of course back then, the clones had been on their side.
That was a long time ago.
Pulling his lightsabre from his cloak, Anakin ignited it and waded into the fray.
A sweep of his lightsabre sawed off the barrel of the nearest stormtrooper’s blaster rifle. Obi-wan spun on both feet, his hands snapping down and around, catching three or four laser blasts and ricocheting them back at the oncoming ‘troopers. Coming back face to face with the group of soldiers, he reached out with the Force, giving two nearby clones a hard shove, pushing them back into their companions and sending the whole bunch tumbling into a mess of arms and legs.
His muscles ached, despite the Force flowing through him. All he wanted was to let his arms drop, let them take him. But he couldn't. Not until he was sure Anakin was safe.
As if the thought had summoned him, a green blade hissed into existence beside his. He glanced to the side and saw his old apprentice stood beside him, both feet planted firmly on the ground, both hands wrapped around the handgrip of his sabre. In the morning light, the scars on his face seemed like a patchwork of cobwebs against his skin. His eyes, though, were as flinty and hard as Tatooine cavastone.
"What are you doing?" Obi-wan snapped.
"Saving your behind again, master," Anakin replied. Though he was too concentrated to smile, Obi-wan was sure that inside, he was grinning at him with the same cocky smile he always wore.
Obi-wan felt a warning through the Force, and allowed it to guide his hands down and round, catching three blaster bolts in quick succession, sending them ricocheting back towards the troopers who had fired them. One hit the target, sending the trooper reeling backwards and down.
"You're supposed to be getting out of here."
"Don't worry, we
Anakin took a step forward as one of the troopers fired twice in quick succession. As he brought his hand up and over, though, his arm faltered and seemed to lock. His lightsabre stuck in a downward sloping position, leaving Anakin wide open. Obi-wan saw a flash of light and smoke, and then Anakin fell back.
Without thinking, without allowing his fear overwhelm him, Obi-wan stepped forward, lightsabre whirling as he caught half a dozen more shots. Reaching out with the Force, he tried to get a sense of Anakin, but despite his injury, his former apprentice was still masked from him. He forgoe his attempts, concentrating on protecting Anakin.
From behind, he heard the sound of repulsor lift engines firing. Moments later, the triangular shape of the Misbegotten Venture appeared from inside the docking bay. Some of the Imperial troops began to fire at the hovering ship, but whoever was in the gunnery tower began to lay down covering fire. A hatch in the bottom opened and Obi-wan saw a figure in the shadows, waving.
Batting back a flurry of laser blasts, Obi-wan reached out for a nearby dumpster. With a tremendous effort in the Force, he pulled the metal box towards him, dropping it in front of Anakin and himself. Falling into a crouch, he crawled over to Anakin's body. Disactivating his lightsabre, he tucked it into his belt. When he put his arms around Anakin, his old friend moaned slightly.
"Don't worry, Ani. I'll get your out of this."
Obi-wan gently moved his friend’s arms away. What he saw left him reeling. The laser blast had caught Anakin in the chest. Where he should have seen burned skin and shattered bone, blood pumping through inner organs, was a mess of wires and tubes, hidden beneath artificial flesh. He looked at Anakin’s tortured face.
Oh Ani! What did you do?
By now, the Venture was almost overhead. They're taking a hell of a risk for Anakin and me
, he reminded himself. When these troops informed their commander that the Venture had fired on them, every ship in the Rim Territories was going to be gunning for them. For us.
Still, for now, their efforts were paying off.
Pushing away his fears, Obi-wan gathered Anakin into his arms, then reached out with the Force. He seized a hold of part of the hatch’s metal structure with his mind. I hope I'm still up to this
, he thought. Using the Force to increase his strength and his hold on the hatch to guide him, he leapt.
He almost didn't make it. At the last moment, when he saw that he was going to undershoot the hatch, he reached out a hand and grabbed hold. The impact shook his whole body and almost rocked Anakin out of his other arm. Obi-wan grunted, sweat breaking out on his forehead.
"Give me your hand!"
Obi-wan looked up to find Oath stood on the hatch, reaching down for him. "Give me your hand, I'll pull you up."
Before Obi-wan could respond, a hail of laser blasts struck the inner hatch around Oath, forcing the Chaol back. Obi-wan heard him roar for back up. Moments later, he returned with the Rodian, Greedo, who was holding a Jawa’s rifle in his hands. Dropping to one knee, he started to lay down covering fire.
"Now, give me your hand!"
"No!" Obi-wan groaned through his teeth. "Anakin! Get... Anakin!"
The Chaol looked as if he were about to argue, but one look into Obi-wan's eyes convinced him not to bother. Dropping down on his belly, he reached down to the limp form in Obi-wan's arms, and seized him under the arms. With an animal roar, the huge alien lifted Anakin out of his arms and up onto the hatch.
Instead of grabbing a hold with his other hand, Obi-wan used the force to call his lightsabre into his hand. He ignited it. Blind to what was happening behind him, he followed the will of the Force, allowing it to guide his hand so as to deflect the incoming laser bolts.
Obi-wan looked up. Oath was there again. "Come on. Give me your hand."
Obi-wan felt the will of the Force nudging him. He knew what he was supposed to do. He smiled and shook his head. "I'm the one they want," he said. “If they get me, they’ll give you the time you need.” He knew it was true, as clearly as he knew that if he got aboard this ship, everything would be lost.
"Not after this, they won’t. They’ll be gunning for us. Now come on. Don't do anything stupid."
"Oath!" Ana's voice came over the intership. "What by the Goddess are you doing down there? We've got incoming."
"Come on Kenobi. Give me your hand."
"Tell Anakin I'm sorry," Obi-wan said, smiling sadly. For everything.
Then secure in the will of the Force, Obi-wan Kenobi let go and fell.