Chapter VI – Trespassing
Chapter VI – Trespassing
Author’s Note: Due to a technical error, a portion of the book was released from a different chapter. I humbly apologize.
The JS-77B Consular transport glided through space, the lightspeed engines keeping the ship moving at a constant speed. The small red ship was hardly luxurious, but it suited the needs of its passengers well enough. Although it only had a registry number and not an official name, the crew had come to know it affectionately as The Bucket.
One passenger in particular had finally finished roaming the decks and had settled into the galley with several other officers. He sat away from them, trying to make the best out of their rationed military meal.
Kenobi stared down at his food in indifference. The other officers regarded him only with a passing glance and a few whispers. One by one, they left the galley until he was alone, poking at a gray substance that was trying to be meat.
Obi-Wan sighed heavily and pushed the tray from him. He turned his attention to a digital tablet instead. He spent the next few minutes reviewing several communiques from the Jedi Temple.
He had finished responding to the last message and closed his eyes for a few moments. His eyes snapped open and he quickly looked toward the door.
“Always needed on the bridge,” he said aloud before getting up from the table and leaving the galley.
High above, Anakin knew it was now or never. He knew that pushing the screen off would make a terrible noise, but his gnawing hunger would allow no time for more subtle and time consuming plans.
Stowing aboard the transport was easier than he thought. Trying to eat, sleep, and avoid the crew so he wouldn’t be caught proved to be much more difficult. He had more than one close call trying to squeeze in and out of the ducts.
Anakin stared hungrily at the leftovers on the other side of the room. He locked his eyes on a piece of meat and focused his attention on it. Obi-Wan had faith in him, maybe now was the time to prove it to himself.
As the seconds ticked by, sweat began dripping from Anakin’s face from the effort and still the meat did not move. Anakin tried again and again, but he could not summon the same focus he had before. Panic began to creep back into him as he felt time was moving against him.
Anakin blew all the breath from his body and relaxed again, clearing his mind. He focused his energies on the tray and slowly, but surely, it began to rise. Anakin grinned to himself at the triumph of moving the tray four inches off the table. His rumbling stomach helped him lose his focus and the tray clattered back to the table.
“This is taking too long,” Anakin fumed. Apparently, destroying a starfighter was easy, but moving a tray eighteen inches in length was too much for him. Throwing caution out the airlock, Anakin gave the screen a mighty shove. It clattered to the floor below him and he began to climb out from the vent. He dropped lightly to the ground and ran over to the table. He had to move quickly, he knew from experience that the service droids could arrive at any moment to clean up the leftovers.
How he would climb the ten feet to get back into the duct and replace the vent’s screen from the inside was something his growling stomach wouldn’t let him consider. Anakin closed in on his chosen target which was a piece of meat the captain had left when he heard a voice that made him jump straight up into the air.
“I was wondering when you would finally climb out of there and join us,” Obi-Wan Kenobi’s voice shook Anakin.
Anakin froze, the meat inches from his mouth. He turned to see the man in the simple, brown robes standing by the door. He was under the vent, totally out of sight from Anakin’s hiding place. The aroma of the food disappeared; all there was was Jedi Kenobi giving him a very scientific look. It was the kind of look Anakin had once given a sand beetle he had once trapped under a jar.
“To be honest, I expected you some time ago. I hope you’ve enjoyed your tour of the ship. I might’ve been able to give you a better, less cramped tour if you had just waited on Tatooine as I asked,” Obi-Wan motioned for him to sit down.
Anakin surveyed his situation carefully. Obi-Wan was blocking the only door out of this room. The vent was directly over the door and before he could get halfway there, Obi-Wan would probably block that too. Even if he did somehow manage to climb back into the vent, where would he go that a Jedi Knight wouldn’t follow? Reluctantly, he put down the food and sat down.
Obi-Wan sat down across from him. “If you’re as hungry as you seem, I think we can do a little better than leftovers,” Obi-Wan pressed a few buttons on the table’s console. Anakin still did not speak. He learned at an early age that speaking out of turn would only lead to trouble.
“Well my young friend, what shall we do with you? I know the military takes a very dim view of stowaways. I believe it used to be Standard Operating Procedure to show the offender the inside and then the outside of an airlock. Don’t worry, I’m reasonably sure they got rid of that policy,” he continued to study Anakin thoroughly.
Anakin swallowed and felt his mouth grow dry. He was used to empty threats on Tatooine, but now he was off-world and who could be sure of anything? After he directly disobeyed Obi-Wan, this threat might not be so empty after all.
An uneasy silence filled the room. Obi-Wan had the most penetrating gaze and Anakin had the feeling that he was looking at more than just his poor table manners.
A tall, golden service droid entered the room with a steaming tray of fresh food. Anakin didn’t even wait for the droid to lower the tray to the table before he was pulling food off of it and eating it. His body cried out gratefully as the food give him new life, new energy, and make him feel like a human being again.
“It seems impatience walks hand-in-hand with you whether you are in a hangar bay or in a galley,” Obi-Wan observed.
“We’re nearly to Alderaan so there won’t be too much time to scold you for stowing away. When we arrive, we’ll let the Force determine what course your future will take,” Obi-Wan continued.
“That covers tomorrow, what happens to me today?” Anakin asked.
“First, I think we should find you some more suitable accommodations. I have never slept in air ducts before, but I can’t imagine that you would object to a bath and an actual bed,” Obi-Wan’s expression softened as he tapped different keys on the display.
“So I’m not going to be turned over to the military?” Anakin cast a suspicious look at Obi-Wan Kenobi.
“Not unless you insist on it. However, let me be clear on one thing. You will not participate in my assignment, but observe my actions instead. After this mission is completed, you and I will have a chat about your potential. The alternative is to call Captain Sesta and make sure the brig is prepared,” Obi-Wan answered.
Before Anakin could respond, the door slid open and a tall, dark officer appeared. He had the face of a professional soldier, always surveying a situation for potential dangers. “You asked for me Master Kenobi…who is this boy?” the officer pointed at Anakin.
“Calm down Commander Cody. This young man has joined us on our journey to Alderaan. Please find reasonable quarters for him and make sure he is comfortable. Anakin, I’ll see you when you’re settled in and more relaxed,” Obi-Wan shook hands with Anakin.
“But sir, Captain Sesta has never tolerated…” Commander Cody began before Obi-Wan cut him off.
“You can tell the captain he is my guest. I will accept full responsibility for him while he is onboard. I am sure she will not protest the word of a Jedi Knight,” Commander Cody relaxed a little.
“Jedi Kenobi, thank you. I’ll try not to get in the way,” Anakin said. Obi-Wan smiled at him then left the room.
Anakin thought for a moment before asking the Commander, “How is he supposed to know when I’m ‘more relaxed’?”
Commander Cody smiled and shook his head. “Trust me, he’ll know.”