Why did I have to get sent out on a mission now? Anakin fumed. I have enough to deal with already, with Padme and the baby. And they just had to partner me with Obi-Wan.
"-have to be careful, especially with this time of…Anakin, are you listening to me?"
Anakin jerked out of his dark thoughts to Obi-Wan's annoyed expressions. "What?"
The older Jedi huffed. "Ani, I've been talking to you for the past ten minutes. Have you heard anything that I've said?" He shrugged and Obi-Wan had a great desire to simply bang his head against the dinner table. Instead, he took a deep breath and continued. "I was saying that we have to keep the battle away from the lakes and other water sources."
The younger Jedi suppressed the urge to growl as he asked, "Why? Is there an endangered species there or something?"
Obi-Wan frowned at his old apprentice's flippant tone and answered very seriously, "As a matter of fact, yes. It's a very delicate time in the breeding cycle of the planet's only sentient population."
But Anakin was not impressed. "So what, they don't want our cannons interrupting their mating dance?"
"Anakin, it's far more serious than that. If we interrupt the transference, an entire generation could die." Finally, Obi-Wan sighed inwardly as he watched the flippancy leave the other's face. He seems to understand somewhat now.
But something entirely different was running through Anakin's mind. "Obi-Wan, what is the transference?"
Encouraged by his interest, the master continued. "It's the time when the females transfer the unborn children to their male counterpart's body. Anakin, are you alright?" His friend had gone pale.
Anakin released his grip on his fork and took a deep breath. "Yes, Obi-Wan." He tried to appear merely curious as he asked," What exactly does this transfer entail?"
Still a bit concerned, the older Jedi said, "Mace gave me a datapad on the subject before we left. I can give you that, if you want."
Keeing a tight lid on anything beyond casual curiosity, Anakin replied. "That sounds good." Obi-Wan got up from the table to go get it. As soon as he was out of sight, Anakin leaned forward and rested his arms on the table. In his vision, Padme had died in childbirth. He was going to protect her and the child, but he'd thought that meant from outside threats. But it might be from the birth itself. If he could stop the labor from ever happening by removing the baby, it would save her. And if I can put them into a mechanical uterus or something, I can keep the baby too. He could keep his whole family safe. And the fearful Dark receded from him as idea after idea whirled through Anakin's mind.
A few days later, when they landed at the location of their mission, all thoughts of Padme and the baby were forcibly shoved out of Anakin's head the minute the gangway dropped and the two Jedi saw the troop commander waiting for them with a platoon. "Welcome, Generals," the man said. He removed his helmet and stepped forward to shake their hands. "I'm Captain Andrew Kater. We've been waiting for you."
Obi-Wan let go of the man's hand with a smile. "Well, we're here now. What's the situation," he asked. Might as well get right down to business.
Apparently, Captain Kater agreed. "We've set up a briefing for you, if you'd just follow me." They quickly marched out of the main hanger into a smaller but still sizeable room. The Captain approached a large table in the middle of the room and pressed a button on the side.
Instantly, a topographical map of the surrounding area covered the tabletop. Blue dots in small concentrations peppered the map while one area, a small island by the look of things, was covered with a large group of red dots. Captain Kater pointed at the red mass. "The Separatist ship landed here five days ago and has been steadily unloading droid battalions. We haven't been able to attack because they threatened to start firing into the water." He hit another button and a different map overlaid the first one. Colored blotches covered the map, with the droid landing site smack in the middle of a blue area. The captain gestured at the blue spot. "This area is where the Hippocampini conduct the Transference, and are currently gathered there in high concentrations. The droids have essentially taken the entire race hostage."
Obi-Wan studied the problem, but something irked him. "How did the droids know to target this area?"
The captain looked at him. "They have a general from the Trade Federation with them. They'd the one who planned this."
"And the Transference can last up to a month, depending on how many couples are involved. The Separatists can get a pretty big army here before the threat's gone." Anakin added. When he looked up, Obi-Wan was staring at him, somewhat surprised. "What? It was interesting."
But Captain Kater just nodded. "We can't afford to wait that long. We were hoping," he continued, looking at the two Jedi imploringly, "you might have a solution." Obi-Wan braced his hands on the edge of the table and leaned over the map. If that single general is the one planning this, we could handle them and the situation would be resolved. "Do we know how the droids are getting their orders," the older Jedi asked.
Captain Kater hit a few more buttons and an aerial picture of the island covered the table. "We've done some nocturnal reconnaissance flights. There's a small transmitter at the center of the camp." He pointed to a large structure in the middle of the photo. "Based on intelligence from previous encounters, we think the general is orbiting the planet and sending orders through the transmitter."
Obi-Wan nodded. "Captain, do you have any stealth speeders on this base?"
Anakin made eye contact with his old master and one corner of his mouth twisted up in a slight smirk. Obi-Wan looked back and the same mischief played in his eyes.
They were both planning the same thing.
Here I am with the second chapter! The Hippocampini are based on seahorses, hence the name of this story. Do you begin to see what I have in mind? And I've always hated those stories where one aspect of it, like the romance or the action, takes over the story, so I'm trying not to do that, hence the briefing and action coming up in the next chapter.
Also, would anyone like to Beta this for me? I don't have anyone for that yet.
Please review, and thanks to those who already did!