Disclaimer- I don't own Naruto or Star Wars, they belong to Masashi Kishimoto and George Lucas respectively.
Took me long enough to update, eh? Well sorry about that, but I'm actually very glad that I did, otherwise this chapter - which I had a great time writing, and which I really think adds to the arc/story - would likely never have existed. Also this time away from writing, has also given me a lot of time to look over Tanshin and to fill in all the plot holes and gaps in my outline, and to make some major changes, which I am very glad I took time to do, otherwise the story definitely wouldn't be as good as I'm hoping it will be.
Thank you all for your patience and support - the reviews have been so nice to read and have been a great encouragement when I'm stuck and don't feel like writing anything more! And also, thanks so much Ella Klarsfeld for Betaing, you're SO awesome!
And here's the next chapter of Tanshin, kinda a setup for my next arc - hope you like it! Review!
Oxygen came in harsh labored breaths – his lungs began to burn. The sharp thunder of feet pounded down the corridor behind him. Would this chase never end? Sweat dripped down his face, stinging his eyes. He hadn't expected to exert much physical energy on this mission at all, yet here he was literally sprinting for his life. That's what I get for actually expecting a mission to go as planned. Should've known better.
A shout rattled his pensive ears as his pursuers caught sight of him. They must've seen his cloak flutter around the last corner. Great. Summoning the Force and whatever additional speed he could, the man ducked around another corner, shot down the hall, yanked open a door and spun inside.
The door clicked shut as the man completed his spin and threw himself against it. Slouching against the icy metal with his chest heaving madly; it took an extra second for the man to collect himself and reach out with his senses. But only a second. A small smile touched his lips as he found the ten guards that were just rounding the last corner.
With a light push, a gentle whisper of persuasion was placed in the lead guard's mind. A cloak flickered where there was none, and with a shout they raced past his position, never pausing, as the influenced man pointed at the phantom placed in his mind.
As they faded from sound and senses the cloaked man bent over, letting his gasping breaths even out. Closing his eyes, he began a mental count to one hundred. Getting caught by a few stragglers was the last thing he needed right now.
Waiting, unfortunately, gave the cloaked man some time to think, and with his thoughts came worry. His last glimpse of his partner had been when they'd split up. A grimace contorted his forehead and with a sigh he closed his eyes, gritting his teeth in irritation. How could things have changed so fast? Just when it had seemed like they'd been making headway in their negotiations, BAM, things had gone super nova. The guards had poured in with a warrant for arrest, scattering the government officials they had been talking to like broken glass as they searched for the two diplomats. He had dashed out of the room, and he had thought his companion had done likewise, but the last glimpse he had gotten of his friend before the guards began the chase had him penned in between confused officials and angry soldiers. If those guards were anywhere near as determined as his pursuers, he doubted that his dear friend had found a way out. But... His mind latched on to the thought, the hope – he is resourceful... That spark was all he needed.
So how many will it make if I rescue you this time? Five times you owe me? And just when I think you've finally matured and buried that habit of getting into unnecessary trouble. The thought sparked a long forgotten memory and a wry grin managed to escape from the man despite his worry. No, actually, images flashed through his head, it's probably more like six after that ridiculous stunt you pulled all those years back on Orentar. Come to think of it, I have yet to give you a good whack for that.
Dashing through that tropical forest with a hundred offended natives on his tail, screaming for help like a child the whole way…the man couldn't help but laugh. His friend certainly knew how to make a spectacle of himself. Though it had all begun with the mindless mistake of a novice- insulting the native's prized fruit- he had made a professional mess out of the situation by running into the forest rather than Force jumping across to the safety of the nearby cliffs. For such an admirable man and Jedi, his friend certainly knew how to play the fool and make a royal mess of seemingly simple situations. But they always seemed to get out and have plenty to laugh about on the ride home. Or rather, he had plenty to laugh about; his friend would still be sulking.
The man's quiet chuckle fizzled off into a reluctant sigh. Despite their knack for wriggling out of impossible situations, he truly doubted that he would be able to give his friend that deserved whack. He had been trying to stoically ignore the looming possibility, but his mind kept zeroing in on it like a homing device fixated on its target.
For all their close calls, all those times they were so close to death they could kiss it, not once had he felt such a cruel chill rack his body when he considered the odds. And not once had the Force remained so eerily silent when his friend was in danger. These guards were hungry for their quarry, and his friend was caught dead in their sights. Emphasis on dead. No, if fate had its way he would not live past today.
But dwelling on dark thoughts only made reality dimmer. He had no room for another black cloud in his mind, and nor was he one to let fate rule his life, or the lives of his friends for that matter. No, he had to press on. He had no proof that his friend was dead, and until he did, he would seek him out relentlessly. He would rescue the fool, no matter what he might encounter. There is never any rest for the righteous. His stiff muscles groaned as he rose to his feet. Or weary.
With a huff, the man gently spread out his senses, feeling for anyone approaching his position. Finding nothing he eased open the door, glancing to the left then the right. Still seeing nothing, the man slipped out, his boots making no more than a whisper on the hard durasteel.
They were gaining on him. He'd been running too long, but with an oozing wound from a blaster bolt that had come a little too close, losing them was proving to be impossible.
Left, right, down the hall, another turn, the gray corridors were starting to blur in his mind. The only thing that told him that he was not running in circles was the changing numbers on the hallways.
Something felt wrong. Warning sirens blared in his skull but his momentum kept him skidding around the corner, and by the time his feet stilled themselves it was too late. His eyes widening as his stomach sank with dread. Rank upon rank of Super Battle Droids filled the hanger he had stumbled into, waiting for him, their weapons drawn and ready to fire. And behind them…behind them, plastered tall and proud on a C-9979 landing craft was the Separatist insignia. He sensed the breathless guards round the corner, drawing their weapons just before he came into sight.
He was frozen, his mind racing at a hundred parsecs a minute as realization after realization hit him. There could be no doubt about it. It's too late, they got there first. They weren't just chasing a suspicious person, for there had been no gasp of surprise from the pursuing guards, no slack-jawed expression as they witnessed the army before them. The throbbing returned, reminding him of the wound in his side. And that blaster was definitely not set on stun.
Knowledge hardened into fact. They know who I am. He grimaced, dark memories flashing through his mind. There was no way the Separatists didn't know, not after everything he'd done. He sighed, resigning himself to the inevitable. All he could hope for was that Garen had escaped and was contacting the Temple. He was done. But accepting the inevitability of death did not necessitate immediate surrender. Resignation turned into steel that gleamed in the man's green eyes, and his lips curled back in a deadly smirk as cool, familiar metal slipped into his sweaty hands, filling him with comforting relief. He'd go down, but not without a fight.
Smoking droid parts lay scattered around him in piles so dense he could scarcely walk among them, but still they kept coming. When one fell to his sweeping emerald blade, three others stepped into his place. There was only so much the human body could be pressed, and he was pushing his stamina to the limit. It wouldn't be long now.
Sweat drenched his tunic, his muscles throbbed so hard he could almost hear their beat, and his mind, his reflexes were beginning to slow. He could remember nothing but his present task: destroy the droids. Even those details were growing fuzzy. At this point, not even the Force could refresh his body. His end was near. Spinning to face yet another volley of blaster bolts, his body finally gave out as his foot caught the edge of a dismembered droid. He tripped, falling right into the path of three blaster bolts.
Panic seized him, and with a desperate surge of adrenaline he managed to twist his body. Just enough-! The bolts hit. Two thudded into his leg and the other into his left shoulder, barely missing his heart. Even as pain roared through his body, the Jedi breathed a sigh of relief. He had avoided death…for now.
He lay there for a second, simply heaving in a few precious breaths, unable to sense much else. Then he heard it: but the clatter of metal hitting durasteel registered too late. Blaster bolts flashed towards him and his fingers desperately tried to grab the handle of his lightsaber that had tumbled from his numb grasp.
Timed slowed as the man stretched to reach his only defense, the threat closing the distance. His fingers batted empty air. Too quickly. I'm not going to get to it soon enough. And with his body numbed from the pain, utterly exhausted and steadily bleeding, there was no way that he'd be able to move.
With one last effort, the Jedi fought to calm his mind, tried to ignore the burning pain that seared through his arm, and reached out– just for a moment he grasped with the Force, what precious little he could gather, and his weapon inched towards him.
Almost there, just a bit more… His fingers brushed the silver pommel and then…
Pain. Mind numbing pain lanced through his arm, shattering his hard won concentration as the first bolt slammed into his outstretched arm, ceasing its desperate fumbling grasps.
With no time to draw up the broken pieces of his focus the Jedi's green eyes narrowed as they watched the killing bolts fly home. There was no avoiding their current trajectory.
The first would rip through his heart, tearing apart flesh, arteries, and vitals, the second would nail him in left lung, ensuring that even if the heart shot missed, his would drown on his own blood. The last would nail him in the throat, cutting across it, hitting his jugular just for good measure. Instant death.
But the dark-haired man simply did not understand defeat or death. Even though his feeble efforts would amount to nothing, he forced his agonizing body to move. If it was only an inch, it was a victory. He would die a hero's death, fighting for a valiant cause right until the bitter end. It was nothing like the heroic death he had so grandly imagined, but he would achieve it in principle and spirit.
His body inched lethargically, despite his silent screams for his muscles to move. The lethal bolts of red energy flashed towards him. The milliseconds flashed away, and even as he struggled he knew, innately, that his efforts were futile. With green eyes wide open he watched his end approach on red wings…they were only a meter away…centimeters…millimeters…his lips parted, mouthing a silent goodbye as he braced for the final impact. That never came…
"Enough!" Two blurs of a crimson blade filled his vision, intercepting the deadly bolts, sending them crashing into a far wall.
What the-? He wrestled for consciousness, trying to see why he still breathed, but he only heard a harsh growl bark out "I want him alive."
The last thing he felt before an irresistible wave of exhaustion and pain crashed over him, pulling him into unconsciousness, were the horrible shivers racing down his spine.
How'd you like it? Any guesses as to who the characters are? Tell me what you think, I welcome any and all constructive criticism, whether it be plot, characterization (though you won't have much to go on for this chapter), grammar, etc...
Note: Okay, I have a lot of this upcoming arc typed up already, so the next chapter should be up pretty soon (hopefully), but school is - very unfortunately - starting up again, so I won't have a ton of time to write, but I will be devoting a lot of my free time - what little I'll have - to getting regular updates for Tanshin.