Friends of Old ((Anabela))
“You sure you’re ready for this old man?”
Jax chuckled at the metallic voice over his comm as he set up on a ridge overlooking the road north of his target’s encampment. He had been in a holding pattern for days, learning their routes and habits. He was hoping he might catch the girl alone, but it seemed the tall, muscular man she traveled with never left her side. From the way they acted around one another, Jax concluded his Anabela had found herself another soul mate… a fact which made his teeth grind beneath his helmet. His fingers rose to his neck to toy with the trophy he kept on a chain there, a simple set of dog tags etched with a single word…
He pressed the comm button on his helmet. “You should know better than to ask me that beroya, you just stick to making sure my backup arrives on time. This girl was a kid and untrained last time we did this dance… I’m expecting I’ll have some new moves to learn this song.” He flicked off the comm and sighted down his sniper rifle as he watched his mark and her Riduur begin to make their way down through the valley.
“There you are Ana Banana,” he murmured with a grin. He slung the pack over his shoulder and as soon as they were out of ear shot he began edging his way further up the ridge at a safe following distance. Now convinced he would have to neutralize her bodyguard first, he checked the grenades on his belt, his mind rolling over alternative scenarios. He nodded as he formed a solution and prepared to capture his prey.
“I’m telling you, it is safe babe,” Raka grinned, leading her along the ripped up asphalt road just past the makeshift shanty town they had been using as a base. The Project’s forces had taken control of this area weeks ago and had managed to hold it despite heavy resistance. They had set up a base and were slowly pushing forward into the valley. Raka put his arm around her shoulders and drew her close to him, planting a kiss on her forehead. “I would never lead you into a situation where you might get hurt,” he murmured, his fingers twining lovingly in her hair, “I’ll always keep you safe…” his other hand moved to caress her belly, “Both of you.”
Ana frowned, trying to fight the feeling that something just… was not right. She chided herself for being overly paranoid, chalking it up to how naked she felt without her beskar’gam. She was clad in only a pair of leather pants and a tank top. It wasn’t that she couldn’t wear her armor anymore, she was barely even showing yet… only the slightest “baby bump” but it was only going to be a short walk and the time it took to pull on the heavy armor seemed like a waste. Besides, he assured here there was absolutely no danger in the area where they were walking. They both agreed she needed to get out and off the ship, if only for an hour… for both their sanities. Her nesting instinct was insatiable and she was driving Raka nuts.
Ana’s head swam as she struggled weakly to push herself up on one elbow. Her eyes scanned the road frantically for Ba’raka as heavy boot steps approached and an armor-clad hunter hauled her up by her hair. A fist connected with her abdomen, sending pain radiating out across her back and stomach and doubling her over with a loud groan. He yanked her up again and brought his fist around for another swing, landing on her jaw. She coughed and tasted blood, thick and metallic as it poured from the corners of her mouth. It felt like she had a hot rock in her stomach and she did not need to look down to know blood was starting to stain her pants. She fought darkness and tears, trying to focus on getting out of this alive.
From some twenty yards away, Ba’raka groaned. The shrapnel grenade had exploded before either of them had time to react, but he had managed to shove her out of the way. It also meant he had taken the brunt of the blast. She squinted, watching him trying to push himself up to sitting, a large piece of shrapnel buried in the leg of his beskar’gam, blood seeping out around the edges.
Her head snapped backward as the punch connected with her jaw again and suddenly she was staring into her attackers face. Her mouth twisted in horror as he grinned down at her.
“Long time no see Ana Banana.”
Jax let go of her hair and she collapsed to the ground, but he held his blaster on her, finger hovering over the trigger. His eyes scanned her body, noting the blood now seeping down the legs of her leather pants. He frowned and clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth, “… Ad’ika, kriff….” He approached Ana with caution, shaking his head, his expression almost sad, “Didn’t know about that love, not that it would have changed anything.” He pulled a grenade from his belt and armed it, his blaster still trained on her. “Carbonite grenade,” he muttered, “They’ll want you alive….” He stared down at her, something in his eyes changing as he knelt at her side.
“I’ve been looking for you for a really long time girl,” he murmured, caressing her cheek almost lovingly. He held the grenade for a moment as his eyes searched hers, seeming lost in thought. “I know you probably want to know why…” he sighed, his fingers tracing lines along her cheek. He shook his head, the grenade still primed in his hand and ready to deploy. “I’m doing this for you. You cannot be both, and your parents never understood that. I know you blame me for what happened to them, but the only one to blame is you. You should have accepted what you are.”
Ana’s face twisted in horror and she recoiled from his touch, clutching her belly as sharp pain nearly made her gag. She felt nauseous and she knew… she knew the life inside her was slipping away. She pushed herself backward with a grunt, trying in vain to get away but Jax grabbed her hair and put a knee on her chest. With his other hand he held up the grenade, shaking his head. “Don’t fight it girl, you think I came without back up? You know how this works.” He looked over his shoulder at where the shrapnel grenade had knocked them both off their feet, frowning. “You try anything funny and he’s as good as dead.”
She looked around wildly and saw that Ba’raka was trying to draw his blaster and stand. She screamed out weakly, trying to warn him to just stay put, but it was too late. Jax let go of Ana’s hair and kicked her with a booted foot in the stomach with a growl before turning to draw on Ba’raka. “You’re becoming real trouble boy,” he grunted, his blaster leveled at Ba’raka, who stumbled forward toward the pair.
There was a well of rage in Ana that she rarely drew upon. She had learned not to rely on her ability to wield the force, seeing it more as a tool than something that defined her. But now, as Jax aimed his blasters at her husband and she felt the life of their child running out of her by the gallons, something broke inside her. Wrath like a geyser welled up from the deepest reaches of her body, hurtling toward the surface with frightening power and speed. Ana’s head tipped back and a scream escaped her lips that echoed off the walls of the canyon, a roiling red surge of power too long been suppressed that burst forth like a cannon.
Jax flew forward as a blast of pure, raw force energy hit him in the back. By that time Ana was on her feet, her body surrounded by visible ribbons of purple/red force energy. She seethed with it, her eyes glowing bright red as she drew upon every ounce of strength she had left. She unleashed it at the man by whom she was now twice-betrayed. It was palpable, like a tornado ripping across the road and barreling into him. He howled as the vortex of energy caught his body and launched him into the air. She held him there, letting the force crush him in the vortex. His body twisted and crumpled as it collapsed in on itself. Her eyes glistened with rage and fire as she focused the display of power, tearing him apart from the inside out. She dropped him to the ground like a rag doll, his form twisted and broken, his eyes glazed.
The world got hazy as she crumpled to her knees and the whirling storm of energy around her slowly dissipated as if it had never existed. She had nothing left, unable to even will her body to move. She felt the concrete against her back and it felt like she was swimming, the world sounding far away, voices watery and muffled. Ba’raka rushed to her side, holding his wound. She looked up at him and tears spilled from her cheeks as she looked down at the blood dripping onto the pavement from between her legs. She knew… she did not have the heart to say it, but she knew. And she could tell from his eyes that he knew too as he knelt at her side, frantically radioing the base for help.
Then everything went dark.