Anakin woke up feeling
His entire body ached, from the tip of his toes to the top of his head a dull pain seeped through him. A few parts of him hurt differently, his neck, his right arm and both his legs were filled with a sharper, brighter pain, while the skin on his face felt as if it had shrunk and was now stretched too tight, a dull ache pulsated somewhere in his stomach and his head felt as if it was filled with cotton wool.
It seemed that they had reduced his medication.
Anakin opened his eyes and started at the ceiling of this hospital room. He should probably regard it as a good sign that the doctors had decided to cut down on painkillers and sedatives but he wished they had not.
He did not want to feel just how badly damaged his body was. He did not want to feel anything. He rather wanted to be dead.
A continuous wheezing sound, like an asthmatic android was the only sound in the room. Then he could here somebody move on his left side, and a sound like a page being turned over.
“Tastag pulled his hideous features into a grotesque masque of anger. ‘Kill the blasphemer!’ he cried pointing with his staff of office at me.”
Automatically he looked in the direction from where Dr Hadasht’s voice came from. He did remember that she had read the Space Travellers series to him so far, but she must have been through with them. This was the second chapter of The Warlord of Warhoon.
A small, detached part of him was amused by the fact he recognised not only what she was reading but also which chapter she had reached just from one sentence. Well, he had read the trilogy quite a few times.
He could see the blurred outline of something sticking in his nose. Beyond that was an expanse of white cloth that was either a blanket or his hospital gown. The grey shape stretching over his chest must be part of the machinery that kept him alive. Next to his left shoulder he could make out a strange, white shape he could not recognise. Perhaps it was some part of the medical equipment.
Dr Hadasht paused her reading.
Anakin realised that he could not sense her presence at all. If he had thought earlier that he was cut off from all feeling of the force he realised now that he had been mistaken. At least he had still felt the presence of the people around him, had sense vaguely what they were feeling, now there was absolutely nothing. He could not even sense his own body. The absence of any connection to the force was a far from pleasant sensation. He felt closed in, as if the world had shrunk somehow, and it gave him a stuffy feeling in his head.
“There was no chance I could escape the clutches of my captors,” Dr Hadasht continued her reading. “Twenty of them were standing behind Tastag, all armed to with the wicked blades their foul race favoured. And I, bound and unarmed, was now to suffer for standing up against the tyranny of the high priest of Rastoun.”
Did she know he was awake, Anakin wondered. She seemed to have known before when he came round, and he felt more awake this time than he had the last two times.
He could feel the crisp blanket he lay on, every fold of it pressed uncomfortably into his skin. At several places on his left arm and chest small, cold objects were attached to his skin, sensor of some kind perhaps. He wondered whether he could lift his head now, but the memory of the of pain exploding through his spine and into his head made him reluctant to even try.
“One of the high priest’s creatures pushed his dagger through my shoulder. ‘If you beg forgiveness, I promise to kill you quickly,’ he snarled at me, his foul breath assaulting my nostrils. But I knew better than to trust a Bera warrior.
“I was a master of the army of Warhoon, I was not to plead with scum like these.”
Dr Hadasht sighed and Anakin could hear her shifting again.
A movement at his left shoulder caught Anakin’s eyes, and he realised that the blurry, white shape must be Dr Hadasht’s feet she had propped up on his bed. Fascinated he stared at the two pointed forms, shifting as she curled her toes.
“Gods,” Dr Hadasht mumbled.
He could see her feet, Anakin realised. He could see them even though they were on his left side where he had lost his eye. He could also see the darker square of the door outlined against the white wall.
For a moment he lost track of what Dr Hadasht was reading. He blinked and with some effort managed to close his right eye to make sure he was not mistaken.
He could see with his left eye again. Everything was looking slightly wonky and off colour but he could see again.
But how? He remembered the stinging sensation as she disinfected the gaping hole where his eye had been. He also recalled her memories of examining the destroyed eye and judging that the retina was probably destroyed as well but the nerve may have luckily have escaped undamaged.
Without thinking, Anakin lifted his right arm to touch his restored eye or tried to as an explosion of pain shook his entire body, the world blacking out for a moment. The pain screamed through his head, blocking out the voice of Dr Hadasht, but it seemed to be moving closer, calling his name.
Perhaps he was imagining it or perhaps he passed out for a moment, when the pain had subsided enough to think past it, Dr Hadasht was again reading.
The stinging pain along his spine and the dull throbbing in his stomach seemed to have gotten worse, but Anakin thought that he really could not tell the difference. He might just imagining it.
He tried to see beyond the machine under which he was trapped. He wanted to look at Dr Hadasht and ask her why she was torturing him like this. He wanted the pain to go away, he wanted more drugs. Better still he wanted to be unconscious or dead.
“I laughed in the face of the Bera,” Dr Hadasht continued, “and answered with the sentence that has been my support in many a difficult situations.”
“I’m not dead yet,” Anakin recited the motto of Safad Haad, Warlord of Warhoon along Dr Hadasht.
Dr Hadasht stopped reading and said with definite amusement in her voice. “No, you aren’t.”
No, Anakin thought, I’m not dead yet.
He wished he was, though. He did not want to be here. He did not want to hurt so badly. He did not want to know he had ruined his life completely.
“I thought you were awake,” Dr Hadasht commented and judging from the direction her voice came from, she stood up. The blurry shapes of her feet had also vanished from his bed. “How do you feel?” Her voice now came from where he thought his feet must be.
“Horrible,” Anakin answered, his voice squeaking as he breathed in instead of out.
He did not really breathe at all, somehow air flowed in and out of his lungs but he had no control whatsoever over the process.
“I’m sorry,” Dr Hadasht said, her head appearing bending over him on his right side. “We had to cut down on the painkillers, I’m afraid.” She stared into his face for a moment. “How’s the new eye?” she wanted to know.
Anakin waited a moment and said as the machine made him exhale, “fine.”
Dr Hadasht held her right hand, index finger pointing, over his face and moved it from side to side. “Looks like it’s tracking alright.”
They must have operated on him since he was last awake, Anakin realised. He remembered from his blundering search through her mind that he had already had been through more than a dozen operations before he came out of the coma and through several more after that.
“How long…,” he managed to ask before he ran out of breath again.
“How long since your accident or since you woke up last?” she queried but continued before he had time to answer. “Thirty-six days since the crash and three since you were conscious last.”
Oh gods, Anakin thought. Thirty-six days!
Dr Hadasht frowned and put a finger on his left cheekbone. “Hm,” she made and applied a little pressure.
Pain shot through his face, bringing tears to his eyes.
“The bone just doesn’t want to mend,” Dr Hadasht told him as she straightened up. “Not good.”
Anakin stared at her, wanting to shout, that he cared not about his bloody cheekbone. What was wrong with his lungs? And why couldn’t he move? What about his hand? Why was he here all alone? Where was Shura? He remembered Diam being there but he seemed to be gone too.
“My wife?” he squeezed out finally.
Dr Hadasht heaved a long sigh. “I’m afraid your wife is missing. Since the day after your crash.”
Shura was missing? All the gods, what had happened.
“It seems that she cleared out her bank account and left in her own ship, so - so far - it is assumed that leaving was her own choice. No foul play is suspected.” Dr Hadasht looked down on him for a long while, the she said, “I’m really sorry.”
Perhaps she was sorry. At least she her face bore the appropriate expression, but cut off from the force as Anakin was he could not tell and it disturbed him. Other people had to go through life like this all the time, but he was not used to it.
Shura had left and vanished without a trace and nobody thought it might be anything but her bailing, Anakin wondered. Why should she do that?
“Your friend Senator Palpatine was here, remember?” Dr Hadasht asked, her attempt to drag the conversation onto safer terrain all too obvious.
Of course, he remembered. He also knew - again from Dr Hadasht’s own memories - that it had not been his first visit.
“He had to leave,” Dr Hadasht continued. “Since we had to keep you under for a good while anyway, there was no reason for him to stay, but he said, he’d be in this sector anyway day after tomorrow, so he will be visiting you then.”
Anakin blinked and tried to suppress the panic that threatened to overwhelm him. Was he going to lie here in excruciating pain until the day after tomorrow? He wouldn’t be able to sleep like this. If he could only use his powers to calm some of the worst pain, but he was completely cut off from the force.
“Why...?” he asked, running out of breath again.
“Why what?” Dr Hadasht frowned deeply. “Why is the Senator coming to see you?”
“Force,” he managed to say. He waited for the machine to inhale and added as it pushed the air out of his lungs again. “I can’t feel anything.”
“Ah!” Dr Hadasht grinned at him. “We had to give you some force repressing drugs. You did quite a bit of damage the first times you woke up. Mostly to my head.” She put a hand to her forehead. “Nothing permanent, I assure you.”
“How?” Anakin asked.
“You don’t know about this?” Dr Hadasht asked in return, but answered her own question at once. “No surprise there. Well, you see, Senator Palpatine and myself had a very interesting talk with a jedi doctor who happens to work here. It seems that there are a number of drugs that stop a patient, if he is delirious for example, to access the force and do damage to himself or others. Very interesting indeed. A whole new field of medicine we common doctors never knew anything about. So, we are now doing some reading up and research on it.” Dr Hadasht grinned again. “Perhaps this is just one of many new fields of medical research.”
She seemed to be genuinely excited about this all. New research, new possibilities.
But what the hell did he care, Anakin thought. He was the one who was stuck here, wrecked with all kinds of aches and not able to move, and all she saw was a possibility to experiment with new drugs.
“So why do you think the jedi kept these force suppressing drugs under such tight wraps?” Dr Hadasht asked.
“I couldn’t care less,” Anakin managed to say.
“Oh,” the doctor made.
Anakin stared at her standing there next to his bed. She was fine, wasn’t she? She could walk out of here any second. She could do whatever she wanted. What did she care about him being in pain? Why was she here anyway?
He tried to find an answer in the jumbled memories he had accessed when he had so rudely burst into her mind, searching only for her name.
There were snatches of memories from her childhood, of her years at school and university, a lot of detailed information about what had happened to his body during the accident, most of which he could not make any sense of, some of which he would gladly not know about, memories of operations he had undergone. There were also memories of this room, of her sitting watch over him, desperate to ensure that he was going to get well again. He could not figure out why she was so determined, perhaps she did not know herself, but the feeling was so strong, it drowned out all other emotions.
“Anakin,” Dr Hadasht said, bringing him back to the present. She had taken hold of his right arm, he could feel her fingers around it. “Please, I know this is hard for you, but you have to hold on. I cannot promise you miracles or that it will all be alright in a week’s time, but I know I can make you well again.”
“Can you?” he asked.
She nodded and gave his arm a squeeze.
His arm, since he did not have a right hand.
“My hand,” he stated. The accusation in his voice brought a frown on Dr Hadasht’s face.
“I’m sorry, we haven’t gotten round to that yet.”
Other operations had always been more pressing, her memories told him. Other operations had been necessary just to keep him alive. That and the fact that a certain Professor Cagliari had vetoed to purchase a prosthetic hand.
Another of her memories suddenly added itself to the previous one, a memory of the shock on Lee’s face when Dr Hadasht told her about Anakin’s fight with Kenobi.
Lee had been here to visit?
“Lee has been here?” he wanted to know.
For a moment Dr Hadasht looked perplexed as if she wasn’t sure what he was talking about, then she nodded. “Your jedi friend? She brought your belongings. Your books, your decorations.”
Which explained the presence of both the Space Traveller and Warlord of Warhoon books.
“Who else?” Anakin asked.
“Your mother-in-law, and this General,” Dr Hadasht replied, “can’t remember his name.”
General, Anakin wondered, General Kenobi? Surely they would not allow Kenobi to visit him, not if Diam had any influence here.
“He sat here for almost two hours, never saying a word,” Dr Hadasht continued. “He was quite old, bushy eyebrows, moustache.”
“Mulcahy,” Anakin said.
Dr Hadasht nodded eagerly. “Yes, that was his name. He said if he was to replace you he had to see for himself that you wouldn’t be able to take up your post any time soon.”
Anakin closed his eyes. A new wave of desperation washed over him.
They had taken away his command. The thought should not come as a surprise, he knew. He had almost died. For weeks it had seemed certain he would die still. Of course, they had to find a successor to take over command and Mulcahy was the perfect choice.
Still - the New Forces were his project and now they had given it to somebody else.
What did you expect, Anakin asked himself. The New Forces needed an able commanding officer, not a wreck like him. He would never ever be able to command anything anymore. Not even his own body.
Was there anything left for him to life for? His wife had dumped him, his body was a ruin and now they had also taken away his job.
“I want to die,” he muttered.
“No, you don’t” Dr Hadasht contradicted him.
“Yes, I do,” Anakin insisted. He opened his eyes again to glare at the doctor.
“No, you don’t,” she stated, “and you know why?”
“I have no idea.”
“Because Diam has promised to bring a complete set of the Loggox action figures of the Space Travellers. He said he found one on Nagamasa and that you always really liked to have them.” Dr Hadasht smile at him broadly.
For a moment Anakin couldn’t decide whether she was serious or had a really sick sense of humour. As if the promise of a few - in fact, quite a few - action figures made up for all the pain and misery he was going through!
But she seemed to be serious about this.
Suddenly, he was overcome by the urge to laugh hysterically, about this weird doctor who thought some stupid action figures could make up for all he had lost, about himself lying here wallowing in self-pity. But if talking had been difficult with a machine controlling his breathing, laughing proved to be impossible.
He managed a few gasping yelps that sounding so strange even in his own ears that he stopped again. Instead tears of frustration shot to his eyes.
“What was that?” Dr Hadasht asked.
“I can’t even laugh,” Anakin answered, from the deepening frown on his face, he was not really comprehensible.
“Laugh?” she repeated. She frowned again and then pointed at the grey machine over his chest. “I see whether I can fix that.”
“You can?”Anakin asked.
Dr Hadasht shrugged. “I’ll try.”
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