Qar took another careful
scanner reading of Anakin’s right arm. The bones were mending
at least. Slowly but they were definitely mending. One positive
development amidst all the frustration and disappointments.
Anakin was stuck in his coma for almost two weeks now. She knew that her colleagues had given up on him ever regaining consciousness. She knew not only because of the way they looked at her or occasionally lapsed into talking about the patient in the past tense as if he was already dead, not only that, but Prof. Cagliari had vetoed all further reconstructive surgery.
Qar swore quietly and put the scanner away. She knew he was still there, deep in a coma but still there. She still had these vision-like dreams that this jedi woman had said were a sign that some sort of a link had formed between her and her patient. If only she had some possibility of replying to them. She had never thought she would wish she had any of the jedi’s creepy powers but now she desperately longed for them. She had even thought about asking Senator Palpatine whether it was possible to get another jedi to try and contact Anakin, so far she had not dared to ask him, but if Anakin’s condition deteriorated she was would try anything - even hiring one of these weird people.
Picking up his right arm, she carefully examined the stump of his wrist. Of course that was healing too, scarring over. The longer they waited the more difficult it would be to attach an artificial hand, and it would have to be an artificial one considering his medical history.
Damn these pessimistic idiots. She wanted to get the reconstructive surgery started now.
The senator had promised he would have a word with Professir Cagliari. She just hoped that he was insistent enough.
With a sigh, Qar sat down on her chair again. ‘Too expensive’, Prof. Cagliari had said. Qar looked at the container with Anakin’s belongings sitting in the corner under the window. She had only briefly looked into it, but she had taken out the numerous little boxes that contained Anakin’s decorations. She had arranged them on top of the container, just to remind her colleagues that this man had risked his life on uncountable occasions for the Republic – and now they were too stingy to pay for an artificial hand.
The other thing she had taken out of the container were some of his books. She had been surprised to find well-thumbed copies of the Space Traveller series among them. Why should somebody who spent his career in space, read books about some fictional space-farers? Given their battered appearance Anakin had read and re-read these books, and now Qar had started to read them to him. To her own amazement she started to like them. She picked up the copy of Sisters in Darkness and started to read it out to her patient. It couldn’t hurt, could it?
A knock on the door, interrupted her after a few pages.
“Yes,” she called out.
The door opened and Nurse Roseanne stepped in. She held a square parcel wrapped in brown paper in her hand. “This arrived for you,” she said.
Judging from the way she held it, it seemed to be heavy.
Qar got up and accepted the parcel. “Thank you,” she replied. The parcel was heavy. There was a note stuck to the front. Who on earth would send her a parcel? She unfolded the note, but the handwriting, neat and clear, was unfamiliar too.
‘You recently mentioned your lack of knowledge about your patient,’ she read, ‘so when I saw this in a bookshop on Nagamasa I thought of you. I hope it helps. Diam Palpatine.’
A book? She ripped the paper off impatiently.
There was a large photograph of a young man on the cover, and bold, red letters ran across the top: A Hero of Doom. The unofficial biography of Field Marshal Anakin Skywalker and in smaller letters the author’s name: Ashton Widdows.
“Oh,” Qar said.
She looked at the picture again, realising that she had not recognised Anakin at all. She must have seen his image innumerable times during the war, she had even seen it on his medical file, but she had not recognised him. She had actually never noticed what a good-looking man he was. The photograph on the book showed his face in close up, staring defiantly about two feet beside the camera. He had amazing blue eyes, she realised. In real life she would probably not look at him twice – she never looked twice at anybody, no matter how good-looking – but this was her patient, the man she tried so hard to keep alive.
Sitting down on her chair, she stared at the book for a long time. – It seemed that she set his nose correctly, judging from this image. – What struck her particularly, and the reason no doubt that this picture was selected for the cover, was the fierce and intent expression on his face. The background of the picture was out of focus. Anakin was wearing his uniform, his shoulders were just visible at the bottom of the cover.
Turning the book around, Qar found the caption of the picture. Cover: Captain Skywalker during the inquest into the death of Vigee Nomana. Who on earth was this Vigee Nomana?
‘During the recent war,’ the blurb on the back read, ‘many spectacular careers were made, but none as spectacular as the one of Anakin Skywalker. His abilities as a fighter pilot were unsurpassed. His quick thinking and ability to spot the weakness of the enemy combined to make him one of the greatest navy officers of the war. Together with his equally gifted wife, Shura Talassa, he was responsible for some of the war’s most spectacular victories, most notably the Battle of Doom. But not only was he a skilled pilot, a brilliant officer and a talented jedi, he was also married to a stunningly beautiful and successful woman. To many it seemed his life was perfect. But was there another, a darker aspect to his life? Glimpses of this troubled side started to show even before the war ended. Since then difficulties have mounted for the former war hero. Has his status as a hero been a sham from the beginning? Former war correspondent Ashton Widdows has been researching Field Marshal Skywalker’s career for many years and in this thrillingly written biography carefully traces the moments of greatness and disaster in the amazing life of Anakin Skywalker.’
Qar swallowed. This was really weird. Of course she had known about Anakin Skywalker, everybody had, but this was so … over the top. She found it hard to reconcile this description with the man she knew. Not that she really knew him – with the exception of these strange visions. She hadn’t even talked with him.
‘Superbly researched – brilliantly written,’ was one of the positive endorsements under the blurb. ‘A must for anybody who wants to understand the recent war – and learn from it,’ read another. ‘The definitive biography of a great man and a flawed hero,’ was the third.
This was just bizarre. Qar turned the book over and stared at the defiant Captain Skywalker again.
How did they manage to get this book out so quickly? she wondered. The accident was just a fortnight ago. They must have been working on it already and just pushed the publication through as quickly as possible when the crash happened. Would they have called it ‘A Hero of Doom’ if the accident had not happened?
Opening the book, Qar looked at the index. ‘Chapter One: A desert tragedy, Chapter Two: Taking flight, Chapter Three: Profits of war.’ Hm. The first chapter was only three pages. Flicking to it, she noticed that one page was completely taken by a colourful photograph of a dusty looking space-port, Moss Eisley as the caption read, and half of another page showed a picture of desert. The next chapter began with ‘At the age of eighteen…’. Was that all there was to say about Anakin Skywalker’s childhood and youth. One and a half pages?
Turning back to the first pages of the book, she noticed a short foreword by the author. ‘The life and career of Field Marshal Anakin Skywalker is truly the stuff from which legend are made. As a war correspondent I have been following Skywalker’s career from the very beginning, his courageous action during the battle of Ereeta. Ever since these dramatic events I was particularly fascinated by this young man. After the end of the war, I have started to prepare the publication of this biography. I had hoped that once the New Forces were fully established, I would have a chance to interview Field Marshal Skywalker and ask him to supply some additional information about his life, particularly his childhood which seems to be shrouded in mystery. However, the tragic events have put an end to these hopes for the foreseeable future. As it is my wish to commemorate the greatness of Field Marshal Skywalker, particularly to the generations coming after us, those who cannot remember the war, I have decided to go ahead with the publication of this book. Hopefully I will be able to publish a second edition in the format I originally intended. My prayers and wishes go to Field Marshal Skywalker and those who care for him now at the Great Military Hospital of Alma Serena. – A. Widdows.’
Qar shook her head again. What an odd person that Ashton Widdows must be. Was he really trying ‘to commemorate the greatness of Field Marshal Skywalker’ or did he just want to cash in on the interest created by the accident. Obviously he must have worked on the book for longer but she could not imagine he was so selfless as he stated.
Perhaps, she thought, she should get in touch with Widdows and ask him to donate the profits he was making in favour of his hero so that she could care for him properly and buy that artificial hand.
That wasn’t such a bad idea at all. Qar thought, grinning at the ceiling. She should ask the Senator to get her in touch with Mr Widdows. She should talk to Palpatine anyway, to thank him for the book and ask about his talk to Prof. Cagliari again.
The story continues
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