Elf filled her friends in, and their reactions indicated they would not blame her one bit for the way she felt.
There was some typing back and forth apparently between Elf and Sheev, and finally, there was the doorbell.
Elf went to get it, and let him in.
Introductions were made.
"I'm glad, and surprised you'd even have me after what happened yesterday." Sheev said to Elf.
"I appreciated that message, and am relieved things are starting to get back to the way they should be between you and me again. After all, it was you who took me out to bring Shmi back."
Sheev's expression suddenly turned troubled. He tried to cover it with a smile, but the elf saw it.
"What's the matter.?" she asked.
"Elf," Sheev said sadly, "I wasn't going to tell you this so early in our conversation, but the further developments I mentioned - one of them is - " he took a deep breath, and said, "Shmi - passed away some time during the night."
The elf's mouth fell open, and she looked confounded, then burst into tears.
"Shmi?" Ameh asked. "I thought she was dead a long time ago."
"So did we all, until Sidious was finally dealt with. I discovered her lying dormant, not dead, and with Elf's help awakened her the next day."
The elf got up abruptly and retreated to her room to try and compose herself.
"Sheev looked sad.
"And where did Shmi fit into all of this?" asked Cosima.
"Shmi was Anakin's mother. She was, or we thought she was killed years ago. Tortured by sand people, and lay dying in Anakin's arms. He found her too late and she slipped away. Ben told me that Elf knew about this and she expressed such distress over it that when I discovered Shmi's suspended animation state after Sidious was obliterated, I knew Anakin's force must've kept her from actually dying. So I took Elf to bring Shmi back."
"But why Elf? It's not like she has the force." said Ameh.
"She has it all right. Luke took a blood sample and - " Sheev paused, seeming surprised, "She didn't tell you?"
"She said nothing about it." said Cosima.
"Not even close." Ameh added. "She was so agitated when she came back yesterday that we couldn't get a thing out of her beyond yelling about her trip being nothing but an ignominy for her and the worst one she never volunteered to go on.
Sheev looked astounded. "Ignominy?" he repeated. Astounded turned to dismay. "I am so sorry." he said.
Cosima continued. "We didn't want to bring it up this morning either, and she didn't mention it until she read your message. Even then, she said nothing about having the force. Wow!"
Sheev nodded. "I wouldn't have cared about that any more either if I was in her situation. Ben told me her midichlorian count is through the roof. So that's why she could help revive Shmi. I wanted that for Shmi as much as Elf did. Well, Elf can fill you in on more of it when she's up to it, but I'll try to explain what happened as far as I can figure it. I wasn't there for much of what went on, but when I arrived, I felt my own thought process and self-will being eroded into what Anakin wanted, especially since yesterday morning. It's not much of an excuse, and you can fight it off, or allow yourself to let the other person control you.
Is that what he was trying to do?" Asked Cosima.
"Yes." Said Sheev. "He wanted more than just liberation from Palpatine and healing. But Elf spurned his advances."
What!?" Eww!" Ameh exclaimed.
Cosima grimaced, "So would I." She said.
"Oh, he wasn't overt about it," said Sheev, "but he had us all scheming, trying to get her sorry enough for him to consider a relationship with him."
"Eww!" Ameh exclaimed. Cosima grimaced.
That was her sentiment too, girls, she will not be his friend let alone future wife. She figured it all out when the little girl arrived, begging to see Anakin. The child was brought to show Elf what a pure and fatherly figure Anakin was and that the child needed a father and a mother. Anakin was hoping Elf would just slip neatly into the mother role, which would then give him easier access to her. He even had me trying to talk her into it. When she refused and left, Anakin caused a force storm over it last night."
"So," Ameh said, rolling her eyes, "Anakin kidnaps Elf, then he or someone else talks her into destroying Palpatine for him a third time since he cheated death twice, and now Anakin expects her to be his girl? Oh, brother!" "Oh brother indeed." Said Sheev. Anakin is going to go crazy when he finds out that on top of Elf's rejection, Ben and I have combined to resist his attempt at mind-manipulation on us.
"Ben too?" Elf said, coming back into the room.
"Yes. He and I had a long discussion about what's been happening. Even he agrees that Anakin is way out of line and using very unethical means of getting people to cooperate with his whims. The elf heaved a sigh of relief. "Thank you for that." She said.
Elf, he messed with our minds so much," said Sheev regretfully, "that by the time you and I had that row, I, and Ben and who knows who else, were utterly convinced that you were the odd one out because you were in the wrong, because you snubbed Anakin and hurt his feelings. But that is utterly ridiculous. Worse than ridiculous. That I was prepared to try coercing you to be Anakin's dutiful wife regardless of your own feelings, against your will, because Anakin actually imposed his will on my mind to such an extent, disgusts and terrifies me. I had to be away from Anakin and calm myself down to finally start registering what you were trying to say to me. And now, I'm here to listen, without judgment, and I meant what I wrote in that message. I am sorry for that banishment threat, and will never threaten that against the destroyer of Sidious and Slender Man, ever again."
"I don't think I actually destroyed Slender Man, or that was really Palpatine. It was some form of him. I got rid of Slender Man's base here on Earth, but he could've gotten away during the fires his proxies set. But I'm sorry for threatening to deluge your residence too, and will never do such a thing - unless you turn to the dark side."
""Truce?" Sheev held out his hand.
"Truce." the elf agreed.
Sheev saw Elf tear up again, and said, "I'm so sorry about Shmi too, Elf." He reached out a hand and touched her arm in a comforting gesture.
The elf did not pull away or rebuff him with a force field. She just hung her head and shed a few more tears.
Cosima approached and gave her a tissue, and rubbed her back. "I'm sorry too." she said.
Sheev tried to comfort her, and once again, reassure her in person that things would be different from this point on. "At least Shmi had one last good day." he said. "That might even mean if she had not been attacked, and lived a normal life, chances of her passing when she did were probably predestined or at least very likely. We did what we could, Elf."
"What were some of the things you liked about Tatooine, if you don't mind me asking?" Sheev asked gently. Maybe a change of subject would help the elf to regain her composure again and they could talk more.
Elf replied through sniffles as she tried to pull herself together. "Getting a look around at the areas of the compound I was staying in. The droids up close and personal instead of just seen on a movie screen. Actually trying to handle a light sabre. I'm crap at it, but it's still fun. I liked Yoda, and Ben...when they weren't saying Anakin's name. I enjoyed meeting Luke and Leia, and training with them, and especially when we were just chatting outside of training."
Sheev noted that everything the elf mentioned had nothing to do with Anakin/Vader. And she continued.
"I liked you too, before you were Anakinized yesterday, which made me wonder who you were and what you had done with Emperor Sheev. But as long as you and the others will stop trying to Anakinize me, I'd like to start things over with you, on my next visit, at my own free will."
"You got it!" Sheev said with a broad smile.
Just then, there was an extremely loud, destructive crash.
"What the heck!?" Ameh exclaimed. Cosima made an outcry. Elf gasped and jumped up, then headed to where the sound came from.
As they all went to investigate, they heard a roaring male voice bellow, "Elf!"
That was followed by the elf shouting back "You basilisk! How dare you show your wretched face here!?"
"Oh, no, he's really gone off the deep end." Sheev said.
"Anakin, or Vader, or, whatever he calls himself..." Cosima supposed.
"None other." Sheev said.
"You killed my mother and you will be eternally sorry for breaking my heart!" Anakin ranted.
"What heart?" The elf shot back. "You're crazy!"
"Anakin!" Sheev said sternly, "Elf was not even there when your mother died. She was gone before dinner, and your mother was with us in the dining room. that storm was yours. Elf was not there to cause it."
"But she caused it because she hurt me worse than the scrubbing!"
"Oh, don't pull that crap again!" the elf said in disgust. "Your life sucked, so did a lot of your choices, but like I said to Sheev yesterday, I don't owe you a damn thing! So ditch that freaking stupid suit, you don't need it any more, you got healed! Remember?"
"Since you are so tough, I challenge you to a light sabre dual!" Anakin ranted.
"Consider it rejected!"
"Oh, look, finally something Elf is scared of!" he taunted.
"I'd rather be a live coward than a dead fool!" she shot back, with a glare. "Typical of you to be amused over somebody's fear, that's just like a dark lord!"
"I am not! Stop twisting everything I say!"
"Oh, really?" The elf pressed. "What do you call 'O look, something Elf's afraid of!' Compassion? You thrived on other people's fear, not once or twice, but over and over and over again!"
"I am not trying to terrorize you for my amusement!" Anakin protested.
Then what?" Elf demanded.
I was trying to goad you into a light saber challenge, that is all!" Said Anakin, frustrated.
"Besides there being no light sabers here, the idea of challenging such a newbie is actually cowardly on your part, Darth Invader!"
Anakin yanked off his helmet and glared at the elf. Then he put it back on again. "I brought two light sabers with me, so you canot back out."
"I never accepted to begin with. Your challenge is rejected, and that's final!"
"I was counting on your sense of pride not allowing you to refuse." Anakin taunted.
"Who said anything about pride?" Elf countered. Mine's already taken a terrible beating, and - "
I fail to see how." Anakin said. "You have not lost to me yet."
That has nothing to do with it." Said Elf. "I'm not stupid, and - "
I never said you were!" Anakin retorted.
"Maybe not in so many words. But I maintain my own mind, and my life - without you in it! I'm not stupid enough to have a light saber dual with you and end up in some ultimatum situation where you get the upper hand and command me to marry you or die a burning death from your blade.""
For a few moments, Anakin stood as if stunned. But he collected himself soon enough. "Elf!" he shouted, trying to menace her.
"No!" she shouted back with a glare, both hands thrown up as if she was about to let punches fly.
"May I have a look at those sabers for a moment, Anakin?" Sheev asked gently, "I think I see a defect in one of them and just want to be sure."
Anakin agreed, and moved through the bits of wreckage from the damage he caused, to hand the swords off to Sheev. Then he backed away from him and approached Elf, who moved away, making a motion of disgust.
Sure Anakin was no longer within reaching distance, Sheev through first one sword, then the other. As they were in mid air, they disappeared.
"So it was all for nothing!" Anakin ranted bitterly at Elf.
"Well aren't you the ungrateful angsty brute?" she replied acidly. "You're healed, Sidious's bad laws are about to be changed to outlaw torture, and you're just sore because I won't be your Mary Sue!"
Just then, Anakin glanced at Sheev. "Where did those sabers go?"
"I sent them back to Tatooine. I do not want anyone getting hurt." he replied.
"I am already hurt! By her!"
"Oh, boo-hoo!" The elf mocked. "Look at him, always the victim!"
"Elf, Anakin, enough!" Sheev raised his voice. Then he continued. "That's not the same, Anakin, and you know it!"
Anakin looked at Sheev in disbelief. "I thought you said you were going to talk sense into her!"
"In my mistaken and muddled mind, I did say those words to you, but I ended up doing no such thing."
"Because she still will not listen! She still does not understand me!" Anakin railed.
"There is a difference between understanding and actually agreeing or being sympathetic." said Elf. "Now, it's time you understood something besides drowning in self-pity!"
"I am not! What I went through was real!" Anakin shrilled. I showed you to make you understand me better!"
"No, you showed me because you wanted to school me, make me feel absolutely terrible for you!"
"That is not why I did it, I even apologized for you seeing me that way!" Anakin protested.
"Lip service!" Elf countered. "Why don't you just admit it? You wanted to 'correct' me and make me understand it all your way, which means agree with you completely. It was like you were the school master and I was a student - and you have no right treating me that way! If it was only a matter of wanting me to help you end Palpatine, you wouldn't have brought up the subject of your precious stupid painful suit every freaking chance you got!
"Do you think I liked being in that suit?" Anakin accused.
"Yes! the elf finally shouted angrily. "It gave you the means to play with my emotions so you thought you could push and pull me in any direction you pleased! What you really were going for was - marry any girl who supposedly destroyed Palpatine and pretend she did it all for you! Then you could say 'Oh look at me, I have her as my wife, she's the one who killed the guy who totally wrecked my life, now ain't that special'?"
"I do not know how you can say this after all we've been through!"
"All you put me through!" the elf corrected sharply. "There is no we, Anakin, there never was - "
"And there never will be! Get it?"
"Tell her, Sheev!"
"No, Anakin, she has the right to tell us how she feels, since none of us we're really listening until now. Go ahead, Elf."
"Fine!" Anakin sulked. "Who cares about all the pain I suffered - "
"Oh, shut it!" Elf said with a snarling shout, stamping her foot. "One more word about your freaking pain and I'll end it with a wave!"
"Never mind the waves, just tell us your experience, Elf." Sheev said calmly but firmly.
"You know he stuck some kind of portal on this property that set off the security alarm. I went to check things out and found no disturbance, but ended up in and through the portal to Tatooine. Now this was between three and four in the morning over here. I didn't know how to get back, or if I could. Furthermore, I was told I couldn't go back until Sidious was gone - a man who I had thought was already dead, so that was confounding."
"Using the dark side of the force to cheat death." Anakin said.
"The first person I was confronted with over there was him, and all he wanted to do was drone on and on about his stupid suit and - "
"Stop calling it a stupid suit!"
"Stupid - "
"Anakin and Elf," Sheev intervened.
Elf continued, quieter, but no less agitated. "well I've had more than enough of being anxious and distressed over my loved ones having some kind of pain or condition or other. Things are finally doing well for the lot of us after so many years of that. I'm finally doing well emotionally. So I really don't want to be hearing any more about people in pain that I can't do anything about, especially stories of past pain that should've been long over. But Anakin just kept on and on about that freaking suit and wouldn't take the hint to just shut up about it. He never went to pieces about it before, he was too busy causing everybody else pain and being smug about his sadistic exploits, - this guy tortured and murdered in the hundreds, maybe even in the thousands! So he was the last person I ever wanted to see on Tatooine anyway. So that didn't help. Even when he took me to meet Ben and Yoda, we had dinner, and the two of them explained the Sidious mission and why they wanted me for it, and they demonstrated some uses of the force which amazed me. They told me I could ask them any questions I might have. And then he - " she made a jabbing gesture in Anakin's direction, "started in again with 'if you want to ask me about my suit I'll gladly tell you all about it, though it is a tale not to be told' and whatever blah blah blah - ARGH! I thought I was going to explode! How much longer was I expected to be there? How much longer would I have to put up with him jawing on and on and on - and - on, about that infernal suit and all his suffering? Would I ever get back home? Would my friends and family still even be there!?" At this, the elf sent Anakin such an acid glare that if looks could kill, his face would've melted off. "No one," she said in a low menacing tone that shook with emotion, "will ever get away with doing that to me again, not even if they are someone I actually like!"
"But it was the only option - " Anakin tried making his excuse again and was cut off.
Fixing Anakin with a baleful stare, "Do - you - understand - me!?" the elf said in such a severe tone that even Anakin finally wavered, appearing to take the hint at last.
He nodded. "Sorry." he mumbled.
"And I'm not finished yet," said the elf more quietly but still dead serious. "Even Yoda was Anakinized."
"Ana - Anakinized!?" Anakin sputtered. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.
"How so?" asked Sheev.
"The night he showed me to my room, he made sure I would be comfortable, and his parting words weren't just 'Learn from Tatooine you will' or 'Learn many different things you will' oh, no. It was, get this - 'Learn from Anakin you will'!" She threw a punch in midair that was accompanied by a shouting growl.
"Oh, goodness." said Sheev.
"Anakin is not qualified to teach me things, I didn't wanna learn anything more from him, I'd had enough of him on that first night and be damned if I was going to be some little cog fitting neatly into whatever part of life Anakin thought he could lay out for me! He had a chance with Padme, and screwed that all up!"
"Do not bring her name into this!" Anakin railed.
Elf continued, her voice took on a mocking perky sing-song tone "Well, the next day," she said as if she was narrating the cheesiest kindergarten level program ever, "I did learn something from Anakin, I got to hear him scream in pain - oh, what fun! We just happened to be going by in the hospital section when that was going on. Funny little coincidence, huh?" Voice became hard again. That put me out of sorts for the rest of the day," she glared at Anakin, "just as you planned it!" Tone becoming mocking sweet, "I bet that was absolute music to your ears when I came back with the message that I'd stick around to help get rid of Palpatine. That was Ben's idea, not mine! You must've thought you still had a chance with me after all. Well, it doesn't work that way, mister. and I've done some research and don't believe your sympathy ploys!"
Anakin couldn't do anything to stop the flow of words that seemed to bring all his machinations out in the open, revealed for what they were.
Incredibly worked up, the elf continued her story.
"They told me it was a once a month procedure, but a couple days later they told me I should just go ahead and eliminate Sidious because Anakin was being scrubbed again. That's when I really started to be quite sure something hinky was up. So, that was done, and when I came back, Abra cadabra! Anakin was healing on his own. But he ordered me like some errand girl to go find a medical droid, and find him a new emperor too. Like what the heck was I going to do to accomplish that? And I'm sick of him bossing everyone around, and talking down to me with this 'I hope this will help you better understand me' crap! Oh, he hit me with that one when Ben made me give him the message about staying for Operation Terminate Sidious clone 2.0.
"I do not boss everyone around!" Anakin retorted.
"Yes you do, you probably just don't realize it and neither does anyone else because they're so used to it!" said the elf, and continued with her story. "So then," she said, looking at Sheev, "suddenly you showed up out of nowhere, sir. I didn't know what to make of it. But I'll tell you something, if you had not said everyone including me would be invited to your instalment ceremony, I would've been gone from Anakin's world like a bat out of hell that night!"
"So the next day, you and I brought Shmi back and we had the celebration of that and the end of a bad regime."
"And my healing, do not forget that." said Anakin.
"Yes, yes," the elf said impatiently, "your healing too, and that you shed your suit completely for all to see, yada yada yada! Lucky you had some duds underneath or that would've made for a really embarrassing scene."
Everyone but Anakin laughed.
"That is not funny!" he bellowed.
"Then came the disastrous day after," said Sheev. I was so blind."
"Everyone was," said Elf, "Except maybe Leia. I think she and I could have really got along. Luke was definitely Anakinized. He kept calling himself and Leia 'the Skywalker twins' and though they are biological twins, Leia sees her adoptive father as more of a father and - "
"That is enough! Leave them out of it!" Anakin suddenly shouted at the elf.
"You brought that on yourself!" she snapped back, then looked around at the others as she continued. "So then came the little girl, and she was carrying on for Anakin like a lost puppy. I had absolutely no doubt it was more kidnapping and big mind napping going on, and what really took the cake was that ludicrous judgment thing, and then Sheev bawling me out for not orbiting around Anakin like everyone else was, including that I would be breaking his heart if I didn't give a relationship a chance. At the time, he saw nothing wrong with Anakin kidnapping me from my home, a terrible violation of my most basic human rights. But he threatened to banish me for merely saying I would kill Anakin if he tried that again. Then I was out of there. And that's what happened."
Then she stared impassively at Anakin. "Now, understand this, Darth Invader, - *YOU AND ME WILL NEVER HAPPEN! I would rather end you beneath the waves. Besides the fact there is torture commission in your past, there is a guy in my own home world who is the only one I ever had any feelings for in that way, and whether or not he and I ever get together doesn't matter right now. But he is my type. You are not!"
Anakin was seething in a state of rage and wounded pride.
Sheev walked slowly over to him and put a hand on his shoulder, then looked him in the eyes. "Anakin, you're so busy being upset at the idea that you can't have Elf for your wife or even a friend. I know Ben has already tried talking to you about that. But it's clear to me that you do not love Elf, nor would you make a remotely good couple."
"Yes, I do." Anakin blubbered.
The elf made a disgusted grunt and scowled.
"No, you do not." Sheev insisted. "You wanted to possess her, like you tried to possess Padme,"
"Stop bringing her up!"
"And unlike those of us around you lately, Elf will not be possessed. You were trying for an unhealthy codependent relationship, with Elf's role as someone who made you happy and proud, regardless of how she might feel. If you really loved her, it would not happen in just a few short days, you would have respected her wishes and stopped trying to make her feel bad about your suit. You might have even tried to understand why she didn't want to talk about it. You would not have implanted your own ambitions into our minds to use us, people she respects, to force her to give you what you want. You do not love her, you don't even love us. You want to conquer her. And Anakin, this Elf will not be conquered."
"Shut up, Sheev!" Anakin shouted.
"Neither will this future emperor be shouted at. I will threaten you with the same punishment I did Elf yesterday for shouting at me. Do that again, and you will be banished."
There was a deafening silence.
It was Elf who spoke up.
"I thought you were never going to do *that* again, even if it is directed at Anakin this time."
Sheev grinned sheepishly at the elf. "You are right. I will never dole out such a draconian punishment for a mere shout. But at least it got his attention."
"So what is the punishment for shouting at the emperor?" Cosima asked, trying to lighten the mood.
"Other than maybe a shout back, nothing unless the shout is a deliberate act of contempt, along with some other action. And Elf, you will be unbanishable unless you turn to the dark side."
The elf smiled broadly. "Thank you! Now, I can finally make peace with you, Your Majesty."
"You are welcome, Elf." Sheev smiled back happily. "And you and your friends here, are welcome at my instalment ceremony. Please do consider that an invite. And please, just call me Sheev."
"We will come if we can., said the elf, "thank you."
"Oh, Anakin's gone." said Ameh.
"I thought I saw him slink away in the trees over there," Cosima indicated the direction.
"He better not be planning to skulk around here and pretend to be Slender Man at night to try freaking me out," said Elf, "it won't work, and he'll get himself into a load of trouble."
If he does, he'll be in trouble with me as well, for violating an intergalactic restraining order. It's for the best he and you are kept apart." ." said Sheev.
Elf looked for all the world like a kid who had just received the best birthday or Christmas gift in their life.
"Now," said Sheev, "I should see where that boy got too. Thank you ladies, for having me, and for your willingness to listen and give me a second chance, Elf. There's just one more thing I must try, and hope it'll work here before I go."
With that, Sheev stared at the broken door Anakin had kicked in.
"Oh, dear. I'm so sorry about that. I just tried to fix your door."
"Oh, that's no problem," said Cosima, who magically put the pieces back together and in place.
"Wow!" Sheev said, astonished. When he recovered, he said, "Still, Anakin owes you for the damage. I'll work it out and see that you are paid the next time we meet."
"Thank you." said the elf.
"Will you come to Shmi's funeral?" Asked Sheev.
Elf winced and looked down. "I would, but I can't because of Anakin. I'm sorry." She said regretfully, but it's best we keep as far away from each other."
"I guess that means you won't be coming back to Tatooine." Said Sheev sadly. "Though I understand."
"I'm afraid so." She replied quietly.
"Well then, could I, - well, the friends you made there come to visit you some time, and keep in touch?" He asked.
Sure." The elf's voice faltered and she began to tear up.,
The girls and the emperor said their goodbyes, and Emperor Sheev returned to Tatooine, and the girls returned to their regular activities at Mission HQ.
The next day, Shmi's funeral was held on Tatooine. Sheev experienced a terrible bout of the flu that day, so could not attend.
What was really odd was that Anakin/Vader did not attend either, and that really puzzled everyone. His behavior, ignoring Shmi on her last day alive to focus on Felicity and the up and coming new emperor Sheev had also seemed odd, but refusing to attend his own mother's funeral had everyone quite vexed.