By the hands of the Gods, you have been plucked from your time and from your world, dropped into the box.
Only the box is a world of its own.
We are a mass crossover based on the concept of Pandora's Box. Characters from nearly any fandom can be played here. Because of the endless character possibilities, we are canon only here at Pandora. Take a peek at our rules and plot information before starting your new life in Pandora.
Anakin didn't know how much longer this funk was going to last, only that he had no desire to go looking for anyone he knew, and that he had no desire for anyone he knew to come looking for him. In the space of the past five or six years here, he had been a monstrous Sith Lord, a reformed governor, a retired porg farmer, a nine-year old— and sometimes he missed the simplicity of being nine. Most of the time he missed the simplicity of being blissfully ignorant to both his future and the baggage of living five separate lives.
For all the uncertainty and strife, the anxiety of sustaining an illicit marriage, he envied the Anakin of just the month before. The Anakin who had been eager to end the war, catch up with Ahsoka, see that she had everything she needed on Mandalore, see Padmé, make jokes at Obi-Wan's expense. Simple things that could fill him to the brim with energy.
Now, he had to stay away from all of it. Them. For their sake and his. Even if there were... friends from home, he didn't want to so much as hear about it.
"Good morning, dear," greeted the ruddy-faced proprietor from the window of the corner bakery as he strode by, all smiles and a warm lilt in her voice as she wiped her hands against her apron. "Did you catch the spaceship that landed nearby?"
He readjusted the steel beams mounted on his shoulder. To his credit, he had been productive during this last month of his self-imposed seclusion. Apparently some wandering lunatic had murdered the local scientist not too long ago, bringing projects to a stand still. Anakin had taken up residence in the deceased's home, and in the meantime, had taken to picking apart and deciphering the various cryptic studies. Chief of which being the Patron who ruled Brattur come nightfall. Those were the topics he very much preferred to discuss and think about. Not news of visitors who may or may not have any relevance to him.
"Sure I did," he replied, tight smiles and feigning a chipper demeanor nonetheless. "They're a dime a dozen where I'm from." In places where he wasn't from too. It meant nothing. "Good day, Molly." Turning away and still smiling at the woman, his feet began moving little more quickly lest he be trapped into further smalltalk.
Cal had been making a run to Pandopolis, re-entering the atmosphere to go back to the Cosmic Wilderness when his ship started casting alerts. Engine trouble. Son of a Biscuit. But nothing new in the trash fire that was the life of Cal Kestis. The problem was having to land carefully in the Wastes without losing all his technology at once. A larger son of a biscuit. He put on the protective screen he used when he was in an area that was anti-technology and eyed BD-1.
”You uh…. Better stay here, buddy. While I go see what parts I can scavenge.” BD beeped in agreement. The little adventure droid didn’t really like the Wastes or the Vales. Made him feel all nasty.
Leora stretched, yawned, and got up. The large loth-wolf had to duck her head following Cal out of the ship. ”What are we looking for, exactly?” She asked, curiously looking around at the other villagers who gave her mildly alarmed looks at a wolf the size of a pony just following after Cal.
”Cybernetic Manipulator…. Or at least something that can help me build one. It’ll stabilize the engine so we can leave.” He told her, looking around, ”Just gotta find someone whose got scrap parts….”
He was just passing someone who was carrying large beams when he…. Sensed something. In the force. It made him pause and look a bit closer at the person he’d just passed. It…. Couldn’t be.
But just last month he’d met Master Kenobi so…. Surely yes it was.
”Master Skywalker? Is that you?” He asked, excitement causing him to smile wide. Leora wagged her tail, reflecting her human’s excitement, and almost slapping some poor guy in the face as she did so. ”I can’t believe….. it really is you!” He said, joy at seeing Anakin Skywalker here, alive, the same as when he’d seen Master Kenobi. He’d thought Skywalker killed and…
”Oh sorry… you probably don’t remember me.” He said, looking apologetic. He’d just been a gangly youngling/new padawan when he’d last seen Skywalker at the temple. Awkward arms and all….
At the sound of an excited 'Master Skywalker' bouncing off his ears, he stiffened in his tracks, swinging around and nearly knocking into the other if not for hastily readjusting his grip with an instinctive whoa, sorry! and letting them plant into the ground like poles. He stared at the young man and the massive loth wolf accompanying him. The wolf, he'd registered in his periphery a bit back as very cool-none of his business as nearly all unusual things that also weren't problems.
But now that wasn't possible. Clearing his throat, he stood a little straighter on his heels. Pushing back flashes of images and sounds of leisurely hunting after a young man who'd taken off with a stupid holocron that Sidious had some interest in, like the one they'd already captured from Cad Bane eons ago, and instead mustering a recollection of the boy at Master — which was it — Tapal's side.
"Cal... Kestis?" he inquired, furrowing his brow. Unfortunately for Anakin, he looked much more like the persistent man- whom he had, also leisurely, attempted to murder- than the youngling in training. There was a stab of something like guilt piercing in his ribcage, except guilt was perhaps too inadequate of a term, combined with disorientation and dissonance, and more guilt. This was exactly why he'd been shutting himself off.
He swiftly and more insistently compartmentalized these memories that he should not be reliving under lock and key, instead mustering up a grin that the usual him would've worn.
Words of greeting the usual him would've said. "No way. You... must be as old as Ahsoka now!" But taller. Not that Ahsoka didn't have more room to grow.
Cal was excited. Finally: some additional good news. Anakin Skywalker wasn’t dead, at least he was in Pandora. This opened a lot of potential happy reunions: Master Obi-wan Kenobi was here. Anakin’s son was here. Did he even know he had a son? Wait… was this going to get awkward? He really hoped not.
Leora was doing this weird, excited paddy-cake thing with her front two paws, tail wagging excitedly, reacting to her human’s excitement almost like a mirror. Cal had to remember that, trying to chill out his joy a bit. The smile certainly didn’t leave his face as Anakin seemed to remember him.
”Yup! That’d be me!” He grinned, though….. was that guilt he sensed? Perhaps it was just because the Master had taken a moment to recognize him, and it made him feel guilty? Cal didn’t think too much into it.
”Yea it’s been a while.” He confirmed, tempted to ask if Ashoka Tano was here. But something made him stop. Last he heard, Tano had left the order. He didn’t want to reopen wounds. But he could have some good news!
”Oh! Master Obi-wan Kenobi is here as well. I ran into him a few months back.”
How long ago had it been for Cal Kestis since escaping his clutches? Or had that even occurred yet? This was the part where those old Jedi teachings of disassociation and disengagement were finally useful, as Anakin maintained his warm veneer. It only began to slip ever so briefly when Cal mentioned Obi-Wan, though surprise would've been an easy excuse for that.
He should've been ecstatic for the news. In the place of would-be enthusiasm he felt a clench of something stricken and suffocating inside, like a wounded dragon struggling and roaring to tear its way out of his chest. How irrational of him, as if he had no recollection of those repeated conversations versions of himself had conducted with versions of his Master, of being forgiven. "Oh, really? How was he?" he heard himself say. At least the curiosity needed no pretense, though Anakin was far too accustomed to Obi-Wan's almost cyclical comings and goings in Pandora that it was only middling by now.
Besides, a few months ago could always mean the old man (or maybe younger version of the old man, whatever) had since departed. And that was just as well.
Pivoting quickly, he seized that low hanging fruit excuse of politeness as he shook his head to himself, going on to inquire, "How have you been? What brings you- and your friend- up to this pleasant middle of nowhere?" The pleasant was just shy of deprecating; mostly it served as a term of endearment. "You seem a long way from those Padawan days."
He would have expected the other to be excited. If someone told him that Jaro Tapal was on Pandora? Estatic. Probably throw a party for the grump master. The other though just acted as if he and Obi-wan Kenobi were casual acquaintances and he’d just said he’d seen him recently. ”He’s uh…. Learned some things.” He said, hesitating, before admitting, ”I sort of… maybe… told him I thought you were dead?” He said, awkward, before recovering, ”But now I can go contact him and say you are very much alive!”
That’s good. Okay… first things first he’ll have to get to his ship and contact Master Kenobi, say where he is….
Cal blinked as the other seemed to just…. Continue this conversation casually as if this wasn’t an issue of Kenobi literally mourning the loss of his Padawan who was not actually dead. He shot a look behind him at Leora, who tilted her head towards Anakin in reflected concern. ”We’re uh…. Getting some spare parts? My ship has malfunctioned, so I need to fix it.” He gestured behind him at the Loth-wolf, ”This is Leora, Master….”
”A pleasure.” Came the female voice from the Loth-wolf, but it had the same sort of concerned unsureness as Cal reflected. He supposed that was a Daemon thing.
”Well yes…. Alots happened since….” He stopped himself, ”I guess technically I’m a knight?” Cere Junda did knight him right before facing Darth Vader in his Lair. Heh, that rhymed….
”What are you doing here, Master? How long have you been on Pandora?” You would think Anakin Skywalker would or could find better work in the Cosmic Wilderness? With his knowledge of droids and technology?
Learning some things implied the war against the CIS was probably ongoing for the man Cal spoke to. Anakin's expression didn't change much upon learning that Obi-Wan had been informed of his death, his gaze flickering downward as a shadow seemed to cross him briefly. The same old man from further along in the timeline wouldn't have disagreed. Anakin Skywalker is dead—wasn't that what he told everyone? It was the one fact both Kenobi and the Empire would have agreed on.
Cal was dancing around the lot of things happening admirably. Anakin recalled his own frustration whenever his jedi mentors behaved as opaquely as he was undeniably being. He couldn't bring himself to outright spill that he helped bring about the Republic's, the Order's collapse, that he was that monster.
But he had something he could give, which conveniently also covered for the uncertainty and tension he doubtlessly radiated. Finally, an apologetic smile touched his lips as he dipped his head forward. "I've been around this block, Pandora, a few times across a few years," he explained, stretching an arm around them to gesture at their surroundings. "Had many, many conversations with those from the future and past. Learned some things that've given me much to think about. I think you know what I mean."
He had run with supposedly prestigious organizations. Started Elysium. Became General Secretary. And all for what? He was no further along where he needed to be than when he'd been a blithe youngling of nine years scaling cliff sides with old man Luke at Saint Sacul. "After a half dozen or so attempts at trying to make… meaningful change with that knowledge, I thought I needed to take a step back." Following a pause, he regathered the steel beams and jerked his chin somewhere further ahead. "C'mon, let's see what we can do about those parts."
The other felt…. Different. Cal couldn’t quite put his finger on it, perhaps the lack of reaction to Obi-Wan Kenobi being told he was dead. He heard Leora give a soft whimper behind him, reflecting his own concern. ”Master are you-?”
And then Master Skywalker explained he’d been to Pandora before. And could apparently remember that. It was apparently a lot. Apparently he knew about his son, too, perhaps? There was a lot of ‘apparently’, and it left Cal feeling unsure as the other explained he needed to take a step back. Away from the drama that was Pandora and figure everything out. The hidden message understanding was he was… perhaps not ready to speak to his old Master.
”Oh…. Alright! I don’t want to get in your way if you are busy, Master.” He said, feeling almost guilty as he followed Master Skywalker. ”If you are um…. Taking some time to figure out the weirdness of Pandora. Would you…. Rather I not tell anyone you are here?” That didn’t necessarily sit well with him but…. He could tell Master Kenobi that Master Skywalker was here and just needed some time to himself, right? How he wasn’t sure…. This was complicated. Far more complicated than he realized.
He forced a short chuckle out of himself that ended up not needing to be forced at all— this was simply all too bizarre, as though he were living in a world of complete unreality. And there was something to Cal's thoughtfulness that had him dying and shriveling up inside a little more; how cruel the galaxy must have been to him after the Fall. How cruel he had been, to the extent that he sometimes couldn't reconcile that heartless man with his identity and own heart of hearts.
Other times it made terrifyingly perfect sense. "You don't need to keep secrets on my behalf," he reassured, flashing another veneer of a lighthearted grin as he led the way down the first steps of what appeared to be an open storm cellar, just off to the side of the general store. "It can't be easy for any of us to know how the war ends, and to be stranded in a whole other dimension without any way to do something about it." At his side, his one free fist clenched reflexively, only to relax when an astromech wheeling by greeted them in a few clicks from the bottom.
"R7," Anakin spoke warmly, "this is Cal Kestis, and, uh, loth-wolf who talks."
And the bottom of the stairs looked indeed like something from a different world compared to the surface above. Or a world-in-progress. The clean metallic walls still had gaps in their plating, revealing earth and rock that still needed sealing. Several of the light fixtures hanging from the ceiling were still construction-grade, but the finished parts of the hall were almost indistinguishable from some interior of a Venator-class destroyer. Anakin braced the beams he'd been carrying against a section of wall and took roughly two and a half corridors before reaching a mess of a large basement room with hastily organized parts and scraps. So he'd been a little busy.
He scratched his chin idly. "So… did you have an idea of what you needed? I got some accelerators, a lateral flux stabilizer— I think that's a power surger from a totally different universe... probably not compatible with anything I know. Still got to figure that one out."
Cal listened as he insisted, with a suave lighthearted grin that reminded him of the Master he knew as a Youngling, that he didn’t need to keep any secrets. That it was difficult to find out how the war ends, and that acknowledgement that it had to be hard for all of them. Obi Wan, Skywalker, and Cal himself. He gave a nod, ”I’ll tell him…. but I’ll also tell him that you wish to be left alone.” Kenobi was understanding like that, and he knew his Padawan better than probably anyone else.
They approached a… mine shaft? Cal smiled and raised a hand in greeting to the Droid. Probably hand-made, knowing Skywalker. ”Her names Leora.” He chimed in, the loth-wolf daemon nodding in greeting, even as Cal looked around in wonder. ”Wow Mater…. You made all this yourself?....” He paused, ”How did you get past the Wastes anti-technology stuff? It gave my ship the largest fit entering in…”
He paused, reaching the other’s hoard of goodies, getting wide eyed at some of the parts he had on hand, resisting the urge to dive in like a kid in a candy store. ”Uh… cybernetic manipulator. Or something that’ll help me stabilize the engine to get into the Cosmic Wilderness.”
Anakin's face soured, this time from an exasperation untouched by darkness or shadow. It was, simply, exasperation. "Ugh, don't remind me!" he groused, throwing his head back as he clapped a hand to his temple. The regional quirks of the ominously branded Dread Wastes hadn't escaped him, especially the farther he ventured from Brattur from time to time.
"This village is built around workable zones," he explained— well, he suspected their nocturnal eldritch abomination friend had something to do with it, but Brattur's secret was neither here nor there. "It still gets... finicky. The wiring is a nightmare. Sometimes R7 tips over in the middle of the night for no reason and just beeps and beeps and beeps until I come down and grab him." Sometimes he thought R7 was doing that for attention— Scratch that, R7 was definitely doing that for attention.
As he spoke, he led the way past a few rows of shelves toward a haphazard cluster of bins that he crouched over and... simply began pulling the covers off and flinging them (safely) behind him. "Anyway, try looking through these controller piles." ... They were basically in piles. He hadn't exactly had much time to organize for the purpose of being aesthetically pleasing. "I imagine you'd have a better idea of what's compatible with your make and model, so... have at it!"
Cal couldn’t help but burst into a laugh as the other grumbled about the anti-tech that surrounded the Wastes and the Crystal Vales. ”I’ve heard of some stuff dampening the effects of magic…. I should really look into it. Otherwise I’m going to have a few crash landings anytime I leave the Cosmic Wilderness.” Heck: maybe if he figured it out he could start selling them to make some credits.
Poor R7. Though Cal internally agreed. While BD-1 didn’t do that, he was sure some Droids would do anything to get their Masters attention. They were sort of like cats, but with a harddrive processor. ”Workable zones, huh? Guess that explains why the moment I passed into the airspace my ship was able enough to land.”
He was in fact, getting the feeling like a kid in a candy store. At all the piles of stuff that Skywalker just…. Had. Cal grinned, ”Thanks Master!” He said, Leora settling into laying down behind him, watching quietly. ”Where did you get all these controllers? Were they just here?”
He picked up one and looked it over. Setting it down almost automatically with a shake of his head and digging through, pulling out a different one and examining it with a closer eye. This might do the trick…. If he could combine it? Maybe….
Anakin plopped into a criss-crossed position, draping a hand over his knee. "Like prometheus dust?" he inquired, raising a brow. Truth be told, he didn't know how helpful that might be against what seemed like this cosmic dampening system that ruled over a good half of this terra. People could get by reasonably well as long as they didn't expect to run an intricate network of tech long term... like he was kind of trying to do. Basically: if Cal had anything in mind, he was interested.
The light had returned to his eyes as they continued to discuss the current subject, his hands gesturing animatedly. "Plenty of junk in the Wastes can come back to life if you move them to a different spot." Like one blessed by an ancient man-eating deity or whatever. Or by returning them to Alliance space, or almost anywhere that wasn't the Vales or Wastes. Though, if he remembered the numbers correctly, it was more cost-effective for StarsX to simply write off the losses and crank up the production engines. Salvage and reconstruction were more passion projects than anything, even better for one who would remain in contemplative isolation for... he didn't know how much longer. "And, well, if you replace a few circuits. Maybe spend a few more minutes with a hydrospanner. Apply a fresh coat of sealant."
Besides, he'd missed the simplicity of it, and working with machines as a challenge had reignited a spark in him. It was nice having a reminder of this old joy, that took away from the bleak existentialism of everything else.
Finally, he pulled himself back up to his feet, his brows pulling together in a niggling concern as he had to ask, "Think you'll be good to finish the repairs by sundown?"
”Yah! I’ve also heard of like…. Magic-people in the Vales fit magic-dampening stuff to technology so it works longer in the space. Don’t know how legit it is. Or if it’s just a fancy term for dunking an engine in Prometheus dust and waving a wand.” The more he talked, the more relaxed he felt. The previous unsureness of Master Skywalker all but forgotten. They were just talking about technology, which was honestly one of his favorite topics. ”I was thinking of checking it out, see if there wasn’t something like…. A loop of some kind that caused the shutting down technology to just… re-boot?” Like a computer automatically updating. Might protect the machine. Who knows?
Listening to the Master talk, he was reminded of how it sounded like Scrapper work on Bracca. A ghost of a smile went to his face at the thought: ”Well: even a rusty controller has potential with enough sealant.” He said, an old Scrapper Phrase that might go over other’s heads, but Cal was sure the Master would get it. He knew tech.
The other asked if he’d be done by sundown. Cal mistakenly took that worry as it would be dark, chuckling, ”It’s alright master, I’ve got enough lights to probably power two suns.” He said, taking two controllers out and eyeing them. If he combined these two, one with some fried circuits, he might have a full thing to work with. ”Could probably make this work….” He muttered, reaching inside his pocket for a wielder tool. Sparks flying as he messed with the wires, snipping them off expertly before reattaching with the other one.
Ha! He liked where this was going, a fitting brain puzzle between mechanics. "Very good. That addresses the software. What about the hardware?" As he mused along, Arseven wheeled around tooting about the status update of tunnels C through E with an assortment of beeps and clicks.
Anakin nodded distractedly, his attention momentarily split as he thanked the droid. Before his leisurely train of thought returned with a mild glance over his shoulder. "I guess you could try forging your parts entirely out of Prometheum for your ultimate case study. But that's something you might want to take up with the Alliance." Or steal from them, but that was going to remain unspoken and implied. Always implied. From experience, he did know the Forces That Be had access to a whole planetoid's worth of the substance; they simply hoarded the kriff out of it for the standard shady governmental reasons.
... He would know, wouldn't he?
Pushing away troubling ruminations (again) that were neither here nor there, he shook his head to himself and rooted his thoughts back to the present. Speaking of shady, though, he had to wonder how much it'd be appropriate for him to disclose to one flitting through Brattur as a passerby. They… disliked when the Patron's name was invoked beyond the breadth of absolute necessity, and he could feel a thrum of power coursing in the earth above as if in warning.
Keep it simple. Keep it light. "It's not about that," he sighed. "Brattur adheres to a religious curfew."It was basically religious— but they had enough daylight remaining for that to hopefully not pose any issue. "Anyway, I'm not one to butt in between a man and his starship." A lopsided smile flickered over his lips. "But you let me know if you need any assistance, alright?"
Cal nodded quietly as the other said that took care of the software, but what about hardware? ”I guess anything with a loop-back system…. Like a macro pad?” He pondered, or one of those internal chips…. Sometimes the sweet things in life didn’t have to be big and bulky to work and be programmed right. Just like little BD.
Promethum Now that was an idea. Though: the thought of handling something that could cut his connection to the Force was mildly chilling. ”How does one get dangerous anti-stuff from a government agency. Asking nicely?” He joked, or at least: showing them how they could use it to help trade with the more-magic isolated Vales without having to go through Pandopolis? It was a start.
A religious curfew? ”Sounds…. Old-fashioned fancy.” Cal responded, ”I’ll be sure to watch the time then. Get out of here before sunset, or pack it in and see if there’s room at the inn.” He could sleep in his ship, too. He’d hate to get on the bad side of the locals. Especially since it would reflect badly on Master Skywalker.
”I will! And thank you again, Master, for the help.” He smiled back at the Master, ”May the Force be with you.” And with that: he turned to leave.
Putting this out to announce we'll be having a Moon Destruction Album release coming out the day of the big boom, come pick up a physical album at your local record store or download it off starknet...or just steal I ain't a cop.
basically for those who don't wanna click on the spoiler in my previous status, the short version is that I'll be taking a weeklong (possibly longer or shorter) break from posting and I'm really sorry if you're waiting on me