64 Preparation and reconciliation.

Getting back to the Saraswati, I began working on the body mods I had kept away from for so long out of fear of violating my own body, becoming more machine than man.

But....if the cost of sanctity is the loss of the woman I love, I guess I can bend it around a little bit.

Prepping the nanobots for surgery I activated a separate sterilization forcefield around the operating room, and took a big gulp of mega seed juice, boosting my intelligence to nigh godly proportions.

It also had the convenient effect of removing my revulsion to body modification and gore making the self surgery possible.

Administering a special anesthesia that numbed the pain but let me keep brain function active, I controlled the nanite swarm to form a scalpel and began the operation.

First came the peeling of all my skin, as the subdermal defense mesh was installed, nanobots looping it around organs and nerves alike. Of course, I didn't go for a mesh around each individual bit and piece. That would be too time consuming and hazardous in the long run. It was general mesh, around groups of organs, separating nerve clusters and muscle clumps into modules to be defended, individually. This meant that each mesh sector had a set goal and radius of effect, like a sprinkler system. It only activated where it was needed, conserving energy and increasing lifespan. Of course that would leave me vulnerable to bullshit like Mystic Eyes of Death Perception and the ilk. But I had a solution for that too. I was going into Worm next after all. It was the least I could do.

The mesh had interconnected and overlapping supervisor meshes, that combined with a third matrix above it, for a final line of defense, leaving no spot unprotected.

Could I still die to sufficiently hard trauma? Sure. Easily even.

But that's what my new forcefield generator was for.

Aegis Mk V, new and improved. It now had not only the reflexive forcefield for freedom of action, but also a life sensor, and extended battery that could now withstand even being thrown into Jupiter's core for nearly ten minutes and an automatic hard field function that activated when the pressure around me fell below 0.2 psi, creating a space safe bubble and dispensing spare air in case some accident in space got me thrown out of my ship. Because that would be a stupid way to die, freezing in space, my blood boiling in vacuum, broiling me inside out while my skin flash freezes. Bad way to go. One that won't affect me now. And finally, learning from Offee's death, this forcefield was hack proof and crush proof, made of a memory polymer and reinforced by a permanent nanite grid.

If something could still break through that, I doubt any subdermal defence short of kryptonian physiology could save me.

I also installed a new non-magnetic alloy shield over my heart, and crafted an earpiece for defence against mind control.

With that done, I stood back up from the operating table, healing blood patching up injuries. And unlike what I feared, it didn't push my implants out of my body but rather grew around them.

I stretched, cracking my knuckles and toes with a satisfying pop.

I felt like a new man. Because I was.

I turned around, the nano swarm forming a bodysuit around me and walked out only to find Star waiting for me, curled up in a corner of the hallway.

It hurt to see him this way. He was just a little boy. He probably didn't even understand anything.

Man, I feel like a piece of shit.

First I left him with the Skywalkers for months with only weekend visits and now I dumped him in the ship for hours as I worked on myself.

I slapped myself, hard. And then I slapped myself some more.

"I am a fucking idiot!" I cried, burying my face in my hands.

Star heard me and woke up, running up to me.

He gave me a hug, grabbing my legs.

"Don't hit yourself, Papa! Please!" He said, his grip nearly crushing my legs sending the both of us tumbling to the floor.

He climbed up on me and hugged me tighter, silently.

He was such a precious little kid. I had been such a bad father these past few months and he still cared about me.

What did I do to deserve him?

I could feel my throat hitch and tears pool in my eyes.

Slowly, I reached my arms around him, and gave him a hug too, patting his head till he calmed down and let go.

"Star...." I said, putting him back on the floor as I knelt to his eye level.

"I am so sorry, Star. I have been a bad father. I made a mistake.

I made a big mistake, Star. I let mama Offee die. I left you all alone. I was hurt and I .... I'm sure you were just as hurt. Losing your mother, and then even your father. I am so sorry. I am a failure of a father, son. I'm sorry." I cried, Star's big brown eyes on me, confused at first and then, with some reluctance understanding.

"Don't cry, Papa. Star won't leave you. And auntie Padme told me that mama went far away. But I know mama won't leave us alone. Mama promised. Mama will come back too. So don't cry, Papa!" He said, clumsily wiping my tears.

I cupped his head in my hands and nestled his forehead.

"You're such a good boy." I caressed his head.

"I promise, Star, I will be better. I won't leave you alone. I will make up for everything I have done, son. I will become the father you deserve, my sweet child.

So, can you ...can you bring yourself to forgive me?" I asked, my voice catching in my throat.

Star looked at me and shook his head.

"No!" He said, crossing his arms.

"I don't want Papa to cry!" He said, missing my point entirely.

He was a three year old after all. Even if his body was nearly seven. I was a fool to expect him to understand anything.

I sighed, swallowing hard, bringing my emotions back under control.

"Ok. No more crying. I'm sorry." I said, wiping my tears and then his, as he nodded triumphant.

I will have to have this talk with him again then, when he is grown up enough to understand. Maybe get him some therapy if it causes any problems.

Until then though, I will do what I promised. I will be a better father to Star. Even if he wasn't old enough to understand. And I will make up for all the love and care he missed, even if I have to spoil him rotten!

I pinched his cheeks gently.

He was too cute.

Just then, his stomach growled.

And I chuckled.

"Let's get some food in you!" I said, picking him up in my arms, "What do you want?"

"Ice cream!" He replied, and I sighed.

"Ice cream for breakfast?" I asked.

"Uhun!" He nodded.

I did mean it when I said I would spoil him rotten if I needed to, to make up for what I did, but I still needed to take care of his diet.

"Please, Papa?" He begged, with puppy eyes, bringing me out of my thoughts, and I caved.

Can't resist those puppy eyes!

"Fine. Just a little. But let's get some sandwiches along with it okay?" I said, and Star nodded.

"Don't want you to get a tummy ache, now do we?" I added tickling him in the stomach as collapsed into peals of laughter.

Next chapter