Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JABrown, Nov 4, 2012.
Leia is in big trouble we'll see how strong she is.
At least Kie-wan got Han to help him.
Thanks for the comments. Yes, my son is better as are we, so I should be able to get back to a more regular posting schedule. You can expect a new chapter at some point tonight.
@krtmd - Yes, no probs, I will add you to the pm list. Thanks for the good wishes!
@Lady_Misty - Leia is in a tough situation indeed. She will be hard pressed not to crack with what the Emperor has in store for her. As for Han helping Kiewan, the real question is what he will be able to do to help! He has lost most of his support structure with what happened to Corellia, so it will be a struggle. Thanks for the comment.
@ccp - Thanks!
@Hazel - Palpatine's plans for Leia will definitely test her strength of mind and will. Hopefully, she will be able to hold out. As for Kiewan, we'll have to hope that Han will be able to pull through for him as well!
More coming soon!
Great Update! So worried about what's going to happen to poor Leia.
Wow great story
@JABrown, I read through this and was taken back at how great it is. Your a great writer! I love what you have done with the characters especially Han, as a prince! And now he has himself in a sticky situation I'm really interested to see what happened to Luke on the Death Star And what your doing with Leia and Palpatine is truly intense! Great work, it was sad to see Obi-Wan and Padme die though
Turning away from the blazing sun and the endless desert dunes, Luke frowned as he looked for the origin of the voice. A tall shadowy figure, his face lost in the glare of the sun, stood behind him, watching him.
"Hello?" His voice sounded distant, like an echo of an echo.
"Who are you?"
The figure took a step forward, revealing a distinguished face, chin covered in a well kept beard, with long hair tumbling down around his shoulders. The man looked sad.
"Luke. You must not listen to him."
"To who? What are you talking about?"
"Everything is wrong. This isn't how he was supposed to bring balance to the Force. You must not listen to him."
The man seemed to be fading into the sand itself, his body disintegrating into dust before Luke's very eyes. "You must be careful. He will try to turn you. You must not listen. Bring balance, Luke. Bring balance back to the Force."
The man's voice trailed off into silence, and was gone... and Luke woke up.
For a moment he just lay there, staring at the perfect white ceiling, lit by a single lamp at his side. He struggled to make sense of where he was, and how he had come to be there. It took him a moment to remember his arrival the day before, the sight of the Death Star and... And his father. Or the younger version of his father, anyway.
How is this possible? Or is this all just another bad dream?
With a sigh verging on a sob, he rolled over and out of the bed. He had been brought to this room the night before, escorted by two stormtroopers who were even now posted outside his door. For his protection, the man who wore his father's face had claimed. Luke knew enough to know that he was a prisoner, though.
Not that he could have done much even if he could have left the room. He was in the middle of an Imperial space station powerful enough to destroy the most formidable weapon the galaxy had ever known. He was surrounded by the Empire's most deadly shock troopers, never mind two trained Sith.
Like it or not, he was trapped and there was no way out.
Padding over to the chair where he had put his clothes the day before, he slipped back into his trousers, but left the shirt off. It stank anyway after days stuck in Mara Jade's ship. He wondered whether Darth Vidius would be willing to let him have a new shirt before he killed him.
He moved over to a small portal that had been installed in the far wall. Pressing his nose against the cool glass, he stared longingly at the planet Corellia hanging against the backdrop of stars. One of the main continents was just about visible, green and blue and full of life. He almost felt as though if he closed his eyes and listened, he could hear the planet breathing.
He was still gazing across the vastness of space when the door to his cell slid open.
Spinning round, Luke froze as he glimpsed the two stormtroopers, turned towards him with their blasters raised. Stood between them was the man who wore his father's face, the man who claimed to be his father.
He was smiling at Luke warmly, an unfamiliar expression on Anakin Skywalker's face. His father rarely smiled - Luke remembered wondering as a child whether he even knew how. It was disconcerting to say the least, though no more so than the rest of the situation.
Waving a hand, Vidius sent the stormtroopers back to their posts on either side of the door, then stepped into the room. As the door closed behind him, Vidius studied the small room, then looked back at Luke.
"I hope you slept well?"
Luke nodded, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the imposter. Vidius sighed, then dropped his own gaze to the floor.
"I can see that you don't trust me."
Can you blame me? Luke almost said. He stopped himself in time and just stood there, staring.
Vidius trailed his hand over the top of a table at the entrance to the room, then walked around it to one of the two chairs. He pulled it out and sat down, then indicated for Luke to take the other. Instead, Luke walked over to the bed and sat down there, putting as much distance as he could between Vidius and himself.
The Sith Lord smiled wearily. "I guess I'm going to have to do some explaining before you'll talk to me. Well, I suppose that after all these years, you deserved to finally hear some truth."
"I am a clone of Anakin Skywalker," Vidius went on. "I was grown on a planet called Wayland in a facility run by the Empire. As you obviously saw when you arrived, I have all of your father's features, his entire genetic code and all of his memories up until the moment that he lost his hand on Geonosis."
"Geonosis?" Luke blurted out without meaning to. When had his father been on Geonosis? Luke had heard of the strange world in the history lessons he had received in the small school at Mos Espa. Something to do with the Clone Wars.
Vidius screwed up his mouth, his eyes flashing angrily. "I see that your father has hidden all of this from you. As I knew he would have. How else could he live with himself, considering his treachery."
Treachery? What was this man talking about? Vidius seemed almost to be able to read Luke's mind. He smiled. "I know all of this must seem overwhelming. Strange. Maybe even unbelievable. But I am telling you the truth. I can show you the documentation, the holovid recordings from the Republic News Service about Anakin Skywalker and his heroic actions during the Clone Wars."
"No," Luke whispered. "No, my father was a pilot."
"I still am, actually," Vidius said with a smile. "A damned fine one. I would imagine that you will have inherited that from us. You do know your father was a Jedi?"
Luke's mind flashed back to the scene he had walked in on back home, his father holding a lightsabre to another old man's throat. Yes, he knew that his father was a Jedi. And a liar. His heart clenched as he recalled what he had heard his father saying about his mother. And sister. I have a whole family out there that he hid from me.
A surge of anger almost overwhelmed him, so strong that it almost left him breathless. Across the room, Vidius closed his eyes and hummed.
"Yes. I can feel how angry you are towards him." Vidius opened his eyes and gazed at Luke. "As you should be. He has hidden so much from you, Luke. He took your whole life away from you, your heritage, everything that you could have been, because he couldn't face what he had done all those years ago. He robbed you of the father you should have had." He smiled. "The father I can be."
Luke shook his head. "No. You're not my father."
"Maybe not technically. But I could have been. I can be."
"But... But we're almost the same age!"
"True. Alright then, not a father. An older brother. We are both the progeny of Anakin Skywalker. A reflection of him, of what he could have been."
"No. I... I just want to go home."
Vidius pressed. "Why would you want to go back to that man? To a man who lied to you, who dragged you away from a mother who loved you, who hid your sister from you? Why would you want to go back to a planet that might as well be the furthest point from the galactic core it is so far removed from the centre of power? What are you really going to do back on Tatooine?"
This man knew a lot about Luke, a lot more than he should. Luke felt a prickling at the back of his head, a warning sensation that had his hackles up. I don't want to be here.
And yet... Vidius wasn't wrong. What could he ever hope to achieve on Tatooine? He had spent his entire life dreaming of leaving onboard a ship, of finding his place, any place as long as it wasn't there. But with the Empire?
"I can't. You're... You're..."
"Evil?" Vidius' smile widened as Luke started. "I know that's what you think. What everyone thinks. The Empire is the dark canker at the heart of the old Republic. That the Emperor drinks the blood of babies and tortures anyone who disagrees with him in hidden prisons on Imperial Centre." Vidius laughed, a surprisingly light-hearted sound. "Do you really believe that?"
"I... I don't know."
Vidius stared at him for a moment, and then nodded. "Alright. I tell you what. Let me take you somewhere, show you how evil the Empire is. Then, if you still want to go home to Tatooine, I will arrange for Hand Jade to return you."
Luke's eyes widened. "You would do that?" It’s a trick. Luke couldn’t be sure whether that was one of his own thoughts or an echo from his dream.
"You have my word on it."
Luke thought about it for a moment. He couldn't trust this man. He was a Sith, a vampire out of nightmares. He had powers beyond any that Luke could ever hope to master. If he didn't stay on his guard...
Still, he could also keep Luke locked up in here indefinitely. Listening to him and letting him show him whatever he wanted might give him an opportunity to escape. And maybe he would actually hold to his word and let Luke go. At the end of the day, what do you have to lose?
Finally, he nodded. "Alright. What do you want to show me?"
Vidius smiled. "How would you like to visit Corellia?"
Be careful Luke they will lie and trick you!
How much does Luke know about his family?
Ooh, Vidious is a slime dog snake in the grass. Luke does need more info but the worse kind of trap is one that doesn't look and feel like one. It's the chief weapon in the the Darthy arsenal - destroy trust and claim to replace it with power and with choice. Luke needs to listen to the dream he had in the first scene.
I guess my only question is does Centerpoint Station Exist? Now we get to see what has happened to Prince Solo's planet
The clone talks a sweet talk. Luke might be too naive to see through the twists.
@Lady_Misty - Luke only knows as much as his father told him. That is that his mother was dead, nothing about his sister and very little about his father's past. He knows about his mother, but he didn't know that his father was a Jedi, nor what his role was in the Clone Wars. As you pointed out, this gives a lot of room for Vidius to trick and lie to him. Thanks for the comment!
@Jade_eyes - So quick to dismiss Vidius? He may be a bit more complex than you think and his motives may not be what you think, either. Or maybe they are... What did you think of the first scene? Was it obvious who Luke was talking to?
@Sly_Solo - As Mara pointed out to Luke in Chapter 14, Centrepoint did exist but it was destroyed by the Death Star, thus Corellia's fall to the Empire. We'll see more of Corellia in the next chapter.
@Hazel - Oh Vidius is just getting started! There's a lot more coming from him as he tries to twist Luke to his side.
New chapter coming tomorrow night.
Turbulence hit the shuttle as it pierced the layer of clouds above Coronet City. Luke tightened his grip on the arms of his chair until his knuckles turned white. He felt nauseous at the way the shuttle was bouncing around in the atmosphere. Or at least he tried to convince himself that was the reason.
Darth Vidius sat at his side, legs stretched out lazily in front of him, watching out of the viewport in front of them. He glanced at Luke and smiled reassuringly, but Luke felt too sick to smile back.
Instead, he looked out at the world below, feeling slightly overwhelmed by the view. He had vague memories of Naboo, the planet where he was born, but apart from that his only experience was of the harsh deserts of Tatooine. Corellia seemed very different. Softer.
The capital city of Corellia nestled between a series of low rising hills and an ocean. Luke could just make out a series of beaches running along the coastline. The city herself was a metropolis of graceful towers and supple domes, spread out across a vast area. From his vantage point, Luke got the feeling that he could have fitted a dozen Mos Espa's in the space taken up by Coronet.
"Impressive, isn't it?" Vidius asked beside him. Luke could only nod.
The pilot, a human dressed in the dark colours of the Empire, began to level the shuttle off as they neared a landing area on the east side of the city. Vidius had still not informed him of where they were headed exactly, though he had told Luke it would give him a new vision of the Empire. Luke remained sceptical that anything Vidius could show him could change his opinion.
The shuttle swept in closer to the landing area. A green square appeared on the viewport, projected holographically to help guide the pilot. As they drew closer, Luke could make out a handful of other ships already parked on the wide area, as well as tiny white dots he took to be a stormtrooper escort for Vidius.
At the last moment, the pilot pushed a button on the command console in front of him. The shuttle's wings rose with a rumbling sound, shaking the shuttle slightly and setting off Luke's nausea again. The shuttle drifted forward, eased down, and then softly settled to the ground.
Luke sat there for a moment, enjoying the sensation of solid ground beneath him. Vidius had already unbuckled himself, and Luke struggled with a moment to release his own restraining harness. He stood, his legs wobbling slightly beneath him.
"Thank you, Lieutenant," Vidius said, nodding to the pilot who smiled back. It took Luke a moment to recognise the look in the man's face. Respect bordering on adoration. He had seen it in the faces of some of the smuggler crews back in Mos Espa. Like them, this man looked as though he trusted Vidius with his life.
How could a dark lord make someone respect him so much? It doesn't look like fear. What could he have done to earn that?
His mind still whirling, Luke followed Vidius back to the ramp and down, stepping out into the Corellia air. He gasped as the heat struck him like a wall. The southern continent where Coronet City was located seemed to be in the middle of a heatwave, and the temperature was sweltering. The heat, though, was totally different to what Luke was used to back home. Full of humidity, which made the air so thick he had trouble breathing.
At the bottom of the ramp, four stormtroopers stood at attention. They turned as one once Vidius and Luke stepped into their midsts and marched them toward a waiting speeder.
"Where are we going?" Luke asked.
"I want to show you exactly what the Empire has done for this planet, Luke," Vidius said gently. "I don't think you can truly understand unless you do."
Privately, Luke doubted Vidius could show him anything to help him 'understand' but he was willing to play along. For now. As long as it takes for him to release me.
As they climbed into the speeder, which eased out of the airport into the streets surrounding it, Luke wondered suddenly what had happened to Mara Jade. He hadn't seen his captor since they arrived - Vidius had informed her that she was expected on the bridge for a communique from their master. She hadn't been to see him, and he wondered whether she was even still onboard the station.
His musings were rapidly extinguished as they moved into the city itself. He gaped at the size of the buildings, all of which seemed to conspire to form a massive canyon of metal and transparisteel around him. He could hardly even glimpse the sun above him. And yet the buildings maintained an elegance and a beauty unlike any he had ever seen in Mos Espa or even Mos Eisley on the rare occasions he had been there.
"Impressive, isn't it?"
Luke turned his head to see Vidius considering him, a smile playing on his lips. Luke nodded and crane his head back to peer up at the domed top of the building they were passing.
"I've never seen anything like it."
"And this is nothing compared to Imperial Centre. Coruscant is a true jewel."
Luke nodded, unable to imagine anything being more impressive, more beautiful, than Coronet City.
After a few minutes, the speeder began to slow. Luke looked around, trying to find their destination. He realised that they were coming to a stop in front of a smaller building that hunkered down between the larger palaces around it. Red and ochre tones from the brick construction mingled in the shadows. Luke felt a chill.
"Where are we?"
Vidius didn't answer. He waited for one of the stormtroopers to open the door and hold it for him, then stepped out. His cloak billowed in a gust of wind, and Vidius let it. Luke gazed at him, taking in his impressive stature, his effortless confidence and wondered what could have happened to turn this man into... Into my father.
Shaking his head, he followed Vidius out onto the street. He wrapped his arms around his middle and stared at the building.
"Where are we?" he asked again.
"This was the Coronet Community Centre," Vidius said softly. "When we arrived, we found it packed to the brims with the dregs of Corellian society - the poor, the misfortunate, the crippled and the handicapped. They had been left here to rot, provided with a few meals, just enough to keep them alive."
Vidius started forward, flanked by the stormtroopers. Luke had no choice but to follow him. They walked up a series of steps, then through the open doors.
Inside, darkness reigned. The first thing Luke noticed was the smell - the stench forced his mind back to the day his father had taken him to visit an old friend of his in Mos Eisley. The family of Rodians had lived thirty in a small room. That same funky smell of trapped beings, of unwashed bodies, of despair, filled this space, so strong that Luke took a step back.
One of the troopers lifted his arm and shone a torch over the corridor. Mats covered the floor, dirty and falling apart. A couple of rats scurried away from the light. Luke swallowed. The light continued, showing metre after metre filled with the bedding.
"This is where some of them slept," Vidius said, his voice cold. "The King and his government had done nothing to improve their living, had locked them away in here with a handful of keepers who were little more than guards, and abandoned them to rot."
He guided Luke forward, avoiding the mats, and led him into a room off to one side. The stench was stronger here. When the light played over the same mats, these encrusted with blood and excrement, Luke tumbled to his knees and threw up.
His throat burned as he stumbled back to his feet, his head spinning. He had never imagined anything like this. He put a hand out to steady himself, and found his hand pressed against Vidius' chest.
He met the Sith Lord's eyes, and saw the anger and rage and sorrow burning there. "I vowed, a long time ago, that I would never allow another person to die in these conditions. I swore it. To your grandmother."
"But... But what can you do?" Luke whispered.
Vidius smiled, and it was as though he lit up the darkness, fighting it back. "I'm so glad you asked."
The sound of children laughing met Luke's ears as he exited the speeder.
They had driven out beyond the city limits, inland through a series of fields and forests, to this small farmhouse. It was idealic, especially to Luke who had never known anything but sand and dust and super-heated wind. Although it was hot, a cooling breeze wafted in from a nearby stream and a handful of large trees provided shade.
Some of the children ran over when the speeder stopped. Luke was astonished when Vidius fell to his knees and opened his arms. Laughing, he enfolded two of them, a boy and a girl, and lifted them. They squealed as he spun them around, then put them down. They ran off again, their cheeks red from the exertions.
Vidius turned to Luke, and Luke would have sworn he saw tears in his eyes. "It's good to see them so happy," he said, gazing off after the children.
"What is this place?" Luke breathed.
"This is the new Corellia Communitee Centre. Completely paid for and subsidised by the Empire. In the old days of the Republic, an initiative like this would have had to turn to big business for the money, because it would have taken the Senate years to push through the legislation. Thanks to the Empire, this place was found, the installation complete and the families moved within three days."
Luke shook his head. "It's amazing."
Vidius smiled. "This is the Empire, Luke. This is the sort of thing that we can do, the sort of help that we can provide."
"But... But the Empire has destroyed liberties. Has stopped people from doing what they want."
"A price." Vidius nodded. "I'm not going to lie to you, Luke. I never will. The Empire is far from perfect. There are a handful of people who suffer under the stricter conditions of the Imperial law code. A few newspapers were closed for spreading sedition, a few groups were slapped down, a little too hard. But look at these people, Luke! Look at the happiness the Empire has been able to bring."
Luke looked. He looked at the children running through the trees, swinging on branches and kicking a ball. He looked at the parents, working hard in the barn or putting extra paint on the walls of the farmhouse. He looked at their smiles. And he felt totally lost.
"I know this must be overwhelming. I know what you must think of the Empire - what the other me must have told you. This is what he threw away, though, Luke. This is what he sacrificed for his Jedi. His Force. And what did we get for it? War. Suffering. The sort of places you saw in that community centre."
Luke nodded. "I... I need some time to process all of this."
"Of course you do. But first, come and speak to the people. Ask them what it was like before and how they have been treated since. Talk to the people, Luke, the real people. See how they feel."
Nodding, Luke started to follow Vidius towards the farm. He had only taken a few steps, though, when he felt a surge of heat rush through him. An urgent compulsion filled his mind, and he cried out, throwing himself forward to knock Vidius to the ground.
He heard the whine of a laser and saw an explosion of dirt half a foot from where Vidius had stood.
Before he could make sense of what had just happened, he felt rough hands grip his arms and haul him to his feet. Two stormtroopers dragged him off Vidius and Luke was convinced they would have shot him on the spot if Vidius hadn't intervened.
"No," he said, coughing out dust. "No."
The Sith Lord climbed to his feet, dusting himself off. Luke saw the other stormtroopers rush towards the farmhouse behind him. Most of the families had scattered, taking refuge behind farming equipment or in the shade of the trees. The children were crying, looking terrified.
"Let him go," Vidius ordered. "He just saved my life."
The stormtroopers released him immediately and Luke stumbled a little. He felt weak at the knees, and his stomach was roiling violently.
Vidius stepped towards Luke and before he could stop him had grabbed Luke in a hug. He pressed Luke to him for a moment, then released him, holding him at arm's length.
"Thank you," he said. "Thank you."
"I... I..." Luke fell to his knees and vomited in the dirt. He felt his head begin to spin, and then darkness rushed in and took him.
If Luke is given the chance to ask or talk to common everyday folks, what would they feel safe in divulging? They would rightly think even the walls have ears and eyes. And that seeming attack - that muddles the situation even more, now that Vidius is apparently grateful Passing out there at the end --
@Jade_eyes has a point. People will and can put up convincing acts but when you did deeper you discover the truth.
All the dictators present themselves as saviors of their people, but if one digs a little deeper one finds that they are all the same.
Did Vidius do something to Luke at the end?
Hazel That is 99% of what has me worried.
Wow! What an intricate and well written story! Even if you did kill Obi-Wan and Padme.
Sorry for the delay in new chapters everybody! Between the end of the year festivities, being ill, etc., haven't been able to get back to it. Here is a new chapter for you, though! Hope you enjoy.
Minutes after his arrival in Smuggler’s Run, Anakin had decided that he never, ever wanted to come back.
The flight in had been bad enough. Anakin had enjoyed flying by the seat of his pants when he had been younger, but he had grown up, dammit, and he didn’t feel the need to dance with death every chance he got. Almost dying did that to a man.
Ana’s pilot, though, seemed to have no such compunction.
They had come in through a shattered asteroid field, missing over a dozen collisions in the space of a few moments. Each one by the skin of their teeth. Anakin’s fingers had turned white from clutching the back of the pilot’s seat. They had made it, though. The pilot had brought them into one of the larger asteroids, tagged as Skip 1 on the onboard computer, landing her in a small bay on the far side.
Now, walking through the tunnels that formed the corridors and chambers of Skip 1, Anakin half-wished he was back in the ship, running the gauntlet. The walls were covered in a slimy goo that stank so bad he had stopped breathing through his nose.
"How can anyone stand to live here?" he asked Ana, walking at her side.
She frowned for a moment, not understanding. Then a bright smile graced her features. "You mean the smell?"
He nodded. "It stinks worse than a bantha in heat."
"You get used to it, farmboy," she replied.
"Maybe if you cut your nose off," Anakin grumbled.
Ana led him through the tunnels. Though they seemed like a maze to Anakin, Ana navigated them as if she had lived there her whole life. She never once hesitated and knew what turns to take and which corridors to avoid. By the time they reached the bar she had suggested as a possible location to find Ben's contact, Anakin was well and truly lost.
Another sign you're getting old, old man, he thought as Ana paused outside the door. Once upon a time, he would have been able to find his way back to the Venture blindfolded. Of course, back then, he still had access to the Force.
"Okay, remember, until we find this friend of yours, I do the talking. These are my people, and none of them want to get caught up in your war."
"He's not my friend and this isn't my war," Anakin insisted. "All I care about is getting my boy back."
"If you say so," Ana said, and led the way inside.
Anakin had been expecting the bar to be something exceptional considering that they were in the middle of an asteroid. But whoever had designed and built this module had done everything in their power to hide any sign of where they were located. This could have been any bar on any planet in the Outer Rim.
Well, almost any bar.
The variety of the bar's denizens was more impressive. At least a third of the aliens were from races Anakin had never seen before.
He followed Ana over to the bar, trying not to stare too much. He passed one table whose occupants all had strips of black flesh where their eyes should have been, along with shark-like vents on their chests they seemed to be using to breath. He turned away from them and found himself faced with a group of floating fish, their eyes as bulbous as a Mon Calamari's. They floated in the air, bobbing up and down above a bowl of some kind of red-gold liquid.
"Dypfiti," Ana whispered back to him. "From out beyond the Rishi Maze."
"Never heard of them."
"What do you mean?"
"New. Not from around here. A lot of that happening lately. Some trouble out beyond the Rim pushing them our way."
Before Anakin had time to ask her what she meant, they had arrived at the bar. Ana squeezed in between a Rodian and a Wookie, her hand raised to get the bartender's attention. The bartender - a multilimbed Besalisk with a rough beard and roving eyes - leered at Ana when he saw her and opened his upper arms.
"Ana! Good to see you, doll."
Ana giggled. She actually giggled! Anakin just stared.
"What can I say Malks, I've been busy."
Hauling his huge bulk over to the bar, Malks leaned over and caught Ana up in a hug. Anakin growled as the Besalisk's hands settled for a moment on her ass, but they were gone before he could say anything. Ana glanced back at him and glared, then turned back to Malks.
"I need some information, Malks. I'm looking for someone."
He laughed, his hands waving. "You never just want to see me for me, do you doll?"
"I'll make it up to you, Malks, I swear."
The Besalisk looked at her for a moment, then threw all his hands up. "What the hell, baby. What do you need?"
"I'm looking for a ship," Ana said, leaning forward. Anakin saw Malks’ eyes dip to her open shirt and his scowl deepened. "Goes by the name of Falcon?"
Malks’ smile disappeared and he looked back up at her. "Now why you looking for that ship?"
"It's personal," Anakin interjected, drawing another glare from Ana. "The guy who owns it owes me something."
Malks ignored him. "That's not the sort of company you want to be keeping, Ana. Not the sort at all. All kinds of trouble." He shook his head.
"I understand," Ana said, "but I haven't got a choice. Do you know where I can find the captain?"
Malks hesitated for a moment, and not for the first time, Anakin wished he still had access to the Force. He doubted Malks would be able to resist a little Jedi persuasion.
Ana's charms, though, seemed to work just fine. Malks shook his head, then stood up on his tiptoes. After scanning the room, he lifted his arm and pointed off to the left behind Anakin.
"See the Gungan and the dark-skinned Corellian over there beside the Wookies?"
Anakin followed his finger. A few metres away from the door sat a table full of Wookies in lavish red and green pirate sashes. Beside them, lost somewhat in the shadows, sat a human and a Gungan, just like Malks had said.
"That's them," Malks confirmed.
Before Anakin or Ana could thank him, the Gungan looked up and saw them staring. His eyes widened and he started to pull on his companion's shirt sleeve. Oh frak!
"I see it."
Anakin’s eyes never left the Gungan, as he heard Ana thanking Malks. The Besalisk said something under his breath and Ana giggled again. Then she was at his side and they pushed through the crowd towards the Falcon's crew.
"A Besalisk? Seriously?"
Ana glanced at him. "A Queen? Seriously?"
Anakin decided to shut up.
By this time, the Gungan had managed to rouse the Corellian, who appeared to be under the influence of alcohol or spice or both. The man lifted his head, eyes bleary, and stared at Ana and Anakin, blinking. It took him a few seconds to make sense of what was going on, and then Anakin saw realisation cross his features. He stumbled to his feet, the chair clattering to the deck, and followed the Gungan towards the door.
"Frak!" Anakin swore. He changed course, trying to cut the two men off before they reached the door, but he could tell they wouldn't make it in time.
A handful of pilots and crew pushed past them, but none of them spared either Anakin or Ana more than a passing glance. They reached the door moments after the Gungan and the Corellian, just in time to see them vanish around a corner further down the corridor. Anakin led the way, trying to go as fast as he could. He didn’t want to give them too much of a head start.
He reached the corner moments before Ana and raced around it. The Corellian – sober – and the Gungan were waiting, guns in hand. Anakin stumbled to a halt, putting his hands up. Frak! Ana joined him a few seconds later, stopping a few steps further back. She lifted her hands as well, glaring at the two Alliance officers.
The Corellian smirked, waving the gun.
“Alright, friend, keep em where I can see them.”
Anakin snarled. “Listen, slimo, why don’t you—“
He broke off as the Corellian cocked the pistol, his finger hovering over the trigger. How could I have been so stupid? Obi-wan would be laughing at him, wherever he was. Caught out like a padawan on his first mission.
The Corellian spoke. “Now, why don’t you tell me why the hell you’ve been looking for me for the past few days?”
Few days? Anakin shook his head. “An old friend sent me to find you.”
The other man snorted. “Isard, right? I knew that bastard would track me down eventually. Well, you can tell your boss that - -“
“I have no idea what you’re talking about,” Anakin cut him off. “Whoever you think we are, we aren’t. I was told to meet you here by Obi-wan Kenobi and—“
“Kenobi!” The Corellian took a step forward, the gun dropping slightly. Beside him, the Gungan’s long ears perked up. “He’s here?”
Anakin felt a surge of pain in his gut. In his mind’s eye, he again imagined Kenobi falling towards the waiting stormtroopers, his lightsabre dropping alongside him… He shook his head once, fighting back the tears that threatened to well up. “No.”
He could see his own pain reflected in the Corellian’s face.
Anakin opened his mouth to explain, but Ana cut him off. “Perhaps we could have this discussion in a less public place? With less guns?”
The Corellian frowned at her, then looked down at the gun in his hand. Lowering it, he grinned at them.
“Sorry. You’re right, of course. Come on. We’ll talk in the Falcon.”
Turning, the Corellian headed further down the corridor, the Gungan spinning on one heel and walking a few steps behind. Anakin and Ana shared a glance, then Ana shrugged and set off after them. Anakin held back for a moment. Could he trust the man? He seemed to check out, all the way down to the name of his ship. Still, he knew better than anyone that appearances could be deceiving.
He shook his head. At the end of the day, he had very little choice but to trust the man. He followed.
They made their way through a warren of tunnels, each one leaking the noxious goo along with clouds of moisture. Every so often, the tunnel would break off into a secondary corridor or a wide open space. Ships of all shapes and sizes rested within those bays. The Corellian led them to one in particular, where a ravaged old hunk of a ship sat atop seven landing struts.
“That’s your ship?” Ana asked, a hint of derision in her voice.
Anakin stared. The ship, though far from being the sleakest, classiest ship he had ever seen, oozed character. Every pock mark, scar and addition only served to add style to the old girl. He had never seen a more beautiful sight. Love at first sight.
The Corellian stared at her with equal hunger. “The Falcon. Greatest ship I’ve ever piloted, and I’ve piloted quite a few.”
“She’s a beauty,” Anakin breathed.
Ana spun to look at him, her eyes wide. “Seriously? That thing?”
Anakin nodded, his eyes never leaving the Falcon. “Trust me. I know ships. And this one… She’s a hell of a thing.”
The Corellian smiled at him, pride bursting from his face. “That she is. Come on. We’ll be safer inside.”
Anakin’s eyes never left the Falcon as he followed the Corellian and the Gungan towards the ramp. He could feel Ana’s eyes on him, frowning as she tried to make sense of his interest in the old bucket of bolts. He didn’t bother trying to explain, though – it would be like explaining true love. After a few seconds, Ana shook her head and sniffed.
Walking up the ramp and into the ship itself, Anakin took in the cobbled together parts, hanging wiring and oil soaked cogs. How he would love to get his hands on her! Just spending a couple of seconds walking around inside, he could already imagine the changes he would make. And the things he would leave as they were.
She smelled of heated metal and coolant, of unrecycled air and burnt wiring. He loved it. The moment he set foot on the decking’s metal plates, he could feel her humming beneath his feet. In a strange way he could not explain, he felt at home.
The Corellian led them to a small circular common area. A couch and three chairs surrounding a holochess table were the only fittings beyond a wall of consoles. The Corellian indicated for Anakin and Ana to sit down, then drew the Gungan to one side. Anakin and Ana slid into the booth, sharing a glance as the two Alliance men talked in low whispers. Finally, the Gungan sighed and walked back out into the corridor.
“I sent Lo to keep an eye out for Imps on the surveillance systems. Like I said, we’ve been hearing whispers about people asking around about us. That’s why we were running the whole sting in the bar. Hoping to flush the damned spooks out.” He twisted one of the chairs around and sat down, smiling. “Name’s Calrissian, by the way. Lando Calrissian.”
“Ani,” Anakin replied, avoiding using his real name. He didn’t need any more attention if he could avoid it, and he had no idea how much information Obi-wan had given this man about him. “This is Ana.”
She glared at him, but he ignored her, focusing on Calrissian. The Alliance man’s face sombered, the grin sliding off.
“So. What happened to General Kenobi?”
Anakin took a moment to gather his thoughts before launching into an explanation. He told Calrissian about his meeting with Obi-wan, glossing over the part where he had tried to kill him and skipping straight to the story of Luke’s kidnapping. When he reached the story of their escape from the Imperials in Mos Espa, Calrissian’s face darkened even further.
“And you’re sure he’s dead?” he asked after a moment.
Anakin shrugged. “I don’t see how he could have survived.”
“I don’t know.” Calrissian’s gaze grew distant. “But I do know the General. Have done for a long time now. And I also know that he not the sort of man who just dies.” He looked up at Anakin and the older man saw a hint of mad hope flare in his eyes. “Wait here.”
Almost jumping out of his seat, Calrissian walked out of the common area with purpose, heading further into the ship. To the bridge, Anakin surmised. He held back a sigh. He would like to believe that Obi-wan had survived that fall, but it seemed Calrissian was reaching for bantha hairs where none existed.
“How sure are we that we can trust him?” Ana asked after a moment’s silence, dragging Anakin back from his dark musings.
He shrugged. “He’s definitely the man Obi-wan told me about. At this point, he’s my only hope of getting to Coruscant.” Luke’s face flashed through his mind and he felt an all too familiar pang of hurt. “And of getting my boy back.”
When Ana didn’t respond, Anakin looked at her. She was staring at the table. “You’re as good as gone, then.”
A womprat squirmed in Anakin’s belly. “You know I have to do this, Ana. I can’t just- -“
She looked up, placing a finger on his lips. “I understand, Ani. I just wish I could come with you.”
He felt a lump in his throat. “No you don’t,” he said, his voice hoarse. “You have your own life.”
“Just promise me that when all of this is over, you’ll bring him home. Promise me you’ll come back.”
Anakin hesitated for a moment. He had made so many promises – to Padme, to Obi-wan, to his mother, to Luke. He couldn’t bear to make one more that he couldn’t keep. He opened his mouth to tell her, when Calrissian ran back into the room.
Without even realising it, Anakin rose up off the couch, hands pressed down on the table.
“What?!” He felt a surge of hope, tempered by a sick feeling in his stomach. I abandoned him. I left him there.
“Kenobi. He’s alive. I hacked into the Imperial commnet using an old military code. A general communiqué went out around the time you escaped Tatooine, announcing General Obi-wan Kenobi’s capture. The bastard’s have him.”
Anakin felt as though he had been punched in the stomach. He slumped back in the couch, covering his eyes with his hand. “Obi-wan…”
When he took his hand away, Calrissian had moved over to one of the consoles, working it furiously. “According to the communique, they are holding him…” A star map flashed up on the screen, spun, zoomed in, then revealed a red planet that flashed over and over. “Here. It’s a penal station, near the Corellian sector. I doubt they’ll leave him there long, though.” He turned, eyes meeting Anakin’s. “If we’re going to get him out, we’re going to have to be quick.”
Ana spun to face Anakin, shock written all over her face. “What?!”
Anakin looked down at the table, his feelings torn.
“You cannot be serious,” she said, the disgust evident in her voice. “Ani, tell me you’re not considering this.”
He forced himself to look up at her, pain tightening his features. “Ana, I…”
“No!” She spun to face Calrissian. “No! You’re insane, the pair of you. No one breaks into an Imperial penal station and survives. No one.”
Calrissian didn’t bother responding. He crossed his arms and leant back against the console as he looked to Anakin.
Ana growled something and turned back. “Anakin. Please. Think about Luke.”
Anakin felt a surge of anger. “You think I’m not? By the Force, Ana… But Obi-wan…” All of his anger flowed out of him, leaving him a tired old man. “Obi-wan is Obi-wan. He was like a father to me. I owe him, for more than I can explain. Besides, he may be my best chance of getting to Luke. He knows Coruscant better than I do now, knows the Imperials, the Sith… I have no idea about any of that anymore. If there is a chance I can get him free and get his help… I have to try.”
“This is suicide.”
Ana’s shoulder’s slumped and she looked down at the couch. “There’s nothing I can say to talk you out of this?”
“I have no other choice.”
She shook her head. “Damn you, Anakin Skywalker. Damn you for being such a fool and damn me for falling in love with you.” She took a deep shuddering breath, then leant forward to kiss him. Her lips tasted of tears. “Take care of yourself, Ani. Bring him back.”
Before he could say anything to try and make it right, she turned, eased out from behind the table and walked across the room. He watched her leave, listening as her footsteps faded down the corridor. She was gone.
Calrissian took a step away from the console, his face pinched. “I can go after her if you…”
Anakin shook his head, forced as much control into his voice as he could. “No. No, it’s better this way. Let her go back to her life.” Let her be free.
Silence fell, broken only by the sound of the star map beeping in the background. Finally, Calrissian spoke.
“You’re sure you’re up to this?”
Anakin almost laughed. “I think I can handle it.”
“All I meant was- -“
“Save it for the ladies, hotshot.” He struggled to his feet, trying to ignore the lancing pain in his chest. “If we’re going to do this, we’re going to do it right.” He walked over to the consoles, studying the read-out. “Now, what can you tell me about this penal station?”
Hi there! Great update and it's Lando is it? Thought it'd be Solo Ana still has sizzly feelings for Anakin, huh? Hard to let those go, what? LOL
Glad you're back with this story too.
You DIDN"T (yet!!) kill Obi-Wan! And now the two "old friends" are going to be united in looking for Luke?
Very happy to see you back , and with a great updated too. Soon now off to rescue Obi-wan or off to rescue Luke?
Killing Obi-Wan seems to be very hard. The other question is did they kill Padme as well?
Does seem that Ana still interested in Anakin.
Thanks for the comments, I'm hoping to have some more up soon, probably by the end of the weekend.
@Jade_eyes: Thanks! Yep, Lando still has the Falcon, and he and Anakin are going to need it if they're going to free Kenobi! Ana and Anakin's relationship is messy and fiery, so she's definitely got the sizzly feelings for him, yeah. Thanks for the kind words, hope to be posting a little more regularly!
@Valairy Scot: No, Kenobi isn't dead (I like the YET in your post! ) Anakin still has to get him back, though, before they can go after Luke.
@Hazel: Thanks! And yes, the plan for the moment is to get Kenobi free. After that, Luke?
@Lady_Misty: Yeah, Kenobi does seem hard to kill, doesn't he? I'm glad you liked the chapter.