Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by JABrown, Nov 4, 2012.
Poor Ly'ana! I hope her plan works out.
The loss of her dignity will be for nothing if this fails.
I worry because they are going ot try to contact Han that it's going to fail.
Thanks all for your comments on the last chapter.
Coruscant’s underlevels seemed to suffer beneath the weight of the city above. Cracks erupted across duracrete walls, metal girders twisted out of shape, holographic signs bent until they were unrecognisable – everything pointed to structural flaws soon to drag the entire planet down into one massive sinkhole. And yet Coruscant had survived – almost unchanged – for centuries beyond count. These lower levels had survived invasion, war, economic catastrophe, the fall of a Republic and the rise of an Empire, without ever collapsing. In fact, they wore the scars of those events as badges of honour.
Han had never noticed how dingy these levels were. The few times he had delved down into the lower levels, it had been an adventure, a chance for him to spend some of his father’s money without worrying about who might be watching. Always he had had Ly’ana at his side, guiding him, helping him, protecting him.
Forcing his gait to a slow shuffle, Han rounded his shoulders and kept his eyes fixed on the ground. It seemed the safest way to avoid entanglements with the rough denizens of these lower levels. Those few who did notice them only gave them the slightest of curious glances. Otherwise, most seemed too interested in their own problems to pay attention to man or boy.
Still, Han was careful to keep Kiewan close. He had seen children, bedraggled and dirty, limping through the streets in little more than rags. Many seemed to work in the factories, their drab clothes thick with the stench of reclamation plants and grimy with ash. Others seemed to be kept for less honorable uses. Either way, Han had no intention of allowing anything to happen to the boy. He had made a promise to Byriam and a silent vow to Padme.
Glancing down at Kiewan, now, Han hoped that it wasn’t all too much for the boy. The garish signs, the grimy walls, the powerful stench of decay and excrement and effluent and spoiled produce combined in an assault on the senses. Han could not imagine Kiewan had much more experience of such places than he did, regardless of the fact that the boy was a padawan apprentice.
Still there was little he could do to shield the boy. From the seedy assortment of bars and casinos, to the cheap hotels and brothels, via the fighting pits and torture parlours, these lower levels were a harsh enough reality for anyone, Han included.
The two of them had been together ever since Byriam’s death. Han had done as she had asked, getting Kiewan to a safe place, renting a room in a hotel at ground level with most of his remaining credchips. As that small pile of creds diminished, they had gradually been forced to move further and further down.
Luckily, the lower down they went, the more chance Han believed he would have of finding someone who could get them off-world.
They made their first stop of the day at a cantina nestled between a brothel and a temple to some Outer Rim deity, where spacers came to relax while waiting for a job. Kiewan at his side, Han sidled up to the bar, forcing a smile as the burly Rodian barkeep turned to him.
“What d’you want?”
“I was wondering whether anyone had come in looking for Vykk Drago?”
Han had left a number of messages on public message boards under the alias, discreetly looking for pilots willing to get some cargo off Coruscant.
“No. You want something to drink?”
“Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. You want something to drink?”
“No, I just-“
“If you don’t want to drink, then frack off.”
Han scowled, looking down at Kiewan, who was staring around at the electic crowd of Rodians, Wookies, Sullustans, Trandoshans, Ergesh, Killik and Geonosians gathered in the cantina. “Watch your mouth, friend, there’s a kid here.”
“Do I look like I give a frack about your fracking kid, friend? Now get lost.”
Swallowing his pride, Han grabbed Kiewan around the arm and led him back out into the street. The boy looked up at him.
“I have some other places to check and then we can get back to the hotel, okay?”
Kiewan looked back at the cantina. “More places like that?”
“That’s where we’ll find a pilot to get us off world?”
“Back to my mom and dad?”
Han swallowed hard, the sight of Padme’s sightless brown eyes flashing before his eyes. Neither he nor Byriam had had the heart to tell Kiewan what had happened to Padme. He forced a smile now, praying to all the gods that the boy’s father was still alive. If the boy was all alone…
“Yeah, kid, back to your parents.”
Their second shop took them to an information broker. This time, Han left Kiewan stood by a holoscreen showing a swoop-race on some back of beyond dustball under Imperial control while he checked whether anyone had shown any interest in his job offer. No one had.
Cutting through a mess of alleys filled with unrecycled waste, Han and Kiewan arrived at the second cantina in their hunt, a dive calling itself the Angel of Jarmo. A holosculpture twirled on its roof, two and half metres of buxom bosoms and long pale legs barely hidden beneath a diaphonous white dress. Arms raised towards the heavens, the Angel peered down at Han and Kiewan with a come-hither pout on her face. Han blushed, hurrying Kiewan into the foul-smelling interior.
Spoiled ale, gene-modified spice and boiling cooling pipes filled the air with an unbelievable stink. The far side lost in shadows, the rest of the bar held circular tables and chairs, which appeared to have been reclaimed from the wreck of some ancient Imperial cruiser. Han led Kiewan over to the bar and asked again if anyone had left a message for Vykk Drago. He was turning to leave again when the barman’s response actually registered.
“What did you say?”
“Drago, right? Some guy came in an hour ago, looking for you.”
Han fought down a sudden surge of excitement. “Is he still here?”
“Somewhere in the back.” The barman waved a hand, not really looking at Han anymore. “Ask one of the girls for Car’das’ man.”
Leading Kiewan by the hand – and trying not to hurry too much – Han headed into the depths of the interior, the smell intensifying as the lights dimmed. Catching the eye of a passing Rodian barmaid, he asked for Car’das’ man as he had been told and was directed to a booth right at the back of the cantina, where a man sat alone.
Han took in the high class clothes – white shirt laced in the front, cape thrown over the table – and the carefully groomed beard and moustache, and thought the barman must have made a mistake. He was about to turn back when the man looked up and saw them.
“Vykk Drago, I presume?”
Taken by surprise, Han could only nod.
“Please join me.” Sliding into the booth – and trying to avoid putting his hand on the various sticky stains that marred the leather – Han pulled Kiewan with him. The man smiled at the boy, though Han saw a flicker of surprise in his eyes. It was gone by the time he looked back and locked eyes with Han.
“Talon Karrde, at your service,” the man said, nodding his head. “I’m a pilot in the employ of a… businessman with certain interests here on Coruscant. I understand you are looking for someone willing to make a… cargo run.”
Han nodded. “Me and the boy. Off planet. No questions asked.”
“Ah, the inevitable difficulty. No questions asked. A queer request, especially when the cargo is only passengers.”
Gritting his teeth, Han said, “Payment won’t be an issue, I can…”
Karrde waved a hand. “No, I’m sure payment would not be an issue for the Crown Prince of Corellia. Mr. Drago.”
The stirrings of unease he had felt since sliding into the booth exploded into full blown paranoia. Gripping Kiewan’s hand, he stood. “You’ve got the wrong guy. Looks like I do too.”
“I wouldn’t be so sure about that, Mr. Drago,” Karrde said, but Han wasn’t listening. Keeping a tight hold of Kiewan’s hand, he half dragged him between the tables, ignoring the boy’s moans of pain. Only once they were out and a few blocks away from the cantina did he allow himself to relieve the pressure. Kiewan snatched his hand back, glaring up at Han as they stepped off the main street and into a small alley.
“What did you do that for?”
Fighting back the urge to snap at the boy, he shook his head. “I’m sorry, kid. I just needed you to follow me. Quickly.”
“I don’t see why. That man knew who you are. He could have helped us get to my parents.”
He knew who you are. That was the problem. How could this Karrde possibly have figured out who he was? He had been careful. He was sure that he-
A beeping pierced the silence in the alleyway, sending Han’s pulse racing. His blaster was almost out of its holster before he realised that it was the comm unit at his belt. No one had tried to contact him since he fled the embassy. Han hadn’t even been sure it was still working. Who could it be?
Motioning for Kiewan to stay quiet, Han pulled the comm unit off his belt and raised it to his ear. Activating it, he tried a tentative, “Hello.”
“Is this Prince Solo?”
A male voice. Han tried to work out whether it could be the same as the man he had just left in the cantina, but he didn’t think so. The intonation was too sharp, the accent too Core. Imperial? Why contact him, now, though?
“Who is this?”
“I don’t have a lot of time.” Han recognised the same tension in this man’s voice as must be in his own. “My name is Lance Organa, I was a member of the Galactic Alliance negotiating team and I am currently incarcerated in an Imperial Internment Camp somewhere in the lower levels. I was given your name and your comm access code and told to contact you. We need your help, Prince Solo. You may be our only hope.”
Han’s mind whirled. Organa? Internment Camp? What the frack was going on? Of course, he remembered Organa. But he was dead, along with the rest of the Alliance representatives. Along with Padme. And her daughter.
“Prince Solo? Are you there?”
In his mind’s eye, Padme’s bore into his, trying to pass on a silent message. Help my children. Anger flared in Han’s gut and he had to fight not to crush the comm unit against the wall. “I don’t know what kind of sick game you are playing, friend, but you’re not going to trick me. So why don’t you tell your Imperial handler that-“
“Oh by the Force!” A female voice cut him off. He heard the sounds of static over the line, like someone trying to seize the comm unit from someone else. “Prince Solo, this is Jedi Leia Skywalker. We met briefly. I trust you recognise my voice?”
It certainly sounded like her. Kiewan seemed to agree. His eyes wide, he was jumping up and down. Han quelled him with a gaze, concentrating on the comm unit. It couldn’t be. The entire holo net had been buzzing with the news that the entire Alliance contingent had been killed by order of the Emperor. If he still had some of them alive, surely he would be parading them through court, putting them on trial…
“Prince Solo, we don’t have time. We are here in this Internment Camp with your assistant. Ly’ana? She told us to contact you.”
Ly! Ly was there? In an Internment Camp? Anger flared again. “Put her on.”
“I can’t do that. Trust me, she has put a lot on the line to allow us to get through to you.”
Han didn’t like the sound of that. Before he could ask her what she meant, though, Leia pressed on.
“We are trapped down here, Prince Solo, but we may have found a way out. The problem is, once we are out, we have no way off the planet. We need your help with that.”
“My help? Listen, sister, I can’t even get myself off this rock, let alone you. I don’t have access to any kind of ship. The Empire revoked my clearances, my codes, my papers. Everything that might allow me to get off planet. I can’t even contact my father.” Not that it would do any good, he thought. Not if what they’ve been saying about Corellia is true. “It can’t be done.”
There was a moment of silence. Then Leia’s voice, again. “You have to find a way. We will be back in contact in two days with a time and a place. If you’re there, maybe we can all get out of here together. If you’re not… On your head be it.”
The comm unit died.
On your head be it. Han closed his eyes, struggling against the urge to scream. He had been finding it difficult enough to handle the responsibility of getting Kiewan offworld. Now he had the lives of who knew how many Alliance sympathisers – and Ly’ana – cradled in the palms of his hands. And all he wanted was to go home.
Tiny fingers slipped into his palm. Han looked down at Kiewan.
“It’ll be alright. We can help them.”
There was so much hope and certainty in those brown eyes that Han felt his throat clench. If Kiewan could put so much faith in him – if Ly’ana could tell these people that he could do it – maybe it was about time he believed them.
Rolling his shoulders, he breathed out, trying to let all of his fears and uncertainty flow out at the same time. He was a Prince of Corellia. It was about time he started acting like one.
“Come on,” he said, squeezing Kiewan’s hand. “Let’s go.”
“Where are we going?” the young Padawan asked him as they stepped back onto the street.
“We’re going to buy us a way off this rock.”
I just hope Karrde is still there.
Looks like there is indeed some hope.
I just hope that this isn't a trap for Lance and Leia.
Is this the 'glimmer of hope' for so many of our heroes?
@Lady_Misty - Quite fragile hope so far, but yes there may indeed be a light at the end of the tunnel for our heroes... As to whether there is a trap lurking...
@Hazel - Thanks! You'll have to wait and see whether there is real hope here.
@ccp - Thanks!
Darth Vidius – who remembered once bearing the name Anakin Skywalker – clenched his fist and tried not to scream. Outside, the heavy tread of troopers’ feet rang out against the Death Star’s corridors, but the sound barely registered. A flicker of light from the screen in front of him reflected off the walls of his private office, followed moments later by the distant sound of blaster fire.
His office was not cold, the temperature carefully controlled by the Death Star’s internal systems, and yet… Clenching both hands into fists in an attempt not to rip the screen from the desk, Vidius could feel a chill rising up from his belly. His dark uniform and cloak were no protection against such a raw sensation. No, this cold came from somewhere deep inside, somewhere he been unable to heat since the day he first woke in the vats.
Why? Vidius stared at the screen, hardly blinking. His thoughts snarled like Krayt dragons. Why did no one stop him? By the Force! Why did no one stop him?
The recording ended and Vidius immediately cycled back to the beginning, as he had done countless times since it had been flagged to his attention. Once again, he saw the conference room on Coruscant, filled with stormtroopers. Once again, he saw Tarkin. Once again he saw… Her. Padme.
Vidius paused the recording and touched the screen with a single finger. Instantly, the image was enlarged and enhanced, providing him with a close-up of the face that still haunted his dreams. He could hardly believe how little – and yet how much – she had changed.
In his mind, he knew that many decades had passed since the last time he had seen her. In his heart, though, he knew that they had been together mere months before. Mere months since they had left Tatooine on a wild rescue mission to drag Obi-wan out of Dooku’s hands on Geonosis. Mere months since they had finally admitted their love for one another just before being taken out into the arena.
Vidius closed his eyes, a single tear escaping and running down his cheek. His first thought upon waking in the Emperor’s facility deep below Mount Tantiss had been of her. His last clear memory had been of seeing her falling from the troop transport just before Obi-wan and he had fought Dooku. Before Dooku cut off his hand.
No! Vidius forced his eyes open. Anger flared. Not my hand. His hand. The other him. The Anakin who threw it all away.
It was all his fault, Vidius decided. His “brother” had everything. Vidius had spent much time since his awakening studying the historical records. He had watched news feeds and read holoreports, had followed Anakin Skywalker’s career. His heroics during the Clone Wars. His rise to Jedi Knight and appointment to the Council as Chancellor Palpatine’s own representative. His fall from grace and departure from the Order after Palpatine thwarted the Council’s attempts to take over the Republic.
Palpatine himself had filled in the missing parts. He had told Vidius of their close relationship and shared fears. How Palpatine had considered Anakin a friend and that he had believed Anakin felt the same way, especially after Anakin had confided in him the greatest secret he had: his marriage to Padme.
Damn him! Vidius touched the screen and allowed the recording to continue. He had it all. He had Padme as his own. He was about to become a father. My master would have done anything for him. Anakin had always known that the Council was corrupt, that the Masters were afraid of him and his abilities. That they feared Palpatine and the order that he represented. Vidius shared those memories, shared those fears. All he needed to do was remain faithful, to stay the course until the Council had been brought to heel. Instead…
“The harder you tighten your grip, the faster the Alliance will take all of this away from you.”
The sound of Padme’s voice tore Vidius from his thoughts. He gripped the desk, the Force pounding at his chest. He felt a need to destroy something, to take that power and choke the life out of the first person he found. His palm itched to feel the familiar weight of a lit lightsaber.
“Do you really want those to be your last words Padme Amidala?”
Tarkin. Fury boiled in Vidius’ veins, an overwhelming monster tearing at his innards and howling to escape. If he ever got his hands on Tarkin, he would…
A beeping sound forced its way through the haze, seizing his attention. A holonet communiqué on a very specific frequency. One that only one person could use.
With a roar, Vidius brought one fist smashing down on the screen, ripping it out of its socket and sending it crashing to the deck. Grappling with the Force, Vidius lifted the shattered mess of plastic and steel, crumpling it into a tiny ball that he sent hurtling into the far wall. Breathing hard, Vidius forced himself to calm down. Though his master encouraged him to give in to his emotions, he could not afford to speak with him in this state. Only once he felt that he had his feelings under control did he allow himself to reach out and activate the controls.
The lights dimmed immediately and a flickering figure, face hidden beneath a heavy cloak, appeared in the air before him. Vidius slipped from his chair, hands still trembling with barely contained rage, falling to one knee.
“What do you require, my master?”
Palpatine did not respond immediately. Vidius took advantage of the delay to bring his raging emotions under more control.
Vidius did not need to ask what. “I do, my master.”
“An unfortunate misunderstanding.”
Misunderstanding?! Anger, rage, fury… None of those words could possibly encompass how Vidius felt at that moment. If Palpatine had been physically in front of him, Vidius was not sure he would have been able to withstand the desire to attack his master. As it was, he lowered his head to the floor, attempting to hide his feelings.
“I had hoped to be able to turn Padme Amidala to serve us. She would have been a formidable symbol to use against the Alliance. And a worthy consort.”
Vidius choked back a roar of outrage. The Emperor did not mean a consort for Vidius. The thought of Padme – his Padme – on the Emperor’s arm… He would have killed her himself rather than see that happen. Not that that changed the fact that Tarkin had to pay for what he had done.
“I would like to see to Governor Tarkin’s punishment myself, my master.”
“Punishment? Governor Tarkin may have overstepped his boundaries, but he will not be punished for it. He is much too important to the war effort for me to throw away for such a middling offence.”
This time, Vidius’ head snapped up and his eyes bore into his master’s reflected image. “He killed the woman I loved. I will have revenge.”
“You will do what I tell you, my apprentice.”
“Must I remind you again that you are not Anakin Skywalker? Padme Amidala was not the woman you loved. You were not the man she fell in love with. You are a copy of that man, Lord Vidius. A better, purer copy, but a copy nevertheless. Do not forget that.”
Bile burned the back of Vidius’ throat and he looked back at the floor. One day, he vowed. One day I will show you that I am more than a copy of a failed man. One day I will see you die screaming at my hand, master.
“Now, we have more important things to talk about.”
The image of Palpatine writhing and screaming under a battering assault of Force lightning filled Vidius’ thoughts. He imbued it with all of the anger, disgust and humiliation he felt, searing it into his mind. Only then did he raise his head again.
“What is thy bidding, my master?”
“You will prepare the Death Star for travel, Lord Vidius. I will soon have the hidden location of the Jedi planet. Once I do, you must make all haste there in order to destroy it before our enemies can evacuate. Before that, though, I need you to take the Death Star to Dantooine. A rebel leader has come into our hands. An old friend.”
He pushed thoughts of Padme away. “Obi-wan.”
“Your insights serve you well, my apprentice. Yes. Your old master has been captured. I am having him moved to Dantooine for you to collect him. I thought breaking him could serve as a good opportunity. To test the Son of Skywalker for the first time.”
“I am not sure he is ready, my master.”
Ever since he had infected Luke with the nanites down on Corellia, he had been keeping him under close observation. If the tech worked in the way the scientists on Qiilura had promised…
“Make him ready.”
Vidius bowed his head. “It shall be as you say, my master.”
“Good. You will soon see that everything is proceeding as I have foreseen. In expectation of certain of those events, I have recalled Mara Jade to my side. She will be departing the Death Star before you leave for Dantooine. Provide her with anything she may need.”
With pleasure, Vidius thought. In the few months they had spent together, Mara Jade had proven to be a thorn in his side and, since delivering his son to him, she had become too close to Luke. The two of them spent time training together, sparring. If Palpatine truly wanted him to have Luke ready and willing to face Obi-wan, then it would be better if he had her out of the way. She might interfere with the morphei-tech otherwise.
“I will provide her with everything she needs.”
“Good. Soon, we will crush this feeble Alliance and bring the galaxy to heel. Just as we always envisioned. May the Force serve us, Lord Vidius.”
“May the Force serve us.”
With a crackle of static electricity, the hologram vanished, leaving nothing but darkness in its wake. Vidius remained on his knee for a moment, the weight of his loss almost too much for him to bear. Padme. Her name whispered in his mind, rousing a thousand memories, an infinity of feeling. Palpatine’s words echoed there, too. You are not the man she loved. You are a copy. A copy of a failed man. A man who failed to hold on to her.
If nothing else, Vidius knew that if he had been the one to live that life, he would have done it differently. He would have done it better. He would have saved Padme from her fate. One way or another.
Vidius really is a copy of Anakin, a much darker copy. You write him very well!
I echo the above.
Very well written.
@Hazel - Thanks! I wanted to have this chapter through his POV to show exactly where he comes from and what his motivations are... as well as setting up some of what is about to come. Glad you enjoyed it!
@Valairy Scot - Thank you very much! Glad you enjoyed it.
@ccp - Thank you for the comment.
More coming soon I hope.
Taglist - @Hazel, @Lady_Misty, @bentheswguy, @krtmd, @Ceillean
Hello all! Just wanted to give you a quick update on what is going on with this story. Basically, my two year old has been diagnosed with a neurological problem linked to myelin. So at the moment all of my energy (both mental and physical) is devoted to him and that situation. So my time has been quite restricted in terms of writing. I haven't given up on this story, but do not really know when I will get back to it. Still, since you have all been so faithful to the story, I wanted to make sure to give you a headsup.
I understand; family is more important anyway.
Wishing you and your family all the best Joel. Take care.
Best wishes for you and your family, Joel.
I am sorry to hear that Joel. Best wishes!
First of all, thank you all for your best wishes regarding my son. The situation is a little more stable, so I have been able to get back to this. Any comments you leave would be most appreciated! Thanks again!
Dimly, Anakin felt himself being drawn up out of the darkness as the voice whispered in his mind. The voice was familiar, an echo of the merest whisper of a memory. A voice from long ago. His drug-addled brain took a moment to place it…
Anakin. It sounded like Master Qui-gon. But that was impossible. Qui-gon Jinn had died, so many, many years before. Dead at the hands of a Sith apprentice sent to Naboo by Palpatine. Dead while he tried to protect the Republic from the dangers it faced. But if not Qui-gon, then who-?
Who are you? Anakin focused as much of his concentration on his contact with the voice as he could. What do you want?
You have to make it right, Anakin. You have to repair the damage you caused.
Who are you? What do you want with me?
Focus, you must. Concentrate, you will.
Another voice, just as familiar, just as impossible.
Focus, Anakin. Open your mind.
Almost without thinking, Anakin allowed his mind to slip back into old patterns, techniques he had learned what seemed like aeons before, as an apprentice in the Temple. Breathing routines returned to him, as if he had never forgotten them. As he went through the old exercices, the darkness that surrounded him faded, lit by a diffuse luminescence that soon cristalised into a familiar scene.
He was stood in the kitchen of the old homestead he had shared with his mother. The table and chairs were still there, bowls of fruit on the table as if his mother and he had just gotten up and walked away from a meal. The sight jolted Anakin, sending a piercing pain through his temples. He could almost imagine that if he turned and walked through the archway he would find his mother sat at one of the tables in the workroom, tinkering with some piece of home machinery that was playing up.
This time, the voice was crisp and clear and unmistakeable. He spun round and found two figures stood in the doorway, one taller than he and the other barely reaching Anakin’s knee. Anakin’s eyes widened at the sight of the two men, both of whom had been key in Anakin’s life.
Anakin moved almost without thought, his arms wrapping around Master Gui-Gon Jinn and embracing him. He felt the other man chuckle as his arms rose to enfold Anakin and tapped him lightly on the back.
“It is good to see you, Ani.”
For a moment, Anakin felt as though he had been thrown back in time, to those dark days on Tatooine when he was still a slave. Dark and yet simple compared to what would come after.
Releasing his hold on Qui-Gon, Anakin turned to Yoda. The diminutive Jedi Master did not greet Anakin with anything close to the same joy as Gui-Gon. Still, he bowed his head briefly at his former apprentice.
Anakin dropped to one knee and embraced the other Jedi, as well. No matter the differences between the two of them, Anakin knew that if it had not been for Yoda, he would not have survived his confrontation with the Emperor.
Yoda tensed slightly, then allowed himself to be hugged. He patted Anakin on the shoulder as the other man released him.
“Old, you have grown, Anakin.”
Anakin could not help but laugh. It felt good.
“I don’t understand,” he said after a moment. “How is this possible?”
“With much difficulty, Anakin.” Gui-gon’s face now grew sombre. “We have both sacrificed much to be here, to reach out to you. It has not been easy.”
“Possible all things are, when the Force your ally is.”
“We do not have much time. I do not know how long this connection will be possible. Still, it was important that we speak to you. That we help you to understand.”
“What is it?”
Gui-gon indicated that they should sit at the table. Anakin felt strange joining these two… ghosts, for want of a better word, at an imaginary table in what he knew to be nothing but a dream. Still, he forced down the sensation of strangeness and followed them both to the table.
“The Force is dangerously out of balance,” Gui-gon said. “In fact, it may be that very imbalance that allows us to reach out to you in this way. I am not sure. Still, events have not proceeded the way they were meant to and because of that, the galaxy itself may be in danger.”
“What events? What does that have to do with me?”
“I am coming to that. Both Master Yoda and I have sensed this imbalance and we have used our special connection to the Force to try and trace its source. We fear that if a way is not found to make things right, everything and everybody may slip into a darkness such has never been seen before. A darkness that we may not ever be able to recover from.”
“The source, found we have.”
Anakin felt a coldness settle in his chest as he saw the look in both men’s eyes. “What is it? What is the source?”
“You are, Anakin.”
The door closed behind the trooper and locked… leaving Obi-wan Kenobi alone once more.
He lay on the bed for minutes longer, not wanting to risk the trooper or one of his companions returning. In the first few days of his incarceration here, they had taken to making spot checks, confirming that he was still in his cell and that he had not miraculously found some way of escaping. Kenobi assumed this was the first time many of them had been called upon to guard a captive Jedi.
Not that his Jedi abilities were of much use at the moment.
Ever since waking up in a dank prison cell back on Tatooine, Kenobi had been cut off from the Force by the strange creatures that the Empire had discovered on some backwater planet. Ysalimiri or some such. Even now, Kenobi could not help shaking his head at the very through of them. Creatures that repelled the very living Force. He doubted even Master Yoda had ever imagined such things could exist.
Of course, it would have to have been the Emperor and his sbires that discovered them. Sometimes Kenobi wondered how well balanced the Force was towards its lightside users. At the moment, it certainly seemed to favour the Sith.
Enough time had passed; Kenobi doubted the troopers would return. Rolling over, he reached underneath the small metal bed and grasped the corner he had managed to break free after three days of concerted pressure. Twisting it free, he rolled back and swung his legs round, wincing only slightly at the ache in his ribs.
You’re not a young man anymore, Obi-wan. He smiled ruefully, thinking back to the Clone Wars. How many times had he dropped from heights much greater than that he had endured when falling from the Venture? Within a day, two at the most, he would have been back on his feet, racing back out to join Anakin on one of his foolhardy missions that together they managed to pull off. And now? Now an entire week of doing nothing but lying on a cot in a cell and he still was not perfectly healed.
Of course, that begged the question of why he had not had to endure anything worse than a week of lying on a cot. He had no doubts that the Empire knew exactly who he was. And yet apart from moving him from Tatooine to this out of the way penal station, they had left him alone. Surely he should have been taken to Coruscant by now. The Emperor must want to question him or at least parade him out in front of the holocams.
Unless… Unless the war has turned and he has no need either for the information I possess or the coup it would represent to drag an Alliance General before the masses. The thought sent a twinge of fear through Kenobi’s belly and he rejected it out of hand. He could not allow himself to think like that.
No, the Alliance still needed him and any day now the troopers could come and announce that he was being moved to Coruscant to stand trial. Well, he would have to disappoint them.
Rolling off the bed, stamping down on the aches in his legs and the sharp pain in his left side, Kenobi crept over to the door. Using the thin edge he had been able to prise free from the bed, he began to work at one of the panels near the door. This would be the seventh one he had worked free looking for wires or an emergency control panel that would allow him to break the magnetic lock. So far, nothing.
I’ll just have to hope that the Force will be with me, today.
Without even realising, Anakin found himself on his feet.
“No,” he whispered. “That’s not true. That’s impossible.”
“We found it difficult to believe at first as well, Anakin,” Qui-Gon said.
“More so even when discovered what was the cause of the imbalance we did,” Yoda added.
Anakin barely heard either of them. His thoughts returned to that night in Palpatine’s office. Mace and the lightsaber battle. The confusing thoughts racing around in his mind, but underneath all of them an unmoveable sense through the Force of what he should do.
“It was that night, wasn’t it?” The night he failed to listen to the Force’s urgings. The night the Force abandoned him.
Qui-Gon’s eyes were full of compassion, just like Anakin remembered them. “Yes, Anakin. We traced the threads of the Force back through time, using ancient techniques and new skills that the Force gave to us. You were there that night, but you may not have realised that for the Force it was a fulcrum. A turning point. A thousand different possibilities branched off from that single event. All of it hinged on one thing.”
“What decision, you made,” Yoda intoned.
“You were meant to turn to the Dark Side, Anakin. That is what the Force needed. You were meant to help Palpatine and turn to the Dark.”
Anakin shook his head, not trusting himself to speak. The voice of the Force echoed in his head, whispers from a lifetime before. Save him. Save Palpatine. Could I have been so wrong?
“We were wrong,” Gui-Gon said, his words eerily echoing Anakin’s own thoughts. “We were arrogant, all of us. We convinced ourselves that we knew the will of the Force better than it did. Our fear of the Dark Side blinded us to what you were truly meant to do – bring balance to the Force. Not see the Dark Side forever destroyed, not defeat the Sith, but keep both sides in equilibrium.”
“You can’t really believe that?”
“Hard to accept it was,” Yoda replied. “Long did I struggle against this. But truth, the Force showed me. Accept it, I have.”
The confession seemed to drain the diminutive Jedi.
“You have accepted that I was supposed to betray you? I was meant to turn to the Dark Side?”
“The will of the Force, it was.”
“We have walked the different paths that emanated from that moment, Anakin. You were meant to turn and the Emperor was meant to bring an end to the Republic. Dark times would have come to the galaxy. Great suffering. Great destruction, such as is about to be visited on the galaxy once more. But you were there, at the end. You stood and you returned to the light and you were able to stop the Sith from dragging us all into the abyss. You were meant to turn to the Dark Side because only then could you be redeemed. And in being redeemed you brought balance back to the Force. The Sith were no longer ascendant and the Jedi were taught a much needed lesson in humility. You would have stopped an endless darkness.”
“Now, though, nothing is certain.”
Anakin rubbed a hand over his face, hardly believing what he was hearing. His whole life seemed to unravel around him, leaving him floating. How could they be telling him this? How could they place this weight on his shoulders.
Because you were the Chosen One, a small voice whispered in his ear. It was your destiny.
I never wanted it.
Sometimes, the Force doesn’t give you a choice.
Anakin looked up and found Gui-Gon looking at him sadly, as if he had been able to hear Anakin’s thoughts. “What do you expect from me?” Anakin asked him.
“There may not be anything you can do, Anakin. We have looked into the past and into the future. There are few paths that lead back to where you were supposed to lead. From what we have been able to discern, only one thing can now bring the galaxy back on its proper course. The very thing that Master Yoda saw.”
“Skywalker’s children, our last hope are.”
“No!” Anakin found himself leaning on the table, glaring at Yoda. Bringing one hand crashing down on the table, he pointed the other. “I will not let you drag my children into this.”
Yoda did not seem perturbed by Anakin’s evident anger. “A choice, you may not have.”
“The Force wills what it needs.”
“If the Force wants something from me, it can damn well give me back my connection to it and let me clean up my own mess. It can’t have my children.”
“I don’t know if that choice is still yours to make, Anakin. I think-”
“Truly want this, you do?” Yoda asked, cutting Gui-Gon off. The human Master looked surprised, but allowed the elder master to take up the reins of the conversation. “Ready to return, you are?”
“I never asked for the Force to leave me,” Anakin said. “I never wanted it back, either.” A lie, but one that had become closer to a truth over the years. Realising what Master Yoda was asking, he hesitated for a moment. Luke and Leia flashed before his eyes, both of them still babes in his mind’s eye. He felt the pain again at losing Leia, relived the anguish he had felt when he learned Luke had been taken from him, as well. There was really no need to even think about it. “If it will protect my children, I’ll do it.”
“You realise that we cannot promise this will change what we have seen.”
Anakin nodded, his eyes still locked with Yoda’s. “I understand. I want to try.”
For the first time Anakin could remember, Yoda smiled. “Anakin, there is no try.”
Anakin woke up. There was no transition from the dream to the real world, a jarring sensation that left his head spinning. For a moment he lay there on the hard metal bed, wondering whether any of it had actually happened. After all, he couldn’t really have been with Master Gui-Gon and Master Yoda, could he? It had all been an elaborate…
The Force. Anakin gasped. For the first time in years, he could feel the Force.
Tears pricked at his eyes. It felt like… Like… Words failed him. There were too many conflicting sensations. Like a warm blanket wrapped around his shoulders. Like the cool water of a lake, refreshing after a long day in the sun. Like the fiercest storm battering the dunes of Tatooine and the deepest depths of a blackhole. As powerful as the energy of a thousand stars and as fragile as the merest flicker of a mynock’s wings. The Force was all of those things and none of them.
Anakin had not realised how much he had missed it. Missed that sense of connection to the entire span of existence. For the first time in decades, Anakin felt as though he could do anything, go anywhere. The galaxy was full of potential. And so was he.
Anakin, there is no try.
Master Yoda’s last words echoed in his mind. He did not have the time to indulge himself. He had come here to free Obi-wan. He had left Tatooine to save Luke. All of those things, which had seemed out of his reach mere hours before, now suddenly seemed possible. Another of Master Yoda’s lessons returned to him.
My ally is the Force. And a powerfully ally it is.
Smiling, Anakin reached out with the Force, using it to feel at his restraints. After they had killed the Gungan, the imperial troopers had separated Anakin and Lando. They had dragged Anakin here and placed him on a hard metal slab, attached at the wrists and the ankles with energy restraints. Now, with the Force, Anakin was able to slow the current running through the wrist restraints, slow it enough to be able to use a slight Force pressure to pop the mechanism and free his left hand. Once that was done, the rest came easily.
Rubbing at his hands and ankles, Anakin sat up. He looked around, the Force augmenting his sight and allowing him to study his surroundings properly for the first time. The cell was small, little more than a bed surrounded by four walls. A thin strip of decking began at the door and ended at a small ‘fresher unit. Not much to work with.
What need have you of tools when the Force you have?
Anakin could not be sure whether Yoda’s admonition rose from his own memories or from the Force. Either way, it reminded Anakin of what he had once known to his core.
As long as I have the Force, I have everything I need.
Standing up, wincing slightly as old wounds stretched and pulsed, Anakin turned and faced the door. Closing his eyes, he allowed himself to sink into the Force’s flow. Lifting a hand, he stretched out. On the other side of the door, he could sense two minds, both of them almost identical. Clone troopers. Palpatine still had an arrangement with the cloners, then. So be it.
Focusing the torrent of power that rushed through him, Anakin grabbed a hold of the edge of the door with his mind. Exerting his will, he began to pull. At first, the magnetic locks fought him, but they were no match for the Force. One by one, they sparked out, their power lost in a feedback loop that set off tiny explosions in the wall. From the other side, Anakin felt the troopers’ minds come alert.
With a groan, the door vanished into the wall, revealing a dimly lit corridor. Taking a step back, Anakin gathered his energy, waiting for the Imperials to come in to get him.
He did not have long to wait.
Hi!!!!!! I was formerly Jade_eyes in case you're wondering who's this?
Gobbled up Chapters 22-24 So cool to see Karrde and Han tangling LOL with Leia & Lance getting a rescue. Wow! Anakin's new agenda is extremely interesting. Love Mara and Luke getting closer together. Palps cannot fool with destiny
Very happy to hear your RL situation is looking up. I will put this tale back on watch status.
Glad that things seem to be going better.
That has to be distressing to hear that you were suppose to be helping wreck havoc on the ga;axy. But now Anakin has the Force back and woe to those that get in his way.
Great to have you back
@JABrown and great chapter too!
@Nyota's Heart - Hi! Thanks so much for your enthusiastic comment and for your kind words about my RL situation. Glad that the three chapters worked for you, things are going to heat up for Obi-wan, Anakin and Lando over the next few chapters, but then we'll get back to Han and Leia on Coruscant. Thanks again for the comment, hope to have a new chapter up tomorrow!
@Lady_Misty - Thank you! Things in RL are not exactly better but we have settled into a routine, so I have a little bit more brain power than I did a few months ago! Yep, Anakin has had to deal with some dark tidings from his former masters, but having the Force back is definitely a plus.
@Hazel - Thanks! It is great to be back. Glad you enjoyed the chapter.
Thanks to you all!
Hi guys, just to let you know I've been on holiday for a week, this is my first chance to get access to WIFI. Am off for another week, so should be able to update sometime after that.
Cheers for the comments!
Please tag me too!