Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by EmeraldJediFire, Feb 21, 2013.
That painful huh lol
Enjoyed the meeting with the Council and Cilghal's compassionate understanding... but now Ben's suspeicions are totally confirmed although not in the details. When you try to keep a secret so avidly, it'll come out the side or back door ... because if Ben hadn't been there to answer the call ... He's definitely not gonna let go now until he finds out.
That's precisely what keeping a monumental secret would feel like: a lack of trust.
Well yeah..its gonna bite him in the butt. And thanks, I loved doing the Council...I tried my best with the characterization.
@Briannakin I know its painful
..Part 7Luke punched in the code to the Jade Shadow and waited as the ramp slowly lowered itself. When the hatch was open all the way, the Jedi Master made his way back to the cabin that he and Mara had shared. He entered the room, heading straight for the closet, and pulled down a larger bag from the top shelf. He brought it over to the bed in order to survey the full content inside of it. He had been preparing for this trip months in advanced but had only since recently gotten his personal effects together. Luke glanced over his shoulder, praying that his son wouldn't come waltzing through the door at any moment. He had been so careful these past two days and hoped he hadn't been obvious. It wasn't easy to hide things from Ben; his son was very in tune with his father's feelings and had been ever since his mother died.
After all, Ben Skywalker was every bit like Mara Jade, and wasn't likely to let things go so easily. Luke, in fact, anticipated the younger Jedi to totally disregard Luke's wishes if not his own vow toward his father. He wouldn't be Ben if he didn't completely circumvent my orders. The man thought wryly. His hands rifled through the bag as he checked the inventory. He confirmed two sets of light, tan-colored clothing, a cantina, a pair of high-caliber macrobinocluars, and military-issued rations bars. Luke glanced over at a bucket hat, which he had left in the closet. It was similar to the one he'd worn as a 19 year-old farm kid on Tatooine.
The Jedi had contemplated bringing it since the rays of the twin suns were incredibly strong, but immediately decided against it. He wasn't keen on looking like his dorky younger self. Instead, he swept back over to the closet and plucked a cloak that was hanging on a hook. He folded it up carefully, gently tucking it to one side of the bag.
"Mara," Luke murmured, standing still for a moment. "Am I doing the right thing?" He shook his head already knowing the answer to that. "I'm sorry, darling. I'm doing it again. As much as I'd like to, I can't escape the grip of how I am…"
He sat down on the bed and sighed.
"Trust me, when I say, I never thought of myself as anyone's savior." The Jedi ran his hand through his extensively gray hair. "I'm aware of how many people I may hurt by choosing not to confide in anyone, but I'm weary, Mara. I've done all that I can. For seventy-eight years, I've spent my time fighting endless wars and training Jedi, and….I can't do it anymore. I don't even want to."
He sighed and reached into the smaller pack he'd been carrying with him. His hands fished out the objects and transferred them into the other bag. He rolled the last item over in his hand, grasping the cool steel pummel of the lightsaber. Darling, help me be strong…..for even now I carry you with me.
"You have always been my heart, Mara." Luke murmured, on the verge of sobbing.
..Corran Horn cornered Clighal in the library where she was catching up on some medical journals.
"So tell me, Master Cilghal, what Luke is hiding…"
The Mon Calamari's large fish eyes turned towards him then focused once more on the datapads in front of her.
"Cilghal." Corran took a seat across from her, not willing to be ignored.
"I'm positive I don't know what you're talking about, Master Horn." She muttered, using her stylus to scroll through the data.
"I'm pretty sure that's a lie, Cilghal. It's not like you to tell them."
The Correlian leaned his forearms on the table and stared her down. He watched as her webbed hands moved deftly over two, other 'pads, as if cross-checking the information contained on them. She would regard him for a moment or two, but otherwise act like he wasn't even present. He'd never known her to be this stubborn or secretive.
She sighed heavily and shoved aside the datapad at hand.
"What exactly would you have me do, Master Horn?"
"The truth, Clighal...'Cause Luke isn't giving it freely." Corran stated sharply. "And..I thought I've told you to call me by my first name."
"That I cannot do."
"Which one, call me Corran or divulge the Grand Master's dirty little secret?"
Her hand slapped irately against the table's surface, causing the other Jedi around her to look their direction.
"You know very well it's not anything of the sort." Cilghal chastised. "…I thank you not to cast the Grand Master in that light."
Corran could feel the underlying irritation emanating from the Mon Cal Jedi. It was entirely unusual for her to be so defensive. Still, if he wanted answers he had to keep at it.
"I'm not casting him in any light, but you refusing to tell me what's going on does make it suspicious." He responded tersely. "Luke's hiding something from us and I want to know what and why."
"If the Master has no need for you to know, then maybe it isn't important." She got up, gathering the datapads in her large hands. "Now, if you'll excuse me, I must get back to the medbay. Perhaps you should return to your duties and let the Grand Master handle his own affairs as he sees fit." She made her way through the rows of tables and shelving, heading for the exit.
The other Jedi followed her. "You know stang well that isn't going to happen. You seem to forget I was CorSec years ago, Corran Horn doesn't let thing go until he's satisfied."
Clighal approached a turbolift that was at the far end of the corridor. She hit the DOWN button and entered the lift when the doors yawned open.
"That may be, Master Horn, but Luke's secrets are his alone. What he chooses to refrain from telling us is none of our business nor do we have the right to question his judgment."
Corran grabbed one of the doors as it started to close. "We do if his judgment is flawed."
There was dead silence for a good few seconds. The two Jedi stared at each other across the space of the lift. The door jerked against the Correlian Jedi's grasp, threatening to either tear ligaments or crush his hand.
"Cilghal, if the Master is doing something that could harm himself, please tell me. You know very well when Luke's judgment is compromised he goes into auto-mode. He falls back into his old habits and mind frame."
"There is nothing to tell, Corran." She sighed clearly distressed. "Please…do not make this out to be more than it is." Clighal reached forward and laid her hand on his in a calming gesture. "Please, my friend, trust me. Trust that if I had any suspicion that the Master truly might be drawing himself towards danger, that I would tell you."
The other Jedi nodded reluctantly releasing the door.
"I'll hold you to that."
The door then closed, blocking the Mon Cal from his view.
.It wasn't far from the truth, Clighal knew nothing more than what Luke had sworn her to. She knew little if nothing of the Master's plans other than what he had told the rest of them. Still, she prided herself on the ability to hold confidence when it was needed. So even if the information she held were miniscule, Cilghal would never breathe a word of it to anyone. That wasn't to say the Mon Cal didn't have her suspicions. She too was overtly curious at the Grand Master's actions and words. She knew deep down like Corran that he was planning something. Something that was indeed probably reckless although well intentioned.
What was she to do though? After all, even if she was concerned for her Master's safety, it was not her position to interfere with his decisions.
Clighal entered the medical facility and looked around. She sighed grateful it was empty. She crossed over to the counter top and placed the datapads near the charging outlet. Looking around, the Mon Cal pressed a button beneath the counter's lip. The door at the far end slid open and an astromech droid rolled out, its blue striped dome gyrating. It whistled curiously.
"Ah, Artoo Detoo," She spoke upon his arrival. "I'll be needing you to do a systems check on the machinery console over there." Cilghal stretched out an arm, indicating the blood analysis machine. "After you're done with that, I'll be recording a message to store within your systems. I want you to look out for Master Luke on behalf of the Order. It's the least we can do."
The dome spun around and the R2 unit swiveled on his three legs before rolling over to the terminal. He released the interface jack and plugged it into the machine, turning it clockwise. He tootled and beeped as he performed the diagnostics on the system. His dome swung around with his optical sensor regarding the healer.
The Calamari turned her own eyes up towards the display and watched the inquiry scroll across the screen.
Is my Master all right?
"That…I cannot say for sure?" She responded, opening the freezing unit and pulling out a vial of blood.
He beeped again.
Without looking up, Cilghal could tell what his next question was.
"No, he isn't expecting you." In fact, she had found it a bit peculiar when Luke had dropped the astro-droid off the previous week. The little unit and he had been inseparable ever since they had first met she recalled. Of course, there were times her Master and the little droid had been apart, but those reasons were well validated given the circumstances throughout the years. Without any conflicts though, Luke had more time to spend with the droid. It seemed for a while he had often found solace just frittering away his time in the Temple's hanger bay, making repairs on either his own StealthX or Mara's Shadow.
R2 let out a lone mournful sound.
"I doubt he has forgotten you."
My Master is different…
Her large eyes blinked in surprise.
Just a few seconds ago, the unit had inquired on Luke's safety…his health? She wasn't entirely sure. Now, it seemed that maybe the R2 unit had more knowledge and insight on the Grand Master's behavior than he let on. How curious… She thought.
She was now even more determined to get Luke to take the little droid along.
R2 whistled, signaling he had completed his task.
"How does the system check out?" She queried.
He beeped positively and unplugged himself from the terminal.
"Good…come over here." Clighal set the vial into the beaker holder and picked up one of the datapads. She grabbed a cord, attaching one end to the 'pad and the other end into the droid. She placed it back on the counter and waited as he started the data transfer.
"Once we're done here, I want you to return to the hanger."
He let out another curious warble.
"I am not sure." The Mon Calamari muttered, an unsettling heaviness weighing upon her heart.
..Frustrated and sweating, Ben heaved in exhaustion and flopped down on the couch. He threw a simple wooden box onto the couch to his right. He'd found it shoved between the mattress and the bed frame, recognizing it as the one his father had taken out of the closet the night before. The Jedi traced a finger over it, contemplating the meaning of it all. When he had pried open the box, he had found it be quite empty. That didn't make any sense at all; his father wouldn't go looking for an empty box! There had to have been something important in it… But what could it possibly be?
"ARGH! None of this crap makes sense!"
He started to pull at his hair in frustration.
"Why would he take whatever was in this box?"He picked it up, cracked it open, and stared at the velvet-lined casing. He examined the inside as if the lining held some deep secret. Ben then tossed it back down in aggravation. "Makes no sense…what could he possibly be doing?" He reached back in his mind, recalling what had transpired earlier. He remembered his father sitting on his bed, a datapad in his hands and the box lying next to Luke. The Jedi Knight's nostrils flared in concentration.
"Blast it." He rubbed a hand over his eyes.
The scene continued; his father was now getting up and retrieving a few items: a lightsaber, a datapad, and a medkit. He remembered Luke entering the living room and putting the items into his bag, tightening the drawstrings to seal it. He furrowed his brow, rewinding his memory even more. The box…. He reached over and grabbed it again. Ben stared at it for at what seemed like forever. When had his father had time to hide the box, he mused and pried open the box once more. He eyed the inside lining again, scrutinizing it. His finger traced itself over the lining with his eyes taking in the unique shape. His mind began to paint an image within his head as he continued to do this. The outline took shape bit by bit until it resembled an unmistakable shape. Each item was constructed differently, but there was still no doubt in Ben's mind to its form.
His hand dropped away from the box and he stared at the inside of the case in awe. How had he not seen it? It had been so blatantly obvious! The casing was, without question, the proper shape and fit for the ancient Jedi weapon.
He blew an exasperated breath through his pinched lips. His old man was still too clever for him; always two steps ahead, as Ben floundered on behind.
He began to laugh quite suddenly at the simplicity of it all. Oh how dumb he had been... It was depressing how he was still a child in comparison to his great father.
"But the question now is…where….and why? I guess that's two questions though." He drummed his fingers on his thigh agitatedly.
He began to rack his brain once more.
A thought struck him.
Why would his father keep his lightsaber in a box?
Luke had always kept his lightsaber on the side table or in the alcove above the bed well within reaching distance of his hand, should he need to get it quickly. He would never pack it away. Then again he hadn't seen his father's lightsaber around lately. Ben shook his head. No, there must've been some other explanation for it. He got up and walked back to the room, intent on another task. His sharp blue gaze swept over the bedroom and stopped upon a shelf above his parents' dresser.
His father had placed his mother's lightsaber in glass case on top of it. For the first time, the younger Jedi realized that the case was missing, along with the lightsaber.
Ben stalked over the dresser and reached up to feel for it, hoping he had missed it. He was relatively tall, taller than his old man was, but the shelf was built high enough that even he had to stretch up on tiptoe.
His hand brushed against the top of the shelf, but found nothing but dust coating it. Obviously, his father hadn't spent his time at home cleaning house. He frowned, still fumbling around and hoping to find something. Something, anything. It really didn't matter to Ben at this point!
His finger then glossed over something slick and oddly shaped. He clambered aboard the dresser, apologizing profusely to his mother. It had been her favorite piece of furniture. Ben peered over the lip of the shelf, finally seeing what his fingers had grasped. It was an odd item, made out of brass. He climbed back down off the dresser and turned the item in his hands, leaning against the furniture.
"Who in the seven Correlian hells still uses one of these?" He muttered, tapping it against his fingers.
He held it up to the light: it was small. He surmised this one was probably used to open some sort of chest. The Jedi brushed his finger over curious blue nodule. Upon his finger pressing over it, Ben heard a faint minute click and watched as the outer shell of the key disintegrated into his palm.
"What in the Sith?" He exclaimed and plucked the item out of it
It was a chip. To be more precise it was an entry chip; one which probably was used on small storage boxes, cupboards, or….drawers. He kept his eyes focused intently on it.
"It's worth a shot."
He crossed back over to the side table and jerked the drawer open. Ben examined the inside of the drawer once more, and then finding nothing of interest, he tugged on it with all his might and ripped the drawer off its tracks and out of its berthing. He tumbled backward, falling hard on his backside. The drawer landed beside him with a light clunk, the false bottom rattling in place.
"Stang!" He swore.
Moving carefully, he brought himself back up into a sitting position, rubbing his back as he did so. "That's going to leave a mark."
Ben felt around and turned to grab the up turned drawer. He dragged it over to where he was sitting. The Jedi eyed the bottom of the drawer and after finding nothing, he rotated it in his hands to examine the back of it. There it was; an electronic coded paneling at the back of the drawer with a small slot bellow. The slot was the size of an entry chip.
He righted the drawer then picked up the chip off the ground where it hand fallen a few inches away from him. He inserted the chip into the slot without preamble and waited. A quiet whirring and clicking soon commenced –the sound of an electronic mechanism releasing itself. Within a few seconds, Ben watched as the false bottom lifted open, revealing the contents within.
He stared wide-eyed at the items in the drawer; the first was a lightsaber and the second, a standard datapad.
Ben reached in grasping each item with both hands. He held the datapad in his right and the lightsaber in his left. "What in the Sith?" He muttered for the second time that day.
The lightsaber he held was no ordinary lightsaber; it was his father's own.
"Well, that explains where his damn lightsaber is." He tossed it up in the air, catching it deftly once it fell back down.
What is going on?
None of this was making any sense to Ben. He was again standing at the threshold of frustration, tempted to tear his hair out. Then as if by instinct, his eyes quickly looked over his shoulder at the shelf behind him. Mom's? Why mom's saber instead of his own?
The younger Jedi shook his head, still not able understand his father's thinking or motives.
"What in the hell is going on?"
His eyes flicked back to the datapad and he quickly keyed in, finding the 'pad remarkably easy to access. A document appeared on the display as if by default. He scanned over it with his eyes growing wider with each passing moment.
"I, Luke Skywalker, being of sound mind and body, declare that this is my last Will & Testament…" Ben trailed off, his face growing paler at each word.
His hands shook frantically at the implications imbued in them: was Luke Skywalker dying or planning to die?
Oh. Poor Ben. What a document to find.
Ah! So Ben found it and I'm not surprised at everyone's concern, spoken or not, and I definitely like Corran's forthrightness about it. Hope R2 gets to the hangar in time.
Briannakin: Yep, horrifying isn't it?
Jade_eyes: He's very persistent; being Mara's son and all. As for everyone, they've certainly got a right to be..he's acting downright odd. I thought Horn might be the one to get to the bottom of it the most.
Jedi Temple, Coruscant DuskLuke Skywalker walked amongst his students in the Grand Hall, making small talk with them as he passed. A few seemed to cling to him, eager to listen to his opinion on some matter or other. Others would take it upon themselves to probe for answers to more Jedi learning-related topics. He answered each inquiry with a certain fluidity and grace, speaking softly yet confidently.
"Grand Master?" One Twi'lek girl uttered, her red lekku falling forward over her shoulder, mimicking human hair.
"Yes, Sae'la?" He smiled warmly at her.
"You preach that Jedi must never act in aggression, so how do you justify the actions of the Jedi in the past?"
"Preach is a strong word, Jedi Sae'la."
"Still. My question remains the same."
"It is true that a Jedi must use knowledge and skill for defense, never for attack. However, the times which you speak of steered the Jedi Order towards different tactics and mindset." He clasped his hands behind his back. "With the emergence of the Yuzhan Vong, it was necessary for the Jedi to learn to fight differently than they had. Fighting the way we use to, would not work against the Vong."
"This continued on until after the Yuzhan Vong War had ended….it benefited our Order during the times to come. In adapting to these new forms of combat, we adapted to the conflicts around us."
A male spoke up beside him, "I was made aware that you practiced several fighting styles beside Jedi combat, Master."
Luke turned towards the young apprentice. He had dark brown hair cut close to the scalp with dark-almost black-eyes.
"Yes. I do. Following the Vong War, I took it upon myself to learn different fighting styles from other cultures. These proved fruitful during the Second Galactic Civil War and the battle against the Lost Tribe."
A silence overtook the hall, no one saying what they were interested in. The previous war had brought about a dark entity on the galaxy known as Darth Caedus. Everyone knew how deeply a part their Grand Master had played in the battle against the Sith Lord, but no one talked about it. It was thought of as a tragedy of the past that did not warrant mentioning.
"Any more questions?"
The students smiled eagerly and shook their heads.
"Well, then, I'll be going…"
"May the Force be with you, Grand Master." Sae'la intoned.
"And with you…" Luke offered over his shoulder and made his way towards the turbo lifts which would bring him to the hangar bay.
The time was approaching fast and he could no longer stall. As much as he had prepared himself for this trip, his heart seemed to stall in his chest, his determination faltering. He wasn't sure if it was entirely his body reacting to the thoughts his brain was processing or it his own immune system weakening.
He steeled himself against any outward signs of this weakness. It wouldn't do good for his Jedi to see him falter in such a way. He didn't want to call attention to himself, yet at the same time his mind screamed that he was being beyond irrational. 'Your Jedi adore you….Why must you put on this charade?' A stern voice demanded.
I don't know what you mean…
'Liar.' It rebuked. 'You have built the Order on trust and honesty, yet you would keep this dire secret from them. Are they not your friends…your family?'
Luke wasn't sure if he was going crazy or the voice within his head was his subconscious
taking form. Was he doing the right thing?
No, of course he was.
'Why does your body burn as though you are wracked with guilt then? Luke Skywalker cannot be untrue to himself anymore than he can betray his friends' trust. It is simply not who he is. It goes against your very nature.'
"I don't know…" He whispered aloud and entered the turbo lift, bypassing two Knights that stepped off. They shot him curious glances, but said nothing, simply bowing their heads in greeting.
He returned the acknowledgement, hitting the down button.
A heavy feeling that could only be described as guilt began to sink in the pit of his stomach. He dug his finger nails into his dark robes until the sinking feeling became a burning hot flash of pain. He gritted his teeth, his vision becoming blurry.
"Normal part of my immune system, eh, Doc.." He muttered and leaned against a wall to keep himself from collapsing.
As the pain passed and Luke righted himself, he straightened robes, puling at the tunic before the lift reached the hangar level. Between the council meeting and now, he had taken time to get himself changed into fresher clothing. He was clad in simple attire which included brown pants, a charcoal tunic, shiny black boots, and his heavy black Grand Master's robes.
He exited the lift and stepped out onto the broad floor of the Temple hangar. The hangar bay was vast with a high ceiling, large illumination panels overhead, and numerous metal catwalks intersecting over the space. Starfighters and the usual assortment of shuttles and personal star-crafts filled the hangar. A Z-95 Headhunter and single StealthX clustered close together with a large SuroSubb Horizon-class Star Yacht. Approaching it, the SuroSubb would be recognized to most beings as the Jade Shadow, Luke's personal transport-a memento left from his late wife.
Luke crossed straight over to the Headhunter, passing the yacht, and met with a hangar technician. He was busy fueling up the starfighter and turned look at him. "Grand Master." The tech-Gein Tanin-nodded
Tanin was the Chief technician of the Temple hangar, though he could be seen working more closely with the Grand Master's vessels than any others. He had a mop of black hair with green eyes hidden by his bangs. He wore coolant stained beige coveralls.
He stopped to wipe his hands on the rag at his waist. "It's almost ready…"
The Jedi Master looked over the Headhunter, and eyes crossing to his StealthX, said, "I'm sorry, Gein, I've changed my mind. Can you ready the StealthX?"
Tanin bobbed his head in acknowledgment and gestured to another technician who was emerging from under another transport. A blonde haired woman, sporting a high ponytail, looked in Luke's direction briefly before redirecting her attention to her fellow tech. "Yes, Gein?' She drawled with a slight Corellian dialect.
"Saron, prep the StealthX…the Master needs it immediately." Her eyes swung to Luke and she nodded acquiescingly. It was clear though from Luke's perspective she was annoyed at his impromptu change of plans.
The Grand Master watched the interaction between the two techs; Gein shot Saron a disapproving look. She gave him a flippant gesture and snorted, oblivious to Luke's close observation. Either that, or she didn't really care.
Gein, however, was aware of the man's attention and crossed over to him. "Sorry, Sir..It's been a long day. She doesn't mean anything by it."
He gave an understanding look, shaking his head. "No. It's my fault for changing my mind so suddenly." Luke looked over the man's shoulder, watching
Saron roll over a ladder to the StealthX.
"Don't worry. We'll get your fighter prepped and ready."
"It needs to be-"
"On the Shadow, I remember." Gein said. "We'll have it ready in thirty, Master Skywalker."
"Fifteen." Luke countered softly. "I need to leave soon."
"I'll be on the Shadow until then." The Jedi turned on his heel and started back towards the yacht.
..Beep, beep, beep.
Ben jerked from his stupor, the curious sound bringing him back to reality. His eyes focused upon his hands, in them were his father's lightsaber and
the datapad containing his will. His fingers were bleached white at the knuckles-a product of gripping the items too tight. He looked around, recognizing he was still in his father's room, seated at edge of the JedI Master's bed. He glanced down toward the drawer on the ground. Oh yeah…He thought, suddenly recalling what had happened.
Beep, beep, beep.
He fumbled around at his waist, pulling the comlink off his belt. Who in the world would com him on this frequency? Not too many people knew of it. He depressed the button and lifted the comlink up to his mouth, "Skywalker."
"Ben." a familiar Corellian spoke.
"Master Horn," Ben answered, sounding agitated. "What is it you want, kind of busy at the moment?"
"It's about your dad."
He got to his feet and walked back over to his room. Upon entering, he began to gather his things together.
"Now, tell me what you know, Corran."
"Luke's been acting strange…"
Ben started to open his mouth.
"There's more to it."
"Go on." The Jedi repeated, seating himself on the bed.
"I spoke to Cilghal after the Grand Master called a emergency council meeting. Cilghal refused to give me a direct answer to my inquiries, but I know she's hiding something. Even if she doesn't know exactly what it is, I think the Master has had council with her."
"How do you figure?"
"It was Clighal who informed us of the emergency meeting. When I had inquired, what the meeting was for, she gave me a round about answer."
"Same as after.." Ben supplied.
"So we meet with Clighal?"
"No, that won't do us any good…Right now….though.." He paused, his mind seeming to be elsewhere.
He came back. "Sorry. I'm near the Temple hangar. Guess, who I see?"
The younger Jedi sighed, frustrated. "I don't feel like guessing games at the moment, Horn." His voice stressed the amount of irritation he was feeling, though Corran knew he wasn't annoyed at him. It was the situation.
"As in D2?"
"The very same." He responded good-naturedly. "Our little R2 unit milling about the edge of the hangar-looking nervous for a droid. I followed him from the turbo lift…"
"He came up from the med-level."
"He's been with Clighal?"
"That's what I'm thinking." He listened to five seconds of dead silence. "Hold on."
Ben waited, staring at the com link, his foot tapping impatiently.
"Horn…" He growled.
"Sorry." Corran apologized. "Something seems to be going on.."
"Fill me in."
"Got two techs milling about Mara's Headhunter."
"Mom's fighter." He frowned. "What're they doing with the Z-95?"
"Prepping it, it looks like…"
"Seems your dad wasn't kidding when he said he was going away for a bit."
Corran shushed him over the line. "Quiet."
"Sorry." Ben muttered sarcastically
"Mouth as big as a blackhole…even to this day." Corran mumbled. "Got your mom's mouth as well as your dad's altruism. If I had a credit for every
"Corran. Focus. Dad. Leaving."
"Luke's right. That is annoying as kriff."
Ben gathered the rest of his items and started moving towards the living area. He dropped them off on the couch then proceeded back to his father's bedroom. His mind raced as he processed Corran's information. The Headhunter was being readied and his father had informed the Masters he was going off planet-something he had failed to inform his own son about. What did Luke think he was doing?
"Are you there?" Corran asked.
He entered the room, looking about. He scanned the mess he'd made out of it. Ben picked his way back over to the bed and reached for the datapad.
He reached back, going through the memories of father's early actions; the bag Luke had packed. His mother's missing saber. Now, this datapad and his father's own lightsaber. He hefted the item in his hand, staring at it for a long moment, blocking out his surroundings.
"-Ben.." The other Jedi's voice cut into his reverie.
"I'm here. Look, Corran…." He walked back out of the room, datapad still clutched in his hand. "I'll meet you at the Temple and we'll discuss this in detail."
"I'll meet you at the turbo lifts in the Grand Hall."
"Roger that. Skywalker out." Ben switched off the link and clipped it back to his belt.
..Corran Horn leaned near the lifts, some would say looking suspicious given the surroundings. His eyes scanned the Grand Hall. He hadn't seen Luke in a few hours, which meant that the Jedi was possibly in the hangar. What other reason would there be for R2 to be there? He greeted several Knights who passed him.
Where is he?
The Corellian checked the entrance once more. He hadn't planned on going anywhere but if Ben planned to take his sweet time getting here, he might as well. He turned around and punched the button.
The lift dinged open and Corran stepped inside. He checked his wristchrono. They had to hurry, Luke was set to leave soon. The lift doors were about to shut when a hand shot inside, gripping one.
"Leaving without me?" Ben said, poking his head inside the lift.
Corran grinned. "Nah, I predicted when you would arrive."
The younger Jedi frowned. "That's probably a bunch of bull." He stepped inside with a bag positioned over his shoulder.
The other raised an eyebrow.
"I'll fill you in."
Corran nodded and punched the button for the hangar level. The ride was quiet, except for the intermittent scuffling of feet and clearing of throats. Corran watched Ben out of the corner of his eyes. The man was fidgeting as he shifted the strap of the pack onto his shoulder each time it slipped onto his arm. He remained quiet until the lift hit the bottom level and he stepped out near the hangar.
"Now…" He turned towards Ben.
A smile stretched over his face. "I believe I've given my report." He pointed to Ben's pack. "I believe you have something important to share."
Ben gestured for Horn to follow him to the nearby maintenance station. The astromech droid was nowhere to be found. He frowned, noting this.
"He must be near a vessel…Betting on your dad's."
Ben said nothing but simply began to pull out the datapad. He passed it over to the Corellian, ignoring the looks he was receiving from the station
attendant. Corran raised an eyebrow but dialed into the datapad.
He waited for the Jedi to finish reading what was on the 'pad before speaking.
"What the hell is this.."
He scowled openly. "What does it look like, Horn?"
Corran set the datapad aside and gave the younger man a look as if to say I don't need attitude, kid. "It looks like your father's will." He frowned and tapped the 'pad. "You don't think he'd…"
The Master shook his head, picking up the pad. "Something's not right." He tapped it again. "Luke would never do this. He hated any unnecessary preparations. He certainly wouldn't leave a will, he would constitute this as grand standing-and you know how much he liked that." His voice was dripping with sarcasm.
"Yeah…You're right. I don't know why I didn't think of it. I just got tunnel vision when I thought…"
A hand laid on his shoulder.
"'S'allright. That's what you've got me here for ." Corran grinned.
"Thank you, Master."
The older Jedi frowned, displeased. "What have I told you about that?"
"Sorry. I'm just worried is all."
"Worrying is all well and good." He picked up the 'pad again and shook it at Ben. "But it doesn't have as much effect as real action."
"We're missing one important piece though."
The Corellian swore violently then turned to the attendant. He looked at the badge on his chest. "Ryegard."
The man lifted his head.
"Did you see an R2 unit around here? Blue-striped dome?"
Ryegard looked around. "He was here."
"Could you find him, its very important." Corran bit out, trying to sound unfazed.
"Sir…" The man sounded exasperated
"Master." He corrected.
"Sir.." He ignored Corran. "It's not my job to watch every droid in this Temple."
"But it is your job to make sure they're maintained before they disembark."
The man didn't seem impressed by the other's logic.
"I can…go find where he is…." Ryegard suggested, not sounding all too thrilled.
"You do that."
"And make it quick." Ben put in.
As if recognizing him, the man inclined his head. "Jedi Skywalker." With that he walked off.
Corran stared after him aghast "Un-kriffing-believable." The Master set his jaw annoyed.
"Let it go, Corran…"
The older Jedi folded his arms over his chest. "I will." He sauntered over to the doorway, watching for the man.
..Meanwhile"Master Skywalker," a voice came over the com. "Your StealthX is secure in the Shadow's hangar."
Luke hit the com button "All right, Gein, thank you. I'll be taking off shortly.".
He had stripped off the robe he had been wearing and flung it into the co-pilots chair aimlessly. The Master, free of his encumbrance, readied the Shadow for take off, watching as the hangar doors widened. He flipped the controls grasping the yoke-but brought his movements to a halt at sound of a faint banging coming from the outer hull.
Luke dialed back into Gein's frequency.
"Yes, Master Skywalker."
"Gein…I think hear something. Sounds like something's hitting the hull, could you check it out?"
"Will do, Sir."
The Grand Master sat back in the pilot's c hair with his arms folded low over his stomach. He tapped his foot, staring out the viewport, eager to leave.
Gein came back on the line.
"It appears to be an astromech. I think its yours."
Luke frowned. Artoo?
"I'll be right there…." He got up and made his way to hatch, lowering the ramp.
At the bottom of the ramp Gein waited with the blue astromech droid. Luke walked down it and exhaled exasperatedly. "Artoo…What are you doing here?"
The droid let out a explanatory mess of beeps and tootles.
"No, you're not coming with." He placed his hands on his hips sternly.
A plaintive drawn out tone sounded.
"Artoo, I'm not going to repeat myself."
The little droid trundled back and forth on his two legs as if agitated.
The Master walked the rest of the way down and dropped to his haunches in front of his little friend. "I can't take you with me this time." He laid a conciliatory hand on the droid's dome.
"Artoo. Please don't make this difficult."
R2 let a what could only be described as a whistle of indignation.
"I said, no. That's final. I don't want to hear anymore about it." He got up and gestured for Gein. "Please make sure he gets back to the maintenance station." He turned to leave and was suddenly rammed in the back of his legs. Luke's gait faltered and he stumbled to catch himself. Gein let out a surprised- "Grand Master!", as the other worked to regain his balance.
He turned back in place and looked down upon the indignant unit. He sighed and placed a hand once more on the droid's dome. "Look….I don't want you getting sand in your gears all right." He patted it affectionately. "I won't be there long enough to need you anyway. I can handle piloting the Shadow by myself."
The astromech let out a long mournful sound.
"You stay here." His eyes flicked to Gein.
The tech reached over and tapped the droid. "C'mon little guy…"
The droid seemed to sigh and pivoted to follow the man.
Luke watched the little unit roll off before returning to the cockpit. He signaled the controller. "Jade Shadow taking off."
"Shadow, you are cleared. Have a nice flight, sir-and May the Force be with you."
"May the Force be with you." Luke said in return and flicked the toggle for the thrusters, pulling back on the yoke. The Shadow's large form lifted off the hangar floor and maneuvered towards the exit.
With the thrusters firing, the vessel shot out through the large hangar opening, Luke angling the Shadow for Coruscant's high orbit.
..Ben and Corran waited, looking towards the hangar. The attendant came back, shaking his head.
Corran made a noise of disgust and said, "I'll go look for that little bucket myself." He passed the man, muttering something akin to useless.
Ryegard seemed not to have notice this, but returned to his work.
The Jedi was halfway onto the hangar floor when a tech strode his way, a familiar R2 unit puttering along behind him.
"Artoo? Finally." He looked up towards the other. "I'll take over from here, Gein."
Gein shrugged his shoulders and turned on his heel.
"The Master said to get him back here." He called over his shoulder.
"Master?" Corran furrowed his brow.
"Skywalker." Gein supplied.
"Skywalker?" Corran and Ben uttered simultaneously.
Ben felt a sudden flicker in the Force, he could feel his father's aura close by.
"Yeah…he-" The tech was cut off when a loud roar sounded through the facility and the form of the Jade Shadow lifted.
"Dad!" Ben hollered, taking several steps forward.
It was too late, however. His father's vessel rocketed out of the hangar, heading for the stars.
"Stang!" Corran swore.
Ben gazed wide-eyed at the Shadow's fading silhouette.
"Day late and a credit short." The Corellian muttered, then shot a glance back at Ben. "What now?"
The other stood stock still before turning his gaze on the astromech. Corran followed his trail of sight. He exchanged glances with the other Jedi.
"Looks like someone is definitely going to have to explain to us, what in the Sith is going on." He bent down, stooping at R2's level.
"As in D2?"
I loved that little exchange.
Sigh. Why are Skywalkers always moments too late?
They were that close. Corran and Ben and R2.
I think its hereditary.
Well, if they had caught Luke before he went to Tatooine there would be no conflict.
..Part 9The R2 unit tootled nervously, swiveling his optical sensor back and forth between the two Jedi.
"So…Artoo..I bet you have something we need…am I right…" He extended a hand toward to the droid.
"Corran, stop it. Can't you see you're scaring him." Ben said, disgusted.
"This little trash can."
The younger Skywalker shot him a disapproving look.
"Sorry…" He lifted his hands up apologetically. "I know how much R2 means to your family." He backed off, leaning against a counter. "But the fact of the matter remains, that he has something we want. And with Luke hightailing it outta here too quickly, we definitely need answers."
Ben bent down and stroked the droid's dome. "Artoo, we need you to help us. It's about Luke."
The unit let out several beeps.
"You'll help us right?"
He whistled excitedly.
"What? I think he has something for us…" Ben stood up and ushered the R2 unit to the computer. "We'll be using this terminal briefly." He said to Ryegard.
The man grunted, "Just don't screw up anything."
"Wouldn't dream of it." Corran intoned with mock-sweetness.
The younger Jedi shook his head and then instructed the droid to plug himself into the terminal. They waited, and then within moments, a message scrolled on the screen.
I have a message.
"Spit out then!" Corran snapped.
Ben waved him off.
"Show us, Artoo."
The droid whistled and disengaged his jack, bent over slightly, pointing his optical sensor towards the floor. An image flickered; a miniature Cilghal appearing before them.
"Master Cilghal." Ben breathed.
He and the other Jedi waited for the Master-healer to speak.
Ben…I hope this message finds you. Although I cannot find it in myself to personally interfere, I do believe it is your right to know. Know that, what you do with this information is strictly up to you.
The Master has been to visit with me several times over the past month, and recently came to me today to deliver some information. I have noted that he has been acting quite strange for him. It's almost as if he's stuck in a haze.
The information he provided me was more than anyone else has been made privy to. As his primary medic, I have noted the Master has become increasingly sluggish and weakened at times. He has slipped further confirmations of such a state, though I doubt he is aware of it himself.
Getting back to the information I recently acquired this afternoon. Your father passed onto me a chip of some sort. I have no idea what it is, and have not taken the time to examine it. I have however contacted Ghent and he will get to work on the chip as soon as possible. I have no doubt that the Master has taken precautions and the chip has been coded to thwart any premature access.
The Master is heading for his home world, which is most peculiar considering his sentiments towards Tatooine. Please make with this what you will… Farewell. She bowed and the image flickered off.
"Well, I'll be damned…" This came from Corran. "Somehow I knew she'd come through-" He stopped watching Ben out of the corner of his eye.
Ben's fists clenched tightly. "Something was up. I just didn't think it was this." He ran a hand through his hair, pulling at the grayish-red strands, but he was no longer able to feel angry again. He almost felt…drained. His head hurt.
Corran stared at him. "Let's go after him."
"Just forget it. What good would it do if he really doesn't want us to know." He sounded resigned. Ben began to make his way out of the station. R2 let out a low warble.
The older Jedi's jaw dropped open, leaving his mouth agape.
"Are you out of your mind?' He stalked after Ben. "You're just let him get away with it! You heard Cilghal…your father isn't well. He clearly isn't able to think straight."
Ben turned around to look at him. "What would you have me do, Corran, drag him back home kicking and screaming like a child?"
The Master withheld the smile from appearing as he imagined the Grand Master throwing a child-like tantrum. He recovered and plodded on, grabbing Ben's arm.
"This isn't you, Ben, I know you better that. Stop putting on this show."
The force of Corran's grip swung him around. Pain bathed his eyes.
Ben yanked his arm from the other's grasp, looked away.
"Don't you think its worth it." The Corellian asked. "If Clighal sent that message, doesn't that mean your fears and concerns were genuine?"
Ben stared off into space, watching everything and nothing all at once. He mulled over Corran's words in his head, then the message from Clighal. He thought about Dr. Regis body language and the nervous tone in his voice when he'd first caught Ben's sight. An image of his father flashed in his head; he pictured an older man with graying hair. A man who still held an animated light in his eyes. A father whose quick, unique sense of humor never abated. His spirit grew dim at what he recalled next. Now, these images were interchangeable with the new views he'd seen of Luke.
In his mind's eye, Ben could see a man whose eyes would suddenly flash over as if in a daze. A father whose humorous personality was substituted at times for general combativeness and palpable irritation.
He swallowed at these last memories-swallowed hard. These images set his heart thumping loudly in his chest and the blood seeming to roar in his ears. He clenched his eyes shut as he flexed the muscles in his hand, his fingers curling and uncurling. Then, after a span of a minute, Ben resigned himself to his concluding decision. His head snapped up, whipping in Corran's direction.
Fire was lit within his eyes; a sharp flash entering the light blue hue.
Corran saw this and grinned.
"That's the Ben I know." He clapped him on the shoulder. "Let's go!" He started to veer to the left on the hangar. "Where do you think you're going?" Ben asked,
heading in the opposite direction..
"To my fi-"
"Right, genius. There's two of us." He smirked.
The Master scowled. "You win this one, kid."
The other man shot him a meaningful glance. "As if there was any doubt." Pure delight entered his voice. Ben turned to the little droid. "Come on, Artoo. We're going to need you." He slapped his leg as if calling some sort of pet.
The droid tweedled excitedly and took off rolling after the two Jedi.
"So, what exactly are we going to take?" Corran queried.
Ben simply smirked knowingly.
Corran groaned. "Anything but that clunker."
Ben rolled his eyes and kept walking with Horn and R2 following behind, until the two men came upon a large vessel, the Black Shooter. It was a grey, oblong-shaped starship with two pincers at the forward end with the cockpit situated between them. The Starwind-class pleasure yacht was built to initially compete with the Corellian's YT models. As such, Ben's ship closely resembled his uncle Han's famed ship, the Millennium Falcon; only it spanned at least 26 meters longer.
However, unlike the finished product, the Shooter was confined to the most basic design, forgoing to upgraded version, which had been intended for the wealthy.
He could feel Corran eying the ship with general loathing, thinking back to when he had first found it. Ben had been twenty-two. When he had flown it home to
Coruscant, he had been so thrilled with his find. The only people that hadn't been too keen on it were mostly his father and his aunt Leia.
"-en, Ben…" a long drawn out voice called his name. "Benny-boy. You still there?"
Ben snapped out of his reverie and continued to approach the ship. He complained, "Don't call me.", then pulled out his long range remote, punching the button. He watched quietly, still walking forward, as hydraulics whirred and the rear-facing ramp let out a hiss as it lowered.
The other man raised an eyebrow. "When did you do that?" He asked interested.
"Two months back." Ben quickened his gait, bounding up the ramp.
The Corellian rushed up the ramp, elongating his strides in order to catch up with the younger man as he cut through the passageway for passenger quarters. Ever since the kid had turned sixteen, he had started shooting up like a weed and kept on growing until he'd reached his mid-twenties. It was quite a surprise since his father was relatively average himself. Many suspected Ben took after his grandfather.
He entered the cockpit a few seconds after the Knight watched as he proceeded to power up the ship. He turned around and looked over to Corran as the man took at seat in the co-pilots chair. "Artoo?" Ben called out.
The R2 unit whistled rolling over to the navigation station and plugged himself into the jack. He tweetled a question.
"Plot the coordinates for Tatooine…" He commanded.
"I guess….I'll just sit here and look pretty." Corran offered lamely.
He rolled his eyes and turned back to the astromech. "Ready, Artoo?" The droid whistled in response. Ben switched his gaze to Corran. "Not-a -word, Corran."
People had been giving him grief about his ship ever since he had first gotten it; with Corran Horn being the most popular offender. Though, once again, his aunt Leia had been the strongest opposition, stating clearly, "Oh no, I didn't think it could be done...but it has.." She'd then shot her husband a chastising look and said, "Look what you started."
Ben shook his head inwardly, focusing once more on the task at hand. With renewed determination, he grasped the Shooter's yoke and jerked it back, quickly lifting the star yacht off the hangar floor. He then switched on the toggle to the thrusters and jerked the yoke to port. There was no doubt in Corran's mind that these sudden movements had the hangar attendant gaping in shock.
"What do you think you're doing?" Corran watched as the doors began to close.
"The door is closing."
"Are you insane…?"
"Yes." He punched thrusters to maximum.
Corran braced himself as the Shooter rocketed towards the closing hangar doors. "We're not going to make it."
Ben jerked the yoke to the left and the ship turned on its side, picking up speed. The Corellian's fingers bit into the armrests and he sank back in his seat. Why are Skywalkers so reckless? He watched wryly as the hangar doors loomed quickly in front of them. And, just when he thought they were about to smash up against it,\
Ben punched the thrusters one last time and slipped the ship through at the last minute.
The starship shot out of the Temple hangar, temporarily scattering a flock of birds, as he pulled back on the yoke, angling it upward. The comm system blared and he saw Corran reach for the button. "Shooter, this is Coruscant Orbital Control. We are detecting an unsanctioned flight path."
Corran leaned forward, "Sorry, about that, Control. This is Jedi transport, designation Black Shooter. We're on a vital mission for the Jedi Order. Please excuse us. It would please the Order if you could make our departure as smooth and as quick as possible, serious Jedi business." He leaned back, grinning and waiting for their response.
Ben shook his head.
A few seconds later, Control came back on the line.
"Black Shooter, you are cleared for flight." He rattled off a flight path coordinates. "Let' s not try anything fancy next time. Jedi business or no…"
"Roger that, Control." He signed off.
Ben propelled the ship towards the designated flight path. He could feel the mirth rolling off his co-pilot; saw the other Jedi shake his head while threading his fingers through his graying hair.
He shook his head, snorting as he did. "Nothin'…you're just one crazy son of Hutt.."
Ben rolled his eyes.
Force help me…He thought pleadingly.
.The Shooter emerged out of hyperspace three days later, hovering above the dust-colored world of Tatooine. "I remember, Klatooine, and swore if Tatooine was anything like it, I never wanted to go there again. Dad certainly didn't want to step foot on that dust-bowl." He commented.
"Then why head back…" Corran said softly. "Luke never wanted to return to Tatooine."
"I think it has to do with all of the bad memories he had there, but I agree, it doesn't make sense for dad to come back to this place." He pushed the yoke forward.
"Guess we'll get our answers soon…"
..Luke looked up from his pilot's seat towards the old Lars homestead. It brought back so many memories, a lot of them bitter and painful. He wasn't entirely sure why he'd decided to go to Tatooine. It would have been much more pleasant to go to a place like Naboo-but that wasn't a place that really held significance to him. He guessed he was just getting sentimental in his old age.
Through the dusk he could see large womp-rats scampering about on the edge of the moisture farm. He recalled being a boy with his first rifle given to him by his uncle Owen. His uncle had told him that if Luke was intent on going outside, that he would have protection. Luke had used the rifle to shoot womp-rats that had come to close to the homestead. He was its defender.
He had felt like a man, even if he had only been a boy of fourteen.
Still that hadn't stopped his uncle from being overbearing; at least it felt that way to Luke at the time. He had been a regular boy who had desired to have fun with his friends, but hanging out had been a rarity since he had also garnered responsibility for tending to the farm.
Friends. He thought. Were they really my friends? All the rest of the crew had ever done was pick on him and taunt him. Just because he was small for his size. Then there was that insufferable nickname-wormie. He could hear it loudly in his ear as if it were yesterday.
"Hey, Cam, wormie's imagining things again…"
The only friend Luke had truly ever had was Biggs Darklighter.
He sighed heavily, trying to throw off the sudden bout of sadness he was feeling. He'd long ago forgiven them, they had all just been kids when it came down to it. Kids who were destined to stay the rest of there lives on that Force-forsaken back water, outer rim planet. The lucky few like Biggs and Tank had made it off with Luke miserably accepting the fate he had been stuck with.
At least, that had been what he had believed was true.
Then came the arrival of the two droids; their arrival had been regarded just an every day occurrence. It didn't occur to a naïve farm boy that those droids had been guided by the Force. With time, however, Luke came to accept the truth; that fate wasn't so cruel and it had just been waiting for the right moment to liberate him. He realized that the arrival of that little astromech droid with a message from the beautiful princess hadn't been coincidental.
The two droids appearance had made him a hero and led him to the life he would lead; the destiny of becoming a great Jedi and leading the Order into a new era.
Destiny, of course, hadn't been without its hang ups. He had lost the two people that meant the world to him, just to fulfill this pre-ordained path. This made Luke pause, as he wondered why he had even returned to Tatooine to begin with.
He eyed the outline of the domes. "I swore never to come back." The place was filled with too many sad memories.
He rubbed his eyes, and got up, stretching as he bent his back forward and backward. A feeble attempt to work the kinks out of the muscles he supposed. He was extremely sore from having sat in the same unmoving position for a large amount of time. He retreated towards the back of the Shadow, stopping at the galley to fix himself a bite to eat. Luke sat down at the table, pulling out the datapad he'd had stored nearby and proceeded to access it as he waited for his food.
The Grand Master worked through the information, his eyes blurring slightly. As long as I'm here… He swiped a finger along the same, zooming it outward. I suppose I could visit some of my old haunts. He smiled bitterly. "What am I doing here?" He wondered out loud, sounding frustrated.
He could feel the beginning of migraine coming on and used his thumb and forefinger to massage his temples. His returned to the 'pad and narrowed his search to Beggar's Canyon. He bit his lip, considering it. Then he brought up the area for the Judland Wastes. It was such a horrendously tragic place, a place that teamed nightly with Tusken Raiders and brought forth to Luke's mind other horrifying revelations.
Yes, this place was filled with horrible memories, but it was also the origin of his family.
It was where he had gotten his start. Not only him, but his father and his grandmother. It was where his parents had first met.
The food processor dinged and Luke shut down the datapad, rising to retrieve his dinner.
He set the plate of dewback steak on the table in front of him and began to dig into it with less gusto than he actually felt. It was too late to go anywhere today; he'd head out at first light.
Several minutes later, Luke pushed the plate aside and retreated to his quarters. He felt extremely tired, feeling the toll his weakened immune system was having on his body. He'd never felt so exhausted in all his life.
"If only it were just fatigue.." He murmured, knowing it was something all together different.
He entered the cabin and stripped his clothes, tossing them at the end of the bed. He pulled out his sleeping pants out of his bag and slipped them on. The Jedisat down on the edge of the bed, staring at the cabin's plain walls. He breathed in the air as if he could still smell the scent of his wife's presence in the room.
A chill ran through him, and Luke opted to wear a top as well. I almost forgot how cold it can be at night.
Luke stood up and crossed quickly over to the small clothes compartment, his bare feet padding lightly over the cold floor. He pulled a sleeping tunic off one of the shelves and shrugged it on before returning to the bed. Climbing into bed, he burrowed beneath the covers, said, "Lights off."
The cabin shrank into darkness and the Jedi willed himself to sleep. Early to bed, early to rise.. He thought as he drifted off. Story of my life…
.."So, what do we do now?" Corran asked, as Ben began shutting down the Shooter.
"We'll stay in town…" He got up and started heading back to staterooms. "Too dangerous to go out tonight. If dad is here already, no doubt he's settled in for the night anyhow."
"Is there any place to lodge here?"
"Not likely." He stopped in the main galley and started the caf machine. "We'll have to stay on the ship."
Corran slid into a seat, waiting for the caf. "When, light hits…"
"We start out looking for him.." He finished.
"Any idea where?"
"C'mon, CorSec….Where would you head if you were Luke Skywalker, visiting his home planet?"
The older Jedi retrieved sweet buns from the baker and proceeded to eat one. He chewed on it thoughtfully for a few seconds then set it down.
"I suppose I'd visit my old home."
The other nodded. "Exactly what I was thinking…If he's not there..." Ding. He reached over and started pouring two cups of caf. "We'll head to his other stomping grounds."
"Haven't figured that one out yet." Ben grinned and swiped a sweet bun from Corran.
Corran rolled his eyes.
The younger Jedi handled the cups with one hand and crammed the sweet bun into his mouth. He set them down on the table and slid into the seat across from Corran. Sharing one last look with the Corellian, they focused on eating the pastries. When they were finished, they cleaned the galley, filling their cups up one last time.
Ben was staring off into space, a far off look in his eyes.
Corran watched him, but said nothing.
It was obvious to him that the man was deep in thought. Probably worrying about his father. Gnawing over the fact that Luke had been keeping a secret from him. Dreading the prospect of his father's declining health. Asking himself what he had done to drive his father away, to distrust him. And possibly questioning if Luke had the mental capacity left to make any rational decisions at all.
At least, that was what Corran was beginning to wonder himself. Luke seemed all right, but he was doing and saying all sorts of things that were completely out of character-and at the same time in character-for him.
He studied Ben.
"I need to know…why my father is doing the things he's doing, Corran. I can handle anything else the Force throws at me, but I have to know the reason." The younger Jedi spoke up.
Corran got up, returning his cup to the sink.
"Well.." He dust his hands off. "We'll find out tomorrow. Until then I'm turning in, and you should too. It's been a long three days." He patted Ben's shoulder.
"In a bit. Good night, Master Horn." He said quietly.
..Luke woke up early the next morning, when the light had just touched the edge of the horizon. He was surprised that he had fallen asleep so early attributing it to his exhausted state. He walked to the forward end of the ship, stepping up into the cockpit, still clad in his sleep wear and treading the ground with his bare feet. He rubbed his eyes with the heal of his hands and retrieved his robe from the co-pilots chair. He stared at the tightly woven cloth and draped it over his arm, turning back.
Instead of heading back to his room or the galley he went to the hatch and hit the button for the ramp. With a hand up to his mouth, Luke yawned, and waited for the ramp to lower. A faint bit of light cast itself into the Shadow. The Jedi Master stepped out onto the ramp, and sill feeling the biting cold, slipped his robe on for additional warmth. He walked a ways down, noting the dusky yet faint golden hue cast upon the sand. He felt bits of sand brush over his feet and turned his gaze towards the east. One of Tatooine's twins suns, began to peak over the horizon-its companion not doubt right behind it.
As cold as it was at night, Luke knew that the sun would be merciless. It was best to leave as soon as possible. He eyed the scene for a moment later, scanning the horizon for womp-rats then returned to the ship. He hit the button once more to seal the hatch and walked back to his quarters.
He dressed quickly for the day, pulling on a light cream-colored tunic and beige trousers. He headed back to the galley and started to make himself a cup of hot chocolate to bolster his stamina. Luke extracted his datapad from his pouch and pinpointed the site he would visit first.
"Beggar's Canyon." He murmured with a slight smile.
Good as a place to start as any.
.Flying low over the dusty planet, Luke piloted his StealthX towards the natural outcropping known as Beggar's Canyon, the twin suns beaming down upon the surface. It was a place where he'd spent many days of his youth; racing skyhoppers with his friends and just generally hanging out when he wasn't heading into Anchorhead. He contemplated traveling to his old hangout first, but had decided that it would probably be too crowded for his tastes-and populated with youth if it was anything like it was back then. He chuckled softly at this thought as his fighter coasted steadily over the sands. Was he really getting as old as that, to be complaining about teenagers?
I'd be kidding myself if I wasn't.
He didn't mind be surrounded by young people, the Temple was swarming with them. It was just his general desire to distance himself from the crowds at this moment.
He watched as Begga'sr Canyon loomed into view, the sun just reaching the tops of the canyon walls. He glanced around debating on where to land and became wry as another thought popped into his mind. "Sand People.." His eyes scanned the surrounding area. He'd have to be careful no matter where he landed. There was always a possibility of being ambushed anywhere within the canyon. And Luke wasn't so old as to be a fool as well.
Luke settled for landing on the canyon floor. He angled the StealthX, pushing the yoke downward and slight to the left, his wings tipping as if in salute. He dipped lower the canyon's walls engulfing his fighter and shutting him from outside view. Then, when he was about to set her down, a new thought occurred to him, and
Luke jerked the stick back, applying more power to his fighter. He kicked the thrusters and proceeded to barrel down the canyon, speeding around the corners at a
tilt. He wasn't entirely sure what was happening or what possessed him to act this way, but still he pressed onward, veering off to the right. He applied the
thrusters a bit more, teeth clenched as he dove under the rock wall into a cavern known as Diablo Cut. He turned the fighter on its diagonally momentarily to avoid low rock out-croppings, and his mind flashed back to a similar scene when he was a youth of sixteen. He had been called crazy then, he supposed he was still crazy to this day. A slow grin crept over his face. But he didn't care.
In a standard size, the XJ fighter would have barely fit, but the smaller StealthX counterpart was able to fit in tight spaces such as this. He flipped the fighter back to its belly, zig-zagging it along the length of the cavern before bursting back into daylight! The StealthX rejoined the main passage of the canyon, hurtling onward. Luke pulled back and let the vessel rise, picking up speed as it went. He brought the fighter into a harsh left, looping it inward in order to head back the way he'd come.
He zoned back out.
He was now sitting in the cockpit of the T-16 Skyhopper with his friend, Windy hanging over his shoulder with his fingers digging into the back of the seat for dear life. He remembered him uttering how crazy Luke was and that he was going to get them both killed. That was when he had first successfully threaded the Stone Needle in a ploy to beat Fixer.
Luke snapped out of his reverie, realizing that he was coming in too low. A large rock surface loomed up beneath him. It was no Stone Needle but it would get him killed if he didn't pull up in time. On instinct he jerked the yoke first back then kicked the StealthX to the port. He avoided the stone wall and flew over Beggars
Canyon for a few more moments, before he brought himself to a landing.
He sat there for a brief amount of time, and breathed raggedly. I must be going crazy. He felt over himself as if checking to see if he was unharmed. When he was satisfied he was, Luke powered down the StealthX. He undid his crash webbing and popped open the canopy, vaulting out of cockpit onto the fighter's wing then from the wing to the dusty, stone floor.
The Jedi stripped his gloves off his hands, smacking them against a thigh as he took in his surroundings. He continued to breath heavily, his heart rate still speeding up from the adrenaline rush.
"Well, that was...fun." He mumbled and brushed his bangs off his forehead.
Luke moved to push himself off the fighter, when a sudden pain seized his body this time coming from his chest area instead of his stomach. He felt as if his lungs were closing up and he fought to breath then started to cough raucously. He covered his mouth as in on instinct, with one hand braced on the fighter. The attack soon passed and Luke drew himself back up, staring into his palm horrified.
Ben turned around to look at him. "What would you have me do, Corran, drag him back home kicking and screaming like a child?"
YES GOSH DARN IT!
Oh Lukie. I simultaneously want to give you a hug and a slap upside the head.
Per the prior update, I was hoping R2 would make it but woot! Corran convincing Ben was fun to read Ack!!!!! That last scene with Luke was !!
Note: I would just like to say, any scene referencing Luke's memories on Tatooine, in the last chapter or this chapter, are drawn from the book, A New Hope: the Life of Luke Skywalker. These are actual scenes and actual occurrences from the book. Just wanted to set that straight.
Briannakin: I know just remember he's currently no in his right mind at the moment.
Jade_eyes: Yes, that part is....worth worrying over. It really was a stroke of genius on my part. Came up with it spur of the moment.
Now, let's see if I can get these tags to work today:
. .Part 10Ben coasted the rented landspeeder along the vast desert sands, scanning the area for his father's old homestead. He listened to R2 make small warbles in the back seat, the sound of his dome swiveling.
"We should be getting closer…" Corran spoke up, a datapad in his lap.
"Should." Ben sighed. "This place is sure out in the boonies."
"Yeah…I'd only heard of this place. Never actually been here." He glanced at the scenery. "Nothing but endless sand…no wonder Luke hated this place. There's not much to see is there?"
"That's for sure."
The last leg of their trip lasted five minutes before they finally were able to see the outline of several stone domes in the distance. Another giant hulking structure rested beside it them.
"What have we have here?" He fished in his pouch and brought out a pair of macrobinoculars. Raising them up to his face, he looked through them.
"I see a ship."
"Dad's?" Ben asked, squinting to see.
"Possibly. It's pretty huge…" He put away the binoculars. "Don't see why anyone else would land all the way out here.
They steadily approached the homestead with Ben completely focused on the starship. Corran could tell that the other Jedi was anxious but he was trying to mask it. He knew Ben desired to push the speeder faster. Surprisingly though, he restrained, maintaining the pace. The structure of the Shadow loomed larger and larger as he approached, and seemed to tower over them as they finally pulled up alongside it. Ben craned his neck to look up at the gigantic hull of his father's ship. He brought the speeder to a stop and powered it down before climbing out of it.
Corran did likewise and began walking around the perimeter of it. The younger Jedi walked clockwise and was halted by the shrill whistle of R2-D2. "Ah, sorry, Artoo." He extended a hand and gifted the droid out of the speeder with the Force. R2 gave a loud shrill of gratitude when he touched the ground.
"So, smart thing to do is for us to split up."
Ben nodded and gestured Corran in the opposite direction. "You search the homestead, I'll check the Shadow."
"Taking the easy way huh?" The Corellian said with a grin.
"You can handle it." He walked past the man and headed for the Shadow's hatch..
Ben stood in front the hatch, narrowing his eyes, and then punched in the code. He listened as the locking mechanism released and stepped back as the ramp lowered. "You never change, Dad." He shook his head.
He started up the ramp as soon as it touched the sands. Once within the starship, he contemplated which area he should check first and opted for the main recreational area. He stalked down the corridor, coming upon the large room and checked out the galley. Ben crossed over, noting the empty mug placed near the food processor. He picked it up and sniffed at it. A sweet smell wafted into his nostrils: chocolate. He then dipped his finger into the mug, running it through what was left of the drink. It wasn't hot, but it wasn't cold either. The best way Ben could describe it as tepid.
He placed it back on the counter and turned toward the passenger cabins. His father's cabin was at the far back, next to the passageway to the hangar. He laid his hand on the slap pad and waited for the door to slide open before entering the room. It was just how he had remembered, very sparse, uniform, drab…
And now very empty.
He approached the bed and spotted evidence of his father's presence. He ran his fingers along the forest green blanket, eyeing the matching pillow set. The bed was properly made with the blankets and sheets tucked in a very militaristic style. Every personal item was tucked into its proper place. A robe hung over a chair that was positioned in front of a computer terminal. A medium sized travel bag was tucked under the metal beside table. At the foot of the bed were a pair of unused blue slippers.
His father's closet was properly shut and the drawers closed. He reached over and slid open the closest door. Nothing was out of place to him. He closed the compartment and exited the room.
He stretched out with the Force, but only felt an emptiness. He frowned, worried then took the access lift to the small hold. The inside illumination panels flickered on as Ben stepped onto the deck. The Shadow was completely empty. He cursed openly then started back up the access, yanking his comlink off his belt. He pressed the button, "Corran, come in."
He waited and heard nothing but silence.
"Corran, come in." Ben waited before speaking again, "Master Horn, are you there?"
"Horn here. Sorry about that."
Ben didn't allow the man to speak further. "Dad's not here." He was now back in the passenger corridor. He started to make his way to the front hatch. "Dad's not here anymore. I repeat dad's not here anymore. The StealthX is gone."
He turned off the link, and quickly made his way down the ramp, sealing the ship on his way out. Corran was just coming up out of one of the small domes. He started to cross back over to the landspeeder. "Are you sure?" He asked.
"Where to now?"
Ben frowned and began to rack his brain.
"While you're thinking, I'll drive." The Corellian announced and leapt into the pilot's seat. Surprisingly, the younger Jedi didn't argue this point, but instead walked around the speeder and got in. He cast a brief glance at the other, a signal for him to start moving. But in which direction should they start heading? If they took off without considering where, they could very easily be flying blind. There was a forlorn whistle and Corran looked back, watching R2-D2 mill about nervously, he had waited patiently for his master. "Hold on a sec." Corran said. "Artoo, start scanning the area for any lifeforms." Ben looked at him and shrugged.
The little droid whistled eagerly. He popped out his scanning dish out of a small opening on his dome and began to search the surrounding area immediately. He tweedled and seemed to sing to himself as he went about his task. Ben looked upon the astromech, his shoulders bunched anxiously. He wanted to say to hell with it and just go. The more he sat around here, the worse he started to feel. Dread tore at him inwardly; eating at him.
Calm. A Jedi must be calm…patient… Nothing good ever came from being reckless.
He jerked his head up as R2 let out excited trill.
"He's found something?"
"Think so, but who knows…There's got to be other lifeforms out here besides the Grand Master."
He saw Ben nod, as if pausing to think. Then he held out his hand and demanded, "Datapad."
The Jedi Master picked it up from the crook of the seat and passed it over to him. Ben kept one eye on the datapad as he scrolled through the map with the other fixated on the R2 unit. He considered the direction the dish had stopped and compared it to the map at hand. His traced his finger, dragging the image to the left. His eyes fixated on an area he thought might be a possibility. Shutting the data pad, he threw it back to Corran.
"We're heading for Beggar's Canyon." He said, answering Corran's unspoken question. "I've got a strong hunch that's where we're going to find him." He powered up the speeder.
Corran, realizing Ben would blast out of there without the little droid, lifted R2-D2 back into the speeder and braced himself as the younger Jedi applied power.
"Are you sure?"
"It's the only logical explanation. Only logical choice. Dad use to race sky hoppers with his friends when he was a teenager. I just don't know why I didn't think of it before." He shook his head.
"Let's hope you're right."
..Luke looked upon the small dark red stain upon his hand and suddenly became pale. His mind reeled at the sight of his own blood beginning to coagulate. He walked numbly forward and collapsed onto a flat rock. He kept his gaze fixed on the flecks of blood.
He recovered after a moment of stunned silence and attempted to rid the blood from his hand. Just then the hair rose on the back of his neck and the Jedi felt his danger sense spike. He turned just in time to see the gaffi stick of a ferocious Tusken Raider descending on him. Luke vaulted forward and pivoted in place, whipping his wife's saber off his belt and igniting the blue blade in one fluid movement. The gaffi stick came crashing down in the place he had once occupied,.
The Tusken made a shrieking sound and swung his stick horizontally, leaping off a ledge. Luke ducked the weapon's trajectory and dropped into a low dueler's crouch, driving his lightsaber in upward diagonal slash meant to cut the creature off at the knees. The creature moved but was too slow, he let out a bellowing howl of pain, and stumbled backwards. Sensing another presence converging upon him, Luke swung around, coming up from his crouch and met an angry Tusken head on. He made a horizontal slash, feinted to the left, and brought up a well-placed boot into his opponent's torso.
His whole being began to feel drained even from the slight motions he'd put himself through. It tore at him and he breathed heavy as the pain and sapped energy amplified. Luke drew on the Force to bolster his body, before pivoting around. He dodged one gaffi stick and sliced downward through another and drove a Force-enhanced elbow blow into the Tusken's face. He pulled back in time avoid another opponent as the Tusken drove a hacking blow at him , and Force-leapt backwards onto the nose of his StealthX. Luke's body seemed to sing in unison with his blade. He watched vigilantly as his opponents closed in on him.
Sand People startle easily. He heard Ben Kenobi's voice in his ear.
He drew an inward smile then stretched outward with the Force; he sought to invade and confuse their minds. The Jedi Master projected an image of a large, red Krayt dragon that towered over the diminutive StealthX. It had a narrow cranium with two sharp horns protruding from its bony skull ridge and a mouth full of razor-sharp teeth. The Tuskens turned tail and fled in terror.
Luke sighed and shut down his weapon. He breathed heavily, glancing around to make sure the Tuskens had indeed left. He wiped his brow on his sleeve and squeezed the lightsaber tightly.
"Thank you, Sweetheart."
He sat down on the nose of the starfighter, crossing his legs, and rested the lightsaber in his lap. He sat there taking in the scenery. Nothing much had changed,
Tatooine was still the place he'd remember from his youth. Especially as far as getting in trouble went. And it always seemed to find him whether or not he went looking for it. Both times he'd found trouble he was saved by Obi-wan "Ben" Kenobi. The first, was when he and Windy had gone out to Ja-Mero in an attempt to prove to the others that they weren't afraid. They had come upon a Krayt dragon and Windy's poor pet dewback Huey had become the creature's meal. The second time, he had been looking for a certain astromech…and well, the rest as they say, was history.
He heaved a sigh, shaking his head. No use dwelling on the past, even if the memories he was recalling were fond. Luke got up from his cross-legged position and jumped back into the cockpit. He noticed he was missing his gloves and peered over the edge. They were lying on the ground with dirt and sand covering them. He contemplated getting out to get them. He could easily by another, but those were his favorite pair. His wife had bought them for him. The Jedi climbed back out to retrieve them. He picked them up, regarding them warmly and then tucked them under his belt. He climbed back up and slid into the cockpit once more before extracting the gloves from his waist. After slipping them back on, he powered up closed the cockpit and powered up the StealthX.
He didn't know where he would go.
.Luke powered down his starfighter for the second time that day. He stepped out onto a vast, sandy area known as the Judland Wastes. He wasn't sure what had possessed him to come here since the Wastes were the most dangerous area on Tatooine. In fact, he hadn't even been aware of his arrival to the Wastes until he had flown over it. It was almost as if he'd been in a trance up until the moment. He left his gloves on this time. He walked onto an area that was very familiar to him, though he couldn't say why. It was empty except for the remains of what appeared to be a camp. Very old remains. It was nearly non-existent and Luke wouldn't have judged it to be a camp at all if he hadn't seen what he saw; carefully placed rocks, splintered pieces of tent poles, and outlining where fire pits had been.
Luke lowered the macrobinoculars from his eyes and stuffed them back in his pouch. He brought out the canteen and took a drink before starting over to the camp. He made a point to skirt along the edge of the area, being careful not to disturb the site. There's something familiar about this place…
It was a Tusken Raider camp.
He saw the same site this time with the poles still in tact, crossed at a juncture that more resembled the tent it was supposed to form. Hanging from the poles, were tatters of fabric. The fire pits were more clearly formed, with stones circled about them.
I've been here.
He stepped onto the site, this time not minding where he stepped. An electric feeling shot through` his body and suddenly he began to feel sick as the electricity warped into a dark current which enveloped him. He braced himself to keep the feeling from knocking him off balance. What was this coldness he felt?
He had felt it then too, he recalled, that horrid feeling that something dark had occurred at the Tusken campsite. And when he had felt it, he had pulled away, recoiling from the touch of darkness and had urged Biggs and he to get back to Anchorhead immediately.
Luke pulled himself out of his reverie and stepped back outside of the area. His hand reached up to grasp his tunic, clutching the fabric in his fingers. He backed away and headed back to his StealthX, in a hurry to escape the site. Suddenly, he felt his vision sway, felt as if the ground was bucking beneath his feet, and his mind went completely hazy. The world seemed to tilt and then all went dark for Luke Skywalker.
..Corran cast a sideways glance at Ben. The younger Jedi was tapping his foot irritated and muttering something about a stupid old man. The Corellian shrugged inwardly, knowing the man cared very deeply about his father and that if said anything improper it was because he was worried.
"Calm down, Ben.."
"He wasn't there, Corran. Where could he be?" He snapped, pounding a fist against the speeder' side.
Corran winced; the landspeeder was only a rental and if been continued to throw a man-sized tantrum he'd never get his deposit back.
"He was there. There were tell tale sighs." It wasn't an exaggeration, there had been plenty of those. Mostly the evidence lay in the gaffi stick strewn about one side part of the canyon. Sticks, that upon further inspection, appeared to have been cut with a laser-type weapon.
Ben hade automatically flipped out. He had started to ramble about how much danger Luke could be in, how hurt he could be, or even dead. It would have been amusing to see a grown man loose his mind, if not for the seriousness of the subject at hand.
"I'm sure he's fine." He assured for the umpteenth time.
"You don't know that, Master." Ben sounded incredibly shaken.
"Maybe…" Corran conceded. "But worrying about all the negatives aspects isn't going to help. Look at yourself, Ben."
Ben looked down upon his hands and noticed them shaking. It was a natural response wasn't it? How was he suppose to act when he thought his father's life might be in peril? He couldn't help it anymore then he could stop breathing. Tears threatened to spill. His throat closed up as he willed himself not to cry.
Please, let him be all right. I don't care…
His thoughts were cut short when a bolt of spiritual energy jolted through him and he felt the Force yawn open then fall hollow. His father's presence erupted
brightly and sharply, and dropped off just as quickly. Ben reached out for Luke but could feel nothing; only a void where his father had been.
He released a quick breath as if he had been holding it.
"Corran, step on it." Ben urged. "We have to hurry."
"Just go! I can't feel him…" He whispered this last part.
He could hear a voice that sounded a lot like his son's shouting through the haze that was his mind. Luke struggled to call out to his son, to rise from the darkness but he wasn't able to. He listened as feet approached him rapidly, skidding to a halt. He faded in and out of consciousness; vaguely aware that someone was cradling Luke's head in their hand.
"Dad, hold on. Aw, Force…" His son sounded on the verge of crying. "Corran, I found him! Bring the speeder. Oh, Force…. Don't worry, Dad, we'll get you back to the Shadow." He assured.
..It had been like some sort of nightmare, Ben reasoned with himself. He and Corran had followed Ben's hunch and arrived at an open area in the Judland Wastes. He had reached out for his father's presence and this time felt a faint Force energy where the void had been. His father had been lying on his side on the sandy ground, seemingly uninjured. When Ben had found him, he'd been unconscious and still was, but his heart remained strong. He felt the pulse of his father's life beneath his hand as one had cradled his head while the other rested on his chest. He remembered Corran trying to shake him out of his stupor as he stared at Luke's prone form.
"Get a hold of yourself, kid."
Ben looked upon Luke, his father's head was rested against his side, positioned on the seat as comfortable as Ben could make it for him. The older man remained unmoving, a steady rise of his chest the only proof that he was still alive.
"How much longer?"
"Shouldn't be too long." Corran checked over his shoulder briefly.
The rest of the ride back to the Lars homestead was deathly quiet.
When they arrived, it was a bit past noon. Ben had been ready to carry Luke to the Shadow when Corran insisted that it was better to lay him down in one of the Shooter's staterooms. The younger Skywalker laid Luke out on his bed, working to pull off his father's boots. He struggled to unbuckle the utility belt and pack from the man's waist before tucking the older man in. He walked over to his private refresher and plucked a basin from beneath the sink, filling it. He then got a washcloth off of one of the small linen shelves and took both it and the basin back to the bedroom.
Ben set the basin down on the bedside table and pulled up a chair close to the bed. He soaked the washcloth in water and rung it out, using it to clean away the dust and sand from his father's face. He looked down upon the other man, noting his facial features once the dirt had been wiped away. They were worn and wry, but not sickly like he expected them to be considering the circumstances. His hair was past the point of being blond anymore. It had grayed instead of turning white-yet one could still see a few golden strands peeking through. He ran his hand across his father's forehead, brushing away silver locks off his forehead.
"Ben.." A voice called out behind him.
Ben turned in his seat and looked up at Corran Horn.
"Yes? What is it?"
He waved him on, beckoning him to follow.
The younger Jedi dropped the cloth in the basin and turned to leave, casting a fleeting look over his shoulder. His father slept on. Ben got to his feet and followed Corran to the lounge area.
"I wouldn't say wrong." He walked over to a small comstation. "I received a transmission from Clighal I think you should hear." He pressed the button.
The recording started to play; it was audio only, though the Mon Cal's voice was unmistakable.
Ben, I hope this message finds you well. I have been able to have Ghent over and had him hack through the encryption code on the data chip you father left behind. On it, we found information related your father's health. This information comes from a slew of doctor's reports and medical tests.
I have further analyzed this information and have found that the doctor's findings are mostly inconclusive. I cannot, however, dismiss them entirely. Master Skywalker has been suffering from a strange debilitating ailment for over the last six standard months, though his doctor, Derling Regis has been unable to explain
it. The best initial classification the doctor can give the ailment is that Master Skywalker is suffering from an extremely weakened immune system that is compromising the rest of his physiology. He claims that this too is unusual and cannot be properly diagnosed. He reports no viral infection that he can see of.
He does note that in addition to the weakened immune system, the Master has suffered severe trauma to his abdomen and chest region. Both of which are past injuries. Scarring on the muscles and organs is evident though he is once more unable to give proper diagnosis for them.
"Force lightening.." Ben whispered.
The trauma to his abdomen is of specific note, though he admits he finds it to be mostly healed-an old wound. He finds no trace of an infection of any kind once more. Upon further inspection of the medical test reports and of several imaging files, I have noted the regions which the doctor has reported on. I have taken special consideration of the abdomen trauma and noticed an odd scarring anomaly in his right flank. It is mostly healed though remains quite evident. I confess
I'm not sure how the doctor overlooked it, but admit it is understandable. The anomaly appears to be very imperceptible at first.
I find this old wound to be most interesting, and have deduced many hypotheses as to the cause and effect of this trauma. Though without your father present, I cannot run any comparison tests.
Further reports, most recent ones, note the state of your father's cells. Those in the body and the brain. The doctor reports that there are a great amount of cellule bodies that are either withered away or non-existent. Much more than he concludes is possible or normal. The reason for the dead or non-existent cells is inconclusive. He does concede that the missing cells could now be a great factor in the Master's overall physiological decomposition.
Due to the inconclusive nature behind the cells, he is unable to properly give treatment to such an anomaly.
This is a recent direct quote from Doctor Regis: Cellule diagnosis is inconclusive. I will be keeping further tabs on Master Skywalker's debilitating condition.
Another quote: Master Skywalker seems to be suffering from a severe chemical imbalance to the brain. He becomes quite emotional during the visits, his moods frequently swinging to opposite ends of the spectrum. He has displayed forgetfulness at times, and extreme irrational at others. This is especially true during my discussions with him concerning his son.
His reports go only as far as these last notes. It is my opinion that Dr. Regis was on the right path as far as the cellule explanation goes. Drawing on my professional expertise, I believe that the degeneration of the Master's cells have a high correlation with his debilitative state. I attribute these cellule anomalies to the extended and strenuous use of the Force over the years.
I hope this information is of use to you.
The recording ended there.
"Well…." Corran turned to look at him.
"What did you think?'
"Well," He began to stroke the tuft of hair at his chin. "After listening to it for the second time, I have to agree with Master Clighal's diagnosis."
"You think the Force is….killing my father." His tone held much skepticism.
"I realize it sounds crazy…but it's a very good explanation. Too good to be only coincidental." The Corellian Jedi made his way to his seat. "Luke has always been very powerful. It was his destiny, being the son of the Chosen One. He always held an extreme amount of responsibility because of that destiny, and his strong connection to the Force allows him to shoulder that responsibility like no one else ever could."
Ben sat down.
He continued on: "But that destiny does have its bleak spots…." He looked into Ben's eyes. "You as well as I know, Ben, that throughout the years, your father has always burned strong in the Force, but he has burned in a different way as well…burned through the Force to be more precise. What with his extensive use of it during his seventy-three years as a practicing Jedi, he has performed marvelous feats, cast astounding Fallanasi illusions, performed a variety ancient Jedi techniques, and mastered many martial arts styles as well as the skills of other Force users."
"I see." Ben muttered, but couldn't help but feel the painful weight on his chest. "No wonder…" He slouched. "He's always pushed himself so hard over the years.
More than any other Jedi. It does make sense. His body just couldn't take it anymore, am I getting that right?"
He scoffed. "So, this great connection to the Force my father has exercised all his life, that has been "burning through his body" each time he's used the Force, has been slowly destroying him." Ben shook his head and gave a sour smile. "Isn't that justice."
Corran said nothing. He knew nothing he could say would help Ben see the situation any different than how he saw at the moment. Because at the moment, the younger man was seeing nothing but the morbid irony. That the father who he looked up to and adored, who had spent his lifetime safe guarding and fighting for the sanctity of the galaxy and its beings, was slowly dying because of who he was and what he could do. Could he really blame the kid?
Ben shook his head bitterly. "This…is so messed up, I don't know what more to say." He got up and began to back away toward his cabin. "Hero of the Rebellion saves the galaxy time and time and again…but in the long run…who can save him?" He turned on his heel. "Now if you'll excuse me…that man in there needs me." He hurried on with the final whispered mutterings being this is one big karking joke.
Ben entered the cabin and kicked the door frame angrily. He winced, and looked over his shoulder, hoping he hadn't woken his father. As much as he wanted Luke to open his eyes and talk to him, he wanted him to get as much rest as he could, for it was obvious his father hadn't been taking the best care of himself. He dropped down upon the stool, shoulders sagging and head drooping between his legs, with his forearms resting on his thighs. He cupped his head in hands, tugging at locks of red-gold and ground his teeth in distraught misery.
"Dad….why didn't you tell me…even if…"
A ragged sob erupted from his throat.
A calm touch then caressed him and Ben jerked his head up, and stared upon his father's sleeping form. Luke had his eyes wide open, looking kindly upon his son. His hands remained where they had been. Ben realized his father had reached out with the Force to touch him. To comfort him.
"Hello, Ben…" His father breathed.
The younger Jedi broke down once more. Oh, the cruel and stupid irony.
Brilliant Very intriguing and unique medical problem/condition. Ben continues to be marvelously portrayed He needs a
Another quote: Master Skywalker seems to be suffering from a severe chemical imbalance to the brain. He becomes quite emotional during the visits, his moods frequently swinging to opposite ends of the spectrum. He has displayed forgetfulness at times, and extreme irrational at others. This is especially true during my discussions with him concerning his son.
That explains much. I feel so bad for Ben right now. Excellent post.
@Jade_eyes, Thanks, I was hoping it sounded really medical. I tried to make it sound realistic as possible. He does need a hug, even though Luke can't help it Ben still worries.
@Briannakin, It does. And I do too. I think its worst though as you get to the end.
..Part 11Ben waited for Luke to go back to sleep before he returned to the lounge. "Now what?" He huffed.
"I can't interrogate him now obviously. You heard Clighal. You saw him! His mind is so messed up, I'm beginning to think he might not be doing all this consciously. Telling us, I mean." He collapsed in the booth. "All this time, I thought he was being deliberate…acting like his old martyr self…when in reality he couldn't help it even
if he tried. He's sick…" Ben bit his lip.
"And when I saw him, lying on the ground…I felt so ill." He knuckled a tear away. "I may be an adult, but he's still my father, Corran. I'm still going to care."
Corran laid a sympathetic hand on his shoulder.
"I know you are. No one believes you would do otherwise. And I know he knows how you feel. That you love him and care for him very deeply."
"But I can't help him." he ground out. "I can care…but I can do nothing to ease his suffering." The younger Jedi balled his fists.
"Regardless… He still has you. He has us. He has his friends, family, and comrades. He has the Jedi Order. He's not going to have to face this alone." Corran assured.
Ben turned his tear-streaked face up.
"We can face this head on with him. Let him lean on us. And whatever comes this way…knowing what we know now will only make our efforts stronger." He gave Ben's shoulder an encouraging squeeze.
"The question is, Ben….are you ready to meet it?"
He stared at the Corellian for a few moments then nodded his head resolutely. Determination burned behind his eyes blue depths.
"I am." He said, his voice a tad hoarse.
"Good. He needs your strength now most of all."
"Yes…I have to be strong… Force knows he's not capable of it anymore."
He looked toward the cabin door.
"So how do we go about this?"
"That's your call, my friend."
"I don't want to pressure him, but I have to know. Anything." Ben set his jaw then proceeded to gnaw on his lower lip.
"Then the best way to do it, is to ease him into it."
"You mean, let him address it."
"And if he doesn't?"
"He will." Corran said assertively
Ben grinned. "Confident are we?"
"A little confidence never hurt." He shrugged. "Besides, its not being overly confident considering that your presence will compel him to speak."
"I hope your right. The last thing I want to do is try to drag it out of him like I have been." He squeezed his eyes shut. "I feel like such a fool…" He bowed his head contritely.
"Don't. You couldn't have known. Anyone in your position would have acted the same way."
"I think though we need some extra help." He said.
Corran raised an curious brow. "Help?"
"Yes, we need to com Clighal and get her to come here as soon as she can. I don't know how much time he has left, Corran." He got up. "I'm going to go check in on dad."
The Master opened his mouth to protest but quickly shut it. The boy needed this, and Luke needed him. He left them to each other. Ben was the greatest comfort for his father at this place in time. He watched as Ben retreated to the cabin, the door slowly shutting behind him, and he accepted the task that the younger Jedi had left to him. He headed for the comstation.
Corran punched in the numeric code to link him across the galaxy to the healer. He waited patiently for the Mon Cal to pick up her receiving end-and was rewarded ten seconds later when her large head blinked into view with large fish-like eyes looking upon him.
"Master Horn, I see that the information has found you."
Cilghal didn't seem the least bit surprised. She seemed ready. As if she had known he would com her.
"Yes, Master Cilghal. Thank you."
The Master-healer waved him off. "It was the least I could do, what with all Master Skywalker has done for me-and for this galaxy. I felt I owed him this much." She paused. "But I sense this is not why you have commed me."
Corran smiled warmly. "You are most perceptive, Master Clighal as ever."
The Mon Cal remained silent on her end, looking upon the other Master expectantly. She waited for him to speak further.
"We need you. That is, Luke needs you. It's important that you come to Tatooine right away. Ben fears his father doesn't have…" He paused as if considering the weight of his words. "… much time."
The healer slowly nodded. "I see." Her lips vibrated as she seemed to contemplate this. "If Ben believes that I will be of use, than I will come. The Temple can do without me for a few days…" She left the rest unsaid.
Corran knew the meaning behind the unspoken words.
The Temple could, but the Master couldn't.
He spoke up: "We looked forward to your arrival then."
"May the Force be with you." He offered in parting.
"May the Force be with all of us…"
..Luke found himself walking in a haze. He approached a small lake, much like the one he'd seen many years ago, but he was positive he wasn't mind-walking. He stopped by it and looked out over it, wondering what he was doing there. What had brought him to this lake? A shiver went up his spine as he felt a familiar presence brush against him. He turned in place as a soft voice entered his ear, "Luke."
His wife stood behind him with her red-gold hair laying in cascades across her shoulders and back. Her face seemed ageless with brilliant emerald orbs looking at him lovingly. "Luke." She whispered.
Luke's heart caught in his throat. "M-Mara…sweetheart." He walked forward tentatively, to enfold her in his arms, but she stepped back shaking her head. The Jedi Grand Master stopped. He was so confused and hurt. What did this mean? Did Mara not want him?
"Don't look at me that way, Farmboy…"
"Don't be so quick to jump into my arms yet. You'll find your way eventually…Then, I'll be happy to welcome you."
He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.
She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear and looked over her shoulder.
Mara turned back to meet his gaze. "Sorry, Farmboy… I can't stay much longer. Just be patient okay." She reached out, running her hand over his face gently.
"You're good at that. It was always one of your more annoying traits." She smiled. "Hang on, love."
He reached up to grasp her hand but she was gone before he even completed the action.
The Jedi was left alone, standing in the mists of the lake.
..Ben watched his father worriedly. He chewed at his lower lip nervously, twiddling his thumbs as he did. Noticing this nervous habit, he stopped at once and set to tapping his fingers against his knees instead. Then when he found out that was equally unnerving he put a stop to that as well, simply bracing his hands on his legs.
He took in his father's sleeping form, praying that Luke would wake up. Every moment that his father spent sleeping was every moment Ben feared he would slip further and further into death. He feared his father might slip into an eternal coma and never wake from it. That Luke's body would die without Ben even being aware of what had taken place.
Not being able to keep his hands still anymore, he reached out to grasp his father's right hand, the prosthetic one. He clasped it in between both of his and held onto it tenderly. He willed his father to wake, and began unconsciously pouring his own Force aura into his father. When his father didn't rouse, a dull, heavy weight settled over Ben's chest, as if his heart was sagging. He hung his head in distress.
He sat there for a few more minutes. Then, when he was convinced sitting there wasn't going to do him or his father any good, he moved to leave…. Only to find his hand tightly gripped. His head swung around, his eyes widening in alarm. He turned back and found his father had taken hold of his hand, squeezing it tightly. At first, Ben assumed it had been an involuntary reaction on his father's part, but when he looked at the Master's face, it was then he noticed the crystal-clear, blue cornea of his father's eyes.
"Mara…" He murmured.
His mother's name on his father's lips sent a ping of pain coursing into Ben's already aching heart
"Dad?" Ben leaned over to make sure he wasn't dreaming. "You awake?" He reached out and stroked his father's forehead with left hand, brushing bangs off the older man's forehead.
When his father didn't reply immediately, Ben's heart began to pound frantically in his chest.
His father finally spoke again, "Ben?" His eyes struggled to focus on his son's face.
"Yeah, Dad. It's me." He responded gently. "How do you feel?"
Luke made an effort to sit up but the Knight placed a gentle hand on his chest, urging him to lie still.
"It's okay, Dad. Just lie there."
"I'm here, Dad."
Luke's hand grasped his gently.
"What are you…" His voice trailed off.
"That's what I'd like to know." Ben said firmly yet softly.
His father laid there, looking confused for a brief moment. He worked his mouth open and closed as if trying to formulate words or at least a coherent thought. Ben waited patiently.
When his father said nothing more, he pushed forward, "I'd like to know why I'm here too, Dad. Why am I here? What's the reason I'm here? What do you know that would bring me here? Do you know, Dad? Cause I'd sure like to know." He took a breath, making himself as calm as possible. "Please…Tell me."
Luke gauged him for a few moments then attempted to sit again. Ben put a hand softly to his chest, urging him to stay, but Luke shook his head giving his son a determined stare. The younger man sighed and acquiesced, "All right. At least let me help you."
His father nodded slowly and let his son help him into a sitting position.
When Luke was sitting up properly in the bed, the blanket pulled up around his chest, he said, "I'm sorry, Ben."
"You're sorry?" He mimicked. "What are you sorry for, Dad?"
Instead of answering his question, Luke switched topic. "I never wanted you to find out. I just wanted you...to live your life. I was too scared…of what was happening.." His hand tightened on his son's.
This admission startled Ben as rarely anything frightened Luke Skywalker.
Luke raised a hand.
"I was scared…Inwardly, I felt…my mind changing. It was like I was outside looking in. I could hear myself and see my actions, but I couldn't stop them. It frightened me, Ben. I felt so helpless. I didn't want you to know, didn't want you to see me like that. I didn't…want to be a burden to you."
Ben gaped. "Burden? Dad, you could never be a burden to me. How could you think that?" His mind raced. Burden? Luke was his father and Ben loved him very much. He was many things…but a burden wasn't one of them.
Luke shook his head wryly.
"When I realized, what was happening to me….That I was becoming sick. I didn't know how sick I really was, only that I was ill. Six months ago, my body started to behave in a way I wasn't use to. I would become more easily tired. Sometimes, I would feel light-headed. Other times, I felt like my body was burning up. My body would tremble and shake so much at times that I wasn't able to stand up for extended periods of time, I would lose my grip on things. I felt often that I would collapse. That's why I went home early a few days ago. My body seemed to give out on me that day….I knew I couldn't hold myself together and that if I didn't leave for home, I would collapse right then and there. Then where would I be?"
Ben halted the retort that rose in his throat.
"In the first few months, I was determined to handle it by myself. I told myself that it was nothing and that I was just over-working myself. Too much for my age, I insisted. Then into the third month, I passed out in my office…"
Fear spiked in Ben's heart and he moved to speak. Luke held up his hand again to stop him, as if to say let me finish.
"I woke up several minutes later….At least, I thought it was minutes. I had been lying there for precisely fifteen minutes I estimated at the time. I could only thank the Force no one had come to see me. The direness of the situation sank in though, and it was then I sought out Dr. Regis." At the question in Ben's face he said,
"I couldn't go to Clighal. It had to be Regis, someone who wasn't connected to the Jedi Order. I didn't understand my reasoning at first, I just went along with it.
"The doctor ran various tests the first time and several more throughout the following months, but he was unable to find anything wrong with me. He suggested that he felt it was a combination of my age and the stress I was putting on my body, teaching at the Temple. It made sense at the time…" His thumb stroked the back of Ben's hand.
"But then things started to get weird didn't they?" Ben surmised.
"I'm not sure." Luke shook his head. "It all changed from there…I don't quite know what happened from then on. It was like I was in a dream. It might have been a nightmare though. I was terrified. I still am. Or at least, I was."
Ben titled his head with a concerned look.
"Your mother.." Luke started.
"Mom.." He narrowed his eyes. "What about mom?"
"Your mom…I was afraid….But…no longer." His statement was broken and seemingly incoherent.
Luke rested his head back on the pillow and began to close his eyes.
"Dad!" Ben jumped up and gripped his father's hand tightly.
"I just need rest, Ben. Mara…" He murmured and quietly drifted off to sleep.
Ben's heart tightened and he stood there on edge, watching Luke intently for a few minutes. When he was satisfied it was only sleep, he released his father's hand. He turned about and came face to face with Corran Horn who had quietly slipped in and was standing in the doorway.
Corran cast a glance over Ben's shoulder.
"Is he doing all right?"
Ben did the same.
"I can't say." He turned his head back, folding his arms over his chest. "How much did you hear?" In other words, how long have you been there.
"Just the last few parts." He stepped back and let Ben pass. "The one's about your mom."
Ben nodded and waited for the Master to fall in step with him.
"So now what do we do?" He asked, not expecting an answer. "He appears lucid at the moment, but I can tell he's still broken. And him mentioning mom….worries me." Ben made his way past the lounge area and walked back to the cockpit. Corran followed quietly behind, letting Ben pour out his thoughts. "It has me very much afraid for him…." He said slowly, entering the cockpit. "Though I think I fear for him more than he fears for himself." Ben eased himself into the pilot's seat. "And that frightens me even more, Corran." He sighed heavily, reclining in the chair, his fingers drumming against his knee.
"Losing him…doesn't scare me like it used to. When I was sixteen, the thought of losing my father was terrifying. I'd already lost my mother two years earlier. Its not what any boy wants to think about." He laughed bitterly. "Though, I wasn't naïve, Corran, far from it."
Corran stayed quiet, simply listening to Ben talk.
"I knew how important my father was. How vital he was to the galaxy and to the Order. I never delusioned myself into believing that his life would never be put in danger. My father would throw himself headlong into danger if it meant saving the life of another being. He wasn't reckless nor was he arrogant. There's no denying, however, that he had a deep sense of justice and an extreme respect for life unlike any Jedi I had ever known. I was still afraid though. I would have endangered my own life back then if it meant saving my father's. I think that's why I've clung to him so desperately these past years." He paused. "Yet, strangely, I no longer fear death anymore…It's not the aspect of him dying that I fear, it's the context I guess you could say. The not knowing, the suddenly finding out. That's what's scary, not the reality of death." He let out a ragged breath.
His eyes slid over to Corran as if waiting for him to speak. When he did not receive a reply to his unanswered urging, he continued:
"So where do I go from there…knowing what I do now? And will doing anything have an effect of what will come? Is it just futile…am I fighting a losing battle against the Force? I say, I'm not afraid anymore, but I still struggle against fate. I-"
Corran laid a hand on his arm.
"Very few things are within our control, Ben. It is only human that we seek to control whatever we believe we can. Now, whether we can actually do anything to change our destiny or its outcome is another matter. Still we try, regardless of the fact that what we may seek to control, cannot be controlled." He sat down. "So I don't think its futile. You're fighting for your father's life in which you may or may not make a difference in the long run, but it's not wrong to care as you do. You love your father, and that is not a struggle against the Force or fate."
Ben remained silent, staring at the darkened viewport through his lashes.
"I guess the only alternative I have is to let him go then…That's the only possibility I'm seeing." He smiled with a mixture of sorrow and bitterness. " I mean, if nothing else I do has any effect-"
He shot to his feet suddenly, cutting off his own words. His head turned aft as if hearing some silent noise. Corran could both see and feel the tense air around the boy. The feeling that he was radiating was practically electrifying. Within seconds, a change came over Ben, his body going completely rigid. He turned heel and started to walk fast out of the cockpit. Fear shot through the Force and the other Jedi could almost feel the younger man's terror. Ben picked up the pace setting off into a dead run, heading for his father's cabin.
Ben's heart lurched in his chest, every muscle burning as he exerted himself, his mind urging him to move faster. He first felt a pang of alarm come from Luke's cabin, and then panic came through their familial bond. The son felt his father on the verge of hysteria and fear and pressed on. He burst into the cabin second's later and stopped stricken at the sight before him.
.His father sat upright in bed, hacking, his body heaving as fitful coughs racked his entire body. He snapped out of his trance and rushed forward with a panicked, "Dad!" Ben's whole being surged with terror and he eyed the shocking sight with horror. Coating his father's hand and slipping between the cracks of his fingers was an unmistakable dark red, substance. It engulfed the entire palm, dripping down the back of his hand and falling in small red splotches upon the white linen. As if sensing his son for the first time, Luke looked up at him, his eyes wide and filled with uncertainty.
Ben could only stand and stare, his mind unable to get his body moving. He moved his mouth to say something, anything! But no words came out-and he could only feel a sense of helplessness seeing his father this way. His father looked so lost, and maybe a bit afraid. If Luke had been aware before, he was suddenly very unsure.
Ben opened his mouth again but the only sound that came out was a croak, an indecipherable, "Wa.." His tongue suddenly felt thick in his mouth and he moved his jaw and twisted the appendage as if this act would clear his speech.
"I thought….I had…more time." He heard a voice say.
He blinked twice and realized his father had spoken. He got his legs to move finally and said, "Dad?"
"I thought." Luke uttered again, looking still lost but a bit more resolute. He softly clenched the hand with the blood in it, and it slipped through his fingers even more. "I thought, I had more time." He relaxed his hand and continued to stare at the blood, shaking his head. "It wasn't suppose to be like this. Not this way."
His eyes beckoned and Ben moved in closer, hesitating to sit on the bed. "Dad?"
Luke inclined his head, urging his son to sit beside him.
"I'm sorry." He finally said as Ben settled on the bed.
Ben shook his head, unable to understand his father.
"I'm sorry, Ben." Luke made a motion to move his hand but froze when he noticed the blood once more. He let it hover above the blanket. The linen, however, was un-salvageable. A larger stain had already formed on it over Luke's lap.
Sensing the other Jedi behind him, Ben called out, "Get me a wet washcloth."
He watched out of the corner of his eyes as Corran disappeared into the fresher and came back seconds later with the cloth Ben had used earlier. It had been soaked once more and the Master passed it to Ben. "Dad, your hand." He prompted then took the proffered hand and quickly began to clean the blood off of it.
Luke moved his lips in attempt to speak, but Ben seeing this shook his head furiously. "Hold on." He needed complete focus if he was to listen to anything his father said.
When he was finished, he passed the cloth back to Corran and fixed his gaze upon his father again. "Now. What are you sorry about?" He demanded gently.
The Grand Master's blue eyes flashed as he looked around as if considering what Ben had said. He drew in a breath, bringing his head up once more to look at Ben. "I'm sorry, that I didn't have more time. I'm sorry, that I didn't tell you. I'm sorry for disappointing you." He smiled sadly "I'm just sorry."
Ben's shoulders sagged at this. "You could never disappoint me, Dad. So don't you dare think that!" He leaned over and grasped his father's newly-cleaned right hand with his. "What I don't understand is…" He paused for a moment. "..if you knew, why didn't you tell me? Tell us? Tell anybody! Don't you know that we care for you? I care-love. I want you to always feel you can trust me with anything. With any burden you have that you feel is too great to carry on your own." He knew his father being who he was would have never admitted to having any such burden.
Luke nodded. "I know. It's just that-" His sentence was silenced as another round of coughing tore through him, his shoulder heaving once more. Thankfully, no blood came out this time.
The Knight slipped his arm around his father's shoulder and hugged the man to his body comfortingly. His rested his chin on top of the Master's head until the coughing subsided.
Corran lingered at the perimeter of the room, watching the scene unfold. His hand was pressed up against the door frame but his body was stiff with anticipation. He readied himself for anything. Dread filled his aura as he took in Luke's sickly appearance. He couldn't dismiss the uneasy feeling that filled the pit of his stomach and tap-danced on his heart.
He watched as Ben tenderly rubbed his other hand against his father's right shoulder. "It's all right, Dad. It's going to be all right." But they both knew it wasn't all right. No, it was all wrong.
Ben looked at his father's face and noticed that a sickly gray coloring touched Luke's skin. He felt the Jedi Master grip his bicep as another bout of pain seized him.
He gasped, bringing one hand up to clench down upon the right side of his chest. He made a move as if he was struggling for air. The younger Skywalker' s muscles seized up in trepidation. He fought against the fear that rose up inside. He squelched it, unwilling to let Luke feel his horror. He sensed Corran subtly watching him and dared to shoot a glance at the Corellian over his left shoulder.
His time's running out. Corran mouthed.
Ben cast a sorrowful glance and bit his lip. He agreed with Corran completely. His father didn't have much time, he didn't know how soon it would happen, but the
older man's body was deteriorating at a startlingly quick rate. He turned back, noticing the grey was not so prominent, the color slowly returning to his face. He shot a look over his shoulder and mouthed, I'll be right there.
Corran dipped his chin and retreated.
His eyes returned to gaze at Luke. His father was relaxed soundly in his arms; he had fallen asleep. Ben quietly thanked the Force for this. He didn't need for the old man to be awake for what was about to transpire next. He reached up and softly stroked his father's graying head.
Ben whispered, "Don't worry, Dad. I'm going to take care of you."
Wow. I love Corran's wisdom and Ben's real emotions. Affection mixed with grief mixed with acceptance One of the best-written scenes I've ever read And I've read some gloriously worded ones.
Wow. Great emotions on all parties' parts. Wonderful, heartfelt job
Jade_eyes, Briannakin: Thank you, I try to make each moment sound believable; to have a feel of realism to it.
Notes: Th next part after this is the final one, then there is an epilogue and a side story type one-shot.
..Part 12Ben entered the hallway and stopped far enough from his father's cabin. .Corran hadn't gone to the lounge this time but was leaning against a wall. He beckoned the other closer, signaling for them to keep it quiet. "He's asleep. I don't think he'll here us." Ben replied.
"All the better. It's better he isn't awake, cause he'd probably object to what I'm about to say."
The younger Jedi waited.
Corran drew a breath and said, "I think its best if we get him to Coruscant as soon as possible. His health is declining far too rapidly."
"Agreed. Looks like that wound from years ago came back to bite him in the butt." Ben sighed heavily, rubbing his hand over his face. His gaze dropped to the floor as if he was examining the details of the grating. He moved his boot against a clod of dirt that had been smashed into it in an attempt to remove it. "All right…" He said finally, "Ready the Black Shooter. We'll be taking off in ten minutes…" With that, he left the older Jedi to his duties and retreated toward the exit hatch.
Corran watched him leave, arching an eyebrow curiously He shrugged his shoulders and headed forward for the cockpit.
"Guess I better get started." He glanced back. "Hang on, Master."
..Ben entered the Shadow's forward compartment, running his hand along the inside hull. He knew the implications of having to rush his father back to Coruscant. It meant he would have abandon his mother's ship on this back water dust ball-as much as he hated that thought. The Jedi gritted his teeth, cursing the powers that be for forcing him make this choice. He slammed his fist into the bulkhead and stalked back to the main cabin at the back of the ship.
He entered the room and quickly gathered what little was left of his father's things together. Then he started to search the compartments for any trace of his mother's personal effects. When he was done looking, he stuffed everything in the two bags his father had brought along with him and headed below to get at the Shadow's systems. He stood in the tight space and worked to disable the main power source for the vessel.
It seemed terribly petty that he was sabotaging the ship, but he wasn't about to let anyone else get their grubby mitts on it. This vessel had been his mother's pride and joy, and a treasure to he and his father whom Mara Jade Skywalker had left behind.
The Jade Shadow was a gem and therefore too good for any unassuming thief .
When he was satisfied he'd sufficiently completed his task, Ben checked his chrono. Three minutes left. He shouldered the bags and headed back to the hatch. He disembarked and took extra precaution to seal it with a fail safe method; the fail safe prevented any unauthorized access to the ship if someone tried to breach the hatch by force. If anyone tried to slice through the locks a bonding agent would be released and fuse the hatch shut.
He turned back and headed for the Shadow, picking up the pace as he closed the distance between the two ships. His sprinted the remaining distance, practically leaping up the ramp. Ben slapped the button beside it and continued on his way, dumping the bags in the lounge before returning to join Corran in the Shadow's cockpit. R2-D2 was already at the navigation station, aiding Corran in plotting their course. He whistled happily, his dome swiveling. Ben spared the droid a brief look before he settled into the copilots seat this time, strapped himself in, and cast the other man a side-long glance. The older Jedi's shoulders were hunched, his eyes switching in between the little droid and the task at hand-calibrating the last bit of the ship. Once he was finished, he turned back to Ben. "We're ready. All I need is the word and we'll go on your mark."
Ben gestured with his hand.
"Let's get going then shall we." The Corellian said with more cheerfulness then he obviously felt.
"Yeah…" The Knight slouched, knuckling his fist against his forehead. His hair practically stood on end and his body was taut once more. Anxiety burned within him.
He could hear R2's faint nervous warbling but blocked him from his mind. He focused on another energy signature, his mind wandered to his father. The Jedi
stretched out with the Force to feel for him. His presence was weak but still very much there; dormant in slumber. He brushed against Luke's aura in a loving caress as if to reassure Luke of his emotional support. Faintly, on an subconscious level he could feel a wisp of his father's Force presence reaching back out to him
Corran spoke up: "If you want. I can go check on him once we hit orbit. You look exhausted, Ben."
"Hmm?" Ben turned his head. "What did you say?"
"I said, I can check on Luke once we make the jump to light speed. I'll sit with him for you."
"You don't have to do that."
"I don't, but I want to. You need rest."
"No, I can't. Not when he's so-"
"He'll be asleep." Corran reasoned. "You're not going to be of much use to him then. And its not going to do any good if we're both up. One of us needs to get some rest-and I've decided that its you."
He saw his junior about to protest again.
"That's an order, Jedi Skywalker."
Ben slumped his shoulders in defeat. He gestured erratically with his hand as if to say, do what you want.
"Good. I will." He could hear Corran grinning.
.Once they'd made the jump to lightspeed, Corran unbuckled his restraints and got up to go sit with Luke. Ben remained where he was, pushing with his feet in order to recline his chair, urging himself to sleep.
The Corellian entered the cabin, gazing at Luke's prone form as he stepped up to the bed. He pulled up the chair alongside the bed and sat down. He watched him calmly and took in the Grand Master's pasty-looking features. On his brow were heavy beads of sweat, his grey-blond hair sticking to it. His eyes trailed to the blood-stain on the coverlet and he decided that he didn't care to leave it like that.
He got up and rifled through the closet and found another blanket. This one was military-issue grey. He unfolded it and crossed over back the sleeping man, simultaneous retracting the soiled blanket and replacing it with the clean one. He noted his former Master's movements and did his best to carefully tuck Luke back in. He waded the soiled blanket up and stuff in in the dearest dirty linens hamper then returned to his seat beside the man.
"You're such an…idiot." Corran muttered, interlocking his fingers. He shook his head.
He was the same idealistic man that Corran had met many years ago.
That wasn't to say he hadn't changed a bit during the last few decades. Luke had accepted much over them; like the fact that he wasn't alone and the burden wasn't his to shoulder by himself. His illness, however, it seemed, caused him to revert back to a mind-frame when the Jedi Master had the take on the galaxy mentality. It was startling to Corran. Not the fact that blond had reverted back to that state of mind, but at the other effects of his illness. It was not only the shocking weakness in his friend's physical body but his mental faculties as well; the feel of the slow pulse of his Force aura as his corporeal form threatened to
dissipate into oblivion.
He reached over and placed his hand on the Master's forehead and expanded the Force outward, feeling below the surface into the recesses of Luke's spiritual presence. There it was again. The faint throbbing that spoke volumes. He felt the feeble grasping of Luke's presence. Ben. He heard the name reverberate through his own mind. Corran reached back and grab the man tightly as if closing his hand over the other's. Rest, Master…. He sent to him. What you need is rest. Do not worry about Ben.
He felt Luke try to grasp at him one more time, before he subsided back into unconsciousness.
Corran pulled back, sitting up, and turned at the sound of the door swooshing open. He observed as the Grand Master's favored and trusty astromech droid came rolling in, drawing out a mournful, concerned tone. He smiled.
"Come here, Artoo."
The droid remained by the entrance, hesitating. He was highly aware of the concern the little unit was radiating. He was very concerned for his master's safety and well-being. The little droid was a faithful companion with devotion that was seldom seen in most droids. Then again, considering who his master-and his friend-was there shouldn't have been doubt in R2's high level of unease. "Come here.." He prodded gently. R2 eased up slowly, casting his photoreceptor over Luke. He let out a low whistle.
"I'm not sure…" He murmured.
"We can only hope, he holds out long enough till we reach Coruscant." In his heart, a heaviness lay and Corran feared that his efforts would be for not. He felt that deep within himself that this urge to return Luke to the galactic capital was futile-and he had only done so for Ben's peace of mind.
He felt Luke Skywalker would not live long enough to reach the Core.
He placed a comforting hand on the droid's dome and sat there for a few more moments. He contemplated this futile act, he contemplated Luke's inevitable death, and he contemplated the effect it would have on the galaxy if their first "new hope" was to die in obscurity. He couldn't let the Master fade away in such a way, he couldn't do that to the Jedi, his friends, or his family. Corran lurched to his feet and turned to leave.
"Artoo, watch over him. I'm going to send out a message to Coruscant."
With that, he left the little droid to watch over his master. Corran made his way to comstation, intent on sending a message through the hyperspace com channel. He had to reach Jaina.
The Corellian seated himself in front of the terminal and began to record his message. He explained the circumstances quickly and concisely. When he was done, he signed off and sent the transmission. He sat there for a few minutes, and did a bit for contemplation, wondering if there was any way to slow down the changing of the cellule bodies that were responsible the Grand Master's deterioration.
Perhaps… He mused inwardly.
Luke would not reach Coruscant but if Corran were to slow down his vital signs; thus putting him into a state of dormancy, he believed his friend might have a fighting chance. It just might work. He thought.
He got up and headed back to the cockpit.
.Ben woke up, feeling a rushing of Force energy heading for him. Corran's presence oozed determination and purpose . He watched as the older man walked into the cockpit shooting a surprised look as Ben's eyes caught his.
"You're up" He stated.
"Of, course," The younger Jedi yawned, crossing his arms behind his head. "I could feel you coming a mile away. Has anyone ever told you sound like a stampeding bantha?"
The other simply ignored this and gave Ben a penetrating gaze.
"What is it? Something's wrong, isn't it? He moved to stand. "Dad?"
The other eased into the pilot's seat. "It's about Luke, yes." Corran returned.
Ben's eyes searched about frantically.
"Listen to what I have to say."
The Knight glanced at him uneasily then sat back down in his chair. "Go on."
"Your father's not doing well, Ben."
The other rolled his eyes as if to say well, duh.
Corran pushed forward. "He's worse off than we thought." He paused, choosing his next words carefully. "I don't think he's even going to make it to Coruscant."
He let this statement hang between them; let it sink in for Ben.
"What are you saying?"
"You heard me."
"So, he's going to die. I knew that." Ben snapped.
"But we didn't know how serious. He's coughing up blood, Ben. I don't think his body can sustain him much longer.
Ben snorted scornfully. "Thanks for stating the obvious. What's your point, Corran?" His voice was strained with frustration.
"I'd like to put him in a Force-induced trace." He stated bluntly.
"A trance? The Force?" Ben bolted to his feet. "Are you out your kriffing Corellian mind!"
"No, and yes a trance." He remained seated and extremely calm. "It's the only way I believe he'll make it to Coruscant."
The younger Jedi moved his jaw, his brow furrowed in contemplation, his face riddled by doubt.
"But you can't." He shook his head vehemently. "The Force is what's killing him! Putting him in a trance could only hasten his death; it could kill him."
"Better he dies quickly, than in slow agony." Corran rebuked. "Surely, that's not what you want!"
"Of course not! But I refuse to hasten it. I don't want him to die like that-alone, oblivious, lost in his own conscious."
Corran studied him folding his arms over his chest.
"Are you sure?"
"Am I sure what, Horn?" His voice rose several octaves.
"Are you sure you're doing this for Luke?"
Ben jaw nearly dropped and he suddenly saw red. "How dare you. How dare you insinuate I'm keeping him alive for my own selfish reasons." He balled his fist, tightening it in anger.
"I didn't say that." Corran growled. "Don't put words in my mouth, boy." His gaze was razor sharp.
They faced off.
"But the more we wait here arguing, the further he slips away. He's suffering." He pointed aft. "And if we can alleviate some of that pain if only a little bit, then I believe its worth it." Corran stared Ben down.
"Life is a gamble, Ben. It has risks. Nothing is certain in it. The only thing that is certain is what we take into our own hands. You said it yourself. We can't stop this, but we can make it better for him." He brushed past the other. "Now, I'm going-and I'm going to help him, whether you're party to this or not."
Ben stood there, stunned by the Master's tongue lashing. A few seconds passed before he realized Corran was no longer in the cockpit. The Jedi turned on his heel and rushed out, heading for his father's cabin. He bolted through the door and grabbed Corran's arm just as he was about to place a hand on Luke's forehead.
"You can't do this, Corran." Ben's voice was now full of emotion. "I won't let you do this. I won't let him die within his own mind."
Corran yanked his arm from Ben's strong grip.
"And I won't let him die here." He snapped.
"What's that supposed to mean?" The confrontation had escalated.
"Luke is my friend, Ben. I won't let him die on this ship, in the middle of space. Not if I can help it."
The other stumbled back, stunned by his words. He took in the pained look in Corran's own eyes, how his face twisted in frustration, the sheer determination radiating from him. Corran's motives were pure, Ben saw that, he knew that. It was the Corellian's deep desire to aid his dear friend. Luke's state of helplessness was wounding the Jedi just as much as it was wounding him. Corran had been one of many of Luke's first students, back when the academy and the order was new. He had fought beside Ben's father decades before Ben had been born.. He shared Luke's dreams, his hardships, his pain; everything that came with being a Jedi.
And it was apparent that he felt equally helpless in the face of Fate.
He was suddenly filled with an immense amount of guilt.
"I'm sorry." He mumbled and leaned against the wall. "It's just that…" His sentence died off.
"Don't. I...understand how you feel. I'm sorry that I pushed it so hard." Corran looked back to his friend. He sighed and continued, "But the fact remains is Luke,...is not going to make it this time."
Ben considered this. He saw the silent pleading in Corran's eyes.
"All right." He conceded.
The Corellian nodded and reached over placing a hand on the sleeping Grand Master's forehead. He stretched out with the Force and felt Luke's tentative presence wavering beneath the surface. It flickered, subconsciously rising as Corran's own Force essence brush against his. He pressed down upon it gently, urging it to into submission. Sleep, friend.. He caressed it, pouring more power into Luke. Sleep. He gently commanded Luke's consciousness. He felt the Master resist, but eventually he fell prey to Corran's compulsory will, letting himself be subdued by the trance. He pulled back and cast out his senses once more to confirm.
Luke's presence was faint, but still lingered on the border. He felt around and assessed that his body had properly assumed stasis. He sighed and got to his feet.
"He's under." He reported, turning his eyes to meet Ben's.
Ben nodded and examined his father's still form. He gnawed on his lip; a nervous habit he'd picked up. He exchanged glances with the man one more time before leaving the room. Hs heart sagged in his chest.
Behind him, R2 let out a low moan. He turned in place looking at the closed door then at the astromech. He kneeled down in front of him and laid a loving hand on the droid's dome, stroking it. He felt a painful tightening in his chest. "Oh, Artoo…" He murmured. "What…do we do?" He sighed and semi-hugged the droid. R2 let out a long string of inquisitory sounds.
"No. He's not well, Artoo."
'I don't understand.'
"He's…." Ben fumbled for the word the little machine would understand. "Broken.."
He let out a questioning blrt.
"No…He can't be fixed"
He continued to stroke the unit. R2 let out another moan.
'What will we do?'
"I'm not sure." He felt tears begin to sting his eyes. As much as he said he had accepted his father's death, it didn't make the thought of losing Luke any easier. Ben wanted to break down and cry openly. He knew things were beyond hope. He knew that this time, his father would not skirt death. He had run out of his allotted time.
R2 bumped up against him in what he assumed to be comforting motion. He patted the unit lovingly as visible tears leaked from his eyes and ran down his face.
"I'll be fine, Artoo." I have to be.
..Jaina Solo received the com transmission when she'd gotten home. She noticed the flashing red light, indicating that she had a message. Laying her bag down on her couch, she pressed the button and poised to listen to it. It was probably Master Clighal requesting her to come in for an emergency Council meeting. She held her breath.
What she did not expect was to hear the voice of another Master all together. A distorted Corran Horn appeared on screen, his lips moving rapidly. Jaina's eyebrow raised. She couldn't quite make out what he was saying. She leaned over and fiddled with the knobs, listening to the static and watching the message fluctuate.
"Rowdy," She called out to her astromech. "See if you can clear this message. It's all garbled and I can't make out what the kriff Master Horn's saying." She sighed, frustrated.
The droid plugged himself into the comstation and began accessing the mainframe. Jaina watched as the transmission rewound itself and started to replay. The static had dissolved quite a bit, but the image was still warped. "You almost got it." She reached over to turn up the volume; it was louder but still distorted.
He let out a whistle.
She watched as the image cleared. "Perfect! Stop right there." She dialed up the volume and replayed the recording.
"Master Solo-…I wish I were contacting you on better terms, but the matter can't be avoided." He took a breath. "We've recently traveled to Tatooine to find your uncle. I'm sure you've heard from Ben about him. Turns out he wasn't far off the bat. Jaina," His use of her first name let her register how serious the matter must have been. "He's not doing well. In fact, he's quite ill. We're bringing him home to Coruscant as fast as we can. Though…I have some reservation about it…I don't believe he'll make it….He's been sick for quite some time-six months to be exact." As if knowing what she was about to say, he continued, "You know him. It does seem something like he would do. I wish it were that simple. He's not himself. The illness has impaired his judgment badly." A pause. "I very much wish we could have known sooner…I'm not sure we would have been able to make a difference but…."
Jaina felt as if she'd been hit by a hammer. She rocked back, slumping against her flow form chair. Her jaw hung open, gaping. She could hardly believe what she was hearing. Not her dear sweet uncle… She clamped her teeth together intent on listening to the rest of the message.
"..I felt you should know." He looked behind him. "Anyway, I've got to get back to him. He's asleep but Ben feels better if he's being watched." He bowed his head. "Horn out."
She sat there, looking at the blank screen, feeling slightly numb. Shocked would have been more the correct word, but her body didn't give off the effects of shocked…It was simply numb. The information sent her brain reeling. Her uncle was sick. But how? Why? She stumbled out of the chair and slumped back against her sofa this time, bracing her hands on the back of it. She stared at the blank screen where the recorded image of Corran Horn had once played and gripped the bottom of her tunic.
Jaina shook herself from her stupor. She had to do something! Master Horn had given her this notice because he wanted her to do something! But what? She suspected it wasn't to aid her uncle. She didn't even know where he was; Corran hadn't given her the time nor his coordinates. The next logical choice was to inform the Council-they would figure things out from there. She could make it to the Temple in 15 minutes if she took all the short cuts. Of course, she'd be breaking much sky traffic protocol but to hell with that.
.She arrived at the Temple a bit over her 15 minute time period, but just in enough time. She launched herself up the stairs, not paying any attention to propriety.
"Master Solo." One of the knights greeted her.
She nodded briskly and bolted passed the doors and down the corridor. She yanked her comlink from her belt, and slowed down upon catching the eyes of many Jedi. She switched her comlink to the Master specific channel. "This is Master Solo, I'm calling an emergency Council meeting. All Masters who receive this, report to the Council Chambers at once. I repeat this is an emergency." She clicked off her com and attached it back to her belt.
Jaina made her way up to the Council Chamber level and brusquely barged into the room at swift pace. Clighal was already seated in her seat, as was Octa Ramis, Tionne and Kam Solusar, and the Yuzzem Master, Barratk'l. So far, they were missing Kyle Kataran, Saba Sebatyne, and Kyp Durron.
"Masters Katarn, Sebatyne, and Durron?" She asked.
"They'll be up shortly." Kyp answered, entering the chambers a few paces behind Jaina. He raised his com. "I just got off the com with Master Katarn."
"We seem to love having these impromptu meetings." Octa Ramis intoned thoughtfully. "First, the Grand Master, and now you, Master Solo."
"Yez," Saba spoke up. "Iz there something amiss?"
"It's not Master Skywalker, is it?" Kam questioned.
Master Sebatyne leaned forward, claws braced on the chair arms. "If it iz the Grand Master. "You must tell us, Master Solo."
Jaina inclined her head. "Very well. It does have to do with the Master." She took a breath. "I'm afraid to report, that I have recently spoken to Master Horn." The most junior Master cast a look around the room. "He says that my uncle is very ill." She paused then swallowed the lump forming her throat; trying to conceal her true emotions.
"Ill?" Katarn raised a questioning brow.
"What do you mean he's ill?" Durron interjected, his fist curling against his thigh.
"I mean, ill, Master Durron." Her gaze burned into his eyes.
"How long?" This question came from Master Ramis.
Out of the corner of her eye, Jaina saw Clighal lips twitch. Inwardly, she raised an eyebrow.
"Master Clighal, is there something we should know?"
The Mon Cal cleared her throat, nodding.
"Yes. There is." She folded her flippers in her lap. "I received information from Master Skywalker Approcimately five days ago. It indicates the severity of his illness. I recorded the information in a holo projection via R2-D2. This is why, Master Horn, has such knowledge of Master Skywalker's condition." She paused. "I was also contacted by Master Horn earlier today...for this exact purpose. His message was different at the time. I had planned on leaving, of course, but.."
Master Katarn's gaze fixed on her. "When were you planning to inform us of this, Master Cilghal? Anything that concerns the Master, concerns the Order. Even you are aware of this."
"I had not felt it prudent to inform the Council." She tilted her head. "Even when I received the message from Corran, I..hesistated to act." It was alot for a healer to admit that she couldn't react in a timely matter.
"What kept you from going?" Kam asked softly. "And what steers you to tell us this now?"
CLighal's large fish eyes turned in her head. It was obvious to Jaina the Master-healer was suffering over the choices she had made. Suffering with the burden of her Master's secret and the decision of whether to have gone to his aid. Possibly helping Luke.
"His behavior the day I received the information was most peculiar. Master Skywalker has always put the good of the Order above all else...but never would he intentionally misled his own child. His decision to keep his illness a secret from Ben, is what convinced me to act."
It had not gone unnoticed that Clighal had not answered the first question. No one, however, was forthright enough to question her.
Tionne shook her head. She spoke sadly, "It is indeed troubling that he felt he could not even trust Ben with it."
"I feel that the Grand Master is not aware of his own actions or word." Cilghal announced.
"Then we should assume he's not responsible for his actions." Octa said slowly.
A pregnant pause set over the Council Chambers.
"Is there no way to find out where they went?"
This question came from Master Barrakt'l. She swept her gaze around the room, wrinkling her nose. Her keen eyes examined each of their faces. She had remained quiet for most of the exchange; simply choosing to observe.
Katarn looked at her contemplatively then said, "The Temple hangar will have a log of all out-bound flights. We'll start there."
They all nodded.
The Yuzzem relaxed, content.
"Yes, have someone check the registry log." Jaina leaned forward. Worry etched her face, even though she was trying desperately to hide it. She looked around, looking as if she had something else to say.
Katarn stood and walked away toward the door before extracting his comlink.
She turned her eyes from him, wringing her hands then reaching up to brush a strand of graying hair from her face.
The Masters stayed still and non-talkative. Most shifted in their seats, fixing their robes, or simply staring out the window. No one was ready to discuss the purple bantha in the room. That was until Kyp Durron spoke.
"I suppose," He began slowly. "That our utmost responsibility….our focus should be the Order. Certain preparations must be made to initiate a successful transition."
He rubbed his hands together.
"Are you suggesting we elect a new Grand Master?" Octa queried.
"It would be prudent to consider it at least."
Jaina shook her vehemently, using the Force to project her voice. "We don't know how bad it is. I'm not going to start planning things as if he's already dead." Emotion choked her. "I-w cannot be so hasty in our assumptions. Until we receive word, I advise we do nothing."
The other Masters seemed to consider this. Jaina was not the most experienced Jedi Master in the room; the rest had endured life much longer as Jedi than she had. Her words weren't even defining terms as far as her uncle was concerned but they were still taken into consideration. After all, thirty-two years ago, Luke Skywalker had believed in her enough for Jaina to be where she was now.
Katarn's comlink broke the silence.
"Yes," He answered it. "You found it. Good. All right. Yes, thank you." He turned it off, turning back to the members of the Council and took his seat once more.
They looked upon him expectantly.
"Master Skywalker, blasted out of here four days ago in the evening." Katarn reported. "His logged destination was Tatooine. A few minuites later, a second ship left Coruscant; theBlack Shooter. The controller speculates Master Horn was on board as well as Jedi Skywalker.
"It will take them at three days to return." Kam remarked. "Jedi Skywalker can cut down to a day and a half if he takes a differnt route."
Kyp frowned. "Even with the shortened route, time might not be on their side."
"Have you gotten ahold of him again?" Octa inquired, looking in Master Solo's direction.
"No, I received the message through a hyperspace com transmission. I won't be able to reach them."
Kam turned to look at his fellow Masters. "We wait till then. Agreed?"
.."How is he?" Ben asked from the doorway.
Corran looked up from his task of blotting Luke's forehead. More sweat had accumulated on it. "He's getting feverish, Ben. When I touch his skin, it feels like its melting. He breathes normally most of the time, but sometimes...He seems to...stop breathing."
Ben gave a troubled look.
The elder Jedi dunked the cloth back in the water and rang it out, folding the cloth and placing it on the Master's forehead. He shook the excess water off his hands and got to his feet. "We might-"
Suddenly, the ship's deck bucked beneath him and the two Jedi were nearly thrown off their feet. Corran braced himself against the wall and Ben gripped the hatchway with both hands pressed against the frames. He felt the ship shudder and groan as it jerked once more-slamming to a halt.
"What in the nine Coreliian hells was that!" Corran exclaimed.
Ben's eyes darted around, his eyes briefly laying up on his father. He looked over his shoulder and eventually released his hold on the door frame.
"I think...that was the hyperdrive." Ben said.
Jampacked from edge to edge with action and emotion.
Have some tissues handy. You can consider this the official last part to Hero. Though I will have an epilogue after this an an extra one-shot type deal.@Briannakin..Part 13Ben cursed the horrid joke that was brewing. He glared down at the fried hyperdrive, watching the smoke hiss in puffs from under the metal casing. He sucked upon his fingers, which were scorched and red, beginning to blister from the heat of heated metal. Stupid. He had touched the engine unconsciously, his mind in a panic—with his father at the forefront of it. He earned these blisters in return. The Jedi tried desperately not to clench his fists or rub them against anything, but it was flinched a second time when he carelessly ran his hand through his hair. He glared at the hyperdrive in an attempt to get his mind off the constant pain. He didn't need further inspection to secure what he already knew.
It was gone.
He wasn't sure how the hyperdrive had given out like it had; he'd always taken great care with his ship. The only thing that made sense at this moment was the universe was having a great big laugh at his expense. It poked fun at the futility of his actions. And this made Ben's ire rise all the more.
His father was dying—and their only chance of returning him to his proper place had stalled out in space.
Had this all been utterly futile after all? Had his desperate thoughts to do this one thing for his father been ever more pitiful in the eyes of Lady Fate?
Ben… Sometimes it's best not to avoid our destinies. He heard his father saying. Sometimes, if things occur—even if what has happened seems painful—it occurs for a specific reason.
He tried to digest his father's advice, at the same time wanting to banish it from his mind. Yet…his father had been right. His grandfather's fall though tragic had resulted ultimately in balance being brought to the Force. His cousin Anakin's death though devastating had made the Jedi realize that focusing their one hope on a single being was foolish. And his mother's death though heartbreaking, had brought his father and him closer together than they'd ever been.
Ben stood stock still, letting himself take in the moment. He ran through the realization of what was happening and had happened. He lifted his head, eyes fixed resolutely.
He nodded wordlessly.
.The younger Jedi entered the lounge and spotted Corran where he'd left him. The Master turned away from the terminal and shook his head. "The communication is gone as well. It's-" He stopped mid report.
Ben looked as if he was in a daze. His features were unreadable but deep inside Corran could feel the emotions lurking beneath the surface.
"Ben?" Corran quested cautiously. "How is it?"
Ben came to a halt in the middle of the deck, casting a look back toward his father's cabin then at Corran again. When he focused his attention back on the Corellian, he had a far-off look in his eyes. A certain bitterness and disheartened expression lay within. Corran waited for the other to speak.
Ben remained silent for a moment longer until his eyes suddenly registered awareness and his mind returned to the present.
"Did you say something, Corran?"
"I said how is the hyperdrive?"
He snorted. "Fried." Ben said simply, clearly disgusted. "It's beyond repair—and the cruel thing is I'm not sure even why it failed me." It was apparent to Corran that the younger man took this mechanical failure as a further slight to himself. "I'm not even sure if I can repair it. And even if I could, I might not have enough time..." He lifted his hands, staring at them.
Seeing this, the Corellian frowned, but knew better than to urge Ben to do anything that didn't revolve around Luke. The son would easily forsake himself and his own health for his father. Ben caught the Master staring and dropped his hands. "It's nothing." He said gruffly, a hint of tears filling his eyes. Beneath the surface, the man's emotions were rolling like the turbulent waves of the sea.
"Ben, I know it looks bad, but," Corran began.
Ben barked, "No! No more, Corran." He made a slicing motion with his right hand. "No more hope. Don't promise me anything you can't guarantee." His clear blue eyes grew melancholy. "Game over."
"Is that what life is, Ben? A game?" His father's voice cut in.
Ben whirled to face his sire.
Luke was standing in the doorway, dressed in the clothes he had been wearing His arms were folded over his stomach in his customary style, his hands tucked inside the sleeves of his tunic. His wore the facade of the calm and serene Jedi Master that Ben had seen so many times in his life. His blue eyes were clear and alert. His mouth set in a decidedly displeased manner.
He didn't appear to be a man at death's door.
"Is it a game, Ben?"
Ben was slightly taken aback by this; not only the unexpected appearance, but the tone which his father had adopted.
A sad look entered his eyes. "Is my appearance so shocking?" He looked to Corran who was staring at him with equal astonishment. "Did you think it was possible to hold me under a trance against my will?" He shook his head sorrowfully. "Surely I've taught you better than that, Corran."
"I felt you subside." His fellow Master insisted.
"Yes, I did indeed fall under." Luke nodded and moved forward to engage them. "But it wasn't enough to hold me there indefinitely. Nor was it the time to seek the Light."
Ben made a motion to move out of his father'sway, assuming the Grand Master was heading for the booth. Luke waved his hand. "Stay as you are. I have no need for seats." He carefully and gracefully dropped into a crossed-legged position in the middle of the deck.
He looked up at the other two men and inclined his head in an inviting gesture.
Corran and Ben exchanged glances.
"Sit." Luke commanded more firmly.
The other men took their places on the floor in close proximity to Luke. Ben stared into his father's eyes with Corran looking
curious as to what his Master wanted.
"So whose brilliant idea was it to put me in a trance?" He asked sardonically. "Yours I assume, Corran. I would have to say yes, by your expression." Luke sighed. "I won't give you any further flak about that, just so you know. I know you meant well..."
He turned his attention to his son.
"Dad." Ben's voice cracked.
"I don't have much time left." He held up a hand, silencing Ben from further inquires. "Don't. I need to do this." He took a deep breath as if preparing himself.
"As I said, my time left in this realm is short. I've come to accept that maybe what the Mind-walkers said long ago was correct. That we are merely Force essence, and our bodies are just a husk that are necessary to exist in this mortal plane. Seeing what's happening now, it's evident that no corporal form was meant to contain the awesome power of the Force.
"My affinity for the Force overwhelmed my mortal body daily. It became too much for it to bear. Somewhere deep inside, I think I was aware of the implications of it. I knew I was pushing my body to its limits, so I employed the Force to supplement for my weaknesses."
"But so did I!" Corran objected. "So do a lot of Jedi."
"That is so….But I think you know as well as I do, what has happened."
He gauged Corran's reaction; taking his silence as confirmation.
"As I was saying, I often used it to keep my body together under the direst of circumstances. Many which included the battle against the Lost Tribe. That, of course, is but one instance." He took another breath.
"But I am not afraid as I once was. I have done many things in my life that I am proud of—and things I am not so proud of—but all in all, these things will forever remain a part of my past and who I was. I have seen my dreams of the resurrection of the Jedi Order fulfilled; and there are Jedi Knights once more defending and protecting the sanctity of the galaxy and its inhabitants.
"I married a good woman who filled every pore of my being, who completed me as no woman ever did. A firey, spirited woman, who in addition to being my other half was also my rock and my anchor. You mother kept be grounded as no one before her ever did. She did this so much, that I call myself a fool to think that any of the other women I have known could fulfill me the way she did.
"Most of all, I have a son who I love so much and who loves me equally in return. I had so wanted to be a father, but had feared that I never would." He reached out to touch Ben's cheek. "I will always love you, Ben, no matter where I am, no matter how old you are. Please know that out of all my accomplishments in this life…you are my greatest one— and I am so proud of the man and Jedi you have become." His voice was choked with tears at this last part.
Ben could barely contain his own emotions, they engulfed his features and he clamped down his teeth to keep himself from sobbing. This was really happening.
Luke dropped his hand, and turned to Corran.
"My friend," He reached out and got up onto one knee and grasped the other Master's hand in his. "I'm sorry for keeping this from you. You have always supported me no matter what. I know that I leave the Order in capable hands; yours and the other Masters. The Jedi Order is strong and I believe that it can continue to grow and exist without me. I have far outdone my job in this life; I have fulfilled my promise to Master Yoda—and I leave you all without any worries."
The Grand Master let go of his friend's hand and switched his eyes back to Ben—or at least that was what Ben perceived.
What Luke actually saw was a Harold of Light beckoning him. He smiled sadly and sank back down into his seated position, drawing one knee under his chin like a little child. Ben turned to look behind him but saw nothing. "Dad?" He said worriedly, looking back at his father. When he didn't respond, the younger Skywalker reached out a hand to touch Luke's leg. "Dad!" His voice became more frantic.
"It's all right, Ben." His father assured with a contented smile. He lifted his hand around back as if he was reaching for something, and folded it, grasping at an imaginary grip. "My love…" He murmured. Luke tilted his head back as if he was resting it against something. "You came for me. I knew you would."
It was then that Ben truly saw what his father saw. His mother, cloaked in blue aura, one arm wrapped around his father's midsection while the other grasped Luke's right hand. Then she reached down and took his left hand into hers, cradling it. She leaned back slightly, embracing him lovingly. Mara Jade Skywalker raised her fire-red head and continued to stare at her son through vibrant green eyes. She looked sad, but at the same time quite determined.
"Give him to me, Ben." Mara beseeched gently. "He's done what he was set forth to do; he's fulfilled his destiny completely. Give him over to me. You know I will take care of him. I need him, and he needs me." She looked down upon him. "My sweet, darling Farmboy." She bent her head and placed a kiss on top of Luke's graying head.
"Mara…" Luke whispered.
At first, Ben thought his father was talking directly to his wife.
"Mara…" He looked to his son. "You're mother is calling me…I can feel it." '
Ben nodded wordless. "I-I know, Dad."
He looked into his mother's eyes, trying to get himself to smile.
Thank you. His mother mouthed.
"Ben?" Corran was very concerned. "What's going on?"
Ben held up his hand—much like Luke—to silence the other.
He kept his eyes on his mother, switching them to his father's face. Luke's eyes were shining brightly and he had a big grin on his face. His father suddenly began to emit a brilliant golden light that cloaked his whole being. It was so bright that Ben felt he should have had to shield himself from the glow. .
"I'm ready." Luke murmured and kissed his wife's hand.
Corran ventured to speak: "Ben..?"
"I'm seeing it, Corran." He bit his lip, tears streaming down his cheeks in hot torrents. "Dad…" He looked up from his father's face into his mother's eyes. "Take care of him, Mom"
Ben sat back on his heels, never daring to take his eyes off the scene before him. His eyes fought to close but he willed them to stay open. I have to keep them open…I can't miss it. I have to see this to the end…
And in the blink of an eye, his father was gone, his essence scattering like grains of sand in the Tatooine wind.
He reached out and grasped the air with his right hand, his mouth trembling with eyes still fixed. He stared at the vacant space with a mixture of longing, confusion, and sorrow. The younger Jedi then let his hand drop, balling it into a fist; his arm draped across his thigh. He then hung his head and let out a bitter, pain-filled wail that he had been shoving deep down within himself for who knew how long.
Corran longed to comfort the man but refrained from doing so. He scooted back, getting to his feet, and watched his friend from afar.
Only time will heal this pain.
That was stunningly poignant. You really have a superb well-rounded talent.
Thanks! I thought about waiting another week before I posted the epilogue..but that would just irritate me knowing its the last part to this story. So here it is.
. .EpilogueBen entered the Temple, his heart heavy. It was done, the time he had dreaded thirty-two years ago had come and gone. His father was now One with the Force. He had achieved what every Jedi hoped to upon the time of their passing. His father was now with his mother, like he wanted, like he had deserved for so many years. He knew deep inside his heart that Luke Skywalker had longed for Mara Jade for so long. All they'd had was each other so many years ago, and now they had each other once more. And Ben found he was not bitter. He was happy for his father, for his mother; for his parents. His heart began to grow light at this. He shook his red-haired head.
No, this is not what his father would have wanted.
His cousin Jaina met him at the turbo lift and embraced him warmly. He looked down into her chocolate colored eyes and gave a timid smile. "I'm sorry, Ben." She whispered. "I know…how hard that must've been for you."
"It's all right, Jaina." They separated. "It was time." He held her forearms in his grip. "Plus, he was with mom…"
"With Aunt Mara?"Jaina's eyebrows rose.
He nodded. "At the was there, she was embracing him with her presence. It was warm—and Dad was smiling. I don't think he could see her, but it was almost like..." He searched for the word.
"He could feel her." Jaina supplied.
"Where do we go from here?" She asked. "Do you have...ideas?"
"You mean, for the ceremony." Ben shook his head. "No, not yet. I wanted to speak with the Council first about something."
She nodded in return. "Come. Mom wants to see you." She turned and began to toward the Meditation Gardens.
"Aunt Leia?" His eyebrows arched this time.
"I thought she was on Naboo."
"I commed her."
Ben started to open his mouth. Jaina put a hand to his arm.
"She was already on her way here when I got a hold of her. She said she had sensed her brother in the Force; sensed something was wrong." She looked into his eyes. "She already knew, Ben."
Ben took a deep breath, immediately feeling guilty he had not informed his aunt. This was her twin after all. Of course, Leia had felt it.
"How is she?" She must've been so distraught.
His cousin looked at him with pursed lips. "Shaken. He was her twin."
"I know. She probably hates me now."
"Ben, no!" Jaina turned and grabbed him by his forearms. "Mom could never hate you."
Ben stood still and ran his hand through his graying hair.
"She's sad. She'll be disappointed, but she'll get over it. You did what you had to do, what you thought was correct at the time. What's important is that you sought us out."
"That wasn't me."
"Regardless. You gave us fair warning, prepared us."
She turned to keep on walking. Ben followed her, watching her braided brown hair, laced with grey swung in like a pendulum across her back. She was so regal, much like her mother, but with Han Solo's street smart ways. Uncle.If anyone knew how he felt, it would be Jaina; she had lost her father two years ago. They were both grown humans, but that didn't mitigate their feelings for their parents.
"How did you do it?" He asked suddenly.
"You mean handle dad's death." She turned her head slightly, eyes misting. "It was hard...I won't deny that. But, I realized...came to realize that even though he was gone, he would always be with me. As long as I remembered the great parts that were Han Solo, he would never die." She paused at the entrance to the gardens. "And most of all—as cheesy as this sounds—he lives within me, his daughter." Jaina brushed aside her graying hair and laughed, "I used to joke how old my dad was getting, and now look at me."
"You're not the only one." Ben rejoined.
"Ah, but little cousin, I have a good 10 plus years on you."
Ben rolled his eyes.
She shook her head. "Anyway, let's go. We've stalled long enough, and mom won't be kept waiting for long."
Ben and Jaina entered the Meditation Gardens, and came upon his aunt sitting cross legged on the ledge of one of the gigantic fountains. She had her eyes closed,her hands folded neatly in her lap. Her hair had gone completely grey with age lines finding themselves at the corners of her eyes and mouth. Her skin still retained some of its smoothness despite her was dressed in traditional Jedi robes, her lightsaber unclipped and placed beside herself. When she had sensed their presences she opened her eyes, staring through clear brown ones at her approaching company. She uncrossed her legs and moved to stand.
"Hello, Aunt Leia." Ben greeted as he got closer to her.
Leia looked at him with sad eyes and reached out to grasp his hands with hers. She held them silently looking down at them as if they were unfamiliar then met his gaze once more. He took a breath and said, "I'm sorry, Aunt Leia. I'm sorry for not telling you sooner."
Leia shook her head. "I don't need apologies, Ben, but…I wish you hadn't tried to handle it yourself. You still have family—and it doesn't just extend to your father, you know that." She looked into his eyes with a bit of hurt.
Ben's guilt increased tenfold at the obvious pain and worry he had caused his dear aunt. "I'm sorry, " was all he could say.
His aunt sighed and urged him to sit. "Come. Sit."
Seeing her mother's confusion and displeasure, Jaina explained: "I believe what Ben means, Mom, is that we have to meet with the Council." She sat down next to her mother instead.
"Tell me one thing, Ben." Leia looked to her nephew again. "How was he?"
"He wasn't in pain; at least it didn't seem that way to me." Ben admitted. "He was…at peace…He was prepared; I think he'd been ready for a long time."
Leia nodded and smile sadly. "Good, as long as he was happy. As long as he was ready." Tears sprung to her eyes. "Maker knows I'll miss..." She choked up. "..him. Oh, brother..."She used the sleeve of her robe to wipe the tears from her face. His heart broke at the sight of his aunt's tears as she mourned for her twin. He wished he could reach out to comfort her, but there would be time for that later. He and Jaina had to get to the Council Chambers.
"I understand." Leia said, as if she had understood his thoughts. "Go…" She released them with a flick of her hand.
Ben bowed to her, a sign of respect. "We'll talk more after the meeting..." He promised.
"I'll see you then," Jaina said, leaning over to hug her mother before getting to her feet.
With that being said, Jaina and Ben left for the Council Chambers.
..Upon entering the room, Ben and Jaina were surprised to see that the High Council had already convened. All of the Council, in fact, with the exception of Jaina herself. She gaped at them.
"Well, I see we're the odd beings out today, aren't we, Cousin?" She quipped, glancing sideways at Ben.
"Yes." He said shortly.
Jaina took her seat while her cousin walked himself to the center of the chamber and looked around, giving each Master equal attention before he spoke. "I have come to address an important matter." He paused, positive they knew of the matter before he even arrived. There was no doubt that the Council would have felt his father's death. Luke's presence in the Force had always been such a magnanimous and illuminating one that it would have no doubt have struck every Jedi to their core.
"I'm sure you have all felt my father's passing." He looked around, and witnessed them nod in assent. "Judging by your body language and presences, I have no doubt you have been expecting this day, isn't that right Master Katarn?" He focused his
attention on the Battlemaster.
Katarn sighed heavily. "Yes, I had felt that this was the inevitable conclusion. I had felt it long ago, as had many of the other Masters." He looked around to them.
Jaina looked stunned; she had obviously not been privy to these discussions.
"Why was I not informed of this?" Jaina said tightly. "Am I not also a member of this Council?" She glanced at each fellow
Master in an accusatory manner.
No one spoke.
"You acted as if his illness was a surprise." His cousin was apparently very upset at being left out of the loop.
"It was." This came from Kam Solusar.
"Yet, here you sit," She gestured wildly with her hand. "..and tell me you all felt this was going to happen."
Kyp said, "We had an inkling." He noticed the vain throbbing in Jaina's temple and thought it best to handle this with further care. She had her father's temper—or was it the Skywalker nature in general. He couldn't really say. "The rest of the Council felt that it was necessary not to mention our suspicions. I suggested that such revelations might…agitate you."
By the look on her face, Kyp realized that his careful wording hadn't been careful enough. Jaina Solo was in fact very agitated.
She whipped her head around to glare at Corran who had tried to surreptitiously enter the room.
"Don't look at me, sister, I'm in the dark as much as you." He answered, seeing the ire in her eyes.
"Enough!" Ben snapped, projecting his voice with the Force.
The members froze. Jaina gawked at the sudden change in the timbre of her cousin's voice.
"Enough." He gave them each a hard stare. "This is not the time nor is it the place." He folded his arm over his chest in
typical Skywalker fashion, looking disappointed. "My father didn't tolerate this and neither will I. I won't see this Council reduced to petty bickering over something so inconsequential."
Even without benefit of facial expression, the Masters' shock radiated through the Force. Ben looked at them once more.
"Right now…whether you knew or not really is not important. It wouldn't have changed my father's fate." Sadness entered his eyes. "Luke Skywalker would have died either way; I have these last few days as evidence of that." He dropped his arms.
"What we must consider is where to do we go from here; where must we take the Jedi Order." He looked to Corran. "I think we all knew we couldn't rely on my father for eternity; that eventually his time would run out. This is a great blow to the Order and the galaxy, but it doesn't have to be the end. I propose a change to lead the Jedi in a new direction."
The Masters exchanged glances.
Ben noticed this.
"Is there something you wish to say" He asked, addressing the Council.
"Yes, Ben." Tionne confirmed. "We too have been thinking about change…about what to do if the Master were to…pass on."
Tionne looked to Master Katarn. "We believe a certain change should be made. The members of this Council are long past their prime, and it is time we let fresh blood into the mix." He gestured to Corran.
Ben stared shocked.
The Corellian stared pointedly at the younger Jedi. "So, the Council has decided upon one thing. We believe that-"
"Wait, wait…" Ben pleaded. "I can't possibly accept what you're proposing."
The Masters exchanged puzzled glances.
Kyp asked caustically, "And what are we proposing exactly, Ben?"
Ben glared at him, irritated with the outwardly condescending tone.
"I appreciate your faith in me, Masters, but I cannot—and will not—accept the position of Grand Master. A decision like that cannot be made lightly just because I am my father's son—regardless if it was my father's wish that I succeed him.
"In fact, I believe the necessity for a Grand Master has long since reached its limits. Back when my father first assumed the
title of Grand Master during the Swarm War, he did so because it was needed—the Jedi Order was tearing itself apart and Luke Skywalker saw no other alternative." He paused. "Soon it became a more permanent and respected position; a position which he many believed him worthy of and believed he rightly deserved.
"But Dad never intended this position to continue past him. In fact, he made it quite clear he wanted things different for the future of the Order—and so do I."
A round of quiet chuckles flitted through the room.
The Knight looked around confused.
"You certainly have a high opinion of yourself." Master Durron spoke again. "I'm not sure we should even continue this discussion given where it's heading…"
This response gave way to another round of laughter.
Ben gave a decidedly even more confused look.
"Ben," Corran said, solemnly. "We don't plan on making you Grand Master, so get that stupid idea out of your head."
The other Masters smirked quietly.
He continued, "We knew this would be the response. You're more like Luke than you think." He looked to the others. "It is this kind of thinking that has led us to make our decision. Isn't that right, Master Solo?"
Ben turned to look at his cousin.
She took a breath, "Yes. It seems our thinking was warranted." His cousin smiled lightly. "It is such…that under unanimous agreement of the Council, that we promote you, Ben Skywalker, to the level of Jedi Master."
Ben's jaw nearly dropped.
An aura of quiet amusement rolled off the Council
"What?" He managed to utter.
"We're promoting you, Whelp." Corran quipped; though his eyes quite serious. "Is that so hard to believe?"
"But why?" He asked.
Kam returned, "Why not?"
"You have shown time and time and again—and by your words today—that you are deserving of this rank, Jedi Skywalker."
Master Katarn said. "Do you find this Council's judgment to be in error?"
"Of course not. But I'm already fifty. Don't you think that's a little…late?"
"And my mom was around the same age when she became a Knight, Ben." Jaina responded evenly. "Besides, given the fact that our first Knight started his training at nineteen, I think tradition was pretty much broken since then."
Knowing smiles were shared.
"I-I don't know what to say."
"How about, thank you for this gracious gesture, Masters, I humbly accept." His cousin offered dryly.
"I suppose I deserved that."
"And what is your response, Jedi Skywalker?" Kam inquired.
Ben remained silent, searching inwardly. He called upon his father for wisdom, but was bereft of Luke's guidance both in psychical presence and memory. What was the right response? What was the right decision to make? Was he truly worthy of the opinion they held of him, or their decision? Ben wasn't sure.
But they are…A voice said. Who are you to argue against the wisdom of beings who have been Jedi for so many more decades than you? You are worthy if they say you are.
Just like his father had found Jaina worthy. As well as many other Masters in this room.
"All right," He said finally then got down on one knee, bowing his head. "I graciously accept. I pray that your faith in me is not misplaced, and that I may serve this Order to best of abilities—as my father did before me."
"Let's hope so..." Katarn muttered
Kyp clarified: "While it's true we don't intend for you to lead…we would like your guidance." He looked sideways to the rest of the members. "We intend to make you an official advisor to the Council—an outside mind who will offer perspective from the Knights and other Masters." He flipped his hand. "A sort of liaison if you will."
"Is this true?" He said without thinking.
"Of course." Master Ramis said, speaking up for the first time. "We would not joke over something like this. We have seen you worthy, Jedi Skywalker..Oh, Master Skywalker…So why not a liaison?"
Ben nodded numbly.
"Ben?" Kam looked curiously upon him.
The younger Jedi slowly snapped out his daze. "I'm sorry, it's all…it's happening so fast. Master Skywalker…" He let out a light laugh.
"Would you prefer Jade?" Corran asked.
He knew where this was heading—in everyone's mind there would only be one Master Skywalker; and he was gone.
"No." He shook his head. "I loved my mother very much, but I have long since run away from denying my heritage. I will forever honor my father's memory by continuing to accept who I am.
"And…. If I may address the Council on one final matter, in my official capacity as its advisor, I move that the title and position of Grand Master forever be stricken from the records and archives of the Order." He bowed.
The other Masters looked to each other once more-having a seemingly quiet conversation. When they were done, Master Katarn spoke; his deep voice filling the room. "The Council is in agreement with you….Master Skywalker."
Ben bowed once more. "Thank you, Masters." Tears filled his eyes. "Together we can carry on legacy dad left behind."
..I hope you enjoyed reading this..I enjoyed writing it..it was my very first Star Wars fan fic..and was an extremely big hit.Also, when I originally wrote this for some reason I couldn't see Ben as a master at the time..so he was a Knight up untill then...now in my other stories he'll probably be a master much earlier.
And here's that one-shot...It's a sort of memorium if you will..Memorial of Life.Ben stepped up to podium, clearing his throat and looking out over the vast crowd. He needed no aid today; deep inside he new what he wanted to say and he didn't need to rehearse. He wasn't sure how it would come out, but he knew it would flow just as easily, because the words would come from his heart.
"Today, we come together to remember a noble man, my dad, Luke Skywalker." He paused, feeling out with the Force. "A beloved husband, father, brother, friend and comrade in arms. An exemplary man. We gather here to bear witness to the life, not the death, of the man whom I am ever proud to call my father.
"A man whose strength and compassion were so great, that he was no doubt an exemplification of the living Force; a man who was selfless and self-sacrificing; who would lay down his life for the sake of those whom he held dear. He thought not of his own safety or well-being, and found it his utmost duty to put the welfare of others above himself.
"And even though, he is gone, I ask that you don't w cry for him—I don't any longer. After the past week, I have come to realize that my dad would not want tears in our eyes on this day. He would want us to go on. He has not died, for his light much like my mother's cannot ever truly be extinguished in our hearts.
"I smile this day, because I know most importantly that he is with my mom, Mara Jade Skywalker, a woman whom he loved with all his heart and who fit him so completely. A woman who only served to strengthen my father into the man he would become in later years.
"He is with her, so I can't cry, because I want him to be happy." Tears glistened in his eyes. "I know he's happy. So my tears are of joy, not of pain."
.(wipes own eyes) I hate it when I make myself cry.
Sweet Emerald: The epilogue was a great wrap and the memoriam ... reflects a maturity and depth that is astonishing in Ben and in the author. Bravo!!!!
Very beutiful ending. Sorry I didn't keep up with this - I read it over at ff.n when you first posted it. I'm glad I was able to read it a second time.