Title: Midichlorians, Midichlorians, Who's Got The Midichlorians? Author: ardavenport Timeframe: Between trilogies on Tatooine Genre: Drama Characters: Ben Kenobi, Owen and Beru Lars, young Luke Skywalker Keywords: midichlorines, Jedi, Tatooine, Owen, Beru, Luke Skywalker Summary: The Empire has taken over Tatooine and Ben Kenobi must help the Lars family protect young Luke from the new overlords. With a little help from his former master. Disclaimer: All characters belong to George and Lucasfilm and now Disney; I’m just playing in their sandbox Beru was up early as usual. She made her way through the rounded passages, relying on just a few dim night-time lights, her thorough knowledge of her home and the pre-dawn twilight coming through the round windows and doorways was enough to make her way. Entering the kitchen, she tapped in the code to begin the start-up routine for the power generators. The small moisture farm conserved in every way they could, using only enough power at night for their intruder defenses. The panel on the wall blinked red . . . red . . . . red . . . . green. She touched the controls again and the room lights came up. "I need to speak to you and Owen." Gasping, Beru backed up, shocked to see an intruder speaking to her in her own kitchen. Ben Kenobi lifted the hood of his brown robe and pushed it back. "Before Luke gets up." "How did you - - ?" "I need to speak to both of you. Now," he added, his tone mild, but urgent, "it's very important." Her hand on her chest, Beru recovered. She had lived in the harsh environment on Tatooine her whole life. The sudden appearance of the mysterious, bearded near-stranger in her home was enough to startle, but nowhere near enough to cause panic. "I'll get Owen." She hurriedly left, leaving the lights on. Folding his arms before him, Kenobi huddled into his robe. The nights of the Tatooine deserts were as chilly as the days were mercilessly hot. But harsh as the environment was, it was hardly barren. The moisture in the air sustained primitive plants and the smallest life that were at the base of a predatory food chain. Subsistence moisture farms like the Lars Homestead used vaporators to extract water from the air to grow a meager harvest of nutritious subsurface lichen and fungus for trade. The simple kitchen and work area he waited in was small, but clean with the usual conveniences. It was a good home. He straightened, hearing footsteps returning. Owen Lars preceded his wife into the room. He carried a weapon, an old blaster, leveled at the intruder. “Get out.” “I need to speak with you.” Kenobi spoke smoothly, taking a step toward the farmer. “It’s important. For you and your family.” Lars wavered. Kenobi felt the man’s outrage that his home had been violated succumb to the curiosity about what Kenobi had to say. The gun lowered. He scowled at the visitor who had slipped past his home's defenses. He was a gruff man, reputedly very similar to his father who had died a few years ago. Tatooine had a way of aging and hardening its inhabitants. Kenobi's beard had gone mostly gray in the few years he had lived out his exile in its wastelands. “What is it?” "Are you going into Anchorhead today?" The man grimaced as if tasting something bitter. "I haven't decided." "Go," Kenobi ordered. "If you don't show up for the census, the Empire will send stormtroopers to find you." The clone troops that he had once commanded to defend the Galactic Republic were now stormtroopers who kept order in the Galactic Empire. "You do not want to be made an example by them." Lars remained belligerent. "I said I haven't decided." "Go." Kenobi glared back. "If you don't, you will be endangering Beru and Luke, as well as anyone other family you have." He took another step toward him. "The Empire has landed two Legions on Tatooine. There are six battle cruisers in orbit right now to enforce the transition." "It's not my problem if the Hutts just gave up without a fight." "Fight? With what? For once in my life I can agree with the Hutts. Trying to fight the Empire would be suicide." "Are you going?" Owen challenged back. "Yes." The moisture farmer scowled back, but he broke eye contact first. "They're not getting my farm." "They don't want your farm." Kenobi pressed the stubborn man. "They want this planet, they want the space ports, they want the Hutts to do their dirty work when the Emperor calls them. All this," he waved a hand, "is just a formality for them. A show of force. Once they've established control of this sector, they won't have any reason to bother with this place. Unless someone gives them a reason." Owen remained tight-lipped. Beru watched the confrontation between the two men. She did not need any convincing that defying the Empire was foolish and dangerous. "I'm going to get Luke up." She looked from her husband to their visitor, her eyes kind but grave. "I don't think you should be here when I do." Kenobi nodded, bowing his head and replacing the hood of his robe. She stepped to her husband's side as he left. The tans of the sunken desert home were just emerging from the gray of morning twilight. ### ### ### ### ### ### The people from the farms and settlements gathered in and around Anchorhead, a small collection of pale, domed buildings huddled together in the middle of the vast Tatooine wastelands. The people, mostly Humans, approached warily in speeders or on beasts of burden of various sizes. The troopers posted at every approach route halted them, demanded identification, scanned for weapons. They had far more troopers and transports than they needed for the surly and independent-minded homesteaders, but that was how the Empire did things. Conquer with overwhelming force. Emperor Palpatine made his statements with battle cruisers and legions of clone troops; no negotiations, no terms. Kenobi wondered if the Empire had sent any communication at all to the Hutts, the gangster lords who ruled the planet, before their fleet arrived in the system. He parked his speeder bike among the other vehicles and animals and attached himself to the end of a family group with three farm hands. Two older women argued, a small child cried, one of the farm workers had a hangover from the night before. The lead trooper demanded identification for each of them. When one gruff older man complained that they were being treated like criminals, the troop commander called an officer over and started a thorough scan and search of the man and his wife, ‘for weapons or other illegal contraband.’ Troopers with heavier guns stood conspicuous watch over the spectacle. It was perfect cover for Kenobi, who raised an empty hand to the lone trooper who barred his way. “You’ve already seen my identification.” The trooper tilted his head, the white helmet and large, black angular eye-pieces blank and expressionless. “All quite in order. I am alone and I have nothing of significance on me.” The white helmet tilted the other way. “Move on.” “Move on,” the trooper repeated, latching onto the comfortably authoritarian words, waving Kenobi on with his gun. Another family group arrived, grumbling and trudging up to the check-point. Kenobi felt the trooper’s mind returning with confidence to the familiar task. Bred for obedience, their minds almost willingly submitted to the lightest touch of the Force. He passed by a whole line of troopers whose helmets turned toward the complaining farmer families. Making his way through a dusty alley, two skinny, agile youths bounding ahead of him, he emerged from the morning shadows between the buildings. Lifting his gaze, the hood of his robe shading his face, he saw more clone troopers than he had seen in one place for years. The armor had changed, oppressively white and new over black under-armor, with more rounded edges and no distinguishing marks. Rows and rows of them. White armor with big black guns. The Empire had gotten very good at intimidation. Safely anonymous, he mingled among the people, some were from Anchorhead, while the people from the surrounding area arrived for the appointed time of declaration of their subjugation to the Empire. The Lars family had not arrived yet. He positioned himself on a stone block by a vaporator where he could see the whole area where the people were herded. A podium had been set up facing them. And behind that were the troops, lined up for show, though they were disturbingly well positioned to be a firing squad as well. No defiance of any kind would be tolerated, though there was plenty of it in the angry glares of the locals. Closing his eyes, Kenobi stilled his mind, calm of emotion. His years of exile in the desert had given him time to let his feelings about the complete betrayal and defeat of the Jedi Order slide into the past. He could see all the beings around him, gathering, moving about, standing still in the open center of Anchorhead. The rows of stormtroopers glowed with sameness, but each with little differences that marked them as individuals. Some were bored, some excited, some had armor that wasn’t fitted as well as the others. The Imperial officers were more focused on the people, unimpressed with the farmers and their families. Some officers were disappointed that the morning was not going to be very interesting. The lowly task of making these people part of the Empire was beneath them. Disdain, arrogance, contempt. Those feelings ran strong among the Imperials. They were bestowing their protection upon people who hardly deserved it, wasting time and resources counting them and their meager possessions. They were not looking for anything in particular. This action was ordinary and routine. “General Kenobi, our scouts haven’t found anything.” The spirituous images of clone troopers saluting and reporting came and went. “General Kenobi, your ship is ready, Commander Cody has assembled a team.” “General Kenobi, we’re under attack!” “General Kenobi, we’ve intercepted a coded communication. We think it’s from the Separatists.” It was the Force, like memory, but as different from it as a real person was from a hologram. Pale recollection was flat and transparent compared to the richness he perceived through the Force. The suns climbed higher in the sky; Anchorhead grew more crowded with more voices, more lives. “What do they want?” “They’re not getting any taxes from me.” “You’d be crazy to fight them.” “I’m not bowing and scraping to some Emperor in the Galactic Center.” Defiance. Anger. Independence. These were not a good attitudes to show to Imperial officers and their well-armed troops. But it was not organized; it would do little more than annoy the Imperials. A blue lightsaber flashed, swinging wildly, deflecting energy bolts. Green and blue lightsaber blades appeared, deflecting the increasingly heavy blaster fire. The Jedi line held for a moment, but the lightsabers started going out, green and blue vanishing until there was only one green blade left . . . It cut through flesh and bone in one powerful stroke. The resistance of the blade cutting through the Sith did not slow the blade even though he felt up his arms and in his whole body. The Sith, black clothes, red and black skin, yellow eyes, fell backward and dropped away in two pieces . . . The blade swung upward in a salute, the green light glowing on the face of his old Master, Qui-Gon Jinn. //You should not have brought your weapon. It will only put you in danger if it is discovered.// “I can keep them from looking for it. And I must protect young Luke. If they have come to test him; I must escape and take him away.” //Everything is different now, my Padawan. The old Order, the Old Republic is gone.// “The clones are the same. I served with them. For years. Now they are the tools of the Empire. Of the Sith. I must protect Luke.” //You protect him best by remaining hidden until it is his and you time. Everything is different now.// “He cannot remain hidden if he is tested. I must prevent that.” //You still do not see, Obi-Wan.// Chuckle. //Even what is right in front of you.// The face faded away, but the chuckle remained, the voice lowering to a whisper. //Everything is different now, Obi-Wan.// The Force fell away as if drawn down from him into the ground. Kenobi’s eyes opened and then widened in surprise. A small, five year-old boy with blond hair and blue eyes stared up at him. Standing less than an arm’s length away, he wore a long pale tunic with the bottoms of his pants and the toes of beige boots showing under it. Kenobi recovered and smiled down at him. “Well, hello there.” “Hello.” The boy, young Luke Skywalker, clutched a child-sized metal water bottle. Gazing down at him, Kenobi could feel the Force, like a gentle warmth within his small and growing body. But it was strange that he had not felt his presence approaching. //Everything is different now.// Qui-Gon remained. A warm breeze, tickling behind his ear. Killed years ago when the Sith first emerged, he had remained as a presence in the Force, re-emerging after the Jedi were all but wiped out when the Emperor seized power. His spirituous presence was an extraordinary confirmation of Qui-Gon’s conviction that a vergence had emerged in the Force, one that the Jedi Council (and Obi-Wan) had initially not believed in. //Take no action, Obi-Wan. Everything is different now.// Underneath his robe, Kenobi carried not just his own lightsaber, but Anakin Skywalker’s, the blade he hoped Luke would learn the ways of a Jedi with. But his uncle had forbidden it. Not once had Kenobi ever said that he was a Jedi, but the Larses knew. And they had both met Anakin once and knew he was a Jedi Knight; they assumed that he had been killed in the purge of the Jedi Order. Anakin had been killed by the purge as far as Kenobi was concerned. The boy before him continued his uninhibited child’s stare. At his age, Kenobi had already started his first lessons with a lightsaber; in the Jedi Temple, he learned about the Force as soon as he could talk. But Luke would remain innocent of all that, protected by his grandmother’s adopted family. Until the time came for the Sith to be challenged. On a far away planet, his twin sister was being raised by Senator Organa’s family. She would have a loving home, but she would be raised to be a politician, the daughter of a politician and the Jedi Code forbid anyone with a political position or ambitions to be trained. “Luke!” Beru Lars’s voice approached, rising above the crowd. “Luke! Luke!” The intensity of Luke’s stare increased and he squirmed a little. “You should go to your aunt now. She is looking for you. She’ll be worried where you are.” Kenobi’s gesture broke the boy’s resolve to stare him down; he turned in the direction of his aunt’s voice. “Go on.” Lips pressed together, Luke gave him a parting stare before whirling about and running off, dodging between the bodies of the gathering adults. “Luke!” Beru’s tone changed to recognition and Owen’s voice joined hers in a warning for him not to run off again. The stance and sounds of the crowd changed. In a crisp gray uniform and regulation had, an Imperial Captain approached the speaker’s podium. His amplified voice welcomed the people into the Empire and spoke of the prosperity and peace they would enjoy under the protection of its laws. Someone in the crowd yelled that they didn’t need the Empire’s laws. He used a local adjective that the Captain might not have understood, but the tone made the derogatory meaning clear. The whole front row of stormtroopers alerted at once. The threat of all those guns suddenly up silenced anyone who might have joined the heckler. A single gesture from the Captain sent two troopers into the crowd and they dragged out the man who had shouted the insult. He was young, tall and coarsely dressed, skin dark tan from long days working outside. Sitting on the sidelines, Kenobi closed his eyes, feeling the weight of two lightsabers hanging from his belt, under his robe. If the man had backed down, apologized, made excuses, perhaps he would have been spared. But he did not. Now he would be sacrificed, an example for the Empire, his life worth less than other greater goals. The crowd gasped, some screaming when the single shot killed him, the sound of the body hitting the hard-packed gritty ground came a second later. A sustained shrieking indicated where the man’s friends and family were. Many trooper footsteps converged and separated them, dragging them up before the crowd, among them the high voices of children. More blaster shots and screams from the victims followed. More bodies hit the ground or landed with muffled thumps on the others. A breeze carried the smell of ozone mixed with burnt flesh, bone, internal organs and brains. Kenobi opened his eyes. Eight bodies were dragged away before an outraged, but highly attentive and silent crowd. The Captain resumed his position at the podium and started a lecture about the importance of public order, for the good of all and the necessity to enforce it with regrettably harsh, but absolutely necessary measures. Then he left, waving to his subordinates. Nearby, the troopers frisked the bodies, looking to identify the victims for their records. A lieutenant took his turn at the podium and recited where the new laws would be downloaded. Defiance would not be tolerated. He then pointed to junior officers who had set up census stations. Everyone would be tested, recorded and issued Empire identification for which they would be taxed later. Any other identification they had was now illegal and would be confiscated. As soon as the lieutenant left the podium, Kenobi was up and moving through the crowd. “I’ll go first,” he said as he passed Owen Lars, getting ahead of them in a line forming at one of the census stations. At the head of the lines, the people presented themselves. They were scanned again, pricked for blood samples, their local Tatooine ident chits taken away and new Imperial ones issued. The lines shuffled forward as each person was processed and sent away. Children cried, people glared angrily while others kept their eyes down, just hoping to get it over with. Finally Kenobi’s turn came. “It’s quite all right. You’ve already finished with mine.” The junior office stared at him, slack-jawed, his hand grasping Kenobi’s wrist, the blood sampler ready. Kenobi’s body blocked the view of the troopers holding back the rest of the line. “Let me help you with that.” Kenobi diverted the sampler, taking both the officer’s hands. He took a blank ID and touched the re-start on the census computer terminal. “Thank-you.” The officer’s mouth moved in response, but his eyes did not focus. Kenobi stepped back. “Next.” “Next!” the officer called out, snapping back into form. There were three people, an older couple and a farm hand. Then it was the Lars family’s turn. Owen snapped Kenobi a glare before the officer jabbed him with the blood tester. The light on the instrument blinked. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Green. It was a midichlorian tester. The Republic had used it to identify younglings to be sent to the Jedi Temple. It was a simple device, discovered millennia ago, based on the technology used for life-form sensors and scanners. It did not detect the Force, no technology could. But it identified the midichlorians, a critical marker for identifying potential Force-users. The higher the midichlorian count, the greater an individual’s strength with the Force. Anakin Skywalker had the highest midichlorian level ever recorded, before he fell to become the Emperor’s apprentice, Darth Vader. Kenobi had defeated Vader. He thought he had killed him. The Force guided his blade to cut off his arm and legs; the fires of Mustafar consumed him after that. But somehow Palpatine had saved what was left of him; now a black, walking half-machine to enforce a Sith reign of terror, and an apprentice who would never again be strong enough to challenge his Master. Now, the Empire was using the same scanner technology to identify any fugitive Jedi. Or identify anyone who might be able to challenge the Sith and kill them when they were too young to even know their potential. Or worse capture them and corrupt their potential to the Sith’s purposes. Well aware of the lightsabers hidden under his robe, Kenobi would not let that happen to Luke. Owen got his Imperial ident and he waited while Beru was scanned and processed. “What’s going on here?” The Imperial captain appeared, getting between Kenobi and Larses. “Nothing. Nothing at all.” An older, gray-haired man, the captain was shorter than Kenobi, stiff-backed and squinting in the suns-light. “I am merely waiting for a friend at the end of the line.” He lifted a hand. The Captain grabbed it. “Get me a blood scanner!” The junior officer paused over Beru’s data before he hopped to comply, bringing a gray, blinking scanner. The Captain palmed it, cocking a new sample point. Three trooper moved to stand around them, guns ready. His mind calm, Kenobi’s eyes followed the scanner, the tiny, short needle probe moving closer to his exposed wrist. The Captain locked his brown eyes on him. He was an older man, a veteran old enough to have served the Republic. Old enough to have served in the Clone Wars, with Jedi. The needle went in, a quick jab to snatch enough blood into the scanner to link to the computer at the census station. Feeling a strange calm in the Force, Kenobi mildly gazed back at the Captain’s challenge. The device blinded in the Captain’s hand. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow . . . Green. Kenobi’s expression froze except for a slight lift of his eyebrows. But the Captain snarled his disappointment. He clicked out the probe, and its incriminating DNA, into the dirt, his booted foot crushing it into the packed sand. Another click reset the scanner, erasing the data. “Go wait for your friend over there.” The Captain dismissed him and one of the troopers grabbed his arm, dragging him away. Kenobi stumbled, as much with his own surprise as it was with his pretense of being a harmless desert recluse. The trooper rudely shoved him toward a cluster of parked vehicles and domestic animals and went back to the census station. Turning around, Kenobi saw Beru picking Luke up for the junior Imperial to scan. “OW!” Luke jerked his little hand back from the scanner. Kenobi could just see the lights on it in the officer’s hand. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow. Yellow . . . Green. Kenobi let his breath out. Chuckle. //Everything is different now.// His Master’s presence, which had only faded back to the edge of his perception, returned with the feeling that if he only turned around, Qui-Gon would be standing right behind him in the flesh. Kenobi blinked, eyes teary. But he did not turn around. The officer handed Beru an Imperial ident for Luke and she hefted the boy in her arms and moved on to join Owen. Pouting, Luke gave the officer a very cross look and rubbed his hand. Over his wife’s shoulder, Owen gave Kenobi a curt nod and half smile, as much as a ‘thank-you’ as the man could give. Beru turned her head, saw him and gave him a grateful smile and hugged the boy in her arms. Kenobi was not going to chase after them to say that he had nothing to do with what had just happened. Everything was different. With the Jedi Order all but gone, it seemed that other things were gone, too. But the Jedi (and unfortunately the Sith) had existed long before midichlorian tests. The Force would lead those with the potential to use it in other ways, now. As the family headed back to their speeder, Luke pointed toward Kenobi, clearly asking who he was, but Owen waved the question off without an answer or another look back. Sighing, Kenobi looked about for his own speeder bike and wove through the vehicles and animals toward it. He ran a hand over his belt pouch. There would be forgers in Mos Eisley who could make a very good ident from the blank one he had taken. For a price. He might have to spend more than one night at the gaming tables to acquire enough to pay for it without attracting too much attention, but that would be a trivial inconvenience. There was no such thing as luck for the Force and a Jedi to use it, especially on Tatooine where the entire economy rested on gambling. He felt the weight on his belt of the two lightsabers under his robe as he mounted the speeder bike and started it. He smiled. Someday, there would be a time for them. Someday. ### ### ### END ### ### ### Disclaimer: This story was first posted on tf.n . All characters and the Star Wars universe belong to George and Lucasfilm; I am just playing in their sandbox.