Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Admiral Volshe, Sep 3, 2012.
She's working on additional chapters, don't worry.
Phew! That is something to look forward to!
I guess the Sith got her. *sigh* All the best stories are left unfinished. First, Jedi Tales: The Origin of Palpatine, then Rise of the Sith'ari, now She Shall Rise Again.
Oh, well . . .
I am working on it! Do not fret!
I was ill all summer and have been very busy sorting out university things. I have been neglecting my story, I know. Things are looking up though and I will be updating soon.
Hurrah, you will go on. I hope you (
@Admiral Volshe) are way better now and that university runs smoother. RL should always come first!
I want in on this story please and thank you
@Admiral Volshe, I just read the first installment, and I'm really looking forward to continuing.
Yeah, it only took me near 2 years. My body decided to rebel, I had university, I had other stuff happen...and it all was very crazy!!!! I am hoping this isn't a biyearly story...lol! So sorry for the wait...
@Bail B. Baobab ,
@Blue Ice Cream ,
@Darth_Cruel (hope I didn't miss anyone!!!)
A cacophony of footsteps shook the floor above the group. Han shook his head and looked up instinctively. Not only was the storage locker cramped, it smelled like poodoo. He choked on a stale breath and tried to keep silent. It had been at least a standard hour now. The Imperials had ordered a scan of the ship; the group was just waiting for their chance to escape.
Ben and Luke sat opposite him. They had taken to some sort of meditation and had been so quiet he had been tempted to check their pulses. Breha sat beside him, and while also quiet; her eyes were tense with fear and anger.
Han sighed for what had to be the hundredth time. This definitely wasn't what he had signed up for.
The footsteps started again and he leaned forward carefully towards Luke, outstretching a hand. The boy's eyes snapped open when he had gotten a half metre away. Han reeled back at the sudden movement, startled. In the past day he had seen how different Luke really was, but he still was reluctant to credit it to the Force.
The footfalls stopped for a moment and Han watched the ceiling. Luke did the same, his eyes peering through a narrow sliver of light behind the smuggler’s head. Han smirked as the muffled voices of Stormtroopers sunk into the compartment. He could only make out a few words, mostly sharp replies of 'sir'.
Their voices slowly faded and a thud shook the small room.
“Are they gone?” Luke whispered. Han shot a glare at him, putting a finger to his lips. He hadn't heard any footsteps; for all he knew they were waiting to see if any passengers moved from their hiding spots. It wasn't likely, but he wasn't about to play a game of chance. Luke’s expression turned sheepish and he became suddenly entranced in his borrowed smuggler’s boots. Han leaned his head against the durasteel wall.
Only a faint vibration met his ears. He kept listening for a few moments, waiting for the voices or steps to waft back into the compartment. Minutes passed and he still heard no sound. Placated, but still wary, he kneeled and placed his palms on the compartment's lid.
“Help me with this, kid,” he whispered to Luke.
Skywalker assumed the same kneeled position and they cautiously lifted the steel ceiling.
Luke nodded and inched his head up until his eyes were above the floor’s level. The change in lighting burned his eyes for a moment and he blinked hard, waiting for his vision to adjust. The corridor was clear excepting a few tools that had been strewn about the hallway, most likely the result of the Stormtroopers' inspection. He turned to Han, who was also scoping the room around them.
"Nobody there, " he reported in a whisper.
Han leaned back onto his heels and shook his head. “I don’t see ‘em either.”
The Corellian brushed off his hands and rested an elbow on the floor. The ship's stale air wasn't much better than the compartment's, but at least it didn't smell - nor was it suffocatingly hot. "Never did I think I'd be smuggling myself in there."
Luke still whispered. “How are we going to get out of here?”
Han boosted himself out of the dank room, pulling the metal lid backwards to fully open the compartment.
"They aren't going to just let us fly out of here if that's what you're asking." He then strode over to the other compartment and knocked on the durasteel roof. Chewbacca's paws appeared from beneath the floor and pushed the lid off. He let out a short trill and Han nodded in response, mouthing something to him. The wookiee nodded and stood up.
"There's got to be something we can do," Luke said, hope in his piercing blue eyes.
Han rubbed his brow. At this point he would have rather been back on Tatooine. Trying to escape from the Imperials was hard enough in the wide expanse of space. Here they were in the belly of the proverbial Rancor. "They've got shields up to stop us from leaving. Standard protocol. We aren't getting past the tractor beam" His hand fell to his side and he stood arms akimbo. "Not to mention the hangar's probably crawling with Imperials."
Skywalker scuffed the floor with his boot, his expression temporarily lost in thought. Han tried to form a plan. The shields were impossible to get through, they would have to somehow turn them off. Not an easy feat by any means. None of them were experts on Imperial technology. Chewbacca growled quietly. The ideas in his head dissipated. "That's what I was thinking, Chewie."
Luke snapped his head up. "What?"
Chewie barked twice. "Chewbacca thinks they've got a scanner team coming up. The Empire's not going to leave an unidentified ship without a search."
Ben's voice spoke from below them. "That is likely." He paused, the whirr of the hangar outside permeating the room. After a moment he continued. "It may also be our opportunity to escape."
The Wookiee trilled at Han, who turned towards Ben. "You don't mean we go in there and turn the shields off?"
The old Jedi nodded. "The shields will be easily dealt with. I will take care of the tractor beam."
"This is nowhere near my idea of easy," Han replied, shaking his head.
Luke frowned at the proposal. "Won't they realize?"
Breha stood, her voice breaking through behind them. The trio looked at her, surprised she was speaking. Her brown irises were flecked with determination. "They will find out eventually, but we cannot stay here forever. They will find us if we do nothing."
They exchanged glances for a minute.
"I hate to say it but they're right," Han grimaced, putting his palms up in defeat. They really didn't have a choice. Either way they were essentially Bantha fodder, but at least with the latter they would have the remote chance of escape. "They'll find us out either way. If we get to the tractor beam controls we might have a chance."
"I guess," Luke said, looking back at his feet. He felt anxious. Something wasn't right. He didn't know what, but something was definitely not right. The second-hand shirt he wore suddenly felt tight around the collar. Reaching a hand up to adjust it, his gaze went to Ben. The old Jedi sat quietly with his expression blank.
Luke sighed. If Ben wasn't worried it must just be nerves. He took a deep breath, hoping he could exhale some of the pent up energy.
"You alright?" Han asked.
Luke nodded and avoided the gazes of the others, which were now directed at him. "Yeah, I'm fine."
"If you say so." Han didn't look convinced. His reply was peppered with apprehension. He spun around and went up to Chewbacca, giving him a quick set of instructions.
The faint swish of Old Ben's robes came from behind him as he stood. His hand rose to his brow, concentration etched across his features. The two had been so focussed on each other they had failed to pay attention to their surroundings. There was a group just outside the ship. Their energy pulsed on the fringes of his mind. He did not expect either of them to have noticed the ripples of life in the Force, but their footfalls and the echo of their voices were both quite loud - even to his aged ears. He raised his hand up to draw the others' attention. In the moment he did, a chill passed through him. The bright spots of life vanished into darkness. He attempted to seek them out again, but they were obscured by the new energy - a swirling void that seemed to swallow all life around it. The old Jedi froze as the dark waves lapped against his psyche. Something about them was familiar, something he couldn't quite place. His breath hitched in his chest.
The feeling was fleeting. As quickly as it had come over him, it vanished. With each further second it faded into the background and then finally vanished completely. The others were still facing him, waiting for him to speak. He slowly placed his palm against the floor.
"Our opportunity is now." he advised, "Listen."
Han's hand instantly grasped his sidearm. Luke followed suit, holding his 'saber and tilting his head inquisitively before taking a hesitant step towards the boarding ramp's entrance. As he went to move forward again, Chewbacca let out a purr. Luke stopped and cast a sideways glance towards them. In the absence of his soft steps came the clanging of metal outside.
"Luke," Han whispered, waving him back towards them. Luke backpedalled and stopped alongside Han. The Corellian leaned close and lowered his voice further.
"Alright," he started, "we need to get the Stormtroopers' armour. We'll each take one of the scanners, then call the Stormtroopers aboard. Chewie'll help us out." He motioned to the Wookiee who was now hidden behind a small alcove just inside the doorway.
"And don't use that," he pointed to Luke's lightsaber, "We need them in one piece."
Luke nodded, dropping his hand to his side. He pondered Han's words for a moment, forming an argument. Han motioned to Breha and Ben to move out of the line of sight. Ben climbed out of the shallow compartment, moving to a corner with a view of the corridors. Breha remained inside, shifting to the opposite side where she was invisible to anyone entering.
The footsteps grew in intensity and the faint clacking of Stormtrooper armour came with them. Han signalled to Luke, then Chewbacca, once the sounds of movement drew closer. The armour stopped, but the sound of Imperial issue boots continued to come closer.
Two crewmen rounded the corner, setting what appeared to be scanner equipment down near the end of the hall. They stood for a moment before beginning to unpack. Their rank bars glinted in the dim light, allowing Han to keep his focus on them. They opened the box quietly; and pinpricks of red light flooded from its mouth. One of the men, average height and build with brown hair, reached in and grasped a datapad. The other squatted down and flicked a few switches. A hum emanated from the container, faintly vibrating the floor beneath them. The crewman near the ground handed the other one what appeared to be a wand. With a quick motion the man flicked the wand on. Light radiated outwards, a delicate icy blue that dusted their surroundings.
Chewbacca growled softly and tapped Han on the shoulder. They were getting close enough to find them now, the glacial light creeping into the small room where they hid. Han hesitated. If they charged him, the man's teammate could escape to the boarding ramp, alerting the entire hangar to their presence. An idea crossed his mind, bringing a smirk with it. Han turned, motioning for Luke and Chewbacca to back up.
He looked towards the room. There was nothing capable of making the type of noise he needed. Except the compartment lid. He waved to Breha, her head bobbing just above the floor. She nodded in acknowledgment. With only the rustling of his clothing sounding above the scanner team's ambient noise, he conveyed his instructions to her. He motioned to the lid and made a pulling motion. Breha nodded once more, her face serene yet understanding. She grasped the container lid, using small notches as handles to assist her in pulling the heavy metal across the floor. They all held their breath as it began to scrape lightly against the durasteel. She tugged it once again, and it grated against the floor more loudly than before.
The susurrations of the scanners ceased. In their place came whispers, then footsteps.
The trio waited in the alcove until the two men entered.
Not the smartest move, Han noted. The two of them leaving their post to inspect a noise. Of course, he wasn't complaining.
As soon as they reached the middle of the room, Han and Chewbacca charged. Han covered the brown-haired crewman's mouth, anticipating him to yell for help. Chewbacca quickly subdued the second Imperial, moving him to the far edge of the room. The other crewman wrestled himself free of Han's grasp; his hands instantly began to strike at the Corellian. Han anticipated most of the punches, blocking them, but a swiping kick knocked his feet from under him. He reached out and grabbed for the man's ankles, bringing him down as well. Han's head spun for a moment. Blood rushed to his eyes, the imaginary stars dazzling him. They both scrambled to their feet again, ready to face each other. Luke and Chewbacca were already prepared for the man to rise. Luke grabbed him from behind, and Chewbacca quickly took him out.
Han wiped a slight sheen of sweat from his forehead. His head pounded, him having taken much of the impact of the fall to his chin. Slowly he could feel the daze lifting from his vision. Ghosts of light dotted his view, and he paused a moment before deciding he could make his way down the corridor. He took another moment to catch his breath, then turned back to Luke.
"I'm going to call 'em up. Move the equipment out of there." He pointed to the box that still remained in the middle of the hall. Luke stepped forward cautiously. There was still noise nearby, but he could not pinpoint the exact source. It bothered him. He shook his head and looked to the left of the corridor, where some of their equipment had been left lying on the floor. To his surprise, Ben was already making his way to the pile of technology. The Old Jedi scooped it into his arms and took a few steps back towards the scanner box, swiftly yet carefully placing it within. He latched the box shut and waved to Luke.
Luke shook his head again and made his way to where Ben stood. His wizened face gave him an encouraging smile, one that reminded him of the lessons that he had given. The Jedi Code swirled in Luke's mind once again, and the nerves he had felt seconds ago evaporated into the quiet room. He lifted the box, feeling his strength slightly amplified by the Force. He had anticipated it to be quite heavy; it surprised him when it felt no heavier than the casing of a moisture evaporator. His pace was smooth as he located a new alcove in the corridor, shrouded by the ship's darkness. The box made little noise when he set it down and slid it into the shadows.
He turned back toward the hall. Han stood waiting. Luke nodded, backing towards the small room with the smuggling compartments. He watched as Han took a hesitant two steps towards the boarding ramp and called out.
"Hey down there, could you give us a hand with this?"
Han backpedalled, ducking into the small room as footsteps pounded up the metal ramp.
Within a few short moments, one of the two Stormtroopers had entered the corridor. Both Han and Luke could see him from their vantage point, the metal wall just barely obscuring their faces. The soldier paused, scoping the area before turning and calling to what seemed to be his partner. Out of the corner of his eye, Luke noticed Han's arm stiffen. His finger rested against the trigger; his focus on the Stormtrooper only a few metres away. Taking it as an unspoken signal to prepare himself, he stepped back slightly into the alcove and took a breath. He felt the Force hum at his fingertips - but it was of little use to him at the moment.
He peered back towards the dimly lit hallway, craning his neck to see the Trooper. A shadow stretched across the wall behind the white-plastic-clad soldier. It inched closer and took on a humanoid shape, before growing another head and splitting into two separate forms. One stretched down the hall, barely noticeable on the grey flooring. The other arched across the bulkhead, a stark contrast with the chromatic walls. The shadows began to shorten as their owners marched forward. The disembodied footsteps echoed, tinny in the metal corridor.
Three of them were approaching, not the two he was expecting. He clenched his jaw in nervousness; once more trying to repeat his teachings internally. There is no emotion, there is peace…..
Luke blinked, anticipating them to appear at any moment. Before his eyes opened again, a blaster shot rang out. His heart leaped. Adrenaline began to course through his veins; the Force tingled around his fingertips like electricity. It took him a split second to adjust, his eyes instantly searching for the source of the shot.
Han sent a glance towards him. His blaster was still raised, a thin wisp of smoke rising from the end and dissipating into the air. The Stormtroopers were rushing down the corridor towards them, the clicking of their plasteel boots sharp in the air. Luke took another deep breath, allowing his eyes to search the room. The others still remained in their places. Breha's caf-coloured eyes met his, a swirl of anxiety and bravery pouring from them. Ben's stood motionless. His breathing was calm, his attention seemingly on nothing at all. Luke knew better; the old Jedi Master was aware of everything in the room.
The clacking of boots interrupted him. Luke cut his awareness activity short, watching as the Troopers began to flood into the room. For a moment, his mind lingered on the others. The same anxiety he could see in Breha's eyes clutched at his throat, as if it had seen him as a better host. He swallowed and clenched his hand. The Force was still there, although lesser than before. It tingled slightly, dancing through his body. He blinked twice and tried to sharpen his focus. It worked, enough for the rest of the room to begin to fade away and the soldiers to take his attention. He paused. It had only been a few heartbeats, the Troopers barely into the room. Suddenly, Han darted forward.
The slow motion effect ceased, the speed of the action now dizzying. Luke rushed towards the Troopers behind Han. They raised their blaster rifles almost simultaneously, a barrage of red laser fire racing from the barrels. Luke dodged to the side; Han was already out of their range. The Corellian lurched forward again, ducking down and wrapping his arms around one of the Stormtroopers. Surprised, the Trooper tried to aim his blaster downwards. Han anticipated the move and grabbed the end of the blaster rifle, shoving it upwards and jerking it from the Stormtrooper's gloved hands.
Han swung the blaster up, aiming for the Trooper's helmet.
The Stormtrooper tried to dodge the rifle but only succeeded in stumbling backwards. A brief wave of fear caught him. In an instant, the E-11 clipped his chestplate. The force of the hit startled him further. It stung for a brief moment, burning in his throat before fading away. He reached for his comm instinctively. If he couldn't avoid the assault, he could at least call for back-up and alert the others stationed outside. His focus went to the small bar and he opened his mouth to speak.
He looked up again, the message on the tip of his tongue. Becoming distracted by his comm was a grave mistake. Han had closed the narrow gap, the rifle clutched in his hands. He swung it, and the Trooper barely had enough time to raise his hands. It made contact with his chin, dazing him and stopping him from avoiding the next blow. The last thing he saw was the Corellian swing the rifle once more, the last thing he heard the crack as it hit his helmet forcefully. He collapsed to the ground, unconscious.
Han pulled his helmet off almost as soon as he had hit the ground and tossed it to the side. He surveyed the room. Chewbacca had already dispatched his Stormtrooper, and held the plastoid helmet beneath one furry arm. With a trill, he tossed it to Han. The Wookiee then turned and lumbered towards a far corner of the room. Luke had cornered the final Trooper, his rifle lying in the middle of the room.
Han yelled out, hoping to draw the soldier's attention away from Luke. Chewie had already made it to where they stood, Luke dodging the Trooper's blows but not succeeding in landing any of his own. His blue eyes glanced up. Acrid smoke from the blaster fire still hung in the air, dulling his senses. Han waved to him, pointing to where the Wookiee stood. Luke took a step back. He wanted to let the Stormtrooper corner him, to let Chewbacca grab him from behind. With agile footwork, he made it to the corner. The Trooper followed him; his attention not once leaving Luke's movements. Luke ducked. The Stormtrooper saw it as his opportunity, and jabbed his armoured fist toward Luke's head.
Before his hand had even made it halfway, Chewbacca's arm swung downwards onto his helmet. The armour clacked together and the Stormtrooper staggered. In a blink of the eye, he was down on the ground. Luke rose from his crouched position and stepped forward, closer to where the Trooper lay. He let his eyes wander, wondering whether Han still needed help.
Han was kneeled across the room. Next to him lay various pieces of armour, stripped from the second Trooper. Luke followed suit, slowly disassembling the armour of the Trooper. Chewbacca helped him, and as he glanced about the room he noticed Breha and Ben doing the same. Despite the sound of movement and the plastic armour clicking as it was disassembled, voices from the hangar still permeated the air.
He worked as quickly as possible, hoping that the other Imperials would not discover their plan.
Luke readjusted the helmet and tried futilely to wipe sweat from his chin. The armour was far more uncomfortable than the smuggling locker. The helmet was too large, and rolled from side to side with every step he took. Climate control was not an option, neither him nor Han knew how to work the suit. With the chance they could alert the other Stormtroopers to their presence, neither wanted to try and figure it out. One thing was for certain; the armour was a lot less glamorous than he had imagined.
Han was still putting the armour together. His arms were bare and the helmet still lay askew on the ground. Luke tapped his foot anxiously. Despite the suit being stifling, he could still hear the activity beyond the ship walls.
Breha and Ben spoke in the small niche, their voices so soft he had to focus intently to catch even the occasional word. They spoke of a woman, no doubt of the Senator they had come to rescue. Breha also mentioned something of her daughter, then Bail, her speech becoming strained as she said their names.
He could not discern any more of what they said. His attention floated to the corridor. Han was standing now, but the suit was still not completely assembled.
Static filled his helmet suddenly, startling him.
A voice broke through. "TX-421."
Luke's head jerked up, looking at Han and Chewbacca. They had both heard the message, from the looks on their faces. Breha stood and motioned to the corridor.
"Go," she whispered, "distract the officer momentarily."
She turned Artoo on quickly, looking to Ben.
Ben looked to Chewbacca and Han, catching on to Breha's plan. "Proceed to the command office, wait behind the doors. We will follow behind." With a quick and cautious step, the Jedi turned Threepio on. His eyes glowed to life and Ben quickly cut off his vocoder, anticipating the inevitable spew of conversation.
Luke clambered for the boarding ramp, noticing that Han followed close behind, his armour now completely assembled.
"TK-421," the voice called again, more insistently. The static buzzed in his ears, making it difficult for him to hear the activity of the hangar. A bout of anxiety flared in his chest as he reached the turn in the corridor. Their plan would be foolish if the hangar was filled with Imperials.
The disembodied voice continued, annoyed at this point.
"Why aren't you at your post? TK-421, do you copy?"
Luke stepped down the ramp and searched the wall in front of him. He waved to a window halfway up. Giving a short nod, he continued walking until he reached the ground. A man, evidently the source of the voice, watched as he proceeded down the ramp. Finishing his charade, Luke pointed to his helmet as if to say his comm was no longer working. It seemed they understood. The man nodded and turned away from the window.
Luke turned himself, ushering the group down the boarding ramp and towards a small alcove. Within it's confines there was another steeper ramp leading to the command office. They snuck quietly beneath the Falcon, quickly making their way into the protective shadows of the gallery. They proceeded up the ramp cautiously. It levelled out into a small platform ahead of them and then made a sharp turn, Although the space was quiet - barring the ambient buzz of machinery - there was no promise that more Stormtroopers did not await them. Han and Chewbacca disappeared around the bend first, no doubt to get rid of the officers that lurked above.
Casting a final cautious glance to the empty hangar, Luke hurried to catch up with the group.
Much action and passages that left me breathless when reading. A jolly good update. The long wait was worthwhile. I also like your Han and Luke, both so much in character.
Thank you much!!
Update: Been in the hospital for over 3 months right now, I have a couple chapters ready but want to finish the next one before I post anything. Sorry for all the long delays, but I've been really, really ill again. I have some more cognitive function, so I have been able to write again.
I also wanted to apologize to anyone reading the first few chapters in this thread - it seems that my edits didn't transfer well, and the formatting is very off. I am working on fixing it (while clarifying a few points that got muddled in the changes).
Hope it isn't too butchered on your end.
@Admiral Volshe - hi. I gobbled this up - and found it riveting & amazing! I love the Padme/Vader stuff. The emotions - the struggle to come together versus pull apart. Luke, Han, Chewie - great classic SW feel. Wonderful having Breha Organa in the thick of the action.
Thank you so much!!! Glad you enjoyed it!!
@Admiral Volshe: I hope that you are better now.
It happened! New update!
@Bail B. Baobab ,
@Blue Ice Cream ,
The heavy control room doors shushed open. Lord Vader turned to watch as two troopers pushed the Princess into the room and he strode forward to meet them in his usual menacing manner. They stopped just at the top of the stairs, taking on an uncomfortably straight posture and averting their eyes. That was common among nearly all of the personnel; none of them wished to look into the pitch black lenses. Like children who had misbehaved, they feared the consequences he had gained fame for. Though most often it uplifted him to feel their fear, a nagging doubt in his mind whispered just as their pupils darted away. Pity.
It had been what was different in Padmé’s gaze; what had triggered his fury. Lord Vader, pitied and weak. He scowled, holding back another rush of red hot anger as the guards pushed Leia forward. Crimson bloomed in his vision and he clenched both of his hands, the dull pain from the neural relay snaking up from his fists to his chest.
The Princess' face was serene and her eyes void of emotion. He narrowed his eyes slightly, noticing the torrid river beneath her façade. A small, twisted smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. The Princess had little control over her emotions, at least in the presence of a Sith. She had been able to fool everyone but him. Vader reached a hand out and grabbed her shoulder in a steel grip, feeling her recoil and a shockwave of fear and pain echo through her. He shoved her forward a step, turning them towards the large pane of glass a few paces away.
Leia’s only method of struggling was to make herself as heavy as possible; Vader sighed in exasperation as each pace took longer than he wished it to. It was only a few seconds - even in her attempts she was still unsubstantial compared to his massive frame - but his patience was worn away long ago. As they took another step she tried again, this time he drew on the Force to shove her forward. She stumbled and caught herself in the centre of the room.
He closed the short distance between them and once again seized her by the shoulder. The Princess tried to shake him off; in response he tightened his grip a silent warning for her to stop her struggle.
Vader let his eyes wander to the viewport. The enormous sphere of Dantooine was suspended in front of them. It reminded him of Naboo; the lush forests edged by farmland and the crystal blue shoreline. He felt his confrontation with Padmé floating back to him. Two ghostly eyes formed in the clouds, their irises painted by the deep brown of the mountains. He froze in surprise. They churned with unseen emotion; the concern, fear, and love he hadn’t seen for 19 long years. His mind began to wander away, the ethereal orbs pulled him towards the past. The room around him began to blur and he fought with the urge to simply give in. Padmé’s voice - a peal of laughter - rang in his ears before becoming overpowering, dragging him even further away from reality. The crimson around the edges of his vision returned. Vader felt the heat of rage snake up from his feet and his free hand clench into a fist. He hissed out a breath before closing his eyes, trying to rid himself of the illusion. It took what seemed like hours for his mind to finally slip back into reality. Vader finally opened his eyes, shaking his head until the wisp of clouds had morphed back into a nothing but a featureless swirl. A pit formed in his stomach; he tried his best to ignore it.
Vader’s eyes snapped back to the Princess as he felt the cold rush of her realisation flow beneath his fingertips. He focussed on her fear, feeding on it, filling the abyss that threatened to collapse the barriers that sealed off his emotions. His gaze floated back to the room in front of them at the sound of footsteps. From the shadows emerged a figure, his pale face obscured by the remaining wisps of blackness. He was much shorter than Vader, clad in a standard olive-drab uniform. Lord Vader recognised him at once, even though the man's head was turned towards the transparisteel panel. He waited for another ripple to roll beneath his fingertips at the Princess’ own recognition. It didn’t arrive until the man turned his face away from the viewport, towards her. A smile slithered across the man’s face.
“Princess Leia,” he greeted sardonically, “A pleasure to have you on board.”
In an instant the tormented river of emotion ebbing from Leia turned to ice. A whisper forced itself from her mind and into the dank room.
The Grand Moff raised an eyebrow and took another step forward. Vader eyed him, quickly flipping through his thoughts.
"We've found your friends, Princess." Tarkin sneered. He looked down his nose at her, his smile transforming into an icy glare. "Not all of them, but enough to make an effective demonstration.”
Leia jerked forward at his words. Vader simply tightened his grip again, holding her still. He could feel her torment and pain flood the room now; her once strong will faltering.
“You can’t,” she pleaded weakly.
“Oh, but we can,” Tarkin replied, his voice nonchalant. “Perhaps you would like to hear your official sentence as well, before we continue?”
Her heart skipped a beat, cold fear seeping into her every muscle. Leia willed her lips to stay still; even through the paralysing terror she found herself struggling. Silence fought against words in what felt like a losing battle. The urge to speak burned her throat like acid and she swallowed in an attempt to dull the pain.
Tarkin smiled, his eyebrow creeping up once again.
“Princess Leia Organa,” he began, studying her face. Her pupils narrowed; the only sign of the emotions that coursed beneath her visage. The Grand Moff continued. “Charged with high treason and crimes against the Empire, no trial to be held. Sentenced to immediate execution.”
Leia stood still, her face now completely void of emotion. Tarkin glanced to Darth Vader for only a brief second. Her reaction was far from what the Grand Moff had expected and frustration furrowed his brow slightly. For someone who had caused the Empire – and Tarkin – such trouble, he wished a display of fear and the pleas of mercy.
“Such a pity,” Tarkin scoffed - masking his disappointment - before turning to the enormous transparisteel viewport and walking to the control panels. “Prepare the weapon at once.”
Leia bit down on her cheek and watched his silhouette cross back in front of the pane. There was nothing more she wanted then to stop him; even if it was just for a moment. She remembered back to the calls she had put through to the base just months earlier, telling them they were moving operations to Yavin IV. They were only keeping the base as a decoy, but even then that required personnel to hold up the façade. Leia had promised them the base was secure enough to alert them to any attacks, strong enough to protect them long enough for the majority to evacuate. The residents of Dantooine - years of culture, lives built up from the once barren ground - would be extinguished in the blink of an eye. And it was her fault.
If only they had hidden the base differently, or destroyed it when they moved to Yavin IV, the countless citizens would have been saved.
Now she couldn’t warn them and there was no chance of them surviving. Her throat began to burn again; the fire crept up to her eyes and drew out tears. Leia took in a sudden breath, stopping them. The gloved hand of Vader constricted in response.
Tarkin had turned as well, his pale blue eyes burrowing into her own. She swallowed and returned a glare sharper than a vibro-blade.
Tarkin’s look changed from austere to bemused in an instant. He walked forward leisurely until he was only inches from her face. Leia tried to escape his gaze; craning her neck towards the viewport.
“I’m feeling rather merciful today, Princess, so I will give you a choice,” Tarkin growled.
Leia’s heart sunk; the only thing worse than what faced her now was a choice. She braced herself for the next words. In her mind she already knew what the options were. She wouldn’t play the Empire’s dangerous game and she most definitely would not betray the Rebellion.
“I won’t,” she blurted. Tarkin raised an eyebrow and looked at her. Her heart was throbbing with adrenaline now and her hands trembled. She shook her head, trying to keep her composure.
Tarkin tilted his head away in mild surprise. She dropped her gaze to the ground; trying to hide the defeat in her eyes.
Leia repeated herself, the conviction beginning to fade from her words.
“I won’t tell you.”
The Grand Moff shook his head slowly.
“Those poor innocent civilians, victims of the Rebellion’s attempts at freedom.” He snarled the last word, his lip curling.
Leia instantly regretted the decision. Fear clambered up into her throat as she watched the peaceful surface swirl below them. As hard as she tried to hold them back, bitter tears still threatened to escape. She put on her mask of indifference, waiting for them to dissipate.
Vader glanced at the churning clouds, scanning them, before looking back to Tarkin. Leia once again twisted beneath his grip; he simply grabbed her other shoulder in the same steel grip. The torment in her mind was deafening now. Every thought she had was fleeting and he required a great deal of focus to see them all. Even then he knew he was missing vital details; any story he managed to draw out from her memory would be broken and incomplete. She had a strong will -and though she wasn’t consciously guarding her thoughts - the barricades still held. He tried to delve past the rapids of her consciousness and into the calm depths of her unconscious. Still he failed to find the information he needed. He nodded to Tarkin.
The Grand Moff gave Darth Vader an acknowledging glance beneath his stern face; to anyone else it would have been indiscernible. Tarkin looked one more time at Leia before making a neat turn back to the crewmen controlling the weapon.
“You may fire when ready,” he ordered, before leaning and whispering to the men. “5 percent to obliterate the base, then full power.”
Vader grounded his mind. Thoughts of Padmé’s reaction had begun to ooze past the shield around his focus. He blinked away her face and tightened his grip, waiting for the pain to affect Leia’s mind before following her thoughts once again. This time he had faces; pilots, soldiers, politicians. None of them were named and none of them were anything more than ephemeral.
The ground beneath them began to hum. The crewmen were adjusting the control panel now; the normally dim lights of the console shifting to a dazzling display of colour. He eyed the scene carefully, feeling Leia’s anxiety heighten with each flip of a switch or turn of a dial. At last the ground beneath them changed to a muffled roar.
Tarkin stepped back and awaited the blast, his body turned like a merchant displaying his wares. It was clear he enjoyed every moment; contrary to the annoyed look he still maintained. The Grand Moff looked to Leia, the venomous glance only lasting a split second before the roar of the engines stopped. In the seconds following, only Vader's respirator offered relief from the eerie silence.
The whirring of machinery began again unexpectedly and Leia's heartbeat began to pound under Vader's quadranium grip. Once again a smile surfaced on Tarkin's face. He motioned to the viewport expectantly.
Another faint tremor shook the room and Vader focussed on the orb of gold and blue; waiting for the blast. Just as quickly as he had redirected his gaze, a tunnel of pulsating emerald light shot out from the station. In a split second it had scorched a path of destruction into the once peaceful surface.
Vader's surroundings blurred; the beam imprinted itself into his corneas. He tried to blink it away, but was greeted with the dream he had desperately wanted to forget.
Padmé's smiling face looked to him, the inferno of Dantooine's fields becoming hills bathed in golden sunlight. The blisteringly bright green ray shone on the horizon; just beyond the rounded peaks. He breathed in anxiously, his conscious clambering to return to reality. Through the echoes of nature, footsteps rang out and Vader turned to see the face that approached. He braced himself; remembering exactly who it was, but before she came into view the deadly light encompassed him; first it simply blinded him, then the excruciating pain flooded his body. Every inch of his skin burned, his mind could think of nothing other than the crippling pain and rage of emotion. He tried to reach to his eyes with his gloved hands - to wake himself from the vision - but it was a fruitless attempt.
As if it were punishing him for his attempt to escape, the vision changed to the aftermath. Vader stood in the marble archways of Varykino; his breathing permeating the empty halls. A sob mingled with the room's silence and he spun, recognising it as Padmé. She knelt on the floor; her cerulean gown splayed around her like a bottomless ocean. Her face was pale and drenched in tears. The Sith Lord's heart began to throb in frustration and he stepped forward, intending to comfort her. Instead she turned away. As she moved, two stone plaques glistened in front of her. Unlike the other stones, blocks of verdigris coruscating in the Naboo sun, they were the colour of ash. Vader knew instantly what they were. His heart dropped and he fell to his knees as furious tears clouded his vision.
Leia yanked out from beneath his grip; pulling him from the dream. Rage still pulsed in his every sinew and he grabbed her shoulders even harder than before. A small gasp of pain escaped her lips; instead of loosening his hold he simply basked in the violent ripples of fury, despair, and pain that spilled out from her mind. With every mechanical breath he drew on the rogue emotions and forced away the dream; Vader wanted nothing more than to forget it once more.
Though it seemed like hours before the last slivers of his vision had melted away, the scene in front of him was only seconds ahead. He blinked away the ghostly afterimage of the laser before turning his head back to Tarkin.
The Moff took two short paces toward the viewport; his brow creased with false concern. He shook his head - with the same mocking disappointment - and closed the distance between himself and Leia. "You have one last chance, Princess."
He narrowed his eyes and titles his head towards her; and spoke with his voice lowered to a threatening growl. "I grow tired of asking, so this will be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?"
He stepped away and waited for the response. Leia counted each second painfully. She couldn’t bring herself to reply. The block of fear and regret in her stomach, paired with the biting pain in her shoulders made it difficult to form words; the blazing fury she felt for Tarkin wouldn’t let her respond with her normal tact.
The Grand Moff leaned his head to one side, a forged concern painting his face. "A planet of innocents… or your precious Rebel friends?"
Another lengthy pause followed the stinging words; to her surprise Leia found herself willing him to simply fire the laser and end the torture. She could not – would not – betray the Rebellion. His ice blue eyes met hers as he spoke once again, this time he could not mask the irritation her silence had given him. “Time is running out.”
Leia closed her eyes and willed herself to shake her head, hoping that somehow when she opened her eyes the scene would be different. As her eyes shut out the room and the doomed planet, she noticed how volatile her emotions had become. Her teeth were clenched tightly in pain and frustration, her jaw aching from the effort. She hated every single person in the room with her; a pure, raw hatred she had only felt a handful of times. In a futile attempt she tried to snuff out the creeping red that now permeated into her every thought, only to be reminded through the stirring of crewmen around her and Darth Vader’s ominous breathing.
She looked up as she heard the military-issued boots step away from her; Tarkin’s low whisper came soon after. Her chest tightened in anticipation of the weapon’s hypnotising beam. The steel floor began to shudder beneath her feet. Leia glanced up to the viewport for a split second. She could feel Tarkin’s ice-blue eyes boring into her, still waiting for her to break. There was no chance she would. Even though it tortured her to see the peaceful planet destroyed piece by piece, it was nothing compared to the suffering of the galaxy around her.
The hum was a roar once again. Leia took a small step back, ignoring the rush of pain in her shoulder, and braced herself. Silence settled upon the room; the calm before the storm. Leia cast a glance towards the planet and apologized to what would be millions on the surface below. She blinked back another tear and stared, waiting for the brilliant green laser to fire.
The faint tremor started suddenly, the laser accompanying it. Leia felt her heart drop. She desperately wished to look away from the blast, but found herself frozen. The beam vanished almost as soon as it had begun. The resulting explosion seemed to happen in slow motion, clouds of smoke and debris shot outwards from the surface. Fire and vivid golds took the place of the soft pastel surface. Within seconds there was nothing but the vast emptiness of space.
Leia closed her eyes and swallowed the bitter hatred pooling in her throat.
“The Empire will find the others soon enough,” Tarkin said as he turned back towards her. He met Leia’s eyes; his irises masking a glimmer of condescension. “Your silence will not save them.”
The doors behind them slid open and two Stormtroopers entered. One of them stumbled slightly as they approached the top of the stairs. Lord Vader shoved Leia forward, his eyes focussed on the armour-clad men. They straightened at his approach.
“Take her back to her cell,” Vader ordered. The two marched down the stairs and the Sith Lord stepped back, watching as the troopers brusquely grabbed her arms and forced her towards the doors.
He hesitated for a moment. Once again a hum resonated in the back of his mind, a glowing warmth that he recalled from the Clone Wars. Vader shook his head. It had been 19 years. It wasn’t possible, he knew that.
It couldn’t be possible.
“Sir.” The call came from behind him.
The Force signature still hummed in his mind. It turned his thoughts into a heavy syrup, then seeped into the muscles of his neck. He struggled to wade through it, pushing away the Force and pulling his head towards the voice. By the time he succeeded, the voice and the signature were merely echoes. Tarkin had already made the approach to where the youthful crewman sat. The Grand Moff's posture was still stiff as ever, though he had managed to bend to the man's level. The slightest crease formed on his brow as the crewman continued to speak, his hand moving up to point to a screen. Tarkin cut him off with a wave of his own hand. His eyes were now squinted with a mixture of thought and frustration. Their voices had been little more than a whisper, yet Vader had heard enough.
Shaking away the tendrils of syrup that still clung to his mind, he stepped forward. Tarkin had already turned to him. Despite his short stature, the Grand Moff closed the distance quickly.
Vader could see his emotions and thoughts clearly. If he had had any doubts about the situation, they were non-existent now. He smiled. A plan was already beginning to form, one that would be most effective.
Tarkin spoke quickly, his voice lowered. "The unidentified ship had stowaways. They are on their way to the Princess Leia's detention block."
The Sith Lord's smile grew wider. "Let them rescue her and attach a tracking device to their ship. They will lead us directly to the Rebel Base," he replied.
One of Tarkin’s grey-peppered eyebrows rose. “Let them escape? You’re making quite the assumption, Lord Vader,” he paused, scanning Vader’s mask with narrowed eyes, “There is no guarantee they would not disable the device or lead us astray.”
The Sith Lord let Tarkin’s thoughts meld into his own. They were like planets, rotating around a sun – a goal that was crystal clear, one that radiated throughout his mind. He wanted nothing more than power and status… but those were not the only ones that showed.
It came to Vader suddenly.
It was nothing Vader had not already known. But there was a difference between a craving for power and the need for appreciation. He could use both to his advantage, to manipulate Tarkin into accepting his plans. Vader chose his words carefully, hoping to find a weak spot in Tarkin’s psyche.
“The team will be ordered to place it where it will be difficult to detect and disable. As for your other concerns, they will have to return to the base eventually. If not, we have methods to eliminate them,” he said. Tarkin’s hesitation lessened slightly.
Vader continued. “If this plan works, the Death Star will eliminate the Rebellion in a single blast. Their support will fade, and the Empire will be stronger than ever before.”
Now the central thought was more than just a goal; it was a lust. It bled into his every thought. The credits, the reputation, the recognition, the power. The Sith Lord smiled once more, A wisp of hesitation remained in the Moff’s mind, but it faded quickly as the craving for power took over.
The Grand Moff furrowed his eyebrows; yet it was only a façade. Vader could hear every thought echo in his own mind, the barriers now non-existent. It amused him; Tarkin always held himself to the same standards as the Emperor, thinking it would place him above the others. He acted as if tyranny and fear were the only ways to keep others in line; that a personality colder than Hoth would be the only way to succeed.
Even when he knew the Sith standing in front of him could hear his every thought.
Unlike many of the others, however, it was only a character. His ego was certainly real, but what he had built his reputation on was no different than what he scoffed at in his mind. The Grand Moff certainly carried himself as a tyrant, but there was a hint of compassion somewhere beneath his calculating expression - towards what he could not pinpoint. A flicker of guilt appeared as well, dissipating almost instantly. The Sith Lord could barely see into his true self, but what he did see was far more human than he had expected.
The little insight he gained had surprised him. But Vader had to give him credit; he certainly knew how to maintain appearances. Frustratingly well.
He wondered what the Emperor thought of his frontage - or if he caredat all. Despite Tarkin’s craving for an even higher position and his façade, he had no intention of becoming a usurper. He was loyal and had the station that would keep it that way.
Tarkin spoke, his words a low growl, “This had better work. If it does not, there will be consequences for us all.”
Vader nodded, surfacing from Tarkin's mind.
"I do not see it failing," he assured, before quickly starting another sentence. Padmé had crossed his mind yet again. The thought of the station being on high alert whilst she was onboard was one that clawed at his stomach, nauseating him. It was the only thing he could think about.
"I have a matter I must attend to."
Without allowing the Grand Moff a reply, he turned on his heel and headed towards the heavy doors. They slid open and he slipped between them, disappearing into the grey halls beyond.
Amazing contest of wills and inner struggles! I especially like how you characterize Tarkin as a slithery type very much what we saw in ANH. And your Vader is truly genius.
Thank you so much!
You chose to write about a very powerful moment here. A true battle of three wills.
You also have plunge us all into the dark void of Vader´s mind & his past. Brilliantly thrilling!
Please continue to get better!
Yay, thank you
I am doing my best to get better. In the meantime, I will continue to write
It makes me wonder what Padme will think of how Vader treated his daughter in all of this once word gets back to Padme
Your wish is my command,
@Bail B. Baobab ,
@Blue Ice Cream ,
Blaster shots rang out, followed by Chewbacca’s roar. The entire hangar resonated with the clamor. Luke glanced to Ben, who simply gave him a pointed glance.
Luke rushed into the command office, pulling off his helmet before the door had even opened all the way. Han looked up from the row of screens in front of him.
He turned, his armored arms palm up in confusion. “What?”
“Could you be a little quieter? We’re supposed to be getting out of here alive! Not letting every single Imperial know we’re here!”
“Bring them on! I’d prefer a good fight to all this sneaking around.”
“Well, I’d rather escape in one piece,” Luke retorted.
Han placed his hands on his hips.
“I’m sure they didn’t even notice.” After sidestepping Luke, Han looked out the small window to their right. The hangar was still quiet. No officers or Stormtroopers had entered and the sirens placed throughout the room made no sound. The crimson bulbs dotting the walls flashed intermittently, but it was nothing that told him the Empire knew of their dash to the command office. He pointed out the window.
“See? What did I tell you?”
Breha and Ben were watching the monitors. Their attention was focused on what appeared to be schematics, glowing in oranges and blues. Every few moments the screens would alternate. Security footage from the various corridors played on the monitors. Nothing of interest showed itself, only busy halls and elevator bays.
“Is there any way to get out of here?” He cast a side-glance at Han “Without blasting our way through?”
Artoo whistled slowly.
Breha looked to them. “The footage is only of common areas. Artoo can most likely access the computer mainframe, once it is set up.”
Ben nodded, leaning over the desk and entering a few commands. A new screen clicked on, Artoo whistled again, shaking side to side as if he were excited.
He rolled to a small port on the console and plugged in, the metal rings spinning around it as he attempted to connect to the mainframe. With a bright chirp, his metallic attachment clicked into place.
New images appeared on the screens, the other schematics vanishing. Artoo beeped and trilled.
“Artoo says that he has projected the several tractor beam power couplings onto the screen,” Threepio informed them, “And that the current schematics should show the closest location. Once you shut down one power coupling, it should disable the tractor beam. The Millennium Falcon should be able to escape.”
Even with the hangar's reassuring quiet, Han knew that it would likely be minutes before they were found out. Breha and Ben were now speaking in hushed tones, both of them motioning to the screens. Luke fiddled with a dial near the screens. With each quarter turn it switched to a new security feed.
Han stepped closer to Breha and Ben, within earshot. They both cast him a quick glance before returning to the conversation.
"The tractor beam controls should be here, beyond this corridor," Ben gestured to the screen, where a pulsing red dot glowed. The orange map cut out for a brief second before flickering back to life. The corridor it displayed was close - it would not take the old Jedi long to reach it and free the Falcon.
Breha looked to the screen and then to Obi Wan. "It's off what appears to be a major causeway, however. It's bound to be patrolled. Bringing the group would not be wise."
Ben nodded and gave her a gentle smile. "I will take caution, and the Force will assist me."
With a short sigh, Breha nodded. "It's our best choice."
Luke watched the screens, enthralled by the schematics and footage that flickered across them.
Artoo bubbled in the background, before the screens switched again.
“Hey, Han,” Luke said. Han turned towards him. He was pointing towards a map, the rest of them studying it as well. “Here are the detention cells. Not too far from here. The only problem is going be getting Chewie in.”
A hum came from Artoo as he began to search through the detention’s security feeds. The map flickered to interior views of the cells, each lasting on the screen for a few moments. The images were grey, grainy. Every so often a band of interference would freeze on the screen. Luke could sense the sudden tension in the room. The air grew heavy with the swirling emotions. Breha was the main source, anticipation and pain ebbing from her. His chest felt tight from the dense air, droplets of sweat forming beneath his golden locks of hair.
“If the Princess is even here,” Han replied, “I’m not sneaking around on some wild quidduck chase.”
“She’s got to be –“ Luke paused, catching a glimpse of the screen. A new image blinked up, a woman in a flowing white dress, glistening hair styled modernly in two buns. “There!”
Artoo stopped the changing feed. Breha drew a sharp breath.
“There she is,” she murmured, her words catching in her throat. The uncomfortable anticipation flooding the room had faded and was replaced with an oppressive sadness. They all watched, the Princess remaining motionless except for her gaze, which looked about the small cell.
Artoo whistled again. The image changed. Yet another empty cell. Another followed, then another.
Breha turned suddenly, Ben followed her lead. She exhaled lightly. Luke could see the welled tears in her brown eyes as the heavy sadness began to wane. He felt a determination rise in his stomach, an energy that coursed to his fingertips. He would save the Princess, the Senator. No matter what.
Artoo whistled. Threepio piped up, “Artoo is saying that, unfortunately, he can find no indication that the Senator is on board.”
Ben turned back to the screens, studying them and rubbing his beard. He was barely audible. "She must be with him."
“Is she even alive? Or even on this station?” Breha lowered her voice. "If she is, there's no possible way we can take her from…."
Him. Ben finished her sentence in his thoughts. She was right. It would be almost impossible to rescue her if Vader had her under his watch. He was almost certain she was alive, although Vader most likely had her hidden away.
Ben nodded. "I am not sure…she may be…but we cannot risk Leia to find her.” His voice trailed off, he shook his head.
"What's the plan?" Han interrupted their quiet conversation, one eyebrow raised.
"We rescue the Princess," Breha murmured, her eyes now showing defeat. Luke scanned her irises, trying to decode her emotions further. All he could feel was the buzz of the Force around him.
Ben put a hand on Breha's shoulder and addressed the two men. "We must go before they discover us. Quickly."
Luke cocked his head to the side. He could not sort through their emotions, could not decipher what they were thinking.
“Here,” he piped up, a smile at the corner of his mouth. He grabbed a pair of binders off the desk. “We take Chewie in these cuffs, act as guards. They won’t know the difference.”
Han shrugged, looking to where the Queen stood. “I don’t have a better idea. But I’m not so sure this is going to work.”
“What else are we going to do?” Luke replied, his attention on Breha as she flipped through the surveillance cameras.
Luke was right - there was no better plan. Han picked up the helmet, sliding it onto his head before turning to Luke. He picked up Luke’s helmet and tossed it to him. Luke caught it, even though his eyes were still fixed on Breha. Han shook his head with disbelief.
“C’mon, kid. Let’s head out. We’ve got a princess to save.” He looked to Chewbacca, holding up golden durasteel cuffs. “And you're gonna have to put these on, Chewie.”
Chewbacca let out a growl of disapproval, and Han shot a look at him. Han knew why, no doubt the Wookiee did not want to relive any of his past. The Empire had not been kind to him. But there was no time for that, and this was their only option. Han held them out. Chewie barked again, before letting him slide on the cuffs.
"Sorry," Han whispered. He returned to look at Breha and Ben. Ben nodded to them and headed for the door, replacing his hood as he slipped silently out into the hangar.
Breha looked to them. “Go on, I will be waiting,” she said.
Luke gave a quick nod and turned, putting his helmet on. Han followed behind him with Chewbacca a stride behind. Their footsteps echoed as they disappeared into the corridor.
Breha let out another heavy breath and looked back towards the screens. Leia's face was there once again. With worry clutching her heart, she let a tear escape - hoping they would succeed in their mission. Hoping that Padmé and her daughter would be safe.
Ooh, the action plan is being implemented! I hope Ben comes out unscathed, this go-'round.
waits with anticipation for the outcome.
Ben and Breha are right, Vader has Padme under a close and careful watch.
Luke gave a quick nod and turned, putting his helmet on. Han followed behind him with Chewbacca a stride behind. Their footsteps echoed as they disappeared into the corridor.
Breha let out another heavy breath and looked back towards the screens. Leia's face was there once again. With worry clutching her heart, she let a tear escape - hoping they would succeed in their mission. Hoping that Padmé and her daughter would be safe.
I love AUs. One can never be 100% sure what happens next. Beloved characters face new situations, different contexts. I like your Breha very much!