The Circle (AU futurefic) -- big question posted 8/1

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction Stories--Classic JC Board (Reply-Only)' started by Lisse, Jan 6, 2001.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    The Star Wars universe is owned by George Lucas. I'm just borrowing it for awhile. :)

    ~~

    The Circle
    Part One: Repeating the Past

    Prologue

    "Those who know history as the past are blind to it. Only those who know it as the future are capable of seeing it."
    -- Caamasi proverb

    ~~

    Rowan Archimedes took a deep, steadying breath. Just remember, she told herself, it's an honor to serve the Empire. She laughed softly. Yes, it was an honor, especially for one in her position. Was she not, after all, the only woman to ever achieve the rank of admiral as far as anyone knew or cared ? the only woman to serve as one of the Emperor's personal guards before she began her meteoric rise to the bridge of the Executor itself? She was important and could not be disposed of easily.

    Just you remember that.

    Thought firmly in place, she stepped into the private meditation chamber, hands clenched behind her back and eyes straight ahead. "My lord, you wished to be informed when we had the quarry trapped."

    Two eyes ? one ice-blue, one red, neither truly human ? met her gaze levelly. Rowan fought the urge to lick dry lips. Meeting his stare was like looking at a rancor and knowing she had been spared simply because she was too insignificant to be bothered with. Maker preserve me, but I hate the Sith. She held that stare, daring him to do anything about her minor act of insubordination. He had a certain reputation, but she had not been promoted to admiral at the young age of thirty-three by being useless. That's right, she thought grimly. You can't kill me.

    The Sith strode towards her, black cape billowing as he walked. He was older than she was, although by exactly how much was something she would not have placed any bets on. It was hard to see his face under the twin scars that ran down his cheeks, great slashes that had taken his real eyes at some point in the past. He was bald save for a single bone-white topknot, but Rowan had no idea if that was his natural coloring or not.

    She had been told his predecessor had been more frightening, but she did not believe it. At least that creature had worn a mask.

    "The Interdictor is in place?" he asked quietly. His voice was more like a growling, rumbling hiss than anything else. Another remnant of an old wound, Rowan supposed. She had heard a little about his battles with Organa Solo and her Jedi renegades ? enough to chill her to the core at the thought of coming between Darth Rage and his prey.

    But that was neither here nor now, and she had duties to perform. "They are, my lord. We will have boarding crews ready within moments. They will not escape us."

    "See that they do not, Admiral." The implicit warning hung in the air: "Do not disappoint me."

    Rowan bowed at the waist ? not quite as between equals, but hardly subservient. "It will be as you command, my lord."

    ~~

    The space yacht rocked, almost sending Inner Councilor Malinza Thanas stumbling into a bulkhead. She caught herself on the golden railing running the length of the ship's command deck and made her way to the center chair. "Our status?"

    "We're not going to make the rendezvous," her pilot said miserably. "I'm sorry, Governor."

    "Don't be," she said ? a command, not a request. Nervous habit made her smooth her skirt absently and tuck her long brown braid back inside her voluminous hood. It was hardly necessary for her to be wearing the snow-white robes of the Emperor's Inner Council on her private ship, but if she was apprehended, she intended to remind her captors just how much authority she had. Executor or no, they would find themselves facing more than just the governor of one backwater world.

    With more confidence than she actually felt, she squared her shoulders and snapped an order toward the comm station. "Open a channel."

    A small, wavering holo flickered into existence a few meters in front of her. Malinza carefully kept the surprise off her face when she saw the tiny figure of Admiral Rowan Archimedes rega
  2. KADI-WAN_KENOBI Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Aug 9, 2000
    star 4
    Welcome to the board Lisse! :)

    Very good. I'm looking forward to the next post.

    UP!
  3. Uisceban Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2000
    star 4
    Welcome to the forum Lisse!

    Good start looking forward to more.
  4. Sara_Kenobi Force Ghost

    Member Since:
    Sep 21, 2000
    star 7
    First of all, greetings, and welcome to the forums!! :)

    Ok, now, when you have time of course, Please continue!!! This is really good!
  5. princess-sari Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Nov 20, 2000
    star 4
    Great story, Lisse, and welcome!!
    I'm still a newbie, too, but everybody here is really great!
    Post more soon!!
  6. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Thanks for the warm welcome. I'll post more as soon as my nasty inner editor stops making rude comments.

    Lisse
  7. Liz Skywalker Ex-Mod

    Member Since:
    Jun 13, 2000
    star 6
    that was real cool. Lemme guess, Ben's cousin is Luke.
    more?
  8. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Given the time frame (to be unveiled in the first chapter), Ben's cousin is not Luke. He's a Darklighter; his cousin at the Battle of Yavin was Biggs.

    Lisse
  9. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Just because I'm feeling nice (and okay, bored), I'm providing a big, long summary. Enjoy.

    Decades after the disastrous Battle of Endor, a desperate message from one of the last leaders of the Rebellion pulls young Ben Darklighter into a conflict begun two generations before his birth. Along with gun-for-hire Jessa Calrissian, spice runner Valin Horn, and street thief Melody re Riall, he sets out to rescue Governor Malinza Thanas from the clutches of the evil Darth Rage and bring vital information to the dying Alliance.

    But Ben?s actions make him a key figure in more than just galactic politics. In him, Wedge Antilles sees the son he thought long lost, Han Solo sees a chance to fix an old mistake, and Gilad Pellaeon sees a monster in the making. To Lucéa Naberrie, he is a pawn in a game played for generations; to her cousin Anakin Solo, he is a last way out.

    And to the Emperor, Ben is the final component of a plan that will ensure one last, decisive victory...

    ~~

    Chapter One: Message Received

    It was among the shortest and the most unequal fights in the Empire?s half-century of existence. It was also heart-wrenching when, once the smoke had cleared and the last echoes of blaster fire died away, it became clear that not all of the Bakuran dead were soldiers. Dignitaries, attendants, even the governor?s young maid ? all shot where they huddled in terror. Some of them had not even had time to hide. There was a fine line between battle and slaughter in any war, but this was beyond anything the sole Bakuran survivor had ever seen.

    Malinza stared numbly at the burned hatch of her ship, far beyond shock. There was nothing she could do to change what had happened. Mourning would have to wait until later. If there was a later. If the yacht did not become one more mysterious casualty of the vastness of space. She did not resist when the stormtroopers shoved her forward, pushing her along with her bound hands.

    The man standing inside the hatch would never be considered tall, but there was something malevolent about him that drew the eye. The Bakuran ambassadors had called Darth Rage a sinkhole of evil, ignoring their governor's arguments that he was only a man, however powerful.

    Here and now, face to face with the Sith, she knew that they had been right.

    "Darth Rage," she spat, fury and grief driving her more than any real hope of escaping with her life. "This is an outrage. Such an atrocity will never be condoned by His Majesty or the Inner Senate. You have attacked a diplomatic ship ? "

    "Spare me, Governor. You were not on any errand of the Emperor's." Rage's strange, baleful eyes locked with hers; it took all of her willpower not to turn away. "You have used your privileges to aid traitors and saboteurs. What happened to the information you stole?"

    Malinza answered through gritted teeth. "I stole nothing. When the Emperor learns what you have done here, he will have your head on a platter."

    "The Emperor has ordered you stripped of your titles. You are no longer part of the Inner Senate, nor are you entitled to protection of any kind. There will be no office to hide behind this time." His smile sent shivers down her spine. Rage had suspected her of being a Rebel five years ago, when she was a sixteen-year-old Vice Governor just beginning her rise to power. He was surely enjoying himself now.

    She still made a play at innocence. Buying time was all she could do now. "I am an Imperial citizen and a governor of a ? "

    "You are part of the Rebel Alliance. Your treason will be punished. Take her away."

    Malinza managed to wait until the Sith was out of sight before tears leaked from her stinging eyes.

    ~~

    The droid was a tubby, squat thing that looked more like a garbage disposal than anything else. Its name was Blue. Ben had no idea what model or make it was; its number had been worn off well before it had landed in the scrap heap behind the family's garage. Uncle Gavin hated it, but Ben had always had a soft spot for it, even if it was held together by wishes and old adhesive. Maybe
  10. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Evil computer.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Chapter One cont.

    The girl in the corner of the Mos Eisley cantina stared at the bottom of her glass and chuckled bitterly at some inner joke. Being drunk did not make problems go away, but at least she could look at them with a sort of distanced cynicism. And while she was at it, she could wonder what it was she had ordered. It had not tasted bad, precisely, although it had the sort of aftertaste that promised a nasty headache in the morning. Funny how that did not matter right now.

    "Need company?" A burly man who probably considered himself handsome leaned over and smiled broadly. His breath smelled like the drink had tasted.

    The girl gave him a slightly unsteady look. "Don' need comp'ny," she slurred.

    The man eyed her for a moment. Aside from being quite young - seventeen standard years, maybe eighteen - she was dressed in well-made, neatly tailored clothing and wore the sort of chronometer that probably cost about fifty credits in the Core. "Sure you do," he said as he settled himself across from her. "We wouldn't want you getting into any trouble, now would we?"

    "Take care o' m'self."

    "At least let me take you back to your rooms," the man said. "That's what I'm here for. I don't want to see a lovely lady like you being taken advantage of."

    "Really?" The girl leaned back, her eyes suddenly very focused and decidedly nasty. At the same time, something round and decidedly muzzle-like rested itself against the man's knee. "Wouldn't want that, would we?" She smiled. Or showed her teeth, anyway. There were quite a lot of them, all dazzling white against her dark skin. "You know what happens when I'm drunk?" she asked conversationally, her eyes never leaving the man's face. "I get trigger-happy. Sometimes people lose things. Accidentally, of course."

    The man swallowed. "Things?"

    "You know. Legs." That smile widened to display even more teeth. "You were just leaving." It was definitely not a question.

    The man bolted up and scrambled away from the table, vanishing into the shadows as fast as dignity allowed. The girl reholstered her blaster, flipping the safety back on with a deft flick of her fingers. She did not have to put up with this, of course. The heiress to both the Calrissian mining fortune and the entire stack of Risant deeds and titles could have had her pick of bodyguards - or private bars, for that matter. But if she had wanted that, she would not have been here, waiting for a contact in a filthy cantina halfway to nowhere.

    It was that stupid prophecy's fault.

    It had sounded like such an easy job: get a few weapons for the Rebel Alliance and bring them to a base in the backwater of the Outer Rim. It was easy credits and it was smart business, since the Rebellion had stuck around a lot longer than anyone had thought and there was no telling how long it would keep throwing men and blasters at the Empire. That was before she had been asked to take a tiny little detour - just a small one - to pick up some governor and deliver her back to her space yacht before the Empire was the wiser. That was before she had been slipped a copy - just a little data chip - of the governor's information. For insurance, of course, nothing that would actually endanger her. That was before she had decided to see what was so special about the data chip, especially since the Rebellion was willing to pay her quite a lot to have her hang on to the extra copy.

    That was before, as they so quaintly said on Sacorria, she had wound up in the dung heap without a shovel.

    Another creature - she was not going to dignify it by calling it a man - lumbered over to her, belching something purple. Jessa sighed and shook her vibroblade out of its arm sheath. Forget amputation. Next guy who tried to hit on her was going to get castrated.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Rowan frowned at the tiny hologram sitting on her desk. "Of course I told him, sir. We intercepted the transmission and we've traced it to a section of the planet.
  11. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Chapter Two: Message Interrupted

    The voice woke him. As usual.

    Are you planning to sleep through the day?

    Han Solo managed to pry a crusted eye open and tried to focus on his tiny, unkempt room. Something had crawled into his mouth to die during the night. He had the sneaking suspicion that it had been his tongue.

    Wake up! The voice echoed in his head without bothering to deal with his ears first. It was impossible to ignore it, no matter how much Han wanted to.

    "I am awake," he growled, proving his point by rolling himself unceremoniously onto the dirty floor. The cold of the plasticrete tiles served to jolt him to something resembling full alertness. He really was going to have to start paying his bills.

    There was a sensation in his head - a feeling that someone was sharing his eyes. Han ignored it for the time being. Sooner or later he would track down enough spice to give his lodger a killer headache.

    Have you thought about what I said?

    "I already said no." Han kicked aside something that looked half-decayed and made his way to the room's tiny sanitation station. The man in the cracked mirror had too much gray hair and heavy bags under his eyes.

    The voice managed to glower at the inside of his head. Kriffing stubborn idiot. They need your help. There was no need to say what "they" it was talking about.

    Han decided to skip the spice and go straight for the good stuff. Once he figured out how to scrape up the credits for the landlord. "I tried that," he pointed out as levelly as he could manage. He only sounded slightly murderous today. "You were there. You know what it got me."

    The voice had the decency to sound embarrassed, but it kept on anyway. You have a son who needs you and you had a wife who loved in you. Trust me, that's enough if you know anything.

    "If Ani needs someone, you go look after him."

    I can't. The voice was frustrated now. She tied me to you, remember?

    Han remembered. Trust Leia to pull a stunt like that. He had first heard the voice while staring up at the vanishing tail lights of a fighter twenty years ago, understanding too late...

    It had taken him a while to realize just who he had occupying the back of his head. Or whatever it was Jedi did.

    Although he hesitated to call the voice a Jedi. No matter what Leia had said.

    The prophecy is starting, the voice pressed. The Sith know it. If you aren't on Tatooine when the Circle begins to spin, you will lose your son as you lost your wife.

    Han hunted for a really crushing reason why he should stay exactly where he was, relatively safe on Ord Mandell. If only he could get a coherent thought instead of a mess of memories.

    If only there was a way to see Ani again.

    The voice sighed. I can't make you do this, it said finally. It has to be your choice.

    Now he knew where Leia had learned her guilt-trip thing. "Who am a looking for?"

    You'll know when you find them.

    "That's not helping me."

    The voice seemed to shrug. If I could do any better, I would. It would be easier if you weren't as blind to the Force as a womprat in a windstorm.

    "Watch your mouth." Han shoved himself away from the mirror and started rummaging for a shirt that came within a few sectors of clean.

    Just when you were comfortably at rock-bottom, you could always trust your father-in-law to make things worse.
  12. jedi_yoda23 Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jun 30, 2000
    star 1
    Oh, that was amusing as hell!!! Somehow I didn't see the Han Solo-Father-in-law interaction coming! Keep up the great work! It's refreshing to read about a future without the Vongs.
  13. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    I'm glad you liked it. I was in a weird mood when I wrote it (<mutter>finals</mutter>), so I wasn't sure how well it would go.

    Glad to know someone's reading this thread. :)

    Lisse
  14. Uisceban Jedi Master

    Member Since:
    Oct 14, 2000
    star 4
    I'm still reading too, just I'm a bit behind.
  15. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Just upping this until my computer and I are back on speaking terms.
  16. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Short, but my modem's still being an evil piece of *muttermutter* and I'm not sure how long it'll stay working. *mutter*technology*/mutter*

    ~~

    Aunt Olivea was the one who first noticed the noise, which should not have surprised Ben at all; she was always the most observant. She set down her plate of bread and dried meat, frowning off into the distance. "Did you hear something?"

    Uncle Gavin did not even look up. "Farstrider probably forgot to tie up his bantha."

    "It sounded louder than a bantha cub." Abandoning supper, Aunt Olivea stood up and made her way to the stairs. "I'll be right back," she said as she started up.

    "It's nothing," Uncle Gavin called after her, more as a parting shot than anything else. But despite his light tone, he did not look like he believed his own words.

    Ben glanced at Sasha, who shook her head. She had not heard anything, either. She seemed focused on Uncle Gavin - so focused that Ben suddenly realized what she must be planning. She was going to ask about applying to the Academy again. That had to be it.

    But why in the galaxy did she have to bring it up now, when everyone's nerves were frayed?

    "Father?" Sasha cleared her throat. "Actually, I was thinking about how you were planning to talk to Brin Farstrider's son. He's good with tools - better than me. I don't think you need me here next year."

    Uncle Gavin watched her warily. "What are you getting at?"

    Sasha took a deep breath and forged onward. "I want to submit my application to the Academy this year."

    Silence. Complete and utter silence.

    Then, finally, Uncle Gavin spoke. "No."

    "Why not?"

    Ben tried to scoot away from the two combatants without looking too obvious about it.

    "Do you want to spend the rest of your life following orders?" Uncle Gavin asked sharply. "Do you want to be hated throughout the galaxy?"

    "Imperials aren't hated!" Sasha shot back. "It's just you, Father - just you and Aunt Olivea. The Empire's the future and I'm not going to be forgotten just because you can't accept that!"

    Ben could almost see the rage boiling under Uncle Gavin's face. Sasha had really done it now.

    "I'll?I'll just go check on the garage," he said weakly, standing up so quickly that he almost sent the table toppling. Neither his uncle nor his cousin seemed to hear him.

    "I lost a lot of family because of that future of yours," Uncle Gavin growled. "I've seen people - good men and women - turned into monsters because they thought like you! You're staying here like Ben! It's a good life!"

    Sasha gave Ben a murderous look. He was going to get an earful tonight. Sith and sand, why'd you two have to bring me into this?

    "Fine!" Sasha's aim was as good as it had always been. The plate shattered against the wall, sending fragments of pottery and food everywhere. "That's just fine, Father! Staying here won't bring your fragging rebellion back. I want to change something!" Her voice caught on a sob. "And I'm going to, damn it." She turned around and stormed off to her room.

    Ben edged to the door. He almost made it before Uncle Gavin pinned him with a sharp look. "Where are you going, boy?"

    "Looks like I'm going nowhere." He shoved open the door and slipped into the blissful silence of the garage, almost shaking with pent-up rage. Not at Sasha or Uncle Gavin, not really - just at the unfairness of the universe in general. Why'd they have to bring me into it? I'm not part of their fight!

    Blue twittered anxiously from his corner among the tools, his single blue 'eye' glowing with what Ben liked to think was concern. He smiled tightly at the little droid. "How're you doing?"

    The droid whistled thoughtfully. Ben sighed and leaned on the garage wall. "You and me both."
  17. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    At one point a pleasant chime had played whenever someone wished to enter one of the small complex's rundown, filthy apartments. Perhaps due to some landlord's sick sense of humor, it now had a harsh, unceremonious beep designed not only to wake the dead, but also to get them into proper military formation as soon as possible.

    The small room's occupant threw a boot in the general direction of the door. "Go away."

    "Hal? Get out here or you'll be breathing space dust."

    Oh, frag. Valin Horn -- known variably as Hal and Evil Son of a Hutt in the more decently notorious parts of the galaxy -- sighed and started to pull on the nearest pieces of clothing.

    "Hal!"

    "I'm coming, I'm coming," he muttered. "Seal your word port already."

    "Your captain?" Melody asked. The young woman rolled onto her back, settling into the groove Hal had left on the small, lumpy cot. "It's not even o-six-hundred," she growled as she scooped up her cheap chronometer. "I'll tell him where he can blast it."

    "Sorry. No can do." Hal glanced at himself in the cracked mirror and smoothed his tousled brown hair. Barefoot, he made his way to the door and unlocked it. "Alright. Come in."

    Solo glared at him, an effect spoiled by stains on his shirt and two days worth of stubble. "We're leaving in a chrono. Get ready."

    Hal gaped at him. "A chrono? Frag that."

    "Where does he have to go this time?" Melody demanded. Somehow she had managed to find a clean jumpsuit and pull her hair back into a sloppy black bun. Unlike Hal, whose respect for Solo bordered on grudging, she regarded the smuggler with open contempt. "If Black Sun wants their spice, they can wait like everyone else."

    "This isn't about Black Sun." Solo's voice did not change, but Hal could almost feel his intense stare boring into the back of his head. And suddenly he realized what the real message was.

    It was his father's fault. If Hal had been born on Nar Shaddaa or Ord Mantell or some other decent location, he would not be where he was now: running spice and funneling the credits to the Rebellion. But no, he was a Horn, son and grandson and who knew what else of law-abiding CorSec officers. His father was probably still back home sitting happily at a desk and pretending that everything was well with the galaxy.

    That sort of blind devotion to duty was not the life for him. Oh, no. Not for Hal Horn. But somewhere along the way he had picked up anti-Imp feelings. And because his family always took things into their own hands instead of letting events run their course, here he was, one of the namless rabble supporting the Alliance.

    Only how was he supposed to tell Melody that? How was he supposed to turn to her and say that he was risking his life for a dead cause?

    "Mel?" He looked back at her and tried to figure out how to form the words.

    She understood anyway. "You have to go, don't you?" Even her disapproving frown was pretty. "I've got a job in a couple of days. There'll be credits when we get back."

    "Right." A job. Melody's jobs were dangerous -- anything that involved stealing from wealthy gangs was inherently so. Hal made himself smile. "I'll be back in a little bit. It's only a spice run." Solo's face tightened. For the moment, he ignored what that might mean. "Just a spice run," he repeated.

    "Come on, kid. We need to get going."

    Melody hugged him quickly before turning her glare on Solo. "Do you want him going out like this?" she snapped, gesturing to Hal's state of dress -- or lack of, anyway. "Give us a minute." Without waiting for a response, she slapped the control pad and shut the door in Solo's face. "Sith-loving two-faced space slug. What's this about, Hal?"

    "Just a spice run." Hal met Melody glower for glower. He had known her less than a year and, more than ever, he was beginning to realize that he had probably met his match in her. "You don't believe me, do you?"

    "No. I don't." Melody sighed and tossed him a clean shirt. "Here. The one you're wearing looks like Solo's. What's going on, Hal?" she asked as
  18. Jane Jinn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 5
    Hey, I think I like this! Keep writing!
  19. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
  20. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Great, Alai Luwellaen thought irritably. If there's a bright center of the universe, this must be the planet it's the farthest from.] She brushed her blond braid out of her brilliant blue eyes, frowning at the rapidly approaching desert planet as if she could extract its secrets simply with the force of her stare. The two pilots in the transport's small cockpit watched her nervously, no doubt knowing that she held special standing -- and certainly unsure what she had done to warrant favor in the Emperor's eyes.

    She smiled tightly, eliciting a worried twitch from the older pilot. I could kill you in a nanosecond,] she told them silently. But I won't. You aren't worth my time. The power of that knowledge -- that surety -- gave her the same thrill it always had. I am greater than you. I am greater than the Emperor. No one else has the blood of two Sith lords in her veins.

    "Lord Rage," she said calmly. "We are approaching Tatooine. Troops should be setting down in the targeted settlements momentarily."

    The hologram flickering between the two pilots nodded slowly. He should not be intimidating, but Alai knew too much to take this particular Sith apprentice lightly. After all, he was the reason she had no true family. She had seen him slay her parents when she was just a child. She feared him in many ways -- more than she feared the Emperor.

    "Proceed," he ordered curtly.

    Alai nodded. "As you wish, my lord." She severed the connection with a gesture and turned to the pilots. "Order the other two transports to begin sensor sweeps over their assigned targets. Do not deploy troops unless further orders are received."

    "My lady." The pilot nodded curtly and eased the small transport into the planet's atmosphere. Alai opened her mind to the sensations around her, smiling faintly when she felt the anxiety radiating from a few of the younger stormtroopers. As if there was anything to fear on this particular mission.

    Sighing, she allowed her consciousness to explore the vast planet below, leaping from curiosity to curiosity as a few brilliant individuals caught her attention.

    Abruptly she froze, every sense alert. No. That was not possible.

    Jedi.

    Rage sensed it too, then. She touched the thin cylinder hanging from her belt. There were no true Jedi left, of course, only those who claimed to be something long dead and gone. But she would not be caught off-guard. The Emperor's Hand feared no one.

    ~~

    "It's freezing in here," Ben growled, more to himself than Blue. He rubbed his arms against the sudden chill. It would not be the first time Sasha had messed with the climostat just to spite Uncle Gavin. I'm really going to tell her off this time, he told himself. A moment later he smiled cynically. No, I won't. No one ever tells Sasha anything. And even if they would, she wouldn't hear them.

    Suddenly anxious to be away from everything -- even Aunt Olivea and her noises -- he pushed open the garage doors and climbed into the bulky landspeeder, easing Blue up after him. "Come on. It's probably warmer out there even without a parka."

    Blue beeped at him, clearly confused. Well, what did droids know? They could probably survive in deep space.

    The wind in his hair and the exhilaration of flight -- even in this rickety, cobbled-together piece of junk -- was enough to dispel both the cold and the disgust with his family. Whooping more to scare Blue than anything else, he circled around the settlement a few times before heading out along the edge of the Dune Sea, following the run of the Jundland Wastes. He knew where he wanted to go. Hermit's Hut. No one else had gone to that old ruin in ages.

    Solitude. That was what he needed.

    ~~

    Olivea Darklighter barely heard the familiar whine of a landspeeder fading behind her. Her eyes were locked on the strange, glinting shapes descending through the star-sprinkled sky. A tiny, anxious twinge suddenly became full-blown fear. She knew Imp transports when she saw them.

    "Olivea?" Shay hurried out
  21. Jane Jinn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 5
    Oh, boy, suspense! Can't wait for more!
  22. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Chapter Three: Message Misdirected

    Ben barely waited for the landspeeder to stop before he hopped out of it, grinning broadly as he walked over to the tiny hut. It was cramped and had the aesthetic appeal of the average Jawa, but it had not been touched for as long as Ben could remember. In a way he could not really define, it felt like his.

    Maybe it was because he had been named for its last occupant. Old Ben Kenobi had been long dead by the time his young namesake was born, but the myth was still there, as long-lasting as the desert itself. It was said that Kenobi had been able to scare Sand People away with a single glance - that he terrified stormtroopers so much that they would not dare approach him - that he had murdered a moisture farmer and his wife so he could steal away their son. Sasha had delighted in telling Ben that the old man's ghost was still haunting his former home, hunting for the men who had surely come for him in the middle of a dark, starless night. She claimed that even krayt dragons would not come near this place.

    Ben did not believe that. To him the old hut had always felt peaceful - almost benevolent. If he had been imaginative enough to believe in spirits, he might have said that something did indeed lurk here. But it was good, surely - a gentle product of a better time.

    Helping Blue out of the rundown landspeeder, he stepped inside, carefully closing the squeaky door behind him to keep out sand. Maybe it was silly, but he felt that this was his home in some way, an inheritance from that inscrutable old hermit, and if there was one thing Ben knew how to do, it was look after things that he had been trusted with. He was, after all, nothing else if not dependable.

    "Think Uncle Gavin would notice if I stayed here all night?" He collapsed on a stool and leaned against a weathered old workbench. "He's probably too angry at Sasha to notice I'm gone."

    Blue beeped consolingly and made his slow, unsteady way to a low table. If Ben had not known better, he would have said the little droid was watching it.

    "I know, I know." Ben ran his fingers through his sun-bleached hair. "You know, I'm not really mad at them. It's just that they're all crazy. The Empire, the Rebellion - they're all so far away. It doesn't matter here." He propped his chin on his hands and stared off into space. "I think the entire settlement's..."

    He was barely aware of his voice trailing off. The cold was back, a biting chill that reached his bones. "Oh, come on," he snapped at the unfairness of the universe in general and the old hut in particular. "I'm taking care of you!" When the hut quite naturally did not respond, he hugged himself and glared at the single flickering light. No way was he being chased out again. Not even if all the fragging climostats on Tatooine malfunctioned.

    _Run._

    And yet, somehow, it was possible to get even colder. [There's no one here. I know there's no one here.] Ignoring Blue's curious beep, ignoring the chill in his blood, he stood up slowly and scanned the shadows. "Hello?"

    _Run._

    Something sounded in the distance. Another landspeeder?

    No, he realized suddenly. No one had a landspeeder like that. He was listening to a repulsor swoop. A big one. Only crime lords could afford something that expensive.

    _Run, Ben. Run_

    Was it a memory? A warning? He did not know and, at that moment, he did not care. He grabbed a warped resonance measurer from the workbench. He did not think it would do much against anyone who could afford such a large repulsor swoop, but it was certainly heavy enough to wound. "Blue. We're leaving."

    A high-pitched whine sounded over the thrum of the repulsor swoop. Ben strained his ears, trying to pick up familiar sounds. It was probably a speeder bike, but something that ran that cleanly had to be well-made or at least in good repair. [A bodyguard?] he wondered silently. Sometimes tough men and women on speeder bikes came buzzing through Draco's Well, intent on business elsewhere. No one asked where they were going because, when one got rig
  23. Jane Jinn Jedi Grand Master

    Member Since:
    Jan 12, 2000
    star 5
    Oh, yeah! Good action and suspense! I liked the way Ben felt a good presence in the hut, despite the rumours that Ben Kenobi had murdered two moisture farmers to steal away their son. And I especially loved the way the voice spoke to him. The appearance of the Rebel (whoever heard of a Rebel named Calrissian? <g>) was a surprise, and I had to laugh when Ben was worried that he was going to be executed for hitting an Imp Admiral. Keep writing, I'm really enjoying this!
  24. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    I'll be in Disney World for a week and probably won't be able to post anything until at least a week from Monday. Just letting people know before the thread sinks into oblivion. :)
  25. Lisse Jedi Knight

    Member Since:
    Jan 6, 2001
    star 3
    Yay! Back from Disney World!

    I'll be posting the next part as soon as I get it finished. Real life just kicked into high gear again.
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.