main
side
curve
  1. Welcome to the new boards! Details here!

  2. Hey Fanficers! In fixing the prefixes something happened and now you can't edit titles. Don't panic! We're looking into what happened and trying to fix it.

Saga - OT Vader's Shadow (Luke, Vader; AU of the "Darth Vader" comics)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Togruta, Feb 3, 2018.

  1. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Title: Vader’s Shadow
    Author: Togruta
    Timeframe: OT (In-between time of ANH and ESB; takes place after the comic “Vader Down”)
    Characters: Luke, Vader, various established characters
    Genre: AU, adventure, drama
    Summary: Luke returns to the battle site of Vrogas Vas to retrieve his father's lost lightsaber, but things take an unexpected turn when he comes across a certain Imperial inspector who claims to know about his father... and claims to be Darth Vader's adjutant.
    (FanFiction.Net link: here)

    Notes: Starting out with a sort of prologue to set things up; hopefully if you haven't the Darth Vader comics you still get what's going on.



    "I'm ready," said Luke. "Going into hyperspace in three… two…"

    He was just about to activate the hyperdrive of his X-Wing, awaiting the inescapable view of darkness phasing into traps of light. He exhaled, tightening his grip and tensing into his seat, prepared.

    Over the comm, however, a deep voice suddenly crackled through: "Don't even think about it, kid."

    Luke lifted his gloved hands off the controls, startled.

    "Risking your life, and for what? An oversized flashlight with a laser setting... And just when I think you couldn't get more off-the-wall."

    Luke closed his eyes and sighed in disbelief. So much for his plan to leave quietly without anyone noticing...

    "And guess what?" the voice continued dryly. "The Falcon's anchored on a gravity lock getting repaired, so I can't go and save your sorry hide for the umpteenth time. Swell timing, huh?" Han, back at the Rebel spaceport not far from Luke's floating starfighter, was no doubt frowning readily at him. "Now you listen: I don't care how mystical and magical that Jedi stuff is, it's not worth dyin' over. You hear me, Luke? You better hear me–"

    From his stationary area outside the X-Wing, Artoo vocalized something. The droid's translated words appeared on the computer screen, and Luke held back a laugh.

    "Yeah, Artoo... I can almost see the lines on his forehead, too."

    "Luke," Han went on, in that I-know-better-than-you voice. "This is crazy. You're crazy."

    Luke half-grinned. "I think I'd be worried if you didn't think so, Han."

    The other man sounded like he was about to say something more heated, but another voice suddenly took over.

    "Luke – I'll tell you this only once: return to the port." Leia's tone was softer, but as usual it left no room for argument. "You're a lieutenant of the Rebel Alliance. You can't just sneak off without permission to go on your own mission just because it's personal for you. That's not how we do things in the Alliance."

    Luke's hands lifted from the controls slightly, then tightened, then loosened again.

    "'...I'm sorry, Leia," he said, and he was. He fervently wished he'd just kept his idea to go on this mission for himself, to himself. He had told both her and Han that he wanted to go. They hadn't talked him out of it then, and they wouldn't now.

    Resisting the temptation to close the comms right then and there, he added, "But I'm not leaving my lightsaber on that rock. I'm not."

    Luke swallowed, remembering the moment of shock hours ago, when he'd realized that silvery hilt that always hung on his belt – his lightsaber, the Jedi weapon that Ben had entrusted to him, his father's heirloom...

    He, Luke, had lost it.

    And there was only one explanation: before they had all retreated from their previous battle, he had been captured by Imperial troopers. He'd boarded their shuttle, having been knocked out and only half-aware of what was going on. There had been so much chaos that day, starting with the aerial onslaughts – and the presence of Darth Vader...

    But the shuttle must have either been damaged or a substandard vessel, as it had swiftly and suddenly crashed down not far above the terrain. Miraculously, he'd escaped, apparently as the only survivor.

    In the midst of that and their swift takeoff from the dusty planet afterwards, Luke hadn't thought to check himself, like any sensible Rebel fighter would... To make sure the guards hadn't unarmed him when he was unconscious...

    Turns out, they had.

    "Whatever chance that it's still there, I'll take it," he declared over the comm, his thoughts charging him now with a new fill of determination. "It's all I have left, Leia. And it's my responsibility to get it back."

    "Luke, this is ridiculous. I would expect this type of loner selfishness from Han..." The authority in Leia's voice was now dropping to something worse: disappointment. "But not from you, Luke."

    At this, Luke felt an inevitable wave of shame. Leia was adept at brutal honesty. He could only imagine the look on Han's face right now.

    "Luke... I know that lightsaber means a lot to you," she went on patiently. "But Vrogas Vas will be under Imperial surveillance. It's the location of a former Rebel base. You can't risk—"

    "It's my risk, Leia—"

    Han's voice came through again. "Look, kid, you can't go tip-toeing into battle remains like it's playtime in a holo-house. That's just—"

    A series of spirited growls interrupted him.

    "What… what dy'a mean "he's faced worse before"? Why you stupid – hairy heap of –"

    Leia cut in, "Luke, please. The Alliance needs you. You were there... you saw what happened over Vrogas Vas. We can't afford to lose a pilot like you, especially after—"

    "Well, if that doesn't tug at his heartstrings." Han couldn't have sounded more incredulous. "Yeah, Luke, our friend who's walking straight into the enemy – come back, okay? We don't have enough pilots."

    There was silence, and Luke was more than thankful to be as far away as he was. He also felt an echo of sadness, thinking of all the Rebels who had been mercilessly shot down over Vrogas Vas… And that had been before the Imperials knew of their base…

    Then Leia's voice came back, soft and level as ever. "Luke. If you're going to go through with this..." He heard her sigh, something she rarely did. "…You understand that if something happens... we can't send help. We can't come after you. We've suffered too much on Vrogas Vas already. We can't…."

    Her words trailed away, followed by a dull quietness. Now in his cockpit, with nothing but the perpetual, empty blackness of space before him, Luke suddenly felt very alone.

    The low whirring of the X-Wing engines continued.

    Alone it is then, he thought, his hands steady on the control sticks. He couldn't back out now. After all, he had faced worse before. He wasn't helpless. He still had his blaster, his droid, his ship...

    And greatest of all, the Force.

    "Look… I understand. It's okay," he said, genuinely trying to assure her, Han, all of them. "Don't worry. I'll be back. I promise I'll be back."

    With that, he pushed at the controls, and vanished from their scopes as he was swept into hyperspace.

     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  2. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    I LOVE this! You have everybody completely nailed! Luke's quiet apology, Leia's gentle firmness, and even Han's incredulity...Every bit of dialogue is perfect!!!
     
  3. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Your characterizations were right on! I never read the comic, but this was really well written. =D=
     
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    The interaction and the dialogue is excellent! You can feel the tug of insisting that Luke not go based on so many factors: Leia's concern & then honesty about not being able to send help if needed; Han's snarky assessment of a rash and crazy quest, for what? :p and Luke's determination to go anyway. He is also determined to succeed because he sees no alternative. @};-
     
    AzureAngel2, Ridley Solo and Togruta like this.
  5. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Thanks for your responses; glad you all liked the characterization especially. The OT main three are fun to write.

    I'll try to post more sometime this week. Thanks again!
     
  6. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Note: This meeting scene and the dialogue is from the “Darth Vader” comics, so disclaimers that it's not mine. I just thought it was a way to re-cap what's going on with Vader at the time after Vrogas Vas. I didn't want to overpack it with references, so... hopefully I didn't.



    The Dark Lord walked through the halls of the Imperial Palace, a seething shadow that drifted from one room to the next, past the walkways, up one turbolift and off another. The guards standing watch surveyed Vader in silence, noting the silver container that hovered at his side.

    He reached the lift that led to the Emperor's quarters and hurried in, eager to get this meeting over with. He was wasting enough time coming here, but he had to see the Emperor face-to-face for this matter. As his master had told him, he had to prove himself...

    As he rode the lift, he tried to gather the swell of frustration he still felt from his recent mission, to focus it into a black haze of anger, always present as his master expected. But as he glanced at the box beside him, the outrage and disappointment only resurfaced, burrowing into his mind.

    He had just returned from Vrogas Vas, and his whole mission, his whole purpose there, had been foiled. Even Vader's accomplice had been lost, taken in by the Rebels, carrying information that could ruin his hidden plans – a problem he had to rectify. He had faced battle after battle on Vrogas Vas, by air and on land, confronted numerous Rebels. But not the one that actually mattered, and the reason only made the whole ordeal all the more infuriating.

    Commander Karbin, a four-armed Mon Calamarian cyborg – a living definition of the word abomination – had prevented him. His mission had been the same as Vader's: to capture the Rebel who had destroyed the Death Star. Karbin had fought Vader, delaying him while his men had captured the boy. Vader had managed to use the Force to bring down the shuttle that had carried him, allowing the boy to flee with the rest of his Rebel companions. It was the only morsel of success to come from the whole venture.

    So his son was still out of his reach... but also out of reach of those who could prove troublesome, as Karbin had.

    The Mon Calamarian had been modified by a scientist named Cylo, an acquaintance of the Emperor, and there were others like him. Their "enhancements", he'd proposed, made them superior to Vader. They were replacements, he'd said, especially in the wake of Vader's recent failures...

    Apparently, this idea was taken seriously by his master.

    It enraged him. To blame him for the destruction of the Death Star was one thing – he had made a serious error in letting the Rebels escape, and had failed to stop the attack on the reactor core. He had admitted this and accepted the responsibility. But putting him under the command of Tagge – whose promotion had only further shown what a self-applauding swine he was, assigning Vader prying adjutants meant to "assist" him – and the Emperor pitting him against these cybernetic creatures who thought themselves greater than the Force itself…

    It was more than insulting and sacrilegious; it was an utter waste.

    The turbolift stopped and Vader walked off. He made his way to a large door where two red-garbed sentries stood. Seeing the Dark Lord, they stood aside and allowed him access. He paced into the well-lit room with the container, letting the sharp intake of his breath announce his presence.

    "Ah, Lord Vader."

    The Emperor sat at a table, hands folded, surrounded by two similar red-robed guards.

    "You bring me tribute? A present?" he said, his pale face serene. "How considerate." Behind his chair, the Coruscant afternoon could be seen through the large window, which was fashioned into an Imperial insignia. Its shape cast web-like shadows on the floor and walls.

    Vader stopped just a few feet away from the steps that led to the Emperor. "You have been seeking Commander Karbin," he said, and motioned to the container. The lid of the vessel unlocked with the Force, and out fell a Mon Calamarian head. It was attached to half of a battered, metallic torso which had clearly been cut in two. Vader pushed the half of the lifeless body with his boot, turning it over, letting his master better observe it. The flesh was an off-white orange, the protruding eyes wide open.

    "I found him," said Vader. His gaze was locked on the old man, waiting for his reaction.

    The Emperor sat silent, yellow eyes unblinking as he looked at the sight with a frown.

    "Hmm..." he murmured. "Are these lightsaber wounds, Vader?"

    "You wish me to prove myself, Master." Vader's cynical tone transferred through his mask, sharp and even. "Give me a fight worthy of my time."

    The Emperor rose from his chair. He walked to the massive window, slightly hunching, black sleeves touching the floor. "Your are in luck. I have a certain… problem. Despite our warning, the ore-barons of Shu-Torun are rebelling."

    Vader hadn't expected this. He recalled his visit to Shu-Torun: its royal family had shown resistance to the Empire, and the king had tried to assassinate him, using his youngest daughter as a means to do. She had led Vader into a trap that was meant to kill both of them; in the end Vader had had the conspiring family killed, save for the youngest daughter, who was left as queen, compliant to serve the Empire. Evidently, their fates had not left enough of an impact on the planet.

    "I require a full military intervention," the Emperor said, now heading back to his chair. "You will bring the Empire's assistance to Queen Trios. This must be achieved swiftly. Shu-Torun is a fountain of rare metals and minerals. The Empire's greatest martial achievements rely upon it. The Empire cannot strike against its foes without their riches."

    Not his choice mission, but it was an important one, and an improvement from performing Tagge's menial tasks and dealing with abominations.

    "It will be done," he affirmed, and he turned away, his black cape slightly brushing over the Mon Calamarian corpse as he went.

    "Oh… " He heard the Emperor let out a drawling sigh. "There is one other matter."

    Vader stopped and listened, making no movement.

    "At Grand General Tagge's insistence," the Emperor continued, "Doctor Cylo will join you in the task."

    Vader looked back at his master. The white face was draped in the black hood, smiling.

    "Why?" he rumbled.

    "There is a reason. You are student and I am master. I will explain all when you return from this task."

    At that, Vader turned away without another word, reigning in his displeasure. Before he reached the exit he heard the Emperor add in a soft croak: "Show your merit, Vader. I rely on you more than you can understand."

    Vader passed through the door and left.

    So, finding his son would be put on hold once again… But the sooner he proved himself, the sooner he would be free of these distractions, elevated in power, with more resources at his disposal to find him. And insuring Shu-Torun's aide would be a significant victory for the Empire – as well as a possible opportunity for him to dispose of more "rivals"...

    One abomination down. Four to go

     
    Last edited: May 15, 2018
  7. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Excellent ruminations and fascinating details about Shu-Torun and these cyborg opponents [face_thinking] I can definitely sense Vader's impatience to get on with the real objective, his not the Emperor's :p =D=
     
    AzureAngel2 and Togruta like this.
  8. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    I really enjoyed the conversation between Vader and Palpatine. Great update! =D=
     
  9. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Now back to Luke and his adventure of craziness. Hope you enjoy!



    "Putting up the shields, Artoo," Luke said, baring his teeth as an uneasiness built up in his stomach.

    As they fell out of hyperspace, readings picked up two small objects, far enough to be unidentifiable on the computer, but he was sure they were Imperial satellites. From the distance he could also make out an Imperial cargo ship, large and arrow-shaped, lingering above Vrogas Vas. Likely where the Imperials were storing anything they deemed retrievable, both from the battlefield and the Rebel base.

    Luke let out a breath, his visor clouding slightly as he did so. Transport ships like this didn't usually have advanced weaponry or tracking, but still…

    Settling to take control of the X-Wing's laser cannons himself, he prepared to approach the planet. To defend himself, speed his way through – dubious a plan as that was – but then he paused.

    Something had caught his eye. Several klicks away was a string of glowing points, leaving behind blue tails as they were darting towards Vrogas Vas.

    A comet storm? Luke guessed. He remembered that Vrogas Vas had gaseous emissions on its surface regularly; perhaps these storms were the reason. He thought for a moment.

    Suddenly, his Tatooine-inclined mind brought up a comparative image: this meteor storm wasn't too different from a stampede of banthas. If he could reach it, find a place within it, keep up with the "herd"... he could not only live, but use the destructive chaos to his advantage. Surely no one could detect or shoot down a starfighter that was shielded by such a torrent. But the risk would be...

    Artoo made a series of chirps and beeps.

    "No," Luke responded, his voice low. He then pulled back on the control sticks, reversing the ship. "Let's move around them, Artoo. Keep our distance. We have to stay undetected before we can get to that comet stream."

    Artoo made a questioning whistle as Luke maneuvered his way slowly, but surely. The storm was moving at a steady pace, and he managed to fly around the view of the Imperial ship's hull. No lasers firing his way... so far, so good. He looked at the state of the blazing display on his screen, radiated in waves that hid anything behind it. What was the right way to proceed?

    Then he paused, and eyed the angle of the descending trail. He made his way forward, swerved his hands at the controls, and the X-Wing turned sideways. Luke closed his eyes. He dove toward the storm at top speed.

    The light was blinding even through his visor and it pierced through his eyelids, but he kept to his maneuver, determined to let nothing but instinct guide him, remembering Ben's words. He felt the storm, the intensity, astronomic and entrapping. Compelled, Luke adjusted his position. An abstract power seemed to open within him, sharpening his mind, guiding his reflexes.

    He flew further forward and downward. He shut out the sounds of the ship sensors going haywire, the spastic bleating from Artoo, the unstable force surrounding and gripping the X-Wing... gripping, but not crushing. He found a certain calmness in himself.

    He realized he was within the storm now. Part of it, as he'd meant to be. Now to move along with it without getting obliterated into space dust...

    An adept awareness was now welling in him, telling him to scroll away here, slow down here, avoid this spot. It wasn't a flawlessly smooth procedure; the ship took hits and bumps and he jumped at them. The danger was now wavering his concentration – it was hard to focus in the middle of a deadly space storm. He tried to fly the best he could while Artoo made several high-pitched curses, and all the while they were indeed descending toward their destination, toward Vrogas Vas.

    Luke opened his eyes, and through the downpour of light he could view the earthy surface of the planet below. He smiled as it became more and more clear.

    Within moments, he had reached the atmosphere. Luke waited, searching for an opening through the storm's blazing clutter and when one came, he dodged through it, leaving the storm behind. He heard the violent crashes upon land, saw the rubble splitting away in the dusky sky.

    Luke blew out in relief.

    "Thank the Force," he whispered, and continued flying, edging closer to the dark, mountainous terrain. The rough ground, yellow in the day, was now covered in twilight. Amazingly, he realized he wasn't far from the Rebel battle site... Again, he thanked the Force.

    It wasn't long before he spotted the Imperial presence; it was hard to miss. Huge white containment ships were spread for miles, alight in the darkening fields. Luke immediately stopped his ship, his upper body propelled forward in his seat, and taking a breath he descended to land. As good as his X-Wing was, it wasn't built for stealth, and the hot-blue flare of the engines couldn't be concealed. He worried for a split second that he may have already been seen.

    Luke lifted the hatch and removed his helmet. It was nearly black outside. He sat up and took out a pair of black goggles from a compartment and put them on. Turning on night vision, he opened the storage space and took out his supplies, attaching them to his belt while Artoo departed from the ship. The droid casually wheeled off the ship's wing and landed with a thud.

    "Quiet, Artoo," Luke hissed, tucking his gun in its holster. He stepped out. "And disable your lights."

    After settling the little droid upright, Luke led him forward. He viewed the area, zooming in and out. The region ahead was littered with scorched debris and indistinguishable heaps, and Luke shuddered, thinking of what they were. Unavoidable memories flashed in his mind: static screams, orange bursts in the air…

    Ahead, droids with head-lights were fluttering around, and stormtroopers were standing near a group of containers.

    "Artoo… can you pick up anything? Any signs of an Imperial shuttle?" he asked.

    The droid made a quiet beep and began scanning.

    All was silent as they walked, viewing everything they could in the darkness. Jagged rocks and boulders, cracked formations in the ground... Vrogas Vas was as empty as he remembered. They walked on, the green screen of the goggles picking up nothing that looked like an Imperial shuttle.

    All of a sudden, a strange sensation came over Luke. He looked away, as if drawn, and then started off in that direction. The path he headed to had a lighted area; it was being surveyed, but he continued in a hurry. He came to a halt when he spotted a series of crumbled pillars, stairs, and statues.

    The remains of the Jedi temple.

    It had been the very reason he first came to this once-obscure world, seeking Jedi history and knowledge of the Force. The remoteness of Vrogas Vas had been why he told the Alliance about it, thinking it would make a good location for a Rebel base. Now standing near this place again, Luke could feel something – a calm, mistful feeling – and it appealed to him. He had felt the Force here before, but only briefly, not having the chance to really explore as he'd wished…

    He knew he shouldn't go closer, shouldn't risk it, but the Force felt so strong here–

    Artoo suddenly touched his side with an extended mechanical claw, and buzzed at him in protest. Luke patted him away and moved forward.

    A bright light shone over towards them, nearly blinding Luke. He sidestepped out of the way, Artoo twirling behind him.

    The scout droid lingered a while... then it slowly flew away.

    Abashed, Luke let out a stricken breath as he looked at the astromech droid.

    "Alright, alright... Just the lightsaber, then we go," he whispered, holding up his hands in defeat. Artoo's body made a nodding motion and his round head swiveled. He headed the other direction. Luke sighed, but let him lead the way.

    They walked for a long time, avoiding the Imperials' lines of sight and keeping to the taller formations of rock whenever they could. Gradually, Luke was spotting more materials – various scraps of plastoid and titanium – but no sights that seemed familiar. Artoo was silent.

    Then Artoo stopped. His dome turned to Luke earnestly, and the young man stepped away and went towards him.

    "Really, Artoo? You found it – "

    "No, Luke."

    Luke started, and jerked his knees back. He looked around him, blaster pointed.

    "You must leave this place, and quickly."

    He withdrew his gun, heart pounding, followed by a whiff of relief. He knew that voice...

    "Ben?..."

    Artoo's dome spun backward, and he made a questioning chime.

    "Leave, Luke." The voice of his friend and mentor was unmistakable, and seemed to echo as if carried by wind in a cave. But Ben's voice didn't have its usual warmth and kindness. It was stern. Uneasily, Luke remembered that he'd heard Ben's voice on Vrogas Vas before, that he'd warned him then... but that battle was over now.

    "You were not ready before," Ben's voice said. "And you are not ready now. Turn back."

    "But… But Ben!..." Luke couldn't help raising his voice. "How do I… Ben, I know this is dangerous, but I had to come back – it's my father's lightsaber! How can I ever become a Jedi if I don't have a lightsaber –"

    "Patience," Ben urged him. "You will find another way. But now, you must leave. You must leave now, Luke. Hurry!"

    Luke's answer was quick, and simply spilled out his mouth.

    "I can't."

    Luke stood there a moment, bewildered and taken aback by his own words. Silently, he waited for an answer, almost hoping for a reproach.

    Ben's voice, however, did not return.

    Instead, there came a sharp tap, like metal being struck with a rod.

     
    Last edited: Jul 3, 2018
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Luke made it to ground so successfully and evaded detection as well. Then there was that urgent warning, which Luke should have heeded; [face_worried] That was an ominous end with silence broken only by a mysterious sound.
     
    AzureAngel2 and Togruta like this.
  11. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    [face_hypnotized] Me, reading this story...
    WOW, what an excellent pair of chapters! The meeting between Vader and Palpatine was suitably chilling, this latest chapter with the warning from Ben...ooh, what happens next!?!?

    This is Zahn-quality work, riveting and well-written. ^:)^ You have the characters nailed so well I can hear the dialogue in their voices. =D=

    More, please! [face_praying]
     
  12. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    ^Thanks again for the comments, and compliments! Wow, a Zahn comparison... I admit I haven't read the Zahn books, but I know they're a favorite of many people, so thank you. [face_coffee]

    Now on with the fanfic...


    "A lightsaber… Did I hear right?" said a voice, and the metallic tap was heard again.

    Luke moved, and again yanked out his blaster. He inched closer to the origin of the voice, which was definitely not Ben's – it was coarser, deeper, alive.

    In the distance, a large mass showed up on his lenses' screen. On the ground there were bodies of robed guards. As he came closer, Luke could see the details of the mass: a dorsal-shaped plate stuck out, there were vents from an engine, and folded triangular wings that were now mostly buried in sand…

    The Imperial shuttle!

    Tap. The sound came again, but it hit the ground this time, followed by footsteps. From the left side of the crashed shuttle, something had emerged behind a reflective container. The heatwaves of a human body came through the night vision, slowly approaching.

    "Stay where you are. I'm armed," Luke warned, taking a step back. He heard Artoo beep and shake anxiously behind him.

    The person did as Luke told them, and was still. But a glowrod emitted; they were holding it out to see. The only thing that seemed to be picked up electronically from them was a comlink, and a strange energy coming from one side of their face, perhaps an implant of some kind. Squinting, Luke could see the stranger was a man, who held a walking cane in his other hand, slightly leaning on it.

    Luke paused. He lifted the goggles from his eyes, slightly lowering his blaster.

    Then he realized the man was wearing an Imperial uniform.

    "Artoo – cut off comm signals," Luke commanded. The droid obeyed, bringing out his detection device, which maneuvered side-to-side, now blocking all communications near them.

    "Hmm," Luke heard the man sound out, as if he were thoughtfully considering something.

    "Don't move," Luke told him, making his voice cold. "You can see I have a gun. I'll use it."

    "Ah, yes... " The old man lightly tapped his cane – the source of the sound Luke had heard earlier. "An A280 blaster-rifle. Cheap, common weapon… I'm sure you would use it, especially since it's currently only set to stun."

    Luke raised his eyebrows, his insides now whirling with a mix of caution and confusion. He looked at the blaster in his hands and swallowed dryly, wondering if he should change the setting... How had the Imperial observed all this in the dark?

    "I gather you are a Rebel fighter," said the man in his rough voice, speaking as if he was greeting a visitor. "A very young Rebel. A pilot no less, judging from the orange jumpsuit."

    This Imperial was remarkably calm for someone being held at gunpoint; he didn't seem ruffled at all. Luke didn't know what he was playing at, but he felt an edge of impatience as he eyed the shuttle. It was only a few feet away. He didn't have time for this… and Ben's words of warning were still fresh on his mind. He needed to leave, but he was so close now… All he needed was to get inside...

    "Stun is all I need to take you down." He clutched the blaster, taking small steps towards the shuttle. "So don't try anything. I don't want trouble... I just need to..."

    "Fetch your lightsaber, yes I know. I heard you." The Imperial tipped his head towards the shuttle, gesturing with the glowrod. "However... I'm afraid you won't find it there."

    Luke stared at him, and moved closer. The light of the glowrod wasn't the brightest, but he could make out the man's face; it was aged and blemished, with a shaggy mustache grown out to the sides of his face. He wore a standard Imperial cap on his head, and a monocle over one eye.

    "My name is Thanoth," the man said, making an earnest nod at him. The light on his face shifted as he gestured towards him, still holding the tiny lamp, and he made a shadowy smile.

    "… Luke Skywalker, I presume?"

    Luke blinked, grimaced, and his eyes locked on the other man where he stood. His head was buzzing, but no words were coming to him. He stood dumb.

    "No need to be alarmed, young man... I assure you, I am no threat to you."

    How in blue blazes does he know who I am? Luke thought. This man's uncanny knowledge was making him more nervous by the minute. Artoo now rolled his way over beside Luke, making several loud, inquiring noises. Luke put a foot in front of him, keeping the droid from going any further.

    Thanoth made a wide smile, lifting his chin with an air of a patient teacher ready for his student to ask a question.

    Luke compressed his lips. He had to stay calm...

    "No," he said stiffly, not letting his grip falter as he held out the blaster.

    "No?..." Thanoth's tone loaded with mocking doubt.

    "Luke... Sky… whatever... I don't know who that is, or what you're talking about. Look, I just need you to – to just – "

    "Of course, of course. Your lightsaber." Thanoth hastily turned. He aimed the glowrod's light toward the metal crate that was near the fallen shuttle. Thanoth stepped over to it, and gave it a trusty tap with his cane. "In case you cannot tell, this is a security vault. My security vault... Would you like to see what it can do?" Thanoth bent down his head. "Activate fail-safe: ultra setting."

    At this, a tiny white light beamed on the front side of the box, flickering on and off, and the whole device reverberated with a motor-like hum.

    Luke felt a charge of panic, and eyed the vault. "What... did you just do?"

    The older man gave him a brisk look from underneath his cap. "You really need to ask, young Luke?... Your lightsaber is inside. It is now locked inside. The containment layer is blaster-proof, laser-proof, and the inner shell is enhanced with turadium. It is self-destructable and voice-activated only."

    Curses that could only be uttered by the likes of sand people now bombarded Luke's mind.

    "What… What… Who do you think you...!" He swept towards the vault and knelt down to it, and scrambled to find something to press or grasp. There were no hinges, no buttons, and nothing to access. Artoo joined his efforts, scrutinizing the vault. He prodded it with electricity, engulfed it with a mini-flamethrower, and even brought out a small chainsaw, which screeched on the vault's surface. Nothing made a mark. Artoo groaned lowly in disappointment.

    Luke punched the container top furiously. Then, a thought suddenly occurred to him...

    He shot a scowl at Thanoth, rose to his feet, and rushed to the shuttle. Finally, he had reached it, the thing he had been searching for in these past treacherous hours, the thing that would really have his father's Jedi weapon, and prove this old Imperial was a liar.

    He stepped inside. The flooring was broken and covered with inches of sand and smoldered parts. He looked above and below the boarding area, made sure to search every crevice he possibly could. Artoo joined him, using his sensors. They both searched for several minutes. Nothing that even looked like it could've been part of his lightsaber was found...

    He emerged from the craft, and his eyes fell on the bodies of the fallen guards, the ones who had once held him captive. Reluctantly, he went to them. He bent down to search them, shooting steely looks back at Thanoth every few seconds, making sure he didn't move. With Artoo's scanners, he found that the guards had hidden packs that held blaster-pistols, vibroblades, grenades…

    But no lightsaber. Luke turned back to Thanoth. The sight of the old Imperial looking at him, so calm and pretentious, only made his frustration flare up more. Heading towards him, he clenched his fists and gripped his weapon.

    "Activate the vault. Open it," he told him, and his hands fumbled to switch the blaster's stun setting off. "Open it now!"

    "I will. In time. First, you must listen to what I have to say."

    "Open it or I shoot," Luke spat hotly. "Your fancy box might be blaster-proof, but I'll bet you're not."

    Thanoth stood there, his eyebrows furrowing, but the smile didn't completely leave his face. A mild respect was glinting in his eyes. "Young Luke... I must say, I'm actually quite pleased to meet you. I can see you have determination... And quite clever of you, ordering your astromech to block all comms..." He made a slightly tired huff. "Still, you see I am unarmed and defenseless. It's not too much to ask, is it, for a moment of your time?"

    "You're with the Empire. If you're 'pleased' to meet me, it's only so you can have the opportunity to kill me." Luke scoffed. "Imperials are like that."

    "Great stars, boy, what nonsense propaganda have they been feeding you?..." Thanoth gestured towards his chest. "I am the one in danger here! All the same, I can have your cherished weapon blown to bits with a word, so let's do away with this juvenile animosity. Simply allow me a moment to speak... You will be thankful that you did, Luke. If you went to all this trouble just for that lightsaber… I know, without a doubt, that you will want to hear what I have to say."

    Luke narrowed his eyes. He didn't want to give this man anything. He was keeping his lightsaber from him, his only real belonging. And he was an agent of the Empire, one of those windbag officers by the looks of him.

    Still, Luke couldn't shake off a strange, unwarranted feeling he was getting from him. It wasn't just the annoyance and discomfort at how much he knew, and how he had trapped Luke in his own quest for his lightsaber; it was the nagging feeling that perhaps Thanoth actually did mean to help him. But no Imperial he'd ever encountered had wanted to help him; the Empire was built on greed, and this Thanoth was part of it. Yet Luke had to admit he was curious about this strange old man, and threatening him wasn't getting him anywhere...

    "...Okay… so you have my lightsaber... and you know who I am," he said, gradually lowering the blaster. "But I've never met you, so how about I ask the questions? Starting off with why I should listen to you when you're an Imperial and you're blackmailing me? What are you even doing out here, picking things up from a battlefield? You're no scout."

    "No. I'm a professional investigator. I was inspecting the remains for... retrievable purposes." Thanoth now turned to the shuttle, observing it where it lay, half-swallowed in sand. "I found this spot… the place where you were briefly captured, yes? I suppose you realized your weapon was gone too late, hence your delayed attempt to recover it … Ah, don't look so agitated," he said, noticing Luke's scowl. "It is perfectly understandable, and it led to our meeting, didn't it? Quite a work of fate… And I will say, Vrogas Vas is not the first planet I've been to in my recent investigations. I've also been to Naboo... and to Tatooine."

    He looked at Luke, as if expectant. But Luke only frowned.

    "And what exactly were you investigating?" he asked slowly.

    "A case. Or at least a connection to it. It's quite complex work, but..." Thanoth paused a moment. "...You see, I am currently serving as the adjutant of Lord Vader."

     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  13. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating! This seemingly jovial and well informed investigator -- has been to Naboo and Tatooine and is adjutant to Vader. That's how he knows so much. Oooh, the plot definitely is thicker. =D= Wonder if he'll let Luke have his saber after all?
     
    AzureAngel2, Ridley Solo and Togruta like this.
  14. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    The plot thickens....
     
  15. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    OOOOOOH! =D= Indeed, the plot does thicken. This old guy, Luke's reaction to him...the whole time I read this my mouth was hanging open. And a WHAT to Vader? YIPE!!!! [face_nail_biting]

    If this were a book I'd be feverishly turning the next page. Agh! *Patience, Ridley...patience!*
     
  16. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    It will be interesting to see where this goes for Luke and Thanoth! Great update! =D=
     
  17. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Thanks again, everyone. Have to say, some of you show more excitement for this fic than I would've expected. I really appreciate it. [face_coffee]

    Here's another update. Hope you enjoy!


    Artoo released an alarmed noise, and his receptor looked up to Luke. The young man didn't move. His gaze remained on Thanoth.

    "Go on," he said, the corners of his mouth stretched.

    Thanoth casually swept a hand over his shoulder, brushing away specks of drifting dirt. "I was assigned to Vader to assist him, keep tracks on him. Basically, make sure he doesn't do anything that the Grand General doesn't approve of. You see... your destruction of the Death Star did not exactly sit well with the Emperor, nor did the disruptions you and your friends caused on Cymoon 1."

    Luke felt an unsettling pull in his stomach. So Thanoth knew he was responsible for destroying the Death Star... And he also knew of his help in destroying the weapons factory on Cymoon 1, one of the Empire's main suppliers of weapons.

    "Vader was blamed for those disasters, and demoted in his command," Thanoth went on. "Hence my becoming his adjutant."

    "Congrats. I'm so happy for you," Luke said, his voice dull with bitterness. "So Vader had you find out who I am, track me down...?"

    "No, but I assure you, discovering your identity is on the Empire's to-do list. But more to the point, being Vader's adjutant, I did become suspicious of some of his… activities, and I went looking for answers. And, well…"

    He looked down a few seconds, inhaled, and then met Luke's eyes with his own.

    "I believe your father is alive, Luke."

    The blaster hit the ground with a soft thud, free from Luke's hand. A faint tremble went through his fingers. His mouth parted wordlessly.

    Thanoth peered at him, and at the fallen weapon. He did nothing. He simply waited.

    Luke couldn't even manage a word out, but in a matter of seconds the silence was broken for him. There was a loud, crackling whoosh. The ground shook underneath them and they staggered and swayed. Luke let out a yelp and tried to balance himself, and Artoo helplessly bumped into him. Thanoth had shifted toward the shuttle, and was pressing himself to it. Meanwhile, a strong smell was permeating in the air that was both earthly and acidic.

    "Gaseous eruption," Thanoth exclaimed through the noise. "We need to take shelter, leave the area. We can't inhale the compounds!"

    Luke eyed Thanoth, then eyed the vault. He moved down to pick it up.

    "Leave it!" urged Thanoth. "It can withstand the atmospheric pressure. Right now we must – "

    Nearby a cloudy spew whistled from a gap in the ground. At this, Luke's eyes widened. He then shakily sprinted away and grabbed on to Artoo, pushing him forward. Grinding his teeth, he waved a beckoning hand to Thanoth. Thanoth held out his lamp and followed him.

    As they fled into the dark, Luke snapped the goggles back over his eyes. He swept over the area. Amid all the commotion and bits of dirt falling around them, the view of the arid region seemed normally flat and desolate. He tried to stabilize his legs enough to move – added with the effort in keeping Artoo from falling over – and Luke managed to spot a crag many yards away, suggesting the possible shelter of a cave.

    "Over there!" Luke shouted, pointing in the direction. With shaken steps, Luke led the way through the continuing quakes, and did his best to not breath in the fumes. He heard Thanoth coughing and heaving behind him; he looked back at him. The older man's legs were failing him and his eyes were watering. Luke involuntarily took hold of him and steered him onward. Artoo continued to be loosely tossed up and down from the vibrations, but he was managing on his mechanical legs.

    One giant burst was heard behind them. It shattered the surface, and the tremors continued, cracks splitting the ground, grit flying.

    Trudging on, they were nearing the tall, stony formations. The air was feeling less and less dense, the smell fading. They hurried to the hollow opening.

    A large slab crashed in front of them. Unstable chunks had begun to fall from the upper parts of the cave's structure, loosened from the persisting movement from the ground, and Luke and Thanoth backed away. Another clump fell, breaking on impact. A piece hit Artoo, who let out a robotic shriek as he was flipped on his side.

    "Get in!" Luke moved forward and pushed Thanoth inside the cave, and then dashed back, stumbling toward the droid. Dust in his face, he hoisted the barrel-shaped astromech upright. Artoo's dome spun frantically as he beeped and headed to the entrance of the cave, Luke trailing him from behind.

    Once inside, Luke let out a deep breath, sweat seeping down his neck.

    "Artoo… you all right?" he panted, and once again slid the goggles off his eyes and over his forehead. Artoo answered with a confident beep, and Luke tried to locate him in the dark to no avail.

    "How about some light, Artoo?" he said to him.

    Artoo obeyed, projecting a bright light, revealing the dry, scaly cavern. Artoo's own receptor now lit up as he made his electric sounds. Luke could also see Thanoth better now; he was hunched over, grasping his cane in one hand and holding his chest with the other, the glowrod slipping between his fingers. Luke swallowed, then took a step over to him.

    "Are you... uh..."

    Thanoth looked up at him, his face wet and creased. Luke noticed his cap was gone now; it must have been lost in the fray. Thanoth made an indifferent wave.

    "Not to... worry," he rasped out. "I have some bacta spray on me. Just… need a moment to rest." He then adjusted his still-intact monocle, and observed their surroundings. "I believe... we'll be safe here. The tremors will continue for an hour at most, but they're less intense in here. This cave seems to have a layered build sturdy enough to prevent cave-ins... Yes, let us hope so."

    Luke looked at him, seeing him bring out a small tube from his belt pouch. He unleashed a couple of spurts into his mouth. Luke merely nodded, and turned away.

    Several minutes passed, in which Luke watched as more plummeting rock was smashed to bits outside. He heard Thanoth's breathing become less rugged, until it had finally cleared, and he stood up straight again. Arms folded, Luke drew his attention back to him.

    "Now," he said. "Tell… me... " He was murmuring. He swallowed, tried to gather his voice. "Tell me what you know... about my father."

    Thanoth lifted a finger in acknowledgement. "Ah yes... I was just getting to that, wasn't I? Well..." He rubbed a hand over his bald head. "...I know quite a bit... Anakin Skywalker: Jedi Knight in the time of the Old Republic, an expert pilot, especially strong in the Force. Thought to be deceased for the last twenty standard years…" Thanoth was quiet for a few seconds, then his etched face broke into a gratifying smile as he looked at Luke. "And would you believe, young man... that I have worked with your father?"

    "No. My father would never work for the Empire."

    At this, Thanoth let out a quiet laugh, and weakly shook his head, almost as if he was embarrassed for the younger man. "…Luke… you know… I've not always been in the service of the Empire. And investigators like myself would often collaborate with the Jedi, helping them in their… peace-keeping interests. They would naturally work with law enforcements on their missions, to rid the galaxy of crime and injustice and all that... Your father was quite a prominent figure in those times, you know."

    Luke made a mindless nod. He tried to sort through what Thanoth was saying. He had so many questions... yet his mind kept coming up blank.

    "As I'm sure you know, Luke…" Thanoth continued, his voice suddenly turning low. "The Empire takes in prisoners. They are kept for many different reasons, and Lord Vader is – "

    "He murdered him," Luke blurted out.

    Thanoth frowned, as if puzzled. "Pardon?"

    "My father's dead. Vader killed him." Luke glared at Thanoth. "I just helped you, and you're just feeding me a bunch of lies!... I know Vader killed him!"

    Thanoth keenly regarded him. "And what, may I ask, makes you certain of this?"

    "Obi-Wan Kenobi. He told me Vader was a Jedi, his pupil, and he betrayed him. Vader betrayed and murdered my father."

    The older man rubbed his chin mindfully, his brown eyes set on Luke for a moment. Then they cast away into the empty depths of the cavern.

    "Not quite an eye-witness account from the sounds of it... But perhaps it is true," he said coolly. "We all know Vader is responsible for the genocide of the Jedi. I admit, I thought that was Skywalker's fate as well... But all the same, it is only right for you to know what I've found." He removed the monocle over his eye, breathed on it, clouding it up. "As I was saying, I've been assigned to keep tabs on Lord Vader, see where he goes, who he contacts. And I've picked up a certain coded message from the logging systems of the Devastator – that's Vader's flagship. At first I thought it was an internal error, but I discovered it was a slice into the systems; an impressive feat considering the security of the vessel. It held a coded message:

    "Send help. Less my feet falter to the ground. That is what it said. This type of coding is quite unique, and took me many resources to decipher." He blew on the monocle again. "Of course, I managed."

    "Send help…" Luke repeated quietly, and was helplessly overtaken by a feeling of urgency. He tried to brush it aside, remind himself that he was a Rebel, that he had to stay clear-headed. He recounted the riddling words of the message... What did they mean?

    His eyes honed in on Thanoth.

    "That… doesn't mean anything. Even if it's true, what makes you think that message has to do with my father?"

    Thanoth let out an incredulous sigh, and he took out a handkerchief from his breast pocket. With delicate care, he cleaned the see-through lens with it.

    "Is it not obvious enough?... Less my feet falter to the ground. The person in question is saying they need help, or they may 'fall down', meaning they are walking upwards, walking on the sky. Skywalker."

    Thanoth gave him a pointed stare, and placed the circular eye-piece back in place. He continued. "This coding was used in transmission modules integrated with an outdated technology, made for only one purpose."

    "Which was?" Luke pressed.

    The older man leaned on his cane and answered, "It was used by Jedi generals in the Clone Wars."

     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
    AzureAngel2 and Ridley Solo like this.
  18. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Uh-oh. This guy Thanoth is crooked...I know he is. [face_plain] He's trying to draw Luke into a trap so Vader can have him.
    Sorry, Luke. Your dad is alive, but you don't want to know what he's become. :(

    Brilliant writing, as always! =D=
     
  19. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Hmmm. What does Thanoth relaly know? =D= Luke is understandably curious and skeptical at the same time.
     
    AzureAngel2 and Togruta like this.
  20. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    Here's another -- less frequent -- update. Time to wrap up this frienemy meeting with Luke and Thanoth on Vrogas Vas. Hope you enjoy!



    Luke's memory sparked: Ben's brief anecdote about his father, fighting in the famous war of that bygone era. Telling Luke about his father's cunning as a warrior...

    Could it really be true? His father alive, after all this time? Had Ben been mistaken about his friend's fate? Had Anakin Skywalker not been killed, but rather held as a prisoner by Darth Vader?… The thought amplified feelings inside him – shock, delight, curiosity, concern – all the wistful emotions of a deprived son.

    Distrust, however, wasn't far from his mind. This Thanoth was obviously crafty and clever. What was it that he wanted from Luke?

    "… Where's your proof?" he asked him. "I don't suppose you brought this top secret message with you?"

    "Well naturally, the message erased itself automatically." Thanoth slumped his shoulders, as if merely explaining this made him tired. "Not that I blame you for asking, but really, what novice would reveal a secret message only for it to be traceable?... And I am certain your father was expecting me to decode it. As I said, I worked with him, and he knew of my proficiency. And while I was trying to find out about you during my investigations, I daresay I didn't expect to find you on this planet among all this massacred mess. At most, I thought I'd find clues that led to your whereabouts."

    He then motioned towards the cave's entrance and walked outside, his boots scraping the ground, causing echoes. Luke noticed that the view was clear and the smashing of falling rocks had ceased. Luke went after Thanoth and saw him raise his cane, pointing to the horizon.

    "The night is waning," Thanoth said, stuffing his glowrod into a pouch on his belt. "We can make our way back now."

    Back. The vault. The lightsaber... Luke had almost let them completely slip his mind.

    Thanoth began walking. Luke followed him, motioning for Artoo to do the same. They passed the remaining rubble and went into the growing mist that was forming in the air. The sky was greying to morning, revealing the rust-colored gorges.

    "I understand your doubts, Luke," Thanoth said, his voice even as they walked. "But... I believe your father needs your help. Or... will be in need of it, soon enough."

    Luke looked ahead at the cloudy distance through his blond bangs. He tried to collect himself, his throat hard and his heart full.

    "The Devastator sounds like a good place to start," he heard Thanoth go on. "It won't be easy, of course, but it isn't impossib – "

    "Why are you telling me this, Thanoth?" Luke suddenly stood still, his hands stiff at his side. "I'm a Rebel, I want Vader dead, and you –" He then rounded and pointed a finger at him. "–You work for him!"

    For some reason, Thanoth seemed amused at the sight of Luke right now, like he was holding back a grin. Luke dropped the accusatory finger, glowering. "What's in all this for you? I know there's something. There has to be."

    Thanoth merely shrugged, his face loose with indifference. "As a servant to the Empire, perhaps I have nothing to gain. But, nor have I anything to lose. I am merely passing along a message. Sharing my suspicions, since the opportunity has presented itself. There's only so much someone of my class can do within the Empire... And I don't think either of us can deny I am no match for Lord Vader."

    "But why? Why bother telling me any of this? Knowing the risk?"

    "There is no risk, as long as Vader doesn't know, and I have my ways of remaining discrete. Remember, it is I who has uncovered his secrets... And whatever rubbish you may think about Imperials, I do honor and respect those who are deserving of it. That includes your father. Yes, I do wish to help him, Luke."

    Artoo made some crude buzzes as he set his receptor on Thanoth. Thanoth smiled and gave the little droid a light nick with his cane. "Oh, I'm sure you do... Artoo, is it? Simple name for a simple machine. R2-units... unfortunately limited programming." He continued walking his path. Luke frowned after him, and gave Artoo a little pat before following. The droid let out muddled bleeps from behind.

    "You know, Luke," Thanoth continued as the younger man caught up to him. "Not everyone in the Empire is rooting for Vader… or wishes for him to stay as the Emperor's second-in-command."

    Luke looked at him in disbelief. "And... what? You're one of those people? You want things to change?" he asked, then he paused to consider his own words.

    If Anakin was alive, if he, Luke, managed to save him... he would be the only Jedi left, and he would be on the side of the Rebellion. Surely he would, if he was a Jedi. The Rebellion would be empowered, knowing they had the aid of a Jedi Knight, knowing they would be considerably closer to destroying Vader. Maybe the entire Empire could finally be taken down... If his father had failed to fight this evil alone, the Alliance would be there to help him. There could be victory, there could be change and hope for the galaxy...

    "I'm not sure you're aware," said Thanoth suddenly, "but the Skywalker bloodline is powerful, Luke. I know that much by now. And you have been wanting to learn the ways of the Force, have you not? Should you find your father..."

    Of course. The idea of his father being alive was so dream-like, now Luke thought of what it would really mean for him. Yes, his father could teach him. At last, he could be trained as a Jedi, no longer hunting for bits of decaying legend hidden in remote planets like this one. His father… his very own father would be there to show him the way. And Luke would be at his side, to follow, to fight, to learn.

    "The choice is up to you, of course," Thanoth said, interrupting his thoughts. "But whatever you do, you will have to do it alone. I won't speak of your identity to the Empire, of course, but I do have other duties to perform soon, tasks for Lord Vader... Have to keep him from suspecting anything, you know – ah, here we are. Back again."

    The shuttle was in sight, its shape resembling giant teeth jutting from the scattered fog. They walked to it, and Luke immediately went to the silvery box, tripping slightly on some broken rock as he went. As Thanoth had claimed, the vault was undamaged from the gaseous eruption. It was still humming, its tiny light still flashing. He lifted the vault and managed to hold it in one hand. Surprisingly, it wasn't all that heavy. Then he searched the ground and saw his blaster, still lying on the ground. He snatched it in one hand.

    Luke paused for a moment, thinking.

    Thanoth stood there opposite of him, the approaching sunlight falling on his brown scalp. "I suppose now you'll want me to release the vault," he said. "Fair enough that I do so before we part ways."

    Luke quickly looked from him, to the vault, to the gun. He took a shallow breath.

    "No. You're not going anywhere."

    He aimed the blaster at Thanoth, who sighed, but Luke stepped forward. He kept the nozzle inches from Thanoth's chest.

    "You obviously know... things," he said, watching him steadily. "So I'm going to be crazy and actually follow up on your story. But you're coming with me, inspector."

    Thanoth frowned slightly, his mustache bristling lightly from the breeze, but he didn't move.

    "So... " Luke now hesitated, fidgeting and wondering what to do now. "You... you get out your comlink. You're going to call for... assistance. Tell them to… to..."

    "To... come to this location?" supplied Thanoth. "Just one trooper, I suppose? With a transport?"

    Luke nodded. Artoo was fidgeting, and he released several loud sounds in protest. Luke shook his head at him, then regarded the locked container he held.

    "No. Don't worry, Artoo. We're either going to find my father," he muttered, weighing the vault readily in his hand. "Or find yet another reason to run a laser through an Imperial."

    Thanoth suddenly closed his eyes, with the air of someone withstanding a long-tolerated burden. He drummed a finger over the top of his cane.

    "Blasters... shoot... plasma. Not lasers," he gritted out. He blew sharply through his nose. "Great stars, I even said the vault was blaster-proof and laser-proof..."

    With that, Thanoth nonchalantly reached into a pouch to bring out his comlink, grumbling about short attention spans as Luke slanted his jaw in annoyance.

     
    Last edited: May 16, 2018
  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 7

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Super contest of wills which it looks like Luke came out on top. [face_thinking] =D= Thanoth's true depth and extent of what he knows and why is still something to uncover completely.
     
    Togruta likes this.
  22. Mandalorian Riddler

    Mandalorian Riddler Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2018
    Good read, so many talented people who really write from the heart in this community. Keep it up :D
     
  23. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Oh boy, what's Luke in for now? Technically, Anakin's will *is* being held prisoner by Darth Vader. He has been a slave to the Dark Side for over twenty years...but they inhabit the same body. :(

    Luke, please don't trust this crazy guy! It feels too easy. In the words of Admiral Ackbar, "It's a trap!"

    Incredible writing, as always. This is officially my favorite story right now! =D=
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2018
  24. Sara_Kenobi

    Sara_Kenobi Jedi Grand Master star 7

    Registered:
    Sep 21, 2000
    Great, great updates! Luke really needs to watch out! =D=
     
  25. Togruta

    Togruta Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Oct 30, 2010
    ^Thanks again for all your great replies. I'm trying to get enough done for an update, maybe by this weekend... hopefully.

    In the meantime... thought I'd share this.

    [​IMG]