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Saga - OT Destiny Lies – (ESB AU; Luke, Vader, various OT characters)

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Starith, Mar 16, 2021.

  1. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Title: Destiny Lies
    Timeframe : OT/ ESB
    Genre: Drama, adventure, AU
    Characters: Luke, Vader, Leia, Lando, Chewie, various OT characters
    Summary: On Bespin, Luke arrives to save his friends, and the Dark Lord waits for him. But what happens when things don't go according to plan?



    Luke probably would have enjoyed the sight of Bespin under other circumstances, just as an outlander, sight-seeing, taking it all in. Cloud City was a pristine metropolis, its silver and white buildings jutting out from the gaseous depths in a perpetual view of sky and stars. An actual city in the clouds. It was almost dreamlike, Luke thought.

    Too bad it was nightmares that had brought him to this place.

    Luke ambled his way across the landing platform and took out his rifle from its holster. At the end of the platform sat a large domed structure, its doors already open. Cautiously, he walked inside.

    Corridors stretched on as far as he could see, the walls and floors all clinically white, but the artistically carven walls and illuminated displays made Luke think he was walking into some kind of Core World gallery — not what he had expected.

    And he hadn't expected it to be this easy getting here. Flight security had wordlessly let him land, and he saw no guards or staff on site. It was dead quiet.

    Artoo trailed behind him, ringing as his domed head spun around to inspect things. Luke shot him a look and he quieted, but then let out an anxious bleep. Luke sighed. He really should've told Artoo to stay behind in the X-Wing, though he suspected the little astromech would've followed him regardless, given his worrisome inquiries about Threepio along the way. Luke did welcome company for this mission, and Artoo was usually reliable — though this ill-timed, noisily nervous side of him wasn't assuring. Luke was feeling tense enough, half-anticipating an ambush around the next corner, an alarm to go off at any second...

    But many minutes passed and all the areas stayed empty and silent. Thankfully.

    He kept walking. His sense of direction was reflexive, guided only by the Force. It had steered him surprisingly well so far. He'd been able to hone in on Han and Leia with such ease, as if they were signalling him, as if their lives were a lighthouse that emitted over a million seas. Yes, he was positive Han and Leia were here... somewhere. This place wasn't empty, it didn't take a Jedi Master to know that, or to tell him to be on his guard...

    ...though two had warned him all the same.

    This is a dangerous time for you. When you will be tempted by the dark side of the Force.

    Mind what you have learned. Save you it can.

    He couldn't say Ben and Yoda's words hadn't made him uneasy, determined as he had been to leave Dagobah. And he had to admit, if only to himself, that perhaps they weren't unfounded. He knew he was expected here. No effort was being put into hiding it.

    Luke held tight of his blaster.

    Suddenly he stopped in his tracks. He could've sworn he heard... no, not heard, felt — screams. Han's screams. He felt his pain, stinging the air like ozone.

    And something else: despair. Despair that he knew, he just somehow knew, was Leia's...

    Luke drew in a sharp breath. He shut his eyes. The visions hadn't ceased, not on the way here and not now... but he had to keep moving. He had to concentrate, he told himself, the word repeating in his head in Yoda's guttural rasp. But the choice didn't seem to be his: the visions only played out again and again. Even his mental fending with the Force didn't block them. If anything, being so close to Han and Leia now seemed to make the sensation of his friends' pain more visceral than ever. It bore more into Luke, hooking into his thoughts, craving his attention.

    Another image flashed before him: Han and Leia, their faces lit with terror, their bodies swallowed up in a violent, scorching light —

    No! Luke nearly yelled out the word, but stopped himself at the last millisecond.

    Artoo nudged him. He let out a few bleeps, asking what was wrong. Luke shook his head, almost mortified. He was letting himself be affected by these visions way too much. He was here on a rescue mission. He had to keep a clear head. Inwardly grasping at his Jedi lessons for support, he heard Yoda's voice in his head once again:

    Calm. Be calm. At peace.

    Well, that was definitely out of the question, given his track record of being able to reach a 'calm, peaceful state', which had only been when he was levitating rocks in the stillness of Dagobah's quiet swamps. Plus there was his own rapidly beating heart thrumming uncontrollably in his lungs. The mere thought of what torture Han and Leia could be experiencing at this very moment... He couldn't be calm. But he had to be... undeterred, at least. Not like this like, not dawdling and useless...

    Luke started moving again. He passed more white halls. More empty, quiet rooms.

    Then something stood out; he caught a fleck of color. Luke pressed himself behind a wall and waited. Shadows appeared on the polished tiles of the next hallway, and then a helmeted figure in a greenish suit appeared. Two men followed him, pushing some kind of flattened slab on an antigrav device. Accompanying them were two stormtroopers. They all continued down the corridor until they were gone.

    Pausing to think for a moment, Luke considered the suspicious group, considered following, but the silence was broken when Artoo suddenly made a bleating whistle. Luke silenced him with a quick gesture, praying the little droid hadn't been loud enough to draw attention. Luke swiftly glanced around. The area looked empty. He lowered his gun and took a few careful step out into the hallway.

    There was burst of red. Out of nowhere came the helmeted figure standing several feet away, facing Luke and holding a long-range blaster.

    Lasers burned past. Sparks pivoted from the walls as they hit. Luke came from around the corner, took aim, and shot back. Another beam streamed by and missed him by a hair.

    Then silence. The blasts stopped. The helmeted figure had disappeared.

    Luke scanned the path ahead. He then moved further out, passing the smoking blast marks on the wall as he proceeded down the corridor. It curved into a narrow passage until he came into an open area.

    There to meet him was a squad of stormtroopers, Imperial officers, and clearly being escorted as their prisoners, Leia and Chewie.

    Blasterfire darted his way. Luke dodged, stepped back while the Imperials scrambled, trying to move along while also trying to shoot him down. He heard Chewie's blaring roars and Artoo's shrieks through all the blaster noise. The Wookiee was thrashing as he tried to force his wrist-binders off, barely held back by the human officers. Meanwhile Leia struggled against the uniformed man that was grabbing her and using her as a shield.

    Through the commotion Luke found her gaze, and saw fear in her eyes, though not for herself.

    "Luke!" she shouted. "Luke, don't! It's a trap!" Her looped braids flung as she was dragged along with Chewie and they were forced down the left hall.

    Luke was about to go after them when the princess' brunette head appeared again from behind the wall.

    "It's a trap!" she shrieked again, and again was pulled out of sight.

    Luke tried to move forward, but the remaining stormtroopers straggled behind, barring him off. More blasts shot at him, he shot back.

    Light smoke filled the area. A burnt wire hung from a panel and some burns on the alabaster sculpture in the room's center were inflamed. Luke saw the stormtroopers had fled. It was soundless, like the encounter had never happened.

    Luke hurried down the left hall, keeping his gun poised readily, but he saw no sign of Leia, Chewie, or any of the Imperials. Dumbfounded, he looked around. How could he have lost them so quickly? They had just been here, just seconds ago...

    And as if provoked by his confusion, a sort of pressure started to slide through his senses. Something shrouded over him. Dark, overflowing coldness, the likes of which would put the iciest and most lifeless spots on Hoth to shame.

    Luke didn't move. He knew what this dark coldness was, knew it had been there all along, lingering over everything. The obstacle, the one holding his friends' lives in the palm of his metal-and-black-leather-covered hand...

    Teeth clenched, Luke hurried down the empty passage. Soon he came upon an open, unlit threshold. He inched towards it without thinking. Behind him Artoo made a quiet inquiry. Luke didn't reply; he waved for him to follow.

    If he kept going... would he find him?

    Yes, he would. That seemed clear... And if he did find him...

    Something in Luke bristled. It whirled in his ribs, rushed through his fingertips. He felt something smooth against his hand, and found he had touched the hilt of the unused lightsaber hanging on his belt.

    If you choose to face Vader, you will do it alone. I cannot interfere.

    Luke slacked his jaw as Ben's warnings flew back to him. No help this time, no otherworldly voice to guide his hand... well, that suited him fine. Killing Vader was something he wanted to do himself, for years he had wanted it, craved it. It had motivated him during these years of fighting in this war, the near-death missions, the squadron battles gone awry, the aftermaths of disaster...

    And even during his own Jedi training — and he did have training under his belt now, he wasn't the clueless amateur he had been on Cymoon 1, when he'd first encountered Vader and had only embarrassed himself trying to take him down; now he was stronger, he had done things with the Force he never could've dreamed, he had learned so much—

    This time... he could do it. The time was right. He could stop all this. This time he could—

    That is why your friends are made to suffer.

    And with that resurfaced memory, the air seemed to solidify in his lungs. The edge of his boot stopped in the threshold, and Luke heard his own past voice summon itself:

    That's why I have to go.

    He couldn't move. He stood in place, his nerves wringing, his mind gone numb.

    This way... this was the way to Vader. To Vader, not...

    The visions, the pain, the turmoil of his friends... wanting to save them... Had that just been... an excuse for him to...

    Luke swallowed, a hand-sized pit in his throat, a wiry sensation in his stomach. Was this the real reason he had come? Why he had disregarded Ben and Yoda's objections and flown off, resolute and without regret? Not for his friends, not to save his friends, not to save anyone — but to destroy Vader, destroy the monster that had hurt him... And to measure up to him, relish in striking him down for everything, for everything...

    Luke lowered his head, discombobulated by the shame, by these perceptions of himself he didn't even know were true or not, and quickly he brought up his gaze enough to eye the way ahead. The threshold peered back at him, offering its small, unlit entry. The familiar dark coldness came from it, sweeping as if through an esophagus.

    No. This wasn't why he was here. He'd known he was walking into a trap and had done so willfully, without a second thought, but not for this. Luke knew where this led to. He knew what to expect on the other end.

    He knew, this time, what was in the cave.

    Luke drifted his hand off the lightsaber, turned from the threshold, and walked away. He heard the low buzz of Artoo behind him as he was reversing himself, and again Luke made no response when the astromech softly bleeped out a question as he followed.



     
    Last edited: Jul 11, 2021
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  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fascinating. Very, very plausible! :cool:
     
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  3. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Thanks, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha. I think it's at least as plausible that Luke wouldn't let himself get sidetracked by Vader as it is that he would.

    Continuing on...



    Skywalker. He was coming.

    The floor and side panels beamed in the freezing chamber, red and orange lights glowing as the cold smoke rose from the floor. Mechanisms hummed in the background. On the platform above the steel stairway a black figure stood, black as the darkness, and waited.

    He couldn't have mistaken it, not if he tried: that bright, raucous energy. It was near. It was coming to him.

    His son was coming to him.

    Patiently, ever-patiently, Vader waited. He wondered how their meeting would go. Long had he awaited this. The trap had worked flawlessly. Having the Millennium Falcon tracked had been the best move he could have made, and with the Could City's baron-administer being an old acquaintance of Solo it had been the perfect setup, the exact means to gather the bait. After all his failed attempts to capture the boy himself, now events had simply... unfolded

    Fate, it had seemed, had handed him the opportunity to utilize a new, hands-off approach: Get the youth to come to him.

    So the youth had. Closer and closer, he was coming.

    Here he stood in this dark chamber, only steps away from the boy... he had to be patient... yet he detested the need to wait. Three years of chasing and tracking and secretly conniving, three years of knowing he had a son, and he, Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, enforcer of the Empire, had been unable to get within close proximity to the young Rebel for more than a few minutes. Always there was interference. Some emergency that blundered everything, swept the boy away as if the galaxy were bending itself to thwart any encounter between them. There was never a chance to truly face him, let alone convey anything to him.

    And when it came to the boy... there was much to convey. The fallacies of the Jedi, the futility of the Alliance... a great deal of un-indoctrinating... and truth that would forever change things.

    He had envisioned it many times, the moment when he'd tell the boy he was his father. The power of that knowledge would be great. Once he grasped it, the boy would inevitably come to full realization and accept his true calling: at the height of power, at the very core of the galaxy. At Vader's side.

    Vader knew such a reality would not come with ease. Part of him almost humored the idea that conversation alone would be enough to reach the boy, but there was no point denying the very high probability that the young would-be Jedi, at first sight of him, would draw his sword. But the warrior in Vader preferred it that way. Not since their encounter on Cymoon 1 had he witnessed the boy's lightsaber skill — or lack thereof — up close. Since that clumsy, hopeless attempt at an attack years ago that had left the boy stunned and defenseless on the ground, clearly bested, having thought he could stand against the likes of a Dark Lord of the Sith. The young, trying fool.

    Would the boy's saber strokes be just as amateurish, just as sloppy? How much had he improved? Time had passed since Cymoon 1 and Vader knew his son's power had grown, and his resolve to become a Jedi was unwavered — but a true lightsaber duel, that would be beyond him. Vader knew he would have to offer a light sparring match as a convincing replacement. Let the boy think himself a duelist, if only to extend time and study him. To see how he fared.

    And yet, Vader could not help but hope — expect — to be surprised. This was his son. Even Sidious knew to be wary of the power a young, volatile Skywalker could wield if allowed to grow — and his son had grown enough to deem him a threat by the Emperor himself. Even as he had knelt to that giant holographic form in his usual form of submission, Vader couldn't have denied a glean of satisfaction when his master had admitted as much. Sidious knew the reality, saw the truest possibilities in the Force, and though he layered himself with resolve and confidence, he feared the boy.

    It was time to nourish the precedent for that fear. It was time for change. Now, charged with anger, having allowed himself to be so susceptible to his friends' suffering, the boy would be hungry for a fight.

    Now it felt like they were nearing the catalyst, a turning point in their destinies.

    It had to be. It would be.

    Vader watched the dark platform of the chamber. Below a flooring entry had been fixed specifically for the youth to enter. The moment he stepped on it he'd be lifted up into the chamber. All exits were locked, including doorways, hatches, and air vents. There would be no interference this time. No escape.

    Vader let his gloved hand touch his lightsaber, but he didn't remove it from his belt. A Sith knew to rein in anticipation with caution, but it was anticipation culminated, three years of restlessness, twenty-some years of waste, and he knew his desire to claim his son could surpass any qualms if he allowed it. His mind was racing, wondering. How much could he challenge the boy... How much could he push him, share with him before...

    No. The truth had to be a last resort. Much like the Death Star, it was a great weapon, the greatest weapon, and at the same time it was incredibly fragile and self-destructive. A gamble worth making only when the time was right and things were desperate.

    It would not come to that. Vader merely had to tire him out, keep him preoccupied and entrapped while he saw what dark tendencies lie within him.

    Vader looked forward to whatever he unearthed.

    Perhaps Solo's fate would serve to rile the boy's anger. Perhaps the safety of the princess and the Wookiee would instill fear. Whatever role they played in his turning, his Rebel friends were a valuable reserve for the Dark Lord to draw upon. But best to imbalance him first. Feel things out before Vader told him who, and what, he was.

    It would not be for much longer. The bright presence was near now, very near. Veiled but vibrant, like a furnace behind a closed door. It wavered in its radiance.

    Then, inexplicably, it became still.

    The Dark Lord frowned when the stillness continued. He spread out his own presence, signalling himself through the Force. The boy had to know he was here.

    Come, Skywalker. Face me, he baited him. He wondered if the boy's senses were keen enough to actually decipher these thoughts, to hear his inner voice, but he would undoubtedly receive the intention of the message.

    But the bright presence didn't budge. In fact, as if in sheer defiance, it distanced itself. Slowly it drew away.

    Annoyance nudged at the Dark Lord; he tried to not feel affected by it. Was the boy who threw himself into danger suddenly so wary? So gutless? Or was he simply puzzled about where to go, lost in the large Bespin complex and doubting where his enemy awaited, even as the Force guided him towards his destination? Unlikely, but as Vader had to keep reminding himself, his son was a novice in the Force.

    So Vader gave him time. Minutes passed.

    The boy only drew farther and farther away. Vader clamped his fists.

    The patient approach, it seemed, was inefficient against Jedi-taught cowardice.

    Silently infuriated, the Dark Lord turned to the edge of the platform, walked down the steps that led to the round center of the freezing chamber. His boots thudded along the way.

    You will not escape me, Vader promised. So the boy would not come to him... this was unforeseen... but nevertheless, he refused to let this opportunity go. The boy was too near, the chance too rare. He would not slip away again. If the boy refused to face him, then the Dark Lord would seek him out.

    He reached the steel doors of the black, glowing chamber and opened them with the Force, revealing the contrasting whiteness of the outer corridor. He turned on his comm device.

    "Shut down all internal systems from the main level. Put the station on lockdown," he told the security officer on the receiving end. "And contact the bounty hunter."

    With that Vader stepped out into the halls and began his pursuit.



     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
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  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb! Your Vader "voice" is flawless as usual. =D=
     
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  5. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020


    Luke continued down the corridor. Windows filtered in light from the ceiling and archways led out into the outside walkways. Luke followed them, briefly striding out in the open air where the blue sky had been pinkened by the oncoming sunset. Artoo rolled closely behind, scanning his surroundings and occasionally bleeping.

    Luke turned a corner and came back into the building. More white-walled halls met him, each as deserted as the other. Luke blew out and ran a hand through his hair. Where was he supposed to go? His friends were here somewhere, he knew it, felt it through the Force; unfortunately, he found that the Force didn't work as precisely as the target lock of an X-Wing.

    Wandering further, Luke heard sound erupt down the hall: the joined tapping of footsteps. It grew louder. Luke immediately backed away as he caught a cluster of people approaching, stormtroopers among them, who were being escorted by armed men in uniforms and caps.

    Luke kept hidden, and put a hand on Artoo to make sure he stayed put. The group soon passed. Luke waited to make sure they were completely out of earshot before moving. As he listened, he heard some distant voices.

    And then, unmistakably, a Wookiee roar.

    "What are you doing?" a voice squealed aloud. "Trust him, trust him!"

    At the sound of the posh, panicked voice and another softer one that followed, Luke and Artoo skirted forward, rounded a corner, and stopped midway.

    On the other side was Leia. She stood in her white Hoth jumpsuit behind Chewie, her pale face scowling down at a well-dressed man in a cape — Luke recognized him from the brief scuffle he'd had with the stormtroopers earlier — who was now on his knees, struggling as Chewie held him by the neck. An Imperial officer, Luke figured.

    Artoo wheeled his way to the others and whistled something to Threepio, who was inexplicably jumbled up in parts and strapped to Chewie's back. The protocol droid waved a gold-coated arm. "Artoo? Artoo! And Master Luke! Oh, thank goodness!"

    "Luke?" Leia peered behind Chewie's large frame. Her bitter scowl melted. "Luke!"

    She sprinted towards him and he towards her. Chewie turned around, let out a surprised bark and took a couple steps forward, curling his hairy arm around the man's neck and dragging him haplessly in a headlock.

    "You're okay," Luke breathed when he reached them. He looked them both over, relieved to see his friends unhurt, but his gaze lingered on Leia. Seeing her standing there alive, he felt his heart lighten fiercely. The relief was almost hard to process.

    Leia looked relieved too, her dark eyes fixed on his, though she seemed to be fighting a less approving expression on her face. "Luke... you shouldn't have come."

    Luke smiled at her. "You know me. Can't pass up a good rescue mission."

    She sighed, the corners of her mouth lifting a fraction, but she still shook her head.

    The caped man squirmed in Chewie's headlock, prompting Chewie to bring him up by his neck. The man gagged, spit flying from his mustached mouth.

    Luke raised an eyebrow. "Uh... who's this?"

    Chewie growled something in Shyriiwook that sounded more than a little expletive.

    "Nobody," Leia said shortly with a frown. "He turned us over to the Empire. To Vader."

    Luke responded with a slow nod, feeling a strange tinge in his stomach at the mention of the name. He was still feeling that presence, that dark coldness, even after he'd rejected it. He narrowed his eyes, inwardly shoveling the feeling away, willing his attention away from it. He'd made his decision.

    "Vader is still in this station," he said flatly. "The Imperials will figure out we're on the loose. We've got to move, now."

    "But we won't be able to escape on the Falcon," Leia pointed out. "The hyperdrive's damaged."

    "It's... n-not!" the man practically spat, struggling to get the words out as Chewie's grasp on his throat tightened. "My people f... fixed it!"

    Leia eyed him coldly. "Sure they did, Lando. And Han's not frozen in carbonite right now."

    Luke jerked and pulled back as if he hadn't heard right. "Wait, what? How — where exactly is Han right now?"

    Leia grimaced. Chewie bared his fangs as he looked down at the man, apparently named Lando, who fidgeted as he gawked back up at them. He choked, "I didn't want — V-Vader was the one who — I told you I had no choice!"

    "Oh, we understand, don't we, Chewie?" Leia snorted. "He had no choice."

    "I'm just t-trying to help!"

    "Uh, Leia, if he's trying to help..." Luke started, unsettled more and more at the sight of this man struggling desperately in Chewie's inhuman grip.

    But Leia was unfazed. "We don't need any of his help."

    "H-H... Hhh..."

    "What?" Leia snapped.

    "...Hhhaaa..."

    "It sounds like 'Han'," Threepio supplied, his metal head twitching from behind Chewie's shoulder.

    "There's still a chance to save Han!" Lando inhaled a haggard breath. "At the east... platform!"

    Perplexed, Luke looked at Leia, whose face had unscrewed slightly. "Leia, what—?"

    "I'll explain on the way." She made a motion. "Chewie."

    Chewie let Lando go and followed Leia, who had walked away. Luke went after them, hearing Threepio call out apologetically to the man as he bobbed up and down from Chewie's back. "I'm terribly sorry about all this! After all, he's only a Wookiee!"

    Luke followed the others, but spared a glance back at Lando. The man had sunken to his knees, his mouth hung open in shock as he attempted to inhale. Luke found it hard not to feel sorry for him, pathetic as he looked, but he pushed him out of his mind. Han's life was at stake. He didn't have to be told it, he could feel it from the urgency and anger riling from Leia and Chewie. The situation called for action.

    Quickly he caught up with Leia, and she began recounting how Lando had offered them help and repairs before turning them all over to Vader. After imprisoning them, Vader had then subjected Han to a carbon-freezing chamber.

    "Then he turned him over to Boba Fett. One of Jabba's thugs," she finished.

    Luke faltered in his steps, slowing from his jog, suddenly realizing. "Oh no... I think... I think I saw them, Leia. On my way here, just a while ago. I could've done something, I was right there —"

    Leia touched his arm. "Luke, we'll save Han. We will. And it's good that you saw them on your way here. That means we might still catch them."

    Anxiousness stirred in Luke, but he took in Leia's words, let them console him, feed his determination, and he made a firm nod. He quickened his pace again. Together he and Leia hurried down the hall.

    They reached the end and entered a wide intersection. It contained two doorways, one ahead and one to the side. Chewie caught up with them while Artoo slogged behind and Threepio chattered incessantly, calling for him to hurry up.

    Luke and Leia reached the main door ahead. Leia jammed the access panel.

    "Won't open," she said, after punching it a second time. "Let's try the other—"

    "Wait."

    They turned. Lando had suddenly appeared from the hallway, clearly having followed them. He looked stern but his hands were raised, signalling his presence was non-threatening.

    "Allow me," he said as he made his way closer. Without another word he strode to inspect the door's controls himself.

    Luke looked back and forth from him and Leia, indecisive about what to do, but aside from shooting Lando some scathing looks, she and Chewie did nothing. Luke saw they were both too taken aback, and too concerned for Han, to waste time shunning Lando.

    Lando pressed some numbers into a keypad. Nothing happened. Surprise worked on his brown face, and he typed in another combination. The door remained shut.

    "That's not right," he muttered. "Blast, I can't get it to—"

    "We don't have time for this." Leia shoved her way past him and waved at the others. "Come on, there's another door over there.'

    "This door leads right to the main plaza," Lando pointed out with a gesture. "It's the fastest way to the east platform—"

    But Leia was already halfway to the other door. Without question, Luke, Chewie, and Artoo followed her. She stood before it and pressed the access button. It didn't open.

    Leia aimed her blaster. There was a shot of fire, and another instant a black hole was smoking on the door's center. Luke barely blinked. Classic Leia move.

    Lando, however, looked livid. In an instant he had dashed towards the princess and tried to wrench the gun out of her hands. Immediately Luke rose his gun, but before he could take aim Chewie had violently shoved Lando off Leia, sending the caped man reeling like a limp doll. Lando smacked into the ground.

    Luke pointed his blaster down at him. "I wouldn't try that again if I were you," he said coolly.

    Lando huffed. "That's a Tibanna storage vault! You know how flammable that stuff is? It's the stuff used to charge blasters!" He looked over at Leia. "And she was gonna blast it!"

    Leia scoffed. "You think we'll believe—" she started, but paused. Luke glanced at her inquisitively, his eyes roaming briefly before he saw what she was looking at: the plate at the side of the door that was indeed labelled Tibanna storage. Leia's brown eyes enlarged. Pinching her lips, she lowered her gun. Luke stared back at the black mark where the shot had been absorbed, imagining what a less sturdy metal would've entailed. Chewie's snarl lowered to something slightly apprehensive.

    As if to answer the disquiet that fell, Leia let out a sigh and said, "Okay, fine. You want to help us, Lando? Tell us how to get out of here."

    Lando lifted himself off the ground and checked a comm device on his wrist. He tapped it repeatedly and frowned. "Nothing's working. Looks like the Imperials sealed off everything on this level."

    "Can't you do something? You run this place."

    "Not anymore. In case you haven't noticed, princess, the Empire's taken over the whole city."

    "So what do we do?" Luke asked. "Go back? Find another route?"

    Lando hesitated. "We might be able to reach the security tower, round up some of my men, and get to the hangar. We could steal a ship."

    "No," both Luke and Leia said.

    Lando sighed. "Look, I want to get Han back, I do, but we're in no position—"

    "We can still save Han," Luke asserted. "I think... I think he's still near by. I can feel it." Ignoring Lando's eyebrow-raised expression, Luke walked over to the plaza door. He checked the panels. "There's gotta be some way to bypass this. Artoo?"

    Threepio fidgeted from his position behind Chewie's back. "Yes, of course, Artoo could tell the computer to override the security system!"

    Lando shook his head. "The whole system's down, there aren't any connections, so nothing can be sent through. The Imperials know we're here. Either that or—" Lando's dark eyes scanned Luke. "—they know he's here."

    Luke stiffened. Leia looked at Lando as if she'd like nothing more than to do what she'd done to the door to his head. "We're all wanted by the Empire," she said.

    "Yeah, but you said yourself... you were all bait for your friend here. We know Vader wants him alive, but the rest of us..." A dazed look started to creep over Lando's face and his hand floated toward his throat. "If Vader knows... if Vader finds us..."

    Luke felt a pull in his stomach. Lando's words gnawed at him. Panic and helplessness ramped through his chest, and he could feel fear rising in Leia and Chewie as well.

    This was his fault. He had walked away from a showdown with Vader, and that had only endangered his friends more. They had been escaping on their own before running into him, and now he was drawing Vader to them. Everything had gone wrong. Why hadn't he thought things through? Why had he just haphazardly flown off to this place like an idiot, thinking he could help, thinking he could be enough... Why had he just brushed off Ben and Yoda's warnings...

    There is no why. Clear your mind of questions.

    Luke breathed in. Pushing the misgivings aside, out of his attention, left to linger in the back corner of his brain, he tried to focus. He had to think. Draw on the Force. There had to be a way out of this...

    Unfortunately there was no spark of encouragement from any of the others. Leia continued to glower. Chewie made an irritable growl. Both Artoo and Threepio groaned desparingly and Lando seemed to snap out of his daze, if only to look indignant at them all, as if he took their moods as an accusation. "What?... You know it's not my fault this is happening!"

    "Never mind," Luke murmured, hit by an idea, one that seemed so obvious he could've kicked himself. He unhooked the silver cylinder from his belt and tabbed the ignition button. A blue blade beamed out. "I'll make us an exit."

    "Of course," smiled Leia. "Good thinking, Luke. Very good."

    Trying to not feel too embarrassed at her well-meaning but coddling tone, Luke drove the heated sword through the metal. Red-hot fluid leaked out of the crevices and dripped to the floor as he made a less-than-symmetrical circle through the durasteel. It was a surprisingly slow process. Far from slicing through the material with ease, Luke found he had to push and wrench and carve his blade through, and it took more effort on his part than he thought.

    About a minute passed and he was more than halfway through...

    ...when a grizzled voice came from behind.

    "Nobody move."

    At the entrance stood a figure, one that Luke recognized at once: wearing a greenish suit lugged with gear and a visored helmet, it was the same shooter he'd encountered earlier in the halls. Two officers stood behind him, keeping hold of a square slab of grey that hovered some three feet in the air, which Luke now noticed contained the molded likeness of a lying man.

    Han, Luke thought, a shriveled feeling sinking into his gut.

    Boba Fett took a step forth, aimed his blaster, and said over his shoulder to the accompanying officers, "Contact Vader. Tell him I've located Skywalker."


     
    Last edited: Jul 8, 2021
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Riveting action! =D= Eagerly awaiting more.
     
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  7. Findswoman

    Findswoman Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Feb 27, 2014
    I’m really liking your version of these pivotal events so far! I recently rewatched the OT films with my family, which made reading this story an extra thought provoking experience and gave me a new perspective on this part of ESB. I love that we get to see inside both Luke’s and Vader’s minds leading up to their meeting, and yes, I can totally believe that revenge against Vader is indeed part of Luke’s plan in this moment, even if he won’t easily admit it. Color me very curious to see how their confrontation will go in this universe! Also, in that most recent chapter, if I have it right, it looks like Leia, Lando, Chewie, and co. actually managed to intercept Boba Fett (and the carbon-frozen Han Solo) after all? I have a feeling that part of the story is going to end up going very differently in this universe, too! Do keep it coming—I’m definitely eager to see more! =D=
     
  8. Destiny975

    Destiny975 Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Jan 18, 2021
    Wow! This story is really great! Is it going to be one chapter from Vader's POV and one chapter from Luke's? Update soon please!
     
  9. Chyntuck

    Chyntuck Force Ghost star 5

    Registered:
    Jul 11, 2014
    This is my favourite sort of AU: a story that changes one single element from the original and takes it from there, but that also incorporates a myriad small details and lines of dialogues from the original to remind us firmly that yes, we're still in the same story :D I love your characterisations here. Like Nyota said above your Vader voice in particular is flawless, and I have a good feeling about your Boba Fett as well (not that we see a lot of him in the OT, but I was hearing Mandalorian-Boba as I read). I'm very, very curious to see where this story will go from here, and if it will ultimately come full circle to the canon end of TESB.
     
  10. Starith

    Starith Jedi Knight star 3

    Registered:
    Apr 5, 2020
    Sorry I've neglected this story for so long. Writer's block just hit hard and then randomly lifted enough for me to do more of this. My muse might as well be aligned to weather patterns and fashion trends for how predictable it is.

    Anyway, thanks very much to everyone for all the positive feedback on this fic so far, I very much appreciate it. [face_coffee]

    And now continuing on...





    Luke held out his sword. He pointed it towards the bounty hunter, the blue light reflecting in the camouflage armor.

    "Wasting my time," said Fett. He whipped out another gun from his side and pointed it at the carbonite block besides him that encased Han's body. At this, the two uniformed aides guarding the block fidgeted nervously.

    Luke paused and felt everyone around him tense. He remembered Lando's comment about Tibanna being highly flammable. If this carbonite was made from the same gases...

    Luke lowered his lightsaber.

    As if to confirm his suspicions, Lando stepped forth and barked out, "Don't shoot, Fett, whatever you do! That carbonite can't take a blast hit, it'll cause an explosion."

    Fett snorted. "Some conman you are, Calrissian. Can't even come up with a good lie. Tibanna gas doesn't ignite when it's solidified."

    "What — no! It's no lie! It can build up a tolerance over time, but that mold is still fresh, it hasn't set comple—"

    Fett's thumb pulled and out shot a red-hot beam. Lando yelped and swerved out of the way just in time, bumping into Artoo, who let out a high-pitched buzz. Luke could see a singed tear left in the hem of Lando's blue cape. The mustached man noticed it too, and flabbergasted, backed away and closed his mouth. Luke had to admit, Lando's claim sounded like something he'd made up on the spot, and this Boba Fett obviously wasn't going to believe what he or any of them said, not if it meant giving up his prize.

    Luke gripped his saber, his muscles strung, anxious. Everyone was still and silent, but he had to do something, he had to move, to get to Fett, to Han — but how to go about it? Could he try attacking with his lightsaber? Would he be fast enough to strike down Fett? Every possible action that racked through his brain seemed too great a risk to take...

    Then he saw Leia suddenly emerge from behind Chewie, who had been dwarfing her from sight. Her powdery pale face held its usual princess-senator-ingrained resolve, her pink lips an impassive line, her white-gloved hand itching at her own blaster. Chewie made a muffled growl and tried to stand in front of her again, clearly unwilling to leave her unguarded, and Luke himself couldn't repress a twinge in his chest seeing her walk heedlessly toward Fett, the tip of his long-barreled blaster following her every movement.

    "Someone's got a death wish," Fett hissed under his breath.

    "Leia..." Luke quietly pleaded. He wanted to confront this mercenary too, but if Fett was willing to shoot... What was Leia thinking?

    But Leia simply took one step and another, paying him and Chewie no mind, until she was some six feet away from the bounty hunter. Her gaze set on the carbonite block that lay an inch from Fett's other blaster, and it lingered there a moment. And now really looking at it, Luke too took in the stone-like visage of a screaming, tortured Han, and his heart tightened at the sight. There was panic in Leia's brown eyes. He sensed fear in her, and the fear ran deep. Luke was almost taken aback by it.

    "You said you needed Han alive," said Leia. She took in a breath, prying her gaze away from the carbonite-encased Han to look directing into Fett's black visor. "Why kill him now?"

    "Alive, Jabba pays me. Dead, the Empire pays me." Nonchalantly Fett adjusted the power meter of his gun. "Either way I get my money."

    Leia glowered and looked ready to reply when Lando nudged himself from behind Artoo and spoke up once more. "Look, Fett, you saw how Vader went back on his deal with me. Whatever he promised you, he won't deliver."

    "In my experience, Vader tends to pay well. Far better than any Hutt." The rusted green helmet slowly turned toward Luke's direction. "I should know. A wonder you're still alive, Skywalker."

    Luke stared, thunderstruck at the man's familiarity with him. He couldn't think of any time he'd encountered a Boba Fett before. His mind rewound, recalling events at lightspeed...

    Then something jogged: Tatooine, searching for answers in Ben's hut... Everything going dark... Someone trying to capture him. Him trying to fight in his blindness, his fist crushing against solid armor. Listening for the creaks of moving metal...

    Your armor's noisy, he'd told his unknown foe.

    A grizzled, slightly electronically-modified voice replying:

    So's your mouth.

    Luke looked back at the bounty hunter, frowning in understanding.

    "Fett," Leia started, taking another step forward, which triggered a seething growl from Chewie. Lando, brow furrowed, tried to pull Leia back; she shrugged him off. Threepio moaned from Chewie's back, "Mistress Leia, please do be careful..."

    The visored helmet tilted down slightly. "Listen to the droid, Organa. Any closer and you get a laser burning through your pretty head."

    Leia stilled. Luke felt a clench in his nerves; he was ready to dash towards Leia, to throw himself in front of her — but to his immense relief nothing happened. Fett watched the princess, his weapon steady and perfectly tacked on her, but he didn't shoot. Perhaps, Luke thought as he took in a deep breath, he was only putting on a front, buying time, and perhaps Leia suspected this.

    Clamping her blaster at her side, Leia inclined her head and said, "Chewie and I were suppose to be taken to Vader's ship as prisoners. You were there when he said it. You won't shoot us."

    "Same's not true for Solo," he answered. "No one but you lot cares if he lives or dies, so here's the deal: if you don't want me to reduce your smuggler sweetheart to toxic sludge in a heartbeat, you and your Rebel friends will stand down and surrender."

    "You're bluffing," Leia asserted.

    Fett didn't reply; his gloved finger curled around the trigger of the blaster pointing to Han. Color drained from Leia's face.

    "Don't," she said quickly, raising a hand. "What Lando said is true — if you don't believe me, then we can... we can... Look, the Alliance can offer you a reward too, Fett. We can make a deal—"

    "Enough stalling," growled the bounty hunter.

    But he just barely got the words out: suddenly and without precedent, Leia had flicked up her blaster. She fired straight at Fett.

    Fett dodged Leia's blast and sent his own blasterfire back at her. She dodged. Everyone jerked and jumped as Chewie let out a resounding, fiery roar. He stormed his way forward to the helmeted mercenary, nearly shoving Leia aside, and the small princess stumbled backward.

    Luke rushed over to catch her. She wobbled in place and regained her balance, and breathed out, white-faced as she watched Chewie towering over the bounty hunter. But her brown eyes turned back to Luke, blinked hard, and she looked him over. "Thanks... You all right?"

    Luke blinked. "Me? That was some risk you just took, firing at him like that."

    "I had to do something, and if Chewie's strong enough, if he can take him, maybe—"

    Their words was nearly drowned out by Wookiee shrieks and hissing lasers. Fett had shot Chewie in the shoulder. Luke winced, feeling sorry for their giant friend; Wookiee strength wasn't the same as being blaster-proof, and Chewie was up against a well-armed bounty hunter, taking him on by himself. Luke moved in to see if he could help, strike Fett at another angle while with his lightsaber he was distracted.

    But Chewie seemed determined to handle him alone, and despite being injured, he wasn't deterred. He fought on, punched Fett, the impact breaking the antenna attached to his helmet, and delivered a hammered punch to his abdomen, denting the plates and knocking him down. Wasting no time, Chewie kicked the fallen Fett, sending him to fly several feet across the floor. There was hulking thud as the armored form hit the tiles.

    "You two step away," Luke heard Lando suddenly say. "Now."

    Luke spun around, startled, but then saw he was addressing not him and Leia, but the two aides who had been guarding the carbonite slab, whom Lando was holding at gunpoint. The capped men both paled and backed away slowly.

    Lando looked at Luke and Leia and waved towards the frozen Han. "Come on! Let's get him outta there!"

    Luke gaped. "Right here and now? Are you crazy?"

    "Decarbonization only takes a minute, and it'll be faster than hovering him along. Controls are on the side, turn the center dial down, and that's it. Hurry!"

    They quickly looked over the side of the slab, studying the lights and meters. Leia found the dial and turned it.

    Looking around and remembering another pressing issue, Luke ignited his lightsaber again. "I'll cut through the door, make it ready when we escape."

    He headed to the door to do just that, but stopped at seeing the fight between Chewie and Fett resume. Fett had apparently tried to shoot again, but Chewie grabbed the receiving end of the long-range blaster. Fett tried to hoist it out of the iron-like grasp, all the while Threepio wailed helplessly, "Chewbacca, oh please, I beg you — I'm dismantled enough as it is—"

    Luke went to the door, shaking the distractions off. If he didn't make an escape for them this would all be for nothing. He pierced his lightsaber into the crevice of the door where he'd left off, and looked over his shoulder. Leia hovered over the slab, which was indeed, thankfully, deteriorating, the metallic stuff melting as if eaten by acid.

    And to Luke's relief, he saw tanned fingertips protruding from it, and soon afterwards, tanned hands. And the more the substance softened, the more the expression on Leia's face did as well.

    Then suddenly there was a crackle, followed by an earsplitting howl of pain. All heads whipped around.

    Tracks of electricity crawled over Chewie's body, bursting from a small device that Fett had thrust into the Wookiee's knee. Chewie collapsed

    Luke cried, "Chewie!" and pulled out his lightsaber.

    "Solo's mine, Rebels," came the grinding response from behind Fett's helmet. Wielding his rifle, the man stiffly worked himself up to stand. "Give it up. Give him to me or I'll blast him to starry hell!"

    Riled, Luke gripped his lightsaber hilt and stepped forth, meaning to sprint toward the bounty hunter himself.

    "Wait—" he heard Lando holler somewhere out of his field of vision. "No, Leia, wait —"

    Luke whirled around. She was also on her feet, hurrying, blaster ready, towards Fett. Fury lit her face.

    And it happened in a flash: a track of fire trailed from Leia's gun. The bounty hunter rose an arm and the laser bounced off his wrist plate. It sped past the princess, toward Luke.

    Light flickered before him in one-millionth of a second, burning. Out of instinct, Luke found his hands move to ward off the laser with a thrash of his lightsaber.

    The laser bolt bounced off of the blade, redirected, and hit something else.



    Vader made his way down the empty hall, leading a squad of stormtroopers. He moved from one sector to the next, scanning the activation card he'd procured from the security official. With it all the de-powered entries shifted open in an instant.

    After the disappointing outcome of his planned confrontation with the boy, it seemed fate had turned towards his favor yet again: he had been informed that Skywalker and his companions were trapped in the frontmost area of the building. After hearing prior that the princess and Wookiee had not been received on the Executor, and that there was no word of the officers who'd held them, nor of Calrissian, this was anything but surprising.

    Yet convenient. Now he could capture the boy and deal with these particular Rebels all at once. They had built a reputation for their fortuitous escapes, well-despised within the Empire throughout the years; Vader knew the frustration of those close calls all too well. Until he reached them himself, he knew there was still a chance they could slip away yet again. Ordering the station's lockdown would only slow them down.

    And he had done it just in time: he sensed the boy. He was not far.

    Vader stepped into the last hall before the specified area, where they would all be contained, waiting, ready to be dealt with. Soon he heard the signals of their disarray coming up ahead: laser shots. Clashing, yelling, roaring. And the boy was definitely there. That bright young energy teemed, impelled by emotions. Anxiousness, dread. A drive to save his friends and survive, as usual...

    But no sooner had he processed that bright presence that it changed... escalated... so much that Vader nearly slowed in his stride. Something had happened to the boy. That anxiousness had become afire. Wells of fear, of anger, of terror —

    Vader quickened his pace, letting the stormtroopers fall behind. What had caused this spike? Had the young one felt him? Realized just how trapped he was, that his attempts to run were completely futile?

    No. Nothing so meager as that, Vader sensed.

    He and his squad passed through the winding hallway, the sounds increasing as they reached the threshold. Vader slipped the card. The door opened.

    Before them was pandemonium and its aftermath: Fett and the Wookiee were entangled, the latter wrenching at the former's arms with all his might while the man struggled and screamed. Calrissian was standing over a disoriented and now-unfrozen Solo, looking back and forth from him to the center of the room and raising his voice. The two Rebel droids were rolling, blinking, and flailing in a panic. Two uniformed men stood aside from everything, daunted and stupefied.

    And at the center of it all was the boy, kneeling on the floor, slumped and shaking, the dead princess of Alderaan clutched preciously in his arms.

     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2021
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha 2 Truths 1 Lie Host star 8 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    I'm speechless. You do that to me EVERY TIME! =D=
     
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