SETTING: 4 ABY-beyond. (immediately after ROTJ- Bloodlines era) CHARACTERS: Mostly Luke, but includes Han, Leia, Ben, Chewie, and the droids. Cameos by various OT/ST characters. GENRE: Action, Fun, Friendship, some Tragedy near the end. SUMMARY: : The morning after the destruction of the second Death Star, Luke Skywalker sets about finding the best way to resurrect the Jedi order. Whew, it's been too long since I posted anything here! FanFiction.net doesn't know when to let the old EU go... Luke Skywalker has been painfully underrepresented in canon fiction between Return of the Jedi and The Force Awakens, so this is my take on it. When and where does he start his search for Jedi lore? When does he start training Ben? Where is his Jedi school? My sources for this fic are Wookiepedia and my crazy imagination. Criticism is welcome, but I ain't changing this story for anybody...even Disney! And so without further ado, here we go. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Star Wars: Foundations of the Force Chapter 1 The celebration lasted half the night. Those who had survived toasted those who had not, and took time for a rare respite. Drinks were passed around, stories were exchanged, and music was played until well after midnight. One by one the Rebel revelers then found places to sleep. More than half ended up piling into Ewok huts on cramped cots and hammocks while the other half slept in tents on the ground or in the holds of their ships. As honorary members of the Bright Tree Tribe, a certain group was lucky enough to be given the huts of the chief and his family members. Despite this apparent sense of completion, none were foolish enough to assume the war was over now. Those on watch half expected a call for another mission before sunrise. Still, most slept late. It was well after sunrise before they heard about the next problem. Only one in Chief Chirpa's hut had awakened early. Of course he had been one of the first to go to bed, and raised on a farm before becoming an Alliance pilot, he was used to rising early. But what had awakened Luke Skywalker from his deep slumber was a sudden and persistent pain. It began as a sharp jolt in his spine and worked its way down every nerve, ending at the fingertips as a vague tingle. Luke caught his breath in an effort not to cry out. Forced relaxation was the only way it faded. A hazy, unpleasant memory was quick to return and was pushed aside just as quickly. Near-electrocution was enough to make anyone ache. He probably should have told a medic about it...but they had enough to do. So many injured already clogged every infirmary and medical bay in what ships that remained that anyone with any kind of first aid knowledge was called upon to use it. Even Leia, who had caught a blaster burn on her shoulder, refused anything but the most basic treatment. Luke hurt, but he didn't think his condition was chronic. With some rest he should be fine. He rolled over to try and go back to sleep. A long, sustained snarl from the left arrested that idea. Luke sat up quickly, groping for his lightsaber and looking around for the creature that had- Oh. It was Chewbacca, snoring away in a large hammock in the corner. Several Ewoks were draped across his legs. It was difficult to tell where he ended and they began, but clearly his noise didn't bother them. It was a wonder the hammock didn't break. Luke almost smiled as he surveyed the rest of the hut. Most of the humans had less patience and had long since left to sleep somewhere else. Now it was just Luke, Chewie, and the deactivated droids slumped in the opposite corner. Even Han and Leia were gone. As a matter of fact the blankets from their cots seemed altogether unused. Where were they, anyway? Another sharp pain danced down Luke's spine, and he winced. Maybe he just needed to stretch. He couldn't go back to sleep with Chewie's snoring, anyway. So he rose, yawning and stretching, pulled on his boots, and made his way outside. Morning was a sharp contrast to the previous evening. It was quiet, still, and altogether beautiful. The system's star was only beginning to send faint pink light across the horizon. Most of the light was still filtered through the tall fir trees, and it would be easy to trip in the darkness. Luke had no such intentions, but he kept his pace cautious as he walked across the wooden platform. Every step made the tingling pain worse. It was like having a leg fall asleep after having the circulation interrupted for too long. He felt twice his age. The aftermath of last nights' celebration lay in the form of empty earthenware cups and upturned log seats, strewn everywhere. The series of trooper helmets turned into makeshift drums remained where they had been most of the night, as had the Ewoks' musical instruments. A few of the aforesaid furballs lay curled in furry pile next to the door. Two were awake and on watch, and they turned to him with inquisitive mumbles. Luke grimaced and shrugged in apology. Threepio was the only one qualified to offer a translation. Even Leia had picked up a few scattered words. Luke wasn't such a quick study and was left to guess. "Good morning. I'm just going for a walk." When the Ewoks showed no signs of understanding, he pointed to himself and made his fingers 'walk'. That seemed to satisfy them, and Luke set off. Maybe a good run would improve the condition of his legs and make the blasted tingling go away. No sooner had the young Jedi made his way to the nearest rope bridge than his theory was proven wrong. Another sharp jolt of pain shot through his spine, and he lost all feeling in his arms and legs. He crumpled into a heap with a muffled cry. * * * * *Beep. Some kilometers away from Bright Tree Village, two more Rebels had slept off the night's celebration in the hold of a battered YT-1300...even more battered since losing its radar dish inside the second Death Star. They had come for privacy as much as to get away from Chewbacca's snoring. Beep. The tangle of arms and legs beneath the blanket stirred. The next moment Leia Organa blinked bleary eyes and lifted her head. At the same moment Han Solo's arm, draped across her waist, held her just a bit tighter. She glanced at him, half ready to push him away...but she changed her mind at the last minute and lay back down. She couldn't ever remember being so tired. If only she could go back to sleep. Beep. Leia sighed in disappointment and reached for the comm. It was on Han's side of the cot. He'd have to get it, or let her go. "Han," she murmured, nudging him with her elbow. "Han. Let go." Han mumbled something unintelligible and burrowed deeper into his thin pillow. The insistent beep of the comm made him groan and roll over. "You gotta be kiddin' me." "Han." Leia pulled away and inched up on her elbows. "Wake up." "Yeah." Han rubbed away the sleep in his eyes and fumbled for the noisy comm. He cleared his throat before answering. "Solo." "I'm sorry to wake you, General. I hope you were able to sleep." It was Admiral Ackbar's apologetic voice. Han was about to reply with an unhappy retort when a look from Leia made him reconsider. "Yeah. Kinda. What's up?" Ackbar sounded unhappy. "We have received word that a small band of Imperial troops are attempting to regroup on the other side of the forest moon. Some are Imperial special forces and it would be most unwise to allow them to escape." Leia exchanged a grimace with Han as he sat up and swung his legs over the bed. "Always something, huh?" Han thumbed the comm back on with a long-suffering sigh. "Sounds like a mission to me. Whaddya need, Admiral?" "We wish to capture as many Imperial forces as possible and arrest any attempt at regrouping. Several task forces will be needed. How many of your strike team are fit for duty?" "Well, outta the nine we got left, four are wounded, but they can all still shoot and run. Counting me and Chewie, that makes it eleven." "Very good, General Solo. Further information will be given as needed. How soon can you be ready?" Han threw a longing glance at Leia, but the look at on her face had already changed. It was her 'Rebellion-first-everything-else-last' look that he knew too well. "When d'ya need us?" Ackbar didn't need much time to think. "No later than one hour after sunrise." Reluctantly Han nodded. "All right. I'll go wake everybody up. Solo out." He waited until the comm had been turned off before groaning loudly and reaching for vest, boots, and belt. Leia was already back in her boots. "We knew it wasn't over last night." The General made a face. "I know. Dammit. This ever gonna end?" Leia shrugged. "Sometimes it doesn't seem like it...but it will. We're closer now to overthrowing the Empire than we've ever been." Han stuffed the tail of his rumpled shirt back into his pants. "Hope so." He slowed his pace a bit watching Leia ready herself. The bandage on her burn was loose and needed changing, and he noted her still favoring the arm a bit. "How you doing?" Leia barely glanced at the bandage before putting the tan tunic over her camisole. The burn still hurt, especially after being slept on, but not as badly as yesterday. Then it had felt like her shoulder had been stabbed, punched, and ignited into flame at the same time. "It's all right." Han buckled his belt and holster with a frown. "'I didn't mean your arm." He met her eyes. "You gonna be okay?" Leia paused. His tone was softer now. He means the Secret. She paused for a moment to consider. Romance or even escaping Chewie's snoring wasn't the real reason Leia had asked Han to go somewhere private. He had initially made that assumption, but quickly learned otherwise. The terrible truth that had been revealed to Luke and passed on to Leia was then passed on to Han. Through a breaking voice she told him everything...how she and Luke had been separated at birth to keep them safe from their father, and who that really was...Darth Vader. She spoke of how Luke had broken the news to her the night before the Battle of Endor. Long moments passed between the revelation and Han's reaction. There was horror in his gaze, and denial, but one long look at Leia erased any doubts. She'd recoiled in shame, half expecting rejection, and did something she hardly ever did. She cried. Han had been gentle as he took her in his arms. He waited a long while before assuring her in a whisper that everything was okay. Vader was gone now. He loved her for who she was, not who her parents had been. For hours they had sat together in the hold of the Falcon until all tears had been spent and nothing remained but quiet acceptance. Then he kissed her, and they settled down to go to sleep. All through the night he held her. Leia's relief had been profound. For the first time since before losing Alderaan at the age of 19, she felt completely at peace. She slept soundly without a single phantom. After this long consideration Leia managed a slow nod. "It's not an easy thing to make peace with, but I'll be fine. Luke has already promised to do what he can to help." Han's mouth twitched in a ghost of a smile. He nodded in return. "Yeah. That's Luke." Luke was the only part of this mess that was a pleasant surprise. The young Jedi may have qualified for 'best brother ever', and not just to Leia. The kid just couldn't stop helping people. It was part of who he was. Han sure wouldn't mind having Luke as a brother-in-law... Slow down, flyboy. Much as he was dying to ask Leia, something told him now wasn't the right time. He busied himself instead by nodding at Leia's yet-untended arm. "You gonna take care of that?" Leia shrugged as she brushed out the worst of the tangles from sleep. "In a minute." Han pursed his lips. In Leia's vocabulary, that usually meant after the mission. She'd said the same thing when wounded the other day and ended up waiting until the last explosion of the bunker. That was too long for Han's taste. Without further ado walked into the main hold to dig a fresh bandage and a small tube of bacta-infused ointment out of the medical kit. He marched back in and pulled off the old bloody bandage. Leia stopped midway through braiding her hair to frown at the man. "Han, I told you I'd take care of it." "Ya' never did the other day." "We were in the middle of a battle. There wasn't time." "It took two minutes." The bandage fell away. Han grimaced in sympathy. While the bleeding had long since stopped and it was starting to heal, the thumb-sized burn was still raw to the touch. It had to hurt more than Leia was letting on. "Y'know the trouble with you is you're too stubborn to ask for help." Leia stiffened, wincing at his touch. How could something so small hurt so much, even twelve hours later? "And the trouble with you is you're too impatient- ow." Han paused before gently dabbing ointment on the burn. "Yeah, maybe." She sighed softly as the anesthetic in the burn cream kicked in. "Looks like we have something in common. Both of us stubborn, both of us more concerned about the other before ourselves." Han gave a wry smile as he applied the bandage. "Guess we're a matched set, then." Matched...paired... married? Han pushed his reasoning aside. If he dared ask now, then Leia would really think he was impatient. He fastened the adhesive. "There, see? Didn't take more'n a minute. Still hurt?" Leia shook her head. "Not anymore. Thank you." And she went back to braiding and pinning her hair. "Get going. The sun is coming up any minute and you promised Admiral Ackbar." Han sighed. He didn't want to leave her, but at least she would be safe. Her time was already spoken for. The Ewoks were going to need help in putting out the last of the fires that had been sparked during the battle. Leia would have preferred to be at the front lines, but she had been put on medical restriction for the next two days. She didn't like it, but wasn't about to set an example of insubordination...even though she outranked almost everyone else. "I know." Impulsively he pulled her into his arms. "You be careful out there. Take it easy." "You too," murmured Leia into his shoulder. "I want you back in one piece." "Ah, you know me." "That's what I'm afraid of." "Thanks a lot." Han loosed his grip just long enough to pull her into a quick kiss. "I'll be careful, sweetheart." "You'd better," she mumbled around his lips. Han was a scoundrel, but he was her scoundrel. She'd gone through too much to lose him now. It was an effort to pull away and even more of an effort to let go. Duty called.