Title:Love is the Greatest Sacrifice Author: mavjade Characters: Ben, Luke Genre: Umm... coming of age? Is that even a genre? Timeframe: Post DN.. Ben is a teenager. Authors Notes: This is a response to the challenge given in the [link=http://boards.theforce.net/fan_fiction_resource/b10304/22850448/p1/?996]Ben Skywalker[/link] thread. The challenge was.. A story featuring Ben in training including the following words: Capitulate, erstwhile, trogladyte, repugnance and ramshackle. AN # 2: I'm really insecure about this fic, more than I ever have been before, so... be gentle! 5/10/15 - Truncation fix ~*~*~ Ben Skywalker sat in the hold of his mother's ship, the Jade's Shadow, trying to meditate like his father had instructed him to. They were on their way to a planet that Ben had heard of many times before; it was not a place he had ever been. Dagobah was a planet where his father sent Jedi that needed to rethink their lives and their dedication to the Order, but he didn't think that was the reason he and his father were going. He knew his father had trained with Master Yoda there many years ago, but he didn't know what this had to do with him. "Perhaps you should actually meditate instead of worrying about where we're going and why," came his fathers voice as the Jedi Master stepped into the hold. Ben hated it when his parents did that; in fact, he hated it when anyone did that. His Master, Jacen, was frequently making comments on something Ben was thinking. True, he wasn't usually shielding very strongly, but he felt they should at least respect some privacy. Luke sat down beside his son and mimicked his position: legs crossed, hands on his knees. He could tell that Ben was upset, thinking he had looked in on his thoughts; but the truth was, he hadn't. It was easy to tell Ben wasn't meditating because he could feel the anxiety coming off of him. The reasons Luke and Ben were going on this trip were many. The Force was calling Luke back to the place where his training began, and he felt it all had to do with Ben. Luke kept having visions of his cave experience and felt that Ben could use a similar one at this point in his life. Luke wanted to share this experience with his son, and possibly get a little bonding in while they were at it. Luke knew that Ben was still bitter about all the times he and Mara had to leave him for missions during and after the Yuuzhan Vong War. ~*~*~* Between the dense forest and the swamps, finding a place to land a rather large craft was difficult. The sheer repugnance Mara had towards her ship being dirty gave Luke caution. If there was swamp muck on her ship or, Force forbid, in it, Luke would never hear the end of it. So he made sure her beloved ship stayed on solid ground. Luke and Ben gathered the things they would need for the next few days and hiked to the area Luke had chosen. It was, not surprisingly, the same place where he had learned the Jedi ways from Yoda all those years ago. As they arrived, Luke saw the ramshackle hut that his former Master had lived in; with no one to take care of it over the years, it had fallen into disrepair. But just seeing the hut brought back many memories, good and bad, of his erstwhile training and the experiences that surrounded that time. "Dad?" Ben asked, concerned at the feelings he could feel rolling off of his father, "Are you ok?" Luke looked over at his son and smiled, "I'm fine, just a lot of memories." The two of them began to set up camp in silence. Ben still wondered exactly what they were doing here; had his father just wanted to go camping with him, he could have picked a much better place than this one. Finally, curiosity getting the better of him, Ben decided to ask, "Why exactly are we here, Dad?" "Am I not allowed to do something with my son where there are no distractions?" Luke inquired with a mischievous grin. "Well, we've never done anything like this before. I get the feeling this isn't just a father-son vacation." "I have my reasons." Luke responded. He didn't think saying the Force had called him here would be the best route to take in this situation. "But why here? I understand this is where you trained, but does that mean that I have to suffer? There is nothing here." Ben said with a bit of disdain to his voice. "Nothing? If you would stop and feel for a few minutes you would notice this planet it full of life. No, there isn't technlogy or large settlements, just the Force teeming with life. Stretch out with your feelings, Ben. What do you feel?" So this is how its going to be on this trip: a Master, and an apprentice. he thought to himself, but not wanting to argue about it, he did as he was told. He reached out and felt: all the animals in the trees, swamps and caves; the plant life that controlled most of the small planet. Then, he found a group of minds: troglodytes, he figured, for he knew that there were no known sentient species that lived here. To him it felt like peace. Everything was symbiotic, living in harmony. This was a feeling he wished he could experience more often. As he pulled his senses back toward their camp he felt a darkness he hadn't felt before, emanating from near by. Ben looked toward Luke to see if he was troubled, but--instead of seeing concern--found his father meditating. Deciding to investigate this dark presence himself, he walked away from the camp. As he neared the source of the dark aura he was sensing, he began to realize it was coming from a cave. Warily, he unhooked his lightsaber from his belt and entered the small, dark chasm. As he descended into darkness, he was assaulted by a vision: There is death all around me. People in the galaxy are dying by the millions. My parents are dead, my aunt and uncle, my cousins, even my beloved wife. The Jedi my father had worked his entire life to build are very few. Those of us who do remain have vowed to stay behind and protect while the others escape. I look down at my young, infant son knowing what I must do. I must make the ultimate sacrifice that any parent could make. To keep my son with me would be his certain death. In order to give him a chance at life I must give him to someone who is practically a stranger to keep and raise him. They are going a great distance away, out into the unknown regions, perhaps even farther, and I know this will be the last I will see of him. I look to the man and woman standing in front of me and suddenly I understand the great sacrifice my parents made all those years ago. I was born during a war not unlike this one. They sent me to the Maw with the others so they could make the galaxy a better place for me and all the other children. They knew that even if they weren't to come back that I would be safe, protected and loved, something that they couldn't guarantee without leaving me. All those years I was bitter, dwelling in something that had happend so long ago, all the time I lost with my parents because I thought they had wronged me, came crashing down on top me. They had given me up to save me, and here I was about to do the same. "Please tell him nothing of me or my wife. Be his parents. Love him as your own." I say to the couple. "But should the truth come out, tell him that love is the greatest of all sacrifices. That we wanted nothing more than for him to live and to be happy." A nod is their only answer. I watch my son for the final time as they board the awaiting ship. Bitterness threatens to consume me, as it so frequently did when I was younger. But this time it wasn't directed at my parents, but rather, at those who took everything from me. I feel that these foes have ripped my son from my arms and I want them to pay. They killed my entire family, many friends and allies. I wouldn't have subjected even my worst enemies to the pain I'm feeling. The farther away the ship with my son gets, the more my anger boils and hatred starts stabbing my heart. Then something inside me realizes that turning to the dark side would forfeit my sacrifice, and that of my parents. I refuse to capitulate to this enemy. Finally I board my own vessel and do what I know must be done. Ben's eyes snap open and he once again finds himself in the cave. The vision had felt so real that his arms--even now--felt strangely empty, and there was an ache in his chest as though something was missing. It is then that he realizes it is not the child from his vision that he is missing, but something this vision tried to show him. ~*~*~ For the next several days Ben and Luke were father and son, not Jedi Master and apprentice. Luke told Ben of the memories that had come to him when they first arrived. Many of the stories Ben had heard before, but this time he looked on them with new light. The bitterness that he had felt toward his parents was gone, and understanding took its place. He now knew, in a way, how is parents had felt when they sent him away: they had done it out of love. He did not know if this was a vision of the future or just a test as his father's experience with the cave had been. But he did know that it had changed him, and taught him something . The life he saw was full of his bitterness and it ended in tragedy. He wondered if, perhaps, all that tragedy could have been prevented if it hadn't taken so long to overcome the bitterness in his life. He knew this was something only the future could tell, and to worry about something so far away was not logical. He knew that to love someone such as your child so unconditionally sometimes required great sacrifice--something his parents had already done and, he now knew, would gladly do again--and that sometimes giving up that love is the greatest sacrifice of all.