Title: Resonant Author: Starith Timeframe: Takes place between RotS and ANH Genre: AU, drama, action, multi-chapter Characters: Luke, Vader, Inquisitors Summary: When Luke is discovered by the Inquisitors, he never could've imagined how much his life would change. He knows he must escape, but that is easier said than done, and the presence of a certain Sith Lord may just make things that much harder... Notes: This is an AU premise I've had for a while. Starting off with something of a prologue... Hopefully it's not too shabby. ______ The grey-bearded man smiled as the boy eyed the metallic device with curiosity. "This was your father's lightsaber," he said, with a gaze that was both calm and attentive. "The weapon of a Jedi Knight. Now yours, Luke." He placed the silver cylinder in his hands. Luke looked at it. And as if it was ingrained in him, his thumb floated over to press a red button on the handle. A trail of light shot out, making him flinch. It stilled to make a blade of pure plasma, and it hissed and hummed, softly, and so did his heart. Luke made some swirls in the air, staring at the intense brightness at its core, making "whoas" and "wows" under his breath. Lightsaber... Jedi Knight... He was so engrossed he didn't even question what these words meant. His father's weapon... and now it was his... Ben continued to observe him, his grey-blue eyes scanning the round, tanned face of the boy. His smile waned slightly to something more solemn. "Use it well," he told him. And Luke looked at him, beaming, and nodded. "I promise... I promise I will!" ______ The air of Lothal had a pale sky, empty and unclouded. In its mist sat a structure. It was jutting out from the blurred depths, its flat surface standing on an overlarge base far above the plains and grasslands below. The structure stood in the sky, elongated and narrow. Like a floating needle, Luke thought as he looked out from the viewscreen of his seat — he was drawing closer to it. Gradually he could make out more detail of the sky-abiding complex. Its sheer size, the wide landing platforms docked with ships. Freighters, transports, much like the one Luke was on right now. The sun was setting, and soon the building was overshadowed in the dusk. The shuttle settled down on the landing platform. Luke waited, along with all the other passengers, seated boys and girls who were chatting eagerly. Luke was quiet, as he usually tended to be, lost in his thoughts more than his reality. An officer came through the door. The room fell quiet. "We will depart now. Line up, single file," the stout man declared with a quick gesture. Luke, his heart taut in his chest, took his bag and shuffled along with the other kids, many of which towered over him, and after getting elbowed a bit he managed to find a place in the line. The officer nodded and turned with a wave of his hand. "Very good. Follow me." They followed him. Luke stayed silent, as did everyone else. The officer led them out of the confines of the ship and onto the platform. Luke lifted his gaze. The grey structure loomed overhead, stretching out with its steely walkways. The officer brought them to the front entrance where two patrol-droids stood. Glow panels trimmed the door frames and a large insignia was on the frontmost display, what looked loosely like a black gear. Two other officers stood at the entrance, a man and a woman. They nodded and then took reign of the group. "Welcome," the woman said with a smile, "to Pretor Flats Academy." Luke felt a wave of bundled excitement, like his insides were glowing. His mind raced as the two officers spoke in turns, but he only took in the barest grain of their words — "strive for excellence", "chosen few", "honor of attending one of the fine institutions of the Galactic Empire" — and he registered that the group was moving again. He went along with it. They entered the building, the patrol-droids inching aside to let them pass. Inside it was sleek and spacious. More gear-like Imperial insignias were embed on the walls. The man and woman showed them the general areas of the facility, the mess hall, the labs, the training rooms. Luke stared in wonder at the pristine state of everything, the build, the equipment, and his excitement soared when he got a small glimpse of the flight simulators. Chairs next to huge decked machines on pedestals, all aligned in a dimly-lit room. But soon they were moving again. One of the officers began to talk about requirements, space engineering and computer science, and giving them a quick rundown of conduct and rules. Luke tried to listen, but he ended up zoning out. When it was finally over, they were assigned to their personal quarters and dismissed. After a couple minutes of walking through the halls, and trying to look composed as faculty and much older-looking students passed him by, Luke found his quarters easily on the third level. He entered and started to unpack. Hours later, he lay in his cot. A holograph of TIE fighters glided over his head. He watched them, mesmerized. Everything was so... new-looking here. Not like home. A cooling unit circulated pleasant air into his room. The door was automatic. He had his own room, his own refresher, and provided gadgets like a data-planner, a holoprojector, a stationary chrono. White uniforms were set up in a dresser in his size. It felt odd. All these commodities, just for a simple living space. To think that this place was called ''the Bottomfeeder's Academy"... Was he just too oblivious to the wide galaxy outside of Tatooine that he couldn't see why? Most kids here would probably be used to all this, he guessed, and the thought made him slightly nervous. He hoped his unfamiliarity wouldn't show too much... or worse, that he'd prove too much of a rube even for this ''low-level'' school. Pretor Flats was the best Luke could've aimed for, being one of the few academic establishments in the Outer Rim. And when it came down to it, it still offered him what he wanted. He had gone through a lot to get here... it had to be worth it... Luke remembered his pre-training examinations, determining his education, his piloting, his technical skills, his problem-solving... The importance of Imperial protocol —Respect. Obedience. Diligence.— repeated like a mantra on all the ads and pamphlets he'd studied beforehand. He had dreamed of attending a flight academy for years... and now he had succeeded. He'd get the experience he needed to win real battles with real starfighters... learn to defend himself, how to handle a blaster... And then I'll leave, Luke determined. Attending an Imperial school was one thing... nearly all militaristic schools were under Imperial regime... maybe he'd even go on to Skystrike Academy after this... but there was no way he would join the Empire. Even crop dusting would be better. And there were plenty of other jobs in the galaxy that needed a good pilot... Lots of people probably didn't go on to serve the Empire and went elsewhere with their careers... Luke let out a breath, his chest caving. Thinking about his future always made him uneasy. He looked around and noticed the time. I should probably get ready for bed... Suddenly locks triggered on his door. The sound made Luke jump. He chewed his lip. The locks were automatically set for the evening curfew, he realized, and he took in a deep breath, released it, and repeated. He sat cross-legged and close-eyed on the bed for a while; it was a practice that sometimes served to calm him. After a minute or so, he felt more relaxed and sleepiness began to dull his senses. Luke turned off the holographs, then the lamp, and he settled in. His head sunk into a soft pillow. Slowly but surely, his thoughts emptied and he drifted off. He didn't know how long it had been when he was awakened by a loud thudding sound: the sound of his door unlocking itself. Luke started. He sat upright in his bed and floundered in the encompassing dark, but he couldn't find the light switch. His fingers found only air. The door shifted open. A very faint light bled into the room, and in the threshold stood a dark, misshapen figure. Panic-stricken, his throat tightening, Luke could only stare as it made its way into his small quarters. "Stay where you are," Luke heard. It was the bland, electronic voice of a droid, which didn't ease Luke's dread at all. As it came closer Luke could make out a tall form, a can-shaped head atop a heavy, bulky body. The droid set its tiny glowing eyes on Luke. His mind raced momentarily, dreading, worrying. Was this a surprise drill? An emergency? "W-What's going on?" he said, his voice jittery. He scrambled out of bed. "What—" "Quiet," came the the droid's buzzing monotone, and the plates on its arm folded away to reveal a blaster. The droid pointed it straight at Luke. "Make no sound. Make no resistance." Horrorstruck, Luke slid back until his back hit the wall. "What?" Before he knew it, the droid lurched and Luke felt his arms being grabbed and yanked so hard he thought they could've been pulled form their sockets. He was dragged to his feet. Binders were being clasped around his wrists. Luke swayed violently, heaving. "What — what are you — let me go! I'm not — y-you can't—" A metal hand covered his mouth, quieting him, and he felt the blaster being pressed against his neck. Luke froze completely. Then he felt himself being pulled toward the door. Too petrified to struggle, he was dragged out of the room. Then further out, down the quiet corridor. Past the main hall. Gradually Luke began to thaw from the fear. He squirmed, tried to scream, tried to kick the droid's non-existent shins, he used every ounce of strength in his scrawny body to wrestle free, but it only managed to slow the droid down slightly. It continued hauling him along. Luke tried to cause a sound, a thump in the night loud enough to wake someone or attract a patrol-droid. He managed to kick a table that had a decorative statuette, which fell and shattered to the floor. It made a sharp, echoing crack, but was followed by dead silence. Nothing happened. Nobody came. They passed a few doors until eventually they came to the lower levels. Luke felt his muscles ache, both from the droid's mechanical grip and from his own struggling. They entered a dark hangar garage. It looked empty as if it had been cleared out, save for one active vessel: an Imperial shuttle. Its ramp was lowered and Luke watched, nonplussed, as a large female Dowutin strode down it. She was covered in an armored bodysuit and wore two large visor lenses over her eyes. In her clawed hand she held a datapad, which she regarded. She spared a glance down at Luke, then regarded the datapad again. "Wow," she said, her tone devoid of enthusiasm. "Nice record here... Luke. Top performance results in the pre-testing selection. Inhuman reflexes, they said... yeah, real special." She made a snide frown. "But faking your age to enter the academy? Tsk... Still, not bad for a fourteen-year-old runt from the Outer Rim." Luke felt the blood drain from his face. He weakly shook his head. He tried again to make a sound, wanting to question, to deny, to explain himself... but his voice was still muffled against the droid's metal hand, instead making a squealing semblance of Who are you? The Dowutin twisted her lips, then turned around. "Who, me? I'm Ninth Sister. Part of the Inquisitorius. And if you don't know what this is all about, don't worry. You're about to find out." She headed up the ramp, gesturing with a lazy wave. "Bring him onboard." Again Luke tried to jerk out of the droid's grip. Again he failed, and Luke could do nothing but wriggle and groan as he was shoved onto the awaiting starship.