@WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you as always! Almost there...one chapter left! ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ CHAPTER TWENTY-SIX Luke’s fingers drummed the exam table with impatience as Too-OneBe ran yet another extensive scan on his leg. Here he was, back on the Redemption; the medical prison he had only just escaped. Leia hadn’t said a word since helping her brother up and getting him into the hall. She didn’t yell, berate, ask her brother why, or call any attention to them...she just got him straight back to the medical frigate and ordered Too-OneBe to take a look at him. The droid had obliged and Luke was left with nothing to do but lie still during the procedure. Presently Leia leaned against the nearest wall, arms crossed, brows knit. She wasn’t angry, as Luke had feared, but radiated disappointment and concern. He didn’t dare look at her. While she hadn’t said as much, she must have known something about his deception. She’d stayed in the room to watch, after all. Clearly she didn’t trust him to pass on the diagnosis. Luke’s cheeks burned at the idea. Finally the bone scanner retracted back into the wall, and Too-OneBe rolled over to give his assessment. Slowly the flat exam table raised back up so Luke was somewhere between lounged and vertical. When the young man made a move to get up, the droid touched his arm with a clawed hand. “Not yet, sir. Lie still one moment longer.” When Luke obeyed with a sigh, the droid began pushing several buttons on the control pad. “It is apparent you do not yet appreciate the gravity of the situation.” Leia lifted her head. “What’s wrong, Too-OneBe?” “Normally I would not allow this due to doctor-patient privilege. But given Commander Skywalker’s apparent lack of honesty....” Too-OneBe brought up a three dimensional hologram of Luke’s leg scan. Within the pale green outline were his bones, thickened in several places. “You see the areas here, here, and here?” He pointed out the three thickest portions of Luke’s tibia. “That is bony callus. It is normal in the healing process. However...” He magnified the image to show one of the thick portions, inside and out. The knitting was only half finished. “This portion should be far more solid than it is. Continued pressure on the injury has prevented the bone from regenerating as it should.” Leia pursed her lips. He’s been overdoing. I knew it. A glance at her brother found him avoiding her eyes. Here Too-OneBe turned to address Luke directly. “I have already warned you of this overuse, Commander Skywalker. Had I run a more thorough scan I would never had agreed to the removal of your cast so quickly.” He tilted his metallic head to one side, as if puzzled. “What eludes me is how you managed to deceive my human counterparts. Medic Neela Machron knows better than to clear for fitness testing with bones at this stage of healing.” Luke had nothing to say to this and turned away. Leia took his as confirmation he’d cheated his way through the assessment. “What’s his prognosis, Too-OneBe?” “While healing has been delayed somewhat by premature stress, it should be the same as before. With enough time the Commander will make a full recovery. However,” he added when Luke seemed hopeful, “if you continue this overuse, the chances of another fracture occurring are quite high.” “How high?” “My conservative estimate would be a seventy-five percent chance.” Luke’s skin tone went a little pale, and he cringed. That wouldn’t be good…. Leia was thoughtful. “The bone callus...would that explain why his leg has been giving out?” The droid lifted his head, then turned to Luke with interest. “It has occurred multiple times?” Luke frowned at his sister, then shrugged. “Just a few.” “Please describe symptoms.” “It...just goes numb for a second and won’t hold me up. That’s all.” “Is there any pain?” “No. It doesn’t hurt.” Too-OneBe tapped a few more buttons and enhanced the scan yet again to an almost microscopic level. Nestled among spongy bits of healing bone were blood vessels and a long, noodle-like strands running the length of his leg, which seemed a little worn. “Ah. Yes. Nerve damage. That is unsurprising, given your unhealthy levels of activity. It results from repeated pressure on the soft tissue around the bone.” Luke bit his lip. “But you can fix it, right?” The droid paused. “Unfortunately deep nerve damage is one area in which we still have little knowledge. Rest and additional therapy is the only effective treatment. However if you follow my recommendations, it should heal. If you do not, the damage may well become permanent.” Permanent? Luke grimaced. “All right. What do I have to do?” Too-OneBe switched off the display. “Ideally, the re-application of a healing splint and full rest of the affected limb for a minimum of three days, followed by a very gradual resumption of activity. Crutches are recommended for at least ten days afterward.” Luke groaned, closed his eyes, and tapped the back of his head against the exam table. “I realize you are impatient, Commander,” said the droid, “but you were already warned of the extended recovery time.” “I know, but….” Luke chewed his lip. “I’m back on active duty. Is there any way I could still walk on it?” The surgeon seemed to pause, as if with disappointment. “Provided at least 80% of the next five days are spent resting, some light activity would be possible.” He tilted his head to the left. “Should you not inform your superiors of this?” Luke hunched his shoulders. “I’ve got some personal time coming. I’ll use that to rest.” This seemed to satisfy the droid and he nodded. “Very well. Do you have any questions?” Meekly Luke shook his head. “Too-OneBe, can we be alone for a minute?” Leia asked. “Certainly, Princess.” And the droid left the room. Luke couldn’t look at his sister as she shook her head at him. Uh-oh. “I had a feeling you were pushing too hard. That doesn’t surprise me. What does is the fact that you’d lie to everyone about your recovery.” Leia’s shoulders fell. “Why are you so impatient that you’d put your health at risk?” “I don’t have a choice,” said Luke, closing his eyes. “I have to finish my training.” “I know, but why now? Why not wait until you’re healed?” Leia wanted to know. “Because I can’t,” insisted Luke. “Can’t, or won’t?” The young Jedi sighed deeply and hung his head. “Remember when I told you I’d seen the spirit of Obi-Wan before? Well, he came to me again. He told me the Emperor is furious at the loss of Vader. He’ll be moving against us soon.” Urgently he looked Leia in the eye and took her hands. “He wants us...both of us. Nothing would please him more than to turn the Skywalkers to the Dark Side. And we can’t let him.” A chill shot down Leia’s spine at this knowledge. “He...knows…that we’re related?” Her stomach began to churn. Luke nodded. “Yes. Obi-Wan told me as much.” Leia’s first instinct was to shake her head. “But...no, that doesn’t make sense. How could he know? And why now? Why wouldn’t he sense it before?” Luke shrugged. “I’m not sure. Maybe he remembered something from the time you met him as a girl. Maybe it’s our proximity to each other. That’s probably why we had to be separated at birth. And you’ve used the Force a little now, so...” He pressed his lips together in apology. “So, maybe I shouldn’t use the Force.” “That won’t work now. He knows, and we can’t change that.” “Can he track us down?” “I don’t know. Maybe.” Leia’s stomach dropped and she sank into a small chair by Luke’s cot. “Now I see why you’re so anxious to leave. By staying here, we’re putting the rest of the Alliance at risk...” She closed her eyes and shuddered. Then she threw her brother a confused look. “Well, if he can track us here, why would you want me to come with you to Dagobah? Wouldn’t he be able to track us there, too?” The young Jedi knit his brows. “I don’t think so. Dagobah...it has kind of a weird presence in the Force. He wasn’t able to find Yoda there, even after two decades. Besides, that’s not the only reason I want you to come-” Leia groaned. “I know, I know. And we’ve already been through this. Even if I wanted to learn about the Force...I can’t leave. Not now. I’m sorry.” A long, heavy sigh gushed from Luke’s lips, and he hung his head. That was it, then. Even after telling her about the danger, she still wouldn’t change her mind. “I understand.” A long and painful silence passed between the twins before Leia spoke again. “I guess I can’t hold you up any longer. As soon as Too-OneBe’s cleared you to fly, you can go. I’ll extend your leave as long as I can, but...” Leia look his arm. “Luke, just promise me that you’ll take it easy. You’re not going to do any good if you re-injure your leg.” Luke met his sister’s eyes and nodded. “I promise. Yoda’s never taken it easy on me, but he’ll be able to sense something is up. Don’t worry. He’d never hurt me.” That didn’t make Leia feel any better. * * * * * If Luke’s superiors were surprised at his request for two weeks’ leave, it redoubled when Leia not only granted it, but added an extra week. It didn’t matter much in the long run. Luke had certainly earned it, and the main goal of the Alliance now was to regroup. Three weeks of course wasn’t enough time for Jedi training, but- “It’s the best I can do,” Leia apologized as she handed her brother a datapad with further details. “It won’t be any longer than a month until we can start planning the attack on Coruscant, and you’ll need time to get Rogue Squadron back together and flying as a team again.” Luke nodded, trying not to lean too much on his X-Wing’s ladder. It was time to go. He’d taken the prescribed three days’ rest and still wore a thin splint around his left shin. The droid surgeon’s orders were clear; no running, jumping, or strenuous exercise for the duration of his leave. Any signs of swelling, pain, or numbness brought with it the prescription of elevation and further rest. “It’s all right. Even if the only thing I manage is building a new lightsaber, that’ll help. And I’ll be keeping my promise,” he added, trying to smile. Leia couldn’t smile back. Her eyes were on his healing leg. “Just take it easy. Please. If you hurt yourself on Dagobah...” Luke let go of the ladder to take his sisters’ arm. “I’ll be fine.” His shoulders fell when he noticed Leia trying not to cry. “Hey...I’m not going to be gone forever.” Leia bit her lip and nodded. “I can’t help it. We’ve always been close, and finding out you’re my brother...the only family I’ve got left...” She shrugged and wiped at her eyes, irritated about the tears getting through. “Just come back, all right?” Luke responded by wrapping his sister in a gentle hug. “I will. I promise.” Upon pulling back he opened his mouth to leave one last offer to come along...but reconsidered. A tech behind him announced that Artoo had been loaded into the astromech socket, and Luke blew out a short breath. “Time to go.” The former princess nodded and backed away, still biting her lips. “Be careful,” she called as her brother mounted the ladder. “I will,” called Luke. He thanked the tech and pulled on his helmet. He watched out of the corner of his eye as Leia continued backing away. Her worry for him ran deep, and he felt bad that he couldn’t help. She should be coming with me, he thought, knitting his brows as the ship powered up. But she’d made her decision, and he had to respect it. The canopy eased down as the fighter slowly lifted into the air. Luke gripped the joystick and tried relaxing into the familiar routine of flight. His heart tugged him in the other direction and made him look down at Leia again. She was well out of the way of his flight path but her unease seemed to grow. Leia stood with her arms knotted and his lip clamped between her teeth. She almost looked ready to cry. Luke forced himself to smile and wave. He got a wave, but not a smile, in return. “May the Force be with you,” he whispered to her mind before throttling forward. His heart warmed when there was a slight nudge in return. It was difficult for Leia not to cry as her brother took off and disappeared out of the hangar. She watched as the tiny dot of his X-Wing made the jump to hyperspace, then was gone. Afterward she wiped her eyes and wandered back into the corridor. Why am I crying? She wondered. He’ll be back. He always comes back. The hard knot in her stomach disagreed. Somehow, she knew something was going to happen on Dagobah. The idea that this was yet another warning from the Force was hastily pushed aside.