Saga - Legends Tale As Old As Time (L/M, AU) Update 5/10/16

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by aleja2, Jun 1, 2014.

  1. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Tale as Old As Time
    Author: aleja2
    Timeframe: After The Empire Strikes Back but heavily AU
    Genre: Romance, Fairy Tale, Angst, Mash-Up Fun
    Summary: While on a mission to the planet Diswalt, Luke is held prisoner by one of the Emperor’s Beasts.
    * * *

    Author’s note 1: I wasn’t writing fan fiction at the time, but I recently saw the August 2013 SJRS Challenge mentioned and, well…

    The inspirational challenge: Write a Star Wars story based on a classic fairy tale (Grimm or otherwise) and insert Luke and Mara into it.

    The following words need to be included:

    To make things a bit interesting, don’t name the fairy tale and see if people can guess.

    Although anyone familiar with 90’s Disney animated films shouldn’t find it too hard.

    Author’s note 2: Several lines are intentionally borrowed from a certain Disney film. The prologue especially is borrowed from Linda Woolverton’s screenplay and is intended as a loving homage. There may also be lines borrowed from Heir to the Empire by Timothy Zahn and from lyrics written for the Broadway musical version of the Disney film. Again, only meant as a loving homage.

    Author’s note 3: Set after The Empire Strikes Back, but heavily AU.

    Author’s note 4: Disney owns it all. ALL.

    * * *


    A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a hideous Emperor lived on a shining planet. He used the dark side of the Force to obtain nearly everything his heart desired. Soon the entire galaxy was held tight in his grip.

    But the Emperor remained spoiled, selfish and unkind.

    And then, one night, a desperate young mother, hunted down for being a hated Jedi, was dragged into his throne room. And the mother offered him her young child to raise as he wanted, if he would just spare the child’s life.

    The Emperor sneered at her gift, and ordered both mother and child to be put to death immediately. But the mother warned him not to be deceived by appearances, for true power could be found within her child. The Emperor forcibly entered the mother’s mind, ripping through her Jedi defenses. And her child was revealed to be, in truth, strong in the Force.

    The Emperor had the mother killed, for there was no love in his heart. But he spared the child. As revenge on his enemies, he would transform this Jedi youngling into a hideous beast of vengeance. And he used the dark side of the Force to place the child under his powerful spell.

    But the child the mother had offered him was indeed an enchanted child. Her mother had hidden, deep inside the child’s mind, a way for the child to escape the Emperor’s control. If she could learn to love another, and earn his love in return, then the hideous Emperor’s power would be broken.

    If not, the child would be doomed to remain a hated and feared beast for all time, hunting down and destroying the Emperor’s enemies.

    And the years passed, and the star systems under the Emperor’s control fell into despair and lost all hope.

    For who could ever hope to love…a beast?
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  2. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Chapter One

    “I don’t like this.” Luke Skywalker looked over at his companion, a Corellian smuggler turned occasional and very reluctant hero for the Rebellion against Palpatine’s Empire, and shifted his legs. It was difficult to find a comfortable position. The two men lay flat on their stomachs on top of a three-story building, their macrobinoculars trained on the low bungalow opposite and the surrounding dirt streets below. The hard, overlapping roof tiles dug into Luke’s skin despite the padded flight suit he wore. But this was the tallest building in the small village of Woolvertown, the smuggling outpost for the planet Diswalt, and thus offered them the best vantage point. “Leia should have finished her negotiations for supplies with the local representatives by now. We need to get back to the Falcon or we’ll miss the transmission with our next rendezvous coordinates.”

    “Relax,” Han Solo said. “Leia knows what she’s doing.” But Luke heard the, “I hope,” muttered under Han’s breath. “Besides, we left Goldenrod on the ship. He’ll handle the transmission if we miss it.”

    “If you say so,” Luke said, but he was far from convinced. If only they had an astromech droid who could talk to the Falcon and ensure the coordinates were correct. But the R5 unit who flew with him in the battle of the Death Star didn’t survive the direct blast it took from a TIE fighter, and Luke didn’t feel like bonding with any of the astromechs who succeeded Arfive’s place in his X-Wing. “I still don’t like it.”

    Han took the macrobinoculars away from his eyes and turned his head to look at Luke. “You’re not getting one of those spooky feelings of yours, are you?”

    “No,” Luke answered. “In fact, I’m not getting much of anything.” It was true. Try as hard as he might, he was picking up very little in the Force. He could sense Han next to him, Han’s thoughts a roiling mixture of anticipation and impatience, tinged with concern for Leia. And he could sense various natives going about their business in the nearby town square. The Diswaltis were an abnormally cheerful species, known throughout the galaxy for their large, round eyes and ever-present smiles. But every time Luke tried to reach out further, it was almost as if he met some sort of invisible barrier.

    He sighed. He still had so much to learn about the Force. And now, there was no one left to teach him. When he returned to Dagobah after successfully rescuing Han and Leia from Bespin, it was to find Yoda’s dwelling ripped apart, his gimer stick broken into barely recognizable shards. Any evidence of the Jedi Master’s presence had long faded. Despair clutched at Luke when he recalled Bespin had merely been a ruse to lure him into revealing Yoda’s location. The Emperor’s Beasts had hacked into the X-Wing nav computer Luke thought had been carefully erased and traced his journey backward until they found the Jedi Master’s hiding place.

    Luke and his friends easily escaped once the Beasts got what they wanted. Even so, he knew he still breathed only because the Emperor was obsessed with ensuring that all Old Republic Jedi were deleted from the galaxy. A half-trained fledging with no Master to guide him wasn’t a priority.

    But with Yoda finally located and destroyed, that would change. That was the one thing Luke could feel. The Emperor’s Beasts were about to be unleashed on him.

    The Rebellion needed to win this war, and fast.

    Han shrugged. “You said you wanted more than your provincial life on Tatooine. Welcome to it. Waiting on a rooftop, getting duracrete dust all over your clothes.”

    “Did you just say ‘provincial?” Luke stared at Han. Leia must really be rubbing off on him. Or at least on his vocabulary.

    “Provincial. You know, middle of nowhere, backwater, armpit of the galaxy….” Han obviously had mistaken Luke’s surprise for a lack of comprehension.

    “Oh, right, armpit. I didn’t know that was the technical term for planets where you spend afternoons getting drunk in cantinas and shooting first.”

    “Smart,” Han said, his tone indicating the opposite. “Hey, if you hadn’t left Tatooine, what would you be doing now? Married to some farmer girl, I bet, having babies and sticking popsicles in their mouths when they cry.”

    Han’s words conjured an image of Camie, boasting to everyone in Anchorhead how she was going to make Luke Skywalker her husband. Luke shuddered. “No,” he said decisively. “I used to read all the adventure journals I could get my hands on. I knew there must be more to life than moisture farming.”

    “Well, you got it,” Han muttered. “C’mon, Leia.”

    “I thought you said to relax?” Luke couldn’t resist saying.

    “You’re not looking, Kid,” Han growled. “To the left. By the open air market. Stormtroopers.”

    Luke slammed his pair of macrobinoculars against his eyes, increasing the magnification. Sure enough, very familiar white helmets were bobbing their way through the crowd. He shook his head. Why didn’t he feel their approach? Was there something wrong with the Force? Or with him?

    Han had his comlink out. “Chewie? We have company. And they’re not the kind you invite to dinner. Get Her Worshipfulness out of there.”

    Through the comlink Luke could hear the Wookiee’s whispered roar of understanding. Leia had posed as a slave trader, with Chewbacca as her prize ware, in order to keep her meeting with the Diswalti representatives as secret as possible. The Diswaltis had plenty of money, thanks to several popular resorts known throughout the galaxy for their immersive yet family-friendly fun, but not even a planet full of child-based amusements would be immune from the Emperor’s deadly wrath if he learned they were supporting the rebels. Leia was secreted behind a closed door with no communications devices allowed to avoid the Imperials from picking up any chatter, but Chewie had remained outside to guard the room. And to communicate on a tight relay with Han.

    “Maybe it’s just a routine patrol.” Luke offered, but even as he spoke he knew he was wrong. The stormtroopers were marching in a straight line directly to the building that held Leia – and to the building across from it that supported Han and Luke.

    “Yeah, and maybe I’ll let you fly the Falcon,” Han said. “The troopers are carrying something on their backs – can you tell what it is?”

    “No, “ Luke said. “It’s some sort of frame, but I can’t make out the details through the crowd.”

    “Han? We’re leaving now.” Leia's voice came from the comlink speaker.

    “Don’t talk, just get out,” Han said tightly. Now they didn’t need macrobinoculars to see empty black eyes in white expressionless faces, moving ever closer to them.

    Luke spotted a rear entrance in the bungalow opposite opening. A petite female figure in space fatigues and a tall, shaggy Wookiee walked outside. “They’re clear.”

    “Yeah, I see them,” Han replied. “Okay. The bad guys are heading to the front of Leia’s building. We’ll go out the back of this one, circle around, meet the other two at the prearranged spot. Got it?”

    “Of course,” Luke said. There weren’t many other choices of action. He checked to make sure his lightsaber was firmly attached to his belt, close at hand if – when - needed.

    Han drew his blaster, held it ready. “Let’s go.”
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  3. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Chapter Two

    Luke gasped. His right hand gingerly explored the edges of the blaster wound that made his left shoulder feel like both suns of Tatooine were blazing inside. He dragged himself further upright, propping his back against the dank, damp wall of the man-sized refuse drain that hid him.

    How did they let the fight get away from them so quickly? Luke shut his eyes against the pain and tried to think back, trace what happened. It was as if the stormtroopers could read their very thoughts. No matter where they ran. No matter what diversion they tried. The white armored drones beat them to the punch, blocking their way, herding them with covering fire into a tighter and tighter spot with no possible escape.

    And Luke lost the Force.

    It disappeared just as he needed it the most. He called on it as the stormtroopers approached, but as soon as they came into range, the Force…vanished. The sudden absence shocked him, his mind flailing while all other reflexes ceased. He stood motionless, the perfect target.

    A trooper drew a straight bead on Luke. Han picked off white armored figure before the kill shot went off. The blaster bolt went through the strange contraption the armored soldier wore on his back. The stormtrooper went down.

    The Force flooded back, filling Luke’s senses like a blind man suddenly seeing the sun. But only until the next trooper appeared. It was as if the soldiers carried with them some sort of…bubble…that shut off all contact with the Force.

    Luke managed to keep his head the next time his Force sense went dead. He ignited his lightsaber. The trooper stopped short at the sight of the glowing blue blade. His hesitation gave Luke just enough time to spot a large drain at the end of the street. The next few minutes were a blur, punctuated by the sound of blaster bolts and the rapid hum of his weapon. He vanquished his opponent, and the Force flowed through him again. Automatically, he reached out to check on Leia, Han and Chewie.

    Nothing. They were gone. He couldn’t feel them that all.

    In that moment of incomprehension and disbelief, his shoulder exploded in a burst of flame and agony.

    He turned, slashed blindly with his lightsaber. The blade caught the bolt aiming for his heart. The trooper sneaking up on his blind side fell, hit by the ricochet. The Force flowed black and Luke didn’t wait for it to vanish again. He leapt for the storm drain, the Force propelling his legs the extra distance needed. He wouldn’t be able to help Han, Leia and Chewie if he were dead.

    In the smoke and heat and confusion of the battle, the stormtroopers did not notice his immediate absence. And almost before he could blink, it was all over.

    Han, Leia and Chewie stood in the middle of the street, hands on their heads, guarded by one set of troopers while another set put their fallen comrades onto sled carriers. And then Luke’s friends were marched out of his sight.

    Luke tried to move. He couldn’t just sit there. He put out a hand to help lever himself upright but he only fell down. The shock and sheer pain almost made him black out. He stayed conscious through sheer will.

    It wasn’t over. He would find them. And rescue them. Just like on Bespin. Even if this time it meant trading his life for theirs.

    Deep, shuddering breaths wracked his chest. He ignored the stench around him, preferring to keep his lungs working. He reached inside himself for calm, serenity. Fear for his friends would not help him, and it would definitely not help them. A pain suppression technique taught to him by Yoda, half remembered, finally cleared enough of his mind to enable him to reach out with his senses.

    Just as he suspected. As the troopers marched away with their captives, the Force returned.

    Grimacing, he rose to his feet. The pain suppression helped to keep his mind clear of the every-present throbbing hurt, but it required a lot of his concentration. Too bad Yoda or Ben never taught him how to heal his wounds, if such a thing were even possible. But first things first. He needed a change of clothes, a bacta patch if possible, and information on whoever took his friends.

    He paused at the mouth of the drain, hoping to sense if the coast was clear. The townspeople were going about their business, as if it were another quiet day like the one before. Nearby, he could hear a woman haggling with a shopkeeper over eggs, while another wanted to know if the bread was fresh. Aside from a few blaster burns in the duracrete walls and some scuffmarks in the dirt that marked where stormtroopers had fallen, it was if the skirmish never happened.

    There was no sign of Leia’s contacts. The building where Leia met them remained open for business. As far as Luke could tell, no Imperial search party still rummaged around the premises. All was normal.

    Too normal.

    In fact, he thought with a frown, the pain still rattling around his head…perhaps the whole meeting had been a set up. Somehow, those troops zeroed right in on them, knew exactly where to locate them and how to cut off all their escapes.

    And they knew he was there. A Force sensitive. They carried something to neutralize him.

    That meant only one thing.

    One of Palpatine’s Beasts had found him.

    And the Beast had his friends.
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  4. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Chapter Three

    “Whoa!” Luke pulled gently on reins, mindful of the bacta patch working its magic on his shoulder, and leaned over to pet the pure white neck of his equine mount. What did the Diswalti who loaned the animal to him call her? Jingles? Yes, that was it. “Good girl, Jingles.” At least she smelled much better than a tauntaun.

    It had been a long, solitary trek through woods heavily overgrown with tall, dense trees that allowed only slivers of sunlight to pierce their overlapping foliage. Few birds sang or mammals grunted, their noise seemingly absorbed by the thick leaves. Even the clip-clop of Jingles’s hooves on the narrow path was muted.

    Luke tried to relax, to stay calm and keep his Force sense open, hoping he would be allowed to glimpse whether his attempt to rescue his friends would end in tragedy or success. But he kept coming up against those same strange Force-free bubbles he encountered during the firefight with the stormtroopers. As soon as he passed through one, another would spring up to take its place. It made the journey uncomfortable, not to mention disorienting.

    Finally, the path broke free of the forest and a burst of dazzling late afternoon sunlight nearly blinded him. At the same time the Force flooded back, heightening his senses to an almost painful degree. When he could focus, he saw he had found his destination, just as the Diswalti who loaned him the equine had said.

    A large, forbidding castle, some two kilometers distant, rose in the middle of the clearing. A thick wall of polished black stone, as high as ten Wookiees standing on each other’s shoulders, surrounded the main hall of the castle, its corners topped with turrets with sharply conical roofs. But what most caught Luke’s eye was the lone tall tower soaring high into sky, capped with another, smaller turret just big enough to contain a single room. He used his macrobinoculars to bring the details into sharper focus. HoloNet transceiver arrays crowned the steeply tilted blue tiled roof.

    This had to be the lair of the Beast. And it meant the Beast had a direct means of communication with the Emperor. Palpatine surely was aware by now that Han, Leia and Chewie were firmly in his reach. Luke knew it was possible, of course, but it came like a kick to the solar plexus to have absolute proof.

    A low, long canine howl came from the woods. The equine danced sideways, her dark eyes damp with fear. She tossed her snowy head, causing the bells on her harness to softly chime. “It’s okay,” Luke soothed her, although he felt nothing of the kind.

    He had one chance to make this right. One chance to – yet again- get his friends out of a trap that was meant for him. Only this time, he doubted that the Emperor wanted just a location.

    He took out his comlink, and keyed it to the frequency Han had assured him was secure and unable to be sliced by any Imperials trying to listen in. “You there?” he asked, keeping his voice low.

    “I am here, Master Luke, if you are referring to me. Although I am not quite sure what you mean by there. If you mean if I am onboard the Millennium Falcon, then I am able to answer in the affirmative.” Threepio’s voice boomed over the comlink’s tinny speaker.

    Luke bit back his smile. Even in a crisis, Threepio was….Threepio. “Good. I am activating my comlink’s holorecorder. Stay on this frequency and monitor the image feed. Be ready to bring the Falcon in at any moment. The nav computer should be able to use the images to find a safe place to land.”

    “Master Luke, I am programmed for human-cyborg relations. I am not an astromech. The idea of having to interface with this ship’s computers!” The horror in Threepio’s voice couldn’t be more apparent.

    “You’re fluent in over six million forms of communication, right?” Luke whispered in the comm.

    “Of course, Master Luke! But I thought you said the Diswaltis spoke Basic? They might be using the Orlanheim dialect. I am told it can be quite difficult for humans from the Core to understand the difference in vowel pronunciation. But since you are from the Outer Rim you should—“

    “So think of the nav computer as yet another language,” Luke said. “Are you telling me you can’t master a simple Corellian freighter’s binary code?”

    “Well!” Threepio huffed. He was silent for a minute, a most unusual occurrence in Luke’s experience. “I suppose I can try to remember the most rudimentary communication basics, if I must.”

    “So please try.” Luke shook his head. Threepio had complained of the Falcon’s onboard computers’ rudeness throughout the entire journey. Luke had a suspicion the Falcon’s systems took their cues from Han when it came to interfacing with the protocol droid. “Han has a beckon call spliced into the Falcon. All you need to do is make sure the ship is ready to receive the signal when Han activates it, and then stay on course. We’re counting on you, Threepio.”

    “You’re counting on me, Master Luke? Oh, you won’t regret it! I will ensure that this most recalcitrant ship obeys my every command and—“

    Luke shut off the comlink. He’d wasted enough time as it was. He regarded his options. Those smooth polished walls were too high for even a Jedi to jump over. Nor did they appear to have any potential foot- or handholds for climbing. And he doubted storming the castle with just his lightsaber would impress anyone. It would only get him killed.

    Another howl came from the forest, louder this time. Jingles whinnied, and pawed the ground with her right hoof. She tossed her head, ripping the reins from Luke’s loose grasp.

    “Easy, girl!” He reached out with his uninjured arm to pat her neck, and then made a grab for the fallen reins. Jingles reared high into the air, her front legs pawing at the sky. Caught off balance, Luke slid off the equine’s back, his fall broken by layers of moss and dead vegetation. Jingles took off at a dead run, the reins flapping madly behind her. She disappeared into the thick trees, the faint chiming of the bells of her harness soon dissipating.

    Luke looked up. The sun was quickly disappearing behind the castle’s main hall. He’d been warned that if he ventured into the forest, he needed to find a secure shelter before the last rays of light faded. It seemed Jingles felt the same way, if her sudden flight toward home was any indication.

    There was only one thing left to do: knock at the castle’s front door and demand his friends be returned. Then Han could use the beckon call, the Falcon would swoop in, and they’d fly away. It was a terrible long shot, but so was hitting the Death Star’s thermal exhaust post with a torpedo from an X-Wing.

    Hopefully, “Jedi mind tricks” would be enough to at least get him inside so he could search for Han, Leia and Chewie.

    Or not, if the inhabitants of the castle had more of those Force bubble things lying around.

    Only one way to find out.
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  5. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    I am loving this. The title reeled me in =D= and now I'm eagerly awaiting more. Super characterizations and the Han/Luke banter -- spot-on. :D
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  6. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Thank you so much, Nyota's Heart!

    Chapter Four

    “There’s a boy coming to the castle door!” Pottz ran down the steep staircase as fast as her short legs would allow, her purple and pink hair streaming behind. “A boy!” She could scarce believe it. A real, live human boy! And he was walking up to the front door, like a normal person visiting a normal home! She’d never seen anything like it in all her days.

    Maybe their luck was changing. Maybe things would be different this time. Maybe--

    “Whoa!” K’gworth put out a heavily muscled arm and caught her around her midsection. Pottz let out a grunt. She was amply padded in that area – rotund, some liked to say – but it still knocked the breath out of her. K’gworth released her from his grip and looked down at her, his thick brown eyebrows drawn together in a scornful scowl. “A boy? Don’t be ridiculous. Besides, we already have a boy. And a girl. And a tall hairy…something. The White Workers brought them in. They’re in the dungeon. Lucky things." He muttered the last two words under his breath, but Pottz still heard him.

    “I’m not talking about those three.” Pottz rolled her eyes. “Besides, that boy isn’t the one from the prophecy. He’s already in love with his companion. It’s obvious by how they snipe at each other. But the boy I saw—“

    “I don’t have time to listen to whatever tea you’re brewing, Pottz. Back to work with you.” K’gsworth pointed at a nearby tray cart, piled high with dirty plates and glasses. “The Mistress is already in one of her moods. When she sees this--“

    “But I’m telling you I saw a boy!” Pottz stomped her foot, causing the gold metal hat on her head to rattle. “From a window in the stairs to the North Tower. He’s walking by himself, as free as can be. Not a White Worker in sight.”

    K’gworth narrowed his gaze and huffed. “And I’m telling you that if you don’t get back to work this minute, you’ll find yourself impaled on the glowing end of a lightsaber. And we don’t want that to happen again, now, do we?” He glared down at her, his bushy handlebar moustache quivering with what he liked to pretend was rage, but Pottz knew was actually concern. She sighed.

    “Fine. I’ll take these things to the kitchen and out of the Mistress’s sight.” She rearranged the plates in a less precarious stack and put her hands on the cart’s handle. “But I reserve the right to say ‘I told you so.’”

    “Go on with you,” K’gworth said, his tone softer. “And stay away from the North Tower. You know no one is to go up there.”

    “Yes, but—“

    A loud knock boomed, echoing through the castle’s halls. Pottz stopped moving. A glass fell off the tray cart and shattered on the stone floor. She stared at K’gworth. He stared back, his mouth open and his moustache drooping.

    The knock sounded again.

    “Well, don’t just stand there!” Looma ran by them, his bright golden hair and skin a yellow blur of motion. “We ‘ave a visitor at the door!”

    Pottz and K’gworth exchanged glances once more. Then Pottz sprang into action, racing after Looma. “Wait for me!”

    K’gworth was just a second too late. “No!” he cried. “Do not answer the door! She will doom us forever!” Pottz waited for K’gworth to pass her. Then she launched herself at him. They fell to the ground, Pottz doing her best to keep K'gworth from getting to his feet. She hoped it would give Looma enough time to let the boy in.

    The boy, who was their only hope.

    * * *
    Luke lifted his hand to knock a third time, feeling a bit silly. The door towered over him, easily ten meters tall, and probably two meters thick. It was ancient in construction. No hydraulics in sight, and definitely no keypad for entry. Perhaps his instincts were wrong and no one lived in the castle. It certainly had an abandoned feel to it.

    But then he remembered the HoloNet transceiver arrays, and he knocked again. Harder.

    The door suddenly swung open. Luke took a step back. His hand sought the hilt of his lightsaber.

    A tall, slender man stood silhouetted in the doorway. “No need to pound on the door, we ‘eard you the first time,” the man said. His accent indicated he originated from the planet Gaulia. “Please, do come in.”

    “You will let me inside—wait, what?” Luke put down his lifted hand, and let his index and middle fingers relax. So much for using Jedi mind tricks.

    “But of course you must come inside!” The man stuck his head out, looked up at the sky, then at Luke. “It will soon be dark, no?” He shooed Luke past the doorway and shut the heavy, old door behind him.

    “No,” Luke murmured. “I mean, yes.” He couldn’t stop looking around him. The receiving gallery in which he stood was one of the largest rooms he’d been in. Only the ceremonial hall on Yavin 4, where Leia had given him his medal, rivaled it for size. And it was so ornate! Vibrant tapestries depicting unknown flora and fauna unfurled for meters down walls of the same polished black stone he noticed on the castle exterior. The stone continued underfoot, causing his boots to echo with every step. The ceiling soared overhead, so high he could scarce make out where it began. Stained glass windows let in what little light remained outside.

    “It’s not much, but we call it ‘ome.” The slender man waved his arms, and the illumination in the hall increased. Luke got his first real look at his companion. The man was taller than Luke, but far more slender, with long gangly legs and arms. His hair shone a bright pale yellow, lighter than Luke’s had been during Tatooine summers, while his skin also had a faint golden sheen. If Threepio were human, Luke thought, he might look something like this.

    The man clapped his hands together. “Ah! But where are my manners! I am Looma, at your service.” He bowed from his waist.

    A short, round woman and a squat, heavily muscled man ran into the hall, elbowing each other. “See! I told you so, K’gworth!” the woman exclaimed, and she bounded over to Luke. She held out a small hand to shake, her skin as smooth as Aunt Beru’s treasured porcelain caf cup and nearly as translucent. After a stunned moment, Luke shook it. She giggled. “I'm Pottz. And I knew you’d be here! I knew it!”

    K’gworth did not seem nearly as pleased to see Luke as Pottz, nor as welcoming as Looma. His arms were crossed and he looked like he wanted nothing more than to throw Luke back into the forest. “You-Know-Who will not like this,” he said, his voice quivering with strong emotion. Luke couldn't decide if he detected more anger or fear in K'gworth's words. “You shouldn’t have let him in. This is bad. This is very bad.”

    “Now see ‘ere!” Looma turned on K'gworth. "You are not the boss! I 'ave just as much right as you--"

    Pottz spoke over him. “But he could be the answer--"

    The three began to argue amongst themselves, so loud and so fast that Luke couldn’t keep up. Nor did he want to. Han, Leia and Chewie were here. He could feel them, Leia especially. They were confined, but otherwise unharmed.

    He had no idea why he was let into the castle so easily, but he wasn't about to look a gift bantha in the mouth. Especially when it was plainly obvious none of the people he met so far qualified as an Emperor's Beast. Nor was he about to stand around and wait for the Beast to make an appearance. He edged away from the arguing trio, following his friends’ presence in the Force.

    Pottz spotted him first. “He’s leaving!” The three turned as if one and advanced on Luke.

    No time to lose. Luke lifted his hand, his fingers outreached. “You will take me to the three prisoners.”

    Pottz stopped short. “Wait. You want to go to the dungeons? Truly?” She sounded as if she wanted to cry.

    Luke tried again. “Take me to the prisoners.” Something was off. He could feel the Force, so he couldn’t blame it on one of those bubbles. But when he reached for their minds, all he got was…static.

    Looma shook his head. “No, no, monsieur, you do not want the dungeons. They are, ‘ow do you say…nasty. I will make you up a very nice room, very comfortable.”

    K'gworth stepped in front of his colleagues, a sharp gleam in his gaze. “The dungeons? Well, why didn’t you say so? Follow me.”

    * * *

    High above the castle, in the small room at the very top of the North Tower, a cloaked figure knelt before a flickering image of a wizened but powerful presence.

    “I beg forgiveness for interrupting my Master when he did not call to me first, but I bring intelligence that might please His Eminence.”

    “Rise, my child, and do not fear. You have news about young Skywalker, do you not?” The Emperor cackled, the ghastly sound bouncing off the stone walls.

    The head deep within the cloak nodded. “He is here, my Master. Just as you foresaw.”

    The Emperor grinned, a most gruesome sight. “You have done well, little Beast. Keep him there until I arrive.”

    * * *

    Looma wasn’t kidding about the dungeons. Luke tried to breath through his mouth, but he still caught whiffs of odors foul and unpleasant. He tried blocking out his surroundings with the Force before he realized it was the Force itself that was wrong. It was tainted here. Dank. Murky. Just like that cave corrupted by the dark side on Dagobah, where he saw himself kneeling by the Emperor’s side. He tasted bile at the back of his throat, and struggled to keep his focus centered and calm.

    K’gworth led the way, apparently unaffected by the dark tendrils that snaked around and through everything in this horrible place. Pottz and Looma followed behind, bitterly complaining about K’gworth and his highhanded manner. The group turned a corner and Luke snatched his lightsaber from his belt, igniting it with a snap-hiss.

    But the stormtroopers in front of him didn’t react. They remained in the same positions they held when Luke first spotted them: lined up against the wall, arms at their side and legs straight.

    “Look!” Pottz nudged Looma. “The boy has a lightsaber!” A large grin lit her round face. “It’s a sign!”

    Looma shrugged, but his gaze was shrewd. “We shall see, mon amie. We shall see.”

    Luke ignored them. He walked over to the nearest stormtrooper, waved his hand in front of the black eyeholes. Nothing. “Is this where they store their armor?” he asked K’gworth.

    K’gworth started to nod, but Pottz jumped in. “Oh, we turn off the White Workers at night.”

    Luke turned on his heels to face her. “The what?”

    “The White Workers.” She jerked a thumb at the stormtroopers. “These guys. No use wasting good power packs at night, when no one leaves their homes after sunset. So we turn them off.”

    “Are you trying to tell me these stormtroopers are…droids?” Luke could barely wrap his brain around the concept. The stormtroopers he'd encountered on the Death Star and Bespin were human. He knew that for a fact. He even wore stolen armor once.

    On the other hand, if the troopers in Woolvertown’s market square had been droids, it made him feel a lot better about the ones he took down with his lightsaber.

    The thought of killing another being caused Luke's chest to tighten like an overwound mechanical spring work. Yet he was responsible for the deaths of millions, thanks to a one in a million shot. It didn’t make for the most restful sleep, no matter how many people told him, "But this is war," whenever he mentioned it.

    Pottz drew herself up to her most indignant height, which still wasn't very tall. “They are most certainly not droids!” she said. “They’re animatronics.”


    K’gworth shook his head. “We don’t have time for this. Let’s put him in the cell with the others, then we can all retire for a nice peaceful night. With any luck, You-Know-Who will think the White Workers miscounted the prisoners and she won't suspect our involvement."

    “Animatronics,” Pottz said, shaking off Looma when he tugged on her arm. “Well, really, the White Workers are more like pure ‘tronics. So I guess they are closer to droids. They don’t have animas, like us.”

    “Pottz!” K’gworth exploded. “We don’t have time! Now, come along, this way.”

    Luke wanted to ask additional questions, but he could feel Leia’s presence, stronger than before. She and the others were only a few steps away. This rescue mission was one of the strangest he had ever attempted, but so far it was also one of the least complicated.

    Now he just had to get his friends out of the dungeons, board the Falcon, and leave Diswalt behind. Easy.

    And maybe Han would indeed let him fly the Falcon one day.
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  7. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    Dang, I'm heading to bed but I read the prologue and this sounds great!! I will read and respond more tomorrow!!
    AzureAngel2 and aleja2 like this.
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Glad to see an update. :D Looking forward to the 'beastly' encounter.
    AzureAngel2 and aleja2 like this.
  9. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    This is great! I am waiting for their meeting at last.
    AzureAngel2 and aleja2 like this.
  10. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    ginchy, Nyota's Heart and Demendora - thanks so much for reading!

    Chapter Five

    K’gworth shoved Luke into the dungeon cell. The door shut behind him with a heavy, definitive thump. Luke went flying, his boots searching for but not finding purchase on the thick, slippery floor. Judging by the smell, he didn’t want to know what was decomposing down there. He collided with something very solid, very warm and very hairy. Chewbacca grunted at the impact and held Luke upright, but not before he caught a mouthful of Wookiee fur.

    “Luke!” Leia exclaimed. She ran to him and spun him around, her gaze sweeping over him. “What happened to you? When we realized you weren’t captured with us, we feared the worst.” Her fingers brushed over the charred edges of the hole in the shoulder of his flight suit. “You’re hurt?”

    “A farmer on the edge of the town gave me a bacta patch. I’m fine.” It was mostly true. The blaster wound was a mere throb instead of a screaming pain. “But are you three okay?”

    Leia nodded. “Not a scratch. The stormtroopers rounded us up and marched us here. They locked us in and we've been left alone ever since.” Her dark eyes shone in her pale face, just visible in the dim light coming from a narrow, barred window set in the wall high above their heads. Through it, Luke could see a few stars start to make their appearance in the evening sky.

    What he wouldn’t give to be out there among them.

    “Hey, Kid.” Han clapped his hand on Luke’s good shoulder. “So how do you plan on getting us out, now that you got yourself locked in?

    Luke held up the hilt of his unlit lightsaber. K’gworth had taken it from him and handed it to Pottz before shoving Luke into the cell, but she didn’t secure it. Luke called it to him with the Force as the door shut. He had a feeling Pottz wouldn’t tell.

    A slow smile spread across Han’s face. “I like how your mind works,” he said.

    Luke ignited the lightsaber, its icy blue glow illuminating the small cell. He could see for himself that his friends were indeed unhurt, albeit covered by new layers of grime. He moved to the southern wall. If the map of the castle he drew in his head as K’gworth led him to the dungeons was correct, this wall should lead to the outside.

    “Do you still have your comlink?” he asked Han. His plan was going to go up in a wisp of smoke if Han didn’t.

    “Yeah. They took my blaster, of course, but I managed to hide the comm. I haven’t been able to get a signal, however.” Han pulled it out. “Why?”

    Luke exhaled. “I have Threepio standing by to bring in the Falcon with the beckon call once we get clear.”

    Han and Chewie exchanged looks. Luke didn’t like the expressions on their faces that followed. He gave them a half-shrug, keeping the lightsaber steady.

    “I don’t need the Force to know what you are thinking,” he said, “but what alternatives do we have? The Falcon is docked hundreds of kilometers away at the spaceport. If the Empire is looking for us, we won’t be able to rent a speeder. And we can’t make it on foot. The Diswaltis don’t leave their homes at night. Something about the forests not being safe.”

    “He’s right, Han,” Leia said. “The Falcon has to come here.”

    Han’s mouth moved but no noises came out. Finally, he managed to form words. “Goldenrod? You believe that useless bundle of circuits will be able to fly my ship? Are you nuts?”

    “I thought you liked how my mind works,” Luke said.

    “The moving objects part I like. The thinking part has problems. Big ones.” Han’s mouth continued to open and close, like a Mon Calimari trapped on Tattoine during a sand storm. Chewie rumbled next to him, his growls unsure and suspicious.

    “It’ll be fine. At least Luke had a plan before he came in here, which is more than we had before,” Leia said. She touched her hand to Han’s arm, and then pulled it away when he glanced down at it. “Besides,” she said with a lift of a regal eyebrow, “the Alliance will pay for any damages, so that should take care of your concerns, Captain Solo.” She turned to Luke. “First things first. Let’s get out of here.”

    “I’m on it.” Luke positioned the tip of the lightsaber blade against the wall and began to cut.

    Or at least, that was his intent.

    The blade willingly went into the first few centimeters of stone.

    But then it…sputtered out. There was no other way to describe it. A few fizzling sparks, and the lightsaber turned itself off.

    “What’s wrong with it?” Leia asked, her voice sharp.

    “I don’t know,” Luke confessed. “It’s never done that before.” He ignited the blade again. The weapon hummed and glowed as usual. Wrinkling his nose against the smell, he lifted something unrecognizable off the refuse on the floor. He threw it into the air, and the blade cleanly and swiftly cut it in half.

    He tried the wall again. But no go. Sputter, and automatic shut off. “It’s not the lightsaber. It must be something in the stone.”

    Leia’s shoulders slumped. “I don’t suppose you have a Plan B?”

    Chewie let out a series of short staccato roars, and Han nodded. “What about the door?” Han asked. “We’ll have to go through the castle, but that’s the way you came in. Hopefully you know the way out.”

    Luke walked over to the cell door. He didn’t relish prolonging his stay in the castle, but at least the door wasn’t made of stone. He ignited the lightsaber once more, and started to cut through the layers of steel.

    Hiss! The blade sparked, jumped and disappeared, the feedback causing Luke to drop the hilt. Whatever was in the stone was also in the door, only there was more of it.

    “Great. Just great,” Han muttered. “Plan C, anyone?”

    Luke picked up his weapon and tried to wipe the slimy residue from the floor off it as best he could. He could feel the others’ disappointment, but his own emotions were even darker. This was a cell meant to hold a Jedi, he realized. Or to keep a Jedi out. There was no other explanation for why it was lined with some sort of material that neutralized lightsabers.

    The dark side corruption he felt earlier pressed at him, whispering in his ear, igniting an aching burn in his heart. Be angry. Be afraid. This is your fault. You’re the one the Emperor’s Beast wants, not them. And now they will die, horribly, painfully. Because of you—

    “Boy?” A concealed narrow slot in the middle of the cell door suddenly slid open. “Are you still there, boy?”

    “Pottz?" Luke bent down until he could see her.

    She smiled and clapped her hands together. “There you are! Now, are you quite done with the dungeons?”

    “You better say yes,” Han said.

    “Quite done,” Luke agreed.

    The door to the cell swung open. Pottz stood before them, a large ring of keys clutched tight in her hands. “Let’s go, spit spot,” she said.

    She walked quickly, leading the small party through the dungeon’s winding corridors, up the narrow stairs, and back to the main gallery. Luke felt as if he could take his first real, deep breath in hours. The dark side voices faded, their words forgotten.

    “I finally realized that you wanted to be in the dungeons because of the other three,” Pottz confided to Luke. “So I figured that if I moved the others, you would move, too.”

    “I can’t thank you enough,” Luke said. Out of the corner of his eye, he noted that Han had his comlink out and was speaking softly into it.

    “Oh, ‘twas nothing,” Pottz said, a pink blush on her pale cheeks. “So, now can I take you to your real room? It’s much nicer than the dungeons, I promise.” She tugged Luke’s hand, trying to lead him to the grand staircase that led to the upper floors.

    Luke stood his ground. “Pottz, we’re leaving,” he said gently. “We have to go. I truly appreciate all your help, but I can’t stay.”

    She stared at him, her lavender eyes wide and unblinking. “But you’re the boy!” she said. “I know you are. You’re the one we’re waiting for.”

    Luke shook his head. “I’m not anything,” he said. “I’m just a moisture farmer from Tatooine.” A moisture farmer capable of wiping out an entire battle station the size of a moon with one torpedo, he thought uneasily, and then quashed it. He was still feeling the strain from the…whatever it was…deep in the dungeons. He motioned at Leia, who was watching him closely with a thoughtful look in her dark gaze, and moved toward the large entry door. Han and Chewie beat him to it.

    “No!” Pottz cried. “You're the one! You can't leave!” She held onto Luke with a surprisingly strong grip.

    A whooshing noise assaulted their ears, and then bright halogen lights lit up the outside night sky as if it were noon.

    “That’s my girl,” Han said. He threw open the main door with a major assist from Chewbacca.

    A stunned Pottz loosened her grip on Luke enough for him to break free. He raced outside to see the Falcon doing lazy oblongs in the sky, one side of the ship higher than the other.

    “Shavit!” Han exclaimed. “Goldenrod did something to the stabilizers.” He threw the comlink at Chewie, who caught it with a graceful paw. “Talk to the Falcon’s computers, see if you can calm the systems down and undo the damage.” He waved his arms at the ship, as if it could see him and respond. And maybe it could, Luke thought. Force knew he still missed the connection he had with Arfive.

    Pottz drew near and stood slack-jawed at his side. “How pretty,” she said, her gaze fixed on the Falcon. Luke gave her a sideways glance. “No wonder those two are so in love,” she said, indicating Han and Chewie who now had their heads together and were both talking into the comlink. “They share such a beautiful ship.”

    Leia glanced at Pottz. Her eyebrows rose higher than Luke had ever seen them, but she didn’t say anything.

    The Falcon eventually straightened out and started to drift toward the ground, landing repulsors engaged and the boarding ramp lowered. Luke felt his shoulders relax. For once, an escape worked as planned, with no major catastrophes. Who ever would have thought such a thing possible?

    Chewie reached the ramp first, using his Wookiee height and strength to pull himself on board. He grabbed Han, who quickly disappeared into the ship. Probably to throw Threepio out of the cockpit, Luke thought. Leia stood by, her posture straight and outward manner serene as always, ready for the boarding ramp to be low enough for her to reach Chewbacca’s hand.

    Pottz continued to stare at the Falcon with something like awe in her gaze. “Bye, Pottz,” Luke said. He brushed her smooth cheek with his lips in a farewell kiss. “Thanks again.” He walked to Leia’s side and waited for his opportunity to jump onto the ramp.

    The lightning hit fast. Sharp, hard, a thousand volt jolt to frail human systems. Nerve endings flared, frayed. Synapses burned. His Force sense screamed the hardest. Luke threw himself over Leia, shielding her as best as he could from the attack. He forced his eyes open to narrow slits, saw long brunette locks escaped from their practical coiled braids and a cowering Pottz, kneeling with her forehead prone on the ground. He managed to regain enough control of his body to turn his head, trace the lightning to its source.

    A cloaked figure, dark, ominous, malevolent. Glowing gold eyes, deep inside a shadowed hood. Crackling dark side energy, pouring from outstretched fingers. Slender, delicate fingers. The words appeared in his brain from nowhere, exhausting what little conscious thought Luke still possessed.

    “Taking my guests away without being properly introduced to their host? What bad manners you have, Just a Farmer from Tatooine.” The voice was low, throaty and full of promised menace.

    The voice of the Beast.
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  11. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Ooh, the thought about an escape as planned was premature [face_nail_biting] =D= Excellent cliffie.
    aleja2 likes this.
  12. Jedi_Liz

    Jedi_Liz Jedi Grand Master star 6

    Apr 24, 2000
    Love this movie, watching the thread for more
    aleja2 and AzureAngel2 like this.
  13. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    The voice of the beast! That sounds menacing...but in a good way. Very nice! I like your writing style. I look forward to reading more.
    aleja2 and AzureAngel2 like this.
  14. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    Not only have you put a lot of Disney in, but also "The White Workers"... [face_rofl]...

    This is a jolly good story, sweet & original at the same time. Please put me on your update list!
    aleja2 likes this.
  15. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    @AzureAngel2- animatronics/reanimated corpses, not that much of a difference, from a certain point of view :D Thanks so much for reading!
    Jedi_Lover - thank you so much! We'll see how menacing the Beast really is.
    Nyota's Heart - I'm glad you liked the cliffie! Thanks for continuing to read.
    Jedi Liz - this is one of my favorite movies, too. Well, next to Star Wars, of course. Thanks for watching the thread!

    Chapter Six

    The dark side energy ceased as suddenly as it had started. Luke blinked, heavy eyelids scratching against dry corneas, and struggled to pull air into his lungs. He reached out through the Force for Leia and found her mostly unharmed, just stunned and bruised. He’d born the brunt of the attack. He rolled to the side and off the Princess, unable to move much more. Leia coughed, and managed to pull herself to her hands and knees. She began crawling toward the Falcon, still hovering in the air before them.

    Luke felt more than saw the Beast, the cloak swishing as she approached. “I don’t think so,” the husky voice said. The Beast’s slender fingers twitched and Leia fell flat on her stomach, pinned to the ground.

    Chewbacca roared. Han raced down the Falcon’s boarding ramp. “Leia!” he cried. He aimed the blaster in his hand at the Beast. Before he could fire, his wrist twisted, abnormally so. The blaster flew into the woods beyond. Han swore and tucked his hurt hand under his other arm, a grimace etched deep in his face.

    Another wave of the Beast’s fingers and the Falcon began to shimmy in the air, swooping dangerously from side to side. Han fell, slid. Chewbacca made a desperate grab for the ramp strut, hung on. He then caught Han by his foot before Han could tumble off the edge.

    “Stop,” Luke croaked. He reached for his lightsaber, but the Beast crooked a finger and it flew into the Beast’s hand, and then disappeared into the voluminous cloak. Luke struggled to his feet, swallowing back the nausea that threatened to overtake him. He held his hands out to show that he was unarmed. “Please. Stop.”

    The Beast slowly pivoted toward him. The deep hood cast a thick shadow over the Beast’s features but it could not conceal the feral yellow eyes, glowing with hostility. Luke flinched despite his best efforts. “They are rebel traitors to the Emperor. This is only a taste of what they deserve,” the Beast rasped. The fingers moved once more, and the Falcon appeared to be buffeted by winds approaching solar force.

    Luke pushed aside the hatred and aggression he sensed swirling maliciously in the atmosphere, and reached deep inside for calm. He didn’t dare try to touch the Beast’s mind. The power the Beast displayed was far beyond anything Ben or Yoda had taught him. Luke's skills, such as they were, would be no match. Still, he put all of his conviction and strength into his words. “I’m the one the Emperor wants. You don’t need them. Let them go.”

    The eerie gold gaze turned on him. The rage in its depths burned bright, but he glimpsed sparks of wary surprise. “Do you offer to take their place?”

    He nodded, even as impressions flashed through his mind. The dismal dungeons, the damp penetrating to his bones and the stench that never grew weaker. Seeing the stars only through a small, high window, and to journey among them only in memory. His thoughts skittered away before they could imagine what would happen once he was in the Emperor’s control. He would deal with that when the time came.

    He repeated, “I’m the one the Emperor wants. Not them.”

    The hooded figure moved closer to Luke, so close that he could see the rich texture of the cloak's fabric. The piercing yellow gaze narrowed and swept over him, as if searching for something only the Beast could detect. He kept his head high under the chilling scrutiny, consciously relaxing muscles that shouted at him to run, fight, hide.

    Finally, the Beast spoke. “A trade, then. I will allow the prisoners to leave. But only if you promise to stay here.” The hood bent forward, and he shivered as warm breath brushed his cheek. “Forever,” the Beast said low into his ear.

    Luke swallowed, his throat aching, but kept his voice steady. “I promise. But they must leave. Now. And Imperial forces will not pursue them.”

    The Beast’s features remained in shadow, but Luke received the distinct impression that the Beast…smiled. The cloaked figure turned away, breaking the connection between their gazes. Luke gasped at the loss, for that was what it felt like.

    The Beast raised slender fingers and Leia was on her feet, dazed and disoriented. Another sweep of the Beast’s hands and the Falcon stopped its twisting dance, covering the last dozen meters to gracefully land next to the castle. Chewbacca let go of the strut and ran inside the ship, no doubt to check how many systems had failed.

    Han rose, unsteadily, and sprinted down the boarding ramp to draw a waiting Leia into his arms. Luke watched, the ache in his heart increasing with each beat of his pulse, as she closed her eyes and moved deeper into Han’s embrace. They stood together on the ramp, foreheads touching. Luke carved the image into his memory, for he knew it would be the last sight he would have of his two best friends.

    A mechanical jerk, and the boarding ramp started its slow ascent back into the Falcon. Han and Leia broke apart. They scrambled, falling toward the ship’s main cabin, as gravity did its work.

    “Luke!” Leia shouted. “Where are you? LUKE!”

    “KID!” Han echoed.

    “It’s okay,” Luke called to them through lips numb and stiff. “I’ll be fine. Take care of yourselves—“

    The boarding ramp closed. Luke heard the hydraulics lock, seal. The Falcon’s repulsors roared to life and the ship lifted into the air. It circled over the castle. Luke thought he caught a glimpse of Threepio, his golden face just visible through the cockpit transparisteel. He raised a hand in farewell. Then the Falcon shot over the treetops and disappeared into the starry horizon beyond.

    The Beast’s arms lowered. “Done.” The hood turned toward him. “By the time they reach hyperspace, they will have no recollection of this system. They believe you are away on a top secret mission for the Rebellion," the Beast sneered the last word, "and will not ask about you until it is too late. Now it is your turn." Those strange yellow eyes flashed with an emotion deep and dark, causing Luke's breath to hitch. "But if you break our bargain...I will kill you, there and then."

    “I gave you my word,” Luke said, crossing his arms tight across his chest.

    “The word of a farmer.” Scorn dripped from the raspy voice. Then the Beast turned to Pottz, still cowering on the grass. “You. We will speak. Now.”

    Pottz mumbled something inaudible and got up to her feet, following the Beast inside the castle.

    Luke kept his gaze on the nighttime sky. “No,” he said to the stars. “Not just the word of a farmer. The word of Jedi.” He sat down on the ground and closed his eyes, letting the pain, exhaustion and sheer weight of what he agreed to pull him into a deep, unconscious hole.

    * * *

    Bright sunlight assaulted Luke’s face. For a minute, he thought he was back in his bed on Tatooine, late to help Uncle Owen on the South Ridge and about to catch all Nine Corellian Hells for it. The sound of a cleared throat and an uttered, “Ahem,” told him otherwise. He forced his eyes open and saw Looma, standing at the foot of the bed , balancing an enormous tray covered with all sorts of platters and dishes.

    “’Allo,” Looma said. Luke sat up, blinking the sleep from his eyes, and Looma put the tray down. It reached across the width of the bed, which was practically big enough to hold a dewback.

    “I proudly present to you…your breakfast,” Looma said, with a bow. “Try the grey stuff, it’s delicious.”

    Luke had no idea which dish held the grey stuff. He grabbed a piece of ryshcate and took his first real look at his surroundings.

    He was in a bedroom, that much was apparent. A very luxurious and beautifully appointed bedroom. The mattress was softer than anything he had ever encountered – or ever imagined, for that matter. The bedclothes were of a finely woven red shimmersilk, while the deeply filled pillows stayed cool to the touch. On the walls hung tapestries, like the ones he'd seen in the main hall downstairs. They appeared to be part of a series, telling a story about a man on an equine who fell in love with a woman trapped in a castle, much like the one Luke was in. In the last tapestry, the man fought something that resembled a Krayt dragon to free her. Between the tapestries stood tall windows, the source of the sunlight that woke Luke.

    This wasn't the dungeons.

    “Why am I in this room?” Luke asked. He had a sudden realization, and glanced under the covers to confirm it. “And may I have some clothes, please?”

    “But of course,” Looma said, throwing open a cupboard that stood in the far corner. “Be our guest.” He pulled out a sky blue tunic and sand-colored trousers. “These will do nicely, n’est pas? The color, it will match your eyes and create the most wonderful impression.” He clapped his hands together, his eyes shining.

    “If you say so,” Luke said, with a sideways glance. He couldn’t think of a reason why he’d need to create an impression. Leia was long gone. Besides, he had started to think of Leia as a, well, sister just before Bespin. “And this room? Why aren’t I in the dungeons?”

    Looma dropped the clothes on the bed. “But the dungeons are nasty. This has already been established, no? Do you want to be in the dungeons?” He gave Luke a most suspicious stare.

    “No, of course not—“

    Looma’s expression cleared up. “Ah. Good. Because if you did, then you would not be wise. And you would not smell nice. And that would never do. It was bad enough that we ‘ad to carry you in last night, like a drunk who stayed too late in the tavern.” Looma turned another suspicious eye on Luke. “You do not drink the alcohol, do you? You are not, as they say, a sot?”

    A laugh escaped Luke. “I drink on occasion, but I am not a sot.”

    Looma relaxed again. “Then all is well. I would ‘ate to have another unfortunate situation on our ‘ands, like that ‘orrible Gaston. He was definitely not the one.”

    Luke opened his mouth to ask a question, and then thought better of it. “I’d like to get dressed.” And use the 'fresher, he thought, having glimpsed an open door that led to one almost as big as the bedroom, from what he could tell.

    “That is a marvelous idea.” The tall, slender man made as if to turn back the covers and help Luke out of the bed.

    “I mean by myself.” Luke grabbed the shimmersilk coverlet and kept it tucked tightly around him.“Do you have to guard me while I dress?”

    Looma’s eyes widened. “I am not your guard! I am your ‘umble servant.”

    A servant? Luke looked around the impressive bedroom, at the tray laden with enormous quantities of food, and at the very nicely tailored garments. Whatever was going on, it was obvious he wasn’t being treated as a hated prisoner. Quite the contrary. And he didn't like it. It felt like he was in the middle of a game, playing for life or death, only he didn't know the players and no one told him the rules.

    An image of the Beast's yellow eyes, their angry predatory gleam, and their shock of surprise when he offered himself in place of this friends flashed into his mind. Perhaps the life at stake might not just be his, but the Beast's as well.

    Luke cleared his throat. “I don’t need a servant, Looma. But I wouldn’t mind a guide to the rest of the castle." He held up a hand when Looma moved forward. "After I get dressed. Alone.”
  16. taramidala

    taramidala Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Jun 18, 1999
    I love this! I'm sorry for not commenting sooner, but this is really really fun. :)
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    How like Luke to make such a bargain/trade :* Sure know he was shocked to awaken in a posh luxury instead of dank icky dungeons. :p
  18. Jedi_Lover

    Jedi_Lover Force Ghost star 5

    Nov 1, 2004
    Nice! Hmmm...why is Luke unclothed? They didn't have pajamas for him perhaps? Ha! Love it! Nice action scenes also!
  19. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005 my head backstory, K'gworth - complaining bitterly - and Looma had to carry the unconscious Luke into the castle and up the stairs. K'gworth dumps Luke unceremoniously on top of the covers and leaves, still complaining. And Looma, being from Gaulia, has no concept of pajamas. "But of course, adult beings, we all sleep in the buff, no?"

    Besides, the Beast might have wanted to see just what the trade netted. Not that the Beast would ever admit to it...
    ginchy likes this.
  20. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    probably you are right) :cool:
  21. ginchy

    ginchy Jedi Grand Master star 4

    May 25, 2005
    I am loving this!! I love how you've weaved Star Wars with the fairy tale. I laughed out loud at Luke and Threepio's interactions. And I just can't wait to see where this goes. Excellent job and I can't wait for a new chapter!!!
  22. aleja2

    aleja2 Jedi Master star 2

    Aug 4, 2005
    Update list: AzureAngel2

    taramidala, Nyota's Heart, Jedi_Lover, Demendora and ginchy - thanks so much for reading and commenting! I really appreciate it [:D]

    A short introspective interlude before the fur really starts to fly...

    The rest of the castle was as impressive as Luke’s bedroom. Room after room of expensive furniture and priceless artifacts and gleaming, golden surfaces or soft, feather filled appointments. If the Alliance could get its hands on the castle’s contents, Luke thought, they’d never, ever have to worry about funding the Rebellion again.

    Then his heart sank, for he was in the home of one of the Emperor’s Beasts, and so all this wealth belonged to Palpatine.

    Of the Beast, there was no sign. When he asked Looma, the slender man’s face seemed to darken, like a flame suddenly cut off from oxygen. “The Beast, as you say…is otherwise engaged,” was all Luke could get out of him. Then Looma’s face brightened. “But there is always dinner. Yes, dinner might suit very well!”

    Luke, having just sat through a lunch packed with twice as much food as breakfast, didn’t want to think about another meal just then.

    During their tour, Luke saw K’gworth from a distance, his moustache bristling and his back ramrod straight. But he didn't see Pottz. He mentioned it to Looma, who looked at Luke with an unreadable expression in his eyes and shook his head. “Perhaps another day,” he said quietly, and threw open another door. “And ‘ere, we ‘ave the….Blue Sitting Room!” Then he took a closer look. “Ah, no, my mistake. And ‘ere, we ‘ave the…Aquamarine Salon!” He shrugged. “We ‘ave a lot of rooms.”

    “I can tell,” Luke murmured. Late afternoon sunshine was beginning to stream through the windows, throwing long shadows against the walls. There was still a lot more castle to explore, but it already felt like a long day. He’d held at bay the homesickness that swept over him whenever he thought of Han, Leia and Chewie – even Threepio – but he didn’t know if he could hold out against the growing sense of loss much longer. Time to meditate, perhaps. Step into the flow of the Force and let it wash over him, become one with him.

    And perhaps the Force would tell him if he made the right bargain, or a very, very stupid and foolish one.

    “I’d like to go back to my room,” Luke said. “Rest up.”

    “But only until dinner, no?” Looma asked, his eyebrows raised high.

    Luke sighed. Truthfully, although he did appreciate Looma’s company, he was becoming a bit weary of his constant chatter. A quiet night had its appeal. But Looma looked so hopeful, Luke hated to disappoint him. “Dinner. Sure.”

    On the way back to his room, Luke lost the trail and turned left. He started to climb a narrow, dusty staircase. Looma grabbed him, hard, and forced him back to the landing. “Never go to the North Tower,” Looma said, his gaze glowing fiercely. “Never.”

    “Okay, okay,” Luke said, taking a step back. He’d thought Looma was the easygoing type, but obviously the man had a deep inner fire. “It was an honest mistake. Continue leading on.”

    Looma relaxed, and resumed his usual inconsequential chatter. But Luke noted the location of the stairway, and added it to his mental map of the castle.

    * * *

    Emperor cackles pain terrible pain give into anger feel the aggression join me or die killer of millions what’s a few billion more souls crying in agony despair so deep despair rage pick up your weapon give into hatred wait look hooded figure face in shadow gold eyes burn no not gold eyes green eyes flicker hope--

    Luke's eyes flew open. He pushed hair matted with sweat off his forehead, his lungs taking in air as fast as he could provide it for them. The shadows still pressed at his mind, seeking to worm their way into his waking consciousness, but he reached down deep for what peace he could find and expelled them.

    Usually meditation centered him, gave him strength and optimism. The Force was a source of beneficial energy and guidance. When he meditated, it felt like bathing in pure light.

    But on this planet, and especially in this castle, that pureness eluded him. He didn’t know if it had something to do with those strange bubbles in the Force, or the voices he heard in the dungeons, or the very presence of the Beast – but his usual harmonious connection was broken.

    He rubbed his eyes and noted that the bedroom was still and dark. When he sat down to meditate, the sun had barely begun to set. Now stars twinkled brightly in a solidly black sky outside the windows. His stomach rumbled, something Luke thought would be physically impossible after the earlier meals. How long did his meditation last?

    “Looma?” he called.

    No answer.

    “Pottz?” he said hopefully.


    “K’gworth?” he ventured after a few minutes.



    His only answer was the sound of his own breathing, still raspy and erratic.

    Luke rose from his seated position on the floor and walked to the door. It pushed open with the slightest touch. He wasn’t being locked in. Good. He stepped across the threshold, and almost ran into a tray cart piled high with various foodstuffs. He wouldn’t starve as a “guest” of the Beast, he thought.

    A small datapad hung on the side of the cart. The note on its screen read, “You missed dinner. That was not very wise and a disappointment to us all. Are you sure you are not a sot who sleeps all day? P.S. You really must try the grey stuff.”

    Luke gave a short laugh and pulled the cart inside the room. When they continued their tour of castle, Looma better show him a physical conditioning room. Luke would need some way to work off all this food. Especially since it seemed he had no companions to help him eat it.

    And this was only day one.

    Life in this strange castle was…lonely. And boring. Sure, he had nice clothes and luxurious surroundings and all the fine food he could eat. But it made his – what did Han call it? - provincial life on Tatooine look positively exciting. Back on his uncle’s farm, he could always sneak away by claiming he had to pick up new power convertors. Then he’d use his T-16 to target womp rats.

    And that was before he had a taste of flying X-Wings and rescuing princesses and blowing up space stations.

    Okay, he could do without having a taste of the last one.

    But that was also before he discovered the Force. And started his Jedi training.

    Luke bit into a tomo-spiced Karkan ribene without really tasting it, his thoughts on his recent bargain. It was true he promised the Beast not to escape.

    But he didn’t promise to stop advancing his Jedi skills. Or to stop the fight against the Empire.

    The Beast was the Emperor’s agent. So taking out the Beast – assuming he could find a way to get past all that dark side power - would be fair play. And if the Beast were no longer around, then he would no longer be bound to his promise to stay at the castle.


    Well. Only from a certain point of view. And it wasn’t a point of view with which Luke felt comfortable. It was a slippery moral slope, and not one he felt like sliding down.

    Still, he wished he had his lightsaber. He could at least practice his katas to pass the time, not to mention burning off some of the food.

    Perhaps the Beast would give it back to him?

    And maybe Threepio would learn to speak in words of less than three syllables.

    But…what if he recovered his lightsaber from wherever the Beast put it, and used it just for exercise. What would be the harm?

    Luke put down the half-eaten ribene and cleaned his fingers on the provided cloth. He didn’t need to be Admiral Ackbar to know he was embarking on a very dangerous strategy. But desperate times, desperate measures, and all that. Besides, while something screamed at him to spare the Beast, his every instinct told him to use his time in the castle to find out anything and everything he could about the Emperor and his plans.

    He nodded his head, once. He would look for his lightsaber. Which meant venturing into the Beast’s lair, because he doubted the Beast would just leave weapons lying around the castle for him to stumble over.

    And if he happened to discover information that would be useful to the Rebellion, well, so much the better. He’d worry about transmitting it to them later. As Leia would say, first things first.

    There was only one logical place where that lair might be.

    Luke crept out of his room, and made his way to the North Tower stairs.
  23. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Chosen One star 6

    Jun 14, 2005
    I wish he had not missed dinner. Not a good thing... [face_nail_biting]
  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Chosen One star 8

    Aug 31, 2004
    Very nice introspecting, and in-character too. Hmm. Understandable choice, but is it a shrewd one? [face_nail_biting] Love these regular updates, although I don't wanna jinx it by mentioning it [face_laugh]
  25. Demendora

    Demendora Jedi Knight star 2

    Apr 9, 2010
    There you go. You tell Skywalker not to do so something and he'll do the opposite.