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Saga Saga - OT The Trial of Darth Vader (AU ROTJ: H/L, Luke, Anakin, Yoda) 3/3

Discussion in 'Fan Fiction- Before, Saga, and Beyond' started by Ridley Solo, Jul 9, 2019.

  1. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    SUMMARY: Luke Skywalker returns to Dagobah to finish his training with Yoda, while his sister Leia still struggles with her feelings about the Force...and her family. Meanwhile the Rebellion prepares for its' final strike against the Empire. Anakin Skywalker's battle, however, will be very different...and more difficult than anything he has ever faced.
    GENRE: Angst, hurt/comfort, family, drama
    WARNINGS: Some thematic elements, mild profanity.

    **Please note, to understand this fic, reading the first 2 is highly recommended.**
    Part 1, A Matter of Time
    Part 2, Shot in the Dark

    And at last, here it is...the conclusion of what was once a duology, now a trilogy! First of all I want to thank everyone who has kept reading so far, especially @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @AzureAngel2. You guys are the best and always leave encouraging notes. Without your support, I wouldn't have the heart to keep going.

    I'll try and update as often as I can, but Darth Real Life has made some serious inroads on my writing time...
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CHAPTER ONE

    He’s here…I know he is. I can sense him.

    A troubled look dominated the face of Luke Skywalker as he scanned the murky swamps for his Jedi Master. Where is he?

    Much had happened since his last trip to Dagobah. After rushing off into the unknown thanks to a vision that his friends were in mortal danger, Luke fell right into a trap set by Darth Vader. He lost his right hand and was subsequently captured, tortured by a medic, tempted by the Dark Side, and then had his life saved by his father Anakin. In the months since Anakin had proven time and again he was not the same man as Vader, and his deeds spoke for themselves. He and Luke had built something of a father-son relationship, and then found out the Skywalker family had one more member. It was none other than Leia. Not as receptive to this revelation as Luke was, the courageous but stubborn leader still refused any contact with her biological father...or the Force. Luke had asked several times that his sister come with him, but to his dismay, this request was repeatedly denied. So Luke had come alone with only his astromech for company.

    Hours had passed since man and droid had arrived. The X-Wing’s sensors were still unable to handle the unusual atmosphere, and once again he was flying blind. It was only through the Force that he was able to avoid another water landing. His next challenge had been to find Yoda.

    But as evening arrived with still no sign of the ancient Jedi, Luke was forced to break out his survival gear. Night fell in the marshes and the harsh cries of nocturnal creatures filled the soupy air.

    Presently Artoo Detoo let out a warble of doubt...or perhaps disgust.

    Luke shook his head, brows knit. “I don’t know. It’s strange. I can sense he’s somewhere near, but-” He took another look around. “I’m just not sure where.” The idea that the diminutive Master might not want to see him crossed Luke's mind, but it was quickly discarded. Don't focus on the negative, he told himself, reaching into his survival pack for some rations. His stomach was growling.

    No sooner had Luke taken a bite of his filled breadstick than the sense of an approaching being rose suddenly, his presence somewhat masked by the abundance of life. The young Jedi was about to reach out when a high-pitched, raspy voice filled his ears.

    “Mmm. Honesty he has, yes. But a sense of time, he has not!”

    Luke almost choked on his breadstick as he wheeled around. How did he get so close before I sensed him? “Master! I-”

    Yoda, the wrinkled green Jedi less than a meter tall, stared unhappily at his wayward student and shook his head. “Learned nothing, have you, young Skywalker? Alert, you must be!" He punched his gimer stick into the ground for emphasis. “At. All. Times!”

    Luke’s cheeks burned. “Sorry,” he said, swallowing his food. “I could sense you, but had no idea you were this close.”

    Yoda grunted. “Hmph! Frightened, were you?”

    “You startled me, that’s all. I know, I should have known how close you were,” he admitted, somewhat sheepish. “I just...didn’t.”

    “Mmm. In another place, your mind is.” Again Yoda shook his head with disappointment. “Always has it been with you. Focus! Here and now, your mind must be.”

    “Yes, Master Yoda.” Luke nodded meekly before closing his ration pack and setting it aside. “It’s good to see you again.”

    “Hmph! Good, is it? Expecting a welcome, were you?” Clearly the green elf was unhappy.

    “I-” Luke’s spirits sank. He’s upset with me. “Not...really.”

    “Why come you back, then?”

    “To keep my promise.”

    “Promise?”

    Luke blinked, taken aback at Yoda’s reaction. He hadn’t exactly been expecting hugs and exclamations of being missed, but this… “I made a promise, Master. Remember? When I left for Bespin-”

    Yoda lifted his head. “Aha! Leave you did! Listen you did not! High was the cost of your folly.” Here he threw a pointed glance at Luke’s wrist.

    Luke hunched his shoulders and looked away. “Yes, it was. You were right, Master. I couldn’t save my friends. There was no need for me to rush off like that.”

    Yoda leaned on his gimer stick and gazed at the young man. “Foolish you were. But wasted were your efforts?”

    Here Luke had to shake his head. “I wanted to save Han and Leia. I couldn’t have imagined what would happen instead.”

    Yoda nodded slowly in agreement. “Mmm. Left you did to save your companions. Yet another, you saved. Accomplish far more, did you, than was expected.”

    Something of a humble smile tugged at the corner of Luke’s mouth. Obi-Wan had said there’d been a shift in the balance of the Force; one all those who had a strong connection to it could feel. “Darth Vader is gone. Anakin Skywalker, my father, has returned.”

    The elfin creature grunted. After a time he pursed his lips, troubled. “Mmm. But not yet over, the fight is. Still reign, the Emperor does. Defeat him, you must!” He gave a decisive nod.

    Luke’s spirits sank to his boots. “I can’t fight him alone.”

    “Hmm….” Yoda gave the young man a long, hard look. He seemed to be reading Luke’s mind and was about to say something, perhaps in scolding. He changed his mind at the last minute and shook his head instead. “Then time to waste, there is not.” Yoda started hobbling away. “Much to learn, you have. Strong you must be in the Force to conquer your enemy. Come!”

    Simultaneously elated and worried, Luke nodded and rose to follow the ancient Master. At last, he could complete his training!

    But...could he do what Yoda was asking?

    * * * * *

    Yoda's pace had decreased considerably in the two kilometers between ship and hut. Every stride was an effort. In the last four steps he began to wheeze and stopped to catch his breath.

    Luke's brow wrinkled in concern as he dropped into a crouch near the doorway. Clearly his master was not well. What's wrong?

    Yoda turned to Luke with amusement. "Concerned, you are, for Yoda? Hmm? If care you did, heed me you would. Shorten my life, your antics do!" He chuckled. A juicy cough attacked at the end of the laugh as he turned to go inside.

    The joking did nothing to ease Luke's concern. He noticed how slow and tired the little imp was as they walked and crawled inside the hut. He heard Yoda pause to catch his breath. But how could he confront his master about his health? The boy watched Yoda with sudden worry. I hope it's nothing serious.

    "Lost your weapon, have you, Young Skywalker?" inquired Yoda as if nothing was amiss.

    "Yes...when I lost my hand," admitted Luke.

    "Then build a new one, you must. Your next lesson, it will be." Yoda caught his fleeting breath and hobbled over to a shelf in the corner. On it was a small clay jar, which Yoda lifted off and set down. Next he shooed a couple of banded moss snakes away from a pile of rags, which he began rifling through. He grunted to himself as more items came to light. Though intent on whatever it was he was looking for, Yoda continued to be plagued with the occasional cough.

    Luke edged nearer. "Can I help you with something?"

    Yoda didn't answer. Instead he began throwing various random objects over his shoulder, muttering the whole time.

    Luke ducked to avoid a rust-covered missile as it sailed over his head. "What are you looking for?"

    "Hmph!" The little Jedi shook out a ragged sack. "Too many questions have you, Young Skywalker. Patience!" The sack joined the growing pile of objects behind Yoda.

    A smile of amusement danced at the corners of Luke's mouth. Well, if he's still joking, he can't be feeling too bad. The smile was short-lived when Yoda had another brief coughing fit. He began to sense fatigue in the old Master...a deep, gnawing fatigue that went beyond simple age. Biting his lip, he finally spoke up. "Master, are you all right?"

    Yoda didn't answer. Rather, he gave a sound of satisfaction and pulled something out of the pile. "Ah! Wondering where you were, I have been." He set a little brown lizard on his shoulder before continuing his search. The lizard didn't stay put for long and soon scurried off.

    Luke didn't like being ignored. He frowned. "Master?" Seeing that Yoda continued to ignore him, Luke finally crawled up to the green gnome and laid a hand on his shoulder. "Master Yoda...I know you're not well."

    Yoda froze in place. The mischievous smile faded from his mouth, replaced by a look of regret. He sighed. "Strong have your senses become, Young Skywalker. Need that, one does not, to see." He turned to Luke sadly. "Blessed, my race is, with long life. Nearly nine hundred years old, am I...but simple age this is not. Sick have I become."

    Luke nodded slowly. "I'm sorry. I have some medical supplies in my ship. Should I go for them?"

    "No, young Skywalker. Do nothing, any mortal being can, to stop advancement of time. Near the end of my life, I am."

    Luke's heart sank below his stomach and settled in his boots. No...not now...I can't lose someone else... "No...Master Yoda, you can't die."

    Yoda's sad green eyes twinkled. "Think so, do you? Strong am I with the Force, but not strong enough to prevent death...nor would I choose to be. A natural part of life, death is."

    Still Luke shook his head. "But I need your help. That's why I've come back."

    "Little left, there is, that can be learned from me." Yoda forced a laugh. "But gone yet, I am not. Do what is possible to prepare you, I will." He shook his head and pressed something small into Luke's hand. "Need these, you will, to build your lightsaber."

    Luke looked down to see a small leather bag. In it were several crystals, each one a different shade of green. He fought down the rising sadness in his heart as he watched Yoda. He knew his master was only mortal and couldn't live forever, but he wasn't ready. It wasn't fair-

    He doesn't want me to dwell on it. I won't, then.
    Luke's hand closed around the bag and he gave a stiff nod. "Thank you. Where do you want me to start?"

    Yoda beckoned to a large, overstuffed crate full of miscellaneous parts. “The heart of the saber, you have, but more there is needed. Come!”

    Without another word Luke crept up beside his Master and began sifting through the pile.

    No more than a handful of minutes later a strange sensation overtook the young man. It grew strong enough that Luke paused in his work to lift his head and look around. Danger, it warned. But the warning wasn’t for him. A glance at Yoda saw the old Jedi frowning, hairless brows beetled. “Master…? What happening?”

    “Use your feelings, Young Skywalker. Reach out,” answered Yoda.

    Luke obeyed and let his eyes drift shut. He felt the Force surround him, extending all around, reaching into the swamp. In seconds a familiar presence was known. “Leia...?” She’s coming! The sense of hope and elation soon faded into concern. Something is wrong. She’s in danger. Luke pushed to his feet too quickly, cracked his head on the low ceiling, then scrambled out of the hut, looking in vain at the murky skies.

    “Patience!” scolded Yoda, hobbling after him. “Hear you nothing that I say?”

    “But Master, she’s in danger,” argued Luke. “We have to help her.” He bit his lip and reached for his sister. Fear and worry radiated off the young woman. Leia, what’s wrong?

    Luke! Leia might have been relieved to hear from him, but the situation at hand held too much of her attention. What is this? I can’t see a thing. Every sensor is dead!

    Luke groaned. While Leia wasn’t a bad pilot in her own right, she had no experience flying in the muck that was Dagobah’s atmosphere. Forget the sensors. Relax. Ease back on the throttle-

    The high-pitched whine of a ship filled his ears, and Luke’s worry doubled. Leia was coming in way too fast. Leia, slow down...slow down, he urged. His heart sank with her ship. Pull up!

    Luke- Leia’s contact was cut off abruptly. Next one could hear crunching, grinding, and the sickening sounds of a large object coming to an abrupt stop.

    Luke’s eyes flew open and he felt as if the ground had been pulled out from under him. No!
    “LEIA!”
     
  2. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    What a worrying situation with Yoda's illness and Leia's arrival, a wonderful surprise, but not the way it occurs, with a crash landing. :eek: =D=
     
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  3. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    And here I am again. Sorry that I could not make it sooner. Too many RL duties and problems to attend to.

    And never do worry for the quality of your stories. You belong to those writers who suck me right into the centre of your stories, because they contain great characterizations, brilliant dialogues and possess a plot that keeps me excited. There are no huge plot holes in which an entire death star can hide.

    Plus you are able to breath new life and ideas into a familiar universe.
     
  4. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Oh this is such a fact. :) :D :*
     
    AzureAngel2 likes this.
  5. Cowgirl Jedi 1701

    Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Dec 21, 2016
    *De-lurks*

    Me likey!

    I think Leia will be okay. She'll probably have a nasty headache when she regains consciousness, but I think she'll be fine.
     
  6. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Another upside is that [face_relieved] Palps doesn't have her. :eek:
     
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  7. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Surprise! ;)
    @AzureAngel2 Aw, thank you so much! Don't worry about when you read, these stories will always be here when you need them. [:D]
    @Cowgirl Jedi 1701 Welcome back! :D


    So, this story may sadly take a bit longer than anticipated. While this is a repost from FanFiction.net, I'm rewriting 90% of it from scratch to change the characterizations around a bit. That's uphill work. But one way or another, as long as you read, I'll write. :cool:

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CHAPTER TWO


    What happened?


    Leia Organa stirred and grimaced, feeling dizzy and very disoriented as consciousness returned. Sounds were garbled in her ears. The ambient temperature was neutral, but the air so thick with moisture she could practically drink it. Heavy odors of stagnant water, mildew and something rotting in the distance filled her nose and made her stomach lurch. Finally, nerves reported too many sensations to process all at once. She lay on something hard with a sad attempt at making it softer; like a pile of rags or blankets over a hard floor. What is this place?

    The one thing Leia didn’t have to wonder about was the fact that she’d been injured. Her body reported bruises across her shoulders and a persistent throb in her head. Training had taught her not to move until she’d assessed her situation. So, groaning a little and putting a hand to her temple, she opened her eyes.

    She lay in a cramped, claustrophobic structure no more than a meter high and perhaps two meters wide. It was round and dim and seemed to be made of mud. Herbs hung from the ceiling almost directly above her head and a merry little fire crackled nearby. The rest of the hut seemed filled to the brim with the most random assortment of pots, baskets, and other rustic storage devices. Twigs, leaves, and every organic material one could think of filled these containers and sat in seemingly random piles throughout the hut.

    Leia’s confusion redoubled. Where in the galaxy am I?

    “Leia?”

    She knew that voice. It brought purpose and memories back all at once, and she nearly sat up. I came here to save him. “Luke-” Her head punished her for that idea with a fresh wave of dizziness that forced her back down.

    “Whoa,” cautioned Luke’s unseen voice. “Don’t sit up so fast. The ceiling’s pretty low in here, and the last thing you need is another bump on the head.”

    “No kidding.” Leia closed her eyes, ruefully rubbing her temples. “Where are we?”

    “Fear you need not, young one.” This voice was raspy and high-pitched and utterly alien. “Safe you are.”

    Leia started and turned her head to see who or what was speaking in her ear. In all her years as a senator, Princess, and diplomat, she had never seen any creature to match this one. Well under a meter in height, with green skin and long, triangular ears, this being was clearly ancient. A multitude of wrinkles covered its narrow face and it stood hunched over, a cane in one hand and a steaming, earthenware cup in the other. It was dressed in a ragged robe of gray and brown, adorned with a belt and what seemed to be a small pan pipe. Its eyes were bright green and held an impossible mix of enough wisdom, sorrow, and mischief to cover several lifetimes…

    ...and they were staring straight at her.

    More than a little unnerved, Leia pulled back. This imp seemed to be looking right into her soul. “Luke…?”

    “It’s all right,” calmed Luke as he appeared behind the short creature. “Master Yoda isn’t going to hurt you.”

    So this is Yoda. Leia nodded slowly as the memory of Luke’s description returned. Of course...we’re on Dagobah. “Oh. Excuse me, s...ah...” Leia wracked her aching brain for the proper honorific. “...master Jedi…?” Carefully she rose to get a better look at him.

    Yoda’s eyes sparkled with amusement. “Long has it been since one has called me that. The one who raised you, it might have been.”

    Yoda knew my father? Leia’s brows lifted in surprise. “Bail Organa? My father?”

    The amusement dissolved and Yoda pressed his lips together. “Hmm...” He hobbled up to Leia, studying her. “His compassion, you have...his resolve...leadership...raise you well, he did.”

    Leia’s eyes stung as she nodded. “I learned more from him than I could have from anyone else. No one could ask for a better father.”

    Again Yoda pursed his lips. He stared with an unreadable expression before pushing the cup at her. “Injured you are. Drink.”

    Leia accepted the cup with grace, but still gave it a suspicious sniff. It smelled heavily of herbs and damp earth. “What is it?”

    “Tea. Help you, it will.”

    Anyone else would have turned up their nose at such a strong odor, but Leia had been taught to keep an open mind. So she didn’t hesitate before taking a sip. No sooner had the green-brown liquid touched her tongue than she recoiled with a grimace. It was utterly dreadful. The closest comparison she had was a fermented fungus served as a delicacy on some forgotten outpost. As in that instance, only years of training kept her from spitting it out.

    Yoda grunted. “Hmph! Brew it for flavor, I did not. Clear your mind, it will...ease your pain. Drink!”

    Only an encouraging nod from Luke made Leia swallow. While the aftertaste was even worse, she had to admit, some of the ache had already subsided. “Thank you.” She forced herself to take another sip and swallow it.

    Yoda nodded, grunted in satisfaction, then hobbled off toward the fireplace. With his gnarled hand, he stirred a pot of something that smelled somewhat better than the tea.

    Leia turned to her brother. “What happened? One minute I was coming in, and the next…?”

    Luke grimaced. “You came in too fast. I told you to slow down.”

    “I was trying, believe me. But the minute I broke atmosphere, every sensor I had went dead and I couldn’t see a thing. The next thing I know, I’m waking up in here.” She threw another glance around the hut and was surprised to see a few electronics lying here and there. “I guess I crashed.”

    “I’ll say,” nodded Luke. “When Master Yoda and I found the Y-wing, it was buried in almost a meter of mud and made a crater the size of the Falcon. It took us a while to get you out of there.”

    “I don’t remember,” admitted Leia. “How long was I out?”

    “A couple hours.” Luke bit his lip. “You had me pretty worried.”

    “Trust me, it wasn’t intentional. What I want to know is what made the sensors cut out….and how in the galaxy you managed to land.”

    “The first time, I wound up in the swamp,” admitted Luke. “I guess there’s some sort of gas in the upper atmosphere that renders any kind of sensor array useless. Even this time around, it wasn’t easy. I had to fly completely by instinct. The Force took over from there.”

    Leia frowned. That figures. “You could have warned me.”

    Luke shrugged helplessly. “I didn’t think you’d change your mind….but at least you made it down in one piece.” He offered a quiet, relieved smile.

    Leia’s free hand went back to her head with a rueful rub. “So to speak.”

    “Master Yoda said nothing is broken. From anything we can tell, it’s just a concussion. You’ll be fine.”

    “How badly is the Y-Wing damaged?” Leia wanted to know.

    “Much as I hate to say it, you’re not getting back in the air.” When Leia’s face fell, he shrugged helplessly. “The cockpit and fuselage are the only things we might be able to salvage. Everything else is...well...let’s just say not even a Jawa would have any use for what’s left.”

    Leia closed her eyes and exhaled slowly, leaning back against the nearest wall. “Great. So I totaled one of the few bombers we have left, and now I’m stuck here.”

    Luke took her shoulder and gave an encouraging squeeze. “It won’t be forever. As soon as we’re finished, I’m sure we can call in a ride for you. I’ll lead them in myself to make sure no one else crashes.”

    Leia’s shoulders fell. “Well, why didn’t you do that in the first place?”

    Luke cringed. “I would have, if I’d known you were coming. I’m sorry.”

    The Princess sighed and once again rubbed her head. “No...you’re right. I’m the one that should be apologizing.” She sipped some more tea, as much to think as to reduce the ache in her head.

    “What changed your mind?” Luke asked after a while.

    “I didn’t,” admitted Leia quietly. She stared into her tea, cheeks burning. Seeing Luke perfectly safe made her dream seem like just that...a dream. “It was foolish. I had a dream that you were in danger...I thought I could help.”

    Yoda grunted from around the corner. “Mmm. A vision, you had, young Leia.”

    Both twins turned to the ancient master, startled. “Vision?” Leia felt her stomach drop. “Are you telling me I saw the future...something that’s going to happen?” Panic rose in her throat.

    Yoda lifted a hairless brow. “Speak so, did I?” He paused to pick up a carved wooden bowl. “Tell me...what saw you, young one?”

    Leia took a deep breath. Normally she wouldn’t confide in a stranger, but something about Yoda made her want to trust him. “I saw Luke. The Emperor had him. They’d been fighting...I think. Luke was wounded, but...defiant. He wouldn’t give in.” When she saw Luke look hopeful, she shut her eyes. “The Emperor was furious. Lightning...power...I don’t know what it was. It just...exploded all around him. Luke held it off for a minute, but...it hurt him.”

    Luke, while stiffening with nerves, scooted near and rested a hand on Leia’s arm. Fear was threatening to overtake her as she relived the terrible nightmare.

    The Princess was trembling now, tears springing unbidden to her eyes. “Then...I don’t know how, but Luke’s leg...it shattered. He fell, and the lightning just kept coming.” Anger rose now, and she clenched her fists. “I wanted to stop it. I tried...but I couldn’t. My brother was dying, and I couldn’t move!

    Luke’s blood chilled. Leia’s strong emotions reeked of the Dark Side, and she couldn’t give in to that. But then her fear and worry was understandable. A nightmare like that was enough to scare the living daylights out of anyone. Leia’s protective nature only made it worse. Wanting to comfort her, he brought his sister into a hug. “So that’s why you came.”

    “I was afraid for you. I wanted to help.”

    “If the Emperor couldn’t find Yoda all these years, he’s not going to find us. Not on Dagobah.” Luke offered an encouraging smile. “It was just a bad dream.”

    Leia shuddered. Luke’s words were something of a comfort, but still that pit in her stomach would not close. Yoda’s unreadable silence didn’t help. Maybe it wasn’t literal, then, like when he was hurt on Endor. Maybe it’s another warning about his leg. She pulled back and craned her neck to look...but Yoda came between them with a steaming bowl of what looked like soup.

    “Strong with the Force, are they. But impulsive, they both are.” These words were muttered, as if he was talking to himself. “Eat.”

    “Ah...” Leia eyed the bowl with a frown. While it smelled better than the tea, food was the last thing on her mind. “No, thank you. There’s rations in the Y-Wing. Besides, I need to get back-”

    “Back? Remain, your fear does, and yet back you must go?” Yoda stared at the young woman unhappily.

    Leia frowned. “Maybe Luke didn’t tell you, Master Jedi, but he already asked me to stay. He knows why I can’t-”

    “Hmph! Can’t? Won’t!” Yoda pounded his walking stick into the floor. “Know of the Force, you do. Used it, you have, and time enough, have you ignored it!” His already raspy voice cracked, and he broke into a coughing fit, setting down the bowl of soup and leaning on his cane. It was long before he lifted his head again. “Time...we have not.”

    Leia’s shoulders fell and she looked from Luke to Yoda, noting their expressions. Sadness and regret hung heavily between them, but their reasons remained hidden.

    Yoda sighed and shook his head. “Much indecision I sense in you...but injured you are. Rest.” He nudged the bowl of soup. “Eat. Need it, you will.” Quietly he began hobbling toward the tiny door. “Come, Skywalker. Build your weapon, you must.”

    Luke, feeling torn, looked from his Master to his sister. When he opened his mouth in protest, Yoda interrupted.

    “No. Hers alone, the choice must be.” He beckoned with his cane. “Come.”

    With a pained sigh, Luke nodded and crept after his master. “We’ll be back,” he promised Leia. “Take it easy.”

    And so Leia was left in the hut, with nothing but the soup and her conflicted thoughts for company.
     
  8. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Wonderful with Leia's musings and reactions. I am glad she unburdened herself about the dream she had, but it doesn't make her decision any easier. [face_thinking]
     
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  9. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you. :)

    I know I'm not updating as often as I was planning, but a case of writer's block coupled with a LOT of stuff going on has not made for a very productive time. No guarantees as to how soon I'll get the next chapter up.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CHAPTER THREE


    His eyes were closed, his palms flat on the floor, his feet far above his head as he lost himself in the Force. It had been years since attempting a handstand. Anyone watching would have called him crazy. Even he wasn’t sure of his reasoning. Maybe this was just another way of reclaiming his identity.

    Whatever it was, Anakin Skywalker couldn’t help but feel a small sense of satisfaction. His medic told him any acrobatics were impossible. But this wasn’t the first time he had exceeded expectations.

    The Council had thought it was impossible for an older boy to become a Jedi...but they were wrong.

    Many had thought it impossible for a Jedi to fall in love...but it happened.

    Everyone in the galaxy thought it impossible for Darth Vader to be anything but a monster...and yet here he was, free of the Dark Side, free of his suit, and establishing a strong relationship with his son.

    Nothing, Anakin now realized, was impossible with the Force. He took another deep breath.

    But still, he was not at peace. Worries about his children hovered near. He worried about Luke, still not recovered from that nasty injury. He worried about Leia, her anger, and her resistance to the Force. He knew she feared it, and blamed himself for that. Of course Leia wouldn’t want to follow in her father’s footsteps. But unless she released them, her fear and anger would only turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy...

    No, Anakin thought, knitting hairless brows. Don’t give in. Let go. Leia is far stronger than you were. She can resist the Dark Side. Luke will help her. He took in another deep breath and imagined himself releasing his fears into the ether.

    So lost was he in the energy field that Anakin easily picked up the approach of one he knew...and smiled.

    Lt. Sal was coming. Imagine the look on his face when he saw....

    Anakin's limbs didn’t agree, and picked the worst possible moment to let him know. No sooner had Sal walked in with his usual tray
    than Anakin’s shoulders gave out and sent him crashing to the floor. At the last minute he rolled out of it and landed hard on his rump. The jolt it send to his tailbone was far sharper than expected.

    Sal blinked, incredulous. “What do you think you’re doing?”

    Anakin rose gingerly, pale cheeks going red. “Bruising my backside, apparently.”

    The young medic groaned and set his tray on the table. “By doing a handstand?” Sal shook his head and dropped next to his patient. “Are you crazy?”

    Anakin winced. “Possibly.” Ruefully he rubbed his aching glutes.

    “If it was anyone else, I’d laugh at them. But you...” Again Sal shook his head. “In case you haven’t noticed, there’s not a whole lot of padding back there. I hope you didn’t break anything.” Something that threatened to be sympathy overtook him. “That hurts, doesn’t it?”

    “I’m sure it’s just a bruise.”

    “I’ll bet. Well, come on. Let’s get some food into you so you can take your meds.” Sal took Anakin by the arm and hauled him up. “You’ll feel better.”

    This is the price I pay for pride… Embarrassed, Anakin moved his pillow to the chair and sat down. He noted his medic was still upset. “While humbled by your concern, Lieutenant, it’s unneeded.”

    Sal took a step back. “What concerns me is you making extra work for us medics.” He crossed his arms. “Is that the new Imperial strategy? Keep hurting yourselves so we’ll run out of bacta?”

    Anakin picked up his fork with a shake of his head. “I wouldn’t know. I’m not an Imperial anymore.”

    “Well...just don’t do that again, all right?” Sal leaned against a wall.

    “Understood.” Anakin’s stomach growled, and he dug in to his portions of boiled cereal and fruit. Eating wasn’t as pleasant as he’d remembered after living on liquid for twenty years, but even getting this far had been a struggle. “I am sorry for causing you concern. You’ve been an excellent medic, with far better bedside manner than I’m used to. Thank you.”



    Sal shrugged and looked away. “Just doing my job.” He wished that was so. In the last several months he’d grown somewhat attached to his patient. It was difficult not to. Despite his past, Anakin was actually pleasant to be around. Sal found himself hoping that, after the war was over, things would go well with Anakin...though it didn’t make any sense. “Well,” he remarked to change the subject, “it looks like you have an appetite today. How’s your stomach handling it?”

    “Far better, thank you.”

    “Good. We might actually get a full dose of meds into you this time.”

    Anakin made a face. Since getting out of his suit, the medical staff had put him on six different medications to compensate. One was an immune system booster, another kept his lungs open, another was to help his joints, yet another helped his digestive system...and so on. Now he knew why the MedPaste had been so vile.

    “Hey,” said Sal, eyeing him. “There’s a reason you’re listed Medically Fragile. I know the meds are pretty bad, but with all you’ve been through, you’re lucky to be alive.”

    “Luck has nothing to do with it,” said Anakin. “But no, I’m not complaining. As long my son is well, everything else is trivial.” He paused, thoughts wandering back to Luke. I hope he doesn’t push himself too hard...

    Sal watched quietly. No one had quite trusted the man when he came in showing so much concern for Luke Skywalker. It was hard to believe Darth Vader had any feelings. But between the attempted prison break and the whirlwind of emotion before and since, any doubts Sal had about Anakin’s honesty were silenced. “Didn’t he pass the fitness test?”

    Slowly Anakin nodded. “Supposedly with flying colors.”

    The medic shrugged. “I wouldn’t worry. He’s on leave right now, anyway, right?”

    Again, Anakin nodded. If only he knew what this ‘leave’ really was. Yoda had never been easy on anyone.

    Sal lifted his brows. “There. You see? He’ll be fine.” He nodded at the plate. “So far, so good. Is that settling all right?”

    Anakin stifled his rising protest. Be patient with him. He’s not a father, nor does he understand the Force. He’s just trying to help. “Yes.” And he turned back to his plate.

    * * * * *

    Yoda had not been honest when he told Luke he was heading back to his hut to tend to Leia. He was tired. He needed rest.

    But lie became truth when Yoda shuffled in to find Leia tossing and turning and calling for her brother. She was having another nightmare.

    Yoda stopped, sighed, and leaned on his cane. He had thought Luke was too much like his father. Now Leia bore even more resemblance. She must learn to face her fears. If she didn’t, they would consume her.

    Leia then woke with a start, gasping and trying to remember where she was. When she saw Yoda watching her intently, she calmed a bit, shuddering and rubbing her eyes. “I don’t suppose Jedi ever had bad dreams.”

    Yoda tilted his head to one side. “Heard, you have, of the Jedi? Hmm?”

    “A little. My father told me stories when I was growing up.”

    “What think you, of them?”

    Leia blinked, somewhat taken aback. “I know they were the protectors of the Republic. I know they were betrayed...slaughtered...all of them, from the oldest to the youngest. And I know the galaxy would be better off if they return.” She watched as the sadness returned to Yoda’s eyes. “I’m sorry.”

    Yoda shook his head. “Deceived, we were. As much at blame, the Order was, for our downfall. Blame I share...”

    Survivor’s guilt. It was all too common. “No...” Leia reached for his crooked hand. “Don’t blame yourself. The Emperor did this. Vader did this. Not you.”

    Yoda shuffled off to one side, then began to pace. “Arrogant, we were. Confident in our strength, when our weakness, it was. Blind...foolish, yes. Paid for our pride, we did...with many lives. But...dwell in the past, we must not. Learn, we must. Change, we must...adapt, and make not the same mistakes.”

    Leia found herself nodding in agreement. Between Yoda’s humility and Luke’s determination, she saw their chances as good. “Those who don’t learn history often repeat it. But I don’t think you will.”

    Yoda stopped midstride to look at her. “Much of your mother, you have, young Leia. Determination…leadership...compassion...intelligence.”

    “You knew her...Padme Amidala?”

    “Mmm. With her, I was, when she passed. Witness your birth, I did.”

    This was news. Leia stared at the wrinkled creature in amazement. Again, without understanding why, she nodded. “I thought something about this place was familiar...”

    Yoda’s eyes twinkled briefly. “Strong, you and your brother were, to sense me as newborns. Strong, the Force still is...with you both.”

    Leia sagged into her makeshift bed. “Master Yoda, I can’t train as a Jedi. My mind is made up.”

    Yoda grunted and shook his head, starting to pace again. “Mph! Strong in the Force, your family is. With it comes impulsiveness...emotion...hard heads!” He acted as if he was going to knock on Leia’s for emphasis, but changed his mind at the last minute. “A leader, you are,” he admitted. “But hide behind it, you do, for one reason...fear!”

    Offended, Leia tried to protest, but Yoda wouldn’t let her speak and poked her arm with his cane.

    “Yes. Much fear, I sense in you, young Leia. Courage, you have! Strength, you have! But fear...” He started pacing yet again, highly agitated. “Fear of loss...of pain...the future...the Force itself.” Yoda saw Leia flinch, and he knew he’d hit his target. “Ahh. Fear the Force, you do. Fear your father, you do....”

    Leia flinched at if she’d been struck. Anger rose. “I'm not afraid of him...and Darth Vader is not my father.”

    “But change nothing, your denial will. Your father Anakin Skywalker remains.”

    “Sharing blood doesn’t make him my father.” Leia shook her head, tears stinging her eyes. “He didn’t raise me. He doesn’t know me. And changing his name won’t erase what he did.”

    “Gone is Vader. Rejected him, your father has.” Yoda pounded his gimer stick again. “Sense, I did, Anakin’s fall to the Dark Side. And sense, I did also, his return to the light. Shifted, the Force has.”

    The honesty in Yoda’s eyes couldn’t be denied. Added to Luke’s testimony, and it would be enough to convince almost anyone. Still Leia shook her head. “You might be able to forget what he did, but-” Guilt assailed her at what she was saying...and who she was saying it to. Yoda would be well within his rights to be angry with her. “Forgive me. But you, of anyone else, must understand why I can’t forgive him, and why I can never trust him.”

    “Neither trust nor forgiveness, am I asking. Only release. Anger...fear...aggression...the Dark Side, are they. Release them, you must...or suffer your father’s fate, you will.”

    Ice water ran in place of blood in Leia’s veins. That which she feared the most was now being thrust in front of her face. Luke had been trying to tell her. Now Yoda had dropped the same warning. She shivered, folding her arms about her. “How?”

    Yoda relaxed. “Learn, you must, of the Force.”

    Leia sagged and let out a groan. She rubbed her temples. “Can’t I just forget about the Force...disconnect from it somehow? There must be a way.”

    Yoda closed his eyes and hung back. “Possible, it is. But...if once you reject the Force, reject also, do you, the aid of your brother.”

    Blood drained from Leia’s face. “I’d never reject helping Luke!”

    Yoda’s gaze was sad. “Difficult, is his task ahead. While yet lives the Emperor, continue, this war will. Strong is he with the Dark Side. Defeat him, I could not. But Luke...the last of the Jedi, is he. If learn, you do not...alone he will be.”

    No! Leia shook her head as the images of her vision returned. She began to tremble. “You can’t send him to fight the Emperor alone. It’s suicide!”

    “Do not underestimate your brother. The most powerful of Jedi, your father once was. Within Luke, that blood flows...within you.

    Leia felt sick. She wanted to protest Yoda's logic, but found she had no argument. “So...you’re saying...without Vader, Luke and I are the only ones who can defeat the Emperor?” It seemed an impossible task. Yoda’s nod sent Leia’s head spinning, and she lowered it into her hands. All she’d ever wanted was for the war to end. Now that the answer was before her, she didn’t like it at all. I can’t do this, she thought desperately. I'm not a Jedi. I never could be. But I have to try, she realized, seeing Luke in her mind’s eye. If I don’t, I’m going to lose him...and the Rebellion. That was unacceptable. She let out a long, shuddering breath before steeling her nerves. “All right. Since Luke needs my help...I’ll do it.”

    Sighing more out of relief than anything else, Yoda gave a single nod. “Come. Training begins.”
     
  10. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Fantastic talk between Yoda and Leia--he's right, she has courage, compassion, intelligence, but also profound fears. But Yoda found the key to shift her resolve--she cannot abandon Luke to fight the Emperor alone. If anyone has a chance at victory, it will take both of them. @};- =D=
     
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  11. Darth_Drachonus

    Darth_Drachonus Jedi Master star 3

    Registered:
    Oct 4, 2005
    I just found this, and I'm disappointed in myself for not finding it sooner! I can't wait to see where this goes! :vader::anakin: :amidala::padme: :luke::leia: :redsaber::bluesaber::ahsoka:
     
  12. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Excellent! Glad to see that despite her fears, Leia is willing now to learn, if only to help Luke. Perhaps in time she'll want to learn for herself.
     
  13. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010


    As always, thank you @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha!



    I can't wait to see where it goes, either! :p Kidding. I know where it goes, but middles are a weakness of mine. I know where I want my characters to end up, but getting them there is often a challenge.



    Welcome back, @JediMaster_Jen !

    To all, sorry this is taking so long. Between a job search and now an upcoming convention, I've been very short on both time and inspiration.
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CHAPTER FOUR

    Peace...knowledge...serenity…harmony...the essence of the Light side of the Force. It surrounded Luke as he sat in something of a trance-like state, eyes half closed, his full attention on the parts before him.

    After a long three days of meditation and assembly, the time had finally come for the young man to complete his weapon. It was quite different from his first in that the grip was made up of alternating, machined rings and the pommel looked something like a handle for a faucet. The emitter was also made up of several rings of varying thicknesses. The power source was in place, the wires connected...all that was needed now was to add and align the primary and focusing crystals. This was such a touchy operation it could only be done with the Force. One millimeter off, and upon activation the weapon would either spark, do nothing at all, or even explode. For this reason Luke isolated himself from both his sister and Yoda. He didn’t want either of them hurt.

    Luke, of course, was thrilled to hear Leia had changed her mind about training. It would have been tempting to cheer her on as much as possible, but he could still see she was not happy about this arrangement. After a call to Han to let him know what was going on, Leia viewed the affair with a kind of reluctant resignation. She was only doing this because she felt she had no choice. As such Luke tried to show nothing but patience. Yoda was pushing her enough.

    Not that the ancient master was demanding too much of the woman...at least as far as Luke was concerned. The exercises were extremely simple and involved actively touching the Force. Once Leia let go of her doubts, it was easy.

    That was the problem. Despite Yoda’s insistence and Luke’s gentle encouragement, Leia still harbored doubts about her own strength and abilities. It was odd. Up until that point the former princess had all be exuded confidence. As far as the Force was concerned, it seemed the opposite.

    But she could do it. Luke had complete faith in his sister.

    A gentle nudge from the Force told Luke that the crystals were aligned. It felt right. He locked them in place with a soft click. After a visual inspection, he slid the access panel shut and secured the final screw. He reached out his thumb to activate...then paused. If this doesn’t work, you’re going to lose your hand again...and have to start all over. It wasn’t a pleasant thought. Stop it. Self doubt only hurts you in the long run. Just turn it on. Luke took in one final, calming breath. Then he slid his finger over the power button.

    Bzhmmmm! With the characteristic whoosh and hum, a blade of energy burst forth. Luke flinched a little, then opened his eyes to see of blade of clear green. The sense of accomplishment was so strong he couldn’t help but smile. He lifted the saber high, tested the balance, and went through a few simple drills before he was satisfied. His new lightsaber worked perfectly. Luke’s smile widened and he switched the saber off, sighing briefly in relief. I did it. After running his fingers over the hilt, he hung it on his belt, then headed back to camp to check in on Leia and Yoda. When the sounds of a training remote and pained yelps reached his ears, Luke grimaced and broke into a jog. I hope he’s not being too hard on her. That concussion still isn’t healed.

    As if to mock him for his concern for his sister, within six strides his still-splinted left leg sent a jolt of electricity from ankle to knee. Half a second later Luke went down hard on his stomach, barely managing to catch himself with his arms. “Oof!” After he caught his breath, he looked down and tried flexing his foot. No good. The numbness had returned.

    Groaning at the bad timing, Luke rose and rolled over, kneading his calf with his knuckles to try and restore feeling. It tingled as if ‘asleep’.

    “Luke?” Leia was already hurrying up to him, a disgruntled Yoda hobbling along behind. “Have you been running again? You know what Too-One-Be-”

    “It’s fine,” insisted Luke, brushing himself off. “Don’t worry about me,” he added, trying to keep his sister from being too concerned. He looked Leia over and noted how tired she was. Her single waist-length braid was messy, her flightsuit unzipped, arms knotted at the waist, her normally white tank top smeared brown with earth. “You all right?”

    Leia shrugged and ran an arm across her sweaty face. “Fine.”

    Luke frowned at the vague answer, and reached out with the Force to see if she was in any pain. She was. Her head was still bothering her. “Why don’t you rest a minute? Looks like you could use it.”

    Leia responded by plopping onto the ground to catch her breath. When she caught Yoda’s disapproving look, she grimaced. “I’m not quitting...just taking a break.”

    Yoda pursed his wrinkled lips but said nothing to her. Instead he turned to Luke. “Ah. Young Skywalker. Finished your weapon, you have?”

    “Yes I have, Master Yoda.” Luke unclipped his new weapon and handed it over to Yoda.

    The ancient master gave only the most rudimentary inspection before handing it back. “Tested it, have you?”

    Luke answered by holding the hilt high and activating the blade. He couldn’t keep from smiling as he saw Leia’s lifted brows and Yoda’s approving nod.

    “Mmm. Good. Practice, you must. Recall, do you, the drills?”

    “I think so.”

    “When ready, go through them you shall.” And he turned back to Leia. “And you. Complete your training, will you? Or keep stopping to check on your brother?”

    Luke paused to look over his shoulder as Leia frowned. Her compassion had always been her greatest strength, but now it was turning into a hindrance. He’s right. She can’t keep stopping in the middle to check on me. He bit his lip before offering an encouraging smile. “It’s all right. Go ahead.”

    Leia blew out a short breath. She was still unhappy but too tired to protest. “No, Master Yoda. It won’t happen again.”

    Yoda eyed the former Princess, as if he didn’t quite believe her. “Hmm.” After a time he tapped his cane into the ground. “Continue, we will. Go, Young Skywalker.”

    Luke turned to walk to his training station with a short nod. Still he couldn’t help but throw one final thought to his sister. He won’t work us forever. Just a while longer, then both of us can rest.

    Leia didn’t even look at him.

    * * * * *

    “Control, control, you must learn control!” berated Yoda yet again.

    “I know,” grumbled Leia, frowning. “I’m trying.”

    “Do, or do not! There is no try!”

    Leia closed her eyes and groaned, shoulders going limp. That doesn’t make any sense. “I’m new at this, remember?”

    Yoda punched his cane into the ground. “New? Hmph! It matters not! The power, you have within, to succeed. Use it, you must! Learn!”

    Leia’s frown deepened. “Well, how can I learn if I don’t try?”

    Yoda grunted loudly and began to pace before her, shaking his head. “Clouded, your mind is, with doubts. Release them, you must, if to continue, you are.”

    Leia turned away to stare at the small rock that sat between them….the object that she’d been trying to lift with her mind. What does he expect? She wondered. Up until a few days ago I couldn’t even touch the Force at will, let alone anything else. Logic deemed most of the feats of the Jedi impossible...or at least improbable. Of course she had doubts.

    But Luke needs me, the familial bond argued. I have to learn so I can help him. Besides...if Luke can do this, I should be able to.

    Reminded of her purpose, Leia took a deep breath and straightened her spine. “I understand.”

    Yoda stopped pacing, eyed her for a moment, and then seemed to sag on his heels. “No...enough, have you done. Nothing more will I teach you today.”

    Leia should have been relieved. Jedi training, especially with a concussion, was exhausting. Instead she was nonplussed. “I thought you said-”

    “No,” Yoda broke in, his voice firm. “Long this day has been. No more, can you learn today.”

    Is he giving up on me? Yoda’s weary tone seemed to say as much. Leia knit her brows. “But Master...I can do it. Just give me a chance. I’m sure I can-”

    “NO,” insisted Yoda. He stopped pacing to look at her. “Conflicted, your thoughts are. Peace, you need. Calm...rest. Yes...rest….rest.” With a slow nod, he began shuffling away.

    Leia’s shoulders fell as she watched. Pity conflicted with the need to prove herself. He’s the one that needs rest, not me...but after all that, he wouldn’t even give me one more chance? It had been the same every day. Yoda would push her, urge her, drive her on until both of them were ready to drop...and then, just when Leia felt close to grasping one of his lessons, the day ended and she was left even more discouraged than before.

    There was nothing else to do but find Luke. He seemed to be excelling...but Leia told herself that was because he had experience. At this point he’d been actively using the Force for over four years. Anyone else would have been jealous at his natural talent- and Leia was...just a little -but for the most part the former Princess sought him out for encouragement. Luke always knew what to say to make her feel better.

    Then, of course, there was his leg to worry about...

    Luke wasn’t hard to track down. For ease of navigation the twins more or less stayed near the shore of the nearest scummy pond. The bugs were worse there, but worse still was the prospect of getting lost in the tangle of foliage that surrounded them.

    Predictably, Artoo was waiting at his usual spot next to Luke’s fighter. He tootled and rolled up to Leia in greeting.

    “Hello to you, too.” Leia tried smiling for the little droid. While not as skilled in binary as Luke was, one could usually get the gist of what he was trying to say. When Artoo warbled a question, she bit her lip before shrugging. “I guess lessons are finished for today. Have you seen Luke lately?”

    Artoo gave the droid equivalent of a shrug, then pointed his dome in an Easterly direction.

    “That way? Thanks.” Leia rested her hand on Artoo’s dome for a minute as she walked by. Soon the musical hum of Luke’s new lightsaber tickled her ears, and if she concentrated, she could sense his presence. Rounding a corner into another small clearing, she saw him.

    Luke’s eyes were shut and his arms whirled like windmills. Three training remotes hovered near, firing at random intervals. Every bolt was blocked and hissed into the damp foliage. The smell of ozone hung thick in the air. His back was to his sister and he was completely drenched in sweat from crown to waist.

    Suddenly Luke paused, panting. “Leia.” He lowered his saber and turned around with a tired smile. “Hey. How’s it going?”

    Leia fought down the tinge of jealousy at her brother’s skills and shrugged. “Yoda gave up and called it a day. I guess I’m a lost cause.” She smiled...a little.

    Luke sighed heavily. “No, you’re not. Don’t think like that.” The saber was clipped back to his belt. “You just need some time.” He came up beside her.

    Leia knit her brows. “I wish we could convince Master Yoda.”

    Luke grimaced. “Another rough day?”

    “What else is there?” Leia laughed bitterly. Slowly the twins turned back for their makeshift camp. “I know Master Yoda is just trying to cram as much as he can into my head in the little time we have, but...” She sighed and hung her head. “I don’t know. For all the Jedi talk about patience, he doesn’t seem to have much with me. I’m still trying to understand what the Force even is, let alone how to use it. And by the time I am ready to do what he’s asking, he’s ready to call it a day.” She kicked at a loose stick in frustration.

    “Maybe you’re pushing too hard,” said Luke, resting a hand on his sister’s shoulder. “If you’d relax a little more, you could get it.”

    “Well, with what Yoda’s expecting us to do, I don’t know how I can,” frowned Leia. “It’s...it’s too much.”

    “Try not to think about that. Keep your mind in the moment,” suggested Luke.

    “Easier said than done.” The persistent ache in Leia’s head became a throb, and she bit back a wince. Maybe I do need to rest. She rubbed her hairline. “Besides...Master Yoda doesn’t believe in the word ‘try’.”

    Luke cracked a smile. “He used that line on you too, huh?” It faded when he noticed just how tired Leia was. Her eyes were drooping and her gait was a little unsteady. “How’s your head?”

    Leia shrugged. “I’ll be better after I get some sleep. How about your leg?”

    Luke didn’t even look down. “Fine. But I think Yoda’s right...that’s enough for today.”

    Leia nodded reluctantly. Her brother was right. Neither of them was in much condition to keep pushing. But still, lingering in the back of her mind, the doubts persisted. I’m not learning fast enough. How can I learn everything I need to help Luke defeat the Emperor in only two weeks? It’s impossible. “Ugh. What I wouldn’t give for a shower.”

    This made Luke chuckle. “Sorry. I couldn't fit one of those into the cargo hold. But there are some sani-wipes that should help. You're welcome to them."

    The briefest of smiles finally tugged at a corner of Leia's mouth. "Thanks. I think I'll take you up on that."
     
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  14. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Yay for Luke's success with the building of the lightsaber. Very worrisome that Leia's concussion is hanging on and Luke's leg problem is seeming to be chronic. [face_worried] Added to that Leia's sense of urgency -- no wonder it feels like a race against time.
     
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  15. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    YIPE! More than a month since an update! [face_nail_biting]

    Just a quick update to let everyone know I'm still around, and I'm not giving up on this story. [:D] It's just taking forever to finish.
     
  16. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    OK, finally a new chapter...

    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thanks for sticking around and being patient! [:D]
    Well, with very little healing technology to speak of, I can imagine a concussion bad enough to knock someone out for a while is going to take some time to heal up. As for Luke...the droid mentioned nerve damage...:(


    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    CHAPTER FIVE


    “Nerfherder.”

    “That’s me.” Han’s signature lopsided smile was short-lived as he spoke to the woman he loved. She’d only been gone for a week, but to him it seemed half a lifetime. He didn’t like being away from her. Matter of fact, he hated it. Sleep had been sporadic at best, and Han had found himself pausing in his work to think about her. And not just once...five or six or sixteen times a day, his thoughts would wander to Leia...and he would worry.

    There was no need, of course. Leia was more than capable of taking care of herself, and besides, Luke was there. Heavens help anyone who tried to mess with those two.

    But then he’d heard about her concussion. Daily reports of what this Force training stuff involved didn’t help, either. After Leia’s miscarriage he’d gotten protective. The idea of his love being hurt made this awful ache sink into him...one that would not leave until she was better.

    Han chewed his lip as they prepared to sign off….too soon. It was always too soon. He’d just as soon have half his teeth pulled than stop talking to Leia. “I love you.” Impulsively he reached out and cupped the hand-high hologram in his palm. It was as close as he could get to holding her.

    “I know.” Leia smiled briefly back. “I love you, too.” A pause. She looked over her shoulder at something, and the smile faded. "I’ve got to go, now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

    “Yeah.” He sighed, not even trying to hide his unhappiness. And how long would it be until he saw her again, not just her image? Gathering his courage, he took a deep breath. “Leia...I-” But the hologram had already cut off. Leia had said goodbye and then gone back to whatever kind of training she was in the middle of. “Dammit!” Han kicked the console and turned away, arms crossed. She always does that!

    Anger faded quickly. Gods, but he loved that woman...loved her more than anyone or anything in the galaxy. Why she even wanted to put up with a nerfherder like him, he couldn’t imagine.

    Not that their relationship was perfect. Both Han and Leia had some very strong opinions and they weren’t afraid to make them known. Sometimes this had led to some loud arguments. But Han had learned some time ago that saying two simple words would clear the air better than anything; “I’m sorry.” She was usually right anyway. Whether Han understood what was going on or not, all he had to do was take a deep breath, swallow his pride, and say this, and Leia would forgive him. This was only one of many reasons Han loved her so much.

    Leia was everything he was not; open-minded, level-headed, far-sighted, diplomatic, a natural leader, and more patient than he could ever be. She put up with him, for goodness’ sake! On top of this, she was incredibly beautiful. Where else in the galaxy could he find a woman so perfect? Han had decided long ago that it was impossible. He had also decided there was no one else he’d rather spend his life with.

    A marriage proposal in the middle of a war was even crazier than the odds of a princess and a guy like him making a couple. He had nothing to offer but himself. But Han had made up his mind on Endor...one way or another, he was going to ask Leia to marry him.

    This was not a question to be asked via comm, of course. Han was already planning how and where he would pop the question; find time when they could be alone, cook her favorite food as a surprise (he didn’t have many skills other than flying, but fortunately cooking was one of them), then make his case. The only trouble was after four years he still didn’t know what Leia’s favorite dish was. Nobody else seemed to know, either. How could he give her such a surprise without knowing what she liked to eat?

    Chewbacca’s inquiring purr at the doorway startled Han and he jumped about a foot in the air. “Whoa! Hey, what’cha doin’, sneakin’ up on me like that?”

    Chewie gave a defensive yowl and gestured with his furry arms. It was something to the effect of, the idea that a Wookiee could sneak up on anyone was ludicrous. Between fur and padded feet, the massive creatures could be quiet when they wanted to, but their weight alone made floor panels rattle. The fault, he insisted, lay with Han, who was far too distracted with thoughts of Leia.

    Han pursed his lips and let his shoulders fall. Chewie was right, of course. That didn’t mean he was going to give his copilot all the satisfaction. “Yeah, I’m thinkin’ about Leia. So? You gotta problem with that?”

    Chewie’s tone softened again and he shook his head. Of course he didn’t have problems with Han thinking about Leia. He saw how close the two of them were. What he couldn’t understand was Han’s reluctance about making a commitment. So he told Han.

    Han frowned and fiddled with a broken switch on the console. “Frankly, pal...I want to. I mean, I really want to...more’n I wanted anything in my life. I just...can’t. Not yet.”

    The Wookiee all but rolled his eyes in exasperation as asked what could possibly be holding him back. The two of them were compatible mates, after all. And they loved each other. What else was needed in the human world to propose a lifelong partnering?

    “I dunno. Guess I’m kinda hung on up how. I mean, I know what I wanna do, but...” Han shrugged. “Ah, it’s complicated.”

    Chewbacca eyed his friend for a minute, headset in paw. A soft but firm series of growls informed Han that things were only complicated because he was making them so.

    Han glared. “Yeah? An’ whadda you know ‘bout human relationships?”

    Chewie shrugged, but went on to say that Han needn’t have been nervous. The love between him and Leia was obvious. And whenever Han got up his courage- the sooner the better, as far as Chewbacca was concerned -he had full faith that someone as sensible as Leia would agree to the match.

    Han smiled despite himself. Chewie had an interesting way of putting things, but he was usually right. The vote of confidence was actually somewhat touching. He turned to his hairy friend and squeezed his shoulder. “Thanks, pal.”

    Chewie grinned and playfully rumpled Han’s hair before turning back to the controls. He had to remember that Han was still young and thickheaded. But with time he was sure the man would come around.

    * * * * *

    Another meal, another round of meds. While Anakin was well used to the routine, the warm food brought him no comfort, nor did the medications ease the persistent ache in his heart.

    As he had for the past eight days, Anakin went though the motions of eating like the machine so many had called him. Any enthusiasm he might have felt at the improved taste of his food was now a thing of the past. His appetite was all but gone. Once again the tray was pushed back half empty.

    Sal frowned. “Are you sure you’re not hungry? You ate even less at breakfast,” he pointed out.

    Anakin nodded quietly. “Yes. I’m sure.”

    The young medic crossed his arms. “Nuh-uh. Not again. You’ve been eating less and less for the past week, and I’m not buying your excuse of not being hungry. C’mon.” He pushed the tray back toward his patient. When Anakin wordlessly shook his head, Sal let out a groan. “Skywalker, we’ve been through this before. I know you’re worried- can’t figure out why -but you’re not doing yourself or anyone else any favors by eating barely enough to keep a ranat alive.”

    Anakin shrugged. Despite what Sal seemed to think, he knew his unease was more than just parental worry. Leia’s anger could lead her down a dark path unless she dealt with it. Luke’s insistence on pushing through his pain was sure to lead to further injury. Even Yoda was running short on time.

    But there was more to it. These feelings, Anakin was convinced, were a warning from the Force itself.

    Try telling that to Sal. Anakin threw a sad, slightly frustrated look to the young medic. He had already tried explaining something of the Force to Sal, but the youngster was too firmly rooted in his science and what it could explain. The Force simply didn’t fall under that category.

    “Come on,” Sal urged with a nod toward the plate. “I’ll make a deal with you. Two more bites and I leave you alone. How’s that?”

    Poor boy. He’s only trying to help. Anakin forced something of a smile and picked up his fork. He barely tasted the boiled grain as he chewed and swallowed two mouthfuls.

    Sal wasn’t happy, but at least he kept to his word. “That’s better. All right. Time for your meds.”

    The former Sith Lord took the meds without question or complaint. Fear that had plagued him for so much of his life as a child and young adult had returned to claw at his heart like the monster it could become...the same monster he had rejected all those months ago on Sheol.

    “Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate...leads to suffering.” The words of Yoda, spoken to a frightened little boy, returned as an unpleasant echo in Anakin’s ears. He was right. Life trapped behind the visage of Darth Vader had been nothing but suffering. His actions had caused untold suffering for the rest of the galaxy. Anger was now rejected at all costs.

    But Anakin was still afraid.

    Once Yoda was gone, there would be no one left to teach the Skywalker children...except him. While Luke probably wasn’t going to have any problems with that, Leia definitely would. That might be reason enough for her to reject the Force outright and withdraw from it completely.

    And there was something else. He had already failed once as a teacher. What if he failed again...not just a Padawan, but his own children?

    No, Anakin told himself firmly. Never. That’s not going to happen again.
     
  17. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    SQUEEEEEEEEEE! Your voice for Han is too delightfully in character as is Chewie's encouragement. Anakin's misgivings are very understandable. [face_thinking] =D=
     
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  18. AzureAngel2

    AzureAngel2 Force Ghost star 6

    Registered:
    Jun 14, 2005
    Great updates. I just read through all of them.

    Master Yoda and Leia are brilliant together. There are faint echoes of his relationship with Padmé, but there is so much Anakin in the young princess as well. Wonderful, simply wonderful.

    Also like the relationship dynamics between Sal & Anakin. There is potential for a friendship.
     
  19. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Loved the chat between Han and Chewie. Wise 'ole Wookie, he is. :) Great work!
     
  20. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    Thank you, @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha! Han isn't an easy character for me to write since I don't 'know' him as well as, say, Luke...but he is a lot of fun.



    Thank you! Yes, Leia does have a lot of both her parents. :)


    Again, thank you! And yes, Chewie *is* a pretty smart cookie...I mean, Wookiee. :p


    I could give my usual excuses about writer's block or a lack of time...but the reality behind this delay is I just got engaged and my head has been filled with wedding plans. Thus, the need to finish this up is multiplied, before my mind is permanently elsewhere! ;):cool:

    Anyway...next chapter!
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    CHAPTER SIX

    Tension dominated the atmosphere on Dagobah as a young woman once more attempted the impossible. Master and Apprentice watched with taut expressions while a single training remote dodged in circles around its tired quarry. She stood in a ready stance, feet well apart, breathing hard, with sweat glistening on her face and bare arms. Her eyes were blindfold, her brows knit, her lips twisted into a grimace.

    If Leia’s thoughts were on anything but the training remote, she wasn’t showing it. All she showed was frustration that grew with every missed bolt...frustration that was quickly morphing into anger.

    Luke bit his lower lip, wishing he could speak words of encouragement to his sister. She certainly needed them. But Yoda had ordered him to be silent. Leia had made progress, but had been relying too much on him these last few days.

    Leia tilted her head to listen for the hissing jets of the remote as it whizzed by her left air and brought the training blade- little more than a soggy wooden pole -around to block. When she narrowly missed the next bolt and was stung in the shoulder, her wince turned into a growl.

    Luke cringed. The last twelve days had not been easy. While much progress had been made in connecting with the Force, and some in telekinesis, swordplay was still a major challenge. Leia had always been in excellent shape and was a crack shot with a blaster, but coordination and physicality weren’t the problem. She had yet to learn how to stop relying on sight, sound, and hearing, and give herself up to the Force.

    This had been her most grueling session yet. She’d been at it for several hours, and while her skills were slowly improving, it wasn’t fast enough. The anger she’d been fighting for nearly two weeks was going to claim victory unless she released it. Easy, Leia, he thought urgently. Relax.

    Leia was too wrapped up in the task at hand to listen. But she did take a deep breath. Then she froze and lifted her head, shoulders going slack as a look of understanding slowly overtook her. The next bolt was blocked with hardly a flinch, as were the next two.

    Luke sensed an impending breakthrough. That’s it. Come on...you can do this.

    Leia’s breathing slowed, and she blocked three more bolts. When four more were blocked in quick succession, she broke into a smile. Maybe this wasn’t so impossible after all. Five more came, and she dodged all of them with ease. When there was a long pause, she assumed the session was finally over and let her limbs go slack, reaching for the blindfold.

    The remote, however, was not finished. It moved in again, zipping around from behind. The next bolt caught her square in the back. She cried out and pitched forward, landing on her knees.

    Luke winced in sympathy. She let her guard down too soon. The remote doesn’t stop until Yoda tells it to.

    Leia groaned loudly and leaped back to her feet, swinging blindly.

    Yoda shook his head. “Hmph...too reliant you are on ears! Use the Force, you must!”

    Leia’s brows knit beneath the blindfold. “I am,” she growled impatiently, and swung for the remote again. It was well out of the way and shot two more bolts, both at her thighs. Again, the Princess let out a loud groan and swung for the annoying device. Again, she missed.

    Luke tensed and threw a look of caution to Yoda. Leia was exhausted...well past the point of needing a break. To push her any farther was to invite an outburst.

    Yoda didn’t seem to notice and simply looked on, lips pursed with disapproval.

    Leia’s confidence rose somewhat when three more bolts were blocked, but then the remote increased its’ speed and flew in a widening circle, throwing bolts right and left. Leia didn’t even block half of them, and kept swinging in the wrong direction when it stopped right in front of her. Then, zap! A bolt caught her square in the knuckles.

    Leia cried out and recoiled, then let out a snarl. She had been pushed too hard for too long, and she was fed up with the whole exercise. Lifting the blindfold, she spotted the remote and gave it a hard smack. The silver device sparked and flew into the underbrush with a crash. Leia reared back as if to toss the 'saber' after it...but something stopped her. Instead she closed her eyes, let out a shudder, and dropped it like a hot rock.

    Luke’s shoulders fell in disappointment. While he couldn’t blame Leia for her frustration, the chill of her anger was still there...anger that Jedi had no need of. He didn’t even need to look at Yoda to know how his master felt about that show of temper.

    Leia seemed to realize this. Her hands went to her knees while she caught her breath, cheeks burning. Great. I blew it. Without a word she turned back to Yoda to wait for her scolding.

    The scolding never came. Yoda’s features had gone slack. His green eyes seemed to glaze over in either pain or fatigue...or both.

    Luke was already approaching the aged Jedi. “Master?” Concern flooded his face. “Master Yoda?”

    Leia’s stomach twisted, though she wasn’t sure why. Apparently Luke could sense what was happening. For her, it wasn't so clear.

    “No more...can I teach you,” rasped Yoda. He gathered his cane beneath him and began a painfully slow shuffle back toward his hut. “Rest, I need...yes...rest...”

    Luke hurried beside the green elf. “Let me help you. Is there anything I can do?”

    Yoda gave a ghost of his amused smile. He seemed ready to say something, but another cough racked his chest. He was able to take two more steps before it stopped him. The ancient master coughed and hacked, doubling over and leaning heavily on his cane. After a time he seemed to have lost the ability to catch his breath.

    Luke dropped to a crouch and tried supporting the ailing elf, but pulled back when he was shaken off. Worry rose. “Master? Master?”

    “Yoda? Master Yoda, what’s wrong?” called Leia, dropping to the other side. She watched with alarm as Yoda’s color went from green to gray. “Luke, run back to camp. Get an oxygen mask.”

    Luke nodded and bolted for the X-wing.

    Yoda, with great effort, turned to Leia and shook his head. “Help me...you...cannot...”

    Gently Leia supported Yoda’s shoulders. “Shh. Just breathe.”

    Yoda’s next words were hidden by another series of wracking coughs. His breathing became a thin wheeze. Then his eyes closed and he crumpled to the ground.

    “Master Yoda!” Leia’s heart crumpled with him. Unfamiliar as she was with Yoda’s species, she wasn’t sure what to do other than feel for a pulse. It was very weak. “Luke, hurry!” She rolled Yoda over as carefully as she could. He felt so thin and fragile, and his body temperature was alarmingly low.

    Luke was close to tears when he stumbled up to his sister with the oxygen mask and watched as she pressed it to Yoda’s mouth and nose, trying in vain to get a good seal. “Master...please...not yet...”

    Something about Luke’s tone told Leia he knew exactly what was happening. She turned to him. “Wait...what do you mean?” Luke hung his head. “You know...? Luke, what are you not telling me? Don’t hold back now. As long as there’s a chance we could help-”

    “You don’t understand.” Luke voice broke. “He’s dying.”

    Leia’s initial instinct was to reject this as fatalism...but one look at Yoda was enough to confirm it. All his behavior over the last twelve days- lack of appetite, constant pain, increasing fatigue and weakness, confusion, labored breathing -pointed to one whose days were coming to an end. First guilt at not seeing it sooner, and then anger overtook the woman. “Why didn’t you tell me?” she hissed to Luke. “He should have been resting, not...not...” A lump rose in her throat and she shook her head. I’ve been such a trial to him. Why couldn’t I have been a better student? Why couldn’t I just let him rest?

    Luke’s touch on her arm was gentle. “He told me not to. I promised. He didn’t want your worry about him to...to interfere with your training.”

    Leia wanted to glare, but could only nod. He’s right. I wouldn’t have trained at all if I’d known… Despite the mask, Yoda’s breathing had eased little. “He shouldn’t be out here. Let’s get him inside...at least try to make him comfortable.”

    Luke nodded. “I’ll take him.” And carefully, shrugging off his light jacket to use as a blanket, Luke took his old Master into his arms. Together the saddened twins turned to go.

    * * * * *

    It took some effort to crawl into the hut while carrying Yoda, but they managed. Artoo had since picked up their trail and was now rolling back and forth across the entrance, stopping every so often to let out a sad hoot.

    No sooner had they put Yoda in bed and pulled the blanket over him than his eyes opened. They were still glazed and disoriented.

    Luke was there, anxiously bending over him with damp eyes. "Master?"

    Yoda cracked a weak smile. "Heavy...am I? Hmm?" His voice was weak and quiet and somewhat muffled through the oxygen mask.

    Luke had to return the smile, even if it was halfhearted. Bless the creature, maintaining his sense of humor to the very end. He didn't bother asking how Yoda knew who had carried him inside.

    Leia couldn’t smile at all and sat nearby, anxious to keep busy. "Is there anything we can do? Something we can get you?"

    Yoda eyed her and waved the mask away so he could speak. "No. Listen, you must." He met each of their eyes in turn. "Twilight is upon me. Soon, night must fall."

    Leia's heart ached. "No," she said softly. I’m not ready...neither of us are. A glance at Luke revealed the same fear for the confrontation yet to come.

    Yoda turned to her with raised brows. "Think you had become attached to me, I did not." He took a deep, raspy breath. "Good, it was, to see you again, young Leia." He smiled.

    Leia managed a wobbly smile in return. Her eyes stung. Not only was the galaxy was losing its greatest Jedi, but she was losing a mentor...a friend, even. She hadn’t thought it possible to feel such closeness to someone in only twelve days, but- "Master...I-I need to apologize. I haven't been a very patient student...and I'm sorry." She hung her head.

    Yoda gave her a look somewhere between kindness and wistfulness. "Strong, you are, with the Force. Use these talents wisely, you must. Much aid, will your brother be."

    Luke's ears burned. All he could do was shrug.

    "Mm...Wisdom, humility, and selflessness you have, young Luke," said Yoda. "Strength, also. Use well, these...guard close your feelings, for used against you, they can be."

    Luke nodded. "I will, Master. But...I’m not ready." He glanced at Leia. “Neither of us are. We can’t go on alone.”

    Yoda shook his head. Every blink was a little slower. "No more training do you require. Already, know you, that which you need...but ready, your sister is not, to face evil. Look to you, she will, to complete her training."

    Luke flinched and turned to look at Leia, who was rather startled herself. Slowly he shook his head. "But...Master, I can’t train Leia. I’m not even fully trained myself."

    "Done well enough, you have...and no one else, there is, to do this," Yoda pointed out.

    Wordlessly Luke nodded. This wasn’t strictly true...there was their father...but Leia would never agree to that, and nor would Anakin. Tag. You're it. He couldn't let his sister flounder along by herself. He knew from experience that was a difficult way to learn.

    "Leia," rasped Yoda, turning to her. "Doubt not the strength within you. But beware...anger... fear...aggression...the Dark Side are they. If once you start down the dark path, forever will it dominate your destiny." His voice grew weaker by the moment. "Continue your training."

    Yoda's words of warning chilled Leia to her core. Her instinct was to run away...to avoid the risks and forget her lineage. But deep down, she knew that could never happen. She glanced at her brother, knowing she loved him even as deeply as she hated Vader. Yet both were a part of her. She nodded. "I will. I promise."

    Yoda's breathing grew ever more shallow and labored. He looked directly at Leia through drooping eyes. "Cling not...to past anger...let go, you must...let...go…"

    I can't. Leia's eyes continued to sting as she watched her master slipping away. "Master Yoda, I…please...don’t go….”

    Yoda was too weak to smile as his limbs went limp. "Mourn not...at peace...I am...peace… yes..." his green eyes drifted shut. "Rest...rest..." His chin dipped to his chest, and a slow release of air signaled his last breath.

    It was as though a hole had been formed in the very fabric of life on Dagobah. A terrible emptiness was all that remained where his warm presence had been.

    Leia's eyes welled. She touched Yoda's shoulder. "No...Master, please..." Then she gasped in surprise. Beneath her very hand, Yoda had vanished, fading away like an interrupted transmission. His blanket sagged into the void where his body had been. Leia couldn't process the scene. "What? Where...where did he go?" She murmured, turning to Luke.

    Luke managed a sad, quiet smile through his own tears and took in a shuddering breath. "He's one with the Force."

    Leia stared at the empty bed. "I knew him such a short time, and yet..." She blinked, sending two tears down her cheeks.

    Impulsively Luke wrapped an arm around his sister. "I know." He had known Ben for just a few days, but almost couldn't bear the loss. Yoda, he had known little more than a month, but his passing was no worse. In a way it was easier, as it was expected and had been from old age. But losing any master was difficult. He knew exactly how Leia felt as he turned to her. "But you're not alone. You'll never be alone."

    Leia sniffled and nodded. She waited until the tears had passed before giving one last glance to where Yoda had faded away. "What are we going to do now?" she whispered. Fear of the future and the task ahead rose, and she fought it back.

    Luke held his sister close, willing away the chill that still lingered in her heart. He knew she was afraid. He was, too, but he couldn’t afford to show it. The burden was on him, now. The young Jedi took several deep, cleansing breaths before answering. “We’ll figure something out. In the meantime...I think we should get back to the Alliance.”

    The Alliance...the cause...Han. Leia pulled back, sniffed, and wiped her eyes with a nod. Yes, she needed to get back to what she knew and understood.

    If only she could leave this whole Force mess behind…
     
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  21. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Great details on the training exercise. Leia seems to master it, not relying too much on tangible sensory input, but then of course the task then becomes more unpredictable and fast-paced, which leads to her becoming more tired and frustrated. [face_thinking]

    Touching exchange at the end, with neither Luke or Leia feeling ready to face the threat and the challenge.

    =D=
     
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  22. JediMaster_Jen

    JediMaster_Jen Jedi Grand Master star 4

    Registered:
    Jun 3, 2002
    Tough times ahead I think for these Jedi twins. Very nice look at how much Leia had come to care for Yoda. =D=
     
  23. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha and @JediMaster_Jen Thanks for sticking around.

    The next two chapters are finished, so it shouldn't be long between posts for a while. Writer's block sucks. That is all.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
    CHAPTER SEVEN

    "Deep breaths...let the Force flow..."

    Leia frowned behind her ever-present blindfold. The only thing that flowed in her at the moment was frustration. She’d been at this exercise for quite some time, and never seemed to make any progress. It was a classic case of “one step forward, two steps back”, and Leia was fed up. When the remote dropped low to fire at her knee, she took a bad swing and missed. Then she growled.

    Luke cringed. “You have to relax,” he said, trying not to show his own mounting frustration. Even in the month since Yoda’s passing, his sisters’ relationship with the Force was still one of hesitation and unease. She didn’t trust it. Therein lay her biggest problem...

    Leia took another ineffective swing at the remote and yelped when it shot her in the shoulder. “How can I relax when something I can’t find keeps hurting me?”

    “You can, but only if you let go and trust the Force,” insisted Luke.

    “Then- ow! Will you turn that thing off long enough so I can relax?”

    “It doesn’t work that way.”

    “I can’t concentrate when I know that thing is stalking me!”

    The young Jedi let out a long, heavy sigh and shook his head. Maybe it was time to take a different approach. “Hold on a minute...let’s try something else.” He came up behind her and took the saber hilt in his hands. When Leia flinched, he pulled back. “Easy. It’s just me.”

    Leia frowned, looking ineffectively over her shoulder. “What are you doing?”

    Luke pursed his lips. "I just want to show you something.” He paused, sensing Leia’s indignity. She hated asking for or needing help. “Even if you don’t trust the Force, can you trust me?”

    The idea gave Leia pause, and she had to nod. Of course she trusted her brother. So she stood still while Luke placed his hands over hers.

    “All right. Relax. Nothing’s going to hurt you while I’m here.”

    Leia froze for a moment, frowning. I don’t need you to protect me...but she did feel safer with Luke there. So she listened. Slow, deep breaths filled her lungs. With each one a little more of her tension began to drain.

    “Good,” murmured Luke. “Now...reach out...” At the same moment he imagined the Force flowing from his hands to hers, like a spiritual blood transfusion. “Do you feel the Force?”

    Leia nodded. “Yes...it’s so strong, now...I don’t think I’ve ever felt it this much before and not been afraid.”

    Luke would have smiled if he didn’t have to maintain such concentration. “Good, Leia. Don’t be afraid. It’s there to help you.” He took another deep breath. “Just stay where you are for a minute. Don’t move...don’t think...and don’t worry.” When a minute had passed, Luke allowed the training remote to move in again. He kept his hands on Leia’s wrists, but let her move the saber. She blocked five bolts in a row, and her surprise was evident.

    “Was that you?” she asked after a pause.

    “I didn’t move the saber at all. That was you. You’re connected to the Force.” Luke smiled and took his own deep breath. “Now, I’m going to let go, but it’s all right. I’m staying right here.”

    Leia bit her lip, still hesitant. “I don’t think that’s such a good idea.”

    “Don’t worry. You’re protecting me now.”

    Word of this new responsibility made Leia freeze, straighten, and narrow her eyes, shifting her focus to the remote. I’m not going to let it hurt him. Her connection to the Force wavered somewhat with her worry, but then returned stronger than before. She took another deep breath, sensing where the remote was. When it made another attack, she moved with determination and confidence, her arms guided by the energy field. Behind her, she felt Luke ducking and dodging in perfect time with her. Not a single bolt reached ether of them.

    Just as Leia’s confidence had grown and Luke felt safe to withdraw his mental assistance, the commlink buzzed.

    Even that was enough of a distraction. Leia faltered, turned too fast, and brought the saber around too far. Luke’s yelp made her heart drop, and in a single motion she deactivated the saber. The remote made its retreat, and Leia ripped off her blindfold so she could check on her brother. “Luke!”

    Luke waved her off even as he held his shoulder. “It’s all right. It was an accident.”

    Leia tossed the hilt onto Luke’s cot, distressed that she’d hurt her brother. “Where did I get you? Let me see...” Gently she lifted Luke’s palm to assess the damage. Upon seeing the finger-sized burn, she winced in sympathy. “Oh, Luke...I’m so sorry!”

    Luke sighed. “Don’t be. I’m- ow! -I’m the one who didn’t move fast enough...and I probably shouldn’t have been standing so close.”

    “No, it’s my fault. I shouldn’t have been distracted.” She threw a dirty look to the insistent comm and looked around for first aid. There didn’t seem to be anything around that would help. And the commlink continued to beep.

    “Leia, it’s just a scratch. I can take care of it. Now get the comm,” insisted Luke. His tone was a bit more forceful than he intended, but he was annoyed...at himself for making the error, at Leia for being too protective, and most of all at his shoulder, which hurt much more than he wanted to let on.

    Reluctantly Leia answered the comm and found that the Rebel Council had called an emergency meeting. They were finally coming to a decision regarding the upcoming attack on Coruscant. Duty called. She gnawed her lip and glanced at the door. “I need to go. Are you sure you’re all right?”

    "I’ll take care of it. You go on. We can pick this up later." Luke forced a patient smile. "May the Force be with you."

    Leia backed away, throwing one last rueful glance at Luke’s arm, and frowned as she headed down the hall. It hasn't been so far.

    Since her return from Dagobah, Leia didn't have more than two minutes to call her own, unless one counted sleep. Constantly was she trying to balance her duties to the Rebellion and her Jedi training. It wasn't working very well. In the evenings she all but collapsed into bed, exhausted...and then she couldn't sleep. Leia had been functioning on caf and adrenaline for months, and everyone knew it. Luke was the only one who knew the reason behind her insomnia.

    It was Anakin. Her anger concerning that whole mess still burned deep within. Though Leia's hatred of the man himself had faded somewhat- at least he'd been a helpful prisoner - she was still furious at the situation...and at herself. Why this wave of uncertainty since Yoda's confirmation that Anakin wasn't Vader? Sure, he had accomplished a few good things since his arrival at the Alliance...saved a few lives, even...but that didn't erase what he'd done in the Empire. The man had committed hundreds of unspeakable crimes, and he had to pay for them. End of story.

    The trouble was Luke. She felt he worried too much about her feelings. He meant well of course, but couldn't he see that a man with Vader's history could never be trusted? Wasn't there some form of anger that was justifiable?

    “Oof!”

    Leia jumped back, and had her shoulders drop yet again upon seeing who she’d plowed into. "Oh! Han, I’m sorry."

    Han lifted an eyebrow, his mouth quirking to the side in a slight smile. "S’okay. Ya didn't hurt me.”

    “That’s the last thing I need,” muttered Leia. "I've hurt enough people already."

    Han was confused. "Whaddya mean?"

    “I nicked Luke with his lightsaber while we were training today.”

    Alarm rose. “Whoa, he okay?”

    “Yes. It’s nothing serious, and he’s not angry. But I still feel horrible about it. And it never would have happened if I’d been paying attention.”

    Han cringed, but knew nothing else to do but reach out in comfort. He took her shoulder and gave it a squeeze. “Don’t go beatin’ yourself up. Luke doesn’t blame ya, neither should you. Where ya going in such a hurry, anyway? Conference center?"

    "Mm. You got that message, too?" Sometimes it was still difficult to believe Han was a General in the Alliance.

    Han stepped aside. "Yup. ‘Want an escort?" He offered her his arm.

    Leia found a smile rising on her face as she took his arm. "Well...yes. Thank you." They continued down the corridor.

    "So...guess training’s not goin, so good, huh?" asked Han.

    “That’s the understatement of the week," Leia grimaced.

    "Nuff said." Han cringed. "Y'know, I never thought Luke would be that hard a teacher."

    “He’s not, he’s just...” Leia sighed and shook her head. “I don’t know. Sometimes it seems like he’s been at this so long, he forgot what it was like to be just starting out.”

    “So...what, ya think he’s pushin’ too hard?”

    “No. But it’s like he expects me to understand what he’s talking about when I don’t. It doesn’t help that he’s a natural and I’m not. We just have different learning styles, that’s all.”

    Han listened, nodding slowly. “Gotcha. How hard is all that Force stuff, anyway?"

    Leia paused and tried to think of how to relay her problems in a way Han would understand. "Like...trying to fly through an asteroid field...but blindfolded. You’re relying on someone else to guide you through on the radio, but...they speak a different language. In order to make it through in one piece, first you have to learn the language, then follow their directions so you don’t crash...and goodness forbid the radio goes out."

    Han made a face and sucked air in through his teeth. To him, that sounded like a nightmare. “Yeesh. Yeah...that’s crazy, all right.” He looked at her in concern. “Sure you gotta do this?”

    Leia gave a firm nod. “I don’t have any choice.”

    Han’s shoulders fell in disappointment. He knew that tone. Best to stay out of her way. Silence came over the pair as they entered the turbolift. When the doors shut, he moistened his lips. That question he’d been meaning to ask for months kept digging at him, and he finally had the resources to take a chance. "Leia?"

    She turned to him. "Yes?"

    "Y'know, it's been a while since we've had dinner together," he began.

    "I know. I'm sorry. There's just so much going on right now."

    "Don't need to 'pologize. I was just wondering if you'd be free tonight."

    Leia paused and bit her lip. An impossibly long list of tasks scrolled before her. She wanted to say yes...badly...but didn't know if she could. "Oh, Han...I’d like to…"

    Han slouched. He knew that tone. “...but…?”

    Leia smiled sadly. "I'm so sorry. I really wish I could, but...I just can’t. Not tonight. I’m too far behind."

    Much as he wanted to start in about how they weren’t making any time for each other- what Leia herself had said was a priority in a relationship -Han decided against it and hung his head as the turbolift reached its destination. "Yeah. ‘Kay. I get it.”

    Leia’s shoulders fell. Now he’s making me feel guilty...but he’s right. I’ve been neglecting him lately, and he doesn’t deserve that. “Han...Wait.” Sighing, she reached out and took his cheek in her hand to make him look at her. “Would tomorrow be all right?”

    As if in slow-motion, hope rose on Han’s face. It was interrupted by his instinctive skepticism. “Ya sure? What about-”

    “If anything comes up, I’ll cancel.” The two of them stopped and Leia turned to face him. “It’s been too long since we spent any meaningful time together, and it’s high time we change that.” And with that, she stood on tiptoe to kiss him. “Agreed?”

    That famous, roguish, lopsided grin that Han was famous for spread across his face as he nodded in reply. “You said it, sweetheart.” He pulled her into another kiss that was far too brief...because they had arrived at the conference room. The man made a face, which Leia returned with a shrug and a look of apology.
     
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  24. WarmNyota_SweetAyesha

    WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Game Host Who Loves Fanfics & RPGs star 7 VIP - Game Host

    Registered:
    Aug 31, 2004
    Superb characterizations of Leia's struggles and trying to handle literally a billion things and competing priorities :eek: =D= Han is a darling and trying to be patient, so I'm glad she's going to make time for that "important question" with dinner. SQUEE!
     
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  25. Ridley Solo

    Ridley Solo Jedi Master star 4

    Registered:
    Aug 27, 2010
    @WarmNyota_SweetAyesha Thank you, as always! They are a fairly adorable couple. [face_love]
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~


    CHAPTER EIGHT

    She was standing in a junk shop on Tatooine. The heat, the surrounding colors, and of course the utter proliferation of scrap material made it obvious. Bits and pieces of droids, starship parts, and several tons of unidentifiable flotsam coated in layers of rust, oil, and flaking paint were packed almost to the ceiling. The place smelled of lubricants and old metal...much like the Falcon, only with more dust.

    She didn't know why she was there, or exactly where she was. What Leia did know that she was not alone. A tall man with graying hair that fell past his shoulders, an astromech droid that looked suspiciously like Artoo-Detoo, and a lanky Gungan followed a Toydarian- equal parts pudge and scruff -outside to a yard even more cluttered than the interior.

    On the counter sat a small boy, perhaps eight or nine, wearing dirty clothing and cleaning a random part. He possessed a round face, bright blue eyes, and blond hair in a bowl haircut. The child stared intently at a young lady in a homespun dress.

    "Are you an angel?" He asked.

    "What?" laughed the girl.

    "An angel. I hear the deep space pilots talk about them. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe. They live the moons of...Iego, I think."

    Leia watched the meeting with both interest and confusion. Through the following conversation she learned that the little boy was a slave...named Anakin...and the young lady bore a striking resemblance to holos Leia had seen of her mother, Padmé.

    Leia froze. That sweet, cute little boy was Anakin? What went wrong? And most importantly, why was she seeing this?

    The scene around them melted, and suddenly Leia was transported to a different planet. Between the rolling, grassy meadows, spectacular waterfalls, and distant city, it had to be Naboo. Padme and another young man, perhaps eighteen, spoke and laughed during a picnic. It was Anakin again, but ten years older. Anyone could see the young couple was falling in love.

    Different scenes of them raced by. In all of them, Anakin was shy, awkward, and somewhat roguish, but absolutely enamored of Padme. He seemed to worship the ground she walked on. Finally, after fighting together in the Battle of Geonosis, they married in secret.


    More images came and went. By the end of it, Anakin was older...war had matured him into a quiet and serious man; talented and dedicated, but growing distant from the Jedi as a whole. He saw only flaws that stood in the way of progress. Now Anakin and Padmé were reunited after a long absence...and Padmé broke the news that she was pregnant.

    Anakin continued to change. Frightening flashes of anger came out here and there. The darkness was growing...Anakin was afraid of losing Padmé...so afraid he was willing to do anything to save her.


    The scenes passed too quickly to keep track of now. Flashes of pain, hurt, anger, betrayal...

    Leia wanted to look away. She wanted to wake up. More than anything she wanted to know how and why she was seeing these things.

    At last she saw Anakin after he had been knighted Darth Vader. He stood alone in a room full of bodies, each bearing the slash of a lightsaber.

    What shocked Leia next wasn’t the carnage...it was the fact that, after he had murdered so many, Anakin went off by himself and wept. Even then, he had a conscience.

    The scene soon changed to one of Padmé, weak and hopeless after she’d delivered twins. Leia saw herself as an infant, cradled by a medical droid while Obi-Wan held Luke. Yoda and Bail Organa looked on from the sidelines. Padme’s last words were in a bare whisper.

    "There's still good in him. I know there's...still…"

    Leia's heart shattered. Why, she wanted to scream. Why, even after all this, are you still defending him? Don’t you know what he’s done?

    Mother, why did you leave us alone?

    These words of heartbreak and accusation were never spoken. Leia woke from her dream with a start...and immediately began to weep.

    Beside her, Han shifted and snorted. “Leia?” He rolled over and soon realized she was crying. “Sweetheart? Hey...” He rubbed her arm. “Whassa matter?”

    Leia just shook her head, knowing that once again, Han could never understand. “Another dream,” she said after wiping her eyes.

    Han grimaced. “Bad, huh?”

    Leia nodded. “One of the worst.”

    Han let out a long, pained sigh. These nightmares had been going on for far too long… “Sweetheart...I know you don’t wanna hear this, but...maybe you should talk to a medic or somethin’...y’know...somebody you could talk to, or...I dunno’.”

    Leia frowned. “You think I’m losing my mind?”

    “No, no, not that. I’m just sayin’ you been havin’ these things for months now. Ya oughta be able to sleep in peace.” Gently Han stroked her cheek. “I just don’t want ya hurtin’.”

    Leia laid her hand over Han’s. “To be honest, I’m not sure what good it would do...but starting tomorrow, I’ll start looking for some kind of solution to this.”

    Han nodded. “Good. Anything I can do?”

    Leia scooted close to him. “Hold me?”

    Han didn’t have to be asked twice. In seconds he had wrapped his arms around Leia and held her close. He didn’t relax until he felt her tension ease. “Better?”

    “Mm.” Leia burrowed into him, soaking up his warm, comforting presence.

    “Get some sleep, sweetheart.” And he kissed her brow before finding the pillow and letting his eyes close again.

    But questions still reigned in Leia’s head. What had she seen? Why had she seen it? How had those images gotten into her head? They seemed biased in Anakin’s favor, but surely Luke wouldn’t stoop to such levels.

    That left only one alternative...Vader.

    Leia glared into the darkness. The man had forced his way into her mind before. It wouldn’t be that hard to do it again, especially while she slept. Well, this stunt certainly wasn’t earning him any sympathy.

    Equally angry at both the man calling himself her father and her inexperience at defending her own mind, Leia closed her eyes and reached- reluctantly -for the Force. When a touch of caution and concern gave a nudge, she slammed the proverbial door.

    Leave me alone.

    It was hours before she could get back to sleep.

    * * * * *

    Anakin paced restlessly in his cell, still rubbing his aching eyes long after the images from his past had faded.

    The nightmares were back.

    As the scenes played out before him in a horrible parade of regrets and mistakes, he had wanted more than anything to step back into the past...to warn his younger self to turn away from the path of Darkness. But he couldn’t. He could only stand and watch as everything unfolded.

    When he saw his wife die still expressing faith that he could be saved, his heart broke anew, and he woke wanting to sob. His ruined eyes couldn’t respond with more than two tears. So, he rose and began to pace, shivering in his thin jumpsuit. After a moment he picked up his blanket and wrapped it around his shoulders like a cape.

    What fresh torture was this? Why now, of all times, were his nightmares returning? And why were they made up of memories?

    All were, except for the images of Padme's death. Anakin had never truly known her fate. So, where had this version come from? Was it true, or just a product of his cruel subconscious?

    Without knowing what else to do, Anakin sat back on his cot and reached for the Force. It told him that Luke had woken from a sound sleep and felt worry. Concerned, Anakin reached for his daughter...and felt his heart ache anew.

    She, too, had just had a horrible dream. While she had found comfort with Solo- here Anakin withdrew some -she was still upset...and angry.

    The former Jedi frowned. So, that was where this pervading chill was coming from. That was why Luke had awakened. Wanting to warn his daughter without letting her know who it was, he reached for her mind again with a sense of caution, concern, and apology.

    Leia responded immediately by shrinking back, another wave of anger following. The message was clear.

    I’m just making it worse. Dejected, Anakin withdrew and lay back on his cot.

    Sleep was very reluctant to return.
     
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