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Old October 8 2009, 05:24 PM   #1
CaptainSarine
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Location: Lyon, France
SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi all,

I have a Star Wars alternate universe fic I have been working on for a while, an alternate episode 4 positing that Anakin didn't turn to the Emperor at the end of episode 3.

I'm not sure if there are any rules on posting something non-Star Trek here... So I'll post the Prologue and see if anyone tells me I shouldn't...

Star Wars
Episode Four
A Glimmer of Hope

Prologue - The Will of the Force

Within the public office of the Supreme Chancellor of the Galactic Republic, a dark angel fought blade-to-blade against a white shadow.

And Anakin Skywalker could only watch.

Soul wracked by indecision, he followed each whirl of blade and each flare of light as the two men fought for the soul of the Republic, for the safety of a billion billion beings, for the destiny of a single, frightened galaxy.

And Anakin Skywalker could only watch.

Watch as Mace Windu fought, seemingly effortlessly against the Sith Lord Sidious. Watch as Windu seemed to take notice of him for the first time. Watch as the dark-skinned Master disengaged and leapt for the window, slashing the transparisteel away. Watch as with a flick of his blade, Mace Windu, Jedi Master, sliced the Sith Lord Sidious’ lightsaber in half.

Silence fell as both pieces spun from the shadow’s grasp, flipping over and over as they tumbled down through the rain towards the distant streets far below. The shadow fell back and seemed to materialise into the old and shrunken form of Palpatine. My friend. Palpatine looked at Anakin and his eyes were full of pain, exhaustion and fear.

Anakin, my boy. Help me.

Along with the words came a push from the Force, stoking Anakin’s own fear and anger. Do it, the Force seemed to say. Help him. It is your destiny.

“For all your power,” Mace was saying, “you are no Jedi. All you are, my lord, is under arrest.”

“Do you see Anakin?” Help me. “Do you? Didn’t I warn you of the Jedi and their treason?”

“Save your twisted words, my lord. There are no politicians here. The Sith will never regain control of the Republic. It’s over. You’ve lost.” Anakin watched Mace level his blade. “You lost for the same reason the Sith always lose : defeated by your own fear.”

Palpatine lifted his head and Anakin took a step back when he saw the hatred blazing in those eyes.

“Fool.”

He lifted his arms, the sleeves of his robes falling back and revealing hands hooked into talons.

“Fool!”

Lightning blasted from Palpatine’s fingertips. Mace barely had time to angle his violet blade to catch the forks that clawed towards him. The blade refected the lightning away, back towards its source. Palpatine staggered and Anakin felt the Force push him again. No. No, he can’t die. I need him. Padme…

“Anakin!” Mace’s voice. “Anakin, help me! This is your chance.”

The Force seemed to have seized control of Anakin’s body. He felt himself move without controlling it, stepping over to stand closer to Mace and the Chancellor. In his head, the Force whispered. This is your chance. Your chance. Bring balance. Use your anger and your fear. Save her. Save yourself. Save them all. This is your chance.

“Destroy this traitor,” Palpatine howled. “This was never an arrest. It’s an assassination.”

Now Anakin was at Mace’s shoulder. The will of the Force continued to echo in his mind, pushing him towards his personal shatterpoint, towards his meeting with his destiny. You are our Chosen One. This is your path. This is your chance. Kill him. Save him.

Other voices, breaking through the will of the Force. “He is a traitor, Anakin. Destroy him.” “You’re the chosen one, Anakin. Take him. It’s your destiny.”

“Destiny,” Anakin whispered and the Force howled the word in his mind, again and again.

“Help me!” Palpatine begged. “I can’t hold on any longer!” The lightning began to lick at his skin, turning it into liquid that flowed across muscle and bone, softening and bending, bulging and deforming, creating pockets and wrinkles and scarred tissue that bubbled and boiled. The stench of charred flesh began to fill the room.

“He is killing me Anakin. Please, Ana- Arghhh!” Palpatine threw back his head, screaming in agony.

No! Padme! Again, the Force pushed. He had never known it to speak to him so clearly. Kill the Jedi. Save the Chancellor. Fulfill your destiny. It all seemed so clear.

Anakin moved his hand towards his lightsabre. So clear. They were alone. He had done it once before. He had killed Dooku. He could kill Mace. Kill Mace and save Palpatine. Save Palpatine and save his love. Padme. Her face appeared before him, swam before his mind’s eye. She smiled and he felt her love for him.

Then he saw Obi-Wan’s face beside hers. Then his mother’s. And Qui-Gon’s. They all smiled at them and he bathed in their love.

“Anakin, he’s too strong for me-“

Palpatine’s roar turned into a moan of despair. He fell back, the lightning evaporating into the night and the rain and an old man crumpled in a ball.

“I… can’t. I give up. I… I am too weak, in the end. Too old, and too weak. Don’t kill me, Master Jedi. Please. I surrender.”

Mace lifted his blade. “You Sith disease…”

“Wait!” Anakin grasped the Jedi Master’s arm. His mind was whirling, the Force pushing at him. But with every pulse from the will of the Force, he heard Padme telling him she loved him. Obi-Wan asking him to mind his feelings. Qui-Gon telling him not to be afraid. His mother… His mother telling him she forgave him. “Don’t,” Anakin whispered. “You can’t just kill him.”

“Yes I can,” Mace said. The Force howled. No!

“”You came to arrest him. He has to stand trial – “ Don’t let him die. Fulfill your destiny. No Anakin, mind your feelings. Do not give in. Do not give in to the dark. Do it Anakin. It is the only way. You can bring balance. Mind your feelings. Kill him. Save him. Kill the Jedi. Kill the Sith. Save them.

“He controls the Senate.”

“No!” Do it. Stop it. Stop him. Save him. Kill him. Take him. Stop him. Give in. Stand up. Do nothing. Do everything. Padme. Obi-Wan. Anakin. Anakin. Anakin…

“Anakin, please,” Palpatine begged.

Mired in indecision, his mind whirling with the voices in his head, Anakin could only watch. Watch as Mace lifted his lightsabre. Watch as the blade swung down towards the fallen Chancellor. Watch as Palpatine lifted his head and snarled.

As the blade fell, it was as if it severed Anakin’s link to the Force. The binding field that had surrounded and supported Anakin, without him even realising it was there, was suddenly gone. Anakin gasped. In pain. In fear. He felt lost.

Palpatine screamed with hatred and anger. The blade never reached him. Lightning speared from his hands, catching the blade and crackling over the hilt. With a flash of heat and light, the sabre exploded. Blood spattered Anakin’s face, but he barely felt it next to the loss of the Force.

“Fool! You damnable fool. You could have been the most powerful Sith in history. Now, you will die.”

The last thing Anakin saw was Palpatine’s hate filled eyes turned on him before the white sparkle of lightning caught him up and flung him into the darkness.
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Old October 8 2009, 05:36 PM   #2
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Wow. Helluva cliff-hanger!. More, please.
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Old October 8 2009, 05:40 PM   #3
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

This could be interesting--I wonder where it'll go?
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Old October 8 2009, 05:48 PM   #4
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Thanks Gibraltar, I'll take that to mean I can post it! So as requested, here is the next chapter.

Chapter I

Space as far as the eye could see. Space potted with millions upon millions of pinpoints of light. Each one represented distant stars, around which spun planets and other celestial bodies. As intricate as clockwork, the galactic opera expanded ever outwards. Drama unfolded in the vast reaches of the void, as planets collided, stars spun out of control into the abyss, and black holes swallowed the dancing rays of passing comets. Intelligence could be perceived behind the organised chaos of the universe, unseen laws regulating the unseen powers. Behind it all slumbered a violent, unseen storm of cosmic rays and racing space dust. It filled the vast sea of dark, invisible as the force that bound it all together.

The star field itself extended to the edges of forever. An awe-inspiring eternity of energy consumed and expanded, and of power taken and lost. The man who gazed at such a view would be caught up in the simplicity of it, an unbroken pool of ordered night that barely contained an endless chaos of intensity.

Sometimes, though, the chaos boiled over.

The small YT-1300 freighter erupted into the star field with the shrieking howl of a banshee. The ship resembled a strange space monster. The hull was a simple saucer shape and was broken by two mandibles up front. Jutting out of the side was a cylindrical cockpit, mounted with strips of metal and a few juddering nails. It throbbed with power, its hyper drive glowing with a burning white light that changed to blue every so often. The light brown hue of the hull glowed dully in the light of the binary stars it was fast approaching. Battered and bruised, it shuddered and rolled in flight, as if its separate parts were just waiting to fly apart. Yet somehow it held together. Even under the battering flashes of laser fire that lit up its surface every so often.

The origin of those flashes was soon apparent. Three smaller ships followed it out of hyperspace in a careful formation. As they snapped back into normal space, they separated into a three-pronged attack. Each vessel had a central ball-shaped cockpit, embraced by two dagger-like jagged wings, hinting both at the speed the ships could claim and the purpose for which they had been built. Four powerful laser cannons were mounted on the tips of the dagger wings, spewing red death at the escaping freighter.

General Obi-Wan Kenobi put his hand out as he struggled down the corridor. Steam from a burst pipe filled the passageway, making it hard to see. Every few moments the Falcon shuddered, either through the captain’s manoeuvres... or more frequently when those manoeuvres failed. Kenobi reached out through the Force. He could sense three ships out there, all circling round for another pass. They had a reprieve, for now, but it would not last. He pushed off from the wall and began to walk faster. He needed to reach the bridge.

The Falcon shrieked around him. The old girl was not made for such punishment. Calrissian didn’t seem to care though. This was his ship and he claimed to know just how far he could push her. Hearing the screaming joints and hissing pipes, Kenobi wasn’t so sure. Nevertheless, he had learned long ago that it was best never to argue with a Corellian. Especially where his ship was concerned.

He arrived at the central stairwell. His old bones berated him harshly for what he was putting them through – he sighed. There was only so much he could do with the Force. He just wished he was still as well preserved as Master Yoda. The old Jedi was still teaching arrogant padawans lessons with his light sabre. Obi-wan half smiled, half groaned, remembering the lessons he had been given himself. And the old frog was still going.

Climbing the rungs two by two, Kenobi arrived on the bridge level. More pipes had burst and the temperature in the ship was rising rapidly. A laser bolt hit the top of the ship; Kenobi flung himself out of the way just in time, the Force warning him of the falling debris moments before his eyes did. More smoke billowed into the room. Kenobi picked himself up, brushing dust off of his brown robes. He squinted up at the damage – it looked like one of the secondary coolant pipes had blown. If they didn’t get out of this soon...

Another explosion reminded him of his goal. He took to his feet again, rounding the corner and bursting into the bridge. The star field whirled through the cockpit view ports as Calrissian spun his ship through a tight sequence of corkscrews. Kenobi felt his stomach lurch at the sight – he hated flying.

The captain himself seemed to be quietly enjoying the ride. Commander Lando Calrissian was a handsome man, rugged and yet debonair, his hair and moustache carefully trimmed. His face was scrunched up in concentration now as he put his ship through hell.

“Glad you could join us, General,” Calrissian said without turning. “We could use a hand.”

“What can I do?”

“Lo could use some help in the gunning turrets.”

Kenobi didn’t even acknowledge the man. He simply turned and rounded the corner again, this time headed for the secondary stairwell. It was a bit further, giving Kenobi time to think. The Tie Interceptors had followed them through hyperspace somehow. He had heard of the Empire’s new fighters, equipped with hyperspace engines, but it would be the first time he had faced them. He was slightly more interested in how they had found them. He hadn’t given much credence to the talk of this Omega Source that everyone was prattling on about. Now he wasn’t so sure. After all, this mission was hardly common knowledge...

Things were definitely dangerous out here in the Unclaimed Territories. Neither the Empire nor the Alliance had claimed these planets. It was a free for all, but the Empire had the distinct edge in terms of influence. Any Alliance mission out into these areas ran the same risks they were now facing.

Kenobi reached the stairwell and swung downwards, allowing himself to drop freely, but slowing his fall just before he hit the bottom. He smiled. It was good to see that he could still use the old tricks.

As he sat down in the gun chair and brought the system on line, he heard a wild shriek from above him. He looked up at Lo Tep, Calrissian’s Gungan co-pilot and gunner. The Gungan was wearing his traditional red trousers and shirt, with his purple scarf tied around his forehead. He fancied himself quite the pirate. Damn fool, Kenobi thought.

“Meesa gonna get more of em than you, bass,” Bubba shrieked in his high pitched voice.

Kenobi ignored him. He placed the headset over his forehead and closed his eyes. Taking a moment, he cleared his mind, allowing the Force to wash through him. He felt its calming presence within his mind, connecting him to the entire galaxy. Once he was calm and centred, he opened his eyes again and reached out towards the enemy fighters around them.

He found one almost immediately. He twisted the gun around to his left, spinning it up in the same motion. The Tie Interceptor that has just turned for another pass came straight at him. He waited until the lock beeped twice and fired a burst from the quad-laser straight at the enemy vessel. He caught it straight on, the bolts of pure energy ripping through the wings, collapsing them around the cockpit. The whole thing exploded in a ball of fire.

He allowed himself a small smile before turning his attention to the next.

“They’re coming around for another pass.” Calrissian’s voice crackled over the headset.

The fighter was on the other side of the ship. The other one had vanished, keeping at a safe distance. Kenobi reached out with the Force. This pilot was slightly more experienced than the last. He juggled his fighter around, easily avoiding Lo’s attempts at catching it in a crossfire. Kenobi patiently kept his finger on the trigger. He knew that the right moment would come. Through the Force, he could sense what the pilot would do moments before he did it, but he was still too far on the other side of the Falcon for him to attempt to snap off a shot.

Calrissian kept the ship spinning, avoiding the Tie Interceptor’s angry fire. The fighter jinked this way and that, but Kenobi could plot his course easily. His movements were bringing him around in a circle, one that would eventually bring it into range of Kenobi’s guns. He closed his eyes, allowing his senses to guide him. He ignored the instruments, trusting in the Force to direct his hands. In his mind’s eye, he could see the Tie Interceptor. He could easily sense the pilot inside. He snapped his ship out of the way of a laser bolt and curved into a corkscrew... That brought him straight into Kenobi’s view.

The Force whispered in his ear and he pulled down on the trigger. He opened his eyes in time to see one of his shots catch the Interceptor’s port wing. The wing crumpled and the fighter began to spin out control. Kenobi was about to turn his attention to the next when the wings exploded outwards, leaving the ball cockpit spinning through space. Sublight engines fired behind it, turning the spherical fighter towards the planet.

“What the…? Since when does the Empire put bucketheads in special escape pods?” Calrissian exclaimed.

“I don’t know. But I doubt that was a simple pilot in there,” Kenobi said.

“Shall I go after it?”

Kenobi followed the escape pod’s trajectory. It would probably land in Mos Eisley or some such. Though it wasn’t what they were here for, he would be very much interested to know who was in that escape pod. He needed them alive, though.

“No, I don’t think so. We’ll try and trace him when we land.”

“Yeah, sure, it’s not like there’s a lot of people on Tatooine…”

Kenobi ignored the sarcasm and concentrated on the last fighter. This one was farther away. The pilot was keeping a safe distance as he dropped the occasional shot the Falcon’s way. Kenobi reached out further, trying to find the pilot and perhaps try a little Jedi mind trick on him...

Someone grabbed him through the Force. Sadness and despair, hope and love washed over him like a sandstorm, accompanied by pictures and snippets of an entire life. He saw a child, crying as he was carried onto a star ship. He watched a young man screaming as bolts of lightning lanced his body. He perceived a hospital bed, with an angelic face hovering over him. He caught glimpses of angry faces, heard shouts and felt the dull pain of separation. Finally he saw a thousand worlds, the ever-spinning star field of hyperspace, and a binary star system around which spun a planet that echoed with a single world – Home.

He shook as he came out of the vision. He opened eyes he hadn’t realised he had closed. Yet even as he tried to get over it and shake off the feelings that swirled through his mind, he couldn’t stop a smile. He had recognised the thoughts, the pain and the emotions. Only one man had such strong feelings. More importantly, only one man had the power in the Force to reach across the gulf of space to him.

Anakin was here.

His happiness was short lived. As the vision faded, he heard frantic shouts from his headset.

“Kenobi? Kenobi, are you alright?”

He took a deep breath, calming himself. “I’m here Commander. What is it?”

“Kenobi, you need to get up here, and quick. We have trouble.”

“What is it?”

“Turn towards the planet.”

Kenobi spun his chair round. His mouth went dry. Advancing rapidly upon them from the other side of the desert planet of Tatooine was the unmistakable wedge-shape of a Victory-Class Star Destroyer.

“I’ll be right there.”
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Old October 8 2009, 11:20 PM   #5
Count Zero
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

An intriguing start. More, please!
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Old October 9 2009, 10:01 AM   #6
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi Dr Mabuse,

Thanks very much, so glad you enjoyed it! I hope to have some more up tonight.

Joel
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Old October 9 2009, 07:01 PM   #7
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 2

“Luke! Get in here!”

Luke Skywalker turned his head slightly and looked back at the shop. “One second, dad,” he shouted back. Pushing his brown hair out of his eyes, he lifted the binoculars in his hands and looked up into the sky again. The flashes had ceased now, but he could have sworn he saw ships circling in orbit, maybe even a battle. A battle out here in the Unclaimed Territories! If it was true, he couldn’t wait to tell Link and the others. They’d be so jealous…

“I said now!”

“But…”

The huge figure of Anakin Skywalker now stood in the doorway. His scarred face hidden behind the large brim of a hat and his withered left arm held close to his body, he still looked as strong as an ox. He was wiping the grease off of his hand with a red cloth, scowling darkly at his son.

“Now, Luke! That droid we brought off Ling Tok needs cleaning before Jabba’s men come for her tomorrow. What are you looking at anyway?”

Luke sighed deeply as only a harassed seventeen year old could, and turned away. There was nothing more to see anyway. Whatever it had been, it had vanished. He took the steps two by two as he came down from the top of the scrap yard wall and jumped down onto a stack of robot’s head lying around. Stepping carefully to the ground, he dropped his head as he walked towards his father. The junk yard was filled with chunks of old parts saved from droids, abandoned speeders and even the occasional starship. Most of it was rusted by the sun or baked so hard that cracks had begun to appear on the surface. Not that any of that really mattered. His father could repair anything, no matter how corroded or fractured it might be.

“What were you looking at?” his father asked again.

“I thought I saw something.”

“What?”

“Ships… A battle maybe.”

“A battle?” Anakin grunted sarcastically. “Out here? Don’t be silly Luke. No one ever comes to Tatooine. The Empire, the Alliance, all of that trouble is far, far away from here.”

That’s why you chose this place. He didn’t say it, but he didn’t have to. It was hidden there behind everything his father said. His hatred for the Empire was only matched by his hatred for the Galactic Alliance and the Jedi. Luke has learned long ago that there was no point in asking why, but he believed it had something to do with his own mother’s death. Not that his father would ever talk about that either. Luke gave up asking questions a long time ago. It only ended up earning him a clip round the ear. He made do with the holo picture he had of her in his room.

“Did you hear me?”

“Yes dad,” Luke said, though he had no idea what his father had just said.

“Now, get downstairs and clean those droids, ok?”

“Can I go after that?”

“What, to see those friends of yours?”

“They’re my partners, dad.”

“Partners?” Anakin huffed. “They’re going to get you killed. You shouldn’t be spending so much time on those swoopbikes, Luke. One of these days…”

“I’ll fly right into a wall, yeah I know.”

“Don’t use that tone of voice with me, boy.”

Luke froze. When his father’s voice dropped like that, and his breathing became as hollow, he knew that it meant trouble. He would be walking a fine line for the rest of the day. To his surprise, though, his father’s voice softened and he put a big meaty hand on his son’s shoulder.

“I’m just watching out for you, Luke. You know, when I was a kid, I used to race speeders too.”

“Uh huh.” Luke has learned to take most of his father’s stories with a pinch of salt.

“I did. Did I ever tell you about the time I defeated the great Sebulba?”

“Uhm…”

“Come on, I’ll tell you about it while you clean that droid.”

Luke tried very hard to suppress a groan as his father steered him round a sublight engine and into the shadow of the workshop.

“I’ll be right there.”

***

Obi-Wan started to get up when Calrissian’s voice stopped him.

“No, Kenobi, wait. I have an idea.”

The old Jedi stopped in mid motion and settled back into his chair instead. Calrissian didn’t speak straight away, so Kenobi checked out of the view port. The Star Destroyer was getting closer. It was sleek and dangerous, like a dagger slicing through space towards them. Kenobi looked past the ship to the planet behind, and beyond to open space. There was no way they could reach a hyperspace jump point in time. No matter what Calrissian had said, there was also no way they could possibly outrun it through the system. They might be smaller and a tad faster, but the new Victory class ships were ten times as powerful as this little freighter.

The question was, though, what was a Victory class ship doing out here in the Unclaimed Territories? As far as the Alliance was concerned, they were all out on the border. The new class had been commissioned a few years before and the Emperor has taken an immediate liking to them. Most of the key planets along the Solo Line had one or two of the ships stationed in orbit. The few times that they had faced them in border skirmishes, the Victory class had come out on top. So why had the Emperor sent one of his prized ships out to the backwaters of the galaxy?

As Kenobi pondered, the Destroyer bays opened and a squadron of standard Tie-Fighters dropped out. They broke out of formation instantly and all began to converge on the Falcon. Seeing them, Kenobi began to charge the quad lasers up again.

“You’d better hurry with that idea, Commander,” he shouted down the comm. line.

“I see them, Kenobi. Give me a minute.”

I don’t know if you have a minute… He decided that there wouldn’t really be much point reminding him of the fact. Instead, he brought the tracking system up again. The screen lit up and almost instantly began to count down how far away the fighters were. 7000 klicks, for now. But they were gaining very fast.

He switched the comm. on again. “What exactly do you have planned?”

“Give me a minute!”

The Fighters were getting closer and closer. Feeling desperate, Kenobi brought the quad lasers to bear and launched a tirade of laser bolts at them. Though they were still too far out of range for it to do any damage, at the very least it would make them realise this wasn’t a helpless nerf. They were not just going to sit there and wait for them to shoot out their hyper drive. At least I hope that isn’t what we’re going to do…

A voice cut into the ship’s intercom. Sterile and devoid of emotion, it could only be an Imperial commander.

“Unidentified ship, this is Captain Galaad Pallaeon of the Imperial Star Destroyer Goliath. Lower your shields and prepare to be tractored into our hold.”

Lando’s voice replaced the commander’s, sounding slightly strained. “Goliath, you have no jurisdiction here. These are Unclaimed Territories. We’re carrying moisture vaporators for Mos Eisley. Why do you want us to lower our shields?”

“Unidentified ship, we are claiming this planet in the name of Emperor Palpatine. We have complete jurisdiction here now.”

Now that was interesting. The Empire was claiming this planet? With what autority? For the first time, Kenobi entertained the idea that this might be a new imperial offensive. He had been hearing rumours of imperial activity, sure, in fact they were what had brought him here to get Anakin. But those rumours concerned a new weapon, not a large scale offensive into the Unclaimed Territories. The Corellia Accords were supposed to protect these systems from something like this. It was neutral ground. Or at least it had been.

Calrissian seemed to be thinking along the same lines. “Since when can the Empire arbitrarily seize planets?”

“Since now, unidentified ship. Now stand down.”

A sharp click announced that Lando had cut the imperial commander off. Almost immediately, the Ties and the Destroyer sped up, the glow of their sublight engines increasing dramatically as they did so. It would only take the fighters a few minutes to be in range, and the Destroyer would be about five minutes behind.

“You better have a good idea, Calrissian.”

“Done!” the commander crowed.

“What?”

“Kenobi, I’m a genius.”

“Just get on with it,” the Jedi Master growled.

“Get down into the hold, old man. We need you piloting that Jedi fighter of yours.”

“What?”

“Just trust me. I know what I’m doing.”

Kenobi huffed, but he pushed himself out of his seat all the same, pulling the headset off of his forehead and dropping it in the chair. This Corellian had better know what he was doing.


***


Down in the hold, Kenobi finished strapping himself into his new fighter. It was the latest design, just adopted by the Jedi Council a few months before. Kenobi’s was a prototype version. His droid, R4, was already locked in place, ready to go. He was pleased to see that the old astromech had already begun the pre-flight procedure. He couldn’t help but think back to all the flights he had shared with the small robot, from the asteroid chase before the Clone Wars right down to his mad race back to Coruscant during the Fall. R4 had seen as much of the galaxy as he had.

“You alright back there R4?”

The droid beeped back an affirmative.

“Good. Patch me through to the Falcon, will you?”

Moments later his comm. line clicked on.

“Calrissian. What exactly have you got planned?”

“Ok, listen carefully because this has to be perfectly timed. Did you receive that memo from Alliance Intelligence a few weeks ago about the Victory class?”

He vaguely remembered something like that, but as a General in the Alliance, he had to deal with so much paper work that he barely had time to process, let alone memorise, all of it.

“Run me through it again.”

“The Victory class has one major flaw in its technical specs. That being its tractor beam. If an object comes between the tractor beam and the object locked in, it breaks it up enough for the object to escape. When that happens, it takes it about five minutes to re-establish a lock, eight if it is a moving object.”

“Ok…” He thought he could see where Calrissian was going with this.

“We’re running from those fighters at the moment, but in a few minutes I’m going to turn and fly straight through their formation – back at the Goliath. It will catch us in its tractor beam and begin to bring it in. You then blow out of the hold, fly between us and the Destroyer, then hightail out of here and down to the planet for your little reunion.”

“And you?”

“Me and Lo will swing round the planet, out of the gravity well and jump out of here. We rendezvous at the Run in three days.”

Kenobi nodded to himself. It was a sound idea. It shouldn’t be too hard to find a ship out of Mos Eisley that could take him to the Run. In fact, Mos Eisley was probably the best place outside of Nar Shadda to find someone headed that way. It might mean a little detour through the Kessel Run, but he’d done that enough times that it didn’t scare him anymore.

“All right Commander,” he said finally. “We rendezvous at Smuggler’s Run in three days. May the Force be with you.”

Calrissian just snorted and clicked the comm. off. Kenobi sighed. Since Palpatine was revealed to be a Sith and his coup led to the Empire, few people had the same respect for the Jedi as they had once had. Later, when Anakin abandoned the order, it only made matters worse. People had believed in him; he had been the hero of the Clone Wars, the man who had faced Palpatine and survived. The man who had warned the Jedi of what was coming. To have him turn his back on the Order… few people could believe in them after that. Kenobi knew that the only way the Jedi would ever regain the belief of the people was when they finally toppled Sidious and his henchmen. That, unfortunately, was looking further and further away each day.

He turned back to the task at hand. R4 had finished the pre-flight checks and everything looked in order. It had better be. He didn’t want a repeat of the Yavin debacle.

“R4, can you log in to the Falcon’s outer camera system?”

The droid beeped sardonically as if the request was far beneath him. Nevertheless, a screen lit up almost instantly in front of the Jedi Master. He watched as the star field spun and spasmed with every move that Calrissian made, carrying the Falcon through corkscrew after corkscrew and keeping them just ahead of the Tie-Fighters. Every so often one would flash through the shot, casting bolts of red lightning at them before vanishing again as Lando avoided them.

Suddenly, the Falcon flipped over completely. It inverted in mid turn and snapped into a new course, headed straight at the Goliath. Tie-Fighters flew out of the way and Kenobi heard explosions as some were picked off by Lo. Soon, the Falcon had left them far behind. The Goliath, though, was getting ever closer. It loomed before them, a white triangle that filled the screen. As it grew bigger, Kenobi could make out more detail along the sides and on the belly of the beast. What appeared smooth from a distance was now revealed to be a bumpy assortment of gun emplacements, metal casings and bulbous shield generators. Beneath it all was the cavernous mouth of the main hold and an elongated arm that held the tractor generator.

They reached the tip of the Star Destroyer’s nose, Calrissian’s sharp flying carrying them through the hail of laser fire that threatened to pick them off. Kenobi could imagine the look on the captain’s face as they flew straight into the trap he had set. Almost as they cleared the tip of the triangle, there was a dull clunck. The tractor beam had them and it was bringing them in. The comm. system clicked.

“You’re on, old man.”

Kenobi was ready. He engaged his sublight drives as the hold dropped out from beneath him. For a moment he was in free fall, and he closed his eyes. Then the engines caught him and he shot out from beneath the Falcon. As he flew past he saw that the ship had taken a real beating during the dog fighter earlier on. Scour marks covered the surface and holes gaped in the underside.

He forced himself to ignore all of that, though, concentrating on what he had to do. He closed his eyes again, letting the Force find him and almost forcing himself to calm. When he opened them again, R4 had a three-dimensional representation of space on the projector in front of him. He was green dot in the middle, with the purple dot of the Falcon beside him and the fighters gaining on them fast. R4 checked the imp’s sensors, but it seemed that they hadn’t noticed him yet.

“R4,’” he shouted over the ship’s engines, “engage the attack mode.”

R4’s beep was lost to the ambient noise, but the sound of the wing’s behind him separating into an X-shape was not. Almost straight away, the fighter – known to the Alliance as a Jedi X-Wing – jumped forwards. He spun it from beneath the Falcon and up towards the Star Destroyer. The hold lay before him, a white glowing cave that was just waiting to swallow the two ships. He studied the tractor generator carefully, looking for the best place to intersect with the beam.

As he did, he realised that Calrissian’s plan could be improved in one small way. Instead of flying between, he might as well take care of the problem once and for all. Avoiding a laser blast from one of the Destroyer’s gun turrets, he flicked a switch and brought on his torpedo launchers. The lock turned green almost instantly, but it would take a few moments for the launchers themselves to heat up. In the meantime, the Destroyer had caught on that there was another ship out there. Almost every single gun turret had turned towards him. He danced the joystick around beneath his hand, using the smallest of movements to pass between the hail of laser blasts.

“Kenobi, what are you doing? Just get between us and that generator so we can get out of here.”

“One minute,” he shouted back from between gritted teeth.

“Kenobi…”

The General ignored him. He flicked two switches and turned off every sensor, comm. and readout system on the fighter’s display. He closed his eyes, trying to block out everything around him, just listening to the Force. It whispered to him, a strange song that played through his mind and drew a picture of the galaxy. He found himself, listened to the guiding tones, and simply flew. As he weaved in and out of the laser blasts, waiting for the double beep that would signal his torpedoes were ready, he smiled. Anakin had taught him how to do this.

Eventually, the beep sounded through the cockpit. Kenobi opened his eyes and pushed down on the trigger. The blue torpedo flew from the wings of his ship, racing towards the huge tractor arm.

It blossomed into an orange ball of fire that ran back down into the hold. There was a flash all around as the tractor beam disengaged. Almost instantly, the Falcon swerved away, not wasting any time in engaging its sublight engines and bursting away from the Destroyer like a cork from a bottle. Kenobi saluted them as they went past.

He switched the comm. back on. “Kenobi?”

“I’m here Commander.”

Calrissian breathed a sigh of relief. “Kenobi… You’re a fool of a man. But I’ve never seen anyone fly like that. May the Force be with you.”

Kenobi smiled, and watched the Falcon pull away, vanishing around the planet. The smile was tinged with sadness as he though about what Calrissian had said. I’ve never seen anyone fly like that. No, Lando wouldn’t have. But he had.

R4 beeped insistently, bringing Obi-Wan back to himself. The Tie-fighters were gaining. He turned his own fighter down towards the surface, giving the engines a boost in power. He could easily lose them in the atmosphere. He smiled.

Anakin was waiting.
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Old October 9 2009, 07:31 PM   #8
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

THIS should be an interesting meeting...

So I'm curious, did Padme die, the same way she did in the canon continuity? You might have said that, but I think I missed it somewhere. How did it happen, if Anakin didn't do it himself like he did in Revenge of the Sith?
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Old October 10 2009, 01:54 PM   #9
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi Nerys!

Thanks very much for your comment. To answer your question, no Padme is not dead in this timeline. More on that in the next few chapters.

Glad you're enjoying it.

Joel
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Old October 10 2009, 03:34 PM   #10
Count Zero
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Well, that's going to be an interesting meeting between Kenobi and Anakin. i'm curious about the back story here.
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Old October 10 2009, 11:53 PM   #11
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 3

Mara Jade stumbled out of the escape pod.

The thrusters had given out just before landing, so she had been forced to drive the nose down into the sand to avoid hitting one of the mountains. The crash landing had shaken her up slightly. Her head was throbbing. She reached up and brushed a hand over her forehead. It came away with blood.

Closing her eyes, she opened herself to the Dark Side. It rushed through her blood like ice water. She was using so much of the Force that it turned her eyes momentarily blue. She used it to heal the bruised bone and muscle, before stitching the gash above her eyebrow. By the time she had finished, there was barely a scratch left. Her master had taught her well. The foolish Jedi had no idea what power was contained in the Force, power to mend and heal anything, as well as power to destroy. They believed that those who bore the name of Darth were only capable of killing or destroying with the Force. They had no idea what else they were capable of. It would be there undoing.

Before letting go of the Force, she used its heightening powers to reach out into the desert. To most people, the desert world of Tatooine seemed dead. To a Jedi or a Sith, though, it was teaming with life. Creatures lived beneath the sand, in the cavernous bedrock below. Others made their homes in the rocky mountains, while still others lived within the sand itself. It was as full of life as the sea. Mara, though, was looking for something in specific. She fazed out the rest of the life, seeking the throbbing hub that was Mos Eisley. She found it easily.

Once she had located it, she crawled back into the pod. Imperial Intelligence had prepared her well. In the shade of her old cockpit, she stripped completely, carefully folding her flight suit behind the seat. She allowed herself a moment to enjoy the feel of the darkness on her skin, before pulling her disguise out of the compartment beneath the main flight board.

Moments later, a Tusken raider stepped out of the escape pod.

Mara stared out at the desert once more. There were a thousand shades of gold in those specks of dust, augmented by ochre and crimson. The two suns turned the afternoon sky a glorious fiery orange. Wind raced past her, throwing sand into the escape pod. She didn’t care, she wouldn’t be coming back to it. She allowed herself to savour its caress, taking a sip of water through her desert suit.

The desert reminded her of herself. Scoured clean by the Dark Side, constantly shifting through a thousand faces and a thousand lives. Ever since she was twelve and the men in the red capes came to find her. Her parents had been so proud that one of their daughters had been chosen by the Emperor himself. They let her go without even asking what they wanted her for. As far as they knew, she was going to a life of bondage and servitude as one of the Emperor’s concubines.

Now, she knew better. Her master was far above such things. He was a god, or as close as it was possible to come.

She set off into the sands, jogging steadily. The sand shifted beneath her, making it difficult to run. Her feet couldn’t find any purchase. To compensate, she allowed the Force to race through her, bringing her body into a perfect rhythm with the desert. It was as her master had taught her. The Force surrounded them, bound them, brought the entire universe together into a clockwork of perfection. If she allowed it to, it would bring her out of the chaos of life into the order of the divine. That was her master’s plan.

It took her an hour to reach Mos Eisley. It appeared out of the desert like a mirage, shimmering and vanishing in the relentless sun. Its architecture was typical of this backwater world, with a smattering of Rodian style where refugees had settled.. Every house was a block of pure white rock, reflecting the sun’s rays back into the air. They were sunken into the sand. She arrived on the outskirts, avoiding the main streets. She vanished into the alleyways and byways, heading inwards. The city was arranged in a wheel formation, with the main power and water distribution plants huddled in the middle. She passed run down docking bays and landing pads, keeping out of sight and in the shadows. Every so often, a ship would take off from one of the bays, shaking the walls and throwing clouds of dust into the air. Mos Eisley was the city that never slept. It was home to the scum of the galaxy.

By now, she was tiring fast and her muscles were aching. She enjoyed it though. The Force made so many things so easy, she was sometimes afraid that she would forget about effort. Though her parents seemed a universe away now, some of what they had taught her as a girl still remained. One of those things was hard work.

No one seemed surprise to see her. The Sand People were feared, but not hated. They traded with the humans and other races who were trying to get scrounge some kind of life on this pitiful little world. She could blend in here while she tried to find out what she needed to know.

She soon passed out of the more tourist friendly “New Quarter”, and into the real heart of the city. The buildings became both seedier and larger. Somewhere in this warren of streets was Jabba the Hutt’s residence, as well as her first stop: the Mos Eisley Cantina.

She stopped in the shadow of a hanger and studied the building. It seemed totally harmless, but Mara had stepped into enough cantinas and bars to know that appearances were generally deceiving. Considering the clientele that she noticed walking in and coming out, this was most probably the same.

Mara strode across the square between the alleyway and the Cantina. She looked around to make sure no one had followed her, then she slipped inside. She found herself in a darkened alcove. It took her a moment to adjust to the danker interior. She felt a thousand eyes on her, but she tried to ignore it. As far as they were concerned, she was just a Tusken raider here to do some business.

There were a few steps down into the main room. As she walked down, she studied the others in the room. There was a smattering of humans in the sea of aliens that seemed to ooze out of the walls. She sneered beneath her mask. These non-humans truly were the dregs of the galaxy, as her Master said. They were the true reason behind the fall of the Jedi into decadence. They were the reason why her Master had been forced to act.

An all-alien band were playing in the corner. She ignored them and headed for the bar instead. She inserted herself between a disgruntled Aqualish and a particularly ugly human. She glanced at the human’s face – she was sure that she had seen it somewhere before. Considering the look on his face and the blaster at his side, it was probably on an imperial warrant.

She reached over and tapped the bartender on his shoulder. He turned to her and scowled. Nevertheless, beads of sweat appeared on his forehead. Good. He was nervous. That was always a good place to start to get information.

“What can I get you?”

She paused, as if allowing a universal translator to modify what he had said. Then she spoke, the voice box hidden in her suit modifying her tones to sound like the guttural voice of a Sand Person.

“I am looking for someone.”

“Sorry, we serve drinks not information.”

She tensed. She didn’t want this to get nasty but if she had to she would tear this cantina apart to get what she needed. Luckily, there was no need. A huge, furry hand dropped on her shoulder from behind.

“Waooo huur naaaa.”

This time she really did have to wait for the translation. I can help. She turned and looked up. And up. And up. The Wookie towered over her. Like most non-humans, she couldn’t tell whether it was a he or a she. The only thing that differentiated him from any other Wookie slave was the crossbow hung over his shoulder. Whatever it was, it was dangerous.

“What do you need to know?” the Wookie asked. It looked like it had been living on the street. Its fur was covered in sand and dust.

“I am looking for someone.”

“Come with me.”

She followed the huge fur ball across the room into one of the dark corners. The music was less here, so they could talk low without being overheard and still be able to hear one another.

“Who are you looking for?”

“Your name first.”

“Name? Why?”

Mara smiled. “I don’t like to deal with someone who I don’t know.”

The Wookie seemed unsure, but when Mara put the coin on the table, he soon turned around. “Chewbacca.”

“Well, Chewbacca, I am looking for a man and his son. Name of Skywalker.”

The Wookie chuckled. “I know where they are. How much?”

Mara tried to hide her excitement. She hadn’t expected it to be this easy. If this monster was telling the truth…

“200 credits. But you have to show me where they are.”

The Wookie’s eyes went wide. She had guessed correctly that it was probably more money than Chewbacca had seen in his entire life. He nodded vigorously. Mara smiled. He would never see a single credit of the money. And Skywalker would soon be in her grasp.
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Old October 11 2009, 12:24 AM   #12
Count Zero
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Excellent chapter. A great introduction to Mara Jade and the advantages of the Dark Side.
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Old October 12 2009, 10:38 AM   #13
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Thanks Doc!

Glad you're enjoying this. And Mara Jade rocks! New chapter should be up tonight. Thanks again!
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Old October 12 2009, 01:35 PM   #14
The Badger
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

An enjoyable and intriguing variation on an old favourite. I want to see how this plays out.
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Old October 12 2009, 09:59 PM   #15
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 4

Kenobi landed his fighter just outside Mos Espa. For some reason, he had expected Anakin to be in Mos Eisley, but following the trace of their connection here, he realised that he should have expected it. After all, this was where he had lived with his mother. It was where he had met Padme.

Padme. Just the thought of her brought a pang to Obiwan’s heart. He missed her terribly. More importantly, he could sense through the Force how much she missed him. Ever since they had married, they had barely spent a month together without being separated by the call of duty. He was on the forefront of the Jedi offensive, a general and a member of the new Jedi Council. And Padme was a leader, one of the three Triad Senators who led the Galactic Alliance. Obi-wan knew that if it hadn’t been for their link in the Force, they would long ago have grown apart. Ironically, it had allowed him to understand what Anakin must have been going through all those years before. Too little, too late.

Leaving R4 to guard the fighter, he wrapped his cloak tight and began to walk. He trekked the few miles to Mos Espa under the moonlight. The temperature had plummeted and the cold tried to dig its fingers into his skin. Every so often, the Force sent him echoes of animals and plants, most of them struggling to survive underneath the blanket of sand that protected them from the twin suns. It always amazed Kenobi, how life always found a way to survive. The Force connected all, protected all and made it thrive despite the worst conditions.

He hoped that would be true of the Alliance. Conditions certainly weren’t ideal at the moment.

When he arrived on the outskirts of the city, he was taken aback. Mos Espa was a shadow of what it had once been, which was saying a lot when one considered it had never been much of anything. Most of the money had left with the Hutts when they moved most of their operations off world. They had left behind a society of criminals, most of whom had been kept in some sort of line by the Hutts. Without them there… Tatooine had become a hive of every sort of scum you could hope to avoid. And Mos Espa especially was now a haven for some of the most unpleasant criminals in the Unclaimed Territories.

Most of the outlying buildings had been gutted by fire and blaster attacks. Through cracks in the wall, Kenobi caught glimpses of groups of urchins and homeless men and women huddled around bonfires, trying to keep warm. None of the buildings had roofs anymore. The few faces Kenobi could make out were filled with despair. Every so often a group of swoop bikes gunned their engines in the distance – every time that they did, those who had taken refuge in the gutted buildings vanished, scattering into the night.

The further in he went, the worst things got. The inner areas had seemingly been taken over by the swoop gangs and thugs who had been left to their own devices by the Hutts. A few pockets of ‘good people’ resisted still, but the majority of the city was covered in graffiti and infested with the dregs of society. Music blared from shadowy clubs, and more than one person came to offer him glowsticks. He didn’t even bother using the Force, simply ignoring them as he swept past.

Kenobi was able to trail the residue of the Force connection he had had with Anakin. He followed it through the winding streets, taking to the alleyways when it became impossible to avoid the gangs. The few people he did meet were either high on spice, or living in clothes so tattered that they were barely even scraps. He stumbled once or twice over bodies laid out in the streets – he didn’t bother stopping to see if they were still alive.

The shadow of Anakin’s Force sense began to lead him away from the inner city. The sounds of revelry and swoop bikes faded into the distance and he began to pass residences, the sort of places where the few families who hadn’t been able to escape had set up home. Finally, he arrived in front of a large building where the connection was the most powerful.

The sign above the door proclaimed that it was Skywalker’s Scrap. Kenobi smiled. So Anakin had really come back to his roots. He recognised the place from Qui Gon’s descriptions, and Anakin’s stories. This had once been Watto’s Shop. Anakin must have brought it from the Toydarian when he came back.

Kenobi paused before going in. He didn’t know what he was going to say. The last time he had seen Anakin, his old friend had told him that if he ever saw him again, he would kill him. Despite how close Anakin had come to the Dark Side, he was still prone to anger. Still, in this specific case, Kenobi couldn’t really blame him. After all, he had stolen his wife.

He took a deep breath. If what they had heard was true, then Anakin wouldn’t have a choice. He had to come back. They needed him. Padme needed him.

Trying without much success to steel his resolve, he stepped into the darkened interior of the shop.

Almost instantly he sensed that something wasn’t quite right here. The Force was sending him warning signals, but he couldn’t quite decipher what about. Had someone arrived before him? Had the Empire found Anakin?

He heard the breathing first. It was heavy and sounded almost metallic. He swung round just in time to see a shadow detach from the wall behind him and rush at him. He dropped to the floor and rolled out of the way. Using the Force to help him, he sprang back to his feet, drawing his lightsabre from his belt at the same time. The moment it was in his hand, he ignited it and brought it to bear. In the darkness, it lit his face with a dim blue glow.

The snap-hiss of another lightsabre surprised him. The green glow lit the face of his adversary. Kenobi gasped. He hadn’t seen Anakin since he left Naboo with his son. The years hadn’t been kind to him. The wide-brimmed hat didn’t really hide the scars or the bald patches on the side of his head. He wore a dark breathing mask.

“I knew it would be you,” Anakin said.

“Anakin, listen to me…”

“I warned you, old man. I told you that if you ever came back…”

Before Kenobi could react, Anakin jumped forward. He brought his lightsabre round in a tight circle, straight towards Kenobi’s unprotected left side. Kenobi brought his own blade to bare in a tight move that just reached his left side in time. Sparks flew from the two blades and Anakin disengaged. He began to circle, eyes never leaving Kenobi’s face.

“Anakin please.”

“Don’t. I don’t care.”

“But…”

Anakin attacked again, this time chopping straight towards Kenobi’s face. He put all of his strength behind the move and it took all of Kenobi’s power in the Force to stop him. Still, he did stop him and managed to throw his old apprentice’s blade off. He reached out with the Force and realised that Anakin wasn’t using the Force. He was just attacking with brute force and his not-inconsequential skill with a blade.

“Anakin. You have to listen to me.”

They were both circling one another now. The only light in the room came from the humming blades of their lightsabres. Kenobi was shocked to see the ravages on Anakin’s face – after all these years the scars had grown deeper and the normal effects of age had turned them white. Anakin’s once handsome features had become dry and brittle. He looked as if he were made out of stone.

“Why?”

“We need you.”

“We?”

“Yes. Me. Padme. Your daughter.”

Mention of his daughter seemed to give Anakin pause. Kenobi tried to take advantage of it. “Yes Anakin. Leia. She needs your help. We all do.”

“Why?”

“Come with me and I’ll tell you.”

Without warning, Anakin swung back into attack. He went for Kenobi, a swipe to the throat that Kenobi blocked but already the blade was twisting downwards to his belly. Kenobi reared backwards, the stinging end of the lightsabre just avoiding his belly. Anakin then attacked with a quick flurry of one-two jabs and swipes that pushed Kenobi back. Suddenly, his feet stumbled on a set of droid parts and he fell backwards.

He landed hard on his back, the breath wheezing out of him. Before he could even attempt to recover, Anakin was on him. The blade stopped a finger’s breadth from his throat, so close that Kenobi could feel the heat emanating from its tip. In the light of the blade, he could see Anakin’s face, twisted and torn by age, the eyes reflecting the hurt and pain and anger and fury that were boiling just beneath the surface. Kenobi felt a pang to know he had put that there.

“You took everything from me,” Anakin said. “While I lay there dying, you stole the one person who had ever loved me. I lost my mother because of you. I lost my wife, because of you. And I lost my daughter, because of you.”

“No Anakin. It is all still there. Your daughter, Leia, is still there and you can still be with her…”

“Dad?”

Anakin turned round. Kenobi took the opportunity to knock him away. Anakin went flying, Kenobi’s force-enhanced strength seemingly too much for him. Kenobi scrambled to his feet to see a young man, dusky blond hair falling over his wide-open eyes, standing in the doorway. This could only be Luke.

Kenobi didn’t need the Force to know that Luke had heard everything, that Anakin hadn’t told him that his sister was still out there. He tried to say something, but it was too late. Luke turned and ran out.

Suddenly, Kenobi was bowled over by a howling banshee. He felt himself thrown to the floor, and then Anakin was on top of him, pummelling him with his fists. Kenobi didn’t try to fight him off, but instead he just reached up to grab Anakin’s forearms. His old apprentice didn’t try to stop him. Kenobi realised that he was crying.

“You took everything,” he said. “Leave, Obi-Wan. Leave before you take my son as well.”
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