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Old May 28 2014, 01:44 AM   #301
Admiral_Young
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

I'm here until this ends one way or another so you've got a committed reader in me!
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Old May 28 2014, 08:24 AM   #302
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

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Means a hell of a lot. As promised, here is the next chapter!
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Old May 28 2014, 08:32 AM   #303
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 24

With a flash of sparks and a dying whir, the magnetic lock shorted out.

Kenobi stood up as the door slid open, already prepared for the reaction of the troopers outside. Staying to the side of the room, he waited until the first trooper entered before leaping into action. Stepping into the man's way, he brought one arm up and around the soft material protecting the neck. His other hand reached down and seized a hold of the man's blaster.

Spinning both of them around, Kenobi forced the trooper's arm up while strengthening the choke hold on the man's throat. Without a pause, he pulled back on the trigger, firing three times into the other trooper's chest. Fire blazed, armour burned and the second trooper collapsed backwards into the corridor.

Releasing the hold he had on the trooper's blaster hand, Kenobi grabbed a hold of the man's helmet. Before he had time to react, Kenobi pushed one way with his hand while wrenching the other way with his arm. A snapping sound broke the stillness that had fallen in the aftermath of the blaster fire. Stepping away, Kenobi allowed the dead man's body to crumple.

Allowing a sigh to escape, Kenobi surveyed the scene with distaste. Dealing out death was not the way of the Force, not when it could be avoided. He had killed men before, but rarely with such... intimacy. If he had had access to the Force, perhaps he could have avoided this. With his connection to it lost, though...

The same was true if he had had his lightsaber. Glancing down at the blaster lying on the floor next to the dead trooper, he reminded himself again how much he hated the things. Damned unwieldy weapons compared to the elegance of his chosen weapon. Even a forcewhip would have been better. Still, beggars could rarely be choosers. Kneeling down, he plucked the blaster out of the dead trooper's grasp. His escape did not seem to have called too much attention yet, but he doubted that would remain true for long. It was time to get moving.

***

The single stormtrooper raised his blaster, pointing the weapon at Anakin.

"Stop right there."

Anakin paused, lifting his hands to show the man that he did not have any weapons. "I'm not looking for trouble, friend."

"State your purpose."

"I'm just looking for some information." Gathering his connection to the Force, Anakin reached out and wrapped his will around the familiar imprint of the trooper's mind. Images of a certain Mandalorian face rose from his memory unbidden. Anakin banished them, focusing all of his attention on the man. "I am supposed to be here."

"You're supposed to be here." The trooper relaxed somewhat, the end of his blaster lowering.

"You want to let me past."

"I want to let you past." The trooper stepped to the side. His blaster had returned to its previous posture.

"You have no need to report this or even remember that I was here."

"You were never here."

Anakin pressed his fist to the plate, slipping through the door as soon as it opened. He found himself, as he had hoped, in a secondary processing unit, a room filled with the vast computer network hubs that helped to run the penal station. A handful of terminals - set up to allow technicians to access the mainframe - lay at various junction points. Unsure how long his Force suggestion would work on the trooper - and how long it would take before one of the prison controllers realised that the holocams in various corridors had begun to short out - Anakin hurried over to one of the terminals, booting it up.

It had been a long time, but Anakin still felt the same thrill he had during the War, a lone operative behind enemy lines. For an instant, he forgot about the intervening years and could imagine himself back there again, the Force and Obi-wan his only allies, fighting the good fight against the insurgents, looking to get some vital information from a Confederacy base while rescuing Obi-wan from another of his mistakes, Padme waiting for him back home... And then the implant that kept his heart beating beeped loudly in the dim silence and he heard the harsh noise of his respirator and he was brought crashing back to reality.

All of that was gone. That life had ended. He might as well have died that day in Palpatine's office. He had died. He was no longer the man he had been. And it was about time he accepted that. The Force had returned to him and that was a gift, one he had never expected to receive. Enjoy it, Anakin, he heard Qui-gon whisper in his ear. It is no small thing.

It wasn't. He would make the most of it. First, though, he had one last mission to see through.

Fingers racing through the various commands - the Empire had not changed much in its computer interface language since the days of the Republic - Anakin called up the penal station's main interface. Scrolling through the command structure, he found the prisoner log and called up the information for Obi-wan.

His stomach dropped as he read through the latest orders. It seemed that they had arrived just in time. Obi-wan was to be moved the following day, taken on an Imperial transport. Anakin read through the transfer order and paused as he reached the end.

What the hell was a Death Star?

The transfer request indicated that Obi-wan's transport was supposed to be meeting up with said Death Star on Dantooine, where Obi-wan was to be handed over to... a Darth? Anakin felt a chill run down his spine. Palpatine had taken a new apprentice. From the information he had here, it seemed that the man - or woman - was called Darth Vidius. A new Sith in the Empire. Qui-gon and Yoda had been correct. Things were slipping ever further towards the Dark Side.

A small notation flickered at the bottom of the transfer order. Anakin accessed it and this time he almost struck the screen with his fist.

Luke. The notation instructed the transport that they would be met at the Dantooine space station by Darth Vidius and his apprentice, Luke Skywalker. His apprentice? Anakin clenched his fist, feeling anger surge in uncontrollable waves. His Luke? An apprentice to some Sith? No. No, he would not let this happen. Could not let this happen.

Sparks rose from one of the nearby servers. Anakin looked over and saw the edges beginning to melt. Realising that his own anger was overwhelming his control, he forced his eyes closed and tried to focus on some of Master Yoda's old training exercices. Slowly, ever so slowly, he was able to regain control enough to ease the Force energies that were about to be unleashed in the computer room. The sparks fell away and the server stopped melting.

Only once he was sure that he had his feelings under control, Anakin opened his eyes again. Luke's name still flashed on the screen. His son. Anakin shook his head. Whatever the Death Star was, he knew now where he had to go next.

Thinking back to the numerous missions he had run with Obi-wan during the Wars, Anakin reminded himself of one of Commander Cody's favourite expressions. Preparation is the mother of all missions. He wasn't going to go off half cocked like he might have back then.

Exiting the prison database, Anakin brought up the server's mainframe. In his years living without the Force, he had been able to improve on some of his other skills, notably his abilities as a programmer, droid repairer and mechanic. A few times during his years on Tatooine he had needed to gain access to some... protected information in order to ensure his identity was still safe. He put those skills to use now, hacking his way down through the penal station's computer mainframe until he was able to rise back up and into the Imperial holonet.

He encountered surprisingly little resistance as he worked. Finally, he gained access to the piece of information he wanted - a full dossier on the Death Star project. If he was going to get Luke out of this new starship that Palpatine had built he was going to have to...

Anakin felt his jaw drop as the information scrolled across the screen. By the Force. By the Force, what has he done?

The Death Star was not a starship.

Palpatine had built a super weapon.

***

Lando's own screams followed him up from the darkness.

In the nightmare, he had seen Lo get killed again. And again. And again. Every time, he had been a step away, a millisecond from pushing the blaster out of the way or a sliver from putting himself in front of the blaster bolt. In every nightmare, he had been too late. And he had been forced to watch his friend die.

Coming out of the darkness, Lando almost wished he had stayed down there in the depths. He still hung from the pain table they had strapped him to, half lying and half falling from the restraints. Pain fractured his entire body, from the soles of his feet where they had placed the burning electrodes to the tips of his ears that they had cut off with vibroblades. The worse thing was that so far they had yet to ask him any questions.

Lando had always known that this day might come. Ever since the day he had joined the Alliance after the Empire invaded Socorro - killing Lando's kid brother during the bombardment and putting his parents in jail - he had been aware that he could finish like this, in an Imperial penal station. He was high enough up in the Alliance military that he would make an important prisoner and they would try and get information out of him. He had just never thought that torture would be so... painful.

If he could have found a way to through the pain, Lando would have laughed.

A noise caught his attention from outside the cell. Lando tensed. He had thought they would give him more time. Maybe it was his own screams that had...

The door slid open. Kenobi stood on the other side, a blaster in hand.

When he saw Lando, his face fell. Guess I look as bad as I feel. Rushing forward, Kenobi put his hands around Lando's shoulders and tripped the switch that held his restraints around him. Lando slumped into Kenobi's arms, not even able to stand up.

"Sithspawn! What have they done to you?"

"Just some usual, run of the factory Imperial hospitality."

Kenobi snorted. "I see you haven't lost your sense of humour. What are you doing here?"

"I came on the Falcon."

"You should have left me here."

Lando gritted his teeth. "You know that wasn't going to happen. Besides, a friend of yours hitched a ride, insisted we come and get you."

Kenobi sighed. "Let me guess. Anakin."

"That would be the one. We met him in the Run when we went to find you. Told us that you had sent him our way."

"I did. At the time, I thought I would never see him again. I'm glad he found you. Were you able to help him with his son?"

Lando shook his head and instantly regretted it. Pain lanced down his spin and he gasped slightly. When the pain faded, he spoke through gritted teeth. "No. He told us to come after you first. I suppose he thinks that you'll be able to help him better than me and..."

Kenobi looked up sharply. "What is it? Where is Lo?"

Lando looked away and shook his head once. This time the pain was less intense.

"I am sorry, Lando. Truly I am."

"I know. He... It happened quick." Lando straightened. "Anyway, we need to get out of here before they come back to... Before they come back."

Lando knew Kenobi was studying him sadly, but he ignored it. He did not have time to deal with his pity. Taking his arm away from Kenobi's, he forced himself to stand up straight. Pain pulsed through his body, but he managed to stay upright without falling. He took a step, almost fell, but was able to maintain his balance without Kenobi's help.

"Are you going to be alright?"

"Don't have much choice, do I? You're not going to be able to carry me to the Falcon."

Kenobi shook his head. "Alright then. Let's go."

Together, the two men walked slowly but steadily into the corridor.

***

TRANSFER COMPLETE.

As soon as the message flashed up on the screen, Anakin popped the small disc out of the reader and pocketed it. The Death Star's full plans and schematics disappeared from the screen. Shutting down his access to the Imperial mainframe, Anakin turned the screen off and turned away.

After seeing what Palpatine had designed and brought into being, he found it hard to believe that the Alliance could possibly stand a chance against the Empire now. He had heard of superweapons - there were many Jedi legends and stories of the wars between the Jedi and the Sith in which terrible weapons had been built and used, weapons that had destroyed entire star systems, or had lain waste to great swaths of the galaxy. Still, those days had ended. Anakin had not imagined that such a thing would come back into existence.

Still, he should have known that if one man was going to return such monstrosities to the galaxy, it would be Palpatine.

Checking to make sure that the plans were safely in his possession, Anakin pressed his hand to the panel next to the door. The stormtrooper looked up in surprise, but Anakin used the Force once again, reaching out and laying a warm feeling of security and safety over the man's emotions.

"I wasn't here. You did not see me."

The trooper turned away, returning his attention to the corridor Anakin had come up earlier. Once he was sure that the man was no longer a threat, he slipped away down the other corridor.

While the Death Star plans had transferred into the disc, Anakin had returned to the penal station computer system to find where they were holding Obi-wan and Calrissian. It had seemed to make more sense to free Calrissian first and get his help in freeing Obi-wan. So at the end of the corridor he turned left, heading towards the numbered cells where Calrissian was being held. He moved through three more corridors, avoiding stormtroopers who were patrolling the station before finding himself in the right place.

As he turned the corridor, though, he felt a sudden cold wave wash over him. Immediately, his connection to the Force vanished.

For Anakin, it was like having a long lost limb returned to him only for it to be cut off moments later. Considering the loss of his own hand to Dooku on Geonosis, it was an apt analogy. For a moment, he just stood there, mouth gaping open as if someone had sucked all of the air out of the corridor.

"Anakin?"

Swinging round, Anakin found Obi-wan and Calrissian stood in an open door behind him. Calrissian looked as if he were in bad shape, but Obi-wan had avoided any visible scars from his time in the penal station. Both of them seemed astounded to see Anakin, though.

"What are you doing here?"

"Coming to rescue you. You?"

"On our way to rescue you."

Anakin nodded. "Looks like we both need to rethink our plans."

Obi-wan smiled and for a moment it was as though they were still two friends fighting for the survival of the Republic. Then Padme's face flashed through Anakin's mind and he felt his own face grow tight. Obi-wan noticed and his own expression fell.

"Thank you for coming here. It was stupid, but I appreciate it."

"I guess I'm still too used to having to drag you out of trouble, Master."

Obi-wan's face grew dark as blood rushed to his cheeks. He opened his mouth to reply, but Calrissian stepped in. "Listen, I'm sure you both have lots of things to work through, but in case you hadn't noticed, we're stood in the middle of a penal station surrounded by Imperials who would like nothing better than to shoot us live on the holonet. So how about we figure out a way out of here?"

Anakin took a step back and he saw his old friend do the same. Obi-wan nodded. "You're right, of course. What would you suggest?"

Calrissian looked surprised to be the one to be asked to come up with a plan, but the sudden responsibility did not seem to faze him. "The only way off this station is to disable the tractor beam. Once that is done, we should be able to get the Falcon away. After that-"

"I have some ideas about what we need to do and where we need to go after that," Anakin said. The Death Star information felt as though it were burning a hole in his pocket.

Obi-wan nodded. "Very well. I will take care of the generator. The two of you should get to the Falcon and-"

Before he could finish his sentence, alarms began to scream through the corridors. All three of them froze and then Calrissian smiled.

"Looks like whatever we're going to do, we need to do it fast."

Anakin and Obi-wan shared a look. "Just like old times."

"Just like old times," Obi-wan agreed.
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Old June 6 2014, 03:45 AM   #304
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Another excellent installment. Once again...despite it being an alternate reality...you have Obi-Wan and Anakin's dialogue and dynamic down perfectly. Just terrific. Can't wait for more.
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