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Old March 9 2010, 01:53 PM   #151
USS Avenger
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

More coming soon!?! WOOHOO!
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Old March 9 2010, 03:20 PM   #152
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Yay!
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Old March 9 2010, 06:06 PM   #153
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 16

"Luke."

Turning away from the blazing sun and the endless desert dunes, Luke frowned as he looked for the origin of the voice. A tall shadowy figure, his face lost in the glare of the sun, stood behind him, watching him.

"Hello?" His voice sounded distant, like an echo of an echo.

"Luke."

"Who are you?"

The figure took a step forward, revealing a distinguished face, chin covered in a well kept beard, with long hair tumbling down around his shoulders. The man looked sad.

"Luke. You must not listen to him."

"To who? What are you talking about?"

"Everything is wrong. This isn't how he was supposed to bring balance to the Force. You must not listen to him."

The man seemed to be fading into the sand itself, his body disintegrating into dust before Luke's very eyes. "You must be careful. He will try to turn you. You must not listen. Bring balance, Luke. Bring balance back to the Force."

The man's voice trailed off into silence, and was gone... and Luke woke up.

For a moment he just lay there, staring at the perfect white ceiling, lit by a single lamp at his side. He struggled to make sense of where he was, and how he had come to be there. It took him a moment to remember his arrival the day before, the sight of the Death Star and... And his father. Or the younger version of his father, anyway.

How is this possible? Or is this all just another bad dream?

With a sigh verging on a sob, he rolled over and out of the bed. He had been brought to this room the night before, escorted by two stormtroopers who were even now posted outside his door. For his protection, the man who wore his father's face had claimed. Luke knew enough to know that he was a prisoner, though.

Not that he could have done much even if he could have left the room. He was in the middle of an Imperial space station powerful enough to destroy the most formidable weapon the galaxy had ever known. He was surrounded by the Empire's most deadly shock troopers, never mind two trained Sith.

Like it or not, he was trapped and there was no way out.

Padding over to the chair where he had put his clothes the day before, he slipped back into his trousers, but left the shirt off. It stank anyway after days stuck in Mara Jade's ship. He wondered whether Darth Vidius would be willing to let him have a new shirt before he killed him.

He moved over to a small portal that had been installed in the far wall. Pressing his nose against the cool glass, he stared longingly at the planet Corellia hanging against the backdrop of stars. One of the main continents was just about visible, green and blue and full of life. He almost felt as though if he closed his eyes and listened, he could hear the planet breathing.

He was still gazing across the vastness of space when the door to his cell slid open.

Spinning round, Luke froze as he glimpsed the two stormtroopers, turned towards him with their blasters raised. Stood between them was the man who wore his father's face, the man who claimed to be his father.

Darth Vidius.

A Sith.

He was smiling at Luke warmly, an unfamiliar expression on Anakin Skywalker's face. His father rarely smiled - Luke remembered wondering as a child whether he even knew how. It was disconcerting to say the least, though no more so than the rest of the situation.

"Hello Luke."

Waving a hand, Vidius sent the stormtroopers back to their posts on either side of the door, then stepped into the room. As the door closed behind him, Vidius studied the small room, then looked back at Luke.

"I hope you slept well?"

Luke nodded, keeping his eyes fixed firmly on the imposter. Vidius sighed, then dropped his own gaze to the floor.

"I can see that you don't trust me."

Can you blame me? Luke almost said. He stopped himself in time and just stood there, staring.

Vidius trailed his hand over the top of a table at the entrance to the room, then walked around it to one of the two chairs. He pulled it out and sat down, then indicated for Luke to take the other. Instead, Luke walked over to the bed and sat down there, putting as much distance as he could between Vidius and himself.

The Sith Lord smiled wearily. "I guess I'm going to have to do some explaining before you'll talk to me. Well, I suppose that after all these years, you deserved to finally hear some truth."

"I am a clone of Anakin Skywalker," Vidius went on. "I was grown on a planet called Wayland in a facility run by the Empire. As you obviously saw when you arrived, I have all of your father's features, his entire genetic code and all of his memories up until the moment that he lost his hand on Geonosis."

"Geonosis?" Luke blurted out without meaning to. When had his father been on Geonosis? Luke had heard of the strange world in the history lessons he had received in the small school at Mos Espa. Something to do with the Clone Wars.

Vidius screwed up his mouth, his eyes flashing angrily. "I see that your father has hidden all of this from you. As I knew he would have. How else could he live with himself, considering his treachery."

Treachery? What was this man talking about? Vidius seemed almost to be able to read Luke's mind. He smiled. "I know all of this must seem overwhelming. Strange. Maybe even unbelievable. But I am telling you the truth. I can show you the documentation, the holovid recordings from the Republic News Service about Anakin Skywalker and his heroic actions during the Clone Wars."

"No," Luke whispered. "No, my father was a pilot."

"I still am, actually," Vidius said with a smile. "A damned fine one. I would imagine that you will have inherited that from us. You do know your father was a Jedi?"

Luke's mind flashed back to the scene he had walked in on back home, his father holding a lightsabre to another old man's throat. Yes, he knew that his father was a Jedi. And a liar. His heart clenched as he recalled what he had heard his father saying about his mother. And sister. I have a whole family out there that he hid from me.

A surge of anger almost overwhelmed him, so strong that it almost left him breathless. Across the room, Vidius closed his eyes and hummed.

"Yes. I can feel how angry you are towards him." Vidius opened his eyes and gazed at Luke. "As you should be. He has hidden so much from you, Luke. He took your whole life away from you, your heritage, everything that you could have been, because he couldn't face what he had done all those years ago. He robbed you of the father you should have had." He smiled. "The father I can be."

Luke shook his head. "No. You're not my father."

"Maybe not technically. But I could have been. I can be."

"But... But we're almost the same age!"

"True. Alright then, not a father. An older brother. We are both the progeny of Anakin Skywalker. A reflection of him, of what he could have been."

"No. I... I just want to go home."

"Why?"

"What?"

Vidius pressed. "Why would you want to go back to that man? To a man who lied to you, who dragged you away from a mother who loved you, who hid your sister from you? Why would you want to go back to a planet that might as well be the furthest point from the galactic core it is so far removed from the centre of power? What are you really going to do back on Tatooine?"

This man knew a lot about Luke, a lot more than he should. Luke felt a prickling at the back of his head, a warning sensation that had his hackles up. I don't want to be here.

And yet... Vidius wasn't wrong. What could he ever hope to achieve on Tatooine? He had spent his entire life dreaming of leaving onboard a ship, of finding his place, any place as long as it wasn't there. But with the Empire?

"I can't. You're... You're..."

"Evil?" Vidius' smile widened as Luke started. "I know that's what you think. What everyone thinks. The Empire is the dark canker at the heart of the old Republic. That the Emperor drinks the blood of babies and tortures anyone who disagrees with him in hidden prisons on Imperial Centre." Vidius laughed, a surprisingly light-hearted sound. "Do you really believe that?"

"I... I don't know."

Vidius stared at him for a moment, and then nodded. "Alright. I tell you what. Let me take you somewhere, show you how evil the Empire is. Then, if you still want to go home to Tatooine, I will arrange for Hand Jade to return you."

Luke's eyes widened. "You would do that?" It’s a trick. Luke couldn’t be sure whether that was one of his own thoughts or an echo from his dream.

"You have my word on it."

Luke thought about it for a moment. He couldn't trust this man. He was a Sith, a vampire out of nightmares. He had powers beyond any that Luke could ever hope to master. If he didn't stay on his guard...

Still, he could also keep Luke locked up in here indefinitely. Listening to him and letting him show him whatever he wanted might give him an opportunity to escape. And maybe he would actually hold to his word and let Luke go. At the end of the day, what do you have to lose?

Finally, he nodded. "Alright. What do you want to show me?"

Vidius smiled. "How would you like to visit Corellia?"
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Old March 9 2010, 06:06 PM   #154
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

(continued)

Turbulence hit the shuttle as it pierced the layer of clouds above Coronet City. Luke tightened his grip on the arms of his chair until his knuckles turned white. He felt nauseous at the way the shuttle was bouncing around in the atmosphere. Or at least he tried to convince himself that was the reason.

Darth Vidius sat at his side, legs stretched out lazily in front of him, watching out of the viewport in front of them. He glanced at Luke and smiled reassuringly, but Luke felt too sick to smile back.

Instead, he looked out at the world below, feeling slightly overwhelmed by the view. He had vague memories of Naboo, the planet where he was born, but apart from that his only experience was of the harsh deserts of Tatooine. Corellia seemed very different. Softer.

The capital city of Corellia nestled between a series of low rising hills and an ocean. Luke could just make out a series of beaches running along the coastline. The city herself was a metropolis of graceful towers and supple domes, spread out across a vast area. From his vantage point, Luke got the feeling that he could have fitted a dozen Mos Espa's in the space taken up by Coronet.

"Impressive, isn't it?" Vidius asked beside him. Luke could only nod.

The pilot, a human dressed in the dark colours of the Empire, began to level the shuttle off as they neared a landing area on the east side of the city. Vidius had still not informed him of where they were headed exactly, though he had told Luke it would give him a new vision of the Empire. Luke remained sceptical that anything Vidius could show him could change his opinion.

The shuttle swept in closer to the landing area. A green square appeared on the viewport, projected holographically to help guide the pilot. As they drew closer, Luke could make out a handful of other ships already parked on the wide area, as well as tiny white dots he took to be a stormtrooper escort for Vidius.

At the last moment, the pilot pushed a button on the command console in front of him. The shuttle's wings rose with a rumbling sound, shaking the shuttle slightly and setting off Luke's nausea again. The shuttle drifted forward, eased down, and then softly settled to the ground.

Luke sat there for a moment, enjoying the sensation of solid ground beneath him. Vidius had already unbuckled himself, and Luke struggled with a moment to release his own restraining harness. He stood, his legs wobbling slightly beneath him.

"Thank you, Lieutenant," Vidius said, nodding to the pilot who smiled back. It took Luke a moment to recognise the look in the man's face. Respect bordering on adoration. He had seen it in the faces of some of the smuggler crews back in Mos Espa. Like them, this man looked as though he trusted Vidius with his life.

How could a dark lord make someone respect him so much? It doesn't look like fear. What could he have done to earn that?

His mind still whirling, Luke followed Vidius back to the ramp and down, stepping out into the Corellia air. He gasped as the heat struck him like a wall. The southern continent where Coronet City was located seemed to be in the middle of a heatwave, and the temperature was sweltering. The heat, though, was totally different to what Luke was used to back home. Full of humidity, which made the air so thick he had trouble breathing.

At the bottom of the ramp, four stormtroopers stood at attention. They turned as one once Vidius and Luke stepped into their midsts and marched them toward a waiting speeder.

"Where are we going?" Luke asked.

"I want to show you exactly what the Empire has done for this planet, Luke," Vidius said gently. "I don't think you can truly understand unless you do."

Privately, Luke doubted Vidius could show him anything to help him 'understand' but he was willing to play along. For now. As long as it takes for him to release me.

As they climbed into the speeder, which eased out of the airport into the streets surrounding it, Luke wondered suddenly what had happened to Mara Jade. He hadn't seen his captor since they arrived - Vidius had informed her that she was expected on the bridge for a communique from their master. She hadn't been to see him, and he wondered whether she was even still onboard the station.

His musings were rapidly extinguished as they moved into the city itself. He gaped at the size of the buildings, all of which seemed to conspire to form a massive canyon of metal and transparisteel around him. He could hardly even glimpse the sun above him. And yet the buildings maintained an elegance and a beauty unlike any he had ever seen in Mos Espa or even Mos Eisley on the rare occasions he had been there.

"Impressive, isn't it?"

Luke turned his head to see Vidius considering him, a smile playing on his lips. Luke nodded and crane his head back to peer up at the domed top of the building they were passing.

"I've never seen anything like it."

"And this is nothing compared to Imperial Centre. Coruscant is a true jewel."

Luke nodded, unable to imagine anything being more impressive, more beautiful, than Coronet City.

After a few minutes, the speeder began to slow. Luke looked around, trying to find their destination. He realised that they were coming to a stop in front of a smaller building that hunkered down between the larger palaces around it. Red and ochre tones from the brick construction mingled in the shadows. Luke felt a chill.

"Where are we?"

Vidius didn't answer. He waited for one of the stormtroopers to open the door and hold it for him, then stepped out. His cloak billowed in a gust of wind, and Vidius let it. Luke gazed at him, taking in his impressive stature, his effortless confidence and wondered what could have happened to turn this man into... Into my father.

Shaking his head, he followed Vidius out onto the street. He wrapped his arms around his middle and stared at the building.

"Where are we?" he asked again.

"This was the Coronet Community Centre," Vidius said softly. "When we arrived, we found it packed to the brims with the dregs of Corellian society - the poor, the misfortunate, the crippled and the handicapped. They had been left here to rot, provided with a few meals, just enough to keep them alive."

Vidius started forward, flanked by the stormtroopers. Luke had no choice but to follow him. They walked up a series of steps, then through the open doors.

Inside, darkness reigned. The first thing Luke noticed was the smell - the stench forced his mind back to the day his father had taken him to visit an old friend of his in Mos Eisley. The family of Rodians had lived thirty in a small room. That same funky smell of trapped beings, of unwashed bodies, of despair, filled this space, so strong that Luke took a step back.

One of the troopers lifted his arm and shone a torch over the corridor. Mats covered the floor, dirty and falling apart. A couple of rats scurried away from the light. Luke swallowed. The light continued, showing metre after metre filled with the bedding.

"This is where some of them slept," Vidius said, his voice cold. "The King and his government had done nothing to improve their living, had locked them away in here with a handful of keepers who were little more than guards, and abandoned them to rot."

He guided Luke forward, avoiding the mats, and led him into a room off to one side. The stench was stronger here. When the light played over the same mats, these encrusted with blood and excrement, Luke tumbled to his knees and threw up.

His throat burned as he stumbled back to his feet, his head spinning. He had never imagined anything like this. He put a hand out to steady himself, and found his hand pressed against Vidius' chest.

He met the Sith Lord's eyes, and saw the anger and rage and sorrow burning there. "I vowed, a long time ago, that I would never allow another person to die in these conditions. I swore it. To your grandmother."

"But... But what can you do?" Luke whispered.

Vidius smiled, and it was as though he lit up the darkness, fighting it back. "I'm so glad you asked."

xxx

The sound of children laughing met Luke's ears as he exited the speeder.

They had driven out beyond the city limits, inland through a series of fields and forests, to this small farmhouse. It was idealic, especially to Luke who had never known anything but sand and dust and super-heated wind. Although it was hot, a cooling breeze wafted in from a nearby stream and a handful of large trees provided shade.

Some of the children ran over when the speeder stopped. Luke was astonished when Vidius fell to his knees and opened his arms. Laughing, he enfolded two of them, a boy and a girl, and lifted them. They squealed as he spun them around, then put them down. They ran off again, their cheeks red from the exertions.

Vidius turned to Luke, and Luke would have sworn he saw tears in his eyes. "It's good to see them so happy," he said, gazing off after the children.

"What is this place?" Luke breathed.

"This is the new Corellia Communitee Centre. Completely paid for and subsidised by the Empire. In the old days of the Republic, an initiative like this would have had to turn to big business for the money, because it would have taken the Senate years to push through the legislation. Thanks to the Empire, this place was found, the installation complete and the families moved within three days."

Luke shook his head. "It's amazing."

Vidius smiled. "This is the Empire, Luke. This is the sort of thing that we can do, the sort of help that we can provide."

"But... But the Empire has destroyed liberties. Has stopped people from doing what they want."

"A price." Vidius nodded. "I'm not going to lie to you, Luke. I never will. The Empire is far from perfect. There are a handful of people who suffer under the stricter conditions of the Imperial law code. A few newspapers were closed for spreading sedition, a few groups were slapped down, a little too hard. But look at these people, Luke! Look at the happiness the Empire has been able to bring."

Luke looked. He looked at the children running through the trees, swinging on branches and kicking a ball. He looked at the parents, working hard in the barn or putting extra paint on the walls of the farmhouse. He looked at their smiles. And he felt totally lost.

"I know this must be overwhelming. I know what you must think of the Empire - what the other me must have told you. This is what he threw away, though, Luke. This is what he sacrificed for his Jedi. His Force. And what did we get for it? War. Suffering. The sort of places you saw in that community centre."

Luke nodded. "I... I need some time to process all of this."

"Of course you do. But first, come and speak to the people. Ask them what it was like before and how they have been treated since. Talk to the people, Luke, the real people. See how they feel."

Nodding, Luke started to follow Vidius towards the farm. He had only taken a few steps, though, when he felt a surge of heat rush through him. An urgent compulsion filled his mind, and he cried out, throwing himself forward to knock Vidius to the ground.

He heard the whine of a laser and saw an explosion of dirt half a foot from where Vidius had stood.

Before he could make sense of what had just happened, he felt rough hands grip his arms and haul him to his feet. Two stormtroopers dragged him off Vidius and Luke was convinced they would have shot him on the spot if Vidius hadn't intervened.

"No," he said, coughing out dust. "No."

The Sith Lord climbed to his feet, dusting himself off. Luke saw the other stormtroopers rush towards the farmhouse behind him. Most of the families had scattered, taking refuge behind farming equipment or in the shade of the trees. The children were crying, looking terrified.

"Let him go," Vidius ordered. "He just saved my life."

The stormtroopers released him immediately and Luke stumbled a little. He felt weak at the knees, and his stomach was roiling violently.

Vidius stepped towards Luke and before he could stop him had grabbed Luke in a hug. He pressed Luke to him for a moment, then released him, holding him at arm's length.

"Thank you," he said. "Thank you."

"I... I..." Luke fell to his knees and vomited in the dirt. He felt his head begin to spin, and then darkness rushed in and took him.
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Old March 9 2010, 06:19 PM   #155
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Interesting.... very interesting.

So I wonder if Vidius really does believe what he's saying to Luke, and really believes in the power of the Empire to work as a force for good, as Anakin seemed to do when he spoke to Padme on Naboo in AOTC. Maybe he has designs against the Emperor?

I'm really enjoying this.
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Old March 9 2010, 07:51 PM   #156
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

I just got caught up on this thread in the last day or so and I wanted to chime in...

I've never been a huge Star Wars fan...never got into the EU or anything beyond the 6 films, but I gotta say, this story thus far has REALLY got me in its grips! Love the little details, the well thought out deviations from the "real" universe. Great job so far! I really look forward to reading more...
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Old March 9 2010, 08:08 PM   #157
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

VERY interesting...Vidius, instead of being the sort of outright, obvious evil that Vader was, reminds me far more of Gul Dukat. He's almost Cardassian, the way he talks about the Empire and the State, and uses the appearance of charm and warmth to manipulate.

I am actually beginning to think this version will be HARDER to turn back to the Light Side (should that even be possible) than Vader, given the shades of grey. (I wonder if he's close to Vergere's philosophy of the Force? And no, I haven't read the books, but I know about that.)
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Old March 10 2010, 12:58 AM   #158
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hmm. Is this Empire actually benevolent in some matters. Is the whole thing orchestrated to win over Luke? Every time I think I've got this figured out something new comes along!
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Old March 10 2010, 01:25 AM   #159
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Another excellent installment. I think this keeps better and better and more intriguing as we get deeper into the story. I agree with the poster who wrote that Vidius reminded him of Gul Dukat...I got that vibe from him as well. I'm wondering though if Vidius is just a means to the end for the Sith and if he is able to turn Luke to the dark side he will be killed?
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Old March 10 2010, 03:14 AM   #160
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

I am in agreement with the others here, Vidious seemed...charming. Thats a truly scary thought, a charming Vader. Well done, I also wonder if the Empire has done some good in this galaxy. In the "real"(or is it "prime") universe, I would bet that it actually did. Despite what we see in the movies, I would guess that many ordinary citizens were actually very sad to see the Empire fall. In this alternate reality I would think ithe Empire would have done even more "good" in order to win the hearts and minds of the people because the Alliance is around as a true force, not just some pitiful little band.
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Old March 10 2010, 05:23 PM   #161
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi all!

Thanks for the great comments, glad you're still enjoying this!

Chaos Descending

Don't think it is a spoiler to say that yes, Vidius really believes what he is saying here. Like you pointed out in your comment, Anakin around AOTC believed that something like an Empire could be a force for good, and this Anakin is closer to that Anakin than the one who eventually became Vader in our timeline. Good catch!

Glad you're enjoying this, hope to have some more up next week.

ParticleMan

Wow, cool, a new reader! So great to have new people join in on the fun!

So glad you're enjoying this story, more so if you're not normally a SW fan. Really means a lot. I hope you'll enjoy the rest of the story.

Nerys

I just had a vision of a Cardassian Sith... Brrrr. Chilling!

Still, great comparison here. Vidius is definitely more of a manipulator than Vader ever was, the result of his training after he was born as a clone.

As to the idea of Vidius being turned back to the Light Side - I have to admit the thought hadn't even occured to me, but I agree that he would probably be much more difficult to turn back.

And no, Vidius is not consciously close to Vergere's philosophy of the Force.

The Badger

I really wanted this chapter to leave you guessing as to what exactly Vidius is playing at, and in that it seems to have succeeded. There is definitely room for both interpretations here, as to whether this Empire is simply more 'friendly' than the original universe one or whether this is all just a set up...

Hopefully the final answer will continue to surprise you!

Admiral Young

Thanks, so glad you enjoyed it! And really flattered you feel this is getting better as we go along.

Vidius as simply a disposable tool to get to Luke... I quite like that idea. Not that I'm saying that is the truth, but it is an intriguing notion...

USS Avenger

Yeah, charming Vader does seem somehow more scary than normal Vader, doesn't he?!

I agree wholeheartedly that I'm sure for a lot of people the Empire would have been a good thing. For those who have read the novels, you get the feeling that things spiralled out of control when the Empire fell, and the Alliance hasn't been able to hold things together as well as they would have liked. So I'm sure a lot of people would have been upset when it fell, despite it's darker side.

And a good point about the Empire needing to be more careful of appearing 'good' considering the existence of the Alliance as an alternative.

Thanks to you all once again for your insightful comments! So glad you're enjoying this!

Joel
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Old April 4 2010, 06:23 PM   #162
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

I have to say BRAVO!!!!!! this is one of the best fan-fiction stories i have ever read. while being diffrent, it feels very much like star wars, i love your "mirror" universe take on the characters. i can not wait to read the next installment!!!!!! Hopefully we will see a new chapter soon, i cant wait to see what you have in store next!!!!!
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Old April 5 2010, 09:19 AM   #163
Admiral_Young
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Yep I agree with the previous posters statements...this mirror universe feels very much like Star Wars than the actual prequels did and I'm not a prequel basher by any means I enjoyed them for the most part. I just like the more mature dialogue you have for these characters. Very much enjoying these and look forward to more...hopefully for more.
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Old July 4 2010, 08:31 PM   #164
Chaos Descending
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

So, is this story dead now?

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Old July 5 2010, 01:23 PM   #165
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi Chaos!

No, this story is not dead, just sleeping... I'm hoping to have some more up by this time next week. I'll let you know when I do.

Thanks for the interest!

Joel
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