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Old November 16 2009, 10:52 PM   #91
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Thanks for those Gojirob, I'll check them out in the morning!

Joel
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Old November 16 2009, 10:55 PM   #92
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 12

Anakin cursed as the hydrospanner slipped from his grasp. He went to catch it, leaning backwards and almost tumbling off the tiny shelf where he sat. Grabbing a hold of the nearest pipe at the last moment, he pulled himself back to a secure position, face pressed against the cold metal, and waited for the sound of metal on metal as the spanner hit the deck.

It never came.

He looked round to find the spanner spinning slowly just within reach. He leant out and picked it out of thin air, then glanced down.

Obi-wan grinned up at him. "You're welcome."

Anakin scowled and turned back to the hyperdrive. He had a fleeting urge to throw the spanner at his old friend, but he knew it would be pointless. He'll probably throw it back with the Force.

"What do you want, Ben?" They had both decided to keep up their pretense even when they were alone, just in case someone walked in.

"I came to see whether you were alright, after..."

After you told me my son is some kind of fulcrum of the Force? After I found out Master Yoda died making a prophecy about my family? After you revealed that my son and my daughter are...

No. He wouldn't go there. He concentrated on the drive instead. At least this is something I can fix. I can control.

"I'm fine."

"Listen, Anakin, about what I told you, you need to know that..."

The sound of running feet saved Anakin from hearing any more of what Ben had to say. Both men turned in time to see Greedo burst through the hanging bay door, out of breath, his eyes wild. He folded almost in half with his hands on his haunches, his whole body shaking.

"Captain… wants you… roof,” the Rodian said through wheezing breaths.

The roof? "What the hell for?"

"Imps."

XXX

Anakin ran up the stairs after the Rodian. His lungs burned with every step. His last bacta inhalation treatment was only a few days old, but if things carried on the way they had so far, he was going to have to schedule another one.

That was, of course, if they didn't get arrested in the next few minutes.

Imperials! On Tatooine? How was that even possible? Tatooine was protected under the Corellia Accords. He glanced back at Obi-wan, wondering whether his former master had something to do with it.

When they reached the rooftop, they found Ana and the bear-like Oath lying on their bellies, peering down at the streets below. Ana turned and motioned for them to drop down and join them. Anakin shared a look with Obi-wan - we're getting too old for this. Still, amidst much muffled groaning, they managed to drop to their hands and knees, and crawled over to where the crewman and captain waited.

"Took you long enough," Ana whispered.

"It was all the Rodian's fault," Anakin said.

"Slowed us down," Obi-wan quipped.

Ana glanced at them. "You two should start a double-act. Tour the galaxy."

"Maybe you'd like to start by entertaining those troops," Oath growled.

All three of them looked at one other sheepishly, then turned their attention to the streets below.

The familiar white armour of Clonetrooper uniforms filled the warren of Mos Espa. Anakin vaguely remembered hearing somewhere that Palpatine had changed the name to Stormtroopers. He snorted. Palptaine had always had a flair for the dramatic - Grand Army of the Republic, Emperor Palpatine, Stormtroopers... Shaking his head, Anakin returned his attention back to the oncoming troops.

"When did they arrive?"

"Two hours ago. They flew in on shuttles and seized the mayor's mansion. From what Ji-abi was able to find out, they're claiming the whole planet."

"The Alliance won't let that happen," Obi-wan said.

"You don't sound so sure of yourself."

He shrugged. "Well how could I be? I'm only an engineer."

Anakin glared at him, then turned to look at Ana. "What are we going to do?"

"We'll wait until they finish inspecting all the hangars and then we'll blow this joint.”

"But how are you going to stop them inspecting the Venture?"

"Why would I want to do that?" Ana seemed confused. "I'm in between jobs, so I don't have any contraband on board. I have a very elaborate false flight plan ready. There's nothing to worry about.

Anakin and Obi-wan shared a look. Ana frowned and looked from one to the other. "What? What aren't you telling me?"

"You can't let those imperials find us, Ana."

"Ani, what is going on?"

Anakin looked at Obi-wan, then sighed, nodding. Obi-wan reached into his cloak and slid out his lightsabre. He rolled it over to Ana. She looked at it for a moment, then picked it up between the tip of her forefinger and thumb, holding it as if it were a rattlesnake. She just stared at it for a moment, eyes wide with disbelief.

"Oh Goddess." She looked up at both of them. "It was true? All that about being a Jedi and Luke and... Oh Goddess, how could I have been so stupid?"

"Ana, listen I..."

"I don't want to hear it, Skywalker,” she snapped. “You lied to me. Worse, you've put my ship and my crew in danger."

"Well, what did you expect?” Anakin snarled back. “We tried telling you the truth, you didn't believe us. What were we supposed to do?"

"Showing me this would have been a good start.” She ran a shaking hand through her hair. “All this time? You've been keeping this from me?"

"I... I'm not that man anymore, Ana. I wanted to leave all of that behind."

"Well, you're doing a smack-up job of it."

"Not to interrupt your little spat," Obi-wan said, "but I think we have a problem."

Anakin followed Obi-wan's gaze. A squad of 'troopers were marching towards their hangar bay, led by two humans, a Gand... and a Hutt.

"Mysthu!" he cursed. He looked at Obi-wan. "They followed us."

"Friends of yours?" Ana asked as Obi-wan nodded. Anakin sighed.

"You could say that,” he said. “I almost killed one of them yesterday."

"Wonderful. You've really put me in the poodoo now, Ani." She shook her head. "Still, I guess the damage is already done. The question now is what do we do about it?"

Before Anakin could say anything, Obi-wan spoke up. "You get Anakin off this planet. I'll take care of them."

"I don't think so," Anakin started to say.

Obi-wan put a hand on his shoulder. "I brought this trouble to your doorstep, Ani. Let me do what I can. Your son is waiting for you."

Anakin blinked. The back of his eyes prickled. "You called me Ani. You never call me Ani."

Obi-wan smiled. "I'm not the same man, anymore, Anakin."

Anakin looked into his old master's eyes for a long moment, searching. Then he nodded. "I can see that."

"Sorry to interrupt this touching moment of male bonding but..." Ana inclined her head to the 'troopers who were drawing closer and closer.

"Alright," Obi-wan said, taking his lightsabre back from Ana and gathering his robes. "Get down to the ship and get it ready. I'll delay those troopers as long as I can."

Ana and the Chaol nodded and began to crawl backwards towards the door that led back down into the bay. Anakin, though, hesitated.

"You asked me for my help, Anakin. This is it."

He pressed something round and hard into Anakin's palm. When Anakin looked down, he found a small comm unit. He looked up at Obi-wan, confused.

"This will lead you to my contact once you reach the Run. He'll see you safe to Coruscant."

"Obi-wan, I --"

"Attention Bay 352. This city is now under the jurisdiction of the Galactic Empire. Prepare for inspection."

"Go," Obi-wan hissed and pushed his old friend away. Anakin stumbled to his feet, looked back at Obi-wan for a single second, then he ran.

XXX

Obi-wan watched Anakin vanish through the doorway. He allowed himself a thin smile - perhaps after this, he would be able to let go of the guilt he had carried with him every day since Anakin left Naboo. Perhaps the Force would finally give him some peace.

Mastering his thoughts, he closed his eyes for a few short seconds, allowing the Force to wash through and fill him. The reassuring bond gave him a measure of solace, the conviction that he was doing the right thing. Opening his eyes, he turned and leapt off the top of the hangar bay.
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Old November 16 2009, 10:55 PM   #93
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Obi-wan allowed the Force to hold him, slowing his fall and landing him softly on the street in front of the hangar bay. As his feet touched the ground, he ignited his lightsabre, staring through the haze of brilliant green light at the gathered imperials before him.

He stretched out with his feelings.

As was to be expected, the clonetroopers themselves were calm, though a hint of anticipation tinged their feelings. He sensed more intense emotions from the gang members who had accompanied them – fear, excitement, anger, menace. Pulsing through that maelstrom of differing emotions was an intense thirst for revenge. Revenge against him and Anakin for their humiliation.

Not that they were looking to face him directly, of course. They had all moved swiftly as possible to get out of the way the moment he had appeared, the Hutt in particular slithering out of sight with surprising speed. His whining tones now made themselves heard from behind the nearest wall.

"That's one of them, boss. He's one of them Jedi."

"Thank you,” the lead trooper said drily, eyeing Kenobi’s sabre. “A highly useful piece of information. If you hadn’t been here, we would never have known.”

Interesting, Kenobi thought with an inner smile. Looks like Fett’s personality is asserting itself in these new models.

Before he could pursue the thought, the trooper took a step towards him, hands raised. “We don't want any trouble, Master Jedi."

"Of course you don't," Obi-wan retorted with a tight smile. "That's why you've surrounded this hangar bay and have your blasters pointed at me."

"A precaution," the trooper said, “nothing more. Now, if you'll let us past, I'm sure we can discuss this unfortunate situation and come to some kind of a solution."

They negotiate as well. Still, he shook his head.

"Oh, you're not getting inside."

The leader’s whole stance changed, becoming more threatening. "I can assure you, Master Jedi, we will. You may have the Force, but you're only one man." His voice hardened. "And we’ve had lots of practice against Jedi. Now. Let us through."

The quip about practice against Jedi firmed Obi-wan’s resolve. He shifted his own stance to match the trooper’s. "No."

Obi-wan would have sworn the trooper hesitated. Then he shook his head. "Very well."

He must have had some kind of silent signalling system in his helmet, because the moment he finished speaking his troop went on the attack. Spreading out to cut off every exit, they began to fire their blasters. Obi-wan swept his lightsabre around in a wide arc, the Force allowing him to perfectly time his movement to deflect every single blaster bolt. Then he dropped back a step, allowing the troopers to move towards him.

Hurry up Anakin, he thought as the Force enfolded him and began to guide his movements. Began to guide him towards his inevitable death.

XXX

The sound of blaster fire echoed through the hangar bay.

Anakin sensed Ana glance at him from the other side of the hyperdrive. "I'm sure he'll be alright,” she said. “He’s a Jedi.”

Anakin found he couldn't meet her eyes. Gaze locked on the malfunctioning machine, he shook his head. "No. He won't be." But thanks to him, we will.

Oath shouted suddenly from the doorway where he was standing guard, a blaster rifle in both hands. "He's... He's holding them off! For now.” He looked over at them. “How much longer?"

Anakin reattached three wires, tightening them with a laserplaz welder. That should do it. He pushed the unit back into the hull. Or tried to, at least. It stuck. He pressed on it with all of his strength, but the damned thing wouldn't budge. The screws that held it together began to groan, but he just kept on pushing. He would make it work, if it was the last thing he did. He --

Ana's hand suddenly appeared on top of his. He looked up. She was smiling at him sadly. Without saying a word, she tipped her hand back and forth, rocking the unit slightly. After a few seconds, it slid easily into its socket. She didn’t let go of his hand, squeezing it until he met her eyes.

“Go,” she said.

"Wh- What?"

"Go help your friend."

He shook his head. "But what about --"

She smiled and squeezed his hand. "We'll get you out, don't worry."

He still hesitated. If he did this, he was putting all of their lives in danger not just his. He might be wasting Obi-wan's sacrifice. And he might be putting paid to his chance of saving Luke. At the end of the day, though, he realised he didn't really have a choice.

Leaning forward, he kissed Ana gently on the lips. "Thank you."

"You're welcome. Now move. And get your ass back here in one piece."

"I'll do my best."

He jumped down from the small shelf and ran across the hangar to the door. He stopped, catching his breath. Oath looked up at him in surprise, but before he could ask him what was going on, Ana called out from the ship’s hatch, ordering him to move his mangy butt over to the ship. The big hairy alien seemed to hesitate, then shook his head, grumbling about damned humans before heading towards the ship. Anakin watched him go, then turned to the door.

Peered round the doorframe, all he could see was a hail of light. The troopers fired round after round at Obi-wan, who knocked back every bolt with economy of motion. His every twitch was designed to maximise his effectiveness. The sight brought back memories of the Wars, of fighting side by side with Obi-wan against the separatists. Of course back then, the clones had been on their side.

That was a long time ago.

Pulling his lightsabre from his cloak, Anakin ignited it and waded into the fray.

XXX

A sweep of his lightsabre sawed off the barrel of the nearest stormtrooper’s blaster rifle. Obi-wan spun on both feet, his hands snapping down and around, catching three or four laser blasts and ricocheting them back at the oncoming ‘troopers. Coming back face to face with the group of soldiers, he reached out with the Force, giving two nearby clones a hard shove, pushing them back into their companions and sending the whole bunch tumbling into a mess of arms and legs.

His muscles ached, despite the Force flowing through him. All he wanted was to let his arms drop, let them take him. But he couldn't. Not until he was sure Anakin was safe.

As if the thought had summoned him, a green blade hissed into existence beside his. He glanced to the side and saw his old apprentice stood beside him, both feet planted firmly on the ground, both hands wrapped around the handgrip of his sabre. In the morning light, the scars on his face seemed like a patchwork of cobwebs against his skin. His eyes, though, were as flinty and hard as Tatooine cavastone.

"What are you doing?" Obi-wan snapped.

"Saving your behind again, master," Anakin replied. Though he was too concentrated to smile, Obi-wan was sure that inside, he was grinning at him with the same cocky smile he always wore.

Obi-wan felt a warning through the Force, and allowed it to guide his hands down and round, catching three blaster bolts in quick succession, sending them ricocheting back towards the troopers who had fired them. One hit the target, sending the trooper reeling backwards and down.

"You're supposed to be getting out of here."

"Don't worry, we will."

Anakin took a step forward as one of the troopers fired twice in quick succession. As he brought his hand up and over, though, his arm faltered and seemed to lock. His lightsabre stuck in a downward sloping position, leaving Anakin wide open. Obi-wan saw a flash of light and smoke, and then Anakin fell back.

"Anakin!"

Without thinking, without allowing his fear overwhelm him, Obi-wan stepped forward, lightsabre whirling as he caught half a dozen more shots. Reaching out with the Force, he tried to get a sense of Anakin, but despite his injury, his former apprentice was still masked from him. He forgoe his attempts, concentrating on protecting Anakin.

From behind, he heard the sound of repulsor lift engines firing. Moments later, the triangular shape of the Misbegotten Venture appeared from inside the docking bay. Some of the Imperial troops began to fire at the hovering ship, but whoever was in the gunnery tower began to lay down covering fire. A hatch in the bottom opened and Obi-wan saw a figure in the shadows, waving.

Batting back a flurry of laser blasts, Obi-wan reached out for a nearby dumpster. With a tremendous effort in the Force, he pulled the metal box towards him, dropping it in front of Anakin and himself. Falling into a crouch, he crawled over to Anakin's body. Disactivating his lightsabre, he tucked it into his belt. When he put his arms around Anakin, his old friend moaned slightly.

"Don't worry, Ani. I'll get your out of this."

Obi-wan gently moved his friend’s arms away. What he saw left him reeling. The laser blast had caught Anakin in the chest. Where he should have seen burned skin and shattered bone, blood pumping through inner organs, was a mess of wires and tubes, hidden beneath artificial flesh. He looked at Anakin’s tortured face.

Oh Ani! What did you do?

By now, the Venture was almost overhead. They're taking a hell of a risk for Anakin and me, he reminded himself. When these troops informed their commander that the Venture had fired on them, every ship in the Rim Territories was going to be gunning for them. For us.

Still, for now, their efforts were paying off.

Pushing away his fears, Obi-wan gathered Anakin into his arms, then reached out with the Force. He seized a hold of part of the hatch’s metal structure with his mind. I hope I'm still up to this, he thought. Using the Force to increase his strength and his hold on the hatch to guide him, he leapt.

He almost didn't make it. At the last moment, when he saw that he was going to undershoot the hatch, he reached out a hand and grabbed hold. The impact shook his whole body and almost rocked Anakin out of his other arm. Obi-wan grunted, sweat breaking out on his forehead.

"Give me your hand!"

Obi-wan looked up to find Oath stood on the hatch, reaching down for him. "Give me your hand, I'll pull you up."

Before Obi-wan could respond, a hail of laser blasts struck the inner hatch around Oath, forcing the Chaol back. Obi-wan heard him roar for back up. Moments later, he returned with the Rodian, Greedo, who was holding a Jawa’s rifle in his hands. Dropping to one knee, he started to lay down covering fire.

"Now, give me your hand!"

"No!" Obi-wan groaned through his teeth. "Anakin! Get... Anakin!"

The Chaol looked as if he were about to argue, but one look into Obi-wan's eyes convinced him not to bother. Dropping down on his belly, he reached down to the limp form in Obi-wan's arms, and seized him under the arms. With an animal roar, the huge alien lifted Anakin out of his arms and up onto the hatch.

Instead of grabbing a hold with his other hand, Obi-wan used the force to call his lightsabre into his hand. He ignited it. Blind to what was happening behind him, he followed the will of the Force, allowing it to guide his hand so as to deflect the incoming laser bolts.

"Jedi!"

Obi-wan looked up. Oath was there again. "Come on. Give me your hand."

Obi-wan felt the will of the Force nudging him. He knew what he was supposed to do. He smiled and shook his head. "I'm the one they want," he said. “If they get me, they’ll give you the time you need.” He knew it was true, as clearly as he knew that if he got aboard this ship, everything would be lost.

"Not after this, they won’t. They’ll be gunning for us. Now come on. Don't do anything stupid."

"Oath!" Ana's voice came over the intership. "What by the Goddess are you doing down there? We've got incoming."

"Come on Kenobi. Give me your hand."

"Tell Anakin I'm sorry," Obi-wan said, smiling sadly. For everything.

Then secure in the will of the Force, Obi-wan Kenobi let go and fell.
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Old November 16 2009, 11:22 PM   #94
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Great entry. CS, I meant to ask two things :

1 - Did Ani maintain a relationship with his step-brother?

2 - Did Obi-Wan age any better for not being in Tatooine's harsh climate for 20 years?

A subtlety that now also struck me : The Death Star was the weapon of a confirmed power. A power that was still fighting other powers might want a different kind of super-weapon--maybe one that blanketed an entire system with a tech-killing EM Pulse?
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Old November 17 2009, 01:26 PM   #95
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Hi Gojirob,

Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the chapter. To answer your questions:

1 - Not really. Although he tells himself that it is for their own good and he does not want anyone to link him with the Anakin Skywalker, it is mainly because he has no real reason to. Beyond his mother, he has nothing in common with these people.

2 - I pictured my Obi-wan as Alec Guiness, although a slightly fitter, leaner, meaner Alec Guiness. So yes, I guess he has aged slightly better, mainly from being more active than the Obi-wan who lived as a hermit.

That's a good idea for a weapon for this Empire. Of course, I've never said that there was a Death Star in this universe. Or any major weapon... So...

Thanks again for the comment!

Joel
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Old November 17 2009, 03:00 PM   #96
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Another good chapter. Poor Obi-wan, will he now become more powerful than we can possibly imagine?
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Old November 17 2009, 04:20 PM   #97
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

CaptainSarine wrote: View Post
Hi Gojirob,

Thanks for the comment. Glad you enjoyed the chapter. To answer your questions:

1 - Not really. Although he tells himself that it is for their own good and he does not want anyone to link him with the Anakin Skywalker, it is mainly because he has no real reason to. Beyond his mother, he has nothing in common with these people.

2 - I pictured my Obi-wan as Alec Guiness, although a slightly fitter, leaner, meaner Alec Guiness. So yes, I guess he has aged slightly better, mainly from being more active than the Obi-wan who lived as a hermit.

That's a good idea for a weapon for this Empire. Of course, I've never said that there was a Death Star in this universe. Or any major weapon... So...

Thanks again for the comment!

Joel
1 - I always pictured, based on epsiodes 2 and 4, that there must have been a time, perhaps Krieg's funeral, wherein Owen tried to talk Ani into just staying on with them. Obi-Wan, who is with him, fights against this, even though a war-weary Ani deeply considers it. Maybe an ep of TCW will show this.

2 - I see him as he was in Bridge On The River Kwai, maybe a bit older.
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Old November 17 2009, 06:26 PM   #98
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Another thing I was wondering about...I saw a reference earlier to Anakin wearing some sort of breathing mask--in another scene, though he kisses Leia without any issues. Am I right that this is something he uses sporadically like an inhaler? And am I right that Anakin's body is just as damaged as it was in Revenge of the Sith, but that he was rebuilt in a much "kinder" manner than Palpatine did it?
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Old November 19 2009, 01:15 AM   #99
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

This is by far my favourite thing on the internet right now CS! Another stellar entry...and maybe it's my fondness for Star Wars The Clone Wars but I keep picturing and hearing Ewan McGregor as old Obi-Wan now. Since this is an alternate universe, and we know that this Obi-Wan has led a different life the past twenty years than his normal 'verse counterpart he hasn't aged as harsh as our Ben did. I am very much enjoying their banter together. You've taken what Lucas intended their relationship be like (we saw glimpses of it in Attack of the Clones and the first half of Revenge of the Sith) but have given them much better dialouge. I liked the "You never called me Ani" line. Also liked Anakin's scoffing of Palpatine's grandoise naming of things.

I still like my Sun Crusher suggestion...why destroy entire planets...when you can take out whole systems? You could give that quote to Moff Tarkin if you like lol.
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Old November 19 2009, 06:27 PM   #100
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Another enthralling chapter! Well done.
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Old November 19 2009, 07:21 PM   #101
CaptainSarine
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

USS Avenger

Now what makes you think poor obi is dead?? No comment...

Gojirob

1 - What a great idea for an episode of TCW! It would be bitterly ironic if Obi-wan tries to talk Anakin out of staying, only for that to be exactly what pushes Ani to the Dark Side.

2 - I checked out some pictures from River Kwai, and I can definitely see my obi-wan in that way. However, I also like Admiral Young's suggestion of simply an older Ewan McGregor. So I'd say you can imagine him either way!

Nerys

Yes, Anakin's breathing apparatus is temporary, like an inhaler and he has to have various medical procedures to help. And yes, Anakin's body is just as damaged, but in a different way (lightning attack as opposed to lava)

Admiral Young

Wow! Thank you so much, I am hugely touched that this is your favourite thing to read on the internet. That really means a lot!!

Yes, I can see an older Ewan McGregor, though also a less old Alec Guiness as well. It's up to you how you want to read/see/hear him in your heads.

I'm glad you like the Ani/Obi relationship - what you mentioned about the Lucas intention in Attack of the Clones, beginning of Revenge is exactly what I was aiming at.

As to the Sun Crusher vs. Death Star debate... I guess we'll see!

The Badger

Thank you so much! Great to have another commentator who enjoyed it.

Well, more coming tonight or tomorrow, a pretty intense chapter if I do say so myself. Can't wait to read all your thoughts!

Joel
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Old November 19 2009, 11:05 PM   #102
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Chapter 12
*
Leia hated politics.
*
As she stood, her back against the wall of the Palace’s vast reception room, she stifled a yawn. All of this talking, posturing and haggling - give her a flightstick or a lightsabre any day. Why couldn't people just stop wasting time with fancy speeches and flowery words and just make a decision?
*
Today seemed even worse than the past few days had been, though. Tarkin had not shown up, claiming that he had a last minute meeting with the Emperor to attend. None of the minions he had sent in his stead were able to make a decision, so the negotiations seemed to be going round and round in circles. More than they usually did, anyway.
*
She fought back another yawn. Three days the talks had been dragging on. Three days of bald-faced lies and false promises - and that was just on the Alliance side. As much fun as it had been at times to watch that Corellian snipe at Tarkin, most of it had been boring, tedious details. Who should receive the mining rights on this asteroid? What planet should be given up if we are to gain this one? How many ships of each side should be allowed to remain near the Corellian Line? By the Force, sometimes she wanted to scream.
*
Of course, her nightly activities didn't help her mood.
*
Her search for Tantiss and the Emperor’s apprentice were hardly any more exciting. Biggs had accompanied her to an unending series of rundown bars and ill-frequented tapcaffs, looking for information brokers willing to barter Imperial secrets. Surprisingly, there were very few of them willing to deal.
*
One tiny break had come the night before. Leia had got back to her quarters after another fruitless series of visits and checked the anonymous message service she had rented in the lower levels. A female Hutt they had contacted on the first night had left her a message. According to the Hutt, she had found an obscure reference to Tantiss in an old galactic almanac, referring to a mountain on the planet Wayland out on the Rim.
*
Leia had credited the Hutt’s account and passed the information on to Mace, asking him to check the reference against Jedi Archives. Still, she didn't hold out much hope.
*
Wedge Antilles, the Rogue she had assigned to protection duty today, nudged her. She glanced at him, then followed his eyeline. Her mother had turned around and was waving for Leia to come closer. Leia noticed that many of the delegates had stood, stretching beside their chairs or pouring drinks at the table off to one side. How did I miss them calling a recess? She shook her head. Concentrate!
*
"Keep your eyes open," she ordered Wedge, then walked over to the table.
*
Dropping into a crouch at her mother's side, she leaned in so that her mother could whisper in her ear.
*
"Can you sense anything from the Imperial delegation?"
*
Leia glanced over at the three Moffs and two generals. Emptying her mind, she reached out with the Force, trying to get a read on them.
*
"They seem... Tense. As if they're waiting for something. Tarkin probably."
*
"Maybe. Without him here, none of them are willing to talk. Anything else?"
*
Again, Leia reached out. "One of the Moffs seems worried, but both of the generals feel... Confident."
*
"That can’t be good."
*
Leia turned her head so she could look at Padme. "What's wrong, mother?"
*
Her mother shook her head. "Nothing I can put my finger on. Something seems wrong. They seem too... Reasonable."
*
"And that's a bad thing?"
*
Padme smiled. "In this kind of negotiation? Always."
*
“What about the Corellian?”
*
“Prince Solo?” Both women glanced at the Corellian diplomat, who was carrying on an animated conversation with one of the generals. Padme shook her head before speaking. “He is having trouble staying concentrated. His eyes keep on drifting to the general he’s been talking to.”
*
“Why?”
*
“He’s worried about the Corellian communications’ blackout.”
*
“The what?”
*
Padme glanced at her daughter. “The day before the talks began, the military took over the Imperial Communications’ Ministry. Ever since, no one has been able to reach any planet along the Corellia Line.”
*
“How didn’t I know about that?”
*
“Well, maybe if you had spent less time bar-crawling with your pilot friend, you might have been awake for your morning briefings.”
*
Leia felt her cheeks burn. How does she do that? Padme Amidala’s spy network was legendary, but Leia hadn’t expected it to reach as far as Imperial Centre.
*
“You should be careful, though, dear. Lance may be understanding up to a point, but he has too much pride to allow himself to be made a fool of.”
*
Leia frowned for a moment, then realised what her mother was saying. “You think I’m sleeping with him?!”
*
A nearby servant glanced over at them. Leia dropped her voice. “I’m not sleeping with Biggs. We’re… We’re on assignment.”
*
Now it was Padme’s turn to frown. “Assignement? What kind of assignement?” She looked into Leia’s eyes, then her frown deepened and her eyes grew cold. “For the Order?”
*
Leia forced herself to hold Padme’s gaze. “Yes. I am a Jedi Knight, mother.”
*
“What have they asked you to do?”
*
“You know I can’t tell you that.”
*
“Commander Skywalker, I am giving you a direct order. You will tell me what orders you have received.”
*
“No.”
*
“Do not try my patience, Leia, or – “
*
The double doors leading into the reception room burst open, cutting Padme’s threats off. They banged against the walls, making everyone jump. Her Jedi reflexes brought Leia to her feet just in time to see a column of white-armoured stormtroopers rush in to the room. She glanced up to see more of the soldiers filling the corridors and arched balconies on the first and second levels.
*
“What is the meaning of this?” Leia turned to see Han marching towards the ‘troopers, his face dark as a stormcloud.
*
“I was about to ask the same thing,” her mother said, getting to her feet. Her anger forgotten, she looked as regal as a Queen and as angry as a Tystorian she-bitch protecting her cubs.
*
The troopers separated in two columns, revealing Grand Moff Tarkin stood in the doorway. Behind him stood two of the Sith priests, draped in robes that hid everything but their eyes. Each one of them had a strange curved pipe wrapped around their chests and shoulders, affixed to which was a fur-scaled salamanderlike creature.
*
“Tarkin! What do you think you’re doing? You do realise that I’ll…’
*
“Oh do shut up, Solo,” Tarkin snapped. “I’ve had more than enough of you over the past few days.”
*
Solo’s eyes bulged. “How dare you? I’m a Prince of Corellia and…”
*
“Actually as of yesterday, Corellia no longer has a prince. It no longer has a King, in fact.”
*
“What are you talking about?”
*
Tarkin didn’t respond in words. Instead, te threw a padd across the room. Solo caught it as if in a daze and turned the screen up so he could read. His face grew whiter and whiter as his eyes flicked across the contents. When he looked up, he seemed to have grown younger, more fragile. For the first time, Leia realised that he probably wasn’t that much older than she was.
*
“This… This is a fake.”
*
“I’m afraid not, Master Solo. As of 1000 hours yesterday, the Corellian system officially joined the Empire.”
*
“That’s a lie. It has to be,” Solo cried out.
*
Tarkin waved a hand. “Oh please don’t make a scene, it won’t change anything.” He seemed to take an inordinate amount of pleasure in humiliating the prince. “As of now, you are a subject of the Empire and you will show me the proper respect.”
*
Solo lowered his eyes and bowed his head. Leia felt a surge of anger rush through her. Why doesn’t he do something? No! I have to stay calm. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath, then stepped forward.
*
“He may be, but I am not.”
*
“Ah yes, our young Jedi.” Tarkin looked her up and down, then sneered. “Your ancient religion is dead, Miss Skywalker. As dead as you all will soon be.”
*
“Not if I have anything to do with it.”
*
Leia reached down and unclipped her lightsabre. Reaching out with the Force, she tried to get a sense of what the troopers were going to do – and with a deepening feeling of despair, Leia realized that she couldn’t touch the Force. She couldn’t sense anything. She tried to shove one of the troopers with her abilities, but nothing happened.
*
It was like suddenly becoming deaf, blind and dumb.
*
“As you can see, we have planned this very, very carefully.”
*
“Leia? What is it?”
*
“The Force,” Leia whispered. “I can’t feel it.”
*
xxx
*
Han Solo looked down at the floor. He felt as if his whole world was falling down around him. The padd with his father’s surrender on it still hung loosely in his hand. How could he do this? What did they do to him?
*
“As you can see,” he heard Tarkin say as if from a great distance, “we have planned this very, very carefully.”
*
He looked up in time to see Padme Amidala take a step towards her daughter. The young woman had her lightsabre in hand, but she looked as lost as he felt.
*
“Leia? What is it?”
*
“The Force.” The horror in her voice sent shivers down Han’s spine. “I can’t feel it.”
*
Solo saw Amidala spin round, her face a mask of fury. “What did you do?”
*
Tarkin smiled. “Me? Nothing.” He didn’t need to look behind at the Sith priests for his meaning to be clear.
*
“Whatever you did, undo it.”
*
“Oh, Padme.” Tarkin tutted. “You really need to be shown your place.”
*
He waved a hand. Five of the stormtroopers surged forward as if sharing a hive mind. They pushed Leia Skywalker out of the way, sending her tumbling to the floor. Two of them covered her with blasters? Why doesn’t she… Of course. From what he understood, without the Force, she was just like any of them. Vulnerable. The Alliance soldiers around the walls had surged forward, but from her position sprawled on the floor, Leia waved for them to stay back. The troopers surrounded both women, then looked at Tarkin, who nodded.
*
The first fist broke Padme’s cheek. The crack echoed through the room, followed by Padme’s scream as she fell to her knees. The next blow caught her in the stomach, knocking the wind out of her. Han looked away after that.
*
Once they had finished, Padme lay on the floor, moaning incoherently, covered in blood and spit. The most frightening thing about the whole thing had been the total silence with which the clones had carried out the beating. They stood over her broken body now, looking at Tarkin and waiting for more instructions.
*
Tarkin didn’t look at Padme, or at the troopers. Instead, he stared at the rest of the Alliance delegation. Solo glanced at them out of the corner of his eye – he saw Lance, the Alderaani prince, glaring at the Grand Moff with barely restrained fury.
*
“You won’t get away with this.”
*
Tarkin laughed. “You simple minded little fool. I already have.”
*
He motioned with his hand again. Another group of troopers marched into the room. They split into pairs, one pair surrounding each of the diplomats. With the other troopers’ rifles trained on them, none of them put up more than token resistance, except for Lance who kicked out at his captors until one of the troopers slugged him over the back of the head with the butt of his rifle, knocking him out.
*
“Take them away,” Tarkin ordered.
*
As the prisoners were frog-marched out of the room, Tarkin turned to Han.
*
“You are very lucky, Master Solo.”
*
“Really? You’re dying of a horrible disease?”
*
Tarkin laughed. “How droll. Unfortunately for you, no. However, you are going to be able to tell your grand-children that you witnessed the birth of a new age. The age of a Reborn Empire bringing peace to the whole galaxy.”
*
“I think the other Jedi may have something to say about that.”
*
“The Jedi are the past. The Sith – the Empire – are the future.”
*
“I don’t think I want any part of that future.”
*
Tarkin drew close to him. He looked Han in the eyes, then reared back and slapped him. Pain flared in Han’s cheek and shivered through his teeth. He shook his head and turned back to the Grand Moff as Tarkin leaned in to whisper in his ear.
*
“If you don’t learn proper respect, that could very easily be arranged.”
*
Tarkin stepped back. “Now, it is time that the leaders of the Alliance learned the price that must be paid when they rebel against the rightful rulers of the galaxy.” He nodded his head. “Pick her up.”
*
“No!” Leia stumbled to her feet, still unsteady. She held the lightsabre in her hands. “I don’t need the Force to kill you, Tarkin.”
*
“Maybe not. But you certainly need it to avoid a blaster bolt.”
*
Before anyone could react, he pulled a small blaster from his sleeve. Showing his military training, he lifted, aimed and fired in one smooth motion. A blue circle of energy spread out from the blaster’s muzzle, catching Leia and throwing her back against the wall.
*
“What have you done?” Han breathed. Had he actually killed her?
*
“Don’t be so melodramatic. She is much too valuable to be killed. I set it to stun only.”
*
With Leia out of the way, the stormtroopers had no difficulty in lifting Padme to her feet. Han winced at the sight of her. The pain of her injuries must have been intense, because it forced her up out of her unconscious state with a drawn out scream. Once she was done, she managed to open her eyes.
*
“You… will… never… win,” she said in a croak.
*
Tarkin smiled. “Milady, I already have.” He turned to face the whole audience of stormtroopers, Imperial delegates and Alliance soldiers. “Know this. The days when the Empire sat and talked with terrorists and rebels is at an end. From now on, any member of the so-called Galactic Alliance will be hunted down and killed.”
*
He *turned back to Padme. “Padme Amidala Skywalker Kenobi. You have been found guilty of treason to the Galactic Empire, of conspiracy to murder the Emperor, and of collusion with the Jedi, from now on branded enemies of the Empire. The only sentence is death.”
*
“No, my lord, you can’t,” Han said, taking a step forward.
*
Tarkin spun to face him. “You would like to join her? To suffer her fate? Say the word, Master Solo and I will gladly see you at her side.” He waited for a moment as Han glared at him, then stood closer, his voice drawn out with fury. “Well? I am losing patience, Master Solo. It is time you chose a side.”
*
Han just stood there. He opened his mouth, looked at Padme, then back at Tarkin. He closed his mouth. Finally, he lowered his head.
*
“No,” Tarkin drawled. “I didn’t think so.”
*
Turning smartly back to Padme, he smiled. “As I was saying, the only sentence is death. Let all know that the Empire does not offer clemency to those who betray it.”
*
Motioning for the stormtroopers to stand back, he called another group forward. Han lifted his head and looked at Padme. She stood precariously on her feet, swaying slightly from side to side. Despite her injuries, she somehow found the strength to smile.
*
“The harder you tighten your grip, the faster the Alliance will take all of this away from you.”
*
“Do you really want those to be your last words, Padme Amidala?”
*
“I wouldn’t give you the satisfaction of saying anything else.”
*
Tarkin bowed his head. “Nor did I expect you to. Very well. Men, at arms!”
*
Han saw her eyes lift and spear into his soul. He found he couldn’t look away.
*
“Ready!”
*
She seemed to be pleading with him through her eyes, begging him to do something. He wanted to look away, knowing that he couldn’t help her.
*
“Aim!”
*
Her eyes darted to the side. He followed them and realised she was looking at Leia. The girl? She wants me to save the girl? But I - -
*
Before he could take the thought any further, Tarkin screamed, “Fire!”
*
Red fire flickered in her eyes for an instant and then was gone. Padme crumpled to the floor, blood already soaking through her white dress.
*
She was gone.
*
A moan went up from the gathered Alliance pilots and soldiers. One rushed forward, but a trooper in the gallery above picked him off instantly. The rest settled back, murmuring softly.
*
Tarkin looked at them. “This is the Empire’s justice. If any of you would care join us and help spread that justice to the rest of the galaxy, step forward now.”
*
No one moved. Tarkin allowed them a moment, then he smiled. “Good. I would have been disappointed if any of you had.”
*
Turning, he swept across the floor. The imperial delegation scurried after him, both generals smiling, the three Moffs casting terrified glances at the dead body lying on the floor. As Tarkin walked away, troopers moved in, gathering Leia Skywalker’s limp body and hefting her onto their shoulders. Han just stood there, staring at the bloody corpse that moment before had been Padme Amidala. She never gave me that game of sabaac, he thought numbly.
*
“Master Solo!”
*
Han turned and saw Tarkin waiting in the doorway. “You are a subject of the Empire now, according to your father’s surrender. Your place is not here.”
*
Despite himself, Han felt a surge of relief. Part of his mind screamed out for him to do something, but he quieted it much too easily. Glancing at the soldiers gathered around Padme’s body, he fought back a sudden upsurge of tears. She’s gone. She’s really gone. Turning away, he kept his eyes on the floor as he hurried out of the room. As he passed Tarkin, he heard him give an order to the commander of the troopers.
*
“Wait a moment, then kill them all.”
*
Han lifted his head to say something, but when he saw Tarkin’s raised eyebrow, he dropped his head again. He hurried away, wanting to put as much distance between the reception room and himself.
*
He had almost reached the door outside when the sound of blaster fire and the screams of dying soldiers echoed down the corridor. Trying to ignore the sound, Han hurried from the Palace and into the Coruscant daylight.
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Old November 19 2009, 11:34 PM   #103
The Badger
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Ysalamiri? Hive minds? Plus of course all the references to Tantiss....I've a bad feeling about this...

As you say, rather intense. And very dramatic.
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Old November 20 2009, 03:25 AM   #104
USS Avenger
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

Oh not good... However, a very good plan put into motion by the Empire, I liked the use of the Ysalimiri (did I spell that right? probably not). As The Badger said, very intense. Surprised to see Wedge with Leia, thought that as a Corellian he would be a part of Solo's staff or something. Than again he was (is?) a great pilot and I imagine he loved flying against the Empire. The first line of this chapter was good too.
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Old November 20 2009, 04:54 AM   #105
Nerys Ghemor
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Re: SW AU - A Glimmer of Hope

WHOA. That is one horrible, massive coup. In some ways, perhaps even worse than Corellia simply being gone. The communications blackout also means, though, that there's no way for Han to prove anything he's been told...though the boldness of the attack on the delegation does lend credence to it, because with Han as a witness there could've been a pretty serious backlash had Corellia remained unabsorbed by the Empire.

I also liked that you explained the reason for what had initially seemed like Leia's rather reckless nighttime activities.

And as awful as it was to see her die, I have to say that I thought Padmé got an ending much more fitting to the strength of her character as we saw it in Part I, compared to what she got in Part III.
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