Discussion in 'Fan Fiction' started by CaptainSarine, Oct 8, 2009.
Man, that was CREEPY seeing Chewie killed in such an ignominious manner!!!
This has been really fascinating. So the divergent point for this timeline was the encounter in the Chancellor's office between Mace and Palpatine. It has been great to see all the different characters so far in their alternate roles, Anakin seems to be able to control his emotions to some degree but has anger issues that are on the verge of pushing himself to the Dark Side. Does Ahoska still exist in this universe or are you not using her? Maybe she was killed in the Clone Wars. Interesting to see that Obi-Wan and Padme have married and had children of their own. Leia is interesting. Looking forward to seeing the conclution to this.
So against his own wishes Anakin is forced to turn to his old master to save his son. He can't be happy with that situation...
Killing off Chewbacca, especially in such an ignominious manner, really highlights the differences between this version and the other.
And the echo of the 'Help me Obi-Wan' line was cool, but not inappropriate.
I'll give you this, you have some insightful comments on this story. Obi-Wan definitely misunderstands what is going on with Anakin, though whether it is because of what you have written here I'll leave you to figure out (hint: it is a bit more complex than that). As for your idea for the ending... Obviously I'm not going to say either way but is sure is interesting!
Glad I creeped you out!
So glad to see your feedback! For the POD... Yes, the point of divergence was the battle in Palpatine's office. There are a lot of clues to where I'm going with this story in that prologue. A hell of a lot! (hint hint)
Obi-wan and Padme was a tough call but it seemed to fit with where I was going with this and what I wanted for Anakin - it seemed the perfect way to push Anakin out of the fledgling Alliance and to create some great conflict between him and Obi-Wan.
Really glad you're enjoying this and hope to see some more feedback in the later chapters!
Yeah, I wanted to show that this was not the reality we know and that no one is safe. Killing off Chewie seemed one of the best ways to do that.
And glad you liked the 'Help me Obi-Wan' line.
More coming soon!
Anakin led Obi-wan through the back ways and side alleys with the confidence of a man who has lived most of his life in the same city. Mos Espa was his home. When he had left Naboo, this had been the only place he could imagine living. It was a hard planet, even more so since the Rise. Yet the people here thrived. They took care of one another and they scrounged a life out of the dregs of the galaxy.
Or at least they used to.
Every step seemed to be taking him further and further away from that life. Anakin felt like he was leaving his mother all over again. Almost as if he could twist his head round and see her stood in the doorway of their slave quarters, watching him leave as she held back the tears. Anakin forced himself to keep his eyes forward, taking each step one at a time, concentrating on the sound of the dust and the sand crunching beneath his feet.
The first light of dawn was crowning when they reached the docking bay on the far north-east outskirts of the city. With that gang out for blood, it had seemed safer to take the long way around, through decaying alleyways and abandoned tenements. Anakin could hear Obi-wan’s laboured breathing behind him and he tried hard not to feel a hint of satisfaction that his old master was so out of shape. You’re getting old, Obi-wan.
The docking bay was quiet, bedarkened but for a single series of lights that shone from the remains of an ancient freighter ship. The ship had its nose buried in the sand and its engines exposed to the cool early morning air. Anakin had known that even if the whole city slept, the Tap Caff would be awake. They should be able to find a ship here to get them to Smuggler’s Run.
And how did I let myself get talked into that? Anakin wondered. Obi-wan had insisted. An Alliance ship would be the easiest and fastest way to get to Coruscant, and he just happened to have one waiting for him in the Run. What had he called her? The Falcon? Damn fool name for a ship. And besides, she was still an Alliance ship. It seemed like suicide to try and get into the Empire’s capital aboard one of her enemies’ ships.
Obi-wan hadn’t left him much choice though. The Run it was. And Anakin had a pretty good idea of how to get there. He just hoped she had forgiven him.
As they walked across the tarmac to the Caff, Anakin felt a surge of nostalgia. Second time tonight. Must be Obi-wan. But whether it was the presence of his former master or not, Anakin had a clear vision of himself as a little boy, hiding in the shadows of the cargo containers, staring at the ships as they took off or landed, and dreaming of adventure out in the stars.
Then the memory was overtaken by another, more immediate one. One of him and Luke, walking off the transport ship that brought them here. Luke had been even younger than Anakin had been when he left. Anakin could still feel the warmth of his boy's hand in his, could still see the look on his face as he gazed at all of the aliens walking through the port around them.
Grief surged, tempered only by the anger that followed on its heels. Anakin welcomed the feelings, embraced them. He caught Obi-wan glancing at him, knew that his old master could feel his turmoil. Anakin didn't care. Emotions can't hurt me anymore, Obi-wan.
Before they entered the Caff, Anakin held up a hand to stop his former master.
"This isn't a garden party on Naboo, Obi-wan. You follow my lead and you keep that," - jabbing at the lightsabre hidden beneath his cloak - "out of sight. You got me?"
Obi-wan just smiled. Anakin felt his cheeks burn, reminded of what he had done with those gang-members not even an hour before. He had vowed never to take up a lightsabre again. Yet now, with Luke taken by Palpatine’s Hand, none of that seemed important anymore. Even keeping his secret – that the Force had abandoned him – did not seem as vital as it had only a day before.
"A hive of scum and villainy, hey?” Obi-wan was saying. “Just like the old days."
"Actually, they're just normal people trying to make their way in a galaxy other people tore apart."
Anakin couldn't help feeling a little spiteful kick at the look on Obi-wan's face. He turned away, leading the Jedi master into the Caff.
The air inside was laden with pure clouds of Ylesian and Kessel spices. Anakin couldn’t see more than a few steps in front of him. Without the Force to help direct him, he made do like normal beings, trailing his hand down the wall to guide himself down the few steps, down into a central area where the bar lay surrounded by tables.
The place stank of too many bodies in too small a space. Spicy human odours mingled with the feral stink of furry aliens or the dry smell of reptilians or insectoids. A few of the pilots looked up to see who the newcomers were, but most knew Anakin from the shop. One or two waved, others nodded. The vast majority ignored him. Just the way I like it.
Anakin and Obi-wan shared a glance, then he led the older Jedi over to the bar. The bar tender, a re-conditioned protocol droid, spun round to face them.
"Master Skywalker! How many times do I have to tell you we don't -"
"Serve my kind in here. Yeah C2, I know."
Laughing merrily at his - old - joke, the droid trundled forward. "So what can I get you?"
"Nothing tonight. I'm looking for Ana."
The droid bobbed his head and made a whistling sound. A mechanical approximation of a wink. "You're in luck. She just got here. Look in the back."
Anakin let out a breath. He had been worried she wouldn't be back from the Far Outer Rim yet. He nodded thanks to C2 and began to walk round the bar towards the rear tables. He was almost out of sight when the silver droid called out to him.
"You say hi to Luke for me, ok? It's been an age since I’ve seen him in here oggling the pilots."
Anakin paused, his fists clenching as he imagined Luke in Palpatine's hands. He forced himself to relax.
"I will," he said, so soft he might as well have whispered. I swear I will, he promised himself.
The tables at the back were set aside for the crews of the smuggling ships. Unofficially called Smuggler's Circle , it was almost empty tonight except for one table. The flight crew that sat around it were one of the most eclectic Anakin had ever met, because so many of them were from species he had never seen anywhere else.
The Misbegotten Venture liked to fly under the radar and these days that meant charting courses along the Far Outer Rim. She had picked up quite a few strays on her travels. Though there were a few familiar races represented – a Gran, a Rodian and a Twi’lek – there were also some very strange creatures. Three old and wizened men, looking almost like human-sized versions of Master Yoda, sat together in a tight circle. All three of them were blind, their eyes empty sockets, while one of them grasped a mechanical eye in one claw-like hand. He held it tight to his forehead as Anakin appeared and whistled under his breath.
The sound caught the attention of a bear-like alien who called himself Pathfinder. A member of a species known as Chaol, he had been watching the two men. Now he looked up. When he saw Anakin approaching, he growled deep under his breath like a Wookie. Next to him sat a tiny slip of a girl, who looked almost human except for the droid implants she wore on her face, slashing across her forehead, left eye and cheek, and down under her coarse white shirt.
And at the top of the table, a human woman about Anakin’s age sat with her legs hanging over one of the chair’s arms, her hand playing with a single visible strand of her blond hair. The rest of it was hidden beneath a green leather cap. She wore no jewelry and her jumpsuit was of some kind of nerf leather, beaten and stitched together so many times it looked as if it were about to fall apart. Three knives jutted from scabards on her belt and an old blaster hung from her finger. She looked up when she heard the footsteps and her face lit up in a smile as she got to her feet.
Anakin breathed a sigh of relief as she sauntered over to him. She had forgiven him it seemed.
Ana Detani, Capain of the Misbegotten Venture, wrapped her arms around Anakin and kissed him. For an instant, Anakin felt his worries evaporate as he allowed himself to sink into the kiss, wrapping his own arms around her, letting them drift down her back...
She broke off the kiss and stepped out of his embrace. He was about to ask her what was wrong, when she reared back and slapped him across the cheek. His head snapped back and he caught a glimpse of Obi-wan smiling smugly.
"You've got some nerve."
"Ana, listen..." he said as he turned back to face her.
"Do you know how stupid I looked when that hyperdrive you installed..."
"Ana." He raised his voice, cutting her off.
She stopped, still glaring at him. Once he was sure she wasn't going to slap him again, he went on.
"We need to talk. I need your help."
"Well you can just kiss a Wookie, you s-"
"Ana, it's Luke."
Her angry lover act vanished. She stepped towards him again, worry painted all over her face. She reached a hand up to his cheek. "Oh Ani. What is it?"
He shook his head. "Not here."
All business, she turned and swept past her crew. One of them, the Rodian, went to stand up, but she waved him back down. "Stay here Greedo."
The Rodian did as he was told, but he glared at Anakin and Obi-wan as they passed. That kid never liked me, Anakin thought.
Ana led them to a storage room at the back that C2 allowed her to use for ‘sensitive’ negotiations. She flipped on a light, revealing a bare room with a table and a few chairs. Anakin felt his cheeks burn at the sight, remembering the last ‘negotiation’ he and Ana had carried out in this room, and hoping that Obi-wan wouldn’t be able to sense the reason for his unease.
“So what’s happened?” Ana asked as soon as the door closed behind them. “And who’s your friend?”
“Ana, this is Old Ben, a friend from my spice freighter days.”
Anakin didn’t dare glance at Obi-wan, hoping that his old friend would play along. To his relief, Obi-wan stepped forward, hand outstretched.
“Nice to meet you, Ms?”
“Detani. Ana Detani. And it’s Captain.”
“So you knew Ani when he was a navigator?”
“We served together on the same ship.” Ana glanced at Anakin and he smiled tightly. Don’t improvise too much, old man.
“And what are you doing here?
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about, Ana.”
“You said something about Luke.”
“He’s been kidnapped.”
“Kidnapped?” she gasped. “By who?”
“An old enemy of mine.”
“An enemy?” Ana frowned, the drawn lines on her face creasing even more. “I thought you were just a navigator.”
“I was. But…” He struggled to come up with a convincing lie. “I did a little smuggling on the side. I made some enemies here and there. One of them has come back for payback. He’s asking to meet me, to sort out some old differences.”
“Why didn’t he just sort things out here?”
“I don’t know.” Anakin’s anger and frustration boiled over and he slapped the table. “Dammit Ana, I need your help. Luke needs your help.”
She sat back, crossed her legs and raised an eyebrow. “And what does Old Ben have to do with this?”
“I’d like to hear it from him, actually.”
Anakin winced. Ana looked at Obi-wan, waiting.
“I… I used to work for Sidi – that’s the man who has Luke – until Anakin and I decided to start running a little side business on our own. We got caught, Sidi found out and put a bounty on our heads. Anakin came here and I moved to a little swamp world I heard about from an old space pirate. But I kept some contacts in Sidi’s organisation. When I heard what he was planning, I decided to come and warn Anakin. I got here too late. I couldn’t just let an old friend down, you know?”
Obi-wan managed to inject his words with just the right amount of sincerity and wide-eyed innocence to be convincing. And the story sounded plausible, with just enough detail. Where did Obi-wan learn to lie so well? Anakin turned to look at Ana, daring to hope she might buy it. Instead, she snorted.
“I’ve never heard a bigger pile of bantha podoo in my life. You two are good I’ll give you that.” Her face hardened. “But I will not risk my ship, my crew, unless I know the truth. So start talking.”
Anakin opened his mouth to try and talk her round when Obi-wan spoke up again.
“Anakin, I think we need to tell her the truth.”
He swung round, eyes flashing. “No.”
Obi-wan spoke over him. “If you really want to know the truth, Captain Detani, my real name is Obi-wan Kenobi. I am a Jedi Master and a General of the Alliance, here on official business. Anakin used to be my padawan. A Sith-trained operative working on behalf of Emperor Palpatine has kidnapped Luke and is planning on returning him to Coruscant. I will not let that happen. I have reason to believe that Luke may be the focus of a very important prophecy of the Force, a fulcrum on which the hopes of the entire galaxy may rest.”
Anakin stared at Obi-wan. He couldn’t believe that his former master had revealed the whole truth to Ana. And what was all that about a prophecy? He glared at Obi-wan, then turned to face Ana, fearing the worse. She did the last thing he had expected.
“I’ll say this for your friend, Ani, he has one hell of an imagination. I don’t know which part I preferred – Ani as a Jedi or Luke as some kind of a Force prodigee. Hope for the whole galaxy.” She snorted. “One hell of an imagination.”
Her laughter trailed off and her face grew serious. “You’re both a pair of jokers. I guess I’m not going to get a straight answer out of either one of you. Still, I know you wouldn’t lie about Luke being in trouble. So I’ll tell you what we’re going to do.”
She speared Obi-wan with her eagle gaze. “You’re going to be official story-teller on our little trip. Make up more stories like that and I may keep you on board.”
Obi-wan bowed, a sardonic smile playing on his lips. “At your service. Captain.”
“As for you,” Ana went on, turning her eyes on Anakin, “you’re going to repair that blasted hyperdrive you sold me. If you have it working by tomorrow afternoon, I’ll let you ship out with us for the Run. If you don’t…” She shrugged. “Then I guess your boy doesn’t mean that much to you.”
Relief flooded Anakin’s mind. “Ana, I… I don’t know what to say.”
“Then don’t say anything. And don’t get any ideas either. This is business, nothing more.”
He smiled. “I understand.”
“Good. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go and cancel the shore leave I just gave my crew. They’re not going to be happy with either of you, I can tell you that.”
She walked past them, but paused in the doorway. She glanced at both of them, then she snorted, shaking her head. “Jedi.”
With another shake of her head, she left.
Anakin let out a breath he didn’t even know he had been holding. He turned to face Obi-wan.
“That was a very dangerous game you just played.”
His former master shrugged. “I knew that she would either believe me or she wouldn’t. Either way, it seemed more likely that she would help us if she knew the truth than if we had continued to lie to her.”
“Still… That was one hell of a lie to slip in there. About Luke and some prophecy. Really pushed her over the edge.”
To Anakin’s surprise, his old friend looked uncomfortable. He seemed to struggle with what to say, then he sighed. “Anakin… I think we need to talk.”
Ahhh, I got a kick out of that droid's line!
Now, I find myself wondering...is Anakin's difficulty with the Force because the Force has abandoned him, or is it more like what happened with the Jedi Exile? Has he created a wound in the Force somewhere, because of history's changing course this time?
Yeah I agree the droid's line was great, I also liked the inclusion of Greedo. I just hope he doesn't shoot first.
Again, very good, very thorough. I do wonder about the whys and wherefores of Anakin's dis-empowerment, but I do suspect that it has a lot to do with his feeling about Palpatine.
In this course of events, we learn that Anakin was regarded as a hero for his choice. Yet in his view, he must feel like a great fool. The Jedi see him as the man who closed the gate on the barbarians long enough for civilization to gather its things and survive in exile. He, on the other hand, like as not sees himself as the one who opened those gates. Even without the issue of Ahsoka, imagine how many times during the Clone Wars he insisted that Palpatine be informed of what they were doing. Imagine lying in recovery, scarred and in pain, all while you watched yourself from boyhood to manhood giving this fiend everything he needed to undo the civilization you defended and watched others die defending. The fact that the worst was partially averted may be no comfort to him at all.
Excellent again Captain Sarine. I even wonder how Order 66 went down in this reality, what with some Jedi having advance warning.
Another great chapter. This alternate universe feels as rich and in depth as as the real universe does, I'm really feeling sympathetic towards Anakin and enjoying Obi-Wan as always. Ana was quite the surprise, wasn't expecting that is she an original creation or someone from the EU who I'm not familar with because I haven't been following the books as close as I once was? For some reason I'm thinking that Ahsoka is dead in this reality as she might be in ours and this has played on Anakin's conscience as well. I'm actually looking forward to them getting to Courscant.
Commentary on Chapter 3
Well, well, Mara Jade exists here, too. And she’s been sent to bring back Anakin and Luke, clearly not the easiest of missions. Somehow, I doubt things are going to go as easily as she hopes…
I’m curious, though. It sounds as if there are multiple Sith in this AU. I’d always inferred that because of their allegiance to the Dark Side the Sith were too ambitious and arrogant for there ever to be more than two at a time, Master and Apprentice. Rather like Augments of the Trek Universe, they’re too powerful and dangerous to play well together in groups.
Sounds like perhaps some of them have overcome that limitation.
Glad you enjoyed the droid's line! I really wanted to throw that in here as a wink to the original trilogy.
Anakin's difficulty with the Force is a mixture of both things you mentioned - the Force abandoned him because he didn't follow the Force's will. Of course what that implies is that the Force wanted him to help Palpatine...
Thanks for the comment!
See above ie droid line - glad you got a kick out of it as well.
And no, I swear, Greedo will NEVER shoot first!
Thanks for your indepth commentary once again. IE. the whys and wherefores of Anakin's dis-empowerment, see above. (I hope this isn't spoilery, I tried to make it very clear in the prologue that that was what is going on)
Your commentary on Anakin is spot on, exactly how I imagined that time after defeating Palpatine.
Order 66... I have an idea, I might write a couple of vignettes about it one day...
Thanks for your kind comment.
Ana is an original creation as are the whole crew of the Venture apart for Greedo.
Ie Ahsoka... I haven't really spent much time on her, haven't been up to date on Clone Wars cartoons so I haven't really included her. But yeah, she will probably be dead just like our reality.
Thanks! Really enjoying this commentaries from you, look forward to every time you post one of these!
IE the Sith in this reality... I won't give too much away yet, but suffice it to say that things are slightly more complex. There will be an explanation in an upcoming chapter though.
Thank you all for your comments once again! Lovin' it!
Commentary on Chapter 4
I gathered this reunion would be ugly… but… wow.
Okay, I knew Anakin had cause to be bitter, I just hadn’t realized how much cause he had. Obi-Wan really seems to have screwed him over, though it’s likely there are various details involved that mitigate the circumstances somewhat.
And now Luke realizes Anakin’s been lying to him for his entire life.
Yeah. This little gathering was a giant, sucking chasm of dark ugly with a whole other suitcase of ugly added for good measure.
[Mr. Burns]Eeeeeeeexellent![/Mr. Burns]
Also this reality reminds me of Dark Horse's Star Wars Legacy where the Rule of Two was abandoned with the The One Sith. Did Legacy influence this story at all?
I haven't actually read any of the Legacy comicbooks, though I've read about them and they sound cool. So no, it wasn't an influence. And like I said, things are slightly more complex that they seem and I wouldn't necessarily say that the Rule of Two has been broken in this storyline...
Yeah, this was ugly, though I would say not as ugly as it could have been considering lightsabres were involved...
Anakin definitely has cause to be bitter against Obi-wan, but you're spot on when you say that there are certain mitigating circumstances for Obi and Padme.
And that certainly didn't give Ani any excuse to lie like he has to Luke.
LOL to that whole paragraph!
Commentary on Chapter 5
Wow, Luke really stepped from the frying pan right into the Sith-fueled fire. Damn Wookies, you just can’t trust ‘em!
Quite the turnaround on this with Leia becoming a Jedi and working with her mother. I’m intrigued to discover what this little diplomatic negotiation is all about.
Commentary on Chapter 6
Well, finally Han enters the picture in a most unexpected fashion and venue. A prince, no less, not the rogue and scoundrel we’ve come to know. Still, the cockiness and attitude are still present, as evidenced by his taking a hard line with Tarkin.
Curiouser and curiouser.
I've got little to add to the above comments, so I'll just echo what's already been said. This is well thought out, well written, and very enjoyable.
IE Chapter 5 - Luke has definitely stepped into a minefield here with Mara. And Chewie is not to be trusted in this AU. At all!
I wanted to find the most out there possibility for most of these characters so having Leia be the one who discovered her Force heritage seemed like a good idea. And of course since she grew up with her mother, in the middle of the war effort, instead of on Alderaan as a princess, it brought out her more rebellious streak, and thus she becomes a pilot.
IE Chapter 6 - Again, like above, wanted to take Han in the most out there direction I could: what better than making him a diplomat and a prince. But with all of them, I wanted to show that certain parts of their personality are just part of who they are despite how they might have been brought up, so he maintains the cockiness and 'tude!
Although that cockiness is going to take a beating in the next few Han chapters.
Glad you're enjoying this!
Thanks for your comment. I'm so glad you're enjoying this enough to come and post feedback, means a lot.
More coming tonight!
By the time she left the briefing room, Leia was exhausted. She let the doors close behind her and then allowed herself a moment of self indulgence, resting her head against the matte white wall of the Tantive IV’s corridor. All she wanted was to get back to her room and take a nice, long shower. Even the thought of exploring Coruscant didn’t seem so appealing anymore. By the Force, mother, what have you gotten us into?
The briefing had been handled by Commander Madine, Captain Antilles’ XO. The short, moustached officer’s manner had been curt, and Leia could tell through the Force that he was no more happy to be here than she was. He had briefly explained what the Alliance Council and the leading Triad of Bail Organa, Mon Mothma and her mother hoped to get out of the negotiations – a strengthening of the defences along the Solo Line, the return of a handful of systems seized by the Empire in the regular border skirmishes of the last few decades, and an official Imperial apology for the massacre on Galatia. They would settle for the strengthening of the Line.
The problem, as Madine had laid it out, was that Alliance Intelligence had been unable to ascertain exactly what the Emperor was looking to gain. That put the whole negotiation on an uneven keel.
Madine had then spent the rest of the briefing informing the various commando leaders and pilots of their role – to stay alert, to be ready for anything, to keep a close eye on the Imperials and stay as near as possible to the Alliance delegation. Leia had been surprised when Madine named her as leader of the diplomatic protection detail. That reminds me, she thought, I need to finish a rotation for the other pilots and commandos before I go to bed.
Forcing back a deep sigh, she turned to go back to her quarters when a familiar voice called her name.
She turned and saw Lance hurrying towards her down the corridor. He had changed into more comfortable clothes, though he still wore an expensive coat and a clasp sporting the Alderaani crest. A couple of NCO’s turned their head to follow him, then quickly turned away when they saw Leia.
“Thank goodness!” he said. “I thought I’d never find you. I tried your quarters, then the flight deck, but no one could tell me where you were. If I hadn’t bumped into that wingman of yours…”
“Biggs told you where I was?”
“Yes! Come on, we need to talk.”
She turned away and started down the corridor. “We have nothing to talk about.”
Her fiancé pursued her down the corridor. When he reached her, he grabbed her arm and pulled her back around. “Please, Leia, you have to…”
Shaking off his arm angrily, Leia swung to face him. She took a step closer, her face inches away from his own, so close she could see his pupils dilate. Her master’s voice echoed in her ears. Mind your feelings, padawan. Seek out the calm centre of the Force. She banished the voice, embracing her anger.
“Don’t tell me what I have to do, Lance. Besides, what exactly do you think we have to talk about? The fact that you didn’t tell me you were coming on this mission? The fact that you hid such an important diplomatic negotiation from me, knowing full well I had been assigned to the mission? Or the fact that you announced our engagement without even telling me?”
She had been jabbing him in the chest in perfect synchronisation with every question. He batted her hand away now, his face darkening. “What the hell was I supposed to do? You’ve been putting it off for months. I have responsabilities as well, Leia. Or have you forgotten?”
Refusing to back down, she glared at him. “You know why I have been putting it off. We agreed that we should wait until after the first three years of my Knighthood.”
“Is that all you care about?” They were both shouting now. Out of the corner of her eye, Leia saw a number of the Tantive’s crew stood at the end of the corridor, staring at them. She realised that she didn’t care. “Your blasted Jedi and their stupid rules? You know that it was their rules that pushed your father into…”
He stopped short, realising from the look on her face that he had crossed a line. Leia’s voice dropped to a whisper. “Don’t talk about my father. You don’t know anything.”
He sneered. “I know more than you think.”
She turned away before she hit him. “This conversation is over.”
“You can’t keep on running away, Leia. You can’t keep running.”
Fuming, she did exactly that, breaking into a run as she reached the end of the corridor, pushing through the crowd of crewmen and NCOs, not caring about her position as a flight commander or as a Jedi. Hurrying through the corridors of the Corvette, his words pursued her. What did he know? He didn’t know anything about her, about her family, and especially about her father. The truth was, no one knew much about Anakin Skywalker nor what had happened to him. Her mother refused to talk to Leia about it and she had never dared ask her master. Leia’s own search through the Jedi Archives had been just as fruitless. It was as if Anakin Skywalker had never existed. He might as well be dead.
So Lance could not possibly know anything. He just couldn’t.
Her angry thoughts carried her all the way to her quarters. Slamming her hand against the palm-reader to open the door, she almost broke it. Once she was inside, she threw her jacket across the room, just wishing it was heavier. She was about to throw herself into the nearest chair when the door buzzer sounded.
“What?!” she yelled.
Silence. Then a small voice. “Commander Skywalker?”
She had thought it was Lance, pursuing her to finish their fight. Realising how her voice must sound, she took a few deep breaths, closing her eyes and using a technique her master had taught her to calm her beating heart. Reaching deep inside, she felt for the calm waters of the Force, allowing her whole mind to embrace the field of energy that surrounded her. Once her mind was free of emotion, she allowed herself to answer.
“There is a communication coming in for you on a secure line. From the Little Temple.”
The Little Temple? After the Jedi fled Coruscant during the Rise, they had taken refuge on a new world, its location known only to the Triad and the Jedi themselves. Even padawans were not given the coordinates, their passage to and from the new Jedi headquarters accomplished under the strict supervision of a Jedi Knight. Leia herself had only recently discovered the location. For everyone else, it was known only as the Little Temple.
She blinked. “Alright, put it through here.”
She heard the man scurry away, probably glad to get away from the mad Jedi Commander. Leia dismissed him from her mind. Hurrying over to the comm system on the desk, she sat down in the chair, steeling her thoughts. Moments later, a flashing light appeared on the monitor. She pressed the connect button and the revolving Alliance logo vanished, replaced by the dark-skinned face of Jedi Master Mace Windu.
Her former master.
“Good evening, Leia.”
She smiled warmly. “Master.”
He shook his head at her. “Leia, how many times do I have to tell you, you can call me Mace now.”
“Die hard. Yes, I know. Still, it has been four months since you succeeded in your Trials, I think it is about time you started acting like a Jedi Knight and not my padawan anymore.”
“Of course, Ma- Mace.”
He waited for a moment, then he smiled. “It is good to see you.”
“It is good to see you too.” Mace had left the Little Temple a week after she succeeded in the Trials. A border dispute had broken out on a planet on the Rim side of the Solo Line. Though he had requested Leia’s presence, the Council had decided it would be best that she remain behind to wait for an assignment on her own. The dispute had taken a few weeks to resolve and Mace had been on route back when she left with the Tantive.
“I’m sorry I didn’t have time to talk to you before you left, to explain why we were sending you and what we expect of you now that you are there.”
She straightened. “What you expect of me? You mean you knew?”
“Mind your feelings, Jedi Organa.” His stern tone made her blink. She realised suddenly that her own voice had taken on an angry note, one that she was having trouble controlling.
“Yes, Master.” He didn’t correct her this time.
“Yes, I knew that you had been assigned to the Coruscant mission. It was deemed necessary that a Jedi be sent, but we could not afford to risk anyone else at this time. No Master can set foot on Coruscant since the Fall. And none of the Council members felt we could trust anyone else on that Force-forsaken planet.”
“But… But why are we even here?” she burst out. “What is the point? Surely the Alliance doesn’t actually believe that Palpatine will give anything up?”
“I’m afraid you would have to ask your mother what the Alliance does or doesn’t believe, Leia,” Mace said with a wry half-smile. “However, that is not why the Council decided to send you on this mission.”
“The time when Jedi were used as diplomats and peace-keepers is over. We can not – we will not – attempt to broker a peace with an avowed Sith Lord. Their kind should have been extinct millenia ago. Our aim, our sole mission now, is to make sure that they do not spread their filthy ways out of their Empire and, eventually, to see all Sith back where they belong. In their graves.”
“We have received word in the past few months of a top secret project, spear-headed by the Emperor himself. All we have been able to glean is a key word, the name of the project. Tantiss.”
Leia wracked her brains to try and dredge up any mention of the word from her studies. After a few moments, she shook her head. “I’ve never heard that name.”
“Neither have any of the Council. We cannot find anything in the Archives. However from what we have been hearing it is a very important project for the Empire. Something involving the Sith. We believe that it may even relate to the Emperor’s apprentice.”
Leia shook her head again. “But the Emperor has hundreds, if not thousands, of Sith apprentices.”
“Not apprentices, Leia. Hands. Operatives trained in certain ways of the Force. Powerful in their own rights but nowhere near as powerful as a true Sith Lord would be. Palpatine is too afraid to ever share that power with anyone but his true apprentice. As far as we can tell, even the Zabrak devil who killed Master Qui-Gonn, and the rebel Count Dooku, were never more than operatives, despite what they may have been led to believe by Palpatine. Palpatine had his eye on someone else to be his apprentice. It seems he has finally found him. Or her.”
Leia thought back to the white-robed men who had accompanied the Imperial delegation. “What about the Sith priests?”
Mace waved a hand dismissively. “Nothing more than mouth-pieces for Sith propaganda. A few may have limited Force sensitivity, but nothing compared to even the weakest of our padawans. They are not the problem, Leia. Palpatine and his Hands are. Palpatine’s apprentice is.”
“A true Sith apprentice?”
“A new Sith Lord.”
Leia shivered. “What do you want me to do?”
“I – we – want you to do some digging while you are Coruscant. We want you to try and track down exactly what Project Tantiss is and what it means. We also want you to find out what link there is – if any – with Palpatine’s apprentice. And if you find him…”
Mace raised an eyebrow. “I will leave that decision up to you. But Leia…”
“Whatever you do, do not go after Palpatine. Master Yoda could not defeat him. Neither could I. Neither could…”
“My father.” Lance’s words came back to haunt her.
Mace seemed to sense her feelings. “Leia… Whatever you may have heard about your father, know this. He saved my life that night. If he hadn’t intervened when he did, I am sure that Palpatine would have killed me. Anakin… He had many faults. I was the first to criticise him for them. But in the end, when it counted, he did what the Force bid him to do. He stayed true to the Jedi code. And he saved my life.”
Leia didn’t know what to say to that. The silence dragged out between them until Mace broke through her thoughts. “Well, I’m sending you everything I have on the Tantiss Project. It isn’t much but it may give you a few ideas. I trust you’ll be… discreet?”
“Just like on Genabis.”
Mace sighed. “I was afraid you would say that. Be careful.”
“May the Force be with you, Jedi Skywalker.”
“And with you Master Windu.”
The screen went blank, then the Alliance logo appeared again and began to revolve. Leia sat there for a moment, thinking. A Sith apprentice? That could be disastrous for the war effort. Long term strategists within the Alliance had already begun projections as to what would happen when the Emperor died and all projections pointed to the fact that the Empire would fall apart, allowing the Alliance to reestablish the Republic within half a generation. With an heir, recognised by the Sith priests, and chosen by the Emperor himself… The war might last for another century. Or more.
She couldn’t let that happen. If it was the last thing she did, she would track down this apprentice and kill him. First, though, she needed information.
She called up the Tantive’s internal communications protocol. Selecting a name from the list, she waited for Biggs to pick up. He did so only after a couple of minutes, his hair a mess, his eyes bloodshot. He ran a hand over his cheek.
“Did I wake you?”
“Sorry about that. I just wondered whether you felt like taking a trip?”
He grinned, any trace of fatigue evaporating. “I thought you’d never ask.”
She smiled back. She had known Biggs would be up for it. “Meet me in a couple of hours, okay? And wear civvies, I don’t want anyone to know we’re Alliance.”
“You got it.” He signed off.
Two hours. That would just about give her time to read through the documents her master had sent her, have a quick shower and get changed. First of all, though, she needed to get something to eat. Closing down the communication’s screen, she headed for the door.
Separate names with a comma.