Star Wars Fan Fiction
Episode 7: Edge of Darknessby Paully Adams AKA abbaspice1
FYI: I do not own any of the characters EXCEPT for the original characters I have made for this fan fiction. This is an alt-verse fan fiction. Some things remain the same (such as the events form episodes 4-6 of the movie franchise), but other things (such as things that happened in the expanded universe) do not.
Leia closed her eyes and calmed her mind. Dressed in her pure white long sleeve blouse & white pants with a black blaster holster attached to her left leg, and a custom made black lightsaber holder on the back side of her right hip, she stood out from among the dark and sparse furnishings of her workout room. As the petite brunette stood perfectly still, she sensed movement on her left side. She quickly reached behind her, and pulled out a lightsaber.
BSSSSSSH—the ice blue lightsaber came to life and the young woman quickly blocked the red laser that the small silver practice orb fired towards her. Without opening her eyes, she blocked all three shots from the single orb. She tilted her head as the sound of two more orbs sped up to her area. She easily blocked every shot from the floating orbs.
Luke smiled as he watched his twin, pride swelling his heart. It took him a few months to convince her that she needed to learn this weapon, and she still held on to her blaster, but she had quickly learned the basics. Now, he thought to himself, time to have some fun. The young Jedi launched himself into the air, and after completing a somersault; he landed several feet behind his sister and activated his green lightsaber.
BSSSSHTBSSHTKSSSHT, BSSSSHTBSSHTKSSSHT—the two lightsabers clashed over and over again as Luke tested Leia's defense. The two began their complicated dance of light as the orbs continued to float without firing. In most ways, the pair looked like opposites… she was brunette with soulful brown eyes, while he was blond with piercing blue eyes. She liked to dress in white while he preferred black. Yet, as fraternal twins, no pair could be closer. Even though they were not raised together (separated in order to protect them from their biological father), they had a natural twin connection made stronger by the Force.
“You know, you can open your eyes Leia.”
She smirked as she blocked another blow, “Why? I don't need to see; I can sense your moves. Besides,” she opened her eyes, and then winked at him, “you are always telling me I need to use the Force more.”
After a few more moments, Luke decided he needed to end this and teach Leia a lesson at the same time. Using the Force, he pushed her back a couple of feet.
“Whoa!” Leia steadied herself. “No fair! I haven't learned that yet.”
It was Luke's turn to smile. “I know.” Luke pressed the button on his lightsaber. BSSSSSSSsssht. “Alright, let's take some time to meditate, and then I will show you a new offense move.” He pointed to her blaster, “So that you can give up that thing.”
She placed her hand on the blaster. “This thing has saved OUR lives more than once dear brother. As an offensive weapon, it is better than a lightsaber.”
“I don't think so.”
“Want to make a wager--- say 20 credits?”
He shook his head. “You have been hanging out with Han way too much.”
She ignored his comment. She pointed to the orbs, which were now 9 feet away. “Can you hit those practice orbs?”
“Of course I can.” As soon as he took a step towards the orbs, three laser blasts shot over his shoulder. He watched as the orbs fell to the ground, and then turned to face his sibling. “What the ….”
Leia had a self-satisfying grin plastered on her face. “I shot them down before you even got within arm's reach.”
He walked up to her. “You owe me 3 practice orbs.”
“It was worth it.” It was then that she looked at the door. “I'll be right back.” Without another word, she left the room.
Luke started to wonder what was going on until he felt her happiness through the Force. Luke sighed. It meant only one thing…Han was back from his trip. He followed Leia out of the practice room and into the living room.
A part of Luke was happy for Leia. After years of her single-minded focus on the Rebellion, and the barriers she built around her heart and mind, the Jedi was glad to see that Leia found someone who loved her and was stubborn enough to climb over those walls. It also spoke volumes that Leia could sense Han before Luke could---she was growing more confident in relying on the Force.
However, this man was Han Solo. Smuggler, pilot, outlaw… and don't forget friend and hero of the Rebellion his mind told him. Luke remembered how Han use to brag about his conquests- whether it involved flying, gambling or women. At first, Luke had thought that Han was interested in Leia only because of her money. Then he had hoped that the reason that Han stayed around was that Leia had rebuffed and argued with him at every turn and he was just in it for the chase. However, he soon realized that Han had true feelings for the Princess. Moreover, she, for her part, reciprocated. Even with all the time that they are apart due to their various roles in the young Republic, their bond continued to grow stronger.
Even though a small part of him thought that Han was simply not good enough for Leia, a much bigger part of Luke was afraid that Leia was not maintaining a healthy level of detachment. With her training in the ways of the Force, she would one day be a Jedi. He could not help but remember what his father, Anakin Skywalker, had told him about his fall to the Dark Side of the Force. Nor could he ignore a lesson that Obi-Won Konobi taught him that was reinforced when he nearly killed his Father…Jedi must have a certain amount of detachment. They cannot let their personal feelings get in the way; it will leave an open door to the dark side of the Force.
Leia opened the door before Han could knock. The former smuggler leaned against the frame of the opened door. “And here I am, trying to surprise you. Who gave away the secret?”
Leia hugged her boyfriend. “What are you doing here? You weren't due back until next week.”
After returning the hug, he stood straight, his arms still wrapped around her. Among the three, he was the tallest, just at 6 feet tall, and at times, the swag-filled pilot seemed to tower over his petite girlfriend. “Lando decided that both of us weren't needed to deliver the food supply to the Omega System, so as General I decided that I needed to come back.” There was no way he was going to let her know that Lando insisted that he leave, after he moped around for a week; and talking about how much time he has spent away from her with all the missions he had been doing for the young Republic. The last straw was Han asking Lando about which gift to get Leia. Seeing the look of doubt in her eyes, his face became a scene of mock shock. “What-- you don't believe me?”
Leia giggled and shook her head. “You are incorrigible.”
He lowered his head, his voice just above a whisper. “And you wouldn't want me any other way.” He lowered his head until he reached his target. As their kiss became deeper, Leia wrapped her arms around his neck. Neither one noticed that they were being watched.
“Ahem,” Luke coughed. He watched as the two parted. Leia had the good grace to look embarrassed, while Han just looked annoyed. Luke smiled at his sister then cut his eyes to the former smuggler. “Han.”
Leia rolled her eyes. The two men in her life at one time were the closest of friends. And they were still friends, but since their time on Endor, there seemed to be a growing distance between the two men. Luke was playing the role of the overprotecting brother while Han was jealous of the closeness between Luke and Leia. “Why don't you come on in Han?”
“Yes, why don't you? You can watch us meditate and then see the new offensive move I want to show Leia.”
“Wow. What fun,” Han stated dryly. The pilot turned his attention to Leia as he grabbed her hand. “I was hoping that we could have an early dinner and then hang out.”
“Sorry Han, but I already have plans.” Luke smirked until he heard her next words, “In fact, I have a Senate meeting. I need to get ready. So why don't the two of you have dinner together? I'll catch up later.” Before either man could protest, she gave Han a quick kiss on the lips and Luke a peck on the cheek, and then quickly walked to the refresher, leaving both men standing there.
Han smacked his lips several times. He then looked at Luke, disappointment shining from his eyes. “So where do you want to go to dinner?”
Luke was not impressed.
Jaelza stood tall as she addressed the Senate. “The planet of Zahofot has been part of the rebellion almost since the beginning. Our people have suffered, bled and died for this cause.” The young woman raised a hand over her heart. “My brothers died for our freedom. There should be no doubt in anyone's mind of my allegiance. I am a full-bloodied Zahofotan.” With her green eyes, fiery red and brown skin hues, and the traditional black and gold translucent gown of her people, there was no doubt in her words. “Unlike some members of the Senate, my allegiance cannot be questioned.”
Leia gave the young woman a wiry smile. “We are not questioning your bloodline or your allegiance Jaelza. What some of us question is whether or not you have the experience to be Vice-chair of the Republic.”
“Well, I may not have the field experience that you have Senator Leia. Or should I say former Senator Leia. After all to be a senator, one has to represent a planet.”
Leia looked at the young woman, ice running through her veins. “I may no longer represent Alderaan the planet, but I still represent Alderaan the people. I was elected to by my people represent them.”
Jaelza scoffed. “They are not truly your people. We all know the bloodline that runs through your veins.” Loud murmurs ran through the Senate.
“ENOUGH!” Mon Mothma, the President of the Republic stood up. The entire Senate remained silent, waiting to hear what the elegant but powerful woman had to say.
Mon Mothma looked at Leia who had no expression in her face. She then looked at Jaelza, who stared at her rival Senator. “I will see both of you in my chambers now. The Senate is in recess until tomorrow.” The Senate watched as the President led both women to her private chamber in the Senate arena.
Leia stood silently, trying to calm her nerves as Mon Mothma turned and faced the young Senators. She was not going the Zahofotan the satisfaction of seeing how her words struck a raw nerve. Since their victory over the Empire and the Emperor, she had heard the whispers that some of the Senators whom she once saw as allies now saw her as someone who cannot be trusted because her newly-discovered family tree. She and Luke both knew that some people would never get over the fact that they were children of Darth Vader. If she was honest with herself, she really did not blame them. However, for Senator Jaelza to throw that in her face was hitting way below the belt.
Jaelza narrowed her eyes for a moment, and then placed a thin smile upon her face. “Surely you are not against heated debate in a democracy, my Lady?”
“Instead of calling me Lady, why don't you act like one?” Mon Mothma looked at both women. “You two are Senators; leaders of the Republic. In addition, you set the tone. This childish attack will end. We will have a civilized dialog.”
“Jaelza, you have proven to be a leader among your people. You, your family and your people have made sacrifices in order to help the Rebellion to succeed. And so far, you have helped greatly in this transition.” She looked at Leia, “And you Leia have lost so much in this war. Your people have once again elected you to represent them. You have taken it upon yourself to help them find a new homeland. You were the youngest Senator ever elected…”
“Yes, with some help.”
Leia no longer could hold her tongue. “What do you mean?”
“You are Vader's daughter,” Jaelza turned her attention to Mon Mothma. “How do we know that she didn't use the force to coerce people to choose her? For all we know, she is her father's daughter.”
Leia strode up to Jaelza, fire blazing in her eyes. “I am my father's daughter. Bail Organa is my father. He fought for the Rebellion. He raised funds for the Rebellion. He sacrificed money, blood and sweat for the Rebellion. Yes, I AM my father's daughter.” She took a step back, her anger building. She continued; her tone dangerously low, “And if I was anything like Vader, you would not be standing right now.” She turned to Mon Mothma. “President, if you will excuse me.” Leia did not wait to hear Mon Mothma's response, and left the chambers, the doors sliding closed behind her.
Mon Mothma looked at Jaelza. “You are playing a very dangerous game. Leia has shown far more patience towards you than I would. In fact, my patience has ended.” She lowered her arms to her sides, her head slightly tilted up in a royal fashion, “If you continue this crusade, I will make sure that the playing field becomes even. After all, no one's family tree is squeaky clean. Do I make myself clear?”
“Why do you defend the daughter of our greatest enemy?”
Mon Mothma walked up to the Senator, and watched as the young woman became uncomfortable. “Leia could have sat at home, throwing her money at the problem. But she went on missions for the Rebellion. She was captured, tortured and forced to watch as the Empire literally blew up her planet in front of her, yet she refused to give the location of the Rebel base. She could have retired from all of this. However, she is still here, willing to help once again. So she has earned my respect and my trust.” She took a step back. “By the way, you may want to learn your facts. Fact 1: Our greatest enemy was not Vader, but the Emperor. And fact #2: Just because you get someone pregnant does NOT make one a father. Leia's father was a trusted friend and a TRUE hero of the Rebellion. I will not allow you to ignore his memory for your political gain.”
Jaelza looked at Mon Mothma. “Why don't you order the Senate to make Leia Vice-Chair? After all, you have made it quite clear that is what you want.”
“In the Senate, we are a democracy, not a dictatorship. But here, in my chambers, it is a dictatorship. You will cease this type of attack. You are dismissed.” The older woman watched as the young Senator left her chambers. She let out a breath; trying to release the tension she was feeling. She had started the Rebellion with Leia's biological mother and adoptive father. And it was true, she wanted nothing more than for Leia to follow in her parents (and hers) footsteps. She knew that Leia would make a great Vice-Chair, and hopefully one day, President of the New Republic. However, only time would tell.
The communication link rang on her computer. Mon Mothma gracefully sat down at her desk and answered it. The face that looked back at her was a face she had not seen for two decades and part of her hoped she would never see it again.
“Hello Mon Mothma. It has been a while since I saw you last. The years have been kind to you.” The person paused. “It is time.”
“Are you sure about this? I know we agreed, but a lot has happened since that time.”
“Obi Won Konobi was supposed to have trained them. They need to be guided to the full knowledge.”
“They are training. Luke...”
“Is barely a Jedi himself. The young Republic will soon learn that the great purge did not get as many of us as first believed. And the Emperor wasn't the only one who chose the Dark Side of the Force. The Republic will need all the help it can get. I will be there tomorrow. Make sure that they are both there.” The link fell dead.
Mon Mothma sighed. She knew that what she had hoped would have to wait indefinitely.
Leia went back to her chambers and stood in front of the picture window that showed a grand view of the stars. The petite woman took a cleansing breath. Years ago her path was clear…she was going to help the rebellion even if it meant sacrificing her life. Then the fateful day came when her father Bail Organa sent her on a mission to meet Obi-Won Konobi. She never did meet the man, but that course set her on an unknown path that years later, led her to her twin bother and the knowledge that she was the biological daughter of one of her greatest enemies. Knowing what she knew now, Leia wondered if her father had some other motive in sending her to seek the help of the Jedi Legend.
“Why didn't you tell me?” She whispered as a single teardrop fell. She was five years old when her family told her of her adoption, but that did not change their love. She was daddy's little girl, and she wanted to be just like him. Her natural-born leadership qualities grew as she progressed in years. No one was surprised when Alderaan elected her be Senator, following the footsteps of her dad.
Now, when people mentioned her father, they were not talking about Senator Organa, but Lord Darth Vader. Just thinking about it made her blood boil. She hated the man, and she had every right to do so. He had tortured her, held and forced her to watch as they blew up her planet and killed her family, friends and people. Vader had tortured Han, and nearly killed Luke and her on several occasions. Yes, she hated him. He represented everything that she was raised to hate. Unlike Luke, she saw no difference between Anakin Skywalker and Vader; they were one in the same. Unlike her brother, she could not, would not forgive that monster. She was so absorbed in her pain and anger that she did not notice her chamber door sliding open.
“Thanks for setting me up on a date with Luke. I come home early so I can spend some time with…” Han stopped his rant as he noticed Leia's shoulders slumping. “Hey, what's wrong?”
“Nothing. I just need to be alone for a while,” she replied without turning around.
Han knew better than that. His mind flashed back to the other times that Leia had used those words with him. The first time, he found her standing outside at dusk in the icy cold climate of Hoth staring up at the Eastern Sky…
He took her at her word, and casually warned her about getting back inside before sunset. A couple of hours later, he walked by her chamber and noticed a freezing draft coming from down the dark tunnel…the same tunnel entrance he found her earlier. He surmised that Leia had left the entrance open. He fussed about spoilt princesses and was about to pull the door shut when he noticed her still standing outside, her white coat a perfect foil for the pitch-black night sky. He yelled for her, but she did not respond. He ran and forced her to turn around. All that meant him was her blank stare. He picked her up, ran inside and carried her to the medical quarters. He told the medics on duty where he had found her, and how long she had been out there as far as he knew. One of the older medics glanced at Han, and then continued to try to bring her temperature up. “What was she doing out there?”
“I don't know. The last time I saw her, she was just staring at the sky towards the East.”
“East?” The medic's eyes became sad. “Did you say East?”
“Yes, why is that important?”
“Our star system is east of here. Our home Alderaan- it was destroyed exactly one year ago.” The medic looked down at Leia. “Even when those of us remain gather together, she never speaks of it. I have never even seen her cry over it. I guess it finally hit her today.”
Han shook the memory from his mind. It took two days before Leia was out of the woods. From that time, and every time since then, when Leia used those words, they meant one thing…she was in great emotional turmoil. He silently walked up to her, and wrapped his arms around her, pressing her tightly against his chest. He stood like this, his grip tight until she finally relaxed and leaned her head against his chest. They stood like this in silence for several moments.
“Want to talk about it?”
“There is nothing to discuss. I can't fight against the truth.”
He placed his chin on top of her head. “And what truth is that?”
“We both know of the rumors going around…the doubt about me and Luke ever since people found out we are Vader's children.”
“After all you and Luke have done, no one should doubt either of you.”
“Han, not every one knows Luke or me. If you didn't know me, and all you knew was that I was Vader's child, would you trust me to be Vice-Chair of the Republic?”
“The point is, I know you. The point is you need to force them to know you.” He paused. “Leia, do you really want to be Vice-Chair?”
“It is the right thing to do. I've been Vice-Chair unofficially for months now.”
“That isn't what I asked you.” He turned her around to face him. “Do you really want this?”
“I wish it was that simple Han. I am the Senator of Alderaan. I need to help my people find a new home. I am the most qualified to help Mon Mothma in establishing the new Republic. And whether I like it or not, I am strong in the Force and I need to train with Luke. I can't just walk away no matter how much I wish I could.”
Han smirked. “I take that as a ‘no'. Hon, you can walk away, at least for a little while.” He reached down and held her hands. “We can take an extended vacation.”
“Han, we both have responsibilities.”
“And we have both held up our ends of the bargain. Leia, there is always going to be a new crisis, a new problem, a new mission. We both need some time for ourselves and with each other.” He bent down and with a Cheshire Cat grin asked, “Don't you want to spend time with me?”
“Of course I do.”
“I knew that even without those hocus-pocus Force powers of yours.” They both began to giggle. “Listen, those missions, those problems, and those lessons are going to be waiting for us when we get back. So the way I see it, we just need to go and make sure that we have such a good time that it will be worth all the trouble we are going to be in when we get back.”
Leia smiled. “You are such a bad influence on me.”
“You know you love it.”
“So then, let's pack.” He gave her a quick peck. “Meet you at the Falcon in 15 clicks.”
“That's not enough…” It was then that her communications link rang.
Han raised his hand. “Don't answer that.” It was then his also went off. He picked his up. “Han here.”
“Is Leia with you?” It was Luke. “Mon Mothma needs to meet us tomorrow morning. A guest is coming, someone who knew our parents. I felt a disturbance…this person is a Jedi.”
Han looked at Leia as what little color she had drained from her face. “What time?”
“Leia and I will need to be at Mon Mothma's office at 9 am.”
Han sighed. “We will be there. Han out.” Without waiting for a response, Han turned off the link. “So much for our vacation.”
Leia, Han, Chebacca and C3PO walked up to the President's chambers and pressed the admittance button.
As the small group entered, Leia scanned the room. By the picture window was Luke dressed in his dark Jedi clothes and robe with R2-D2 by his side. On the white leather couch was President Mon Mothma and a Wookiee dressed in a green and yellow silk robe.
As soon as Chewbacca saw the other Wookiee, he kneeled down and bowed his head.
The stranger stood up. She was nearly as tall as Chewbacca, but her fur was light tan and brown. Her eyes were unique as well—one was green, the other was brown. Leia could feel the power of the Force coming off this woman in waves.
“Rise Chewbacca,” she stated in perfect Common. She waited until the Wookiee stood up. “Your exploits have reached the far corners of the known universe. You are a true hero. You do our people proud.” She then turned her attention to the rest of the crowd. “Han Solo, I did not know you that you or Chewbacca would be here.”
“He can stay. I have no secrets from Han.” Leia stated.
“Leia, this is about our family.”
“Han and Chewbacca ARE family.”
“No need to argue Children of Vader.” She watched as both twins looked at her. Luke's face was calm while Leia's eyes flashed with anger before she could calm them. She has matured. Perhaps Obi Won was correct. Maybe. “You don't remember me, do you Leia?” It was more of a statement than a question.
The Wookiee smiled. “My name is Anishpada, and I am a Jedi.” She walked up to the young woman. “I visited you when you were a child. You even stayed at my house.”
Leia shook her head in astonishment. “I think I would remember that.”
“Do you remember your 8th birthday party when you got an unmarked gift and a yellow and white vine flower called…”
“Opiomesa. Yes, I remember. I received one of those every year for 5 years.”
“And on your 7th birthday you received a black and grey donkey named…”
“Ben. Father wouldn't tell me why his name was Ben.”
“I named him after a Jedi acquaintance of mine,” Anishpada smirked and then glanced at Luke. “Yes, I named him after your mentor. They had many traits in common.” She then turned her attention back to the young woman. “Now Leia, do you remember your 6th birthday?”
The Princess thought for a moment. “No.” Her family always threw lavish parties for her. Why can't I remember?
“Leia, can you remember anything about your 6th year of life?” Leia narrowed her eyes in concentration. She thought hard, but all she could see was grey. She shook her head.
Anishpada motioned towards the couch. “Please have a seat.” She waited until Leia took a seat and she sat down by her on the left side. She watched as Han sat on the other side of Leia. She smiled to herself and made a mental note. Luke for his part, stood behind the couch. “As a child, you started to use the Force even without being trained. Before your first birthday, you saved your caregiver's life by using the Force. However, the Emperor was made aware and sent a spy to find you. Obi-Won and I also sensed it as well. He knew exactly who it was. I on the other hand, sensed it and the planet it happened on, but it was not until years later when I saw Obi-Won with your father and mother that I knew it was you. I told them all that if I could find the child, surely the Emperor would. Obi-Won agreed, and I was to stay nearby and help guard you. The spy who the Emperor sent actually was working for Obi-Won. After the Emperor was thrown off your trail, it was decided that is was not safe to keep you on Alderaan. Your father had already started the Rebellion and the Emperor was destroying any child who he thought was strong in the Force. Therefore, we decided that you would stay with me on my planet. After a year, it became quite clear to me that neither Obi-Won nor I were fit to train you in the ways of the Force at that time.”
“I don't understand, why couldn't you train me?”
“There are 7 different styles of Jedi mastery. You, your emotions, your way of living and being fit style 7. The master of that style was Mace Windu, who died by the Emperor's hands at the start of the Jedi Purge. Luke on the other hand, fits more like Obi-Won's style. Mine is a completely different style. It was like trying to fit a star destroyer in a tie-fighter. Some thought that the safest and best way to keep you safe was to block all your memories of me, you using the Force and even the conscious Force powers you had learned. I did not agree. I was stubborn and thought that with more time I could train you. I was out-voted. So the night before your 7th birthday, I blocked everything and disappeared from your life except for the birthday gifts I sent you.” She chuckled. “I finally had to stop sending them when your parents refused to let me know what finishing school they had sent you.”
Leia shivered. She HATED finishing school. “So why are you here now?”
“It is time. You are training. You have accepted that you are strong in the Force. You are an adult. You need those memories now so your training can progress in a timely fashioned. A great evil is surfacing, and only if the both are you are strong can you defeat it.” She reached out and touched the young woman's hand. “You were filled with such passion for life and justice. However, that passion also meant you was vengeful and you held on to your anger. I hope that whatever memories you get back, that time has tempered that side of you.”
“You are hiding something from me. I can feel it.”
“Not hiding Leia. It is just that words cannot describe some things. This is a dangerous time for you. You are young in the ways of the Force as far as training goes. These memories will slowly come back, and hopefully you are able to handle what they revealed.”
Leia pulled her hand away. “If you don't mind, I rather not get them back, at least not now. I have too much on my plate already. I really cannot handle anymore of this.”
“As you wish Leia. However, I will stay around for the time being just in case you change your mind.”
Leia nodded. She then got up and left the room.
“Leia wait.” Han, Luke, Chewie and the droids followed her out of the door.
Leia turned around. “What is it?”
“Hey, you were hit with a whole lot in there.” Han jerked his head back the way they came. “Are you sure about this?”
“I really cannot deal with any more secrets right now.”
“But Leia, if it could help with your training…”
“Didn't you hear what she said Luke. The man who should have trained me is dead. There is a reason why Obi-Won and my parents decided to block my memories. I'm not ready to deal with all of this. I just need time away from all of this, from all this Jedi stuff. Okay?” She turned and walked away.
“I'll take care of her Luke. We are going on vacation for a few days anyway. She needs this time away.”
“But she needs to train. You heard what Anishpada said, this is a dangerous time for her.”
Han pointed his finger angrily at the Jedi. “Your sister has done everything in her power to fulfill her obligations to you, Mon Mothma, the Senate and the Republic. You all are pulling her in every direction. Give her some time and breathing room. You are all driving her crazy. Back off or else.”
Chewie chimed his agreement in his Wookiee way. Luke threw up his hands in surrender. “Fine. But she is going to have to face this sooner or later. Take care of her, okay? I'm going to see what else I can find out from Anishpada.” Luke watched as Chewie, Han and C3PO went after Leia then he returned to the President's chambers.
“How is she?” Mon Mothma asked.
“How do you think she is? That was some bomb to drop on her.” He turned to Anishpada. “Who are you exactly? And why didn't Ben tell me about you?”
“I will answer your second question first. Konobi probably didn't mention me because we rarely agreed on anything, yet I was right most of the time. He was such a stubborn man. That is why I named the donkey after him. I shouldn't have insulted the donkey so.”
“Always the smart aleck, aren't you?” Obi-Won appeared.
“And you are still as stubborn as ever. Still can't admit you were wrong, can you?”
Luke turned and faced the spirit of his old mentor. “Obi-Won, what are you doing here?”
“Speak of the devil and he shall appear.” Anishpada stood and smiled at her old acquaintance. “So you finally decided to show up? I figured if I insulted you enough, it would do the trick.”
“You cannot let bygones be bygones. Fine Anishpada, you were right, and we were wrong. You foresaw the destruction of us, and we did not listen. Satisfied now?”
“Um, I don't know… think… you two, I mean three…” she looked at Anishpada and Luke, “there are only 3 of you here right?” She waited until they nodded. “Well, since I am not needed for anything, so… I think I'll leave.” With that, Mon Mothma left the room.
“She always was squeamish went it came to the Force,” Anishpada stated matter-of-factly. She turned her attention back to the deceased Jedi. “Thank you for at least admitting it, by the way.”
Obi-Won sighed. “We should have listened to you and the others. You warned us, but we let our egos get in the way.” He turned to Luke. “At one time Luke, we had a whole society of Jedi.”
“Yes, I know. And then the Purge happened, and almost all the knights were killed.”
“I see you gave him the cliff-notes version of Jedi society.” Anishpada looked at Luke. “Not all Jedi were knights. Yes, knights were the protectors, but they were not the only ones. The Jedi was a great society with many roles other than the knight…healers, teachers, prophets, Ambassadors, and parents. Each of the roles communicated and worked with the Force in a different way. However, over time, the status of Knight rose above the others and soon, the Knights were seen as the only true Jedi around. In fact, any child who was strong in the Force was trained as a Knight, whether or not that was their true calling. And due to this the Knights lost their strength because without the other Jedi, their ways of the working with the Force became sorely limited.” She walked up to the young Jedi. “Think of it this way. The Knight is the heart. Nevertheless, without the other organs, without the muscle, without the blood cells, the heart is useless. The others cannot live without the heart, but the heart also cannot function without the others. I am not a Knight, but I am a Jedi.”
“Are you saying that Leia is not called to be a Knight?”
“Leia will be a Knight if she chooses to follow that particular path of the Jedi. However, she also has the gifts of an Ambassador. Moreover, others are strong in the Force who should not follow the path of the Knight. They need training as well. This is my main reason for coming out of hiding. But there is another reason as well.” She walked up to Luke. “I came to warn you. Even without her memories, Leia's anger is strong. You look so much like your father, but you have your mother's disposition. Leia looks like your mother, but…”
Luke shook his head. “Don't go there.”
Obi-Won spoke up. “Don't blind yourself to the truth Luke. That is the reason we had her powers blocked. The first time she saw Vader as a child, her anger nearly gave her away. She hated him the first moment she laid eyes on him.”
Anishpada continued. “Part of that was the fact that she was raised to loathe him. He was the iron fist of the Emperor. I tried to get her to talk about it, but even as a child, she would shut down. She also had nightmares as a child, and I think they were about him. But again, she never was willing to talk about it.”
“And she still has not dealt with her emotions when it comes to your Father. She cannot allow herself to forgive him.”
Luke defended his sister. “Her sense of right versus wrong is far beyond most of us. Leia will forgive him in her own time.”
“And it is that sense of right versus wrong that drives her to seek justice, even against your father. As far as she is concerned, saving you does nothing to erase all the pain he has caused. Every time she deals with one of his victims, it reopens her own wounds. And there are a lot of victims who turn to her, including her people who were off-shore that fateful day.” Obi-Won looked knowingly at Anishpada. “Until such time that she is able to reconcile herself to the true Anakin, she will never fully accept the gifts that she has inherited from him, nor will she see and fight against her inherited vices as well. “
Luke thought hard. “Perhaps Han was right, she needs time away from here. Being a Senator, running for Vice-Chair and dealing with the aftermath of the war is doing nothing for her as far as forgiving father is concerned.”
Anishpada placed a furry hand upon Luke's shoulder. “Your ability to forgive has made you strong in the Light Luke. You ability to sense the good has helped you as well. You are an optimist but Leia is a realist. Her strong moral character and her ability to do whatever needs to be done will serve the Republic well. You two balance each other and BOTH your strengths will be needed.” Her voice became troubled. “There is another threat rising. I have sense it. It is chaotic and hard to pin down. But it is coming, and it is determined to restore the Empire.”
“We all have.” Obi-Won eyed the young Jedi. “Both you and Leia will need to train harder than ever before, without any distractions.”
Anishpada eyed the old Jedi. “May I remind you, that way did not work the FIRST time around.”
“And may I remind YOU that we no longer have the numbers to bring back the whole of Jedi society. We have one knight and a knight in training.”
“Well, I am not chop liver you know.”
“You are not a Knight. You are a Healer and Ambassador. I really do not know why you came out of hiding.”
Anishdapa could not help but to narrow her eyes at the spirit. “She was MY student. If you had given me the time I requested, she would…”
“Be dead. She would have been discovered. And Luke would have lost all of his family and reason to be a Jedi. Things happen for a reason Anishdapa.”
“Yes they do-- Mostly because of our stupidity and stubbornness.”
“You would know about that, wouldn't you?”
“I've known you for long enough, haven't I?”
Luke looked back and forth at the two as each comment caused the tension to rise between the two Jedi. “Okay you two, we are suppose to be on the same side, right?”
Anishdapa smiled. “I do miss our chats Obi-Won.” She turned to Luke. “Give Leia a week or so to just relax. I will deal with Mon Mothma. We will start your training tomorrow Knight. I think it is time that you learn the art of healing.”
“I look forward to it.” He watched, as Anishdapa seemed to glide out of the room. He whistled low. “She is something, isn't she?”
“You can say that again. I have never meant anyone who irritated me so much with their smugness.” Obi-Won began mumbling to himself. “Just because one has the gift of clairvoyance, that does not make one a know it all.”
“Well actually…” Luke decided not to continue on that track of thought when he saw the highly annoyed look in his mentor's eyes, “since she is here, she can be very useful.”
“I suppose. Just be ready for you and Leia to go some place where there will not be distractions. You two need to get ready for whatever is coming.”
Luke smiled. “And I know just the place.”
Leia slowly stretched as she lounged on the beach chair. The yellow sun was still bright but lowering itself in the horizon, a cool beverage sat on one side and Han was on the other. She had to admit that Han was right; she just needed to drop everything and get away for a while. Nevertheless, she also knew that she would have to pick it all up once they returned. She sighed as she thought about exactly what she had to get back to… No, not now, she chided herself. Nothing was going to ruin the rest of their vacation. She looked over at Han. Wearing brown lounge pants and a pair of dark sunglasses, he looked like the definition of relaxation. “Have I told you thank you for this?”
He grinned. “Yes you have. But if you want to say it again, I won't stop you.” He looked over at her. Leia was wearing a gold and white bikini with a translucent gold and white skirt wrap, her hair swept up in a casual bun, with tendrils of her dark brown hair hanging free.
“Well thank you again.”
“You're welcome.” The pilot of the Millennium Falcon looked out towards the sky. He smiled to himself as the butterflies began to fill his stomach. He stood up and held out his hand. “Let's take a walk before dinner.” Han watched as Leia smiled and let him help her up out of the lounger. His mind raced back to the first time they met. In less than 2 minutes, they were already arguing. That set the tone for their relationship at first…each of them seemed to relish getting on the other's nerves. In fact, their relationship was stuck at that point for months. Things did not change much when the Rebellion had settled onto Hoth. Chewie would laugh at him whenever Leia said something snarky towards him. Chewbacca also reminded Han that they had a bounty on their heads, but Han would find a reason to stay. He would brag that the Rebellion needed him—that Luke and Leia would get themselves killed if he was not around. But the truth was, the former smuggler had finally found a home in his new friends. Even the droids became important to him. He would never admit it to anyone else, but Luke, Leia, Chewie, R2D2 and yes, even C3PO were his family. Moreover, none of it would have been possible if he had not agreed to take Luke and ‘Ole Ben' Konobi to Alderaan or agreed to rescue a princess.
Leia broke his musings and stopped their stroll. “Look at that!” She pointed to an enormous rainbow-colored flying fish that broke through the ocean, sailed through the air and gracefully pummeled back into the ocean. “You have to make a wish.”
Leia nodded as a memory played in her mind of her father and her on a fishing trip. “That is what Father would always tell me whenever we saw something amazing in nature.” She paused for a moment, and then looked at Han. “So what did you wish for?”
He smiled at her. “I thought if I told you, then the wish cannot come true?”
“I asked Father the same question.”
“And what did he say?”
“How am I supposed to help make the wish come true, if you don't tell me?” She grabbed his other hand, “So tell me.”
Han took a deep breath. He had planned at least 10 different ways to ask her, but right now was perfect. He smirked and said, “I wish that you would say yes.”
“Yes to what?”
“Yes to this,” he reached into his pocket and pulled out a ring. The band was gold, and in the center was a greenish-blue princess-cut Heart of Fire stone. “Leia, will you marry me?”
Leia looked at the ring, then at Han, then back at the ring. Her heart was pounding. Being the pragmatist, a whole list of reasons why they should not get married popped into her head: Her duties, her training, they barely saw each other as is, the great evil that Anishpada said was coming… but right now, none of that matter. “Yes.”
Han smiled. “Yes?”
Leia nodded. “Yes.”
Han Solo picked up the petite woman and swung her around. Joyful noises came from the both of them before Han bent down and kissed her. “So, the soon-to-be Mrs. Solo, what would you like to do tonight to celebrate?”
She wrapped her arms around his neck and let her fingers play in his hair. “Well Mr. Solo, how about a quiet dinner and then watching the stars all night. Is that alright with you?”
“Perfectly fine.” They kissed one last time before heading back to the hotel.
Leia gazed at her image in my mirror. The off-the-shoulder iridescent white dress hugged her petite form. She pushed a loose tendril of hair behind her ear with her right hand and then turned her attention to the engagement ring on her left hand. The ring, which shined as teal in the sunlight, now shined a dazzling red-purple under the artificial light in her room. Leia smiled as she thought about Han. He was brash, tactless, stubborn—quick-witted, intelligent, brave… he was simply Han.
The communications link broke the Princess out of her musings. She answered, and her brother's face appeared. “Hi Luke.” She kept her left hand off to the side so he could not see the ring.
“Hi. I hope your vacation is going well.” It was then the young Jedi felt a burst of happiness rushing from his sister. “I guess it is.”
Leia smirked. “It is going well. I really needed it. We should be home tomorrow.”
“That is why I called. I saw Ben.”
“Oh.” Leia knew the Jedi Knight only by his name, but she knew how important he was to Luke. The old man had been Luke's first Master and had sacrificed himself in order to protect them against Vader. Through Luke's memories and words, Leia felt like she knew the Jedi herself.
“Yes, he appeared right after you left. He too has sensed the evil as well. It is going to take the both of us to fight against it.”
“Did he know where it is coming from?”
“No. But he and Anishpada did agree on one thing. We need to train harder. I found a place for us to train so we can have minimum distractions.”
“Luke, you know I have duties and obligations…”
“I know. Mon Mothma is already taking care of that.”
Leia took a breath. She hated when others make decisions for her without her input. She swallowed her pride, knowing that Luke would have discussed things with her if time had allowed. She smirked at her brother. “You know, it would be nice if one day, the Jedi would appear to me, filled me in on the plan, and let me tell YOU what is going on. So is Anishpada going to train us?”
Luke nodded. “I will still take the lead in your training, but Anishpada knows a lot about the non-combative power of the Force. Her healing powers are incredible. We will learn a lot from her.”
“So where are we training?”
“We are going to Dagobah, where Yoda trained me.”
“A bog…. we are going to train in a bog.”
“More like a swamp that a bog Leia.” Luke watched as she rolled her eyes. “Come on Leia, we've been in worst. Remember the garbage chute?”
Leia smiled as that particular memory danced in her mind. “We didn't train in the garbage Luke.” She shook her head and sighed. “We will meet you there tomorrow.”
“I'm sorry Leia. I know you have a lot on your plate…”
“Luke, it isn't your fault. At least we have a chance to prepare for whatever is coming. See you tomorrow.” Without another word, she turned off the communications link.
She got up and walked into the living area of her suite. She took a deep breath-- she was not going to let the news ruined her last evening of vacation. She was grabbing a translucent white shawl off the couch when a knock came from the front door. She wrapped the shawl around her bare shoulders and opened the sliding door.
Han looked at her and let out a wolf whistle. Leia shook her head. “Scoundrel.”
Han walked right up to her and smirked. “You need a scoundrel. Admit it, I keep life interesting.”
“That is for certain.” She gave him a quick peck on the cheek, and placed her arm in his and let him lead them to dinner.
“So we are to meet Luke at Dagobah?”
“He wanted to minimize any distractions while we train.”
“Well that will do it. There is NOTHING there. Not even a mediocre place to play a game of Sabacc.” Han sighed. “Well, perhaps I can finally catch up on the repairs for the Millennium Falcon.”
Leia reached out and caressed the pilot's hand. “You know, you don't have to come. I'm going to be busy. I'm not sure there is even room for you to land your ship there. Remember what happened to Luke's fighter?”
Han nodded as he remembered the story that Luke told them. “And there is no Yoda to get it out of the swamp this time.” He squeezed her hand. “There is no way I'm leaving you with Anoshpanda…”
“Whatever her name is. We don't know anything about her.”
“Luke knows she is a Jedi. Besides she is telling the truth, I can feel it.”
“Look, I know that you and Luke like to rely on the Force. However, I have gut instincts. And my instincts are telling me that she is hiding something.”
Leia paused, digesting Han's words. “I do not think she is hiding something. She did offer to help me remember those lost memories. I'm the one who turned her down.”
“And you were right to do so. Who knows what she really wants? How do we know that she isn't the great threat to the universe?”
“Well, Luke trusts her,” Leia smiled at Han, “and I must say Luke is pretty good judge of character. He trusted you the first time you two met.”
Han smirked. “That was stupid of him.” He sighed. “Fine. But keep an eye open at all times, okay?”
“That is going to make sleeping a bit hard, don't you think?”
Luke swung across on the vine, and then landed on a high branch on a tall swamp tree. As he looked back, he wiped his hands on his matching olive green muscle shirt and pants, and watched as Leia grabbed a vine and swung in next to him.
Leia placed her hands above her knees, and drew in deep breaths. She had never worked out so hard in her life. Sweat bled through her camel-colored tank-top. She glanced up at her twin. He too had sweat running down his face, but he looked calmed and even peaceful. At that moment, she wanted to punch him. “When can we take a break?”
“Come on Leia, we just got started.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “Don't quit on me yet. Another hour and then we will take a break.”
Leia moaned. They had been here for five weeks, and everyday held the same routine- running, swinging, hiking, saber battling, meditating, and learning how to let the Force flow through them-- All of it under the watchful eyes of Anishpada.
Leia liked Anishpada. She was strong, wise and spoke plainly. She could see why her parents would trust the Wookiee. Her eyes spoke of deep wisdom, compassion and mirth. Luke tended to focus on the physical training, while Anishpada focused on the mental and emotional training. Leia had to admit that she preferred the latter. But between the two, she was running ragged. “Luke, I don't know how much more I can take of this.”
“You are lucky. I'm going easy on you.” Leia looked at Luke with an incredulous look in her eyes. “When I had to go through this training the first time, I had to carry my teacher strapped to my back.” Luke grabbed a vine. “Come on, race you back.”
Leia sighed as she once again tried to use the Force to lift a 7-pound rock. Sweat poured down her face, but all the rock did was wiggle.
“Focus Leia,” Luke gritted between his teeth. He did not understand why Leia was having so much trouble moving this stone. They have been at this for weeks, yet the cerebral Leia couldn't move a rock.
Anishpada guffawed. “And Luke, how long did it take you to lift a ship?”
Luke frustration quickly dissipated as the memory replayed in his head. To be honest, he STILL couldn't do that. “Talk to Yoda often?”
The Wookiee smiled and walked up to Leia. “Leia, you must unlearn what you call reality. You watch everyone's moves, read their faces, recognize their emotions and calculate your next move based on what you see, know and feel. You are so use to being in control, but that is not the way of the Jedi. You shouldn't try to control the Force, let it flow through you.”
“How are you suppose to let something flow through you when you can't see it?”
“Leia, you need to free your mind. Everything has the Force in it, and yet nothing can contain it. It flows in and through everything. Many things are neutral; those things never realize or even have the ability to sense the Force. Only a small percentage has the ability to learn to recognize the Force. And on those a great responsibility and decision are casted.” She looked at both twins. “Enough of this for today. We need to meditate. Come.”
Anishpada walked away, with Luke trailing behind. Leia looked at the rock once more, and tried yet again to move it using the Force. This time, it didn't even wiggle. “Ugh,” she stated in frustration. As she turned and walked away, she waved angrily at the rock.
Without any notice, it slid several inches on the wet earth.
Han sat by the fire; his back leaned against a log as creatures of the bog sang into the night sky. As he poked a stick at the fire, he thought about how everything had taken a back seat to Luke and Leia's training. Instead of Leia being in the Senate and helping her people on finding a new home planet, she was here in the swamp training until she dropped. Instead of flying the Millennium Falcon, giving orders to the soldiers under his authority, he was here, feeling like a third wheel. He did receive word that he was needed to make a supply run and had agreed to do so. But now he wondered if he should stay:
Han looked over the controls of the large command ship. He missed his Millennium Falcon, but he had to admit that this ship had many advantages. It can carry ships & cargo and it was large enough for C3PO to be on one end of the ship where no one would hear his annoying chatter.
“Getting ready to leave?” She watched as Han quickly turned around; his hand on his blaster. Anishpada smiled. “I see you still don't trust me Han Solo.”
“What do you need Anishpada?”
“It is not what I need, but what Leia needs.” She made a mental note to herself as concern filled Han and his hand left his holster.
“Did something happen to Leia? Where is she?”
“Calm down General. Leia is physically fine.” She stared intently at the former smuggler. “Tomorrow, she will enter the Cave of Evil.”
Han silently gulped. “That doesn't sound good.”
Anishpada reached out through the Force and could sense his worry and his need to protect. “It is something she must do. Her brother did it as well when he trained to become a Jedi.”
“Is it safe?”
“Yes, however, Leia will need to see you afterwards, to make sure you are alright.”
Han narrowed his eyes in confusion. “Why?”
“The cave is very strong with the Dark Side of the Force. It may show her a possible past that never materialized, or a future event that may happen. On the other hand, it may show Leia her greatest fear. Do you know what her greatest fear is Han?” Anishpada smiled, her white fangs exposed. “Her greatest fear is losing you and Luke like she did her parents.”
“She told you that?”
The Wookiee shook her head. “I can feel it…”
“More Force mumbo-jumbo” Han whispered to himself.
“The Force is not, as you put it, mumbo-jumbo,” Anishpada growled. “If you cannot handle being married to someone strong in the Force, now is your chance to run.”
Han took a deep breath to calm his racing heart. He knew better than to get a Wookiee angry. Tact was sorely needed at this moment. “Who said anything about running? So she's strong in the Force. For your information, she has always been strong, whether she's using the Force or not!”
The older Jedi smirked to herself. She did like Han. “As I was about to say, anyone can see how you two feel about each other. When you think no one is watching, you can be a romantic.” She turned and walked towards the exit. Without stopping she said, “See you when you get back Mr. Solo.”
“Hey, what are you thinking about so hard?” Leia stood above the prone pilot, concern in her brown eyes.
Han shrugged his shoulders. There was no need to tell Leia how he felt about the Wookiee Jedi. He didn't trust Anishpada, but Leia did. “Nothing much.” He then patted his lap, inviting the Princess to sit.
Leia smirked, gingerly sat in Han's lap and laid her head on his shoulder. She tried to stifle a moan. Han reached up and began to massage the back on her neck. “Sore?”
She nodded. “Every time I think I'm getting use to this, they throw something new into the mix. Like today, after all the running and dueling, Anishpada and Luke wanted me to use the Force to lift a boulder. All I managed to do was cause it to wobble, at that was only after I tried to do it at least 15 times.”
“Why would you need to learn to move a rock anyway? Just blast the thing.”
Leia laughed. “That would work too!” She snuggled closer. “Prepared for your mission tomorrow?”
“Yep. If everything goes as scheduled, we will pick up the supplies in the Bothawui system, rendezvous with General Antillies and then deliver them to the Rafa system.” Han began to mindlessly rub his hand along Leia's upper arm. “Listen, be careful tomorrow. Anishpada told me about that cave.”
“Don't worry. Luke already told me what to expect. Besides, nothing I see will be real. Afterwards, I want Anishpada to remove the blocks so I can get my memories back. She raised her head as she felt his body growing tenser. “What's wrong Han? There is nothing to be worried about.”
Han shrugged his shoulders. “Listen, I understand that you and Luke have these powers and you need to learn to use them. I know that something bad is coming. I am just uncomfortable with Anishpada. She knows a lot more than what she is saying.” He finally looked her in the eye. “Contact me as soon as you're done. I'll get back as soon as I can.”
Leia looked into the vine and mist-filled bog. She closed her eyes as the power of the cave washed over her. She had expected it to feel cold and foreboding. But instead, it felt…seductive. She turned and faced Luke and Anishpada. “Nothing I see there will be real, right?”
The older Jedi spoke. “It all depends. You may see possible futures or friends and family long past. Just remember, what you see will not have to do with the present.”
Luke placed a hand on Leia's shoulder. “You ready?”
Leia nodded as she checked her lightsaber.
Luke smiled as he remembered his own experience before he entered the cave. “You won't need that. It will be useless in that cave.”
Leia looked at her lightsaber. She unhooked it and handed to Luke. “See you in a few.” With that, she turned and walked through the mist to her destination.
Leia stuck her head into the hole and saw it opened into a cavern. She saw that the cavern walls were covered with vines, rocks of various sizes were scattered all around, with scorpions, snakes and lizards crawling in various areas. She climbed through the hole and walked deeper into the cavern. She continued to walk around and after it seemed like she had walked for hours; she paused- waiting for something to happened.
Up ahead, Leia saw flashes of light and heard the sound of lightsabers engaged in battle. As she headed to the action; she reached down to grab her lightsaber. “Damn,” she muttered as she remembered she had left it behind. She hid behind a boulder and peeked around it to see what was going on.
She swallowed hard as she saw Luke, fighting someone also dressed in dark robes with a dark light emitting from his entire being. She watched as the stranger welded a red lightsaber, his handle curved. She couldn't see the face, but something about the person seemed vaguely familiar. She looked around and only a few yards behind Luke were three bodies. Even though they were faced down, the Princess recognized them as her loved ones. As Leia stared at the bodies of Han, Chewbacca and Anishpada, fear filled her. If this person was able to kill Han, Chewbacca and Anishpada, what chance did Luke have? It was then she heard him scream.
The stranger waved an arm and Luke flew back, hitting the cave wall. Leia watched as her brother dropped to his knees, then fell forward, blood flowing from a head wound. Her insides told her that this had to be a vision of a possible future.
It was then the stranger around. He was an older man, with pure white hair on the top of his head and on his face. There was something regal about the way he stood. “Come out of hiding Leia.” Leia stepped out as she fought against her fear and anger.
“Good. You can control your fear and anger. You have come far in your training. Now, all you need to learn is how to use them.”
“Who are you?”
He walked up to her. “You new Master.”
Luke and Anishpada sat in silence as they each meditated. Anishpada focused on trying to find the source of the Dark power that had brought her out of her isolation. It was then darkness seemed to engulf her. She sharply took in a breath. Something was wrong…horribly wrong. The Dark Side of the Force grew stronger, centering on the cave. “No.” She looked over at Luke, who also felt it.
Luke felt as a huge wave of coldness that seemed to swallow him whole, followed by pain, fear and hate. His eyes flashed as they popped open. “Leia!”
The young Jedi did not listen. As he ran towards the pit's opening, his mind was focused only on one thing: finding his sister.
The ground shook and the earth gave way. Luke found himself descending. But before he could be swallowed, he was grabbed and pulled back.
Anishpada yelled at him. “You cannot help her if you are dead!” The Wookiee looked at the sinkhole. It had collapsed the one opening into the cavern. “Luke, you need to focus. Use the Force to find Leia.”
The man turned around, his curved lightsaber in his hands. An evil smirk dresses his thin lips. “Bow before your Master.” Leia shook her head. “Never.”
“I said BOW before your Master!” Impatiently, the man backhanded the young woman, driving her to her knees. Leia didn't even look up at him, but he could feel her fear. He watched as she wiped her mouth and saw the blood on her hand. She finally looked up at him, confusion in her eyes. “Oh, let me guess, they told you this was not real. You are about to see how real this is.”
Leia looked over at the bodies. “No.” This couldn't be happening, this can't be true. She knew she had wandered around for some time, but there was no way that could be her family. Before she could think any further, she felt two hands pick her up. “NO!” Leia's anger and fear took over. She swung around hard, throwing her fist. It made a solid connection, knocking the first person off of her.
Leia looked at the person she hit. She never saw anyone like him before, his red and black skin glowed with dark energy, with gold horns on his head where hair should have been. He snarled at her, his yellow fangs and eyes boldly showing.
“Looks like our apprentice wants to fight.” The old man noted. “Perhaps she will put up a better fight than her brother.”
Leia narrowed her eyes in anger. She looked at her family one last time, then without thinking she opened her hand. The green lightsaber flew right to her hand. She felt the power of the Force flow through her. Not caring which side of the Force it was she was using, with one fluid motion, she stood, activated the saber and swung at her enemy.
The old man quickly blocked the blow. ‘So predictable,' he thought to himself. He parried with her. He at anytime could kill her, but HIS master had other plans for the daughter of Vader. All he had to do was keep her busy.
As she raised the saber to attack, she felt sharp pain as her ribs cracked. She screamed in pain as her body instinctively tried to protect her left side. Without a word, the 2nd person struck again and again, his blows knocking the saber out of her hand, then her face and body. She tried to fight him off, but she was outclassed. With a high roundhouse kick to the head, Leia fell to the ground, barely conscious.
Luke calmed himself. He could feel his twin's emotions: First the confusion, followed by grief, anger and fear. He felt her pain and he quickened his pace. Luke prayed that he hadn't made a mistake: he wanted to train his sister in the same way that Obiwon and Yoda had trained him. The young Jedi felt Leia's fear spiraling higher.
“Focus Luke.” Anishpada tried to hide the worry in her voice. In all her years, she has never known of the cave to do this. Someone powerful must be manipulating the Dark Force emitting from the cave. But who? She took out her communicator. “C3PO, listen. Tell the captain to make a small transporter ready. Use the communicator system to track us. And tell them to get the medical unit ready. “
“Oh my! Is someone hurt? I knew it was a bad idea to come to this waste…”
“Shut-up C3PO. Just do as you are told.” She growled, causing the robot to jump.
C3PO swung his robotic gold arms wildly as he waddled along the ship's walkway. “Oh my. On my! Captain! Captain! I need to see the captain!”
“Bring her to me.”
Leia knew that voice. She heard it since her childhood. But he is dead. As they dragged her by her arms to him, she found it hard to breath. Even though both eyes were swollen, she was able to barely make him out.
His dark brown hooded robe covered his face except for his very scarred nose, mouth and chin and the same dark light shone from his very being is it did from the other two. His pale ghostly hand motioned for them to come closer, while his other hand held Vader's mask. A sinister smile graced his thin lips. “Ah, Princess Leia Organa Skywalker, daughter of Vader, how I have longed for this day!”
“Palpatine? Impossible!” She managed to grunt out. Despite the pain, Leia tried to pull away. But in her weakened state, there was no way for her to break free.
“No need to struggle daughter of Vader. You cannot outrun your destiny.” The former leader of the Empire came closer, holding the mask up. As he drew closer, he could feel her fear and anger wash over him. He took a deep breath, as though he was inhaling a sweet fragrance. “Don't fight it Leia. The Force will always find a way to keep itself balanced.”
She wasn't listening to his words, all she saw was the mask of Vader moving closer to her. It was the mask of her nightmares, the mask of her greatest enemy, the mask of the man she hated. Focusing her strength, she tried once more to pull away. But it was the wrong move. She felt the sharp pain in her chest, and blood in her mouth. Before she blacked out, the mask was only inches away.
“She's here!” Luke pointed to the ground in front of his feet. Anishpada pulled him to the side. The Force flowed through everything in nature. And Anishpada was an expert when it came to nature.
Luke's mouth gaped open as a large portion of the ground lifted up in the air. Anishpada, using the Force, raised it way above their heads. “Get her out now,” the Wookiee calmly stated, her eyes closed as she focused her energies.
Luke looked into the hole. About twenty feet below, a large cavern opened up. Leia laid on the floor unconscious. Using the Force, he slowly lifted his sister out of the cavern and into his arms. “I have her.”
Anishpada lowered the portion back into place. It was then that a transporter ship showed up.
Luke didn't have time to wonder how the ship knew where to find them. As soon as the door lowered, he climbed inside and carried Leia to the cramped triage located on the transporter. Inside of the unit was a medical droid.
Anishpada followed. “Luke, tend to her cuts and bruises.” The Wookiee reached out her hand and slowly moved it over the young woman's body, making mental notes about her condition. She could feel the slight rise of temperature as Leia's body tried to compensate for the injuries. She knew that the young woman suffered from a concussion, broken ribs on the left side of her body and a punctured lung. She looked at the droid. “Give her oxygen.” She then turned her attention to Luke, “Don't worry she will heal.”
Leia moaned. All she saw was a shadow moving something towards her face. “NO!” she screamed, and using the Force, shoved the droid, crushing it against the wall.
“Leia!” Luke grabbed her hand. “Calm down, you're safe.”
“Luke?” Confusion filled the young woman's voice. “How?” It was then another voice filled her mind.
REST. It was Anishpada. Suddenly, Leia felt very tired. She couldn't fight it, and fell into a deep sleep. The Wookiee Jedi grabbed the oxygen mask from the now mangled droid, and placed it on Leia.
Luke looked at the destroyed droid and then at his sister. He had felt the source of the power—pure fear and hate. He wondered who or what caused the injuries and why she was so surprised to see him. Nothing made sense. He reached out and held her hand. The young Jedi was determined to find out what happened and help his sister. He looked at Anishpada. “It has already begun, hasn't it?”
The Wookiee glanced at both twins. She had hoped that they would have more time. But it seemed that time had ran out.
Luke sighed as a very ticked Han filled up his communication screen. He really did not want to have to deal with Han right now. “She is fine.”
“Really? Then why did she not answer her communicator? I've called her at least 4 times. Finally C3PO answers, and when I asked him where is Leia, all that bucket of bolts says is ‘Oh my! Oh dear!” Han leaned forward. “Where is she, and don't tell me that she's busy.”
“Alright. Leia was hurt in the cave. But she will be fine.”
“Will be? What happened?”
“We don't know. As soon as she is out of the healing tank…”
The general interrupted, “Healing tank?” Healing tanks were only used for very serious injuries. “I'm on my way back. You should have called me Luke.”
“I was going to call you once we had Leia settled in. We had our hands full here Han. I had no idea you had been trying to reach her.”
Han swallowed his anger. It could wait until he and Luke were face to face. “Han out.” With that, the communication screen turned black.
Han got in touch with the New Republic Command to find if another ship could do the delivery. When a replacement was found and brought to speed, Han and Chewie hyper-spaced the Millennium Falcon back to the large transport ship.
After they had landed, Chewie looked over at his friend. “Arr arg hurr ghur.”
“Don't worry, I won't say anything I'm going to regret,” Han replied quickly as he made his way down the hatch.
Anishpada and Luke sat on a large white couch, while Leia sat on a white chair near the couch. Anishpada studied Leia. Physically, the young woman was fine. The Wookiee reached over and held Leia's hand. “I know you are tired.”
Leia gave her a small smile. “Probably because of a Jedi trick you still have to teach me.”
Anishpada gave Leia's hand a small squeeze. “It was the only way to make sure you didn't hurt yourself or anyone else. What happened Leia?”
Leia got up and looked out of the window at all the stars. “I lost track of time as I wandered around. Then I saw Luke in a battle.” She turned to face Anishpada. “You, Han and Chewie were dead. I thought for sure it was a vision of a possible future. Then he struck, and Luke fell dead. I wanted, needed to know whom Luke was fighting against. But then he called me over. He knew I was there.”
“What did he look like?”
“He was an older human, his hair white. He had a red lightsaber with a curved handle.”
“Did you say curved handle?” Anishpada swallowed. Impossible. “Anything else?”
“He and the others had this black glow that surrounded them.” Leia shook her head, “I never seen anything like it before in my life. He hit me. That is when I realized that all of this was real. If I had any doubts, the other one beat them out of me. I never seen anyone like him, read and black skin, yellow teeth and eyes…”
“With horns on his head,” Anishpada finished.
Luke faced the Jedi. “You know them?”
Anishpada nodded. “They are Sith and were apprentices of the Emperor before your father. Darth Tyranus was the old man and Darth Maul was the other one. They were killed a long time ago. If the Sith have found a way to come back, that would explain why it was so chaotic and hard to pin-down. There were two of them.”
“Three of them,” Leia corrected. She looked at Luke, “The Emperor is back. In fact, he was the one in charge.”
“How were they able to attack Leia though? Obiwon cannot touch anyone.”
“Remember Luke, that cave is aligned with the Dark Side of the Force. It is one of the most powerful points that channel the Dark Side. If they used the cave to magnified their powers, then they may not only touch a living being, but they may have been able to manipulate a vision.” Anishpada turned her attention to Leia. “What you saw may have been a possible future. But who knows how much they have manipulated it.”
Or,” Luke offered, “It may not have anything to do with the future. They could have been there since the first day we arrived, watching us. They could have set this up from the beginning, trying to test us.”
“No Luke. That vision was real. I know it.” A bad feeling continued to make Leia feel uneasy…there was something that was evading her at the moment. “And if that was test for me, I failed it. I let my anger get the best of me. When I saw that all of you were dead…” Leia saw the vision play again in her mind, and it all became real to her once more.
“Leia,” Luke placed both hands on her shoulders. “Stop it. Any of us would have failed that particular test.” Once he knew that she was present with them, he turned his focus on the Wookiee. “The advantage is still ours. Anishpada, if the Dark Side has focus points, that means the Light Side should have focus points also.”
Leia looked at her brother. “What are you thinking Luke? How is magnifying our powers going to help us against those who are already dead?”
“I'm not thinking about that Leia. Obiwon, Yoda and Mace Windu are dead. If we can find one of those focus points, they will be able to continue our training.” He then turned to Anishpada, “Not that you are doing a bad job…”
“I understand Luke. Obiwon and Yoda should continue your training, and as I stated before, Mace Windu would be the perfect teacher for Leia.”
“Anishpada, you are my teacher. I still have a lot to learn. Besides, I want my memories back. The cave showed me one thing…I am not ready. I need those memories, those skills I have forgotten.”
“As you wish Leia.” Anispada stood up. “Luke, we need this time alone.”
“Of course.” He hugged his sister. “Hey, don't worry. We are the good guys. We always win in the end.” He continued to make eye contact until she gave him a small smile. “That is what I want to see. I'll be back later.” He gave her one final hug, left the suite, made his way down the long corridor and to the elevator.
When the doors opened, he saw Han standing there. “I just left the medical unit. They said that Leia had been released. But she is not in her suite.”
Luke stepped inside and the doors closed. “She is with Anishpada, getting her memories back. She may be there for a while.”
Han sighed. He really needed to make sure she was okay.
“She's fine Han. I know she will want to see you after what she saw in the cave.”
“What happened Luke?”
Luke told Han what Leia had told them. “It has really thrown her for a loop. But now that you're back, maybe it will calm her.”
Han nodded. “Listen Luke, if anything happens to Leia, I would call you first. After all you are her brother. I'm just asking for the same respect in return.”
The doors opened and the pair stepped off the elevator. “Han, I am sorry. At the moment, all I cared about was getting her out of that cave and healed. And then she destroyed a medical droid.”
“Yeah, it was weird. The droid was placing a breathing mask on her when she regained consciousness. The next thing we knew, she had slammed it, literally crushed it with the Force. Anishpada had to calm her down.” Luke's brow wrinkled as he thought about Leia's actions. “She never told me why she did that.”
“Why? How about how? She couldn't lift a rock when we last talk.”
“I'm glad she finally can do it. We have a real fight on our hands. It seems the Sith have found a way to return back from the dead. Which means, they could be training someone to become a Sith.”
“Lovely.” Han walked to the doors of Leia's suite. “I'm going to wait here.”
“Okay. And Han, I am truly sorry for not calling you.”
“Okay kid. See you later.”
“Is it going to hurt?”
Anishpada shook her head. “Since you want this to happen and the memories are not physically painful, it will not hurt. However, I will warn you, the memories will come back slowly. And some of them will not be pleasant. As your memories come back, so will the Force skills you were taught.” Anishpada placed her hands on Leia's head. All Leia saw was bright light and she felt slightly dizzy. “It is done.”
“Thank you. Will I be able to block memories?”
“You helped me place those blocks on you in the first place.”
Anishpada nodded. “It was what you wanted.”
“There are so many things I jus don't remem….” Leia fell silent as a memory flooded her mind:
“Why can't I do both? Why can't Anishpada stay with us?” the inquisitive child asked the adults. She loved Anishpada, but she wanted to go home and stay with her parents too. She missed her home, she missed her friends and most of all she missed her family. She did not understand why her parents brought this strange man to Anishpada's home. Her teacher and the man seemed to argue more than they seemed to talk. She was beginning to not like this man. Every time she saw him, he seemed to bring trouble.
“Leia, do you love Anishpada?” Obiwon watched as the child nodded. “You know about her power. The Emperor wants to destroy her and anyone who has that power. That is why we hid you here, so she could continue your training.” Obiwon bent down and looked at the child in the eye. “But you cannot go home. The Emperor will find you.”
“I won't use the Force, I promise.”
“Leia, that is a promise you simply cannot keep, nor would I ask that of you. Plus, you cannot seem to control your hatred around him.” Obiwon watched as dark brown eyes became stormy. “Leia , your hate will destroy all that you have worked so hard to achieve…all that your parents have accomplished.”
“Obiwon, there is another way.” Anishpada held out her hand to the young child. As the child took her hand, she bent down and looked Leia right in the eye. “You love your parents and miss them. A child needs their mom and dad. If you want to go home, we are going to have to block your memories of me, this place and your training.”
“No! Come with me. The guards can keep us safe.”
Anishpada smiled at her. “I cannot. This is my home. And your home is Alderaan. The only way to keep you safe there is for you to forget all of this. Come.”
Leia followed Anishpada to the hut that they shared. “Lie down.” The Wookiee began to stroke the young girl's hair. “Remember what I taught you about blocks?”
“As long as I agree, the memories can be locked, not to be opened again until I chose,” the young princess stated. She took a breath and looked at Anishpada. “But if I don't agree, the memories can be blocked, but not locked, and the block can be released by anyone.”
The rest of the memory played out in Leia's mind. She felt her own turmoil, pain, and anger…as if it was the first time she was experiencing it. Yet, at the same time, the memory rushed through her mind. “That was the last time I saw you.”
The Wookiee Jedi gave a small smile. For a year, the young princess became a big part of her life. Anishpada never believed in the notion of detachment, she believed she could be the best teacher for her students when there was a relationship. That day, her heart was shredded to pieces. Leia was the last of her students and the only one with whom the Jedi interfered. “Yes, it was. Leia, remember what I said in Mon Mothma's office, some of the memories will cause you lots of pain. We blocked them and your powers so that the Emperor would not discover who you were.”
“Well, he knows now.”
Even with Leia's natural ability to hide her emotions, Anishpada still sensed the swell of anger. But her pride rose as Leia remained calm and was able to stem the tide of anger. “And you are far more mature than you once were.” She reached out and touched the young woman's shoulder. “Remember, all your memories are from the past, don't let them control your future.”
Leia nodded. The past did not frighten her…it was the future that shook her to the core. She was sure that the vision she saw was of the future and she was determined that it would not happened.
The intercom link buzzed. “Anishpada, is Leia there?”
“Hello to you too Han.” Anishpada was about to call Leia over, when the Senator shook her head. The Wookiee narrowed her eyes at Leia, and then quickly returned her attention to the intercom. “She just left Han.”
“Do you know if she was heading to her suite?”
Leia nodded. Anishpada stated, “Yes she was.”
“Okay, I'll wait.” Han's voice became friendly. “It was nice talking to you.”
“See you soon Han.” Anishpada turned to ask Leia what was wrong, but the young woman was already gone.
Luke stood in his dark suite. The few furnishings were either black or brown with while light that softly lit the rooms.
Luke turned around. “Obiwon.” He smiled as he came closer to his former teacher. “Why are you here?”
“You and Leia need to come to the planet Yulato in the Solaris system in your X-fighter. We can continue your training there.”
“In my X-fighter? But what about the droids?”
“You won't need them. All you will need are your lightsabers and supplies. At first, you two will train together with each of us: Yoda, Mace Windu and myself. Then Yoda and I will continue your training while Mace Windu will continue Leia's training.”
“Why can't we train together during our time on Yulato? We can learn so much from all 3 of you.”
“It takes lots of energy to appear on this plane of existence. Even though Yulato is a focal point and allows us to interact on the physical plane, it is still not enough for all 4 of us to be there at the same time for extended amounts of time.”
“All four of you?”
“Yes.” He paused, hoping that the last piece of information will not unravel the whole plan. “Finally, Anakin will take over and teach the both of you what you need to know in order to defeat them.”
Luke couldn't believe his ears. “Leia will never agree to be trained by our Father.”
“Luke, this is the only way. She will get to know him as Anakin, not as Vader. Hopefully she will then be able to forgive him.” The old Jedi saw the look of doubt in Luke's eyes. “Remember what I said about certain point of view? In your mind, the truth is that Anakin Skywalker is different than Vader. In Leia's mind, there is no difference. She must learn that she is wrong.”
“I know Leia. The minute she learns who he is, she will fly herself back here.” Luke sighed. His sister has always put the needs of others before her own safety. But trusting their father? The young Jedi wondered would his sister agree to this. Then an idea popped into his head. If Leia finds out about this, I am toast. “What if she doesn't find out, at least for now. It may be easier for her to accept Father as human if she didn't know who he was.”
“How are we going to hide the truth?”
“Leia will be looking for an older man, strong and imposing. She has no idea that Father looks like he did before he turned to the dark side. We give him a nickname, perhaps one he used as a child. Then once she gets to know the real him, we can tell her the full truth and the reasons for the deceit.”
Obiwon listened to his protégé. Logically, he was right. But logic wasn't his only concern. When it came to the Skywalkers, strong emotions tended to overrule logic. He watched as emotion ruled Anakin and his attachments finally led him to the Dark Side of the Force. He watched as Luke stopped his training and ran off, determined to protect his friends. Obiwon also watched as Luke almost fell to the Dark Side when Vader threatened to turn Leia. From his encounters with a very young Leia, he knew that her emotions ran in the same vein and her brother and father. “Let's play this by ear Luke. I think it would be best if Windu, Yoda and myself trained you two as planned. Windu will take over Leia's training, and when he decides that she needs to face Anakin, he will make it so and together we will decide on how to do it.” As Obiwon spoke, a troubled expression appeared suddenly on Luke's countenance. “What is it Luke?”
Leia took a deep breath before entering her suite. She knew what she needed to do, but she didn't know how to accomplish it. As soon the door slid open, Han was standing there.
The former smuggler reached out and pulled Leia to him. “Hey, you okay? Luke said you were hurt.”
“I'm fine.” She pulled away. “He probably blew it out of proportion.”
“Really? Is that why you had to go in a healing tank?”
Leia sighed; sometimes Luke was too honest for their good. “I'm fine now.” At least physically, but mentally was a different story. Even though Han was standing right in front of her, she still saw the vision of him dead on the ground.
Han watched as Leia's skin grew paler. “Hey, what's wrong?”
Don't tell me nothing. You look like you just saw a ghost.”
“Actually, I saw 3 of them”
“Okay.” Han slowly nodded. I did ask. “Someone I know?”
Leia shook her head. Dread filled her. The image would not go away—the events in the cave just played over and over again- burning its memory in her mind.
Leia looked at Han. She calmed herself. With the ice princess persona firmly in place, she told him about her encounter with the 3 dead Sith Lords. “There is more. The vision was about the future.” She paused as the vision once again played itself in her mind. “Luke, Anishpada, Chewie and you were dead.”
Han swallowed hard. “How?”
“I don't know how the 3 of you died. I know how Luke dies.”
“You sure it was about the future?”
“Okay. Well then, we have to make sure it just doesn't happen.”
“I've already taken care of that.” Leia reached out and grabbed Han's hand. She placed her engagement ring in it. “Now, you have no reason to be near me or Luke.”
Han looked down at the ring, shock filling his entire being. “Leia, this isn't what I meant.”
“It is the best way to guarantee that Chewie and you will be safe.”
“She is no longer training us. She will go back to her home planet. Luke and I will continue our training without her.”
“Luke…did he put you up to this?”
“Don't blame Luke.” Leia turned and looked out of her window. “I lost everyone that I loved because of my decisions. I was trying to be it all—senator, rebel-leader, field agent. I was captured, and my people paid the price. No more.” She turned and faced Han. “I can't do it all. I have to make a choice. And I chose to keep you safe.”
“You going to send Luke away too?”
“As soon as our training is over, I will go in one direction and Luke in another.”
“You have it all figured out, don't you?”
“It is for the best.”
“No it isn't. How do you know this decision isn't the one that sets everything in motion?”
“In the vision, everyone is together. Now, we won't be.”
Han shook his head in disbelief. Leia appeared logical and cold—the way she appeared in the Senate. She was all business. Han had forgotten how calculating she could be. But underneath all the walls, he knew that she loved him. “Don't give up on us Leia.”
Leia's mind and heart battled each other. She almost gave in to the hope in Han's voice. But the vision…it silenced all else. She looked Han right in the eyes. “Goodbye Han.” she stated in an eerily calm voice.
Without another argument, Han turned and left her alone. He headed to the one who may be able to give him answers.
As soon as the door closed, Leia's taunt stance fell considerably. She took a deep breath, trying to swallow the pain that raced through her. Her mind told her she did the right thing. Her broken heart told her to go after Han. She buried her pain deep for there were more important things that needed attending.
It was then her communicator signal filled the silent room. She sighed, and then turned it on. The monitor showed Luke, concern filling his blue eyes. “You okay?”
At times, Leia was most appreciative of the Force link that she and Luke shared. This was not one of those times. “Not now Luke, okay?”
The young Jedi knew not to push his twin. She always took time to process things. But when he felt he pain, he had to check on her. “Okay.”
Leia quickly changed the subject. “Have you found our new training ground?”
“Yes. They will meet us as soon as we arrive.”
Leia nodded. “When can we leave?”
“I am calling the bay so they can pack our supplies into the ship. I can be ready in 30 clicks.”
“Good. The sooner we get there, the sooner we can start our training. See you in 30.” Leia turned off the communicator and headed to her room to pack.
“Come in Han.” Anishpada watched as the door slid open and the pilot walked in.
“What happened out there? When I left, Leia was fine.”
“Good day to you too Han.”
“Cut it!” Han placed one hand on his holster and pointed angrily at the Wookiee with the other hand. “Leia broke out engagement in order to protect me. She said that you were leaving, and as soon as her training was done, she and Luke would part ways. Everyone is running because of some damn vision!”
“Is that what she told you?”
Han was shock to hear the surprise in Anishpada's voice. “Yes. She said that she was protecting me. When I asked about you and Luke, she told me that you were already taken care of and that Luke will go one way and she another after training.”
Anishpada shook her head. “She's letting her fear control her. This is not good.” She made a motion towards the couch. “Han, please sit down. We need to talk.”
Han sat down. “It has been a long time since Leia used that ‘Ice Princess' mask of hers on me. She was so cold as she gave me back the ring.” Sadly, he looked at the ring and put in the inside pocket of his vest.
Anishpada sighed. “I will tell you all that I know. Perhaps together we can find a solution to this mess.” She told Han the events at Dagobah and what has transpired on the ship so far and she listened as Han shared what he knew. “Then only reason I agreed to stop training them is that we found a way for the other Jedi to train them. And from what you have told me, Leia and is going to need Windu's training more than ever.”
“So the vision was real?”
“As far as we can tell…yes. The Sith may have manipulated parts of it, but not the whole thing. Indeed, we all may die.”
“People die everyday. It is part of being alive. How does she know that her actions will stop the vision?”
Anishpada gave Han a gentle smile. “Leia loves you very deeply. She is doing what she can to keep us safe. Surely, you would do the same if the shoe was on the other foot.”
“Doesn't mean I have to like it or let it happen.” Han sat there, trying to process all that he was told. After several moments, he noticed that Anishpada was staring at him. “What are you looking at?”
“How much do you love Leia?”
“If I didn't love her, would I be sitting here with you?”
“That is not what I asked. How much do you love her?”
Han looked at the Wookiee. “When things became serious between Leia and I, men from her planet came onto my ship to speak with me. They wanted me to understand just who Leia was, how I should treat her at all times and should respect the traditions and expectations that she carried with her. Some of them made no bones about the fact that they weren't sure if I was good enough for the daughter of the last house of Alderaan.” He chuckled. “The only title I have is the one that the rebel alliance gave me. I don't have any land or even a house. My home is a ship. My best friend is Chewie. But that didn't matter to Leia. She didn't care that I was a decade older than her. She didn't give a second glance to all those ambassadors, dukes and princes who wanted her. She fell for a scoundrel and a smuggler who finally cleaned up his act. So I may not have the pedigree, the wealth or power that folks think that her suitor should have, but all that I do have is hers without asking. I would give up everything for her.”
Anishpada's small smile became a grin so big that her fangs showed. “Good.” The Jedi stood up. “Know this Solo, marriage is hard. Throw into the mix your duties as general and her duties as a Princess and a Senator, and your marriage will be tested far beyond most marriages. And you still want to marry her even with her becoming a Jedi? You are a glutton for punishment. But I will assist you.”
“Do I need your assistance?”
“Would you be here if you didn't?” Anishpada turned and walked to the door. “There were reasons why the Order wouldn't let Jedi marry. As a non-sensitive spouse of a Jedi you will be part of a world that you cannot fully understand nor fully embrace. There will be times when Leia will experience things that she cannot share with you. If you decide to have children, they will be force sensitive as well and it will be both of your duties to make sure they receive the proper guidance and training. All Jedi are tempted to use the Dark Side of the Force and even to become Sith. You may be the only thing that stops Leia from doing so…or you may the one thing that tempts her to do so. You must recognize and accept this responsibility. If you can accept this, I will teach you all I can so that you can be better prepared. If not,” she pressed a button and the door slid open, “leave. Find a normal life, a normal wife and be happy.”
Han stood up and walked up to the door. He then looked at Anishpada. “Thanks for the warning. When do we get started?”
Luke pulled the lever back and the X-Wing came out of hyperspace. “There it is.”
Leia eyes the small planet as they came closer to it. The landmasses were a very pale golden color and she could make out several mountain ranges. She did not see any large bodies of water anywhere. She looked at the ship's sensors. They did not indicate any life readings. “Are you sure this is the right place?”
Luke smiled. “These are the coordinates that Ben gave me.” Luke glanced over his shoulder at his sister. “What, you don't trust my piloting skills?”
“You would think that a focus point for the Light Side of the Force would have more life to it.” Leia thought back to the bog that had been their home for a few months. It had been teeming with life, though she wasn't too fond of the type of life there.
“Well, at least no one would want to come here.” Once they entered the atmosphere, Luke decided to fly over the planet. As suspected, there were lots of sand dunes, a few purple and green cacti, desert trees and more than a few mountain ranges, rock outcrops and caves. “Tatoonie was more interesting than this,” Luke muttered to himself.
They landed on one of many flat areas of sand, near a small mountain range. Luke climbed down first, and then helped Leia down to the ground. Both of them pulled off their fighter helmets and looked around. Both of them watched as the heat shimmered off of the sand. “I may have to borrow your sunscreen,” Leia quipped.
“I was about to ask you for yours.”
The two turned around towards the mountain range. From one of the caves stood three beings.
“Master Yoda!” Luke ran up the slope to the small group, bent down and hugged his old teacher. He also hugged Ben Kenobi. “You must be Master Windu.” The young man bowed to the Ebony-skin Jedi.
“Welcome Luke.” Mace Windu waited until Princess Leia joined them. “I'm glad to see that you two have arrived safely.”
Leia gave both Windu and Yoda a small smile. Her smile dropped when she faced the third Jedi. “Obiwon.”
“You have grown up. The last time I saw you….”
“You took me away from Anishpada. The time before that, you took me away from my parents. And in between, you and Anishpada would argue every time you met.”
Obiwon cleared his throat in embarrassment. “I see your memories have returned.”
“Some of them.” She returned her attention to the other Jedi. “Master Yoda, from all the stories that Luke has told me, I feel like I know you. And I am looking forward to your instruction Master Windu.”
“A good Senator you must be,” Yoda said with a smile, “a good Ambassador you would have made in the old age.”
“Thank you.” She motioned towards the cave. “Is this where we are staying?”
Mace Windu invited them inside. “This cave has numerous chambers within it. Therefore everyone will have their own space for meditation and rest. This large area we will use for common meals.
“And the practice area?” Luke asked.
“Why young Jedi, the whole planet is our practice area.”
“I was afraid you was going to say that.”
Han looked around at the jungle conclave that was Anishpada's home. If one did not understand Wookiees, one would not be able to see the structure. Like all Wookiees, she preferred her home off the ground and among the treetops, blending in with the surrounding overgrown trees and vines. Unlike Kashyyyk, the ground was safe to roam about. He watched as Anishpada and Chewbacca easily climbed the tall tree. Anishapada then let down a rope ladder, and Han made his way up to the home.
The treehouse's exterior hid the spaciousness of the interior of the home. The large common room used an open floorplan for the kitchen, dining and living room. A spiral staircase led to the 2 nd floor where there were 5 doors scattered about which led to other rooms.
“You two may stay here as long as you like. In fact, I would appreciate it. Even though this place is beautiful, it can be very lonely. It would be good to have company again.”
“I can't believe that someone like you doesn't have people banging on the door just dying to keep you company.” The general couldn't keep the sarcasm out of his voice.
Anishpada guffawed. She did like Han. “The last human that was here was your beloved Leia.” She watched as Han's ears turned red and Chewbacca laughed and slapped Han's back. “She was just a little girl, equal parts of spirit and energy.”
Han imagined a little Princess Leia running in and out of each room, eating at the table and sliding down the staircase. Leia loved watching people—seeing their emotions, watching their moves, anticipating their next one. However, on her part, only those closest to her were able to read her. In fact, she showed very little emotion to anyone other than her inner circle. He wondered how much she learned from her parents, how much of it was part of her genetic make-up and how Anishpada shaped it. A smirk graced itself on the former smuggler's face. “I bet she was a little firecracker.”
“There were times that she would pop, but they were few and far between. Even then, we all knew she would make a great diplomat. She had a strong mind, a strong will and a willingness to help.” She crossed her arms, her fangs showing brightly. “Just like you Han.”
Chewbacca chuckled and growled, and he tried to pull himself together when he spotted Han staring at him, but failed miserably.
Han narrowed his eyes at his friend, then return his gaze upon the other Wookiee in his life. It seemed that Anishpada was determined to have the conversation focus on him. He wasn't sure why, but he decided he felt much more comfortable when he took command. “Listen, I know that everyone else trusts you, I know that you are a Jedi, and I do appreciate the fact that you want to help. But…”
“But you are use to being in control. I insist that we take my ship instead of the Millennium Falcon. I insist on flying my own ship. I bring you here to my home. And now, you are feeling extremely uncomfortable. Trust me Han, if I meant you any harm, I would have had plenty of opportunity before this.” She looked over at Chewbacca. “Is he always this mistrustful?”
Chewie nodded and spoke his agreement.
Han looked at his co-pilot. “Thanks pal.” He shifted his focus back on the Jedi. “I know that you don't mean me any harm. But why do you Jedi insist on being in isolation? What do you have against civilization? What if one of us gets sick or hurt?”
“Ever heard of hyperdrive? Besides, I am a healer.” She walked over to a shelf full of multi-colored holocrons. She grabbed an orange and yellow holocron, its shape was similar to a very large princess-cut gem. “Now, I promised you my help.”
“How is a holocron going to help me?”
“A holocron contains tons of information. Information that you will need to know and understand.” She handed him the holocron. “You do know how to work one, don't you?”
“Of course.” He pressed a button and the holocron lit up.
“Then we will leave you to it.” She turned to Chewbacca. “I need your assistance elsewhere. Please follow me.”
Han watched as the two Wookiees left him alone in the house. “I guess I better start at the beginning then.” And with those words, the holocron sprung to life.
Both Leia and Luke struggled as they climbed the large sand dune in the blistering heat of the desert's red sun. Leia balanced herself—the last thing she wanted was sand in her clothing. She still had small scratches where the sand had rubbed her raw the last time she lost her footing and fell down a sand dune.
“Miss the swamp yet?” Luke asked, trying to make light of their situation.
“Dearly. At least the scenery was more interesting.”
“Yeah, there is nothing more thrilling than finding a reptile scurrying in your bedroll before going to bed.”
“Oh yes there is…finding one AFTER you have gotten into your bedroll.”
Luke chuckled as he remembered the first time that happened to Leia. Once they reached the top of the dune, Luke watched as Leia collapsed on top on the dune. He sat down next to her. “Ready to meditate?”
Leia did not even move. “How about a nap first?”
The young Jedi looked at his twin. They had been here for only a few days, but something had shifted. Leia had always had an easier time with the meditation than he did when he started to learn the ways of the Force. But now, she seemed to avoid it. Instead, she worked herself physically to the point of exhaustion and then sleep. In fact, she was the one who picked this huge sand dune to climb after their other physical exercises. He glanced at her ring finger. “You know Leia, you can talk to me about anything.” When she did not respond, he continued. “You can't let what you saw in the cave control you Leia.”
“I don't want to talk about it.”
“You NEED to talk about it though. Why isn't Han and Chewie here?”
Leia sighed. She really did not want to deal with this. “We broke up.”
“I didn't know you two were having problems.”
Leia looked out towards the western sky. “It is better this way. I can focus on training now.”
“Don't use training as an excuse. We both know why you two broke up. Why Leia? We don't even know if what you saw is going to happen.”
She turned and face Luke. “I know what I saw. It haunts me during the day and invades my dreams at night. You may not want to believe it, but something in me tells me that it is true.”
“If it is, you cannot stop it.”
“The future is not set in stone Luke. Things can change based on a person's decisions.”
“So you think the Sith are going to change their minds and not attack?”
“There is no reason for all of us to be together. Hand and Chewie will continue to do missions or perhaps leave to do something else, and Anishpada will go back to her world.”
“Was that the real reason you were so quick to agree with this training? You wanted all of them to go away? And how about the rest of the vision? If you think I'm going to leave you by yourself, you better think again.” He reached out and grabbed her hand. “We are a team Leia. If we separate, we become weaker. And they will win.”
Leia looked straight into her brother's blue eyes. “I've already lost one family. I will not lose you too.” The memory of that fateful moment flashed through her mind:
“ Governor Tarkin. I should have expected to find you holding Vader's leash. I recognized your foul stench when I was brought onboard.” Leia knew that her life was going to end, but she was determined to stick it to Tarkin before she died.
Tarkin's lips held a smirk. “Charming to the last. You don't know how hard I found it, signing the order to terminate your life.”
“ I'm surprised you had the courage to take the responsibility yourself.”
He hated her sarcastic attitude. “Princess Leia, before your execution, I would like you to be my guest at a ceremony that will make this battle station operational. No star system will dare oppose the Emperor now.”
“ The more you tighten your grip, Tarkin, the more star systems will slip through your fingers.”
“ Not after we demonstrate the power of this station. In a way, you have determined the choice of the planet that will be destroyed first. Since you are reluctant to provide us with the location of the Rebel base, I have chosen to test this station's destructive power on your home planet of Alderaan.”
Shock filled Leia's voice. “No! Alderaan is peaceful. We have no weapons. You can't possibly–“
”You would prefer another target? A military target?! Then name the system!” He stepped closer to the young woman, causing her to press against Darth Vader. “I grow tired of asking this, so it will be the last time. Where is the Rebel base?”
Leia looked at her home planet, her mind raced, trying to find a way to save Alderaan without sacrificing the Rebels. With resignation, she bowed her head and gave the name of the rebel base. “Dantooine. They're on Dantooine.”
He turned his attention to the Sith Lord. “There. You see, Lord Vader? She can be reasonable.” He stepped away and turned to his assistant. “Continue with the operation. You may fire when ready.”
Panic filled Leia's entire being. “What?!”
“You are far too trusting. Dantooine is too remote to make an effective demonstration, but don't worry. We will deal with your rebel friends soon enough.”
She lunged forward. “No!” she cried out, but Vader held her. She watched as the beam struck the surface of her planet. The cool waters became steam; the green and lush ground became red with fire. Then in a matter of seconds, the whole planet exploded like a nova, and then was gone. She then heard a scream and darkness filled her mind.
“It wasn't your fault.” Luke's voice was calm as he broke her memory and tried to console her. He knew that she and some of the people offshore that day, still blamed her and Bail Organa for what happened to Alderaan. “There was nothing you could have done. Grand Moff Tarkin ordered Alderaan's destruction, as a sign of the Empire's power.”
“And he chose Alderaan because of me.” She pulled away from Luke.
“I'm done meditating. I'll see you at the caves.” Without another word, she descended down the dune.
Han Solo rubbed his tired eyes. He had spent the last 3 weeks watching and interacting with information from Anishpada's orange and yellow gem-shaped holocron. He had learned about the kinds of Jedi, about their training, the rise and fall of the Jedi Society and the Purge of the Knights. There even was a section for spouses of Jedi. He had learned more than he ever wanted, or needed, to know about the ancient Jedi. “Okay,” he tapped the holocron to power it down and stood up, “I get it. You have tried twice before to scare me off.” He crossed his arms as watched as Anishpada prepared a simple meal. “I ain't going any where. So can we cut to the chase?”
“I'm not trying to scare you,” Anishpada saw the incredulous look on the general's face, “I'm just trying to inform you. Luke and Leia are just beginning their walk. Hopefully they will learn from the mistakes of the past and learn to balance the demands of being a Jedi with being a fulfilled human.” She glided over to the holocron. “Now that you are through with the basic history of the Jedi, you need to learn about the House of Alderaan and...”
“Now wait a minute…”
“No you wait!” Anishpada interrupted. “You are a Solo, from the once great and powerful Corellian royal family. You and Leia are the last representatives from your respective houses. Whether you like it or not, you both need to carry and pass on the history and traditions of your people. You need to study the House of Alderaan and your House as well.” She looked Han straight in the eye. “You told me that others don't think you are worthy of Leia. The question is, do you even realize how worthy you really are? Learn your history Han.” With that, she sat the food down and the Jedi Wookiee left the former smuggler alone.
Han looked at the holocron and wondered about all the information stored on it. Why would Anishpada include information about Corellia, Alderaan and the Jedi all on one holocron? It is like she knew… he shook the thought from his head and finally tapped on the holocron. “Show me the history of the Corellian royal family.”
“Which one?” The smooth voice of the holocron inquired.
The holocron sprung to life once more.
She peaked from under the wooded desk. Her father didn't know it, but sometimes she would hide here, listening in to his meetings. Today, he had an important one. So important in fact, that he couldn't cancel it even though she was home for the first time in months. She wondered who was coming to talk to her dad. She didn't have to wait long.
She heard him before she even saw him. His deep, resonating and authoritative voice seemed to fill the room. She stared at him as he entered the room. His black and silver mask completely covered his face, and was the perfect match for his black body suit, with silver and red computer buttons on his chest.
She remembered how Anishpada told her about the passive power she had. Her natural ability, her stubbornness (at least that is what both her father and Anishpada stated) and the Force enabled Leia to hide her thoughts and emotions behind a mental wall. And at this moment, she was glad to have it.
Because she could fear and hate him freely. Especially after what he did… she would never forgive him.
Leia woke up, sweat flowing down her face, her breathing erratic. She looked around at the fire-lit cave. At this moment, she was happy to be alone.
Hearing her name, she turned around. Mace Windu stood; towering over her, concern filling his features.
“Do you watch all your students as they sleep?”
“I sensed your distress. Was it the vision again?”
She shook her head. “A memory actually. Anishapada warned me that some of them wouldn't be so nice.” She always wondered why Vader's torture did not break her. Now she knew—He couldn't get past her mental wall.
Windu stared at Leia. On the outside, she seemed nonchalant about regaining her memories. He knew though, that a storm had to be raging inside of her. “Come follow me and bring your lightsaber.”
Leia sighed. This meant only one thing-- More training.
Mace Windu led her outside. The night air was very cold and the night sky was brightly lit with all the stars and 2 moons. He turned to face her and activated his purple lightsaber. He watched as she did the same with her blue lightsaber. The two of them dueled, with Mace Windu giving Leia instruction along the way. “Use what you are feeling to strengthen your strikes. Channel your energy.” After a few more moments of dueling, Mace Windu signaled for an end. He watched as Leia slowed down her breathing.
“I think I will be able to fall back asleep. Thanks.”
The teacher shook his head. “Do you really think I brought you out here to duel for a short while so you could get back to sleep? No my padawan. We are not done.” He chuckled as she groaned. “Leia, have you committed to memory our belief?”
Leia recited the Jedi Code, “There is no emotion- there is peace. There is no ignorance- there is knowledge. There is no passion- there is serenity. There is no chaos- there is harmony. There is no death- there is the Force.”
“What does that mean?”
“Unfortunately, there are others who believe that life is for conquering and gain power. They live to dominate. Jedi make sacrifices in order to protect the weak. We give up our attachments in order to protect others. We become unemotional so that we can bring peace and balance to a situation. We bring and use knowledge to fight ignorance. We live as examples of harmony and serenity. We make these sacrifices so that others may live full lives.”
“You have been listening to Obi-Won.” He crossed his arms. “But the real question is, do YOU believe it to be true?”
“Honestly? Yes and no.” She stood up and moved toward the fire. “From far away, things seem to balance themselves out sooner or later. And at the end of one's life, if one gets to live to a ripe old age, one may learn why things happen and see the balance. But in the moment, when one is engaged in life and its struggle, there is passion, ignorance, emotion, chaos, and death.”
“Those things lead to the Dark Side of the Force.”
“If one is obsessed with those things. But love is an emotion and a way of life. We are all born ignorant, that doesn't make us less human. We grow and we learn. And we should be passionate about certain things: family, justice, mercy, peace, love.” A small smile crept on her face. “My parents fought for the things that they believed in. My parents loved each other. They loved me. I don't think I ever saw a day that my parents didn't show me love. Yes, there were things expected of me as a princess. But they made sure I had enough freedom to be a child and then a teen. There is a place for emotion, otherwise why do we have them? Life is to live.”
“Ah, now you are sounding like Anishpada.”
Leia smiled. “I'll take that as a compliment.” She starred intently at her teacher. “How do you do it?”
“Keep your darkness at bay?”
Mace Windu gathered his thoughts. “We all slip and fall Leia. I created Vaapad to help me deal with my darkness. It is not just a fighting style, but a way to channel my darkness into the fight. But I have to be careful. Think of certain types of stings…the sting is meant to protect the creature. But in some creatures, if they sting too hard, they will die themselves. Those of us who practice Vaapad have to be careful. We are allowed to enjoy the battle, even to relish the victory. But we must be willing to let those feelings flow through us without attachment. We must keep our guard up at all times, for the Dark Side is always near.”
“And you think I can handle that responsibility?”
“Leia, I have watched you from afar for a while now. On the outside, you are cool, unemotional to the public. But on the inside, you are different. How long do you think those walls of yours are going to stand? You don't seek detachment; you bury your emotions and the chaos you feel. One day, those walls are going to crack. And those are the very cracks that the Dark Side will seek. So yes, I think that Vaapad is perfect for you as long as you are diligent. I had students who were not so diligent. Two of my best students-- Depa Billaba and Echuu Shen-Jon fell to the Dark Side of the Force.”
“Shen-Jon? I knew him. He fought for the Rebels and sacrificed himself to help me escape Vader. He wasn't a Sith.”
“He redeemed himself. Unfortunately Depa Billaba could not do the same.” He placed a hand on her shoulder. “There is someone I would like you to meet tomorrow. He is a Jedi as well.”
“A former student of yours?” Leia wasn't sure, but she thought she could feel guilt coming from Windu.
“He should have been.” He motioned to the cave. “Go back to bed and get some rest.”
“Alright. Goodnight Teacher. And thank you.”
He gave her a small smile and watched as she entered the cave.
“Troubled she is. Careful we must be.”
Mace Windu turned to face Yoda. “You had doubts about Luke too. And see how he turned out.”
“Have reservations, I do. Wrong about young Skywalker, I was. Tomorrow will give us a better view.”
“She was quick to defend Shen-Jon. I think she will do just fine.”
“We shall see.”
Emperor Palatine smirked as he looked at the two Sith. Everything is going according to his plan. He focused his attention on Darth Tyranus. “How is yours coming along?”
“Good.” The Emperor then looked over at Darth Maul. “You know what to do.” Darth Maul bowed, and then disappeared.
“Are you sure about this Darth Sidious? There is a reason for the rule…”
The Emperor interrupted Darth Tyranus. “Do you dare question me? For generations, they have outnumbered us! Now that the Rebels have won, their numbers will continue to increase, especially as the Jedi come out of hiding. By banding together, we can train the next generation to be stronger than ever before.”
“She has not been secured yet. At the moment, the Jedi are training both of them. How can we be sure that she will join us?”
“The vision will happen. And when it does, she will join us. Or die.”
Leia rode her 74-Y speeder bike across the dessert terrain. Like her brother, she loved to fly, but being a princess meant that she did far less of it than she preferred. Now, with a break in training, she knew exactly what she wanted to do. After flying over a rocky outcrop, she pulled her bike to a stop.
She set up a communications link and contacted a friend. A smile spread across her lips when Anishpada's face appeared. “Hello teacher.”
The Wookiee's fangs showed through her smile. “Hello pupil of mine. I hope training is going well for you.”
“They are not you, but it is going well. They gave us the morning off.”
“Really? So they gave you the day off?”
Leia shook her head. “Just the morning. There is someone they want us to me this afternoon. Another Jedi.” Leia grew quiet. “Anishpada, Master Windu didn't say much about this Jedi, but I sense guilt coming from him. Do you have any idea who this person is?”
“Leia, my gift of clairvoyance doesn't work that way. I have to know the persons involved. I can see the choices available and once a person makes up their mind, I see the next set of choices. However, I tend to not use it. It nearly drove me insane when I was much younger. I only use it when necessary and I have no other choice.” She watched as Leia nodded her understanding. “I do need to let you know something though.”
“What is it?”
“He loves you and misses you greatly.”
Leia stood there silently. She didn't know what to say. She had to protect them. In addition, the Jedi have taught her that having attachments were dangerous. Finally, the princess spoke. “How do you know?”
“He has been here, learning all he can about the Jedi and about your people.”
“Isn't it obvious? He has not given up on you.”
“I cannot be a Jedi with such attachments.”
Anishpada growled, “That is a lie. You know our history, the history I taught you. We are sentinel beings, not droids! We think, we feel, we love! Their way is what led to the destruction of our society in the first place!” She calmed herself. “Well, the next time you come to visit the outer rim, it looks like I'm going to have to unteach you some of the things they are teaching you.”
Leia smirked. “Master Windu asked me what I thought about the Jedi Code. When I finished, he said I sounded like you.”
“Good. So how is my friend Obi-Won doing?”
“He works very closely with Luke.”
“Bring Luke when you come to visit as well.”
This caused Leia to chuckle. It seemed that Anishpada wanted to grab the reins again.
“So, let's get to the real reason you contacted me. The answer is yes.”
“How did you know…”
“You are regaining you memories. You remember how wonderful this planet is. I know how much your people respect nature and live in harmony with it. Your people need a home, and I need company. I've spent too many years by myself.”
“I thought that you used your gift only when necessary or you have no choice.”
Anishpada smiled. “This is necessary Leia.”
Leia bowed her head. “Thank you.” She looked at her teacher and friend. “For everything.”
“Listen, we all love you…”
“I love all of you as well. That is why I'm doing what I am doing. They will stop at nothing to get what they want.”
“I know you want to protect all of us. But we must work together Leia.”
Leia shook her head. “You don't understand. They will kill all of you to get to me. They want me to join them. They want me to become a Sith. Like I would ever join with them.”
“They told you that?”
“Yes. After he had killed all of you, Tyranus told me that he was my master. They beat and dragged me before Palpatine. He had Vader's mask in his hands. He tried to put it on me, but I pulled away, and then blacked out. The next thing I knew, I was in the medical bay.”
Anishpada nodded in understanding. It now made sense why and how Leia destroyed the medical droid. But now a new series of questions arose. The Sith were known for their cunning. It made no sense for them to place their cards on the table for all to see. In addition the rule of two, a rule that kept the Sith at peace with each other and made them strong, was being ignored. And Darth Sidious always had a plan of his own. “Leia, none of this makes sense. Three Sith Lords never teach the same student. And even though I am sure that parts of the vision was absolutely true, unless Luke goes back into the cave, there is no way for Darth Tyranus to touch him,” UNLESS … the thought caused a shiver to go down her spine. She needed to check out her theory as soon as possible, but she did not want to alarm Leia. “Listen Leia, focus on your training for now. We will come to see you soon. Any messages for Han?”
A sad smile appeared on Leia's continence. “When you tell him about our conversation, tell him ‘I know'.”
The more she thought about it, the more Anishpada was sure she was on the right track. Why didn't I think about it before? There was only one way that the dead Sith could physically operate outside of that cave. Anishpada climbed down the tree and once she was on the ground, she pulled out her communicator. “Han, how is the scouting going?”
“Fine. We are almost through with the first quadrant. We should be finished by this afternoon.”
“Well, head on back. We need to leave.”
“What's going on?”
“I'll tell you when you get back. Over and out.”
“We are going where?”
“To Kamino. This is where the clones were made.” Anishpada looked at her comrades. “In the vision, we were killed by the Sith. However, they are dead. They only way this can be possible is if they're are clones. And Kamino is famous for their clone technology.”
“Surely they wouldn't be making clones for the Sith.”
“The Kaminoans as a whole—no. They learned their lesson after the Emperor's betrayal and his subsequent enslavement of them. But someone else could be using the technology to help the Sith. And some people will do anything at the right price.” The trio walked over to the ship. “We have to make sure all of our instruments are in top working order. The planet's atmosphere is full of storms.”
Chewbacca nodded. “Wuuh hnnnhrrhhh raaahhgh uughghh huuhr aaragg.”
“And while you are checking on the propulsion system, I will make sure the electrical systems are in shape.” Han started to follow Chewbacca up the ship's ramp.
“Han wait.” Anishpada waited until Chewbacca was on the ship. “I talked to Leia.”
“How is she doing?”
“She is doing well with the training and she is still worried about the vision. But she did have a message for you.” She placed her claw on his shoulder. “When I told her that you miss her and love her, she told me to tell you…I know.”
A smile filled Han's features. He then chuckled. “Thanks.”
She watched as Han walked up the ramp. It seemed that there was a skip in his step. “Humans are so strange.”
The large common area of the cave was silent as Luke and Leia sat across from each other, both deep in meditation. Mace Windu and Obi-Won Kenobi stood off in the corner watching the pair. “Are you ready?”
Master Windu looked directly at the pair. “It doesn't matter if I am ready. The question is ‘Are the three of them ready for this?' No matter what Anakin wants, if Leia refuses, we all must respect her wishes.” With that, he made his way to the pair.
Windu sat cross-legged on the ground across from the pair. “Before I have you meet this person, I need to explain. Leia, last night you sensed my guilt. And you were right.” He took a deep breath. “There once was a child strong in the Force. However, we came across him when he was far too old to start training in the normal fashion. You see, we only accepted children when they are very young, 2-3 years old. That way, they will not have many attachments. Even though we knew he had the potential to be the strongest of the Jedi, many of us questioned whether he should be trained due to the fact that when we found this young man he was already 9 years old and very attached to his mother. However, a powerful Jedi named Qui-Gon Jinn believed he could be trained and insisted on taking the young child under his wing. But Darth Maul struck Jinn down and it was not to be. The reason you felt my guilt….I should have been the one to step up and take the young padawan under my wing. His emotional state, strengths and weaknesses made him a prime candidate for Vaapad. But because of what happened to all my students, I didn't want to take another chance. But if I had, things may have been different.”
Obi-Won spoke up. “Or it may not have changed a thing.”
“We will never know. But I wanted the both…” Windu glanced around, “all of you to know this. He, more than any of us, knows both the light and dark side of the Force. Just like Shen-Jon, he redeemed himself before he died. You need to be willing to listen and learn from him.” A small smile tugged at his lips as he looked up towards the other side of the cave. “I failed you and you failed me, so I guess we are even.”
“Your failure is nothing compared to mine.”
Luke and Leia both turned to the person that spoke. He had wavy shoulder length blond hair, and appeared to be the same age as them. He wore the traditional dark brown robe with a light tan tunic underneath. He had piercing blues and the same cleft in his chin as Luke. In fact, he looked a lot like Luke.
Mace Windu and Obi-Won stood on either side of the stranger. The twins stood up, but only Luke started to make his way towards the newest member of their party. He paused and turned to his sister who stood in her spot and stared at the stranger. “Leia?”
“We had a brother?” Leia mind's raced as she thought about having a sibling that she never knew. After all, the Jedi had separated them as babies, so if Vader had other children, it would make sense that she would have never heard of them. And obviously, he had died young. But something just didn't fit…
The stranger looked at Leia. He could go along with Luke's plan—let Leia continue to think that he was another sibling. But he did not want to start a relationship on lies and mistrust. He finally spoke up. “No, not your brother.” He paused as he continued to stare at Leia. “Search your feelings. You know who I am.”
All of a sudden, the cave walls seemed to close in on the Princess. She was finding it difficult to breath and needed to get away. She shook her head, denying the fact that stared her in the face. Without another word, she raced out of the cave.
Luke was about to run after her when Windu held up his hand. “Let me.” He calmly followed the young woman out of the cave. Once he exited the cave, he saw her sitting on a boulder about 15 paces from the cave, her arms crossed and the rest of her body tense. He walked up beside her and stared out into the desert. “I'm glad you kept your wits about you. If you ran into that desert, you would be dead within 24 hours without supplies.”
“How could you?” She asked, her anger escaping through her clinched jaw.
“Because you need to face him and learn from him. He knows the Emperor better than anyone.”
“All I need to know about the Emperor I have already learned.”
Mace Windu finally looked at Leia. “How is it that you so readily defended Shen-Jon, but you won't accept the redemption of your father?”
“He's not my father!”
Master Windu knew that focusing on that particular issue would be a waste of time and energy. “Listen, I want you to stop thinking of him, and think about your people. You need to think about the Senate, about Mon Mothma, and about the people that you know and for whom you care. Think of the newly formed Republic. You are training so you can protect them. He can make you into a better Jedi.”
Leia tried to look at it from the elder Jedi's point-of-view, but all she could see was HIM. She hated him for both known and unknown reasons since she was a child. And the hatred seemed to grow stronger since being here on this planet. “No he can't.”
“Because you won't let him. Remember what we talked about Leia. The Dark Side is always looking for cracks. Right now, you have created a door and have opened it so wide that it can waltz on in. Let go of the hate.”
She looked at her teacher. “Do you have any idea of what it is like to know that he is partly responsible for millions of deaths? To look my people in the eye and comfort them and all the while I know his blood flows in my veins? Do you have any idea how many friends and family I've lost because of him and the Emperor? How much time, energy and funds we have spent to help those whose lives they have destroyed? And you want me to just get over it? Just to forgive him? You want me to say that Anakin Skywalker and Vader were two different people? I can't do that.” She turned away from him.
“Then we have already lost the war. I will not loose you as I did my other two students. I can no longer train you.” Mace Windu calmly stood up and headed towards the cave.
“Wait.” Leia turned towards him. “Why are you pushing this? You knew how I feel about him. Surely you knew how I would react.”
“I had hope…”
“Hope for what?”
“I had hope that you when saw his eyes, you would have recognized your brother's eyes. I had hope that you would give him a chance and see that you had inherited so many gifts from him. I had hope that somehow you would see him and see that he is a man, not some masked monster.” He looked at his student, his eyes reflecting gentleness yet firmness. “Admit it Leia, you also have questions and a need for certain knowledge- questions that only he can answer and knowledge only he can share. I'm not asking you to throw your arms open and accept him as a family member. But I am asking you to trust me and the other Jedi as your teachers.”
“You are hoping and asking for a lot.”
“Then I will ask for one more thing. You must face your fear.”
“I'm not afraid of him. He's dead.”
“Not your fear of him…you need to face your fear of how much of him is inside of you.”
Leia cut her eyes away from Windu. Just like the desert's suns, his words shined too bright to be ignored. The whispers in the Senate theatre, the way some people eyed her, the words ‘Daughter of Vader', her strength in the Force…all of it reminded her that she was his daughter, a fact that she wished was not true. She never wanted people to see him when they saw her. But most of all, she hoped she never saw him when she looked at herself. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath. “I will try. But I shouldn't duel him anytime soon. I may try to cut him in half the first chance I get.”
Mace Windu smiled. It was a victory and one less opening that the Dark Side would have in either twin.
“But I do have some conditions.”
Mace Windu nodded. “Of course. Let's hear them then.”
“No. I will tell him myself.” She squared her shoulders and steadily walked back into the cave.
Anakin and the others looked at Leia as she entered the common area. She stopped just shy of arm's reach. “I know I have to train. I understand that you know more about our enemy than the rest of us combined. But make no mistake about this; I will never forgive you. Your little 5 minutes of redemption may be good enough for everyone else, but it doesn't erase the pain and death you have strolled around the galaxy.” She expected some sort of reaction, but Anakin did not budge. “So here are my conditions. One, you are here to train us, and only train. Luke may want a relationship with you, but I certainly don't. Only talk to me when we are training, and even then, only when necessary. Two, once training is complete,” she took a step forward and stared into the eyes that looked so much like her brother's, “you stay the hell out of my life forever.”
Luke tried to redirect his sister. “Leia…”
She never took her eyes off of the dead Jedi. “Stay out of this Luke. So do we have a deal? Not that I trust your word.”
Anakin looked at his daughter. She looked so much like the two greatest loves of his life: his mother Shmi and his wife Padmé . His heart ached, for he wanted to make thing right between them. But she was not about to give him the chance. “If that is the way you want it.”
“So be it. I will take my leave until tomorrow.” Anakin Skywalker faded from their view.
Luke reached out his hand towards Leia. He wanted to make her understand why this was necessary. But she pulled back as though as he was diseased.
“Don't. I just need to be alone.” She looked at the other Jedi. “It seems that I have lost my appetite, so don't bother me about dinner.” With that, she walked through the opening in the back of the common area and through the corridors that led to her private chambers.
Obi-Won was the first to speak. “Well that didn't go as well as it could have, but Anakin and the rest of us are still in one piece, so it was not a total loss.”
Luke sighed. He was not looking forward to the rest of training.
For a week, Leia kept her distance. She trained but said very little. She would wake up in the middle of the night screaming, causing the others much concern, but would not share with anyone of what her nightmares consist. Even if she wanted to, she couldn't. During those dark moments of the dream, she could not see or move…all she did was feel: pain, anguish, regret and sadness. It would cause her to wake up in a cold sweat and scream. All she knew that it was a memory of something so dark that her mind would not let her remember the images, just the feelings. Between the stress of who was training her and the lack of sleep, the normally cool and calm Princess was very short-tempered.
That morning, the twins trained with Anakin in the desert. They focused on light-saber techniques, as well as some of the mind games that the Emperor used. After training with Anakin, Leia began to pack her survival bag.
Luke walked up to Leia. He was tired of the cold shoulder she had given him for the past week. He did not like it when Leia brooded. “You need to get this under control. You are going to wind up hurting yourself, or worst yet, ME!” He nudged her in the shoulder, trying to get her to smile. He was rewarded with a tiny one for his efforts.
“I'm sorry. But you know how I feel about this. It is best that I detach myself from being in the same space as him as soon as possible.” She stood up. “I'll se you at the cave.”
He stood up with her. “You know, there is a difference between detachment and avoidance. You are avoiding him. Listen, I want, need to talk to him. Stay. It would be good for you.”
Luke wanted a relationship with him, but she had no desire for such. The less time they were together, the better it would be for everyone. She shook her head no.
Luke sighed. “Fine. Suit yourself.” He turned and walked up to Anakin. “Father, I need for you to tell me something.”
“What is it my son?”
Leia cringed and wanted to get physically ill with the family language they exchanged with each other. She began walking back to the cave.
Luke knew this had to work. Leia made it very clear from the first time he tried to get her to see the good in their father that she did not believe him. Leia for her part kept to her words…she wanted nothing to do with their father. If this didn't work, he was out of ideas. “Tell me about Mother.”
That one statement caused Leia to stop dead in her tracks. She listened as Luke continued.
“Leia told me a little about her. She remembers her.”
“She does?” Anakin looked at his daughter. “But she died right after you were born.”
She didn't turn around. “I don't have any memories, just these feelings and images floating in my head. It's nothing really.”
“It is not nothing. It is the Force. Your force powers are much more personally and emotionally based. It would not surprise me if you were somehow connected with your mother before you were born or even after she died. So much about you reminds me of her.” He watched as her hands balled up into fists.
Leia struggled with her desire to learn more about her mother and her need to get away from him. She stood there for several moments.
“Did you know that she was a Queen and a Senator?”
With that statement, the decision was made. Leia turned slightly. “She was?” No one had ever told her.
“Of Naboo.” Anakin sat down on the dune and Luke followed his lead. He waited as Leia silently made her way towards them and sat down, sitting close to Luke. “Her name was Padmé Amidala . I was nine years old and a slave on Tatooine when I first met your mother. She was 14 and already a Queen. That was also the time I met the Jedi. By the end of it all, I was no longer a slave, became a padawan, and in love with your mother.
It was 10 years later when I saw your mother again. Padmé was a Senator of Naboo and I was Obi-Won's padawan. Her life was in danger, and so I was assigned to protect her. Even though we knew if was wrong, we fell in love. We both fought it, each of us had duties and we came from two different worlds.” He watched as Luke should-bumped Leia and in spite of her feelings, a smile popped on her face. “But she was there during a very low period of my life, and she saw the good in me. She made me want to do better, be a better man.” Anakin became lost in the memories—memories in which he did not allow himself to dwell. “For months, I had visions and dreams. In them, I saw my mother suffering greatly. My duty was to protect Padmé , but I couldn't shake it. So Padmé and I started to look for her. We found out that a local moisture farmer freed and married her. When we got there, she was missing. Tusken Raiders had captured her. I used the Force to locate her, but by the time I found her, it was too late. She was tied to a rack in a tent and scarred from weeks of beatings. She told me that she loved me, then died in my arms.” The elder Skywalker grew quiet. He took a deep breath before continuing. “I never felt such pain. I stepped out from the tent, and I struck them down—every single Tusken Raider I saw, I killed.” He looked at his hands. “And that was my first giant step towards the Dark Side.” He cleared his throat. “I confessed to your mother what I had done. She listened and assured me that being angry was a part of being human. She comforted me through my pain.” He then looked up at his children. “That is why we have to be careful. I loved my mother, but I forgot all the lessons she taught me as a child. All I wanted was revenge, to make them pay. Luke almost fell to the Dark Side when I threatened you Leia.” He watched as Leia turned to her brother, unspoken questions danced in her eyes. “And Leia, you share that same weakness. The Dark Side of the Force will use our greatest strength as our greatest weakness. Well, that's enough for today.” He stood up and watched as they did the same. “I don't want you to be late for mediation.”
“See you later Father.” Luke headed towards the cave.
Leia did not say a word. She now understood why she always felt that she knew birth mother- why there wasn't the emptiness that most children who lose their mother felt, she always knew that her mother loved her. And hearing, seeing and feeling how Vader loved their mother, she knew that Padmé had been a special person. But this led to even more questions: What ultimately made him decide to join with the Emperor? How could her mother fall in love with Vader? However, she understood why he struck down the Tusken Raiders. After all, she tried, but failed miserably, to do the same to the Sith in the cave and for the exact same reason. So many questions, and he was the only one who had the answers.
“You're going to be late.”
“I…” Leia felt a lump in her throat. “I just wanted to say ‘Thank you.'” She didn't wait for his response before turning to catch up with Luke.
Anakin watched as his children walked together. For the first time, he felt hopefully that Leia would learn to see the real him. He followed them to the cave, hoping that one day they would be a true family.
Leia woke up, and the panic began to subside as she realized she was in her cave. She wiped the sweat rom her brow. The same nightmare that had haunted her for weeks just wouldn't let go of her. She pulled her knees towards her chest, and placed her head upon her knees. She waited for the exhaustion to come.
Anakin stood in the corner, watching his daughter. In fact, he had watched her for days. He wanted to comfort her, but their relationship was tedious at best. During the day, she would listen as Luke asked him questions about the past. The most she would ever say was ‘Thank you.' But she no longer openly stared at him with hate in her eyes.
“What do you want?” Her voice was tired and on edge. Leia did not want him to see any weakness in her. On numerous occasions he tried to break her, not once did he succeed. She was not about to let him see how shaken she was now.
“You had a nightmare. I was concerned.”
“I always have nightmares. No need to concern yourself.”
“It concerns me because I care.”
“Because you are my…”
“Don't say it,” she interrupted. “We share the same DNA and that is all. Just because you have told me stories about my mother and grandmother, please don't think that changes anything between us. You will be sorely disappointed.”
“When will you stop hating me? What do I have to do to show you that I have changed?”
Leia got up and walked towards him. Luke and the others were not here, so there was no need to hold back. “Can you bring back my home? Can you bring back my parents? My friends? All the people that died by your hand?”
“I can never do that Leia.”
“Then you have your answer.”
Anakin swallowed hard. “Your mother was a forgiving soul, she always believed there was good in me. So did your grandmother. Your brother did as well. Even when the Emperor was killing him, he believed that I would intervene and save him. I truly wish you were more like them. But you are too much like me. It is about the facts, and only following the ideals when they suit you or fit into your pragmatic world view.”
Leia snickered. “My mother and grandmother saw the good in you? I bet they were very disappointed, huh? I don't believe in setting myself up for disappointment, not when it comes to you. You keep saying that my mom saw the good in you. I'm just wondering what else she saw in you, because I am wondering how could someone like her fall in love with someone like you. What did you do, use some kind of Jedi mind trick on her?”
Anakin's blue eyes became stormy. “ Padmé truly loved me. She never stopped loving me. I wasn't born Vader. I became him.” He shook his head. Somehow, he had to make her understand. “I was young and arrogant, but also full of fear. After my mother's death, I vowed that I would do anything to stop my loved ones from dying. After Padmé became pregnant, I started to have visions about her death. They wouldn't go away, and so I went to Yoda. He told me I had to accept the future and her death. I couldn't do that. Chancellor Palpatine told me what I wanted to hear. That there may be a way to save her, but the Jedi would never approve. This was before I knew him to be Darth Sidious, not that would have made a difference. That was my second giant step to using the dark side of the Force. She would have never approved, but I just wanted to save her. And I was willing to sell my soul, and destroy anything and everyone to do it. I wanted to control life and death.” He looked Leia in the eyes. “I loved her so much. I know you don't believe that…”
“Not accepting the death of a loved one? Doing all you can to stop it from happening? Yes I know and understand.”
“The vision in the cave.”
Leia nodded. “I would do anything to protect Luke, Han and the others. They are my family.”
“So, Han Solo? I don't like him.”
Leia smirked. There was no love lost between Han and Vader. “The feeling is mutual.”
“But you love him.”
She nodded. “Enough to let him go.”
“But you haven't let him go. He is still in your heart and on your mind.”
“As long as he is far away from me, he is safe.”
“Don't be too sure. It doesn't matter if he is near or far away. The fact that you love him paints a target on him. In fact, that target is on everyone that you and Luke care about. It just maybe safer for them to be around you than far away.”
“Jedi are not allowed to form attachments.”
“But your attachments have already been formed. Besides, the old way didn't work. Even Obi-Won and Yoda will admit that. The Jedi Society of the future will be different. It will be better.” Anakin stood up. “Listen, I know that you have every reason to hate me. But I know where hate and fear leads. If I could, I would go back and change things. All I can do now is make sure you and Luke don't fall for the same trick. Get some rest. We train early tomorrow morning.”
Once again, she didn't know what to say to him. She didn't want to sound like a broken recording, and say ‘thank you' once more. She had to admit that the man in front of her did not sound, look or act like Vader. And yet, he was that monster. She was too tired to try to figure all of this out. “Good night.” She went and lay down.
Anakin disappeared without realizing that they were not alone. Just as the dark alignment of Dagobah hid the light of Yoda, the light of Yulato hid the darkness in the shadow. The Emperor stood in the shadow and watched as the Princess finally fell asleep.
His mind raced with anticipation. Everything was going according to his plan. He smirked as he thought about the moment when he would pull the rug out from under his former apprentice. As far as he was concerned, Anakin will never have the relationship he so desperately wanted with his daughter.
Instead, Anakin will watch as his daughter fill the empty spot at his side.
Han swiped his hand through his hair in frustration. They had been here for almost a month. Through his contacts from his smuggling days and with the help of the local elders, they have narrowed the possible list of suspects down to five. However, 3 of the five had lost close relatives when the Kaminoans rebelled against the Emperor, so they would not have helped him or the rest of the Sith. So that left two others. Through their contacts, they had set up an appointment with the first suspect on the short list: Mynaho Theosophem. As they landed the small transport on the bay on top of the stormy ocean, Han glanced at the grey sky. For now, the clouds took a break from their constant rain. Anishpada, Han and C3PO made their way down the ramp and walked towards the two-story white semi-circular building. The door of the small white building slid open and a young Kaminoan walked towards them. He was tall with pale, almost translucent skin. A headcrest and small fin ridges were along the rear of his small, bulb-shaped head, which was connected to his thin frame by a long neck. With long arms and legs, the digitigrade made his way gracefully to the group. “Welcome, how may I help you?”
Anishpada bowed slightly to the Kaminoan. “I am looking for Mynaho Theosophem.” She gently lifted 7 credit coins worth 5000 each. “I am here to see him about a very important manner.”
The young Kiminoan gave a knowing smirk. “I am Mynaho. How may I assist you?”
“Is there a place that we can speak privately?”
“Of course. Please follow me.”
Han smiled to himself as he watched the pair walk through the sliding door. He saw something very familiar in the glassy eyes of the Kiminoan…hunger, greed and confidence. At one time, those things shone in his eyes as well. And yet, somehow, he had become a respectable general (though he refused to wear the uniform). He knew he was lucky, the overwhelming majority of those in his line of work never made it to old age, much less into respectable society. He wondered which path would claim Mynaho Theosophem.
“I must say, I don't meet many Wookiees here. Your kind are so into the natural ways of things…natural birth to natural death.”
“And the Kiminoans are famous for bending nature to their will.”
“Survival of the fittest.”
“Even if it means losing the wisdom of the elders during the time your kind perfected cloning.”
“And now that sacrifice is going to benefit you.” With a hand motion he invited her to walk through another set of doors. He pointed out the cloning devices and the technology he used. “The clone can be ready in as little as a few weeks, or as long as 10 years. However, the shorter the cloning time, greater is the risk that the clone will be mentally, physically or emotionally unstable.”
As she was being guided, Anishpada noticed that several of the cloning areas were empty and were utilizing Spaarti technology. “I thought that the Kiminoan process was the best.”
“It is. However, some customers rather have quantity over quality. For those, I use the Spaarti technology. The Kiminoan process takes longer, cost more, but result in a much better clone.” He turned to face her. “So, are you ready to do business?”
“I'm not here to do business for myself. I'm here on behalf of someone else.”
“Of course. I should have known.”
“This person requires the strictest anonymity. Is this acceptable?”
“I'm not interested in keeping track of the clones. If this person has the funds, I will clone anyone. All I need is DNA from the prime clone. However, the need for total anonymity does raise the price.”
“Your facility is just one of the three I need to check out. However, I must say I am impressed. And my benefactor will be most pleased by my report. I will contact you in 3 days if he decides to chose you.”
“Very well. Trust me, you will be contacting me again.”
Anishpada began to turn. “By the way, I do have one more question? Did you clone this person?” She quickly placed her hand on the Kiminoan's head.
Mynaho gasped as the mental image invaded his mind. A young male human of medium statured, with red hair, blue eyes and fair skin stared back at him. The Kiminoan pulled away from the grasp of the Wookiee, full of surprise. “Why? What do you know of him?”
Anishpada shook her head. “You need to ask your elders for forgiveness and guidance. You may have unleashed the greatest evil we have ever known.” With that she turned and walked away. She hurried through the sliding doors and headed back to the ship.
Han walked up to her. “Is it him?”
She nodded. “We need to contact the Kiminoan Elders. Let them deal with Mynaho Theosophem.” As they walked onto the ship and strapped themselves in, she continued. “I am afraid that my hunch was right. The Sith are back. We need to go to Yulato and warn them. If all 3 Sith are back, we are going to have a serious fight on our hands.”
Leia strapped on her lightsaber & blaster, and then headed toward her 74-Y speeder bike. The others thought it would be wise to let her sleep in. Now, she needed to hurry if she didn't want to miss too much of the lesson. She hopped unto her bike and headed across the dessert.
In the distance stood a lone figure in dark robes. As she came close, she could feel his presence. Even though she was tempted to hit him, Leia pulled up short. She hopped off her bike and pulled out her lightsaber.
“No need for that Leia. I only came to talk…and warn you.” Emperor Palpatine smiled.
“Warn me? Why would I trust you?”
“How are you sleeping Leia? Those nightmares from the past still haunting you?”
“How did you know about them?”
“Don't trust the Jedi. And don't put your trust in your father. They are all keeping a secret from you.”
“And what would that be?”
A tiny smile pulled at his thin grey lips. “Last night, your father told you only half the story. Yes, he loved your mother. He loved her so much; he searched for a way to save her. What he didn't tell you is the way she died.”
“She died giving birth to Luke and me.”
“That's not true. By the time of your birth, Anakin had already given himself to the Dark Side. He had already gone to the Jedi Temple and killed all the children. Your mother went to confront him. She took her ship and Obi-Won was on it. When she confronted your father, he thought she had betrayed him, so he used the Force on her.”
“You are lying! He wouldn't do that to her.”
Palpatine continued. “The pain, fear, anguish, regret and sadness…those emotions belonged to your mother as your father used the Force to choke her.”
“You don't believe me? Then go! Ask him! Ask the Jedi. Obi-Won was there when he did it. They have been hiding it from you.”
Leia shook her head. She climbed upon her bike. “I don't believe you.”
“I don't have a reason to lie to you. Can you say the same about the others?”
Leia raced away. However, she could hear the cackling laugh of the Emperor in her ears.
Leia raced across the sand. Her emotions were in such turmoil that she did not notice how strong the winds had become, sweeping the smaller grains of sand into the air. Soon, the sand began to sting her face, but she did not stop until she reached her destination. She stopped her bike, grabbed her lightsaber, and entered the formation of rocks and boulders that encircled the practice area that Anakin had chosen. With the ice mask firmly in place, she stood and stared at Anakin.
“Good morning sleepyhead. Father was just showing me…” Luke stopped when he saw the look on his twin's face. “What is it Leia?”
Leia didn't answer. She should have gone with her first gut instinct and left this planet when she realized whom Anakin was. But instead, she let THEM talk her into training with him. She lowered her walls and began to see him as human. That was a mistake she would never make again. “You know, I believed you when you said you loved our mother.”
“I still do.”
“Tell me. How did she die?” Leia was eerily calm as she asked the question.
Anakin reached out using the Force. It returned to him, feeling cold. His heart dropped. This was not the way he wanted to tell her. “Leia, please listen…”
“To what, another set of excuses? If that question was too hard for you, tell me what did the Jedi children do to make you kill them?”
“Leia stop this!”
“Come on Luke, you need to know the truth. The truth is Vader killed those children…willing. Tell me ‘Father',” she spat out the term, “did they trust you? Is that why they didn't see it coming? Is that what happened to our Mother as well?” She activated her lightsaber. She was about to swing when she heard her brother activated his lightsaber.
Luke took a defensive posture in front of his father. Leia narrowed her eyes. She couldn't believe that Luke would take his side. “She died because of him! He Force-choked her!”
“I know!” Luke lowered his voice. “I've known for a while.”
Shock filled Leia's eyes. “You knew?”
“Leia, there was no need to tell you. You already laid so many sins at his feet. You didn't need another reason to hate him.”
Leia gripped her lightsaber tighter. Her emotional walls barely contained the rage, hate and betrayal she was feeling. She did not notice that the wind picked up, blowing sand everywhere. “I felt all her pain and turmoil as you attacked her.” She took a step forward. “I remember her sadness. She should have never trusted you.” Leia deactivated her lightsaber and tossed it towards the pair. “I hate you. Stay the hell out of my life.” She glanced over at Luke, then Anakin. “The both of you.” She turned and began to walk away.
Luke was not going to let it end like this. He ran and grabbed her shoulder. “Look…” was the only word he managed to get out.
The wind howled, as it seemed to match Leia's emotional being. The young woman turned on him quickly and with a wave of her hand, he flew away from her.
“No!” Anakin screamed.
But it was too late. Luke landed hard against the face of a large rock wall. Then he dropped to his knees and fell forward, blood flowing from a head wound.
Leia looked at her brother's body. The vision flashed in her mind and juxtaposed itself unto the present reality. Everything happened as it did in the vision. She slowly shook her head at the realization of what she had done. Before Anakin could even reach Luke, she knew the ugly truth; she had just murdered her own twin.
Anakin ran and bent down over his son. As he searched for a pulse, he looked up; but did not see Leia. Instead, he heard the roar of the winds.
The speed bike roared as she pushed it as fast as it could go. Finally, the dust and desert became too much for the bike and it began to overheat. Leia parked it by a large set of mountains with numerous caves. She numbly walked into one of the caves and collapsed. She sat alone in the dark cave. She looked at her hands wishing she could turn back the hands of time.
In a barely contained fit of rage, she went to their father, and confronted him for the truth. In her anger, she struck out at Luke and had killed her own brother. And now, she was no better than Vader. The sins she would never forgive him for had now become her own. Grief filled her entire being as she screamed out her brother's name.
The Emperor stood in the shadows, his face contorted with an evil smile. The daughter of Vader stood on the edge. All she needed was one final push; then she will belong to the Dark Side. Just like her father before her. He stepped out from the shadows.
She felt his sickening presence. “Go away.”
He ignored her request. “Now you know the truth. Use it to make you strong.”
Tears filled Leia's eyes. “Go away.” As he took another step closer to her, Leia jumped up, grabbed her blaster and pointed at her enemy. “It's your fault!” Her words sounded unconvincing. She had done everything in her power to avoid the cave's vision. She was so sure that the vision was true, and that her loved ones were in danger by being around her. And she was right, but in the most unexpected way.
All the clues were there--all her life, the signs were there: her unexplained anger towards Vader when she was a child, the blocking of her power, the reason Vader's torture didn't work, her single focus on destroying the Empire, her reaction in the cave, the crushing of the medical droid…all fueled by her hate and anger. That same anger and hatred helped her murder her own twin and now cried out for her to pull the trigger.
A small grin appeared on Palatine's continence. “Your thoughts are correct. But don't see them as a curse, see them for what they truly are…gifts. Your hate and anger has made you strong.”
“Not sick, just honest. Their so called ‘truth' is based on a certain point of view.” He then mockingly recited the Jedi Code, “There is no emotion- there is peace. There is no ignorance- there is knowledge. There is no passion- there is serenity. There is no chaos- there is harmony. There is no death- there is the Force. Tell me Leia, how is that working out for you?” He stepped closer to her, watching as her eyes closed shut and a pained expression filled her face. He pushed her arm down, causing her to lower the weapon. He made sure he was close enough so that he could whisper. “The truth is…Peace is a lie, there is only passion. Through passion, you gain strength. Through strength, you gain power. Through power, you gain victory. Through victory, your chains are broken. The Force will free you Leia, but only if you give yourself to its will.”
Each statement bombarded the young woman with memories…her father speaking passionately about freedom and the Senate…her own strength of will to become the youngest senator in the history of the Republic…how the rebel forces continuously fought for their freedom, no matter the odds, and how they finally gained victory, and ended the tyranny of the Emperor. She opened her eyes once more, and faced him. “You are no better than them. You are trying to manipulate me just as they had.”
A twisted smile graced the Emperor's features. “I have told you the truth Leia. The only thing I have manipulated was the vision and only in one way: Darth Tyranus took your place in the vision. And that was it.” He watched as shock filled her eyes. “Don't act surprise. Deep down inside you knew.” He watched as she shook her head. “Stop lying to yourself. You knew… that is why you were so desperate to get everyone away from you. Search your feelings.”
Leia remembered the sick feeling in the pit of her stomach, and the unknown fear that seemed to grasp her every time she thought about the vision and how she avoided all conversation about it. The vision played itself in her mind, but this time, the veil of darkness was stripped. She saw herself wave her hand, sending Luke into the rock face, killing him instantly. She tried to fix things without having to face the truth and because of her actions the vision became reality.
“The Force always looks to balance itself. Even if you found a way to stop this particular vision, you and Luke were on a collision course.” He reached out his ghostly white hand. “I thought Luke was the only child of my apprentice. But your brother couldn't hide the one secret he tried to keep safe…a twin sister. As soon as his secret was revealed, I knew who was the one truly called to be my apprentice.”
“I am Master Windu's apprentice.” Her voice sounded weak and unconvincing.
“You WERE his apprentice. Do you think you could truly trust them after this? Do you think they can trust you? You have nowhere else to go. Your former life is over. Leia, give yourself to the Dark Side. It is your destiny.”
Mace Windu trusted Leia enough to encourage her to walk the edge: close enough to the fire to feel its heat, but not close enough to burn. Yet, not only did she get too close, she was becoming one with the flame. It felt like she was drowning in the dark side of the Force and there was no escape. A part of her wanted to give in, to stop fighting it. Perhaps if she gave in, the pain would end. At that moment, she understood why Anakin gave in, lost his humanity and became Vader. He had killed her mother and he had believed that he had killed their child as well, all because he lost his temper and thought she had betrayed him. There were too many parallels for her to ignore. Acceptance flooded her soul.
Palatine continued, believing that his victory was guaranteed. “Your father was destined to bring balance to the Force. And he guaranteed the continuance of that balance by siring twins…opposite in every possible way. Luke could see the Jedi, even after their death. You never could see them, yet you saw us. Your brother was the Son of Skywalker and you…. you are…”
“The daughter of Vader.” Leia stated matter-of-factly.
A giant smile filled his face as her voice filled his ears and heart as though it was a song. “You have finally accepted who you truly are.”
A sad smile spread across her lips. “I guess I always known how this would end. As long as I live and walk this path, I will always be the Daughter of Vader.” Leia raised the blaster to her head, “So much for a long life.” But before she could pull the trigger, someone knocked the blaster away from her and wrapped their arms around her from behind.
“I won't let you do it.” Anakin tightened his hold on his daughter.
“Leave me alone!” Leia struggled against his hold. She threw her head back, hoping to connect with his nose. She connected enough for him to let her go.
The Emperor decided that this would be a good time to disappear. Besides, there was one more thing he needed to take care of before getting rid of his former pupil. Then she will be mine.
Anakin held up his hands. “It's my fault. I should have told you the truth. You hate me, and you have every reason. And if I could, I would change that moment. I love her.”
Leia looked at him with disgust in her eyes. “You don't even know what that is.”
“Yes I do.” Anakin circled his daughter. “Listen to me Leia. You cannot give in to the anger.” He ducked as she swung at him. “I am sorry, so sorry. I deserve your hate.” He grabbed her, pulling her close. “ I have been the monster in your life for so long. Please forgive me.” He opened all his emotional walls hoping that the Force would help him reach her.
Leia was flooded with emotions and memories: Anakin's pain, guilt, sorrow and regret for what he had done and become. His love for Shmi, Padme, Luke and for her—images of Padme telling him he was going to be a father, his joy for the news, his pain as the vision of her death persisted, his obsession for power to control life and death, the lightness of his soul when he turned once more to the Light—how he saw this as a second chance to become the man he should have been, the father he wanted to be, how he wished he could change things between the two of them. It was too much, she couldn't tell where his emotions began and hers ended. Her walls that held so much behind them finally came down. She fell to her knees and began to sob, holding on to the lifeline that he had offered.
He continued to hold her tight. The anguished filled sobs eventually turned into silent tears. “Please forgive me.”
Leia didn't say anything. How could she deny him? After all, she now sought forgiveness as well for killing Luke.
Sensing her thoughts, Anakin cradled her face. “Luke is alive.”
“Alive?” Leia wanted so much to believe him, but she knew what she did.
“I was able to use the Force to slow him down enough. He has a huge goose-egg and he is going to have a headache for a while, but he is alive.”
“He's alive?” She still doubted.
Anakin nodded. “And he is very worried about you. Let's get you to him, before he decides to come looking for you.”
A tentative smile lit up the young woman's face. Her brother was alive and that was all that mattered. Leia let Anakin help her up to her feet.
Anakin smiled at his daughter and led her out of the cave. He walked her to her bike.
“What is it?”
“My bike. It overheated. I hope I haven't done too much damage to it.”
“Let me have a look. I was pretty good at tinkering with things when I was younger.” Both of them focused their attention on the bike, with Anakin hovering over the front of it, and Leia standing next to it.
Something caught Leia's eyes. In the mouth of the cave, stood a young man with red hair and black robes. She didn't recognize him and was about to ask her father about him. Then all of a sudden, the young man raised her blaster and shot.
Leia didn't have time to think. She pushed hard, causing Anakin to fall to the ground. Then the pain hit. She couldn't move, then she felt herself falling.
Luke rode his bike into the area. He saw the young man, then the blast and his sister falling. He raced his bike to his target, pulled out his light saber, blocking the young man's blast attempts.
Surprised filled the redhead's continence. He was not expecting to see the young Jedi. Without any other weapon, he fired again and again. In a new physical body, he couldn't quite control with the efficiency and power of his old one. He saw Luke coming, but could not stop him.
With a guttural scream, Luke sliced the young man in half. Without looking back, he spun his bike around, threw it down to the ground and ran towards his family.
Anakin caught his daughter and gently lowered Leia to the ground. He looked at the stomach wound. The laser blast had burned away her clothes, and left a large and deep wound that was singed around the edges. “Leia, look at me. Focus.” Fear crept into his voice. He grabbed her hand. “Stay with me.”
Leia squeezed her father's hand, her voice barely a whisper. “Forgive me for hating you for so long.”
“There's nothing to forgive. Now save your strength.”
The heat from the sun no longer felt so hot. She looked up at the sky. As the sun seemed to get brighter and larger, something caused her to smile. “You were right. Mom is beautiful when she smiles.”
“No! Leia!” She did not respond.
Luke stopped in his tracks. He felt a part of him rip away then disappeared. He knew she was gone.
A small transport landed nearby. The hatch opened. Han and Anishpada raced out, with the droids and Chewbacca in close pursuit. In Han's hands was a small box and Chewie guided a Repulsorlift stretcher.
“Move it!” Han yelled, and he dove to his knees besides the prone woman. He couldn't see Anakin on the other side. Anishpada kneeled beside Anakin, placed a hand over his as a sign of support, then placed her hands over the wound, but not touching it.
Han quickly opened the box. Inside of it was a defliberator. He turned it on and shocked Leia. Her body jerked, but her heart did not respond. He tried again, this time on a higher setting. Nothing. He looked at Luke, fear in his eyes. He set it to the highest setting.
R2-D2 didn't like feeling useless. He reached out his shocker tool, and plugged it into the defliberator. He was going to make sure there was enough juice this time.
Han activated the defliberator, and R2-D2 added his as well. Leia's body jerked hard. This time, a faint pulse registered.
Anishpada nodded. She looked at Luke and Anakin. “Let's get her back to the command ship to receive the proper care.”
Han paced back and forth in the pristine white corridor in front of the medical lab. It had been hours since they had arrived. He stopped long enough to pause in front of the lab window. He could see Leia in the healing tank, suspended in the special crimson liquid formulated for severe laser and internal injuries. He began his pacing again.
Luke was also in the hall, looking through another window. The doctors had already checked him for his injuries, and he had hope that she was in the clear. He stared at his sister and regretted how he had handled things. He truly thought there was no other way, but doubt began to fill him.
Anishpada and Chewbacca stood against the wall. Chewie watched his best friend pace nervously, while the Wookiee Jedi seemed to be meditating. Chewie tilted his head slightly and looked at Anishpada from the corner of his eyes. In his culture, Anishpada was a legend. She was the last of the Jedi from their world. He had heard great tales about her while he was growing up. Many Wookiees became Guardians for members of the Jedi Society partly because of the stories of her adventures. Yet, the Anishpada he had come to know seemed very different than the Anishpada of legend. The Anishpada of legend was a fighter, a defender, a healer and a scholar who had adventure as a daily meal. This Anispada who stood next to him was too quiet, too normal. Sure she could be quick-witted (much to his enjoyment and Han's displeasure), but she seemed too quiet and ever watchful. He wasn't sure which one version of Anishpada he preferred.
Finally, the lab doors slid open. The doctor was a young human woman. She waited until the party surrounded her. “It was touch and go, but we finally have her stabilized. She will be placed in the proper tanks as her condition improves, and she should be out of the tanks in 3 days. Then she will stay in the ward for an additional 2 days, just so we can monitor her. After that, she needs to take things slowly. Who will be in charge of her care once she is released?”
“I will” both Han and Luke spoke. They looked at each other.
Anishpada spoke up. “We will all take care of her. We will be staying at my place though.”
The doctor looked at the group, feeling the tension between the men. “Okay, well I will make sure I give you a holocron with all the instructions. You all look like you could use some rest. There is nothing more you can do for her.” With that the doctor returned to the medical unit.
Anishpada looked at Han and Luke. “Let me first say that is a medical unit. They have lots of patients and they don't need two more. Whatever you two have to say to each other can wait until we are in a more appropriate place. Second, Leia is very lucky to have the both of you in her life. So let's, as your kind says, cool our jets.” Anishpada inserted Luke's arm into her own, turned and headed down the hall. “Now listen to me Jedi,” she whispered, “I know that Han hasn't been around. But that was your sister's doing.”
“I know that.”
“And you know that they still love each other and she only broke up with him to protect him from that vision. For all practical purposes, they are still together. So you need to let him take care of her.”
“Lots of things have happened that don't concern him.”
“If they concern her, they concern him.”
“Whose side are you on?”
“There are no sides to this. Right now, I am concerned that everyone who cares about Leia is on the same page. She should be our focus, not our perceived slights.”
“Fine. But who is going to tell him that?”
“Luke, how would you feel if you left your fiancé in the care of your best friend. And when you come back, she is dead. Who would be the target of your anger?”
“The Emperor. He is the one who shot her.”
Anishpada gave him time to think it through.
Luke sighed. “But he wouldn't have been in the position to do so if I had told her the truth. He probably feels like I didn't do enough to protect her.”
“He doesn't know if you did or didn't. He needs to know what happened. And he has a right to that information. Just don't be surprised by the intensity of his feelings, and try not to take anything he says personally.”
Leia blinked as her eyes adjusted to the bright lights in the resting area of the medical bay. All she remembered is waking up in a healing tank, and then going into a refresher to clean up. Leia realized that she must have fallen asleep. As her eyes adjusted, she smiled when she recognized the person standing there. “Hi,” she managed to croak.
Han smiled. “Hi yourself.” He reached over onto the metallic table, and grabbed a cup with a straw. He brought the cup to the Princess' mouth.
She smiled her thanks and took a sip. The room-temperature water was refreshing to her parched throat.
“Not too much,” Han stated as he pulled the drink away.
Leia looked around. “How did I get here?”
“We brought you to our command ship. You were out of it for 3 days.” The memory of finding Leia dead still shook him to the core. He reached out and caressed her hand. “You know, you gave us quite a scare. Don't do that again, okay?”
Leia intertwined their fingers together. “Trust me, I wasn't thinking. The next time, I'll check with you first.” She smiled at him.
A small grin appeared on his face as he tried to further lighten the mood. “Next time, all your training will take place on an vacation planet.”
“Sounds great to me. But let's forget the training aspect, shall we?”
Han smiled and nodded. Even though she sounded serious, he knew she had to be joking. “Good idea.”
The two of them sat there, both having so much to say, but not knowing how to start.
“Leia…” “Han…” the pair laughed. The general nodded towards the Princess. “Ladies first.”
“I'm sorry for the way I handled everything. I shouldn't have pushed you away. I'm sorry.”
“Apology accepted.” He moved closer to her. “Our time apart was time well spent. Anishpada has taught me a lot. I know things won't be easy for us. But I am willing to do whatever it takes Leia.”
“I love you.”
Han leaned in. “I know.” He then kissed Leia on the forehead. He pulled back slightly. “The doctor said that only one of us can come in here at a time and….” He was quickly silenced as Leia grabbed his shirt and pulled him into a proper kiss.
The need for air becoming to great to ignore, the both of them pulled back slightly, but they foreheads still touched. “Now, what was it you were saying?” Leia asked.
“They can wait.”
Han stepped out of the room with a smile on his face. The smile quickly faded as he looked at Luke. “She wants to see you.”
Luke stood up and walked pass Han without saying a word to him. “Hey you!” He rushed to his sister's side and gave her a big hug. “How you feeling?”
“I should be asking you that.” She rubbed her hand through his hair, feeling for any remnant of her actions. She then gingerly touched near his black eye. “You don't know how sorry I am for what I did. I know I have no excuse.”
“It's okay. Besides, all of this is not your fault.”
“It is NOT okay. I lost control and nearly killed you. If it wasn't for our father, you would be dead.” She watched as a smile appeared on Luke's face. “What?”
“One, the bump on the back of my head is your fault. But the black eye is Han's fault. We got into it, and he punched me.”
“For what happened to you. I can't say I blame him. I shouldn't have kept you in the dark.”
“You knew how I would react. You did what had to be done.”
“No I didn't. I did what I needed to do to get what I wanted. I wanted the three of us to be a family: Father, you and me. I was willing to lie and keep secrets. I didn't trust you or believed that you were strong enough to handle the truth. And for that, I am sorry. No more secrets or lies, I promise.” He took her hand. “Two, do you realized you called him our father, without a sneer or a hint of sarcasm?”
“That's why you are smiling?”
“It's not the main reason. I'm just glad you are alive.”
Leia reached out and hugged her twin. “Right back at you.”
After the hug, Luke looked at her straight in the eyes. “The guy who shot you, he was a clone of the Emperor. Anishpada figured out that the Sith are producing clones. I killed him, but the other two were not there. They too probably have clones. We still have no clue where they are or if they already have apprentices. As soon as you are healthy, we will go after them. I figure the odds are in our favor, with 3 Jedi, Chewie, Han and the whole fleet ready to hunt them down.”
Leia squeezed Luke's hand. “Promise me you will listen and hear me out.” She waited for him to nod. She took a deep breath before she began. “We know that the Force has both a Light and a Dark side. Both sides exist, yet we seem to choose the side that we want to serve.”
Luke agreed. “We decide which side of the Force will flow through us.”
“We always assume that we have a choice, but what if it is the Force that chooses us, not the other way around?”
“What do you mean?”
“Just about all the Jedi knights were killed, all the younglings killed, by 2 Sith. How is that possible? The prophecy stated that the Chosen one would bring balance to the Force. Which he did, first by destroying the Jedi, shifting the balance to the Sith, then by killing the Emperor, which brought the Force in total balance.”
“No it didn't. I was a Jedi by that time, remember?”
“And you have a twin sister who is strong in the Force as well.”
“What are you getting at?”
“You can see Jedi, while I see Sith.”
Luke shook his head. “That was in the cave.”
“And on Yulato. And speaking of the cave, you said the power that came from the cave felt cold and foreboding. But to me, it felt seductive, warm and safe. I willingly entered it without any means of defending myself.”
“Because I told you to do so.”
“Because I felt safe. You are a strong Jedi.”
“And you will be one as well.”
Leia gave Luke a sad smile. “Yulato is a focus point for the Light Side of the Force, and I was on edge the whole time I was there. I felt like I was walking on a tightrope and I was about to fall. In fact I did.”
Luke swallowed hard. He reached out and grabbed her hand. “The next time, I'll catch you.”
A sad smile pulled at her lips. “What happens if I pull you over?”
“You won't do that.”
“I may not have a choice Luke. But today I do, and I choose to stop my training. I will practice what I've learned so far, but I will not acquire any new skills. I'm going to focus building the Republic by helping Mon Mothma.”
“So, you are basically going to make me fight them alone?”
“You won't be alone. I stood up against the Sith even before I knew who you were. I was fighting against them while you were still a moisture farmer.”
Luke snickered. “You know what I think? I think you are running scared. I think that what happened on Yulato has scared you into this decision. I think in a few weeks, you will see that you are panicking, and you will continue your training.”
Leia sighed. “Let me ask you a question: Could you kill me?” She watched Luke's stun expression for a moment. “If I became a Sith Lord, could you kill me? Or would you seek my redemption no matter how many lives are lost?”
“That's not a fair question.”
“But it is an honest one.” Determination filled her voice. “Since you cannot answer it, I will do what is necessary to make sure that if the time comes, you can do it quickly and swiftly.”
“Kill you or redeem you?”
“It doesn't matter. Either way I will be weaker than you.”
Luke shook his head. “This is ridiculous. After a few weeks of rest, you will change your mind.”
“Don't hold your breath. I love you Luke, I don't want to hurt you….”
“Too late.” With that, Luke stood up and left the room. Without speaking to the others, he headed to his suite. He packed a few things, headed towards the bay where his X-fighter was located. He climbed aboard, throwing his bag into the co-pilot seat. He plotted his destination. Without telling anyone, he took off.
A young man with dark brown hair and beard stepped out into the sunlight. He stretched and twisted, trying to get use to having a body once more. He looked at his companion.
Even without his double-bladed lightsaber, the young Dathomirian Zabrak was deadly. He practiced his spin kicks and punches until he was satisfied with the condition of his body. He then looked at Darth Tyranus and nodded.
Darth Tyranus looked at the spirit of his former master. “Too bad you won't be joining us.”
“My time on this plane grows short. It is up to the two of you to insure our victory.”
“Don't worry, they will be ready. And then we will crush this fledging republic and bring back the Empire.”
Darth Sidious looked at the pair as they walked away towards a small ship. His eyes narrowed as the ship disappeared from view. Darth Maul and Darth Tyranus were not in his league when it came to strategy. Where they saw failure, he saw opportunity. That is why he survived longer than either of them. And he would again.
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