I know I already released this chapter, but I wasn't quite satisfied with it. Now it works. This is what it should have been. If you didn't read it the first time, try this time.
Even in the crowded boardroom on his flagship Star Raider, Luke Skywalker was alone. He never betrayed this emotion. No, he was in complete control of all aspects of his appearance. He seemed hard, but when needed an air of joviality came across him. The people around were either frightened or at ease, depending on what he needed from them. But he still had no one he could truly call his friend, who was there not for the money, but rather for the companionship.
Luke was utterly and completely alone. The only person who wanted him not for his money was a man who wanted him for his power, and this was the man Luke wanted to share his company with the most: his father.
Yet, this knowledge only led to more solitude. Perhaps one day, he could share the company of others, but now was not that time. Now was the time for business. With that thought, Luke focused his attention on the meeting around him.
"…following the orders previously given," spoke Lethar Mart, one of Luke's captains, reporting on the activity in one of the quadrants, his elbows propped up on the large oval conference table. "On some other planets, we have been having contact with the Rebellion. They seem anxious to use our services, Master, but they are still highly unstable and if they have another large defeat like the one two months ago, they will crumble and default on all the payments they would owe us." The captain paused, as if steeling himself, "If I may be so bold, I recommend that we avoid direct dealings and allying ourselves with the Rebellion. It would be more advantageous to play both sides of the war."
"But if we allied ourselves with the Rebellion," interrupted a newer addition to the ranks of Luke's workers, a young woman, with hair black as space, "we would risk the wrath of the Empire, but they do not deal with us now, since we are 'outlaws.' If we aid the Rebels they will be less likely to fail and we will win when they win." After that comment, the whole room burst into chaos, as person after person stood up and raised their objections, vehemently pointing and gesticulating. Luke sat back in his for a moment, letting them release their emotions. Pulling on the Force, he pushed out his power as he quietly whispered, "Shut up and sit down." An icy silence filled the room immediately, and they complied to his will. For the first time that meeting, Luke rose from his chair and leaned onto the table, staring into all of their faces.
Using his trademark style of talking, his whispers carried through out the room, with no one having a difficult time discussing.
"We will do the following and it is not up to discussion. While I appreciate your view, Ms…."
"Dirin," the black haired woman supplied.
"Yes," continued Luke, "Ms. Dirin, but I do not think that we should ally ourselves with the Rebellion. Nor shall we ally with the Empire. We will continue to do business the way we always have. That means we will sell to those who want our business, if they can pay upfront. The Rebellion will have to scrape up its few credits and then we will allow our services to be used. And Ms. Dirin, we do deal with the Empire, but as I said earlier, we are not allied.
"But remember, this is my business. I do appreciate the advice, but I make the decisions, not you." Luke paused and looked closely at their frightened faces, fearing the wave of wrath that he might unleash on them. "If any of you ever behaves in that manner again in my presence or on any of my ships, you will be released, through any airlock of your choice. Is that clear? I do appreciate your hard work, but do not be mistaken that you can be replaced." With curt nods, they all agreed. "Dismissed."
Luke sat back in his chair, fingers steepled as they filed out of the room. Only one person remained. Ms. Dirin walked up to Luke as he watched her through narrowed eyes. "Master Luke," she began, with confidence filling her voice, "may I request your company for dinner? I would be honored if you decided to join me." After her proposal, she stood in front of him, comfortable with the situation. Luke pondered a moment. I am surprised that she wants to dine with me. But what else should I do but say yes. I do not know her motives, but even if they are not honorable, I will find out and enjoy myself this evening. With a slight nod, Luke assented.
"Good," she said. "Meet my at my quarters in four hours." A tiny smile graced her lips, and she swept out of the room, laughter in her eyes. Luke just continued to sit there.
Five hours later, Luke chimed at Ms. Dirin's door, cautiously holding flowers in his hand. She opened her door, looking a little flustered, but brightened when she saw him. "I'm sorry I am late. Did you get the message from my secretary?" Luke asked, looking apologetic.
"Yes," she responded. "There was some trouble with one of your other ships, correct? Don't worry; I was just making dinner. Please come in." She gestured for him to enter. He did so, carefully. He looked around her living room. The room was filled with light and glass. Rarely in his life had he seen so much glass. Tiny little sparkles reflected around the room, casting an odd glow on the gray walls. On a small glass table by some chairs lay a meal for two, with a pulsing dim light in the middle. Suddenly Luke remembered the flowers in his hand. "Oh, here. I brought this for you." She took them and smelled them appreciatively.
"Oh, the last time I saw Tiborians was on Coruscant when I was a child. This flowers are truly rare." Laughing, she looked up at him through long lashes (Luke had never noticed how long they were before). "I won't bother asking how you got them. You are the Outlaw, after all." She pulled a vase from one of the glass shelves and gingerly placed the flowers in them, smelling them again. "Oh, I'm being an awful hostess. Please, sit down. What would you like to drink? I have some nice wines, if that is acceptable?" Luke sat down in the closest chair, nodding his head. She went off into another room and quickly came back out with a bottle. She filled up the glasses on the table and sat down across from him. "Please, enjoy." With that, Luke looked down at his plate. Some unidentifiable meat and vegetable was on it, but not being picky, Luke did not care. He cut off a small piece of meat and ate it. His eyes opened wide with surprise.
After quickly swallowing it, he looked at his hostess and said, "This is delicious!" She smiled and ate her own piece. Now intrigued instead of cautious, Luke devoured the rest of the plate. They sat in silence as they both ate. Finally, after a small desert a sufficiently satiated Luke sat down on his hostesses couch.
Luke began the conversation. "I did not even realize it, but I don't even know your first name. I can't always call you 'miss' or 'Dirin.'" She smiled self-consciously, "Oh, it's Tilara. I'm not terribly fond of the name. You may just call me Lara."
"Okay…Lara." Suddenly, silence filled the room again. Luke looked at Lara's long lashes. She had sat next to him. The distance between them suddenly felt so close. They slowly moved closer together, and that was the last thing Luke thought.
Luke strolled into his private rooms on his flagship, pleased with himself and the evening. It seemed that his wish had come true, but not in the way he had expected. He had wished he had a companion, but he did not truly belief that one would appear, especially not that quickly. But he did not complain. No, he did not complain at all. With a small smirk on his face, Luke went to his bathroom, stripping out of his worn clothes, and quickly changed into his typical black outfit. The transformation was not only external, but internal as well. The moment he placed the dark shirt over his head, Luke felt his usual calm demeanor replace the bubbly and excited feeling he had felt the entire evening with Lara. Even the simplest thought of her name made his heart twinge, but it soon was covered with his repression of his emotions. Most Jedi-like, Luke thought, almost bitterly.
He was no longer the man that had a romantic dinner, but now he was the Outlaw. He made men tremble at the sight of him; he was the definition of power in the galaxy. Now he went out to exercise some of his power.
For three weeks after his first date with Lara, Luke had lived a double live. In his black clothing, his clothing of the cold and death, he was the mysterious master of the underground empire. Even when he saw her on his ships, he barely spared her a glance. In his red clothing, his clothing of passion and life, he was the tender lover of the only person in his life. Luke could not have been happier in those moments when he was not feared and envied.
In search of that eluding happiness, Luke went to Lara's rooms once more. It had become an odd tradition for him to bring a gift to every one of their meetings. Sometimes it was a small stone from a far-off world or a box of delicate foods from Coruscant or something special that he thought matched her in some manner. Today he brought a glass globe; the glass itself was not spectacular, but rather the object inside of it was; the glass contained a pulsing orb of energy. It was not commonly known how the light continued to pulse without an outside energy source, but Luke knew that the living energy of the Force itself caused the odd reaction.
Anticipating her reaction, Luke anxiously called at her door. After a second Lara opened the door. Luke at first was going to greet her with a rare smile, but he noticed that she was red and splotchy, looking as if she had been crying. "Lara," he began softly. "Are you all right? What's the matter?" He strode forward and wrapped his arms protectively around her, her head nestled under his chin.
"I—" Lara could not bring herself to saw what the problem was.
"It's all right," Luke whispered soothingly into her ear, rubbing her back in a gentle manner that would have shocked most of his staff. "Come to the couch and tell me what the problem is." Gently he pushed her into the direction of the couch. She sat down and hid her face in his shoulder. "What's the problem?"
"I…" Lara began unsurely, looking up from Luke's shirt. "I don't know if I can tell you…I don't know what to do." Fear was present in her eyes.
Luke's masculine instincts kicked in. "If there is anything I can do, just tell me." Never before had Luke felt anything this powerful for anyone (not anyone that mattered, a snide voice whispered in his head) and he felt the overwhelming compulsion to protect the woman in his arms. "Come on tell me, all right?" He looked hopefully at her, trying to compel her to tell him her problems.
"You don't know much about my past, but I was married to one of my father's business partners for three years. He was a cruel man, but I was able to break away from him about a year ago. I had a daughter with him, but he kept her after I left. That little girl meant everything to me, and she was what inspired me to go. I couldn't let my little baby see me mistreated like that, so I left for her sake, since I knew he would never hurt her. Well, I just found out that he is using her to blackmail me to come back. I was his "trophy-wife," and now he is left without the status symbol.
"I was messaged today by my ex-husband that I would have to come back now if I ever wanted to see my daughter ever again. He said that he would make sure that I would never come close to her again.." With a look of complete exasperation, she looked deeply into Luke's eyes. "Please, Luke help me! I love her so much!" Luke knew that he had to help her. Looking deep into her eyes, he found hope—but there was something else. He fell deep into her eyes.
Visions flew past his eyes. The Force was trying to reveal something. Finally, the images focused and Luke gazed into the future.
Luke felt himself drawn into the vision like a dream.
Luke had taken one of his smaller ships and had set off for Dantooine along with Lara. After traveling for several days, they reached the grassy planet. Now their plan would take effect.
Carefully landing the small ship in a valley near the house, Luke prepared himself for a rescue. He carefully prepared his weapons, both a blaster and his own lightsaber, which he kept hidden, and his protective gear and communication equipment. Lara carried some computer spikes in order to hack into the security system and a blaster as well. Wearing stealth equipment, the two disembarked from the ship.
Luke had never been to Dantooine and was surprised by its cool air. Even though he had not been on Tatooine in years, he still felt most comfortable in warmer climates. Even his own ships were kept warmer than the average ship. A breeze kept the air moving, but also took away the warmth that he preferred. The planet was covered in meadows of flowing grass. After adjusting to the setting, he looked over at Lara. Apprehension filled her face, but also a look of great expectation and joy was underneath. She must really love her daughter, Luke thought to himself. She must be quite excited at the prospect of having her back in her life. Gently squeezing Lara's shoulder, Luke proceeded to the location of the house, with Lara at his side.
Once they were near the security system of the house, they activated their stealth unit, rendering themselves invisible. These units were massively expensive, but Luke would not shrink away from using the best materials when it came to Lara and her happiness. They continued to a side entrance. Now Lara used her computer spikes to override the security system and let them in. After a few failed attempts, the door finally opened. Carefully scanning the area in front of them, the two entered the room. Luke could not see Lara with his eyes, but the Force still alerted him to her presence. Lara took the lead to the room where they expected her daughter to be held. After walking through a maze of hallways, Lara stopped in front of a plain looking door. Keying it open, Lara walked into the bright room. Luke followed her in, and the door slid shut behind him. Lara deactivated her stealth unit, flashing into existence again. She walked to a brightly colored door to her left. Whispering gently, she said, "Wait here. I'll bring her out, so she won't be scared. Just keep guard." Not waiting for a reply, Lara entered the room. Luke stood calmly in the center of the room, letting his mind relax into the atmosphere. Suddenly a bright flash of light lit the room, and then the room went dark. A sizzling sound revealed to Luke that his stealth unit had been compromised by an electrical burst. Keeping his composure Luke waited for the arrival he knew would come. The clicking of heels alerted him to the presence of two people.
A man's voice ran out in the darkness, "Give us your blaster. Just head towards the direction of my voice. Do not attempt to fire your weapon because this room is magnetically sealed and it will only ricochet back at you." Luke slowly walked towards the direction of the voice with his blaster in hand. Suddenly, a hand reached out and grabbed the blaster from him. The lights flickered on. Wincing at the sudden change from the dark to the light, Luke stared at a squat man with corded muscles. Standing next to him was—
"Lara," Luke breathed. She was standing comfortably next to the man in the classic pose of "I betrayed you," with her arms crossed and a smirk on her face. Anger and betrayal flared up in Luke. Keeping them in check, the only thing that revealed his feelings was the unusual tightness in his jaw and the flash of anger in his eyes. The squat man had two guns trained at Luke, never wavering.
"Oh, poor Luke," Lara mocked. "The poor outlaw who didn't have anybody, till lovable Lara arrived. Lara brought life into poor Luke's life. He would do anything for her, bring presents—save her daughter. But there is not daughter. What will he do now? He now knows that she didn't actually care for him. His bumbling attempts to have a relationship."
Lara laughed haughtily. "Fool. I only wanted money. So, in order have your life back, you will give us 30,000,000 credits. We know you have that much. You will send it out to twelve separate accounts spread across the galaxy. You must work with us, since there is no one you can turn to. The Empire hates you and the rebels couldn't care less." Lara walked over to a wall and pressed slightly a on seam. The wall moved back and several computer units were revealed. "Come over here, my outlaw, and wire the money and you'll live." The squat man came over and prodded Luke in the back with blaster.
"Move," the man grunted and pushed Luke into motion. Lara flashily indicated the computer console and stepped aside so that Luke could use it. His mind racing at the events, Luke's pure instincts and the Force guided his actions. Dropping his anger, Luke entered a cold state of mind. Heading for the console, Luke suddenly spun around to face the man, calling upon his lightsaber. Quickly activating it, Luke sliced through the man's hands and neck. Lara screamed and backed up against the wall. Luke strode over to her.
Holding the lightsaber only centimeters away from her next, Luke whispered in his cold voice, "So you only wanted money? I'm afraid I can't help you with that. But don't worry, prostitute, I'll make sure you have company. Go join your 'husband.'" With a swift push, Lara lay on the floor, head detached from her body.
With a jolt, Luke was snapped back into reality. Lara had a look of concern on her face. "Luke, honey, what is it?" she asked, concern flickering in her eyes. Luke lunged off the couch and away from her.
"You—you are plotting against me?" Luke asked outraged. "Do you have no concept of my power?" Lara got up and walked closer to Luke to try and console him and convince him of her innocence. Luke backed away. "I know of your plot, don't even try to deny it. You planned to take me to Dantooine. But it failed, Lara. You won't succeed."
Anger filled Lara's face. "Fine, I am guilty. So what if I wanted your money? Is that wrong?" Immediately she knew she had made a terrible mistake. The anger was nearly palpable off of Luke. It felt as if it would swallow her whole. Normally Luke spoke to Lara with a soft voice, but now he spoke with ice in his words. "You will leave. I will never see you again. If you ever come in contact with any of my operations in any form, I will have you killed on sight. Take a shuttle for all I care, but leave now!" Usually she would have protested against such an agreement, but this time she that this was a good option. Without grabbing anything, she ran out of the room and into the hallway. Luke stood there.
After a moment, he realized he had a stabbing pain in his hand. Looking down, he discovered he had crushed the glass globe. The Force had dispersed throughout the room. In a final snarl of anger, Luke threw the shards at the wall before storming out. Never had he felt more alone.
But he could not have been more wrong. Across the galaxy, his only connection felt his pain for the first time in years.
Well? Was it good?
Originally, this was supposed to be combined with another chapter, but I decided they would work better if they were separated. I added onto the end to make the flow more understandable and more in line with the goal of the story.
Please leave feedback, good or bad.