The Road Less Traveled

This story is co-written by great authors and friends of mine who very graciously allowed this story they wanted to write also serve as a sequel to my first two fan fictions. Huge thanks guys! :D Each segment will have the writer noted.

Writers: Anakin's Angel (AnakinsAngel@aol.com), starwarsfan1000 (starwars1000@hotmail.com) and me, Julie the Tall Terror (tall_terror@hotmail.com)

Disclaimer: Anakin, Obi-Wan, & Qui-Gon, etc. belong to George Lucas. We are just playing.

Begun: 12/25/00

Completed: 02/20/01

Part 1

**********

Segment 1 is written by Anakin's Angel

...

Imperial Palace

Coruscant

Darth Vader's Suite

There might have been a time, long ago, before he could remember, when something might have frightened him. He knew no fear now, only power. Only control. Flexing one nearly immobile mechanic hand, Darth Vader considered the knowledge contained in the documents before him. It should have been so easy, and it would have been - had not a deep part of him become clouded with self-doubt.

Squashing down the emotion like an errant insect, Vader began to pace inside his expansive quarters. It had been something he'd only done once...a complete accident, really. Enough of an abnormality that it had gained him a complete audience with the Jedi Council. Had he known then, what he knew now, he would have been aware that they resented him. Always had. They preached serenity and justice, peace over emotion.

Yet, they'd wallowed long enough in their own jealousy that it practically seeped from their skin.

They forbid him from ever trying it again...

Question was, could he still do it? His power was unmatched in the Galaxy - in comparison to everyone save the Emperor, but was it enough? He wouldn't..no, couldn't pretend to be someone he was not. He would never again be Anakin Skywalker.

With a wide swoop of his cape, Vader walked to the large, transparisteel windows and stared out into the Coruscant sky. Everything had changed, and yet...nothing at all had changed. "So be it." He whispered, feeling an old, neglected part of himself flash to life as he calculated the jump. With one last look around the room, and a nod of his head, Darth Vader reached out with the Force.

All at once, he was consumed in blackness. To an observer, the inky darkness would appear to eating him alive. Thick, opaque clouds spun madly around him, catching his cape with it to complete the chilling effect.

And then he was gone.

>*

Jedi Temple

Coruscant

Anakin Skywalker's Suite

At first, it seemed as if nothing had happened. He could feel the Force tingling against his mind, and the parts of his body that still remained flesh. There was the chill in the air that confirmed the presence of the darkside, but he remained. Had he been right? Had the gift been given to a young boy named Anakin, and then stripped from him now?

He opened his eyes, taking in his surroundings. No...something was different. Wrong, even. He called on the Force, felt its iciness crawl through his mind, along with the strong instinct to slam his shields tight. Where was he?

The room appeared the same, the large windows looked out over the same piece of sky. Turning on his heel, Vader heard something fall to the soft carpet near his boots.

Bending low, he retrieved it. A holo...faded and framed. Captured in a timeless moment, were Anakin Skywalker, his...bride, and three smiling children. He was older, far ahead of his twenty-four years.

A tall child, her light-brown hair all her fathers, and the feline eyes of her mother. Flanked by two near-replicas of the parents themselves. In the face of the young boy, he saw...

Dropping the frame as if he'd been burned, Vader fell to his knees. So, he *had* done it; He'd jumped into a parallel universe. He should have known better than to doubt his own power. But then why, in all seven hells, had he ended up here? Forced to see what his other-self was doing. The life he was leading. One untainted by darkness.

In a slight panic, he expanded his perception with the Force. It skittered around him, and he grew weak trying to grab hold. He could sense something...a darkness.

It took him a mere moment to figure out that he was sensing his own dark presence.

This could only mean that others would as well.

Not up for facing down an entire Temple of Jedi alone, Vader masked himself as best he could. He fled the apartment and began winding silently through the halls. Finding himself on a familiar path; one he might have taken hundreds of times.

There might have been a time, long ago, before he could remember, when something might have frightened him...

>*

Across the Temple, awake now in bed, a lone figure sat up in the darkness, heart pounding. "Something is wrong."

*******

Segment 2 is written by starwarsfan1000

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Jedi Temple Meditation Room

In the middle of the small room sat two women. One, a tall older woman of about 65 with black braided hair with streaks of gray sat facing a young woman of 16 who had black hair and brown eyes.

The older woman spoke up, "Your thoughts are troubled, young Padawan."

Leia gazed into the eyes of her master, Adi Gallia, "Yes, I was just remembering my mother."

Adi Gallia looked at her padawan, "It is good to remember those who have passed on."

"Especially today, exactly seven years after she died," Leia said sadly.

"Yes, the explosion Palpatine triggered caused a monstrous amount of pain and suffering. Your father lost not only his wife, but also his best friend, Jedi Kenobi," Adi Gallia saud.

Leia thought back to that day when she was told that not only was her mother dead, but so was her "Uncle" Obi-Wan, "I so miss them," Leia said.

"Of course you do. You would not be a living life form if you did not," Adi Gallia replied.

Leia's eyes teared, "She was always trying to get us to have fun. That being a Padawan or Jedi didn't mean you couldn't have fun sometimes."

Adi Gallia walked over to Leia, "I think we are done for now."

Leia bowed, "Yes Master," and turned around and walked out the door.

Leia left feeling lonely and wanting comfort but could think of no one in her family available. Her twin brother Luke was training with his Master Yoda, and Aurora, her older sister, was force knew where. Her father was meeting with Master Qui-Gon about going after her.

Then Leia remembered that her best friend Mara Jade was supposed to be done with her lessons early. Leia was relieved as she hurried off to find her friend.

*******

Skywalker Suite

"Are you sure about this Anakin?" Qui-Gon asked.

"Yes, she's my daughter and I don't want her wandering the universe alone," Anakin said, pacing.

Qui-Gon looked at Anakin and asked, "Why would Aurora chose now to leave?"

Anakin gave him a look of such pain that Qui-Gon silently cursed himself, "I'm sorry, it slipped my mind what today was," Qui-Gon said.

Anakin nodded and glanced at Qui-Gon, "I want you to come with me," Anakin said.

A series of beeps sounded behind them and they turned to see R2-D2, "And you too, Artoo," Anakin said.

Qui-Gon nodded, "Very well Anakin. I will accompany you."

Anakin smiled, "Thank you."

*******

Jedi Temple Lightsaber Practice Area K

The hiss of two lightsabers clashing echoed through the room. A tall Jedi Master pressed the attack against his Padawan. After pushing her back for five minutes with no opening in her defenses, he said, "Enough." As the two lightsabers were deactivated, he spoke again, "Very good, Padawan."

Mara Jade, a 15 year old with red hair, green eyes and a slight figure, bowed, "Thank you, Master Windu."

v "That is all for today. I sense that your friend is looking for you Mara," Mace Windu said.

"Thank you, Master. I do want to spend time with Leia as today is the anniversary of her mother's death," Mara said.

Mace Windu nodded and waved a hand toward the door.

Mara bowed again and rushed to find Leia.

v *******

Segment 3 is written by Julie

*******

Luke Skywalker coaxed the air molecules in front of him to dance. He was knelling in the center of his Master's favorite training room. Yoda was standing far behind him by the wall watching him practice. In front of Luke, a low heat began to build in the air and produce light.

The yellow sparks bounce erratically, but still refused to ignite. Frustrated, Luke gave the air molecules one more push with the Force. The cluster of light flared brightly and flew straight at his face. Luke ducked quickly and turned around just in time to see Master Yoda hop sideways to avoid the fireball as it struck the ground.

"Patient you must be, or set me aflame you will!" Master Yoda pointed his gimer stick at the scorched spot on the floor.

"Yes, Master." Luke looked appropriately contrite, but Yoda could sense his Padawan struggle not to laugh.

"Coming, your father is; no more will I teach you today."

***********

Leia tried not to pace as she waited for the turbolift to reach her destination. "I'm being just as jittery as Luke." she grumbled aloud.

She bit back a groan as the lift stopped to let people on. Leia couldn't recall a time that she'd ever felt so impatient and was silently thankful that her master wasn't here to see it. Finally, the lift stopped. Eagerly, Leia burst out and ran straight into Mara who was rushing to get in. The two girls stumbled slightly, and smiled when they saw each other.

"Leia, this way," Mara whispered and guided her friend towards the nearest garden. They were silent as they walked through the halls. At the end was a small door that led to the girls' favorite place in the Temple.

The Miniature Garden was a soothing and quiet place filled with the tiniest and most delicate plants. The room was unoccupied, as they had expected. They knelt at their usual spot next to an artificial stream.

"What is going on?" Mara was direct and to the point, as always.

"My sister, she..." Leia frowned, "Aurora was supposed to be going on a mission, but she took my Father's ship and now no one can find her."

Mara was perplexed to see her friend close to tears. "Are they sure she just didn't leave early?"

"Well..." Leia began.

Leia. The telepathic call echoed in Leia's head.

Leia froze. Yes, Father? It was rare that Anakin resorted to speaking telepathically. At age one, Aurora had refused to learn how to speak aloud because speaking with her mind was so much easier. Ever since, Anakin had regarded excess use of telepathy as a bad habit.

Come to me at once.

Yes, Father. Leia grimaced and looked at Mara apologetically. "I've got to go. I... oh, just come with me, Father won't mind."

**********

Anakin stood stiffly and prepared to tell the twins his news. Leia and her friend, Mara, had come quickly to where he waited in the training room that Luke and Master Yoda were using. Anakin glanced over at Qui-Gon as the older man stood quietly by the door with Master Yoda and Mara. His former Master was over 70 years old, but didn't look a day over 50.

"Aurora has gone to another universe." Anakin stated in a no-nonsense tone.

Anakin waited for his children to recover from his shocking news. He almost smiled to sense Mara relax first. She was a good friend to Leia and was one of the few Padawans who did not feel intimidated around the great 'Master Skywalker'. Gradually, the twins managed to also calm their minds enough for him to continue. Anakin laid a hand on each of their shoulders and pulled them close to him.

"Master Qui-Gon and I will go search for her," Anakin explained in a quiet voice. "We'll need Artoo as well." he added quickly before the droid could squawk at him.

Leia took the news stoically, while Luke just gaped. When they were small, Anakin had told them bedtime stories about his adventures in parallel universes and the dangers. He warned them that this was a skill that they would master before they reached Knighthood, and Anakin wanted to impress upon them the risks involved. They'd never expected him to leave again, and certainly never thought that Aurora would try it alone.

Gently, Anakin hugged the twins and kissed Leia's forehead. "I love you. I promise I'll be back with your sister soon." He smiled confidently down at them.

"Love you, too, Father." Luke murmured very quietly. He then backed up and relaxed. "We'll try not to destroy the kitchen while you're gone!"

Leia hugged Anakin a second time and used his brown robe to hide her tears. "I love you Daddy, don't forget not to yell at Aurora, okay?"

"Okay." Anakin whispered.

With Artoo at his heels, Anakin moved to the center of the training room and took a deep breath. He glanced back at Qui-Gon as his old master came to stand nearby and smiled reassuringly. Anakin had not traveled through other universes in a long time. But Qui-Gon's quiet support was enough to ease tenseness of Anakin's mind. He closed his eyes and began.

Smoothly, Anakin intensified the flow of the Force around himself. A diffuse glow began to emit through his skin and expanded outward to engulf Qui-Gon as well. Artoo gave only a few resigned beeps; he'd traveled this way before. Leia gripped Luke's hand tightly as the light obscured their father and honorary grandfather from view. In a flash, the ball of white contracted and with a ripple it vanished.

The Padawans and lone Jedi Master left the now dim and cold room. None of them could shake off their feelings of worry.

**********

Segment 4 is written by starwarsfan1000

**********

Standing in the hallway, Leia Skywalker and Mara Jade were enjoying their time together.

"How are you doing?" Mara asked.

Leia sighed, "Okay, I just wish I knew why Aurora left?"

"Is universe travel dangerous?" Mara asked.

"If you don't know what you are doing, yes. I've only heard tales form Dad, I've never done any," Leia said.

"Aurora should be okay, she's got a good head on her shoulders," Mara said.

Leia nodded, "She does," and paused, "Let's go get something to eat."

Mara smiled, "Sure."

The two friends walked toward the lunchroom.

*******

Mara sat across the table from Leia and asked, "Do you think your brother likes me?"

Leia stared at Mara, "Why would you ask that?"

Mara looked sheepish, "I think he's cute."

Leia rolled her eyes, "Don't you think both of you are kind of young?"

Mara glanced away, "I don't think age matters all that much." Looking back, "Have you ever had a crush on anyone?"

Leia replied, "Once, when I was younger I had a crush on Jedi Kenobi."

Looking up, Mara said, "Luke's just arriving."

Leia turned around and said, "So he has," then shifted back around, "What do you want to do?"

Mara grinned conspiratorly, "How about you invite me over at night when he's home and have something for the three of us to do."

Leia smiled smugly, "Done."

*******

Vader walked along the street, using the Force to conceal his presence. After much thought he had decided the first thing to do was find out as much as he could about Anakin Skywalker in this universe. And the best place to start that was the Coruscant Public Library.

*******

Looking through the files, Vader came across what he was looking for. The paper was two years old and the headlines read,

Jedi Master Anakin Skywalker and his Padawan Aurora Skywalker save the life of the Queen of Rentare. Aurora, Vader thought, One of them is named Aurora.

*****

Segment 5 is written by Anakin's Angel

******

...

Uni-V

Settled deep within the forests of Endor, a small rebel base sat nearly deserted. To the uneducated eye, it would also appear unprotected. Yet, a careful eye would just be able to make out the small, fury guardians that accompanied the rebel leader. Small in stature herself, Padmé Naberrie Skywalker watched the stars above.

Through the trees, they cast a coruscating glow on everything they touched. Above the trees, flying low enough to create quite a show, three rebel squadrons circled once more before making their way back to base. She had to smile as her companions erupted into cheers.

Little things like these were cherished in a time of darkness.

Pushing a strand of hair behind her ear, Padmé decided to make her way back inside. Obi-Wan would be landing, and she needed to speak to him. A few of the Ewoks followed her, brandishing their pointy sticks and just-menacing-enough glares; Daring anyone to come near her. Endor had its advantages, and this was but only one. Inside, things were much more jovial than out, Dozens of pilots high-fiving one another, congratulating themselves on a well-executed training exercise.

v Spotting the quiet, reserved figure of Blue Leader, aka: Obi-Wan, she picked up the pace. He waved her over, resting against the white and red body of his X- Wing. "There's something...I think we need to discuss." She said, softly. He nodded, and they made their way into the residential quadrant. Padmé considered Obi-Wan her best friend, even after....no, maybe especially after...everything that had happened with Anakin.

Vader.

As leader of this small rebellion, she was afforded large, comfortable quarters. She'd refused at first, insisting

that she needed no special treatment, but in the end was forced to accept. Now, she had come to appreciate the privacy. Opening the door, she ushered in Obi-Wan with a wave of the hand. He was dusty and weary looking, and still haunted by past ghosts, but he was alive. He'd survived - they had survived.

"I had a strange dream last night," She began, putting water on for tea.

"Dreaming of ruling the galaxy again? I've told you to conquer one planet at a time..." Obi-Wan teased. With anyone else, the joke would have fallen flat, but it was an old joke between them.

She smiled. "Ha ha. No, seriously...I don't know what to make of this one." Behind her, she could hear Obi-Wan opening the windows and checking his messages on the com unit. Neither of them knew many of the people here, so they'd almost unconsciously decided to share the large apartment.

His half was connected to hers by a rather small balcony, even if they spent most of time here in hers. Tylaa, a young rebel pilot living on her other side, had a furious crush on Obi-Wan. All in all, it wasn't perfect, or even a home, but it would do for now. Returning to the living area with two steaming mugs of tea, she lowered herself into a chair.

"Okay, tell me about this dream." Now changed out of his flightsuit, Obi-Wan appeared ready for dreamland himself.

"It was more of a feeling I had while dreaming. Like someone I should know was calling my name, but when I would turn around, I didn't see anyone. Or maybe they were there, I just...didn't recognize them?" She shook her head, as if trying to clear the confusion.

He nodded. "Common dream, actually. Perhaps, you're feeling as if you're not doing enough?" That was the last thing *he* felt...

Padmé considered this for a moment. Could that really be it? "That might be part of it, I suppose. But this, it was just more...personal. I *really* felt as if I should know that voice!"

"Master Yoda used to tell us that dreams can show us a part of the future, a part of the past, or something we're not seeing in the present. I was never one to rely on their importance, mostly because Qui-Gon hadn't," He took a sip of his tea, "You might just need a good nights sleep, too."

That was followed by a yawn that spread between both of them, equally as a shared giggle.

"You have to be up early, Kenobi." She managed, feeling the heaviness in her own limbs. She had three meetings in the morning...one training exercise to observe. Yawn, indeed.

"I've an early flight with Tylaa, actually." He said, smirking.

If Padmé didn't know any better, she would swear he was blushing. "Uh huh...flying lesson, perhaps?"

He was already on his feet. "Oh, something like that, yeah." Smiling, he bowed his goodnight to her and took his exit.

Emptying the last of tea, she shook her head. What would she do without him? She was thankful that he had found Tylaa, even if he hadn't yet admitted his attraction to the pretty, flame-haired pilot. Yes, tomorrow would arrive all too soon, another day to get through without him.

Anakin...

*******

Segment 6 is written by Julie

*******

UNI-V

*******

Jedi Knight Aurora Skywalker crept into the apartment silently. After a quick walk through all of the rooms, she went to the nearest sofa to wait. The quarters were nicer and larger than she expected. Considering how small and new this rebellion was, it was a wonder they even had a real base.

Opening her traveling pack, Aurora dug out her datapad and began re-reading the galactic news bulletins she'd collected. She skimmed over some just to refresh her knowledge and focused on the newer ones the most. It would be terribly embarrassing if she mixed up details about the previous universes she'd visited with this one. Aurora leaned back against the cushions and tried to use the Force to ease her headache.

The Force always felt a little different in each universe. Her father had taught her how to cope and adjust to it the first and only time he'd taken her to another universe years ago. On this trip, Aurora was careful to immediately hide her presence in the Force upon arriving in a new place. The strain always gave her a terrible headache later, but she'd learned it was well worth it to be cautious.

Originally, she had hidden herself to avoid the notice of each universe's Jedi. In particular, she did not want to meet a counterpart of her father. The last thing Aurora needed was an Anakin Skywalker hunting her down and demanding to know what she was doing in his universe. But after reading about what had happened in this universe, she was doubly glad that no one knew she was here.

Aurora began by going to Naboo so that every jump she made would put her on the next universe's Naboo. But so far, none of the universes she'd visited had been helpful. Aurora had been dismayed to discover that she had no way of controlling or knowing what time she would arrive at. Arriving in times where her parents would not be born for decades or had been dead centuries were not useful. And in some of the universes, her parents had never existed at all.

Despite her discouragement, Aurora stubbornly pressed on. Giving up empty handed was not an option. After traveling through several universes, she'd fallen into a steady routine of arriving on the site of Theed City and going straight to the nearest news stand to check the date and galactic events. Her next stop was always the Naboo archives to look for any mention of a Queen Amidala and the birth records for a Padmé Naberrie.

This universe was the first promising one she'd come too. Aurora had been surprised to read that a galactic Empire had recently replaced the Republic. She was horrified to learn about the new Emperor's law decreeing all Jedi as outlaws and his campaign to wipe them out. One news datacard reported the deaths of nearly a thousand Jedi and Anakin Skywalker was listed as one of them. However, there were records of a Queen Amidala of Naboo who served as queen the same length of time Aurora's mother had. Not only that, there was currently a living Padmé Naberrie and she had a bounty of two million credits on her head.

Aurora felt certain that this Padmé would gladly help her.

********

Wearily, Padmé entered her quarters. The last meeting had gone on much longer then she had expected. All she wanted to was collapse into bed and not even bother eating dinner. She almost walked by the woman sitting on the sofa. Padmé froze and looked the intruder in surprise. The young lady appeared to be a few years younger then herself and had light brown hair coiled like a rope over one shoulder.

After a moment of silent staring. The intruder recovered her voice first. "Hello," she visibly mustered her courage. "I'm Aurora Skywalker and I'm here to rescue you."

"Rescue me from what?" Padmé looked bewildered.

"Let me try this again," Aurora took a deep breath. "I am your daughter, sort of. If this Emperor had never gained power and destroyed Anakin Skywalker, you probably would have given birth to me four or five years ago." Aurora neglected to mention her relief, but also mild irritation to discover she didn't exist in this universe.

Padmé didn't answer. An exasperated look crossed her face and it reminded Aurora of her mother's face when she or Luke and Leia had done another thing with the Force that should have been impossible. Abruptly, Padmé backed away to the nearest terminal.

"Wait!" Aurora called out. "You don't need to call security. I can prove who I am. I'm not crazy, I'm just a Jedi."

That stopped Padmé. Instead of turning on the com unit, she simply pulled out the chair and sat down. She re-examined the woman across from her. She was dressed very plainly, wearing a pale olive jumpsuit and a tailored brown cloak. It wasn't exactly like the Jedi-style tunics, but it was close. And if she was a real Jedi, for her own safety, she wouldn't be dressed in uniform.

"You can start by proving you are a Jedi," Padmé ordered her sternly. "Levitating *several* objects would be a good start."

Aurora closed her eyes and pulled her legs up on the sofa. Smoothly, she lifted the datapad and assorted datacards on the low table in front of her all at the same time, followed by the table itself. Without pausing, Aurora levitated her own body into the air and then decided to lift the sofa and nearby chairs as well. Then, she gently sat everything back down and lowered herself last. She opened her eyes and tried not to smirk at the stunned look she knew would be on Padmé's face.

"You're a Skywalker," Padmé conceded in a daze. "So, you are some future that should have happened?"

"Sort of. I'm actually from another universe entirely." Aurora waited for that to sink in.

"Another universe? Where you are my daughter?" Padmé still sounded skeptical.

"Yes!"

Padmé still did not look convinced. "If you are from another universe, then how did even know how to find me once you got here?"

"It was very hard," Aurora admitted. "Once I read about the terrible things this Emperor has done, I knew you'd be helping people fight against him. So, I went looking for rebels. I was able to persuade a few people that I wanted to join the rebellion and eventually they sent me here."

"You mind-whammied them." Padmé stated.

Aurora tried not to blush. "When necessary."

"So, why have you come here?"

"To ask you to come back with me!" Aurora smiled cheerfully and hoped she didn't sound like a used speeder salesman. "Things used to be very happy at home. You married Anakin Skywalker, and you had three wonderful children. Seven years ago Palpatine was discovered to be a Sith. And of course, Father went to fight him. Father won, but the Sith set off a terrible bomb that killed millions of people, including you. Father was heart broken. He has managed to raise us and train us to be Jedi, but we all miss you terribly."

"I see what you are trying to say," Padmé interrupted. "You went universe hopping to try to find a replacement for your mother. And you want me?"

"Yes, and I won't go home until I find a Padmé willing to go back with me. I know that you are concerned about leaving this rebellion to fight alone." Aurora's eyes filled with tears. "But please seriously consider coming with me."

*****

End part 1 of 4