Over the next few months it became clear that Luke and Ben were both receiving a remarkable education. It was an accepted pattern among the Jedi that students often surpassed their teachers with time. But now, Ben was faced with the challenge of instructing a child whose raw power was already beyond his own. Soon, Ben accepted that he was less of a teacher and more of a guide as Luke explored a talent unlike anything the galaxy had seen before.
The most startling discovery came early when Ben tested Luke's blood. It had never occurred to him to do so, since midichlorian levels are supposed to be constant and Luke's count was taken at birth. But a 14500 count, though very high, could not account for Luke's all but unnatural talent. So, Ben ran another test and nearly buckled when he found that not only had Luke's count increased, it had precisely doubled to 29000. Not even Anakin's count had been so high. Ben immediately contacted Qui-Gon and, for the first time since the overthrow, risked a conversation with Yoda using Qui-Gon as an intermediary. The three Jedi talked through the night while Luke slept obliviously in his room.
The only conclusion they could draw was that Leia's death had affected Luke more than anyone could have anticipated, due to their bond as twins. Force-twins were very rare and deeply connected in symbiosis. It had even been suggested that such twins were actually one entity that would merge completely when the two were released into the Force at death. After all, it was consistently found that if one Force-twin died so did the other, almost immediately. That was why it was such a relief to find Luke still alive after Leia's passing. At the time, Ben assumed that since the twins had been separated their bond had not fully developed.
Now it seemed the Jedi had underestimated the bond between Anakin's children. Instead of Leia pulling Luke into death with her, Luke had kept her in life with him, and the Force still fused the two together. Luke was now a two-spirit (Qui-Gon's terminology), the personification of human nature; masculine and feminine and, Ben feared, perhaps even Light and Dark. Finding a balance between his natures would be a challenge Luke would probably struggle with all his life.
On a more practical note, the extraordinary side effects certainly made school an even greater problem. Luke really was far too advanced for the class he was in, and his Force-training was only exacerbating the issue. More and more frequently, Ben found that Luke knew things he shouldn't – things he couldn't – with hardly any instruction at all. It didn't seem to be completely random, however. Although Ben wasn't sure where Luke's proficiency in things like botany and anatomy came from, he was certain that his innate abilities in flying and mechanics came from Anakin, perhaps as an inherited memory. Perhaps that was why he kept Luke's flying so severely restricted.
But it was not so easy to control Luke during the day when he was in class. He was frequently being reprimanded, mostly for not paying attention and correcting the teacher. It was clear to Ben that they'd have to move again after the school year was out; it would draw too much attention now. On the next planet, he'd have to go back to keeping Luke out of school and teaching him at home. Luke wasn't going to be happy about that, but now that he was being trained, Ben had to be extra vigilant with his ward lest Vader catch a glimpse of him. The possibility of being recognized as exceptional in school -rather than being written off as a problem child the way Luke's teacher did now - was much too dangerous. In the mean time, Luke was blissfully unaware of Ben's fears. He loved their lessons together, and tried to stay out of trouble the rest of the time.
Of course, staying out of trouble was a worthy goal, but a difficult practice. One day, when Luke was walking home, he looked up from the walkway and noticed that his feet had carried him off his usual route. He chewed his thumb nervously as he turned around on the spot, trying to figure out where he was. Ben was going to be so mad!
Ever since their argument Luke had been trying extra hard to please his guardian. Ben sensed his ward's insecurity and reminded him several times that he was already forgiven, but Luke wanted to be sure. Now his absentmindedness may have ruined everything.
He was clearly near a landing strip; that much was obvious from the heavy traffic above his head. That didn't help much, though, as there were a dozen such strips throughout the city. Maybe Luke could find a public com unit and call Ben to come get him. Ben was always scolding him to ask for help when he was in trouble. But before Luke could even look for a unit a horrible roar broke through the din of the bustling street. He ran around the corner to see what was happening.
Two local federals and a handful of stormtroopers were wrestling with a Wookie outside of a store. The manager was wringing his hands in the doorway, wavering between intervening and going back inside. Luke knew at once what was going on; even he wasn't so sheltered that he didn't know about the restrictive policies against non-humanoid species, especially the Wookies. The shop owner clearly had no reservations about serving a Wookie in his store, but apparently these feds found it amusing to harass this creature.
"If you refuse to provide proper identification, then we'll just have to take you in for processing" one Fed yelled over the Wookie's roars. Refuse to provide? They had his arms restrained and weren't even attempting to search him. "Maybe a few months on a leash for resisting arrest will retract your claws for you."
It was disgusting; Luke felt physically sick to his stomach just watching them. How could anyone ever enjoy the suffering of another being? It was more than Luke could stand. He clenched and unclenched his fists, trying to calm down, but he could feel the energy building inside of him. He didn't want to hurt anyone though, no matter how angry the feds were making him. So when he felt he couldn't contain himself anymore, he lifted his eyes to the sign above the store window and soon the fluorescent screen was popping and sparking as circuits overloaded and exploded. The shards and sparks rained down on the people below, even singing the Wookie's fur a bit. But more importantly, the feds were so busy trying to cover their heads and get out of the way they lost hold of the Wookie and it was able to get loose.
"Hey," Luke grabbed and handful of fur as the Wookie barreled past. He growled down at him, but softened when he realized it was just a boy tugging on him. "Come on, hide in here."
Luke took hold of the Wookie's paw and pulled him into a public hanger across the street. The two of them hid between to utility speeders until they heard the ruckus outside quieted down. The Wookie rumbled his appreciation, almost purred actually, and ruffled Luke's hair. Luke giggled and smiled broadly.
"You got somewhere to go?" Luke asked. "I'd offer to bring you back to my house, but the truth is I'm not sure where that is from here. I'm sort of lost."
The Wookie rumbled in what Luke interpreted as amusement and gripped one of his shoulders in his large paw. The two of them left the hanger through a side exit and walked a few blocks down to the landing strip. Luke smiled his thanks up to his furry new friend. He started for the main office to ask if he could use their com to call his guardian, but the Wookie kept a firm hold on him and pulled him over to a slightly worse-for-wear YT-1300 transport freighter. A young human man with brown hair flopping over his broad forehead was throwing his black vest on the ground and kicking tools out of his way as he slumped against a ladder leading up to an exposed panel. The Wookie roared out a greeting and the man waved back absently. When he noticed Luke, he frowned.
"Hey, what gives Chewie?" The man asked. "Where'd you get the kid?"
The Wookie, or Chewie apparently, started gesturing and growling wildly; Luke could only assume he was telling the man what had happened. The man scowled and cursed a few times during the telling. Luke just sort of wandered in the general vicinity, taking in the ship. It wasn't really as bad off as Luke had first thought. The hull had a few battle scars, but no real structural damage. Although, if the mass of tools lying about was any clue, there might be some more complications under the hood.
"Damn," the man swore once more when Chewie finished the story. "Lousy imperialistic bastards. Sorry about that, Chewie. Next time we need something, I'll go for it." He finally turned back to Luke, and the boy stilled while the man looked him over appraisingly. "So, you helped the furball get away, huh?" Luke shrugged. "Well, good looking out. Thanks for that."
"No problem," Luke grinned.
"Yeah," the man chuckled. "You say that now. Just wait. I hope you like Wookies, kid, because you're not going to be able to get rid of this one." He laughed again at Luke's confused expression. "It's called a life debt. You save a hairy one's life, he owes you. Wookies are real big on those, trust me. I helped Chewie here out of a spot a while back, and haven't been able to shake him yet." The Wookie growled and shoved the man, which only made him laugh harder. "Oh, come on, pal. You know I'm kidding."
"But I didn't save his life," Luke objected.
"You got him away from those imperials, didn't you?" the man disagreed. "You have any idea what inner federals do to Wookies? They're still gunning for the whole species because of the Clone War." Luke cringed; he'd heard rumors about labor pits and ion whips. "As far as Chewie here is concerned, you did enough." Chewie nodded and rumbled in agreement. "Especially with you being a kid. Or, maybe I should call you a cub now."
"I just wanted them to stop," Luke blinked bemusedly. Chewie cooed at him and ruffled his hair. Luke smiled again, and stroked the coarse furry paw.
"Ah, don't worry about it, kid," the man shrugged. "I'll keep him out of your hair. We're getting off this rock anyway, just as soon as we can manage it." He threw a dirty look up at the ship and started kicking tools again. "Assuming we can get manage it at all, of course." He sighed and banged his fist against the hull with a clank and leaned his elbow against the gangplank. "I don't know, Chewie. Maybe Lando threw the game just to get rid of this thing."
"You need help?" Luke asked brightly. "I can help. I can fix anything."
Luke scooped up one of the discarded tools and climbed up on the ladder without waiting for an invitation. Chewie roared in what might have been a scolding tone and wrapped his paws around Luke's waist to balance him. Luke quickly located the problem and set to work fixing it.
"Hey, what are you doing, kid?" the man objected. "Get out of there before you hurt yourself and I get blamed for it. Chewie, get him down!" Luke was too caught up in his latest puzzle to heed the man's objections, and Chewie was simply ignoring him.
"Okay, see, you've got the charge reversed on these ion filters," Luke explained as he worked. Some of the crossed wires were still hot, so he used his telekinesis to move them. Ben would not have approved, but better that than electrocution. Besides, the man was too busy arguing with the Wookie to notice. "It's sending negative particles straight through the resistor instead of to the capacitor first. And the positive particles aren't going anywhere at all. They're just building up until they cause an overload. Have your environmental sub-systems been blowing out on you a lot?"
"Uh…yeah!" the man blinked. He stopped trying to get Luke away from the ship and moved in for a closer look at what he was doing. "Actually, they have. How'd you know that?"
"This should stop that," Luke said as he finished the final recalibrations. "But you're still going to need to replace a few fuses. There! All done." He closed the access hatch with a grin. "Give it a try."
The man narrowed his eyes suspiciously, but all the same he ran up the gangplank into the ship. A moment later, it was powered up without any delay, the engines hot and ready to go. A joyful cheer echoed out of the open hatch and the Wookie roared in approval, thumping Luke on the back so hard he was nearly knocked off the ladder. The ship was quickly powered down again. The man sauntered back out and over to Luke.
"Nice," The man nodded. "Very nice. You know, me and Chewbacca here might just have to keep you around for a while. That was great work, kid. What's your name anyway?"
"I'm Luke," he offered his hand. "Luke Amidala."
"Han Solo," Han accepted the handshake. "Nice to meet you, junior. Guess that's two we owe you now."
"What's your ship called?" Luke asked leaning far back to get a better look.
"The Millennium Falcon," Han said proudly. "Newly acquired. You like her?"
"She's great," Luke said. "I wish I could help you work on her more. I bet we could make her go so fast!"
"You think so, huh?" Han said. "How old are you anyway?"
"You don't even have two syllables in your age yet?" Han exclaimed. Chewbacca rumbled with laughter. "Oh, shove it, you big hairball! You couldn't fix it either!" Luke stifled a giggle behind his hand. "So, kid, you'd really like to help us overhaul this bird?"
"I'd love to!" Luke said wistfully. "But I can't. I really shouldn't even be talking to you. I'm supposed to go straight home after school. I got kind of turned around, though. I was just going to call Ben to come get me."
Guardian. That meant the kid was an orphan. And he hadn't specified a relation, so maybe they weren't blood. In Han's experience, assigned guardians weren't usually as attached as blood. If that was the case here, maybe he could do a little negotiating. It might be useful having a prodigious mechanic around.
"Tell you what, junior," Han said. "How about you tell Chewie and me where you live, and we'll take you home? Then we'll have a little chat with Ben and see if we can get him to let you help us out. How's that sound?"
Luke chewed his lower lip, weighing the pros and cons. He wasn't supposed to talk to strangers; Ben definitely wouldn't be happy about that. But, he really was lost and he did need help getting home. He supposed there wasn't any harm in just asking, right?
"Okay," Luke finally agreed. Han grinned broadly. A little too broadly for Chewbacca's taste, who narrowed his eyes suspiciously.
"Terrific," Han said. "Let's go."