Out of the Shadows
The characters all belong to Lucasfilm and I am only playing with them for my own pleasure. The opening scene is from Kathy Tyers novel, The Truce at Bakura and if you are looking for a timeline and character continuity…forget it. This is a very alternative universe albeit still a Star Wars one. Thank you so much to Rhea for helping me finally give this story a name. This story is mainly for my beloved Mona because I could not do without her and also for all my friends on the SSB list.
Millennium Falcon – in orbit above the planet Bakura
Luke Skywalker stood in the primary airlock of the Millennium Falcon gazing impassively at the body of Dev Sibwarra. It had all been in vain – he hadn't managed to save the boy. Luke's mouth tightened. Dev had been captured and brainwashed at a vulnerable age into doing his captor's bidding. It hadn't been Dev's fault. He hadn't been aware of the evil he had helped to perpetrate; he thought that he was doing good. It wouldn't be the first time, nor the last, that innocent souls were tainted by such darkness. Dev had at least died at peace, washed clean by the light side of the Force, but that didn't make Luke feel much better. He should never have died at all. Luke knew that he should have been able to do more.
His fingers brushed the soft blue shawl that Chewbacca had wrapped around the dead boy's head and shoulders - the shawl he'd been offered by Gaeri… He didn't want to think of her with her strange, mis-matched eyes and how soft her lips had felt against his. His starving heart could have loved her so easily. Gaerial Captison had been born and educated to serve her world, Bakura. She had to help her people move out from under the yoke of Imperial tyranny and into a new freer existence. She wanted that more than a potential relationship with a half-trained Jedi Knight or poorly paid rebel commander. What did he have to offer her? His was still a life on the run. The Alliance had won a battle, not the entire war. No, Gaeri was already in his past and she would stay there.
"I didn't mean to fail you," he whispered to the boy's cold, unresponsive form. "If I'd only known more, you might have lived. I could have saved you…helped to train you to become a Jedi." He stopped, the twist of his mobile mouth bitter. "Who am I trying to fool?" he muttered. "I'm a half-trained Jedi, more dangerous than an untrained one." Luke bowed his head for a moment and when he lifted it, he had regained the unnatural calm he'd worn about him since the battle of Endor where his father... His father! Luke abruptly ceased that train of thought. He didn't want to think about Anakin Skywalker right now. Too many deaths…Dev, his father, Obi-Wan, Biggs… 'No!' he thought, as he felt his whole body tremble. 'Control,' he told himself again. 'You must learn control.' But he could still see Dev's scarred face as he died and his father's… Luke tried to swallow as he pushed the invasive memories away but his throat was dry. He couldn't let them surface. It would shatter the control he was fighting so hard to keep.
"The Force was strong in you, Dev Sibwarra," Luke intoned solemnly. "Be at peace."
"Ready, Luke?" Leia Organa's voice echoed through the Falcon's com system.
Luke drew himself up, his chest rising, his head lifting proudly. "I'm ready," he answered, his voice steady. "I have to be," he added quietly, so quietly that no one could overhear the apprehension in his speech. He moved stiffly from the airlock, his bearing that of a soldier, a fighter. No one could ever dispute that Luke Skywalker wasn't a coward or a weakling – he had proved himself when it mattered, time and time again. He'd led this hastily assembled battle group to Bakura and it was because of him and his friends that the alien Ssi-Ruuk had been defeated. Yes, their mission had been a success but it had had its price. He gave a final glance back at the body in the airlock as the hatch closed with a loud hiss.
"Wait…" Quickening his strides, he made his way to his customary seat behind Chewie in the Falcon's cockpit and sat, his eyes fixed determinedly out of the main viewport.
Concerned at her brother's distant manner, Leia glanced at Han who shrugged. He knew what she was thinking. It couldn't be easy for the Kid right now. He'd been through a lot in a very short time – they all had. Luke had managed in his own peculiar way, despite almost getting himself killed, to pick up another helpless waif. Han had wondered if Luke had considered what he was doing when he'd rescued the boy from the Ssi-Ruuvi cruiser. Sibwarra had come with a lot of messy baggage attached to his psyche but Luke hadn't seen that. As usual, he had only seen the potential for good, the chance that he could help ease the boy's pain and what Dev Sibwarra could have been if he had survived. Dev hadn't made it. His injuries had been far too severe and his soul too scarred from the pain and shame of his past. This was his funeral and Luke Skywalker his only real mourner. There was no one else who cared enough to see beyond the fragile shell of his life.
"Ready, Kid?" Han asked carefully.
"Okay, we're good to go." Han pulled the hatch release and then accelerated the Falcon away from the lushly green world of Bakura. The body of Dev Sibwarra vanished forever in a bright burst of flame.
"Luke…" Leia stretched out her hand to her brother, her face warm with the compassion he loved. She hadn't understood Luke's need to save Dev but had recognised that her brother was hurting. This new awareness of their relationship and what it meant was still a revelation to her. She could actually feel his pain through the Force; otherwise she couldn't have guessed that it ran so deeply. "It's not shameful to feel sad, Luke. You have to let it go."
"I will." He took her hand and gave it a gentle squeeze but she could tell that he'd erected a shield in his mind to keep her out.
"I think I'll go and lie down for a while," he said quietly.
Han nodded. "Good idea, Kid. You look like hell."
"Han!" Leia exclaimed, horrified, while Chewie snickered. "That's not tactful."
Luke's sunny grin almost appeared but he was too weary, his face white and drawn. "Thanks, Han, you're too kind. But it's the truth."
"You ever known me to be anything but truthful?" Han quipped lazily.
"Ah…" Luke hesitated. "You have your moments. If you don't need me for anything…?" He waited for Han's reaction. The Corellian shook his head and Luke managed a tired smile. "Then I'll give in graciously. I just need to focus on my sketchy knowledge of self-healing for a bit."
"I'll come and help you get settled." Leia fussed over him quietly but still managed to glare at the back of Han's head. "As soon as we rejoin the fleet, I insist that you see 2-1B and have a proper medical examination."
"Good idea, Highnessness. You see that the Kid rests properly. It'll be a few more minutes before we're ready to make the jump to hyperspace."
"I'll be okay…"
"That Imperial medic said that you had to rest, Luke."
"Aw…Leia," Luke made one half-hearted protest because he knew she would expect it. "That's what I'm going to do – rest." He just wanted to hide away and sleep for a month or more. Too many things had happened, too many hurts, too many things that he wanted to totally forget. Meanwhile, the dark side was laughing at him from behind his shoulder…waiting for him…taunting him with its seductive power.
"Humour me, brother." Leia drew him from the cockpit and with her arm around his increasingly shaky frame, walked him to his bunk in the crew quarters.
The door slid silently closed behind Luke and Leia. Left alone, Chewie barked at Han, "The cub is doing far too much when not completely healed."
"Runs in the family," Han said with a frown. "Stubborn, the pair of them."
"He is not built with the strength of a Wookiee even though he has the heart of one. Han, my friend, he has not had time to grieve properly."
Chewie growled disdainfully. "For his father. He has not been allowed to."
"Oh," Han busied himself with the Falcon's controls for a moment, uneasy at the mention of the former Dark Lord. "Leia was having trouble back on Salis D'aar with the whole father issue."
"That's to be expected and she will not let Luke mourn. She has a different opinion of Vader."
Han snorted. "Yeah, she still sees him as Vader and Luke sees him as Anakin. Two very different views of the same guy. I'm with Leia on this one. I still remember how Vader treated me on Bespin. It's hard to forget. But would you believe that on Bakura, Leia saw the ghost of her father? She saw him as Anakin. I think she shouted abuse at him or told him to go away. It could have been the stress of our last mission."
"She is of the Jedi. All things are possible," the Wookiee said gently.
Han shrugged. "They're all crazy but I can't believe old heavy-breathing ever could have fathered anyone, especially a gentle soul like Luke."
"The cub is not so gentle and you should know this by now. He deceives and that is the most dangerous of beings."
"He's just a kid."
"No, he's a man now."
"I would give quite a lot to see Luke again as we first met him. He's had to grow up far too fast."
"As you had to," Chewie reminded him.
"I didn't want that to happen to Luke. The funny thing is…" He glanced at his long time friend and partner. "Don't ever tell Leia I said this but…It's easier to think that Leia is Vader's daughter than Luke his son."
"Leia had Bail Organa and the rank and upbringing befitting a princess. She has the inbuilt arrogance of command which associates her to Vader at the height of his power but without the cruelty. Organa was her real father in everything but birth and once she lost him, the Alliance hierarchy took over the final part of her upbringing. Luke told us himself he was an outsider amongst his own contemporaries on Tatooine. He was always searching for a way to belong. Vader acknowledged Luke as his son."
"That was some chance picking up Luke and old Obi-Wan on the dustball," Han mused thoughtfully. "What would have happened if we hadn't met?"
"I suspect we might all be dead," growled the Wookiee.
"You called it, Chewie. Dead or as low as we could go. Still, Vader fathering Luke…" He broke off what he was saying and then shrugged. "Junior didn't get his father's height, did he?"
"Obviously not. The cub always longed for a real father and found him only to lose him. Luke has real strength inside. He came for you, my friend, never forget that. Without him you could still be alive yet dead to us."
"I would rather be dead than back in that carbon freeze. You can sometimes speak sense for an overly large fuzz ball," Han said mockingly. "I thought the Kid was fairly accepting of Vader as his father."
"I did not realise it at the time but he did have difficulty accepting who his father was. He changed drastically after you were taken from Bespin. We all thought it was because he had lost his hand and his friend."
"Stang!" Han swore. "And he didn't tell anyone either – did he." It wasn't a question.
"Luke found and lost Vader on the Death Star – a difficult thing to cope with for anyone who longs for a family. Vader was never Leia's to lose. She has to find him again and that is a whole lot harder."
"I forget how young they both are, Luke more so than Leia – straight off the farm with the sand still on him. He lost crazy old Ben Kenobi on a Death Star too. I forgot that." Han rubbed his face tiredly. "I thought Luke was alright at first when I came out of the carbon freeze. He'd changed…grown up a lot…but he's not alright, is he? He seems…"
"Yeah." Han checked a destination reading on the navicomp. "Driven, distant…closed off from us all…"
"When he's ready he'll tell us." Chewbacca settled himself comfortably in the oversized co-pilot's chair. "Where are we heading?"
"Leia said that the fleet had regrouped near Annaj – the Modell Sector." His mouth twisted into his familiar lop-sided grin. "That's the great thing about this job - always travelling someplace new. I'll check the final co-ordinates once I make the next hyperspace jump. I should be able to get the exact location then."
"Endor is in the Modell Sector," the Wookiee barked gently.
"So we go back to where we started," Han muttered as he flipped the lever that took them into hyperspace. "'Least that giant ball bearing's gone now. No one will be shooting super lasers at us this time – I hope."
"You will go to Dagobah and learn from Yoda, the Jedi Master who instructed me…"
"Dagobah…" Luke muttered restlessly in his sleep. "Yoda…must return. Don't leave me Ben…Ben!"
"You must go back, Luke."
"Can't go on alone."
"Go back, Luke, and you won't be alone. A Jedi is never alone when he has the Force."
"Go back…Dagobah…Yoda." Luke relaxed back into deep slumber, his strange dreams gone for the time being. Gone but not forgotten.
Home One – Rebel Alliance Flagship
Han landed the Falcon gently inside one of the great ship's docking bays. "That's us. I guess we'll need to check in with the powers that be?"
Leia nodded. "I'll go and wake up Luke. They'll want his report."
"He's still asleep? It's been nearly two days since I last spoke to him."
"Healing trance," Leia said. "He woke up several hours ago to eat. It's about time he did that again anyway and if we're disembarking..."
"Has he talked yet?"
Leia sighed, her brown eyes worried. "No. He kept muttering things under his breath but the only thing I could make out was Ben's name and that was while he was sleeping."
"He's still connected to that crazy old wizard?"
"I don't know."
"You don't know?" Han echoed. "I thought this Force power was in you too."
"That's not fair, Han. I understand that I'm his sister and he says that I have the same power that he has but…" She stared out of the view port at the other battle-scarred ships lined up in the docking bay with the Falcon. They'd won a couple of battles. They hadn't won the war."The only real connection I'm aware of in all this Jedi talk is with Luke." She placed her hand against her heart. "I can feel him. Has the Force directed my thoughts and actions or is it a happy accident? You tell me, hotshot. You know as much about it all as I do." She unfastened her seat restraint and stood up, wincing a little as she stretched cramped muscles."I'll go and wake him." She hesitated for a moment and then leant over and kissed Han's cheek before swiftly heading to where Luke was asleep in the crew quarters.
Han and Chewie began to shut down the engines, flicking off switches with noisy satisfaction. The hum of the engines faded and died. "There, there, girl." Han gave the bulkhead an affectionate pat. "Bakura was a success but we still lost some good people," he said soberly. "There's always too much loss and destruction in this line of work."
Footsteps sounded on the metal deck plates and the cockpit door slid open. A sleepy Luke Skywalker, hair standing on end and rubbing his eyes like a child, wandered in slowly, followed by his sister.
"Hey, Junior!" Han greeted the younger man. "You're looking better."
"I feel better," Luke admitted wryly.
"I'd still like you to go and see 2-1-B," Leia insisted. "Once we're cleared by security. Just in case there's anything..."
"I'm fine. The healing trance worked," Luke said with a disarming smile but his sister wasn't fooled. He hated the medibay with a passion and if he could avoid going there, he would. "I'll probably need to have a medical at some point so I'll see the doc-droid then. First things first, I have to see Mon Mothma and Admiral Ackbar now."
"Right now?" Han asked.
"I would expect so." Immediately Luke's com began to beep insistently. "Skywalker!" he answered tersely.
"Commander Skywalker? Mon Mothma will see you in interview room 1."
"I copy." Luke's voice was clipped. "I'd better go." He kissed Leia's cheek and then picked up the bag containing his things. "They'll want to see you and General Solo too."
"Probably." Leia's voice was dry. "I think the welcoming committee's already assembled."
"They know I'm here? Damn!" Han mumbled. Luke's use of his rank grated.
Mon Mothma smiled warmly at Luke as he walked into the meeting room she had commandeered as her office and saluted. "Sit down, Commander."
"Thank you." Luke sat on the edge of an uncomfortable looking chair.
Mon Mothma studied the young man before her. Since the very first time she had met him, he reminded her of someone she'd once known but she'd never been able to work out exactly who that was. She had known his father – not well - but Anakin had died when the Emperor and Darth Vader had instigated their annihilation of the Jedi. No, it was someone else but she couldn't sit wasting time when there was so much to do.
She had a very high regard for this young man. He had saved the Rebellion from certain destruction and paved the way for a better life for the galaxy. It was one of the things that pained her most about this war; Luke Skywalker was too young to have seen and done all that he had. She could see the knowledge and sadness in his eyes. She knew because every time she looked into a mirror she could see the same expression hiding in her own gaze. "Thank you for this report, Commander," she said, tapping the stack of data cards Luke had presented to her. "I would like to meet early tomorrow to discuss the situation in detail, if possible? You are sure Bakura is intent on joining the Alliance?"
Luke sought out her Force presence. It was reassuringly warm and deep, a testament to the woman she was. The destruction of the Death Star had given her a new lease of life. It had given them all new hope and Mon Mothma had been one of the inspirations that had sparked the flame of hope and kept it alive. He gave her a reassuring smile. "Prime Minister Captison assured me this was the case but that he would hold a referendum to let the people decide. Leia managed to draw up a draft treaty which the Bakurans are currently examining. That's more her area of expertise than mine," he admitted, beginning to tire again. "But the Senate was urging the people to accept the choice of the Alliance over the Empire. So the signs are positive."
"You should get some rest, Commander," Mon Mothma said, her face tinged with sympathy. "You've had little or no time to yourself since long before Endor."
"None of us have," Luke countered quietly, his voice steady. "I spent some time in a healing trance on the return journey."
"Another one? You should really learn not to be so reckless, Commander."
Luke shrugged and eyed her steadily. "It's an occupational hazard. When did you last sleep soundly, Ma'am?"
"It's been a long time." Mon Mothma smiled sadly. "The last time I slept peacefully was the night before Palpatine declared himself Emperor."
"I can understand, Ma'am. You take great responsibility for the beings in the galaxy."
"But unlike you, I haven't been on active service. Commander…"
"No, just shouldering the burden of leadership."
"I chose to do it willingly. Commander Skywalker, and don't regret it. You must take some time to let some semblance of normality return to your life, otherwise the wounds will only fester. You have endured many things…"
"I recognise your arguments but it's hard to let go," he admitted. The President was right. He hadn't had time to come to terms with all the things that had happened to him. One minute he had been an innocent boy stuck on a Tatooine moisture farm and then a wanted rebel flying the galaxy, his life constantly in danger. He couldn't remember the last time he had stopped to think. No…he didn't want to think. Thinking brought back images of his father, of Dev – all the people he had failed to save.
"What is it, Luke?" Mon Mothma asked, concerned at the bleak expression on his face, using his first name instead of his rank.
"I want to resign my commission," he blurted out bluntly.
Mon Mothma gasped. Whatever she had expected, it certainly wasn't that. "What!"
"I want to resign my commission," he repeated. "I can't do both…"
"Both of what…?" she asked and then she understood. He had been trying to become a Jedi and fight for the Rebellion simultaneously. Both of these were full time occupations and now one was warring with his desire to follow the other.
"Why?" she queried, wanting to refuse and yet, seeing the pain and confusion visible on the young man's face, the dark shadows under his eyes, made her realise that he'd been tearing himself into pieces over something.
Luke stared down at his hands and clenched one of them tightly, his mouth twisting just a little. "I have my reasons."
"Can you not tell me what they are?" the former senator of Chandrila asked carefully. "We do not want to lose you, Luke. Have you discussed this with Princess Leia?"
Luke lifted his head. "I haven't said anything to Leia, yet." He wondered what Mon Mothma would say if she knew about he and Leia's newly discovered relationship and the true identity of their father. He wasn't ready yet to divulge that piece of information to anyone beyond what he considered his family circle and Leia certainly wasn't. He wondered if Leia would ever be ready.
"You do not think she would approve?"
"I am one of the last of the Jedi but I am only half-trained. It will become my duty to see that the Jedi Order is reborn and can survive in a changing galaxy. The Emperor and Lord Vader are dead and thus the main obstacle to the Jedi is gone but it won't be that simple. There's nothing left. I have no records of the way the Jedi were trained. I'm not sure how to find new Jedi. There must be more Force sensitives than just me and my… I cannot do it without more training. I cannot help the Alliance if I am only partially trained. I must finish my training. I promised I would."
Mon Mothma steepled her fingers together and placed them under her chin. "We would like to see the Jedi return to the galaxy, Commander Skywalker," she agreed, her face composed but inside her mind was ticking. He said 'one of the last of the Jedi.' Who else is there? To my knowledge, none of the other Jedi survived the purges apart from Obi-Wan Kenobi and he died on the first Death Star."
"I thrive on leading Rogue Squadron but that's not what I was born to do. I have a duty to the people who kept me safe and hidden from harm. Other people can lead the Rogues. Wedge Antilles would be a brilliant Commander – he's filled in for me many times before. Only I can help the Jedi now."
"I can see that you've thought long and hard about this."
"I have. I'm not turning my back on the Rebel Alliance but I have to go. Time is running out."
"I don't understand."
Luke closed his eyes; he had almost said too much. If he let slip Yoda's continuing existence they would not leave him in peace. "I only ask that you let me go and give me any information collected on the Jedi that the Alliance currently has in its possession."
"When would you like to go?"
"I will stay another week. It will give me time to explain to Leia and Han – I have an idea that that will be the more difficult task. If the Alliance does ever need me I will find out and I will come to your aid. You have my word as a Jedi and as a friend."
"I appreciate that Jedi Skywalker," Mon Mothma replied. "And I accept your resignation even though I don't really want to. I suspect it would have made no difference."
"No," Luke smiled sadly. "It wouldn't but it's better this way."
"Do you know where you are going?" Mon Mothma was curious. Luke had disappeared after the battle of Hoth and had returned minus his right hand a few weeks later after a confrontation with Darth Vader on Bespin. He had never explained exactly where he had been or what he had been doing but there had been an obvious change in the man. He had fought Vader and lived but somewhere, somehow, Luke Skywalker's soul had been forever wounded.
"Yes, I know but I can't tell you. I have a promise to fulfil to an old friend. There are no cities or technology there to aid in finding me. I will be unobtainable and undetectable."
"So how will you know when we need you?"
"The Force," Luke said simply. "I can read some of the shifting patterns it contains within it quite well now. I will sense if I'm needed."
"What about Princess Leia and General Solo?"
"I cannot tell them exactly where I'm going. Leia would want me with her, or would come to find me and the way is too difficult and she's too important to the Alliance right now. For one thing, she and Han need time to themselves and for the other, she is not ready to travel the way of the Jedi. I will return – you have my promise." He saluted and moved to the exit, then paused. "I would ask you not to say anything to Leia until I have a chance to inform her myself and also to keep it quiet amongst the rest of the Alliance leadership until I have gone."
"I don't want to announce my departure. We do have our fair share of Imperial spies, after all. If people ask, you could say I'm away on a mission. It happens all the time."
"It's the truth."
"From a certain point of view, yes, I guess it is – my life's mission." Luke stared down at the grey deck plates and gave a nod as if making some sort of final decision. He then swivelled on his black booted heel and left the room.
"Princess Leia…not ready to travel the way of the Jedi?" Mon Mothma said slowly to the empty room. "Oh."