Disclaimer – Despite my begging letters to Mr. Lucas, he simply won't give me even a few minutes alone with Luke Skywalker and company. I know, terrible isn't it? So I can't claim any ownership over them, this is purely for fun.
An AU story, at the time of ANH – what would have happened if Biggs hadn't jumped ship and had mouthed off at the wrong moment about Luke's piloting skills?
a couple of shooting stars that'll never be stopped!"
The heel of the saber pressed deep into his temple, imprinting a burnt circle onto his skin with the combined heat and blinding light of Tatoo1 and 2. The hand holding it shook perceptibly and the palm itched over the activation plate in a war of rough, turbulent emotions that spread in a trembling wave down the arm holding the ancient weapon.
Luke Skywalker turned his head up to the brilliant sky and the man's head eclipsing one sun in a hazy fire of white hair. The eyes quivered with the plea but the hand itched further over the activation plate, palm desperately trying to activate the saber despite the sting of tears in Ben Kenobi's eyes. His other sun-calloused hand, grasping a handful of sun-bleached hair, tightened and Luke yelped where he groveled in the sand under the unyielding hold of the man.
Luke's eyes brimmed with tears, staining his cheeks from the physical pain of the hold, the terror as the palm itched nearer the plate and the look of pure and utter desperation on the old man's face. Luke's choked plea was met only by another tightening of the fist of hair.
The two figures stood silhouetted on the outcropping of rock. There was a stunning view of the Dune Sea spread out some two hundred metres below their feet, had the two been interested in looking. The noon suns beat down as they did every day on this arid planet, but today they were perhaps more oppressive in their heat, an ominous foreboding laying down over the sea of desert like a funeral shroud billowing before it settles. On the ridge, the cloaked figure held the slight boy in a death grip, kneeling in the sand and grit on the precipice edge, one hand clamped down firmly on his head, the other pressing the end of a saber against the blonde head, Luke shivering in the heat.
The taller figure never moved, cast in stone as the last remnants of a near-extinguished creed, the moment stretching to minutes as heat waves billowed up around them unnoticed. A slender hand clawed at the death-locked grip, drawing thick welts on the sand-scoured skin and the scratched voice begged some more.
Please stop, please don't kill me, I don't understand, I haven't done anything, it hurts, Ben, it hurts, why Ben, why?
In the distance, smoke curled up into the sky in a thin funeral pryer.
Luke's vision was blurred with tears and the ground bit and burnt through his homespun trousers, nipping at his grazed skin. He cried out in anguish and confusion as he tried to squirm and the grip on the saber shifted yet again. He looked up into eyes spilling a deep well of grief down aging cheeks.
"I'm so sorry Luke." The voice was as scratched as his own, almost numbed beyond recognition by grief and anger and... was that fear? Certainly not the kindly voice of 'crazy old Ben'. "I would give my life ten times over not to do this to you." The man's shoulders shook with an immeasurable sorrow. "But I've failed, it is complete, and I have to end this. Here; now. It can go no further than this."
Again, the heel was pressed deeper into Luke's temple, twin suns burning. He bit down on his lip at the pain and felt the sting of blood on his tongue. He used it to give him focus and licked parched lips.
"Ben... you're... hurting..."
He was weak, so weak. He had lost everything; there was nothing. Only heat and blood, pain and grief. Perhaps loosing his life was just closure. Even coming from him, this benevolent guardian angel who had rescued him countless times in his brief life, this crazy old man.
His own hands trembled over the one holding him down and the landscape seemed to shiver with him, the only element unmoved by the tragedy playing out being the dark speck of a lambda shuttle blotting the clear landscape around the two figures, locked together on the ridge for an eternity of a whole five minutes.
Ben Kenobi let out a shallow sigh, in time with the rasping breaths of the boy at his feet. Luke could only blink back the tears. The cloaked man shut his eyes and forced his own tears back down. That was the thing about Tatooine – you weren't allowed tears. The water was evaporated as soon as it hit your cheeks. The planet did not take kindly to human emotions, but Ben's shoulders sagged heavily under the weight of destiny and all the wretched emotions attached to it.
The shuttle edged closer for a landing and eternity had to end.
"I'm sorry Luke."
The boy, the orphaned farmboy, literally sithspawn but with a heart to eclipse any darkness, did not cry out as Obi-Wan's palm finally rested against the plate and saber lit.
One month previously...
Darklighter stepped down hard on the pedal underneath his right foot,
hands flying across the board to cut the power to the starboard
engine. His TIE fighter pivoted around in a tight, elegant spiral and
he straightened her out, power to both drives, full throttle, as his
target came into view. The Pirate fighter ship - a Z-95 in Hornet
black and yellows – flickered unwittingly across his scopes and
the targeting computer grasped at it eagerly, chiming a lock.
Black-gloved fingers tightened over the trigger and the lasers spat
twin green bolts of energy at the madly evading little ship. Too
late, the pilot of the ship realised Biggs' maneuver to bring him
around on his tail and the beams spitted the single engine at the
back, slagging it to molten durasteel and causing a cascading
explosion that shattered the little ship like a ripe fruit bursting.
One of his squad whooped in victory as another of the pirates met a
fiery death in the cold of space.
Biggs kicked the ship forward and rolled her on her vertical axis, falling back into his wing position. The Hornets were a fairly pitiful band of pirates that had made the mistake of preying on Imperial supply lines whilst the fleet was passing near them. They were not only stupid, but the pilots were pitiful, and the ships no match for even the unshielded TIEs of the Imperial navy. Biggs looked enviously out to where another squad of TIEs, unusually lead by the infamous Darth Vader's TIE Advanced, tangled with pirates a few klicks to his port side and solar north. Now that was a good fighter. Sure, the TIE he was in was fast and fairly maneuverable, but the Empire seemingly didn't care enough about her pilots to give the ship shields. Vader's ship, though, that had shields. If only...
He cut off his thoughts as fire grazed another carbon streak across his port wing, just missing the support strut. He threw the ship into a climbing loop, kicked her around to dive again and slipped onto the fighter's tail before nailing it with a well-placed shot to the cockpit.
Where was his wing-mate...? There.
He slipped into the back draft of the TIE he was assigned to protect and clipped off shots at any enemy fighters looking ready for a brawl as his wing settled in for a head-to-head with another headhunter, only barely having better skill than his opponent. Biggs felt a sigh slip out into the confines of the vacuum mask. What he wouldn't give to be on Luke's wing right now, hunting womp rats back in Beggars Canyon. He had never really appreciated Luke's skill - nor his own for that matter - with anything that could fly until he got caught up with the Navy and saw what the rest of the recruits had to offer.
He blasted another pirate to go meet whatever deity they chose to believe in.
Luke would not have approved, Biggs knew. They had said, had promised each other not to get drafted into the Empire's killing machine. But... as with so many childhood flights of fancy, that dream hadn't lasted very long. Biggs had been transferred here from the Rand Ecliptic almost immediately after a chance battle gave him a moderate hero status for saving the ship, enough to get transferred to the Star Destroyer Adamant where he no longer had the chance to jump ship like he and his new-found friends had planned.
Another fighter was shredded by his fire.
He could almost see the pout of indignation on the Tatooine farmboy's face if he knew where Biggs was right now. At least they hadn't been called on to fire on Rebels yet. He wasn't sure he could do that. He was sure he wouldn't be given a choice.
"Red Squad, we're calling it in. The pirates are falling over themselves to give up. Form up and head back to Adamant."
Biggs gunned the fighter around and obeyed orders, the cavernous docking bay looming large through the octagonal screen.
Darth Vader, Dark Lord
of the Sith and Ace pilot clambered easily from his TIE Advanced and
landed on the perfectly polished black deck of the docking bay, an
aide hurrying rather nervously to his side, his usually ruddy cheeks
lacking colour. Vader hated these moments, when he couldn't read
whether the fear he saw was due to some disaster conspiring against
him, or simply terror at facing the dreaded Lord Vader.
"My Lord, the pirates have offered a formal surrender," the man puffed through limp cheeks, uniform painfully neat, corners crisp enough to cut durasteel.
"Unconditional?" Vader rumbled in the deep bass tones of his mask's amplifier. The man offered a curt if trembling nod and Vader grunted in disgust. Pirates – they were all the same. Saving their hides regardless of any of their assumed 'causes'. At least the rebels stuck to what they believed in. "Very good, accept their surrender and order Captain Nevikl to destroy their base."
"Yes, My Lord."
As they talked, they made their way to the back of the docking bay, to the turbolifts beyond. The route took them through pilots stationing their fighters into position and huddles of soldiers swapping stories from the barely-finished battle, ripping constricting black masks from their heads and savouring the feel of cool air on their faces.
Vader paid little attention to them. His first love always had been and always would be flying, and at one time in his life - no, Anakin Skywalker's life – he had wanted nothing more than to be in the throng with those pilots. But now... well now it all seemed so contrite. Too much misplaced passion.
As they swept past another gathering they heard the sound of raised voices and Vader turned with interest to listen, hidden from view by the wing of a TIE.
"You want to watch you mouth, Darklighter, or you're going to find yourself floating back to that Force-forsaken planet of yours."
Vader stopped in his tracks, stilled by some unseen Force. That name was a native Tatooine name, but that shouldn't have been so unusual. A whole planet was allowed to have more than one pilot, after all. The aide stood silent at his side, knowing better than to interrupt Vader's musings.
"Yeah, well you want to watch that hutt-sized head of yours or they're gonna have to use a hydrospanner to squeeze you into your helmet," a voice shot back, accent vaguely reminiscent of Vader's old home-world.
There was a the sound of a scuffle, booted feet skidding across the floor. The aide look questionably up at the Sith, the question obvious – Should I step in and stop them, My Lord? - but Vader held up a gloved hand to hold him back. Why he did this, he couldn't yet say.
The young man's voice echoed around the bay again, "You're no hotshot, Armstrong. You fly about as well a hutt does the cancan, and with less grace. My friend-"
The snorts of laughter were cut off by the other's shout and Vader found himself drawn around the other side of the TIE, although still not in view of the pilots. He saw a thick-set man squaring up with a skinner, taller dark haired boy only barely into adulthood, both being held back by the arms of their squad members.
"Oh, here we go again, huh Darklighter? Falling back on you're imaginary friend, the ace-pilot. You need to get that hyper-sickness checked out," the shorter man sneered in contempt.
The other – Darklighter – tried to wrest himself free of his friends at the insult on his sanity. "Luke isn't-"
The boy was cut off by the other, and Vader was totally unprepared by the next words, his fascination with the childish argument suddenly justified.
"So where is this Skywalker kid then, huh? Drag him off of that dustball and let's see just how good he is!"
Time stretched like hot plastic and the world around Vader trembled, his perception never quite making it past the name 'Skywalker'. The realisation washed over him in a rough wave of confusion and, strangely, understanding. His breath caught in his throat, the rasping of his mask dying with the shock and suddenly his feet were compelling him forward into the throng. His mind was working far faster than his feet could ever walk though.
All conversation stopped as the Dark Lord of the Sith stepped, or rather stumbled, into view and aimed straight for the dark haired boy, his hand grasping for him. Shaken by his sudden appearance, the pilots all froze in their positions. Had his mind not been drowning in the maelstrom of emotions churning in his gut, he might have seen the humour in the the suddenly halted fight. As it was, he reached the boy and wrenched him free from his comrade's grip, Darklighter gasping a little in surprise as the others regained their senses and shrank backwards in fear. The mask Vader wore could give no hint of his facial expressions, but his stance betrayed a very dangerous frame of mind.
Darklighter blanched from his gaze and the word tumbled from Vaders numb lips.
Shall I continue? Please review and/or tell me!