Chapter 5: A Very Long Day
Three days ago:
Ben Kenobi, once called Obi-Wan, shook his head. He must really be getting old. Times were he'd have weathered a day like this without any problems and with a smile on his face. During the dark days of the Clone Wars he'd sometimes spent days, even weeks in a row running from one battlefield to the next with barely any rest in-between and it hadn't slowed him down any.
That had been decades ago, though. He was much older now. And despite everything else that was going on, the last two decades he'd spent here on Tatooine had been... uneventful. Maybe he should have kept up a more rigorous training routine.
So much had happened in a mere twenty-four hours. The arrival of the stranger Faith, who claimed to have been sent by some kind of higher power to help bring down the Empress Sumar (whom she called B). Before he'd even had time to process all this, more events had taken place.
His young charge Luke had arrived along with two droids, one of whom contained a message from Luke's twin sister Leia and the plans for a new Imperial super weapon. Then the Imperials had come as well and now Luke's adopted family was dead. Ben hadn't been on the best of terms with Owen and Beiru Lars, but they had been family. Not his own, of course, but those of the man he still considered a brother after all these years, Anakin. Their deaths hurt him greatly.
Ben knew they needed to get off this planet and fast. The ripple in the Force that had accompanied Faith's arrival would have been felt across the galaxy. And the Imperials wouldn't hesitate to lay waste to this entire world to make sure those plans inside the little astromech wouldn't fall into the hands of the Rebels.
As they flew towards Mos Eisley in Luke's landspeeder, Ben took a much-needed break. Would it really have been too much to ask for Bail Organa to give him some advance warning that all this was going down? Oh, by the way, I sent Padme's daughter, one of the only two people who might yet save this galaxy, on a suicide mission to steal vital data from the Empire. You don't mind, do you?
Ben shook his head. This whole Rebel Alliance thing was a half-cocked operation at best. Force of arms alone wasn't going to bring down someone like Sumar. Sighing deeply, he released his frustration into the Force. It wouldn't do to get distracted right now. Calmness, he told himself. Calmness. Somehow it didn't come to him as easily today as it had in times past.
"You okay, kid?" he heard Faith ask Luke. The young man's face was a mask of suppressed grief and anger. He'd have to let go of those emotions soon, but that was easier said than done, of course. Considering the current situation, it was probably a good thing that Ben had never had a chance to begin Luke's Force training before Owen threw him off the homestead, or the young man would feel the lure of the Dark Side very strongly right now.
"I'm fine," Luke growled between clenched teeth.
"Yeah, I can see that. Look, kid..."
"I'm not a kid, so stop calling me that," he interrupted her sharply.
For a moment Ben thought Faith would get angry at Luke, but her face remained passive, her eyes filled with sadness.
"Yeah, after the day you've had, you're probably not. Look, I know 'sorry' doesn't cut it for what you've been through today. But you've gotta keep it together better than this, okay? One ki... young man running off on his own isn't going to bring down an Empire. Believe me, I tried the whole rage-and-revenge-thing. Never works out the way you want it to. If you want to make the Empire pay, I'm with you one hundred percent. But you'll need a cool head and patience."
"She is right, young Luke," Ben agreed, a bit surprised by the wisdom in Faith's words. "At this moment in time the best way to hurt the Empire is to make sure they don't catch us or the plans. Everything else would just play into their hands."
Luke took a deep breath. He said nothing, but the tension in his shoulders relaxed a bit and one could almost see the dark cloud of anger and grief around him lessening a tiny bit. Ben was proud of the boy. Not many people that young could have endured a day like this and kept going.
"We're there," Ben said after some moments of silence. "Mos Eisley."
Though it wasn't exactly her strong suite, Faith stepped back and allowed the old man Kenobi to take the lead for now. She still knew very little about this world the Powers had dumped her into. All she knew was that B was here somewhere and apparently everyone thought that she'd turned bad. Faith didn't believe it, but kept her mouth shut for now. Time and the responsibilities of being Slayer Prime had taught her patience and restraint. A little, anyway.
After that little scuffle in the bar - and boy, that light sabre thing was one impressive weapon. She wanted one! - she remained in the background as Kenobi arranged for a flight off-planet with a guy called Han Solo. Solo was one delicious-looking piece of beef, that much was for sure. And from the looks he threw her, he liked what he saw, too. Still, no time for that now. Maybe later. They did have a long flight ahead of them, didn't they?
She smiled as Luke scoffed at the price Solo demanded for the flight, but Kenobi quickly calmed the boy and they left. They would have to sell his speeder to pay, but she doubted the kid would miss anything about this planet. She certainly wouldn't. The damn sand was getting everywhere and she was already feeling slight sunburn from the merciless glare of the planet's twin suns.
Some negotiations and a hard sell later they had enough money for Solo and were headed for the hangar area. Faith fell into step with Kenobi as Luke, along with the two droids, hurried on a bit ahead of them.
"He has power, doesn't he?" Faith asked the old man. She could feel the magical potential in Luke. No, not magic. This strange Force thing everyone was talking about. Almost like magic, but not quite.
"Potentially," Kenobi agreed. "His father was possibly the most powerful Jedi ever."
There was old pain in his voice.
"A good friend?" Faith asked.
"He was my brother in all but blood," Kenobi replied. "I will see his children safe."
Faith noted the plural, but didn't inquire further. Not now. Her priorities were different.
"Once we're underway I need you to bring me up to speed on B."
"I will. I doubt you will like what I have to say, though."
"Yeah, I pretty much figured that already. If everything was fine and dandy, I wouldn't be here."
Faith paused a moment, concentrating on her senses.
"You do realize we're being followed, right?" she asked the old man.
"The hooded one to our left," he replied without turning his head. "He's been reporting on our whereabouts for some time."
"Then we better hope Captain Solo is as hot as he thinks he is, right?"
They finally reached the hangar area and saw the ship that was to take them off planet. Luke was already there and obviously not impressed.
"What a piece of junk", Luke exclaimed.
Solo came from the open airlock and gave him a dark look.
"She'll make point five beyond the speed of light. She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, kid. I've added some special modifications myself. We're a little rushed, so if you'll hurry aboard we'll get out of here."
Faith grinned. She liked Solo a lot. Over the years she had gotten extremely good at evaluating people. It was pretty much a survival trait in her business, where even the most innocent looking child might be a bloodthirsty monster. Solo wasn't that hard to figure out, though. Cocky, arrogant and a scoundrel on the outside, but she got the feeling he would walk through the fires of hell for those people who managed to make it onto his list of friends.
"Let's get on the ship," Kenobi said, herding Luke and the droids forward. Faith followed, giving Solo a suggestive smile. He smiled back in the same manner. Maybe there would be something to look forward to on the long flight to...
Suddenly Faith tensed and the smile vanished.
"We should hurry," she said.
Moments later the clatter of armoured feet could be heard and soldiers in white armour came running into the hangar.
"Stop that ship," one of them yelled.
Solo looked surprised, but reacted quickly. He drew his own gun even as he shoved Faith toward the airlock.
"Chewie, get us out of here," he yelled as they entered the ship, laser bolts whizzing past their heads.
The ship shuddered and rocketed upwards, Faith holding onto a handhold for dear life. People were yelling all around here. The ship shuddered as someone fired on them. She wasn't exactly used to space flight and laser fights, so she stayed out of the way and kept her head down.
As they cleared the atmosphere she found herself strapped into a seat near a view port and saw the sky darken to black. Stars were visible all around. A moment later she caught a glimpse of a huge space ship, looking like a huge grey wedge or dagger.
There was evil on that ship. Tremendously powerful evil. She could feel it clogging the back of her throat. Kenobi was hurrying past her towards the cockpit and she heard him utter something under his breath.
"Vader," he whispered, then vanished around the corner.
Moments later the ship shuddered again, the stars outside the window turned into starlines, and then the ship thundered away into hyperspace.
End Chapter 5