Disclaimer: It's all George's. I'm just here to play.
AN: Hello readers and welcome to a brand new story. I won't say too much in description, because I'd like to let the first chapter do the talking. So, without further ado, I give this brand new piece. Enjoy and please let me know what you think.
Foundations of Hope
Chapter 1: Destiny Calls
A massive Star Destroyer loomed over the small passenger vessel, firing on it. The Star Destroyer's tractor beam locked onto the small craft and pulled it into the holding bay. Aboard the small ship, Rebel personnel armed themselves and prepared for the boarding that would come. In a narrow corridor, a young, beautiful brunette woman knelt in front of her faithful astrodroid and fed a disk into his slot. She pulled the hood of her white cloak over her head and slipped away. The blast door was pried open, as Storm Troopers poured through, firing on the Rebels. A dark figure followed them, his long black cape swirling about. The rhythmic sound of his breathing signified this important person's usage of a respirator to breathe.
"Find the plans. And arrest the delegates. I want them alive!" he roared. The Storm Troopers fanned out through the corridors of the ship. The young woman leapt out of a small crevice and fired on the Clone Troops, striking two, before fleeing.
"There's one. Set to stun!" one Trooper called. The other did so and fired on the retreating woman. She fell unconscious to the ground.
"She'll be all right. Inform Lord Vader that we have a prisoner," the commanding Trooper said. C-3PO, a golden protocol droid, followed the little astrodroid down the corridor.
"Artoo...Artoo, where are you going?" he fretted. Artoo rolled into an escape chute, loading himself into a pod. He whirled at Threepio.
"Oh dear, I just know I'm going to regret this," Threepio complained. The escape pod jettisoned and sailed into open space. The Imperial personnel monitoring any spacial ejections did not destroy it, for it registered no life forms. The tiny pod descended to the brown, dusty colored planet in the near distance.
"Lord Vader, the plans are not on board. We show the ejection of several escape pods. No life forms were aboard," the Lieutenant reported.
"She must have hidden the plans in there. Send down a detachment to retrieve them. When our guest awakens, bring her to me. There will be no stopping us this time," Vader said.
"Oh, what an unstable surface," Threepio complained. Artoo booped and whirled in response.
"I'm not going that way. You've gotten us into enough trouble, you overgrown glob of grease," Threepio spat. Artoo blew a raspberry at him in response.
"You go that way then, I'm going this way. And I better not catch you following me after you get into trouble," Threepio said, as they went their separate ways. Neither expected to be capture by the Jawas and reunited aboard their transport for sale...
Nineteen-year-old Anakin Skywalker twisted the wrench tightly, securing the last bolt back into place on the vaporator. The garage door swung open.
"Are you finished yet, boy?" Cliegg Lars asked gruffly. Anakin nodded to his step-father.
"Yes sir," he replied.
"Good, then get your worthless hide out here. The jawas are here," he ordered, as he stalked out. Anakin tossed the grease rag down. He hated it here; this rotten farm. He hated his cruel step-father and equally cruel step-brother, Owen. Beru gave him a little reprieve from them though. She was like a big sister to him and had been that way since they met as children, when he was just nine and she eleven. And she would be his sister soon, as her family had long ago arranged with Cliegg for her to marry Owen. He felt sorry for her, because Owen treated her like the sand under his boot. How he longed to leave this horrid place and have amazing adventures among the stars. He sighed and exited the garage. Cliegg hadn't always been like this. He had been very nice when he had freed he and his mother when he was just nine-years-old. Shmi hadn't been his real mother either. No, he had been left on her doorstep and had no idea who his real parents were. Shmi's Master, Watto, in a rare show of kindness, had allowed her to raise him as her own. And she had loved him as her own too. She died of a fatal illness when Anakin was thirteen. Since then, Cliegg had been so angry. And Owen delighted in teasing and tormenting him on a daily basis. He loved provoking him into a fight, which Anakin usually won, and then was punished for. He felt that somehow Cliegg blamed him for his mother's death, though he wasn't sure what kind of logic could actually lead him to believe that he had anything to do with her illness. He had often thought that perhaps Cliegg had never really wanted him, but Shmi would have never left him behind. So he had been forced to purchase Anakin's freedom as well, in order to get Shmi too. He missed her a lot, for she was the only mother he had ever known. He missed her kind words, the warmth of her embrace, and her comforting kiss on his brow. He didn't belong here, on this farm, he knew that much. He wanted to leave this planet far behind, but he loved his big sister too much to leave her behind. As he neared the jawa transport, he noticed that Cliegg had already purchased a golden protocol droid and a little blue and white astrodroid. Anakin had built a protocol droid when he was just a boy, but he had been forced to leave him with Watto when he and his mother had moved to the moisture farm. He had never given his droid any coverings like this one had. He looked like he'd previously been owned by someone wealthy, by the looks of his golden coverings. The little astrodroid was in tip top shape too. He wondered how nice droids like these had gotten into the squirmy hands of the Jawas. His thoughts were interrupted by his step-father's gruff voice.
"Get these droids cleaned up and have them ready to work tomorrow," Cliegg ordered.
"Why can't Owen do it? It was going to Toshi station to pick up some power converters!" Anakin replied.
"Because I told you to do it! You're not going anywhere! Now get going, boy, unless you'd like me to get the belt," Cliegg threatened. Anakin glared at him and gritted his teeth in anger. Owen smirked and brushed past him, purposely bumping his shoulder.
"That's right slave scum, get back to your chores," Owen sneered. Anakin wanted so much to punch his lights out, but amazingly he kept his temper in check, for his own well being. The last time he'd lost his temper on Owen, Cliegg had punished him with a severe whipping on his backside. It had hurt to sit down for almost a month, for he had given Owen a black eye, a broken nose, and a split lip. He had deserved all of it too.
"Well, what's it gonna be, boy?" Cliegg warned.
"Come on, let's go," he told the droids, as he led them to the garage.
"Get mouthy with me again and you'll be feeling my belt on that worthless hide of yours!" Cliegg called in warning. Anakin had never hated anyone like he hated these two.
The Storm Troopers surrounded the young woman, who was dressed in a white battle uniform, with silver arm cuffs, as they marched her to the bridge.
"Darth Vader, only you could be so bold. The Imperial Senate will not sit still for this," the young woman snapped.
"Don't act so surprised, your highness. You were not on a mission of mercy this time," Vader chided.
"I don't know what you're talking about. We were on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan," she argued.
"I am no fool, Princess Padme. You are part of the Rebel Alliance and a traitor. Take her away!" he ordered, as they escorted her to the cellblock.
Anakin stormed into the garage and slammed his fists on the workbench, fuming at his step-father.
"Oh my, is there something I can do for you, sir?" Threepio asked.
"Huh? Oh, no Threepio. And call me Anakin," he replied.
"Of course, Sir Anakin," Threepio replied. Anakin chuckled.
"No, just Anakin. I'm going to get Artoo here cleaned up and then we'll get you in an oil bath," Anakin said.
"Very well, Master Anakin," Threepio replied. Anakin sighed and decided he didn't have the energy to argue. He began cleaning the small droid.
"You've got something jammed in here really good, little guy," Anakin said. Suddenly, his prying inside Artoo's slot triggered a recording.
"Help me Count Dooku...you're my only hope,"
Anakin stared in awe at the recording of the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen, as the recording repeated.
"Who is she? She's beautiful..." Anakin said in amazement. Artoo whirled.
"Who's what?" Threepio scolded, as he smacked Artoo's domed head.
"Master Anakin asked you a question and you had better answer," Threepio warned.
"Help me Count Dooku...you're my only hope,"
"She's like an angel," he said, as he became completely absorbed by her. Artoo cut the transmission and Anakin looked at him.
"Bring her back!" Anakin said. Artoo whirled and Threepio slammed his arm on Artoo's dome.
"Bring what back? You know what, you little troublemaker," Threepio scolded.
"Do you know who this Count Dooku is?" Anakin asked. Artoo clicked and whirled.
"I'm afraid I don't sir. But he says that he's the property of Count Dooku of Serenno," Threepio replied.
"Dooku...I wonder if he means old Yan," Anakin said.
"Excuse me sir, do you know who he's talking about?" Threepio asked.
"Huh? Well, I don't know any Count Dooku. But old Yan lives out beyond the Dune Sea. He's kind of a strange old hermit," Anakin said.
"Ani!" Beru called.
"In here, Ru!" he called back. The pretty blonde, whom he considered his big sister, entered.
"Look at you. Getting all dirty again, I see, baby brother," she pretended to scold, though her smile betrayed her.
"You know me," he replied.
"Yes, I do. Come wash up for dinner," she said, as she led him inside.
"You got those droids cleaned up yet?" Cliegg asked, as he entered the dining area.
"Almost. I'll finish them after dinner," Anakin replied, as he sat down. He thought about telling them about the recording, but quickly decided against it.
"Hey, get me some more milk," Owen ordered to Beru. Anakin glared at him, but Beru's unseen hand on his leg stopped him from reacting. Beru didn't like fighting, nor did she like seeing him be punished. Owen lived to goad him into losing his temper. Anakin finished eating quickly and headed back out to the garage. He raised the lights and Threepio stumbled out from behind his workbench.
"I'm so sorry, Sir. I tried to stop him, but he kept rambling on about his mission," Threepio said.
"He's gone!" Anakin exclaimed, as he ran his hand through his hair.
"He always has been a troublemaker," Threepio said. Anakin grabbed his night vision scanner and ran outside. He scanned the darkening desert for any sign of the little droid.
"Should we go after him, Sir?" Threepio asked.
"It's too dangerous with all the sand people. We'll have to wait until morning," Anakin replied.
"I'm so dead when Cliegg finds out," Anakin fretted, as he went back into the garage.
"Ani...we're getting ready to shut the power down. Are you coming in?" Beru asked. He turned to her and she saw the fear in his eyes.
"What's wrong?" she asked.
"Cliegg is going to kill me. I took the restraining bolt off that little droid to clean him. While I was eating, he ran off," Anakin cried.
"Okay, okay, calm down. Listen, we'll wake up really early and go look for him. We'll find him and be back before they know anything," Beru said.
"I'm dragging you into this," he replied.
"Too late, baby brother. Come on, let's get some rest, because we have an early day tomorrow," she said, as she led him inside.
"Princess Padme was led to the bridge of the Emperor's massive weapon, The Death Star, upon their arrival. Grand Moff Wilhuff Tarkin smirked, as she arrived.
"Governor Tarkin, I should have known it was you holding Vader's leash. I smelled your stench when I was brought on board," Padme spat. Tarkin chuckled.
"Charming, as always, I see," Tarkin said.
"Tell us where the Rebel base is located," he demanded.
"I don't know what you're talking about. I was on a diplomatic mission to Alderaan," she insisted. Tarkin cut her off and took her chin in his hand. She shrugged away.
"I grow tired of your refusal to cooperate. Take her away," he growled.
"She may still be useful," Vader said.
"She will never tell us anything. Schedule her for execution," Tarkin ordered.
"Let me see if I can employ another type of persuasion. We may get her to talk yet," Vader said, as he proceeded with his plan.
The speeder skimmed above the sandy surface of the planet. Anakin's shoulder length sandy blonde hair wafted in the breeze and strands of Beru's own blonde whipped about, as they sped through the desert. It was very early and the sun was just beginning to rise.
"Thanks for helping me, Ru," Anakin said.
"You don't have to thank me, Ani. That's what big sisters are for," she replied, as she patted his shoulder. It was a couple hours later, before they reached the Jundland Wastes. Artoo had managed to get very far overnight, but Anakin was finally picking him up on the scanner.
"He's just over there," Anakin said, as he parked the speeder. Anakin slowed the speeder and finally parked it near the rocky ridge. He and Beru hopped out and ran to the little droid in the near distance.
"Boy, you sure caused us a lot of trouble, little guy," Anakin scolded.
"Yeah, we should get back before they noticed we're gone," Beru mentioned. Suddenly, Artoo began stomping up and down on his legs and whirling nervously.
"What now?" Anakin asked.
"Sir, he says there are several figures approaching from the west," Threepio translated. And suddenly, they heard a distant primal call of the sand people.
"Sand People...great," Anakin grimaced, as he grabbed his optical scanner and began climbing atop the ridge.
"Ani, be careful!" Beru called. Anakin put the scanner to his eyes and observed the terrain.
"I don't see anything," he mentioned, until he managed to focus in on a few Banthas.
"Wait a minute, there's one of them now," he said, as suddenly his vision was blurred. A primal call startled him, as a Tuskan Raider cornered him, raising his Gaffi stick high above his head in a threatening manner. The savage being knocked Anakin on his back and slammed his weapon down. Anakin rolled out of the way, evading several strikes, before bashing his head on a jagged rock.
"Anakin!" Beru screaming in terror, as the Tuskan prepared to make the killing strike at his unconscious, prone victim. But he stopped, as he was suddenly frightened by a strange animal call. The Tuskan scurried off and Beru rushed to Anakin's side, as a man in a long black cloak quietly approached. Beru, frightened by this figure, started trying to shake Anakin awake.
"Don't be afraid," his distinguished voice called out, as he lowered his hood, revealing the weathered face of an aged man, with white/gray hair, a mustache and beard of the same color, and kind, unthreatening brown eyes. Beru watched the man kneel and place his hand on Anakin's forehead, seeming to concentrate for several seconds.
"He'll be all right. Nothing more than a bump on the head," the man assured her. Anakin groaned, as he opened his eyes and blinked rapidly, trying to focus his vision.
"Yan?" he asked.
"Well, it looks like you're going to be all right," Yan said, as he helped him sit up.
"Now tell me, young Anakin, what brings the two of you out so far?" he asked.
"This little droid, actually. He says he's the property of a Count Dooku. Do you know who he's talking about?" Anakin asked.
"Count Dooku...Count Dooku. Now, that's a name I haven't heard in a long time...a long time," Yan said, wistfully.
"Do you know him?" Anakin asked.
"Well of course I know. He's me. I haven't gone by the name Count Dooku since, oh, before you were born," e said.
"Then this little droid is yours," Anakin said.
"I don't ever remember owning a droid before. Very interesting," Dooku said, as they heard the call of the Tuskans.
"The Sand People are easily frightened, but will soon be back and in greater numbers. We had best get indoors. Come along," Dooku said.
"Oh no...Threepio," Anakin said in exasperation, as he rushed back to the speeder, only to find the droid in pieces.
"Oh my, I must have taken a bad step," Threepio said, as Anakin lifted his head and torso up.
"Go on without me, Master Anakin. I'm done for," he fretted.
"No you're not, what kind of talk is that?" Anakin admonished, as they collected Threepio's parts and followed Yan back to his hovel...
"What are the results? Did she tell us where the Rebel base is located?" Tarkin asked.
"She showed considerable resistance to the mind probe. We were unable to extract the information," Vader reported.
"I may have an alternative form of persuasion. Set a course for the Alderaan system," Tarkin ordered to his subordinates.
"Why not Naboo, since that is her real home planet, " Vader suggested.
"Naboo is completely loyal to the Empire. Princess Padme was exiled from it for her treason, when she spoke out against the Empire. She should have been executed, but that is an error we are in position to now rectify. And at the same time, we shall eliminate Organa as well," Tarkin said evilly.
Anakin worked diligently inside Dooku's hovel, putting Threepio back together.
"How come you used to be called Count Dooku?" he asked.
"I was once the Count of Serenno, an important position of authority. I was also a Jedi Knight in the days before the Empire, alongside your father," Dooku said. Anakin's head shot up.
"You knew my father...my real father?" Anakin asked eagerly. Yan nodded.
"Yes, he was once a Jedi Knight, just as I. He was an excellent pilot, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. I hear you're becoming quite the pilot yourself," Dooku said. Anakin smiled bashfully.
"Which reminds me," he said, as he got up and shuffled over to an old case, which lay on his neatly organized shelves.
"He would have wanted you to have this, when you were old enough," Yan said, as he produced a silver, cylindrical object and handed it to Anakin.
"Your father's light saber," Yan announced, as Anakin ignited the blade. An emerald column of searing light blazed forth.
"The weapon of a Jedi Knight, from a more civilized era," Yan said. Anakin extinguished the blade, as Dooku fiddled with Artoo's controls.
"I found the recording when I was cleaning him," Anakin said, as Artoo began playing it.
"I seem to have found it," Dooku said, as the young woman's image shimmered to life.
"Count Dooku...you served the Organa family, many years ago. We are in desperate need of your help now in our struggle against the Empire. I have downloaded the plans to the Emperor's ultimate weapon into this little astrodroid. My mission to deliver him to Senator Organa on Alderaan has failed. You must see that he reaches Bail on Alderaan or all will be lost when the Emperor engages his weapon. Help me Count Dooku...you're my only hope," the princess pleaded, as the transmission ended. Dooku sat back, deep in thought.
"You must learn the ways of the Force, if you're to come with me to Alderaan," Dooku said. Anakin's eyes widened
"Me? You want me to come with you?" Anakin asked.
"I can't do this alone. I'm getting too old for this sort of thing," Yan said.
"You should go, Ani. This is your big chance to leave this dreadful planet," Beru said, somewhat sadly.
"But I can't leave you. Come with us," Anakin pleaded.
"You know that Cliegg and Owen would never allow it. Just promise me you'll come back to visit me when you can," she said, hugging him tightly.
"I'm not leaving you. Come with me, please," he pleaded with his sister.
"Your destiny does not have to be to remain on this harsh planet forever, Beru," Dooku suggested.
"Don't let them control your life anymore. I'm not. We deserve better than this planet can offer us. Come with me. We'll go tell them now and there is nothing they can do to stop us," Anakin said. Beru smiled and hugged him tightly.
"I think I'd be lost without you, baby brother. And besides, someone has to watch out for you or who knows what trouble you'll get yourself into," Beru said.
"Come, we should get going. We need to be off planet before dusk," Yan said, as he ushered toward the entrance of his hovel. Anakin suddenly turned to him.
"Yan?" he asked.
"Yes Anakin?" he answered.
"Who were my parents?" he asked.
"That can be a topic of discussion once we are on our way. Right now, we must be going," Dooku said, as he watched Anakin walk out beside Beru.
"You'll find out everything in due time, Anakin…and I'm afraid it will be more than you'll ever want to know…" Dooku said regrettably, as he slowly followed them.
As he walked ahead, Anakin overheard and nearly stopped, though he kept on going. He wondered what it was that Dooku had to tell him. What could be so horrific about his parents that he was afraid to tell him right away?
He guessed he would find out soon...