Part One:- Into the Storm

Part Two:- In Shadows and Darkness

Part Three:- At the Brink of the Dawn and the Darkness



I just thought you might like a short teaser from In Shadows and Darkness, sequel to Into the Storm .

For an instant, Han thought the soldier beside him had simply tripped in the poor light and fallen heavily headfirst toward the wall, making an incredible amount of noise as he did so- but as he spun about to try to catch him, Han realised that the ten other commando's who had been close on his heels were also down, collapsing into still, crumpled little heaps in the near-darkness, illuminated by the limited glow of the pinlight set into his earpiece which flitted around as his head moved, their own headlights pointing randomly this way and that as they fell.

They'd made it to the Detention Center without incident, leaving commandos behind to keep key exit lines clear. Moving quietly and keeping out of trouble, they'd taken out the guards on duty there using silenced blasters with low-visiblility tracer-burst and night-vision lenses. When they were sure they'd cleared the area, they went onto side-lights, small pinlights set into their earpieces. But only when they were sure- so why the hell were all of his unit now laid out? If it was gas, why wasn't he down?

Finally Han's thoughts caught up with him and he spun around in the dark, narrow corridor, hoisting his gun, realising who would be there-

Head tilted, long, dark hair falling over pale eyes, Luke Skywalker stood like a sentinel in the corridor, barring any further advance.

Even in the wan beam of the pinlight, Han couldn't fail to miss the deep scar slicing from his right eye down his cheek and through his lips, cast into sharp shadow by the uneven light. He seemed… bigger. Seemed to fill the corridor from side to side, immovable, blocking any chance of access, every muscle taught. He didn't have a weapon that Han could see, but for some reason he didn't feel inclined to lower his own blaster.

"Why did you come, Han?"

When he spoke, despite his cold, steely tone, it was like the years just melted away for Han.
Somehow he couldn't reconcile the voice of the man he'd known so well - had fought beside and laughed with and gotten fall-down drunk with - with the man who stood before him now, eyes ablaze with contained fury, absolutely confident despite Han's blaster, making every danger sense the smuggler ever had blare out so that it was a struggle just to hold his ground, to make himself hold onto his goal.

"You know why- I came for Mon."

Luke only shook his head slowly, "Not gonna happen, you know that."

"Look, I got no fight with you Luke - let's both just calm down, okay?" Despite his words, Han was aware that his hand was tightening about the butt of his blaster, finger resting lightly on the trigger.

"You gonna shoot me, Han?" It was a raw challenge rather than the uneasy request it should have been given the circumstances.

"No I'm not gonna shoot you." Han denied, deeply uncomfortable, "I just want what I came here for."

"I told you; no. Turn around- let someone else try, Han. Not you. Don't make this a fight."

Han hesitated, wishing to avoid just that… "I can't just walk away, you know that. I know Mon too well."

Luke paused, seeming to weigh the situation, and his voice when he spoke had lost some of its edge. "She's not here."

"Well then you won't mind if I pass." Han maintained, squaring off though he didn't move forward.

"You too, Han?" Luke said, voice now disturbingly calm and neutral, "Do you think I'm lying too?"

Han almost, almost said it- Are you?
But in that last moment his own conscience held him to silence. He'd never once faced the same question from Luke, despite all appearances to the contrary. When everyone else - Han included - had tried to convince the kid that Han Solo was just another untrustworthy smuggler, Luke had stubbornly stuck with his own gut feeling, had held faith when everyone else had judged Han on sight- on principle even. The kid deserved no less from Han; he didn't give a damn what anyone else said.

"No I don't think that. I don't think Luke Skywalker lies." Han purposely used his old friends' name- his real name.

Luke smiled tightly, amused at Solo's brashness - but then he'd never lacked nerve. "Actually he does." he countered easily, "But not to you- not about this. She's not here, Han. She's not even onboard."

Han's heart skipped a beat at that, "What?"

"She's not aboard. I wanted Madine."

Han blinked, mind racing. "So you came out of hyperspace and sent that handy little acknowledgement to Coruscant saying you had Mon onboard and helpfully added your stopoff point."

"He should have led the assault. Not Leia."

In that moment, it didn't even occur to Han to question how Luke would know that. Instead he simply answered, uncertain why he did, distracted by the buzzing in the back of his mind. "Madine was onboard the Sol- he keyed the generators so his ship was caught in their influence-" Han faltered, suddenly aware of what he was saying, seeing the realisation on Luke's face as he pieced it all together.

Han glowered at the kid, "Did you just do that Force-thing on me?!"

Luke brought his eyes back to Solo, unrepentant, "Are you pointing a gun at me?" he reminded easily, no real animosity in his voice.

"No- I am pointing a gun near you," Han corrected, "There's a big difference."

"Not from where I'm standing."

"Well you don't seem particularly put out." Han said laconically.

The kid set his head to one side fractionally, little more than a shadow, dark clothes lost against the limited light. "If it were anybody else, they'd be dead already."
A thought occurred to Luke and he spoke out again before Solo could answer. "Where are the others?"

"Around." Han evaded uneasily, immediately kicking himself for admitting that there even were others.

Luke sighed, annoyed, but not really at Han, it seemed. "Keeping your exit clear?"

"Maybe." Han skirted then, at Luke's disparaging look, "Hey, I don't know how to lie to a Jedi, okay?"

Luke jolted just slightly at that, the word stopping him mid-thought; Jedi. His Master used the word often, but only for his own amusement… Solo- Solo had said Jedi… and meant it.
"I'm not a Jedi Han..." Han shook his head firmly against the kid's words, but Luke spoke on regardless, "And you're right to point that gun at me, because the moment your guard's down even a fraction I'll take it from you."

"Really?" Han said, a challenge in his voice. Before Luke could reply Han spun the blaster expertly in his hand and held it out to Luke, butt first. "Take it."

Luke remained still, shaking his head slowly, genuine threat in his voice, "Don't. If I take that gun, you'll not walk out of here."

"Take it." Han repeated, holding the gun out, willing to call Luke's bluff, "I've never pointed a blaster at a friend before in my life and I'm not gonna start now."

Still the kid stood frozen, head tilted to one side, eyes flashing a final warning in the low glow of the lightbeam, making Han chillingly aware of the fact that his blaster was now muzzle-in. He still held it at body-height and kept his finger through the trigger-guard though, awaret hat he could spin it about again in an instant. Still, he set his jaw, unable to kick the tightness in his stomach when he looked into the kid's eyes.

Luke remained coiled spring-tight, unmoved at Han's actions. "I'm not a friend - don't make me prove that."

"Really? 'Cos the guy who busted me out of that Imperial prison on Coruscant sure looked a hell of a lot like you."

"He's gone."

"See that's the thing; I don't think he is. 'Cos I've met a Sith and I know how low they go… and that's not what you are."

Luke's anger flared at the inferred defamation of his father, "Don't."

There was a raw threat in the word; Han saw the kid's chin come up and his eyes narrow. The last time he had seen Vader and Luke together, they'd practically been sparking. What had changed he had no idea… but he did know one thing-
"No- I know you," Han shook his head decisively, "And I don't believe you think they're right. You're better than that."

The kid straightened and seemed to cool a little, one side of his scarred lips turning up in dry amusement, "How very gracious of you."

"Tell me I'm wrong." Han said, letting his blaster drop to his side, "You said you wouldn't lie to me; well look me in the eye and tell me I'm wrong."

"I'll do better then that, Han." Luke whispered…

Something… something overwhelming and nauseating reached inside Han's head and made him flinch and he looked back to the kid in slow motion, consciousness slipping away as reality dimmed to a hushed whisper, a smothering wave of devastating weakness overcoming him. And Luke was just… stood, an ominously intense look on his face in the tight beam of harsh light, no trace of emotion in his uncanny, mismatched eyes.
The strange thing was that it didn't hurt, not really; he'd thought it would - like getting hit around the back of the head and knocked unconscious - but in the event Han just… collapsed down, a long sigh escaping him, his whole body sagging in one instant as if someone had hit the off-switch.

He crumpled, legs giving way, head going cold, eyes loosing focus, every single muscle loose as the floor seemed to rush up at him in the small pool of unsteady light-

The world sideways on, Han saw polished, black booted feet approach him, then Luke crouched down before him, his words fading into the ether…"I told you not to put the gun down…"