Chapter One: Exis Station
Luke steered his borrowed freighter in a series of seemingly haphazard maneuvers, each twist and turn narrowly avoiding a solar flare from the star known as Teedio. Very soon, he picked out the orbiting Exis Station; little more than a central core with dozens of solar-collection panels jutting out. And inside that central core, he could feel a single life form.
Beside him, Artoo sent out a stream of beeps, whistles and hoots that roughly translated as, Are you out of your kriffin' mind?
Luke chuckled as he circled the station, looking for a docking port or hangar bay. "It's all right, Artoo. I know what I'm doing." I hope, he silently added. Finally, he spotted a hangar door that would accommodate the freighter. "I'm going in. Artoo, hack into the central computer and open the door, okay?"
A slender computer jack extended from Artoo's cylindrical body and hooked into the freighter's transceiver array. He transmitted a series of instructions to Exis Station's central computer and, within minutes, had the hangar doors opening. With deft hands, Luke steered the freighter inside. The ship touched down with nary a shudder as the doors closed and a breathable atmosphere was reestablished.
Luke exited the freighter, glow rod and lightsaber in hand. "Better stay behind, Artoo," he instructed. The astromech blatted, but rolled back up and into the freighter.
Luke focused his attention on the life form he felt. As he approached it, he began picking out details about it-her. Female, humanoid. Some Force sensitivity. Also feels cute… where the heck did that come from? He walked along the darkened corridors, feeling history itself leap out at him.
A light grew bright ahead. He turned right at an intersection and entered a large room. Several shelves lined the walls, containing ancient lightsabers, robes, holocrons… all manner of artifact lay on the dust-covered shelves. His mind almost boggled at the treasure trove of items there, but that's not what his eyes landed on.
A young humanoid stood in front of a set of lightsabers with a holo-recorder whirring. She wore a silvery dress that left her pale arms bare and seemed to be made of liquid metal. Mother-of-pearl eyes and slightly pointed ears pointed to a slightly nonhuman origin. Luke's breath caught slightly in his throat. "My-my name is Luke Skywalker," he finally announced, startling her. "Oh, sorry."
She took several deep breaths before speaking. "I know. I've read all about you." She took a few steps forward, her hands clutching the holo-recorder nervously. "For as long as I can remember, I've admired you and your drive to bring back the Jedi."
Luke nodded, "How long is your memory? You're not much younger than I am."
The woman's eyes looked down. "I don't remember where I come from, actually. There are holes in my memory, holes that go back a long way." She ran her hand through her hair before putting on an air of happiness. "I've been cataloging the various artifacts here. I wasn't sure if I should even touch them or not."
The newly-minted Jedi Master nodded and walked over to a shelf. His hand passed over several lightsabers. "I'm not sure, either. This is an incredible find Miss…"
The young woman chuckled. "Whoops. Sorry, Mister Sky-"
"Call me Luke."
The woman smiled, flashing a set of dazzlingly-white teeth. "Okay, Luke. My name is Tionne. Tionne what, I'm not sure."
Luke turned and extended a gauntleted hand. "A pleasure, Tionne," he said, smiling.
Tionne slid her hand out of Luke's firm grasp and motioned to the various artifacts. "I've taken scans of all of them, but I'm not sure if I should move them. They're so old." She leaned forward and peered at one of the old holocrons. "And dusty, too."
Luke suppressed a chuckle. "Those ancient Jedi artifacts can take quite a licking." he picked up a holocron and held it up to the light. "So much knowledge, here. It's a wonder Palpatine didn't destroy the station." He took a step back and gazed at all of the shelves. "It would take-" his danger sense suddenly kicked in. "Watch out!" he shouted, grabbing Tionne by the shoulders and jumping back mere seconds before the entire station shifted.
He rolled in midair so he could take the brunt of the landing. The pair hit the deck and rolled until they hit the opposite wall, their faces mere millimeters from one another. Tionne gazed into Luke's haunted blue eyes while he gazed right back into her wide-open mother-of-pearl eyes. Suddenly, his comlink chirped.
Luke, the station's been hit by a solar flare and is tumbling out of control! You'd better get back here pronto!
The Jedi Master got to his feet, aiding Tionne. He got his comlink out and held it up to his mouth. "We'll be right there!" he shouted. His gloved hand wrapped around Tionne's. "Come on, we've got to get out of here."
Tionne stopped. "Wait, what about all this?" Her free hand motioned to the artifacts. "We can't just leave them!"
Luke's mouth worked around for a bit. The answers to so many questions were within reach, but he knew he didn't have the time to gather the artifacts. And to pick and choose among them… "I wouldn't know where to begin, Tionne."
The young woman glanced about. "Begin? Begin where? I meant use the Force to stop Exis Station from tumbling out of control." Her eyes darted about. "Well, what are you waiting for?"
Luke's jaw dropped as her words sank in. Size matters not intoned in his mind, words of wisdom from Yoda. He looked back into Tionne's eyes, and he suddenly knew he could do it. His eyes drifted half-closed as he began summoning the Force…
Two hands grabbed onto his own. His eyes opened and he saw Tionne standing there, a smile on her face. "I believe in you," she said.
Suddenly, the station lurched again, sending both stumbling a bit. Luke quickly regained his center and extended his sense beyond the confines of the corridor he and Tionne were in, reaching out to the out of control station. He telekinetically grabbed onto the main core, gradually slowing the spin and taking care not to do it too violently, lest the outer solar panels were to rip off. Exis Station began slowing down and swung back into its original orbit, as if it never left.
A sigh escaped Luke's mouth as he suddenly felt quite tired. The stopping of Exis Station's tumble proved quite exhausting, even to a Jedi Master. His shoulder slumped and his head lowered-just in range for Tionne to give him a kiss on the cheek.
"Thanks for saving us," she said, a grin almost splitting her face in half. The smile turned into a frown almost as quickly as it blossomed, though. "What's wrong? Are you ill?" she asked, concern in her voice.
Luke swallowed as he tried to tamp down on the crimson color his cheeks were turning. "I'm fine, nothing to worry about," he practically spit out. He hesitated before speaking again. "I know you're Force-sensitive, but I can't force you to-"
Tionne interrupted him. "If you think the whole 'dangerous path' spiel is gonna dissuade me, forget it. Like I said, I've been admiring your work for as long as I can remember. And I would be honored if you took me as an apprentice."
Luke could feel her determination but still... "It won't be easy."
Tionne nodded, a lump suddenly in her throat. "I know, but I still want to help."
The Jedi Master thought for a moment before taking her hand. "Then I will accept it." He fished his comlink out of his pocket and activated it, "Artoo, power up the engines. We're leaving."
Artoo's binary code language came over. Finally! I can't stand being on this rattletrap any longer.
Tionne's eyebrow arched. "What's wrong with him? This isn't such a bad place."
Luke glanced over. "You can understand him?" he asked, incredulous.
She shrugged. "Bits and pieces. Plus the tone in his warbling helped a bit." She laughed, a musical sound. "I suspect most astromech units are like that."
They reached the freighter and found Artoo waiting for them at the main hatch. About time, and who's the lady? His cylindrical body shook a bit. Wait, I got a bad feeling about this…
Luke waved him off. "Artoo, I'd like you to meet Tionne. Tionne, this is Artoo. He behaves-most of the time." He pressed a button on the control panel, retracting the entry ramp and sealing the ship up. "Time to get going to Yavin. Gantoris and Kam are waiting there."
Five minutes later, the borrowed freighter lifted off and exited Exis Station. The sublight engines fired, sending it away from Teedio and out of the gravity well. Within seconds, the ship seemed to 'extend' as it entered hyperspace, leaving behind their reality for a short while.
Kam Solusar's head shot up as a familiar freighter landed in front of him, Gantoris and Brakkis. Keiran was in the Temple putting several containers of supplies but would be done soon. The grizzled Jedi walked up as Luke and some young girl exited. "Great to see you again, Master. How was your trip to Exis Station?" He glanced at the girl, but said nothing to her.
Luke motioned to the freighter. "Very, Kam. We've got a hold full of ancient holocrons and lightsabers, as well as a new student." He smiled and stepped forward. "Kam Solusar, meet Tionne. Tionne, this is Kam, one of the more advanced students."
Tionne smiled enthusiastically and extended her hand. "An honor," she exclaimed. Her face fell when Kam arched an eyebrow at her and let out a deep breath. "Charmed." He looked over at Luke. "Can we talk, Master?"
Luke's expression hardened as he sensed Kam's feelings. "Very well." He nodded to Tionne as Kam fell into step beside him. They quickly reached the other side of the freighter. "You don't think she should be trained." It wasn't a question.
Kam looked askance. "She's not powerful, and a bit naïve. I can tell that much just by looking at her." He glanced back at her. Tionne was making small talk with Gantoris, looking somewhat nervous. "I think it's a mistake to train her. What can she offer?"
He turned back to Luke, but shirked back at the Jedi Master's piercing gaze. "What can Keiran offer us, or Gantoris? Raw power is not potential. It's also skill and drive to better yourself." He paused. "And it's not like I can afford to turn anyone away at this point, Kam."
The grizzled Jedi sighed and tilted his head once. "Very well, Luke." Both men turned and walked back to the front of the Great Temple.
Gantoris, meanwhile, was standing in front of Tionne, his hard eyes boring into her. "I don't think you belong here," he flatly stated.
Tionne's mouth screwed up and she planted her hands on her hips. "Hey, I'm getting enough grief from tall, pale and grizzled over there. I don't need it from you."
The colonist leaned back in surprise. "You can hear that? How?"
She pointed to her slightly-pointed ears. "Luke and I brought about seventy holocrons and almost a hundred lightsabers back with us from Exis Station. I was able to access one and learned some rudimentary sense-enhancement from someone named Bastila. It was kinda easy."
Gantoris grunted, but there was a slight twinkle in his otherwise dead eyes as he turned away from Tionne. She leaned forward and turned as he walked back to the cargo containers. "Weird…" she muttered.
Luke and Kam approached her. "Tionne, I think I know the perfect spot for the lightsabers and holocrons. Would you like me to show you?"
The trainee smiled brightly. "I'd be honored, Master Skywalker," she said, walking up the steps to the entrance of the Great Temple.
The Sole Jedi Master blushed for some reason as he walked up behind her. At the foot of the stairs, Kam sighed and shook his head. "And I thought it was bad with Jem."
Tionne placed the last of the holocrons on the shelf. Her gaze drifted out from them to the lightsabers still in the cargo containers. Here, in the old briefing room where the attack against the first Death Star was planned, Tionne could almost feel the old ghosts of the pilots.
"Nice place. Although it could use some curtains."
Tionne turned and looked as Keiran Halcyon entered. "Oh, hi!" she said, walking over to him. "How do you like it?"
'Keiran' smiled faintly. "I'm a pilot, so I'm familiar with rooms like this." He ran his finger across one of the shelves and let out a sigh. "So many memories here." He looked over. "I actually chose the room Biggs Darklighter, Wedge Antilles and Jek Porkins shared before the Battle of Yavin."
Tionne nodded and patted him on the shoulder. "If I can feel the ghosts here with my feeble abilities, I can only imagine what you can feel there."
Keiran arched an eyebrow at her. ''Feeble abilities'?" He tugged down on his shirt and pointed at her. "Don't sell yourself short, kid. You've got a long road ahead of you, and you've got a great teacher. Luke's the best there is."
Tionne chuckled. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Keiran." She turned back and let out a sigh. "it's gonna take me a while to sort out these lightsabers."
The Jedi pilot shrugged and motioned to the door. "Well, we're having lunch down in the commissary. Come on and join us." His eyes sparkled conspiratorially. "Luke's there, too."
Tionne swallowed, tamping down her enthusiasm and schooling her face into a look of impassiveness as she followed him out. Lightsabers can wait. Luke can't.