3

Chapter 1: Opposing Forces

With every fiber of his being, Ben tried not to let his nerves betray him. As this was a covert operation, it was crucial that he not give away who, or what, he was. It was because of his youth and relative anonymity that he was chosen for this mission in the first place.

That and because the mission itself wasn't given crucial status. After all, the territory to which he'd been sent was on the fringe of society. Sure, it was very dangerous, but nothing truly important really happened there. No one truly important ever lived there.

Still, Ben knew this might be his one chance to really win the favor of the council. So he would accomplish his task flawlessly. Little did he know then that the events that would take place that day would change the entire course of his life.

Ben was assigned a local task force who didn't know much about him, except that he was there to help rid them of what they perceived to be a major problem. He was a local boy, more of a young man really, though no older than 18. He was an orphan for as long as anyone could remember; no one could even fancy a guess as to who his parents might have been.

As might be expected for a starving boy with no one to provide for him, he became quite adept at stealing food from a very young age. As he grew older, he apparently realized that there were perhaps more expensive things than food that he could steal. When the boy turned 12, he began making off with metal parts, small at first, then bigger as time went on. It was his plan to build a small ship and fly away from the place where he grew up, and where no one cared for him.

He soon realized that he'd need a much bigger ship for that, but he became quite adept at building things, and soon he had constructed his first hovercraft. He would use it many times to get away with much larger and much more expensive items for that bigger ship. By the time the boy was 17, he had hired some others who shared his goal, and they'd formed a smuggling ring of sorts.

No one really knew where they were hiding out, but the local police had been tracking them for some time, and now they had a sting operation set up. It was too good for the boy and his crew to pass up on; an expensive shipment of parts was coming in, including an engine that would be powerful enough to take them a very long way. Of course, the locals would very much have liked to recover their stolen goods and money before they were allowed to leave.

Ben's superiors discovered this predicament and assigned him to find the boy and take him to them for questioning based on some of the things they'd heard. So that's why, in the middle of the night, Ben found himself crouching in the middle of the shipping yard, waiting for the boy to come right to him. The shipment was of course too important for the boy to not be there.

The craft bringing the shipment touched down about three hours before the first sunrise. The task force would be stationed on the ship, as hopefully the boy would send in most of his henchmen to secure the shipment, leaving him vulnerable to capture. That is when Ben would step in.

Thirteen shadows suddenly appeared. One of them started pointing slightly, and nine others made their way toward the ship. "You three stay here for now," Ben could barely here as he listened intently. The voice was very young, but sharp and influential.

That wasn't good. No doubt all four of those who where left would have blasters. Ben remembered his training. He must wait quietly for an opportunity to act. This would test the limits of his patience. So many had been defeated simply because they had acted rashly in battle, had not taken control of their feelings. No one was better at this than the one who had trained Ben.

Without warning, a loud boom came from inside the ship, and the boy was spooked. "You go check it out!" he commanded one of the shadows. "You two, with me!" And he looked like he was about to move. Ben knew his time had come.

Disregarding his weapon for the time being, he simply dashed straight for the boy, who had his back to him. Just then, he ordered the two crew members to check the perimeter, and one of them turned around and caught Ben in his line of sight. "Look out!" he shouted. The others turned and began to fire their blasters in Ben's direction, even before they were able to see him.

But Ben was taught very well how to handle these kinds of situations, and he was very quick. He was able to dodge the blasters, trying not to use his weapon unless it became absolutely necessary. As he dove to the ground, he reached up with both hands, and the boy's two henchmen fell to the ground hard as if they'd been pushed with a lot of force. The boy seemed to be able to hold his nerves together. He barely looked at the other two as they lay on the ground. "I can do things too," he called out to Ben.

Ben was determined not to listen to anything the boy said until he had taken him into custody. The boy aimed his blaster straight at Ben's chest and pulled the trigger. Ben could tell that the shot was true even before it was fired. In one fluid motion, he reached into his pocket, pulled out a small tubular object and raised it. In a millisecond, a blinding flash of blue light expanded out of the sheath, making a sound that can only be made when pure light breaks the sound barrier. When the one fluid motion was complete, the blue light had expanded just in time to deflect the blaster shot.

The boy turned to run but was greeted by the remaining members of the task force. Two of them seized him by the arms as another punched him square in the jaw, and several others began to tie him up. The boy struggled. Let me go!" he shouted. He writhed and squirmed, but there was no visible way out of this one. His days of stealing from and bullying the locals were over. "I said, LET ME GO!" The boy shouted with all his might, and a very curious thing indeed happened. The boy produced a tremendous shockwave with his body, perhaps brought on involuntarily by his anger, and the unrelenting force of it bowled the police over. Some of them flew through the air a good 20 to 30 feet before falling to the ground with a hard thud. Most of them were paralyzed and couldn't move, but Ben had lowered himself already and was able to withstand it.

The boy also was a bit shaken. A lot of untapped, uncontrolled power had escaped him somehow, and he was weakened. But he pointed the blaster at one of the police. "I'll start shooting them," the boy said in a nearly soft and sinister voice. "Put that thing down."

Ben wanted to teach this kid a lesson. It was a mark of his own youth and inexperience. So he did something then that the boy would never truly forgive him for doing. He retracted his weapon and then dropped it to the ground. He raised his arms in the air and began to walk slowly toward the boy. "Take me instead," Ben said to him.

Ben was nearly within arms reach as the boy began to take his aim away from the member of the task force in order to point it at Ben, who now had no protection. Just as he began to move his arm, Ben reached out his hand toward the weapon, still lying on the ground about ten feet away, and in an instant it was in his hand. He drew the pure blue light from its sheath and brought it down on the boy's arm, lopping off his hand at the wrist.

A terrible cry of pain ensued, as smoke still rose from the place where the cut was made. The hand lay on the ground, still clutching the blaster. Ben quickly trained his weapon on the boy's heart, but the boy looked about to pass out from shock anyway. "What's the matter, boy?" Ben said. "You've never seen a light saber before?"

The boy was enraged at having his hand severed off and even more so by Ben's complete disrespect at having called him "boy."

"My name," he said with terrible indignation, "is Skywalker."