The Last Jedi
Era: Future 332 NE (462 ABY)
Summary: There are no Jedi. There are no Sith. There are Abnormals—persons born with a midi-chlorian count proscribed at a dangerous level by the Galactic Empire. Those persons are euthanized immediately upon discovery. When one abnormal boy is discovered and taken to his fate, the last living Jedi steps forward to set his feet upon the path of a new history.
This story is inspired by a vignette by too_old4this called "Were they real?" Thanks to Jedi-Aurelan-Carter for beta reading the first 5 chapters.
The Last Jedi
Part I: Fugitive
Chapter One: Far From A Normal Life
On his tenth lifeday, which happened to fall on the second school day of the week before Unity Day on the 332nd year of the New Era, Tobin S'Artin was sentenced to death.
"For Genetic abnormalities detrimental to the well being of the Empire," was the way the local magistrate put it as he read from the flimsi proclamation. The magistrate had come to Tobin's school with two real-life troopers who carried real-life blaster bracers and stared at Tobin as if he were a hardened criminal.
The other students were staring at him as well, only in stunned silence. This was just Tobin—the quiet kid who laughed at the silly humor strips on his palm reader; who was so shy he couldn't talk to girls; who was beat up on his second day of school by Sha'rad the Rodian who terrorized all the students in their age-group.
"I don't understand," Tobin said. "Where's my mom?"
The magistrate stared coldly at the boy. "Jalia S'Artin is also being taken into custody on charges of genetic abnormalities detrimental to the Empire, falsifying official genetic records and harboring a known abnormal child."
In the back of the class Sha'rad snickered. Tobin turned and stared, stricken. He was going to die and the little Rodian toad was laughing?
"Is there no appeal?" his teacher Soola Dayaala asked. Her blue lekku spilled over her shoulder as she assumed a pleading stance. Though Tobin was only ten, his mother had taught him to read body language. He noticed the way Miss Dayaala leaned forward to expose more of her sea-colored cleavage even as she assumed an expression of hope and trust. It was effective, but not effective enough.
The magistrate's expression softened slightly before the teacher's imploring stance, but he still shook his head. "His tests were rechecked last week by the school nurse and the order was confirmed by the Secretary of Genetic Purity on Corusca. The child and his mother both have the abnormal markers. She knowingly falsified his first tests to hide the fact when they immigrated to this world. There is nothing we can do. His existence is a threat to the Pax Galactica that has given us all peace for these past two hundred years."
The larger man flicked his fingers and the two troopers stepped forward.
Now, Tobin, a familiar voice whispered in his mind. Run now!
With a frightened cry, Tobin held out his hand and pushed. One of the troopers flew backward with such velocity that he cracked the wall lining. The push clipped the second trooper on his shoulder and sent him spinning. Students started screaming and scrambling away from Tobin the Abnormal, for fear of being contaminated.
Tobin spun on his heel and pushed at the window. The window blew open as if from a strong breeze. Tobin did not hesitate as he leaped head-first through the opening.
The first rule: any time you enter a building you must find all the ways to get out of it, his mother told him. He was only five at the time and didn't really understand the reasons behind the rule. He didn't need to. His mother did not require understanding, only obedience. And so when the two of them immigrated to Nalderaan last year and he started his new school, the first thing he did was check to see if the windows were actually functional or just for display. He checked all the entrances to the main tower; he studied the ventilation system of the building; and then he'd prepared a report to his mother on how he would escape if there were a fire.
Or if troopers came with an Imperial magistrate to kill him.
He felt his mother's presence in his head now. She was coming for him; he just had to stay alive long enough for her to reach him.
All these thoughts passed through his mind in the three seconds between when he jumped out of the window to when he landed one floor down on the soft orange-green grass of the school grounds.
He rolled the moment his feet touched the ground to help absorb the force of the impact. He had just the barest moment of warning in his mind—just a split second to jump—before the ground exploded in a shower of dirt. He rolled away and saw another trooper pointing his bracer blaster at him.
Tobin managed a terrified squeal before he scrambled to his feet and ducked behind an annex building. The moment he was hidden from view he took a breath to summon the Force and jumped as hard as he could. The jump was just high enough for him to catch the edge of the roof. He pulled himself over the edge with a grunt and then rolled away. He heard the crunch of the trooper's boots below him.
The man was probably reporting that Tobin was hiding, but Tobin would never know for sure. Trooper helmets were self contained and were only audible when the trooper wanted to be heard.
Tobin started crawling over the roof of the annex when he felt eyes on him. He turned and looked at the main school tower. In every window, on every floor, thousands of his classmates were staring at him. One girl on the third floor even waved at him. Her name was Seela Flist. She was a year younger than him and sat with him once at lunch.
He wanted to wave back, but he was simply too afraid. If the children could see him—he spun around at the sound of thrusters and saw the trooper from before clearing the edge of the roof.
"Halt!" the trooper shouted.
Tobin held up his hands.
"On your knees!" the trooper barked.
Tobin dropped to his knees. The trooper walked toward him with his bracer held level at Tobin's face. "Please don't kill me," Tobin whispered.
"Shut up!" the man said. He stomped forward and back-handed Tobin with his gauntlet. The power of the impact sent the ten-year-old boy spinning across the roof. He saw stars and tasted blood. His whole face felt numb.
He turned and saw the trooper walking toward him. The bracer was no longer pointed at him—the trooper walked with a confident swagger. Why not be confident? Abnormal or not, what could a child do to him?
Tobin screamed as he harnessed the Force just as his mother taught him. The trooper let out a brief "What the…" before he was gripped in the invisible power of Tobin's mind. Tobin spun about and flung the trooper across the space between the annex and the tower. The trooper somersaulted in the air and struck the main tower head-first with a sickening crack against a closed, shatter-proof window. He fell boneless to the turf while the children who had been standing at that window backed away screaming. Tobin could not hear them, but he could imagine the sound easily enough from their horrified faces.
Tobin had killed a man. He had killed an Imperial Trooper.
He looked up at the windows. Seela was no longer waving at him.
He turned away from the tower and ran across the roof of the annex. He could hear more thruster packs as other troopers took up the chase. Two cleared the edge of the roof behind him and immediately started firing.
He could feel the sizzling red bolts as he dodged left and right. Growing up, dodging stunners had been a game he played with his mother. They would go to a park or some other out of way place with no people and shoot at each other with little self-defense stunners.
Now he dodged blaster bolts that could vaporize his chest in a microsecond.
He could not dodge the roof, though. A volley of blaster bolts struck the roof of the school and sent Tobin flying over the far edge in an uncontrolled tumble. He ducked and spun as he was taught, but didn't have enough time to recover his balance before he hit.
He heard a snap and screamed in pain as his ankle folded under him.
I'm sorry, Mother, he cried in his mind. The two troopers reached the edge of the roof and hopped down without even bothering with their thrusters. The augmented joints of the armor easily absorbed the pressure of their landing. Two more stepped around the back of the annex, followed by the magistrate himself. The magistrate's face was livid with rage.
Tobin looked away. He didn't want to see the bolt that killed him. Instead, he looked across the lawn at the playground for the early learning center next door. There were several dozen children there, six through eight years of age, still in the eidetic imprinting stage of their education. The teachers were staring as well, and seemed so shocked they didn't even think to gather their charges to safety.
"Enough of this," the magistrate said. "He is obviously dangerous, even for one his age. Troopers, shoot him now."
Tobin squeezed his eyes shut against the tears. He heard a primal cry of terror without realizing it was him making the noise. He felt a sudden jerk just as he heard the sound of blaster bracers firing and found himself flying through the air. A moment later he felt arms around his shoulders and a blessedly familiar presence in his mind. "Mother!" he cried. "I'm sorry."
Jalia S'Artin stared down at him with a sad smile on her red lips. Flaming red hair fell about her oval-shaped face, while green eyes blazed with both compassion for him, and fury for those who would do him harm.
"Stay here," Jalia whispered. She stood, straddling him.
"Jalia S'Artin," the magistrate said. "Why am I not surprised you escaped? Know that you and your abnormal whelp have been found to possess genetic abnormalities detrimental to the well-being of the Empire. You are to be executed at once." He nodded to the four troopers. "Kill her."
A blue beam of light snapped on with a hum. The magistrate's eyes widened, but the troopers did not hesitate. They opened fire with their bracers.
The blue lightsaber seemed to take on a life of its own; spinning with such speed Tobin could not even follow the actual blade. It seemed instead a blue wall of energy protected him, sending the blaster bolts back to those shooting.
The troopers, however, were not just mindless soldiers. To be an Imperial trooper meant four years of the toughest training in the galaxy. One man did fall in the first volley of returned fire, but the other three rolled away to better flank the lone woman and the son she fought to protect.
Jalia was hampered by her need to protect Tobin. Tobin could see she was limited almost solely to defense. She needed help.
He was not as good at pulling things as he was at pushing, but his mother had been teaching him all of his life. He concentrated on the fallen trooper. He briefly thought about trying to summon just the bracer, but remembered his lessons. The bracer was connected to the whole suit of armor and drew power from the supply pack over the thruster assembly.
Instead, he concentrated on the whole body. With a surge of will, Tobin pulled the man not toward himself, but toward the trooper on their right. The trooper in question did not even see his fallen comrade until the body plowed into him, sending both to the ground.
Suddenly, having to fight only two opponents, Jalia darted forward with blurry speed and flashed her saber at one man while holding out her left hand toward the other. The first man fell to the ground in two pieces; the second let out a startled shout before he was lifted off his feet and thrust backward so hard he actually tore through the permacrete wall of the school annex. Even armored, there was no way he could survive such a blow.
The remaining trooper was trying to push his fallen comrade off him when Jalia reached him and with a swipe of her lightsaber sent the man's head rolling toward the early education center.
The young children and teachers stood as if paralyzed, watching the whole encounter. They watched, that is, until the helmeted head came rolling toward them. The children started to scream while the teachers attempted to corral them back into the school.
Throughout the battle the magistrate stood frozen in place, his face an unreadable mask. In a way, it was rather brave.
Jalia knelt down beside her son. "Can you walk?"
"I think it's broken," he said through his tears of pain.
She placed a hand on the ankle. It instantly went numb. "You're going to pay for that later," she said, "but I can't afford to carry you." She looked up at the magistrate and flicked a hand. The man stumbled forward.
"Where is your transport?"
"I won't help you," the magistrate said. Though there was a tremor in his voice, his face remained unreadable. "The law is clear. Your power is the result of a disease that has caused chaos and bloodshed throughout the history of the galaxy. For the sake of the whole Empire, you and your son must die."
"Try it and you die, and my son and I will escape regardless."
"You think so?" The magistrate shook his head. "You are not the first Abnormals we've encountered."
"But I will be your last," Jalia said.
The magistrate stared. "You cannot escape."
"You cannot stop me," Jalia countered. "Step aside."
He lifted his chin. "I believe in the justness of the Empire's laws. Kill me if you must—I will not move."
With an impatient sigh Jalia waved her hand again. The magistrate was tossed bodily against the annex, although not with the power as the previous trooper. "I am not Abnormal," she growled to the man. "I am a Jedi. If I were anything else, you would be dead by now. Remember that."
"The Jedi are a myth. You are nothing more or less than a curse on the face of the galaxy," the magistrate said from the ground. "Rest assured, I will remember you."
Freed of obvious enemies, she took Tobin's hand and the two ran around the annex toward the front of the school grounds. There they saw the armored Imperial transport van waiting for them. A single trooper stood guard.
Tobin watched as his mother let go and ran forward so fast she blurred again. The trooper barely had time to lift his bracer before she cut him down. Once he was down, Tobin made his way to the transport. He was limping and could actually feel a grinding sensation in his ankle, but because of his mother's power it remained numb.
His mother did not speak as she activated the transport van's controls and they soared into the sky. He had never seen her fly anything—they always took public transportation either to school or to the commerce centers. But as he watched her hands move across the controls with confidence and precision, he realized that she must have learned how to fly from somewhere.
"Mother," he started to say.
Gently, she reached across and placed her finger against his lips. "Not now, Tobin," she said. He knew her well enough to see the tension and fear in her eyes, and the way her nostrils flared with each breath. He realized then that she had never been so angry in her life.
Suddenly she pulled the control wheel out and the van pulled up into a steep climb. Only then did Tobin see a pair of fighters descending on them. He held his breath and pulled the safety harness tighter as his stomach turned.
The fighters obviously weren't expecting the van to turn directly into their path. They fired a few shots from their cannons, but quickly swerved out of the way. Almost as soon as they were view, Jalia pushed the wheel in and the van turned and began plummeting toward the streets of the city below.
Nalderaan was a relatively new world, but even so its capital city was large. The van fell in between shining white towers toward the first of the sky roads. The two fighters followed right behind.
The traffic continued apace without any clue as to the danger approaching. Tobin couldn't help but release a squeal as the van shot through the center of the traffic. The two fighters followed, but being larger, both impacted on passing traffic.
One fighter struck a tibanna transport. The explosion immediately engulfed the other fighter and perhaps fifty other vehicles, all of which fell burning out of the sky.
The van's descent ended abruptly just meters above the permacrete surface of the city floor. Jalia leaned forward, peering through the windows until she found what she wanted. She brought the van to a halt and turned to her son. "Get out and go stand on that curb there."
"Now, Tobin!" she barked.
Tobin did as he was told. He watched as the van soared up and away, leaving her standing on the other side. She kept her eyes on the van as she backed slowly toward him.
A moment later a second pair of fighters swooped toward the van, green cannons blasting away. The van disappeared in a ball of fire, and then ceased to exist.
With a curt nod to herself, Jalia grabbed Tobin's arm and led him up the sidewalk. "Mom, I'm really scared," he said.
She paused and knelt down before him. She took his face in his hands and stared hard into his eyes. "I know you are, Tobin," she said gently. "I'm so sorry this is happening to you. I tried to protect you as best I could."
She pulled him into a tight hug and held him there for there for the longest time. Then she pulled back and stood. "We need to get going. We don't have much time before we have to get off the planet."
An hour later Tobin crouched behind a trash bin near the thrift shop, waiting for his mother to emerge. His ankle was starting to throb. He tried the meditation exercises she showed him, but all they served to do was dull the very edge of the pain. The deep, grinding pain remained.
Jalia emerged from the store a few moments later carrying a bag of clothes. "Put these on," she said.
Tobin started to do as she said until… "Mother, these are girl clothes!"
"The Imperials are looking for a mother and her son," Jalia said. "You'll survive being embarrassed. You won't survive euthanasia. Just put them on."
Tobin was an ordinary boy. He was not above resisting his mother's orders or even fighting with her. But when the magistrate came in and announced his death, he knew so much fear that the minor embarrassment of wearing a dress no longer seemed important. He pulled the clothes on, and then stood patiently as his mother pulled a brunette wig over his own short-cropped hair. She then applied a touch of make-up to his cheeks and lips and leaned back to view her results.
"The miraculous ambiguity of youth," his mother said. "You're as beautiful a girl as you are handsome a boy. This might buy us enough time to get to our contact and get you off planet. How's your ankle?"
"It really hurts."
She knelt down and he could see from her face that it was a bad break. Still, she held it with both hands and the grinding pain faded away not before numbness, but before a heat that bordered on the unbearable. He lost all track of time as she knelt before him. His hand rested on the silky strands of her hair as much for balance as comfort. The heat was more intense than anything he'd felt, but it did not burn him.
"There," Jalia whispered with an exhausted gasp. She did not stand—rather she rocked back and sat on the permacrete. She suddenly looked gaunt and sweaty.
"Let's just say you are already a more powerful healer than I am," she told him. "But you should at least be able to walk on it. Don't run, for Force's sake, but you should be able to walk now for at least an hour or so."
He put weight on it, and was delighted to find that the deep, grinding pain was gone. It was definitely tender, but it no longer hurt nearly as bad. "Thanks, Mother," he whispered.
"You're welcome. Now, come on. We don't have much time."
"Where are we going?"
"To a sanctuary," she said.