She had remained remarkably resilient against his torturous interrogation. Not only had Darth Vader had used the most specialized and terrifying interrogation droid known on the market but he had also used his own powers assisted by the dark side of the Force. Whether she had unknowingly or purposely set up shields around herself, Vader was unable to break through them even though she hollered and screamed as the droid stuck her with needles filled with different kinds of poison to make her tell the truth. Her scream turned into a horrific blood-curdling howl when he tried to press inside her mind. But still, she resisted.
The Dark Lord of the Sith found this baffling; anyone else would have crumbled and succumbed to the interrogation. Not her, she was different. Unfortunately time was not in his favor and he didn't get to ponder much about it due to the infernal Rebellion making their attempt on his master's new weapon. Soon the pests would be crushed and he would find out about the Princess and her remarkable mind….
Princess Leia Organa had been rescued from the Death Star by a young man named Luke Skywalker, a scruffy looking space mercenary (so he deemed) named Han Solo and his ever trust worthy co-pilot Chewbacca.
The Princess had been weakened by her interrogation when Luke came crashing into her cell, but she wasn't going to let that stand in her way. They managed to escape the Death Star with the all-important technical readouts of the station. While flying to the base with what the smuggler, Han Solo, called a ship, Leia argued with him about having decency of staying with the Rebellion and if he cared about anything other than himself. He made it very clear to her that he only cared about two things: Money and himself. As she stormed out of the cockpit, Luke voiced that he cared about her and the Rebellion, but it went on deaf ears.
They reached the planet called Yavin IV where the rebel base was currently stationed everyone was preparing themselves for an all-out battle. She could hear Han and Luke arguing over something, but stayed far enough away until Luke walked away disgusted.
"What is it?" She asked approaching him from behind.
"Oh it's Han," Luke said discouraged.
"Don't worry about him; he has to make his own decision. You just keep a clear mind and make sure you come back to me, I mean us." Leia cringed inwardly at her mistake but the smile Luke had on his face made her grin. "Take care up there."
"I will Leia," he lightly squeezed her hand and then headed to his ship.
Leia could scarcely believe her eyes and ears. He had come back! Han had actually come back and helped destroy the Death Star! Well, he cleared the way for Luke to make the victorious shot. With a super nova explosion the weapon was destroyed and the remaining rebels returned to base.
"Luke!" Leia yelled through the gathering crowd as he tried to climb down the latter of his X-wing.
"Leia!" He shouted joyfully back as he pushed and shoved his way through the mob of cheering people.
She flew into his arms and they wrapped each other in an embrace. "Hey! Save some for me!" Leia's eyes wide turned toward the deep, silky voice.
"Han, I can't believe you came back!" Luke shouted over the noise.
"Couldn't let you have all the attention now Kid, could I?" He grinned cockily.
"I knew there was more to you than money!" Leia beamed and wrapped her arms around Luke and Han's waist as they walked away from the hanger.
"Did you now?" Han raised a brow at her.
"Of course, you couldn't rescue a princess from a detention cell and then just leave her could you?" Leia was in too good of a mood to let the smuggler get under her skin.
"No I guess I couldn't," Han said more to himself than to his two new friends.
"There is a disturbance in the Force," Emperor Palpatine crackled at his apprentice.
"Yes My Master," Vader crouched before his master, the supreme Sith Lord and ruler of the galaxy.
"The boy who destroyed my Death Star must be found. He has whispers in the Force and could be potentially dangerous. He must be found and destroyed."
Let his attention be drawn on this boy while I find out about the Princess…Vader thought distractedly. "Lord Vader, I sense that you do not agree?" The emperor hissed.
"No my Master, I will find out all that I can about the boy and when I do he will be crushed as well as the Rebellion."
"Do not fail me Lord Vader. I am already unhappy with what has become of my weapon," to ingrain his point across, through their connection the emperor released a blinding knife-like pain through Vader's skull. "You are warned."
It was supposed to be a routine flight, gather some equipment and necessities and then join back up with the fleet. Luke and Leia were also scouting for the next possible base for the rebellion. Nothing ever was routine as Leia was quickly finding out. Their shuttle old as it was, still had some get up and go but seemed to use the rest of its life on this small mission and decided to take a nose dive and die. Luke and Leia both prepared themselves for a crash landing and Luke tried to set them down as gently as possibly.
"Owe…" Leia mumbled as she rubbed her head where it met with the dash. "Luke? Luke are you okay?"
"Yeah," he groaned next to her. Luke sat up slowly, a small trickle of blood coming from his nose. They both unbuckled their restraints and looked back into the shuttle. "Well we can salvage most of the equipment but the food is a goner."
Leia let out a soft sigh. "How are we going to get out of here?"
"And where is here?" Luke sat back into his seat and closed his eyes momentarily. "Well we can't stay here and our communicators are busted. We should see if there is a town or something we can get a small ship or send out for help."
"We can't send out for help Luke," Leia reprimanded. "Imperials are scouting everywhere."
"Right, fine, but we should at least look around and see if any sign of life is around." In agreement, Leia and Luke secured their shuttle as best as they could and set forth to look for any sign of life.
"Jungle, jungle and more jungle!" Leia sliced another branch with her vibro blade that was in her way. "There is no sign of life except for bugs and plants!"
Luke who happened to be in front of the princess rolled his eyes. She had been complaining the whole time they had been walking and he was getting tired of it. "You could have stayed with the shuttle," he said at last.
Leia mimicked his voice just in a higher tone and then said, "and if you came across something and got into trouble how would you let me know if you needed help? Or what if you got hurt? No, we have to stick together."
Something in her tone brought Luke to a halt. "Leia, I won't leave you, you know."
She met him with stare. "Don't make promises you can't keep Luke." She trounced ahead of him and he continued to stare at her as she walked. She had known the ultimate heartbreak, had done the ultimate sacrifice: losing her planet, her home and everyone she knew and loved and Han was constantly threatening to leave her. Did he know how much it really hurt the Princess? Probably not since she always kept her guard up and feelings closed off except for the occasional outburst of anger. More often when she was around Han.
But Luke did understand. He had lost his home, his family and his mentor all in one day as well.
Locked in these thoughts, Luke ran right into Leia's back nearly knocking her into the ground. "Leia, what the…" Luke stopped in mid-sentence to see what Leia was looking at. Two huge furry beasts stood in front of their path glaring down at them. Two protruding tusks stuck out of their mouths and their eyes shown intelligence that most beings would overlook.
"We mean no harm," Leia said.
"Who are you and what do you want?" The one on the right, the bigger of the two demanded.
"We crashed our shuttle and are looking for help to get back to uh…home," Luke filled in. He didn't want to say anything about being a part of the rebellion incase these creatures were going to be their enemy.
"Not very smart to crash your shuttle is it?" The smaller one said.
Luke slightly blushed. Leia relaxed her shoulders a bit, feeling these creatures were not their foes. "I am Leia," she introduced but left out her last name and title as well as Luke's. "This is my friend Luke. We didn't mean to crash and we have supplies back in our shuttle that we much get back. Can you help us?"
"We will only help if you help us," a new voice came from behind. Leia and Luke whipped around to see an elderly woman walking out from the brush. "I am Halla."
"You're Force sensitive!" Luke exclaimed. He never thought he would run into another Force sensitive and yet here was one walking right up to him.
"I am young one as are you." She turned to Leia and gave the princess an odd look which Leia took defensively.
"Why should we help you?" Leia snarled.
"Because I can get you off this planet if you will do something for me." Both Luke and Leia eyed the woman wearily. She could be anyone, a spy, an Imp or a friend. Luke stretched out with his senses and only felt longing for an item.
"I seek the Kaiburr Crystal," Halla circled around the two and stood in between the two large beasts.
"What is it?" Luke asked.
"It helps strengthen Force powers such as in healing."
"What else do you want it for?" Leia, ever suspicious narrowed her eyes at the woman. There was more to this crystal than Halla was letting on.
Halla wasn't going to be goaded though. "If you want off this planet you will help me." Leia and Luke looked at each other. What choice did they have? Keep on walking and hope they would find some sort of civilization that had space worthy ships?
"If we help you, you have to promise us that we'll get off this planet," Leia insisted.
"Word of honor," Halla promised. The woman explained where the crystal could be found all of them headed toward the caverns.
"How come no one else has found the crystal?" Luke asked. He had so many questions for this Force sensitive woman, but right now he had to focus on the mission.
"They are rare and only call out to those with the Force." She explained.
"Then why haven't you found it?" Leia slipped on a rock and was helped up Hin. She learned the two creature's names, Hin and Kee and rather liked them more than Halla. Leia gave Hin a grateful smile and continued to walk.
"I don't think I have made it deep within the tunnels to feel it yet," Halla explained. It seemed fishy to Leia but she didn't understand the Force anyway.
"Do you hear that?" Kee suddenly spoke up.
"Hear what?" Both Luke and Leia said at the same time. At that moment clicks of loading blasters surrounded them. "Kest," Luke cursed as they raised their arms up. Imperials circled them, blasters ready to fire.
"I knew this was a trap!" Leia growled.
Luke and Leia were thrown into a detention cell together separated from Kee and Hin who were thrown into another one. They had no idea what happened to Halla.
"This is all too familiar," Leia said sourly.
"We'll get out of here Leia, just hang on," Luke looked over their cell for any sign of weakness.
"We're just too trusting Luke. Way too trusting! She led us right into a trap. I should have known, at least by now." Leia folded her arms over her chest and eyes were to the ground. Luke stopped looking around the cell and approached his friend. He placed a hand on her shoulder and tilted her chin up until she was facing him. Her eyes still didn't look at him.
"It wasn't a trap Leia. Halla didn't know about the Imperials."
"How can you be so sure?" She finally looked up at him and weariness consumed them.
"I can feel it and I think you can too deep down. Have faith," Luke gave her a small smile and waited for her to respond. She searched his bright blue eyes and only found warmth within them.
"Okay Luke," she said softly.
Leia sat in the corner of their shared cell legs folded to her chest and arms and head resting upon them when she say a food tray scoot under the door.
"Food's here," she grimaced at the site of the mashed up gruel.
"I'll pass thanks," Luke had finally tired of looking for a way out and sat down next to the girl. Something caught Leia's eye within the food tray. She made a grab for the tray and dumped all the contents exposing a key.
"What is it?" Luke asked. Get out, he heard in his head.
"Halla," he whispered.
"What?" Leia asked.
"She slipped this in for us. Come on," he grabbed the key from Leia and forced it into the lock. They quietly as they could snuck out of the cell and to over to Kee and Hin.
"Younglings," Kee growled happily.
"Let's get out of here," Leia and Luke took lead, Luke with his lightsaber ready to be lit and moment's notice and Leia poised and ready with her blaster.
"There's a speeder waiting for you. Get to it!" Luke once again heard Halla's voice.
"She has a speeder waiting for us," Luke whispered. The sound of footsteps coming toward them, Leia, Luke, Kee and Hin plastered themselves to the wall.
"We'll take care of theses Imperials," Hin bared his teeth. "Get out of here and we'll meet up soon."
"Kee, Hin," Leia called after them, but they made a good distraction and Luke took the opportunity to get out. He grabbed Leia's hand and dragged her behind him until she came to her senses and started running beside him.
Blaster fire soon followed behind and Leia returned fire. "Where's the speeder?" She yelled.
"I don't know!" Luke shouted back. "She only told me one will be waiting for us!" Luke deflected a few lasers with his lightsaber.
"There!" Leia pointed. Halla was in a speeder of some sorts at the edge of the compound. Already gasping for breath from their run, they both made a bee-line toward the speeder with imperials on their tail.
"Jump in!" Halla shouted. Both did just that and Halla was off like a bullet through the thick jungle.
Untangling themselves from each other, Luke and Leia slowly sat back in the seat breathing heavily. "Was it you who put the food tray in our cell?" Luke panted.
"Yes boy," Halla said shortly.
"Where are you taking us now?" Leia sat forward so she could hear the response better.
"We need to get to the Temple of Pomojema. That's where the crystal should be."
"What about Kee and Hin?" Leia asked worry in her voice.
"If they survived they will meet us there. My dear trust me, please. It will work out."
Leia huffed and flung herself back upon the seat. How could she trust this woman when so far they knew nothing about her only that she wanted some stupid crystal and she was apparently a Force user!
They arrived at the temple and indeed Kee and Hin were there waiting for them which surprised Leia even more. "How did you escape?" She asked.
"Imperials are stupid and weak," Hin gaffed. They entered the Temple and Luke could immediately sense the crystal.
"It's not far," He said almost in a possessed voice which somewhat frightened Leia. They walked several hundred feet and were standing at the base of ceremonial statute of Pomojema. "In there," he pointed.
"Of course," Halla breathed. They broke open the base of the statue and there, a gleaming crystal called to them. Even Leia could feel its power. It was pulsating as if it were alive.
"It is alive my dear," Halla said as if reading Leia's thoughts. "It's alive with the Force."
"It's not the only thing alive!" Luke cried out. "Watch out!" He shoved Leia out of the way as a massive Hssiss or dark dragon bulldozed its way out from under the statue. It gave out an ear piercing roar and came after them.
"Get the rifles!" Halla yelled for Hin and Kee to go and grab. They dashed off which left Luke and Leia to fight off the monstrous beast.
Luke battled the beast with his lightsaber and Leia trying to get a clear shot with her blaster as they waited for the two to return with more fire power. In a desperate attempt to rid of the beast Luke decided to take out the one of the support columns holding the temple hoping to crush the dragon.
"No Luke!" Leia screamed. She desperately shot at the dragon which finally relented and disappeared but not before the support column falling. Leia made sure the coast was clear and the dust settled as she searched for her friend. Her heart was in her ears, she didn't think she could take it if Luke had been killed.
"Luke!" She cried out. "Luke!"
"Here," his voice strained. She tumbled over the broken debris and found him pinned under a large chunk of column.
"Oh Luke," she sobbed openly. Luke had never seen the princess loose her cool.
"Hey, I'm okay Leia. I'm alive. Go and get the Kee and Hin to help get this bolder off of me. I'll wait right here." She gave out a mixture of a laugh and sob at Luke's poor joke.
"I'm not leaving you." She turned to Halla. "Go get them! Luke's hurt." Halla wasted no time and went to get the two Yuzzem.
Just as the old woman left, Luke froze. "What is it?" Leia looked around but saw nothing.
"He's here," Luke grimaced.
"Who? Luke who's here?" Leia gripped his shoulder a little harder.
"I am Princess," the mechanical voice called behind her. There was no mistaking who that voice belong to and Leia's spine instantly stiffened. She slowly turned around and her nightmare stood in front of her.
It's a dream, it's a very bad dream and I'll wake up in my office because I fell asleep at my desk again, Leia squeezed her eyes shut willing the villain who tormented her so to go away.
"It's not a dream Little Princess and there is no escape this time. Your friends at the speeder are dead." Dread set in Leia's stomach. She turned to look at Luke who had a grim but determined expression.
"Young Skywalker, you have been quite difficult to track I must admit," Vader stepped closer and ignited his saber. The blood color saber illuminated the darken cave with an ominous florescent. "I do like prey that gives chase, makes the hunt and catch much more prized don't you think?" He taunted. Something wasn't right; all three of them could feel it. Vader could feel his self-control starting to waver and the urge to kill the two younglings in front of him almost consumed him. His attention soon drew to Leia who braced herself against the bolder that pinned Luke.
"How did you like our little interrogation Princess? Was it as good for you as it was for me?" He rasped.
"Shut up!" Leia thundered.
He could feel her anger radiating off of her. Yes, this is what he had to do to get into her mind. Anger was both a powerful tool as well as a weakness.
"How about your meeting with Tarkin? Did you like the presentation with your planet? I found it quite interesting, your reaction. Not even a tear for the people who you supposedly loved?"
"I said shut up!" Leia screamed at the Sith Lord and made a grab for Luke's lightsaber. The blue/white light clashed with the blood colored one.
"No!" Luke bellowed as he watched his untrained friend battle the dark lord. Leia had never even held a lightsaber let alone fight with one. Luke struggled under the bolder to free himself so he could join in helping Leia. "Leia don't!" He called out desperate for her to stop.
"Yes Little Princess, listen to your friend," Vader continued to tease, "give up."
"I'll never back down. I'll fight until I breathe my last breath!" Leia fought with ferocity but because she was untrained with the saber it was sloppy. Vader actually found himself admiring the tenacity of the Princess but blocked each blow she delivered to him. He was getting a bit over confidant but instantly changed when Leia spun around and delivered a blow that slightly burned the side of his helmet. They both heard Luke cheer on the Princess and Vader readjusted his attack. No more letting his guard down.
He went on the offense delivering blow after blow, forcing Leia onto the defense. She was growing tired having to block the vicious attacks the Sith Lord dealt. At the corner of her eye she could see Luke desperately trying to free himself and she hoped that he would soon.
"Your mind is strong Princess. What hides behind that brick wall of yours?" He took another cut at her midsection which Leia parried with an angry blow.
"You won't get the chance to find out Vader. You'll never get to touch me again!" She pushed at him tiredly.
Going unnoticed to any of them Halla had snuck back into to make a grab for the crystal which sat upon the Pomojema statue.
A howl of pain escaped from Leia has Vader successfully slashed his lightsaber across her middle again, creating a deep, seeping wound.
"Leia!" Luke screamed.
Leia's hand went to her middle and came up with a handful of dripping blood. Her eyes met the Dark Lord's lifeless helmet and he could feel they could all feel the blind white hot hatred she had toward him.
"Let me in my dear, I'll never stop haunting you!" Vader took the opportunity at the Princess's weakened state to strike at her again, cutting her across the face. She let out another howl of anger and pain. Weakening and fatigue setting in, Leia's parries slowed and he continued to taunt her which only fueled her fury. Yes, he could start to feel the bricks start to break in her mind.
"Your friend will perish because of your failure," Vader hissed.
"No," Leia panted. She made another try and slashed at his head but he defended easily and pushed her to the ground. He sliced at the back of her leg sending her screaming and cursing him back to the hells he came from. He secretly grinned under his mask. She was strong and his master was wrong. She was the one who needed to be captured not the boy.
Leia got back up despite her injuries and ignored Luke's shouts for her to stay down, but it was clear to Vader that she had nothing left. Leia wasn't going to give up though until he struck her down dead.
Luke suddenly noticed the rock that had him pinned was moving. He looked up with wide eyes to see the fatally wounded Hin moving the bolder off of him. "Help her," the Yuzzem gasped with his last breath. Luke quickly scooted out from under the rock and got up on wobbly legs.
Vader continued to taunt her and Leia even as exhausted as she was continued to fight until he took one last blow to her chest this one deep and fatal. "Leia! No!" Luke ran up and snatched his lightsaber turning to the Sith. "You Lord Vader will die now."
If Vader could laugh he would have. "You have come a long way in such little time, but you have much to learn young Skywalker."
"No Vader, you are wrong I am Obi Wan Kenobi," Luke said suddenly calmness overcame him. Vader halted in mid step, internally shaken. He's just trying to get to you! Get him you fool!
They battled like two Titians of almost equal force. Unknowingly the crystal was enhancing both of their Force powers, Luke deflecting each blow the Sith was delivering and even deflected lightening that Vader had thrown at him and thrown it right back at the Sith. With a bellow of outrage Vader charged Luke but Luke quick on reflexes ended up cutting off Vader's right arm. It tumbled to the ground with a dull thud.
Both mentally and physically exhausted, Luke was still poised to attack if Vader made the move. The Sith's labored breathing gave him an indication that this battle was over. With all the dignity he could muster and Luke not quite believing his eyes, Vader walked over to his dismembered arm and grabbed the lightsaber from it. He flicked it back on and it was a stare down between the two.
"Give up Vader, you have lost," Luke breathed heavily.
Instead of an answer Vader charged Luke but in his disoriented state of losing a limb and fighting to the brink of unconsciousness, Vader tripped over his dead arm and fell into the sacrificial well.
Did that really just happened? Luke asked himself as he peered down the well into the black abyss. He deactivated his own saber and ran over to Leia who lay bleeding and semi-conscious. "Leia can you hear me?" Luke didn't want to pick her up and further injure her, but she was bleeding to death.
"Luke," she groaned, "Vader?"
"He's gone," Luke heard footsteps behind him and jumped up and ignited his lightsaber. Halla walked up with the crystal in her hands.
"We have to get her out of here," Luke said urgently.
"Luke, I'm no Force user," Halla said softly.
"What!" Luke asked incredulously. Now was not the time to drop the ball on him like this.
"Take it, take the crystal. I don't deserve it." Halla tossed him the crystal and turned away.
"Wait, you promised to help us off the planet!" Luke shouted but his attention turned to the crystal as it started to glow and pulse in his hands. It also caught Halla's attention and she soon hurried over to Leia's side.
"It's healing you," She said in awe. It seemed the glow got brighter as he scooted closer to Leia. The blood stopped flowing and the wounds started to close.
"What's going on?" Leia sat up with a jolt. She was sore, beyond tired but her wounds were completely healed. Both Halla and Luke started at the Princess. "What?"
Halla indeed fulfilled her promise to help them off planet with providing a shuttle from her mining colony. They collected their equipment and then made their way into hyperspace.
"So you think this thing really healed us?" Leia asked as she and Luke laid down in their bunks for much needed shut eye. They wouldn't rendezvous with the rebellion for at least eight hours so they had time to relax a little.
"The crystal and the Force," Luke was turning the crystal in his hands. "But it doesn't seem to want to work now."
"What do you mean?" Leia furrowed her eyebrows at him.
"It's like it's all used up. Maybe it's a onetime use kind of thing," Luke let out a sigh and set the crystal down. "That was some fighting Leia."
"Yeah, I didn't even know I had that in me. That…" she struggled to find the right wording. "That thing can really push you to the edge you know?"
"Sort of, yeah. He seemed intent on getting something out of you," Luke prodded.
"Well he was after you," Leia shot back. "You blew up the Death Star remember."
"How could I forget," Luke scowled. "We're all wanted we just have to be a little more discrete next time."
"Hopefully there won't be a next time," Leia turned on her side and faced the wall. She hoped that she would never have to face that monster again. Vader had been right about one thing though, he would always be haunting her.