Chapter 21

A New Dawn

There was barely room to land the starfighter when they arrived back at the hanger. Not with the technicians, soldiers, engineers, and council leaders crowding into the hanger to cheer the heroes welcome. Leia maneuvered the starfighter in to the position signaled to her and slipped off her helmet. They'd made it back.

The crowd roared ever louder when the canopy to their y-wing popped open and Leia and Obi-wan immerged. Her face scanned the throng of allies for friends and she quickly slid down the ladder. A moment later Obi-wan hopped down and she wasted no time embracing him.

He squeezed her back, a big broad smile playing on his face. No longer the stoic Jedi Knight; for at least this moment, she knew he was relishing their victory. Or probably more likely, the fact that they'd all made it.

Fellow rebels swelled in the crowd to shake their hands and pat their backs. For her part, Leia knew she should be attempting her usual role of the demure princess but as elated as she was, she just vigorously shook the hands of anyone that offered and constantly fought the urge to laugh for the sheer hell of it.

Then a voice broke through the crowd and a tall man with a battered and somewhat crispy flightsuit charged through. Han grabbed onto her and she threw herself into his arms, wrapping her hands around her neck as he embraced her.

"I told you I'd have your back sweetheart!" he said.

"I never doubted you!" Leia laughed as they broke apart. Han slipped past h er and wrapped an arm around Obi-wan, laughing in shared camaraderie.

Biggs showed up just behind Han and more embraces were shared. Then the crowd parted wide for a Chewbacca, charging in a full on wookiee bulrush. The wookiee howled in excitement before scooping Han up and holding him high in the air like he was some sort of child.

"Easy Easy Chewie!" Han said. "I told you there was nothing to worry about!"

Another flurry of movement caught Leia's eye but by the time she followed it, Winter had Biggs wrapped in her arms and her lips planted on the pilot's own. Obi-wan let out a chuckle and Leia found her hand covering her mouth in astonishment. Stern and stoic Winter doing something like that?

Finally they broke apart and pulled away, blush covered Winter's cheeks and her eyes darted to the side as she attempted to recover her usual demeanor. Biggs grinned widely and scratched the back of his head nervously.

"So you're saying you're glad I made it?" he finally said.

"Oh do shut up!" Winter said but the corners of her mouth kept quirking up. "And you'll need to shave if you ever expect that to happen again."

Maybe out of happiness to see her friend again, or out of a desire to spare her further embarrassment, Leia grabbed onto Winter's hand and pulled her away; hugging her childhood companion tightly. Then before she knew it, Chewie appeared behind her and grabbed nearly the whole group in his massive arms and pulling them into some sort of wookiee group hug. Even Obi-wan didn't escape!

The crowd parted again and two more figures appeared. Suddenly the rush of their victory ebbed somewhat as they looked on them. Unlike the rest, they seemed rather uncertain and doubtful. Something completely understandable given the circumstances.

Luke Skywalker stood next to the clone commander known as Cody. The clone kept his eyes on Kenobi, more determination than doubt showing in his features. But Luke looked truly out of place, and not simply because of his TIE fighter flight suit sans the flightmask and helmet.

"Hello," he said, his eyes darting from Han and then to Obi-wan. Even without the Force, Leia could sense the uncertainty rolling off of him. "I guess I have a lot to explain…"

Then Biggs broke off from the group and ran to his friend. Without a word he clasped his arms around him and a smile actually broke onto Luke's face.

"This man fought off Darth Vader himself and saved Kenobi and the Princess!" Biggs called out. "Let's hear it for Luke Skywalker!"

Not needing any further motivation, the crowd bellowed enthusiastically and Biggs guided Luke over to the group. Winter greeted him politely as did Leia herself, even thanking him for what he had done, knowing how hard it must have been.

Then Luke found himself standing before Han.

The two men stared at one another. For a moment Leia feared it might turn ugly, especially with Chewbacca hanging just behind Han, slightly glowering at Luke as he approached. But Luke swallowed hard and met Han's eyes.

"I'm sorry Han," Luke said. "They all lied to me. I thought you killed Mara."

Slowly Han nodded then held out his hand. Luke eyed the hand doubtfully before taking it and the two exchanged a firm handshake.

"I'd have to hate the entire galaxy if I hated everyone that had ever tried to kill me," Han said as his lopsided grin reappeared. "Just don't let it happen again."

Luke smiled and cast his eyes over the group, knowing some had accepted him and others may never do so. But he looked infinitely more relieved than he had mere moments earlier. At least until his gaze drifted to Obi-wan.

The Jedi Master didn't approach Luke. He didn't try to get answers out of him or apologies or anything. Perhaps Obi-wan knew that Luke had already been through more than anybody could ask of him in the last few hours. Maybe he simply didn't want to make a scene. But either way he favored Luke with a courteous nod, one that Luke reluctantly returned.

And that was enough for now.

The group fell into a general merriment, only paused when C-3PO arrived and saw the condition of R2. Leia herself felt a tremor of fear for her little companion but the technicians seemed confident they could repair him. C-3PO offered to donate his own parts or circuits in the effort to repair the little droid.

Together, the group left the hanger with the cheers from their allies accompanying them. For the first time since she had stolen the design schematics of the Death Star and sent a message to Obi-wan, proclaiming him to be her 'only hope' Leia finally felt that hope for herself.

And as she left the room, she thought she heard gentle laughter coming from around her. Laughter that sounded like it could have come from a long dead Jedi Master. She eyed Obi-wan but he didn't seem to notice Qui-gon's voice at all. She would be sure to share it with him someday.

The techs were putting the finishing touches on R2. Most of the carbon scoring had been scraped clean and fresh parts had been inserted replaced. They wouldn't know if the little droid was fully operational until they switched him back on, but thankfully the repairs had gone well enough for them to be optimistic. Leia and Luke were set to come by soon to see for themselves. But besides them only one remained to watch the work on the astromech.

The golden droid stood silently vigilant, pacing every now and again in front of the window that separated him from the shop and his counterpart. For droids to have such a strong connection was rare, most went through memory wipes frequent enough that they had to be reintroduced by the time they really got to know each other.

But no one was going to memory wipe the protocol droid any time soon. Not if Boba Fett had anything to do with it.

The bounty hunter stalked over to the golden droid, casting his eyes about for any onlookers. Most everyone else appeared to be occupied, getting ready for the award ceremony. Funny how Boba was the one that first sprung the Princess out of the Empire's hands but they weren't giving him a medal. Not that he wanted one. Right now the droid had everything he wanted.

"Oh! Boba Fett," the droid said, alarm creeping into his voice as soon as he saw the bounty hunter. "I'm… I'm afraid that I can't help you. I have to remain here until I know that they've reactivated Artoo."

"That's alright," Boba said. "I'm not here to talk to you. I'm here to talk to the other guy."

"I beg your pardon?" Threepio looked around. "The only two in this room is you and I. What other guy?"

"Shut up," Boba took another step closer to the droid. "I know you can hear me."

"Now there's no reason to be rude!" Threepio said but held his arms up defensively when Boba advanced toward him again. "I have no idea who you think you're talking to! If you'll just look around you'll see…"

The droid's voice faded off and his photoreceptor's blinked before adopting a crimson light. Boba crossed his arms and waited as the one he really wanted to talk to became fully activated. In the future he was going to do some research on whatever method the other droid had used to insert his programming into the protocol droid's.

"Query: Why have you decided to bother me, mandalorian?" HK-47 said with his trademark static-filled hissy voice.

"I'm altering our deal," Boba said. "These rebels are never going to trust me and I've got better things to do than try and earn their favor. Especially once Vader realizes I'm not working for him anymore."

"Statement: You are in a very poor position to alter our arrangement," HK-47 said. "We agreed that you would work for the Alliance for a year in order to get your ex-wife out of carbon freeze."

"I could blast you right now and track her down myself," Boba said.

"Statement: You are most welcome to try, but I guarantee that you'll never find her without my help," HK-47 said. "Suggestion: You would do well to find more constructive uses of your time rather than pose idle threats at me."

"I could tell the rest of them here about you," Boba said, gesturing at the techs. "Kenobi would have you removed from the protocol droid's memory and downloaded onto a data crystal without a second's thought."

"Rebuttal: Which would leave you exactly where you would be if you blasted me," HK-47 said. "Your only choice is to honor our arrangement."

"Well I can't like this," Boba hissed. "Gaining their trust will take time, meanwhile I have jobs to do."

"Resignation: Oh very well," HK-47 seemed to sigh. "It would appear that your own reputation will make things very difficult. Statement: We can amend the deal. You will be free to work freelance all you want, provided you continually offer your services to the Rebel Alliance. Even working pro-bono if you have to, to gain their trust. Furthermore, you will not take contracts that actively harm the Alliance."

"Pro-bono?" Boba said. "You do know that most my jobs come from the Empire right?"

"Answer: And now they'll come from the Rebel Alliance," HK-47 said. "Addendum: Since I am allowing for you to work freelance, thus obtaining jobs elsewhere besides the Alliance, the timeframe of our agreement will have to be extended. Your service will now last three years."

"Three years!" Boba almost charged at the droid. "No karking way I'm working for them for three years!"

"Statement: Those are the terms. I have already made my concessions, they are the only way you will ever see Sintas alive again," the droid said.

"And see Windu dead," Boba narrowed his eyes. "Don't think I forgot about that other part."

"Statement: Of course I didn't forget."

"You still haven't offered me any proof that he's alive."

"Statement: And for all you know, he's not," HK-47 said. "Conjecture: Imagine if you will, how did Mace Windu's lightsaber come to be in G0-T0's possession? It was lost on Coruscant when he dueled Darth Sidious."

"But if he's still alive," Boba said. "Then why hasn't he surfaced during all of this time. Why wasn't I able to find him?"

"Clarification: I suggested the Jedi was alive," HK-47 said. "Not that he was well. Query: Are we done now?"

Boba glared at the droid, knowing it couldn't see under his helmet but it didn't matter. The droid might as well have been press-ganging him into the service. It had taken Boba years to garner the reputation he had as the best bounty hunter in the galaxy. If he had been able to go through with his original plan to deliver the rebel's hidden base to the Empire, he would be the most renowned of all.

Now all his plans went straight out the airlock.

"Fine," Boba said. "But I swear that if I find a lead on Sintas and Windu, you'll find our agreement changing very quickly."

"Statement: We shall see."

"And what about you? How will I know that the next time I want to talk to you that you'll still be shaking up in the protocol droid's head or if you've put yourself in an R2 unit?"

"Answer: Put myself in a maintenance droid? How dare you! I'm not some sort of barbarian!" The droid actually advanced on Boba as if to threaten him. "Digression: For the time being, it suits me to remain in the protocol droid. Their rather ubiquitous nature across the Galaxy will allow me to serve my primary function of assassin much better than in my original body. At least for the time being. The Princess will soon find her list of enemies growing mysteriously shorter."

A chill ran up Boba's back. He didn't much fear this droid but even he couldn't deny the effectiveness such a droid would have in assassination while wearing a protocol droid suit. Still, he kept such thoughts to himself, no sense in betraying himself to the droid.

"Advisement: Don't bother me again unless it's very important. You'll find that even a protocol droid can be deadly when being… handled by the right driver. Until next time, meatbag."

With that, the droid's photoreceptors flickered back to their usual bright color and C-3PO once again asserted himself. He looked up at Boba and instantly a hand came up, almost as if trying to gain some sort of authority.

"Now as I was saying, there's no one else here but you and I. If you continue to threaten me this way I will be forced to call security!"

Boba sneered under his helmet but said nothing. Turning around and heading out the way he came he made a silent vow to disintegrate the droid someday. Whether or not it still had the HK-47 programming in it.

The ceremony was drawing near and yet Obi-wan wanted nothing more than to continue sitting upon the top of the ziggurat. From there he felt the life teaming on the surface of Yavin's moon and felt closer to the Force.

Odd for a place that thousands of years ago saw the genocide of an entire race just so a vile Sith Lord could attempt to cheat death.

Yet Exar Kun's evil had been stopped here on Yavin because of a diverse group of Jedi, spacers, patriots, and even traitors. Perhaps things did not change all that much. A very similar group, one that Obi-wan now belonged to, halted the Empire's evil here too.

A lesson to take to heart.

As Obi-wan felt the Living Force, swaying through the jungles below, his thoughts turned to his masters, Yoda and Qui-gon. Surely none of them foresaw this. Obi-wan certainly never did. When he started his exile all those years ago, years he now had no memory of, he envisioned staying on Tatooine until he was old and gray.

But the Force, it seemed, had other plans for him.

With the immediate crisis over, and given Obi-wan's part in stopping it, the generals and councilors of the Alliance now enthusiastically offered him a spot in their ranks. They wanted him to be General Kenobi once again; the famed Negotiator of the Grand Army of the Republic.

The problem was, Obi-wan remembered all too well what that was like. The mantle of leadership always weighed heavy on his shoulders. As a general, as a Jedi Master, as a member of the Jedi Counsel, in every case he would have preferred to be sitting in a cave or atop a temple meditating.

But that was never his lot and he knew now that he had no choice but to step up to his destiny yet again. But he would not let others determine what that destiny entailed. He had just spent nearly twenty years frozen in a slab due to the whims of someone else.

"General Kenobi," a familiar voice came. So deep had Obi-wan been in his mediations that he hadn't felt the man's approach.

Slowly he stood but continued to stare down at the dense canopy of forest below. He sensed the man's determination but also the doubt and fear. Not surprising given what he had given up to be on this temple.

"Cody," Obi-wan said as the clone stepped up alongside him. "I rather thought we would be having this conversation sooner rather than later."

"Never been one to sit around when there was something that needed doing sir," Cody said. "So I suppose there's no sense in ignoring the bantha in the room. I tried to kill you per the Emperor's orders."

"Yes," Obi-wan said. "Thankfully you failed."

"Always knew that I did," Cody said. "They never said killing Jedi was easy, only that we had to."

"Because you were loyal to the Chancellor," Obi-wan said.

"Because we were loyal to the Republic," Cody said and Obi-wan looked at him finally, only to see the weathered face staring off into the forest. "We were told that good soldiers followed orders, that they don't question authority, and the highest authority told us that the Jedi were traitors. We did our duty."

"And what now then," Obi-wan said. "This certainly doesn't fall within the parameters of your orders."

"I've had twenty long years to think, reflect, and fight," Cody said. "And I've finally learned that a good soldier knows what and who he's fighting for. I was bred and trained to fight for the Republic. It's gone now, so are most my brothers. Now I want to fight to bring down what took them away from me."

"Destroying the Empire won't bring the Grand Army of the Republic back," Obi-wan said.

"No, but it will make me feel real good," Cody said with a sardonic smile but then his features straightened and he stood at attention. "It will also feel good to serve under someone that I know sees me as more than a test tube. That's how you Jedi always treated us."

"Unfortunately that's not true," Obi-wan said. "Too often we didn't consider what the cost was in our battles, you've learned to question authority… I believe that we all must do so as well. I should have fought less and questioned more."

"Then my question to you is, may I come back into your service General Kenobi?"

Obi-wan eyed the clone. A man, who the last he saw had attempted to kill him mere moments after sharing a joke. A man bred and trained to serve the Emperor to his dying breath, but also a man that had lived every one of the years that Obi-wan had missed and came out better for it.

"I don't know if I will still be a General," Obi-wan said. "I think given your level of experience I could offer you the job."

"I move men and metal sir," Cody said. "Not symbols on a map. Just give me a squad I can train and I'll be content."

"Actually," Obi-wan said. "I have a more important job for you. At least until I actually have a commission to offer you."


"The work crew got the new hyperdrive installed?"

"Yeah, amazing how quickly they can get repairs done when someone throws their weight around"

"Well after you made it clear that getting underway was a priority," Leia said with her arms crossed. "It really wasn't that hard to allocate the resources to fix this old ship. I'm just happy to see her back in one piece."

Leia, Han, and Luke all stared at the J-type Nubian Starskiff, one of the last links Leia had to her home. It was after all, one of the official ships of the Royal Family of Alderaan. A royal family that now consisted entirely of Leia.

It would take her a long time to ever fully come to grips with what she lost, but for now, being surrounded by friends and having her Jedi training to look forward to helped. Part of that training she knew meant letting go of attachments; which made this decision obvious if not necessarily easy.

"You sure about this kid?" Han said. "It's a rough Galaxy out there."

Chewie descended the ramp, having been inspecting the repairs and muttered an agreement.

"I know," Luke said. "And I can't wait to see more of it."

Around them the hanger lay relatively deserted, save for the techs that had finished with the repairs on the starskiff and now moved onto working on the Falcon. Even though the starskiff wasn't leaving just yet, Leia made sure to take it all in. There was no telling when she would see it again.

"You're sure about me taking it?" Luke said. "I could always just leave with a transport and find my way from there."

"There are more than enough ships here for my needs," Leia said. "But if you really want to see the Galaxy then you'll need a ship. Unless of course I can persuade you to come with us, you'll get more than your share of travel then."

Luke shook his head. "Not yet. All my life my Uncle Owen tried to make me into a moisture farmer. Mara tried to make me into a puppet for the Emperor, and Vader wanted to make me his servant. If I stay…"

"Obi-wan will want to make you a Jedi," Leia said but her eyes locked onto Qui-gon's lightsaber still clipped to Luke's belt. "It seems that's what you want."

"Not from him," Luke said. "But there have to me more Jedi out there. Jedi that I can trust beyond a shadow of a doubt. I'm going to find them. That's the destiny I choose for myself."

"But you do know our offer stands," Biggs said, walking around a parked x-wing to get to them. Winter followed just behind. The space jockey smiled widely, a smile now more visible without his mustache. "You'll always have a place in the Alliance."

"I know Biggs," Luke nodded. "And once I find a Jedi Master I will return to you guys."

"You have our comm-codes," Han said. "You get into too much trouble you call us."

"I will," Luke said, his sparkling bright eyes faded somewhat as he looked across the hanger and saw Obi-wan walking toward them along with Cody.

"He's a good man," Leia said.

"Maybe," Luke nodded. "But I won't take anyone's word for it. Not anymore."

"Well then it seems that during our trip I will have to convince you otherwise," Winter said. "I assume my quarters are prepared."

"I still can't believe they assigned you to go with him," Han shook his head.

"With Kenobi's resurfacing," Winter said. "And there is always the possibility that G0-T0 had more Jedi than he told us. Command thinks it will be valuable to see if we can't find and recruit more."

"Besides," Biggs said. "Someone has to watch over the ship. Luke's good but he's likely to fly the thing into an asteroid field just to impress a lady."

"Funny," Winter said. "That seems like a stunt you would pull."

"Depends, would you be impressed?"

"Suicide is hardly impressive."

"We'll see about that," Biggs crooked a smile.

Han laughed and shook his head. "You got a lot to learn about women kid."

"And someone like you does?" Leia eyed him.

"Maybe," Han said with his own crooked grin, one that seemed to fit him much better than the smile Biggs had attempted. "You'll have to let me know later."

"Of all the-" Leia started but a beeping from her comlink fired off and she could only shake her head and Solo's comment. She would have the entire award ceremony to think up a come back.

Before they could leave, Cody appeared and approached Luke. He actually wore a smile, something that almost seemed out of place on his mouth, especially in contrast with his scarred and worn features.

"Skywalker," He said. "I hear you're going on a trip. You got room for one more?"

Luke crooked a grin of his own and nodded. "Glad to have you aboard Cody."

The great Throne room had perhaps never seen such a gathering. Certainly it hadn't in well over a couple thousand years. Yet now it sat filled with the men, women, and sentients that counted themselves as members of the Alliance to Restore the Republic.

Many wore dress uniforms, though most simply wore their regular issued attire. A soldier's uniform or a technicians outfit. Though even then they made the effort to have them cleaned and pressed as best they could. Moments to celebrate when on the run from the Empire were few and far between after all.

Upon the raised dais stood the generals and members of the security council. They of course wore crisp uniforms. But even with such finery, they hardly stood out. Not when the leader of the Alliance herself stood in a fine all snow-white dress.

After hearing about the victory over the Death Star, Mon Mothma herself had flown in. Of course rumors that Obi-wan Kenobi fired the fateful shot didn't hurt deciding the matter as to whether or not the senior statesperson of the Alliance would show. If for nothing else to see it for herself.

With all of the hustle and bustle before the ceremony, Obi-wan had not yet had time to meet with her but had no doubt they would have a conversation afterward. They had been little more than acquaintances during the Clone Wars but Bail always spoke well of her and he knew her to be on the short list of politicians he more or less trusted.

Obi-wan kept his eyes on her as they walked down the aisle created between the mass of officers and technicians standing in formation. Leia kept pace on his side, dressed in an exquisite white gown herself. Han Solo, being ever the rogue he was, still wore his trademark smuggler's attire. Not that clothes made the man. Something Obi-wan had insisted before Leia had the Alliance fabricate him a new Jedi Robe.

She still won out and now he appeared before them a proper Jedi. His only hope was that he could show Luke, walking besides Biggs, that in every aspect, the Jedi were not a threat. At the very least the boy had accepted the help of the Alliance.

The medals were passed out one by one. Obi-wan couldn't help but notice that after Leia received hers, she glanced at Han, who fired her a wink. He tried to push away the thoughts of the eventual conversation he might have to have about attachment with her as Mon Mothma presented the medal to him.

Off in the corner he noticed Boba Fett skulking, his small frame leaning against a pillar and his arm crossed. Almost begrudgingly, the bounty hunter gave a slow nod in Obi-wan's direction, or maybe it was to Leia who was also looking at him. Either way one of them had apparently earned his respect.

The heroes presented themselves to the Alliance and the chamber erupted in applause. Obi-wan's thoughts didn't dwell on the current hero worship, or on what lay ahead in the immediate future. Instead his thoughts turned to a short conversation he'd had with Leia before the ceremony.

"What will happen now?" she had asked him.

"Now?" Obi-wan said. "Now everything changes. The Empire will most assuredly strike back. Their vengeance will be swift, but it will not matter. Not now that you are here and the two of us can usher in a return of the Jedi Knights. The Force is with use Leia, always."

And that was the hope that Obi-wan held to. The Force had preserved him over the decades to fight once again. This time, this time he would do things right and train Leia in a way he never could Anakin. The darkness of the Sith would give way to the light of the Force created by his new friends and allies. It was now only a matter of time.

Thanks to everyone that took the time to read this and thanks to all you wonderful people that left a review. Even if your review was just about telling me how much I suck. I've had this story floating in my head for years now and I'm thrilled to have shared it now. As a special gift to those who made it to the end. Here's as short FAQ!

Why is Luke so Dumb in your story?

I never set out to make Luke to come across as dumb. Luke was my childhood hero. However, Luke, in A New Hope is a naive individual. He accepted every word Obi-wan told him without question and all the while Obi-wan was... bending the truth quite a bit. Part of the premise of this story was what would have happened if Luke hadn't had Obi-wan's guiding, wise, and most of all, noble hand to show him the way? Luke could very easily have been led astray by bad influences like Mara or Vader.

What's this about Mace Windu?

To be answered later

Since HK-47 and G0-T0 show up, does that mean other Kotor characters like Revan or the Exile might show?

Well obvioulsy the didn't but I felt having those droids survive all those centruies was a bit of stretch as it was, let alone bringing those famous Jedi forward.

Sequel? Will there be a Sequel?

I'm certainly guilty of baiting it aren't I? The answer is to that question is... someday probably. I've got a lot of ideas for a sequel and another after that (it is based on a slightly famous trilogy after all) but I'm not quite ready to begin crafting those stories. I first have other tales in other fandoms that I've neglected in favor of this story and I need to put some effort into finish those first.

That said, while I'm not ready to do an AU Empire Strikes back, you can expect within a couple of months to see the first installment of Lost Knight:Interlude something that might be an anthology type story detailing some short adventures of Obi-wan and his new padawan set in the three years between A New Hope and Empire Strikes back.

Once again thank you to everyone that's read this and commented on it! May the Force be with you!