V.E.: YES, it's June. YES, you people have been waiting patiently for this next chapter. For the love of God, YES, I know I am late with this. At least this isn't an AN only chapter.
Listen, I get lazy, uninspired, and caught up with life and all of its troubles. It makes me semi normal. Another thing, how often do some your other favorite stories get updated? I try and update when I can and try to make it quickly. And I am very thankful you all have taken to this fic so quickly (though I will admit the many of you telling me to nix the original trilogy when I clearly stated how I felt in my ANs made me more than a little ticked off).
Now without further ado, I present to you the beginning of The Empire Strikes Back arc. Also to note, we will be going back to the past during this arc. (To any who are confused, consider the two parallel timelines. One in which Ahsoka disappeared for about twenty years and another where Ahsoka was found by the Jedi Order. Hence the title Paradox.)
Quote: "A lot of people like snow. I find it to be an unnecessary freezing of water."-Carl Reiner (Not my sentiments, but definitely Luke and Ahsoka's.)
Despite clothed in full winter wear and inside the base which had the best (only) heating system on this planet, Ahsoka Tano still felt frozen and shivered as she made her rounds walking around the base.
By the Force, I hate Hoth.
Ice planets weren't a new experience to Ahsoka, not by a long shot. Togrutas were known for living in rather hot climates and would often suffer in colder temperatures more than other species. Even after visiting Ilum and Carlac, even with her Jedi training, Ahsoka hadn't developed a resistance or an appreciation for the cold temperatures and the otherwise pretty snow.
Well, at the very least she had someone to commiserate with. Leia and Han seemed adjusted to just about any situation the Force could throw at them, but Luke had been raised on Tatooine and therefore had just as much tolerance for the cold as she did. The only distraction the two had for that was Jedi lessons and light saber training.
Speaking of which, when is that guy going to be getting back?
Before the Togruta could think a bit more on the subject (which might have been disaster since she would be walking and not paying attention), one of the many officers stepped right in front of her.
Ahsoka stopped as she nodded, giving the young man permission to go on.
"What is it?"
He stood at attention as he delivered his message.
"Princess Leia Organa would like to speak with you as soon as possible."
Ahsoka nodded, before she glanced over the soldier. She was pretty sure she had seen him before and was also sure of where that had been.
"Will do. Pardon me for asking, but aren't you one of the ones that came over from Onderron recently?"
The young man in his tightly bundled up snow clothes and slightly tanned face looked proud at her words.
"Yes ma'am! Karlan Maugvi, just came over last month. It's an honor to meet you Padawan Tano."
She smiled in amusement, having dealt with the reaction a lot especially from those who had come from Onderron and known about her particular involvement with a certain resistance movement over twenty years ago.
"The pleasure is mine. Now if you'll excuse me…"
Karlan took the hint and stepped out of the way, allowing the Togruta passed as she quickened up her pace to the control room where a certain brunette human princess was waiting for her. She passed through the snow covered floor, as dozens of ships were worked on with the maintenance crews and their pilots. It was a smaller hanger than she had been used to once, but it was the resources they had at the moment.
She could hear the Tauntauns' growls as some of the riders came in, glancing back to find Luke and Han hadn't come back yet. She sighed with disappointment as she turned back to her course to where Leia would be.
Things had certainly changed in the years since the ceremony, after Luke had blown up the Death Star and she had decided to stay on as a permanent member of the Rebellion. That, and being Luke's teacher, had kept her busy these past three years.
Firstly, she had become one of the main faces for the Rebels in recruitment (she was pretty sure the bounty the Empire issued on her was second only to Luke's). Ahsoka Tano, a name that hadn't been heard from in over nineteen years, was now a well-known former Jedi the Rebels were using to their full advantage.
One of the big changes that had happened was the outpouring support of Onderron's resistance movement. Despite having a very prominent Imperial base on the planet, she had found out that they were one of the biggest contributors to the Rebel Alliance's food supply. Once word had spread that the Jedi that had helped liberate Onderron all those years ago was with them, more people form Onderron had poured in to fight with Rebels and more supplies kept coming in.
One of the more meaningful things that had come in was a personal holo recording delivered for Ahsoka. It was a quite a surprise to the see the holo form of a quite older Saw Gerrera greeting her. He explained how it was impossible for them to have any real holo calls (in case of the Empire tracking them), but he said how it was really great to know she was alive. To be honest, it relieved her just as much to know the guy was still around.
Even if Lux wasn't there as well…
She mentally steeled herself at thoughts, forcing herself to keep walking and not show any emotion. It was in that holo recording that Saw had told her what had happened to some of their old acquaintances. While she was very aware that Admiral Ackbar was alive and with the Rebels (which relieved her) and that Yularen had died on the Death Star (to which she gave a respectful silence, remembering her Master's fondness for the man), she was a little afraid of searching for Lux in what she would find.
Apparently, he had been one of the few Senators that had spoken out publically against the Emperor's policies at the beginning of the Empire. While on a trip back to Onderron, his ship was 'mysteriously' attacked by space pirates. She didn't believe in the report any more than Saw had.
Enough is enough, Ahsoka. You've already grieved for him, focus on the present.
The second thing that had changed over the years was more obvious. Her montrals and lekkus had grown longer as she now resembled an eighteen year old, instead of an out of place fifteen year old. Though nowhere near how old she was considered to be, it was somewhat of a relief to her that she was aging. It didn't stop feeling a little funny how her student looked older than her though.
Speaking of Luke, that was the third thing had definitely changed over the years. The day after the ceremony, the two had gone right down to business on training. She explained the basics of the Force as best she could as Luke drank it all in. His questions weren't unreasonable, though several did leave her scratching her head. It didn't help how much Luke had been interested in that part of training while Ahsoka's own training had focused more on light sabers and combat. It frustrated her, but he told her he was glad for any information she had. He was also interested about the Jedi Order and how it had functioned and that she was more than able to give.
In the way of light saber training, that was going rather well. Luke had easily mastered the basics, even going into the more difficult moves with little problems. Sometimes Hand would come to watch, though mainly just to see her beat the crap out of Luke during their spars. It amazed her how much Luke was progressing, she was wondering whether Anakin had been this much of a prodigy. If she had to guess, he had a leaning toward the style of a Jedi Consular. Meditation also came very easily to him.
However, there was an unexpected effect to teaching Luke. Every time the two had been paired up for a mission, she was constantly telling Luke to step down, let her handle it, and do the safe thing. Which bothered Luke to no end and led to some pretty explosive arguments between the two. When they weren't together, she was worried out of her mind. She worried about Han and Leia, but that was nothing compared to what she felt for Luke when she wasn't there.
In other words, she was doing the exact same thing that Anakin had probably done when she was a Padawan.
She smiled secretly to herself, having learned a lesson these past few years.
Being a Padawan is one thing, having your own Padawan is another thing entirely.
That isn't to say the two's relationship was all bad. It was hard not to be fond of him, especially since he was Anakin and Padme's son. And she was pretty sure Luke held her in just as high regard, though a bit differently than how he had gotten close to Han and Leia.
She could still feel the force bond between the two at the back of her mind. The presence alone was enough to calm her down that Luke was alright. It was intimate, sibling like, similar but not the same to the Force bond she had with Anakin.
Finally coming to her destination, she took a small breath as she walked into the always busy control room.
Everyone (including a few droids) was at the monitors and diagrams, checking the readouts, making absolutely certain the plans for the next attack were sound and the Empire couldn't trace them here. While she had spent her fair time in the control rooms, she definitely felt better on the battle filed in an actually fight.
Her blue eyes wandered around the room until they found Leia over by a monitor in her white snow suit and hair braided up so it wouldn't be in her way. She walked quickly over.
Almost as if sensing the movement, Leia turned around to the Togruta and smiled.
"Hey, how's it going?"
Ahsoka shivered for good measure.
"When are we leaving?"
The brunette shot a reproving look at her friend.
"Not for a good while, I hope. The longer the Empire doesn't know where we are, the more we can stay in one place."
"Well, next time we have to move, can we not settle in a frozen wasteland? Just saying."
Leia's smile seemed to laughing at her friend's obvious discomfort.
"I'll put in a request."
Ahsoka smiled in thanks. One of the things that had improved along with teaching Luke had been her relationship with Han and Leia. Though Han was much more cautious to her, Leia and she had bonded almost immediately. Similar personalities and goals had given the two a lot to talk about. She had learned just as much about the Princess of Alderaan's past as Leia had about her days as Jedi Padawan (though she was very careful not to give away many names, it still felt to personal to her).
It was then she remembered why exactly she was there.
"Someone told me you wanted to see me. What's going on?"
Any traces of a smile left her face as she went back to her serious mode.
"Have you heard anything form Han and Luke?"
Ahsoka shook her head definitively.
"No, they haven't checked in yet. I can't say anything about Han, but I know Luke is alright."
Leia nodded, having been told a bit about the Force bond between the two.
"Oh, I see."
The Jedi picked up on the unsaid in her face.
"But that isn't all you wanted to ask me."
Leia cringed, but gave way as the worry showed on her face.
"Is he leaving?"
Ahsoka picked up on what this was about immediately.
"Han? Don't know. You know he's the type not to tell he's going until he's just about to leave. In his defense, Jabba the Hutt is not someone you want to owe money to. I brought back his son and he was ready to kill me and my master for kidnapping right there and then if Padme hadn't interfered."
"Still, why? I thought he would be staying with us, especially since he's been around for as long as you have. What changed?"
"Leia, you'd have better luck asking Luke with this (then again, that might be a disaster waiting to happen, she was a bit concerned about the love triangle the three had somehow set up). Han may trust me, but its Luke he's closer to."
"I guess you're right. Still, he's one of our best pilots. We need him."
One of Ahsoka's white markings raised themselves as her tone changed.
"We need him?"
Leia's face turned from worried to somewhat annoyed.
"I don't like that tone Ahsoka."
Ahsoka replied calmly.
"I'm just wondering who's asking this, Leia one of the leaders of the Alliance concerned over a pilot or Leia the young woman concerned with a crush?"
This caused a tinge of red to show in Leia's cheeks.
She held up her hands surrender.
"Alright, calm down. Listen, I'll talk to Chewbacca about this. He probably would know more than Luke."
Leia cleared her throat and composed herself.
"Very well, tell me what you find out. And let me know when those two come back."
Ahsoka nodded to the former princess of Alderaan.
"I expect the same."
With that, the Jedi Padawan turned away allowing Leia to go back to her monitors, only half focused on what was in front of her. Ahsoka didn't look back as she crossed the room and found her way out.
Stopping his Tauntaun to get a look around and unwrapping some of the protective gear for his face, Luke Skywalker felt like he was looking around at the same scenery he last checked.
Got to do this right, though. Ahsoka and Han will never let me hear the end of it if they thought I did something sloppy and rushed.
Sure enough, he saw a streak of something hit the surface. Keeping his eyes focused on what just happened, he felt a very distinct feeling of checking it out.
And Ben and Ahsoka both said to trust my instincts.
He pulled up his binoculars to get a closer look, seeing nothing of interest. He took them away from eyes, still a bit skeptical. Looking down at his arm, he brushed the snow off and pressed his communicator and began to speak.
"Echo Three to Echo Seven. Han, old buddy, do you read me?"
Han's reply was almost immediate.
"Loud and clear, kid. What's up?"
"Well, I finished my circle. I don't pick up any life readings."
A quick witted reply soon followed.
"There isn't enough life on this ice cube to fill a space cruiser. The sensors are placed, I'm going back."
Luke smiled, not expecting anything less from Han before answering.
"Right. I'll see you shortly. There's a meteorite that hit the ground near here. I want to check it out. It won't take long."
As he finished saying this, he clicked his transmitter off. As soon as he did this though, his Tauntaun began screeching and moving around nervously.
Luke went to steady the creature, patting her neck while speaking softly. He vaguely remembered one of his lessons with Ahsoka telling how sometimes animals could sense things coming before people could.
"Hey, steady girl. What's the matter? You smell something?"
He turned around to look to find himself face to face with a giant Wampa screeching at him. Before he had any time to react, the great beast swiped at his face and brought him down to the ground.
Starting to blacking out, he could only vaguely see his Tauntaun begin eaten. In his last moments before darkness, he reached out through his Force bond.
Then he collapsed into unconsciousness, unaware that he was pulled by his leg straight back to the creature's den.
V.E.: Thank you Mastermind4892 for giving me that idea with Onderron.
I know this is a short chapter, but please understand that writers have limits. Don't expect an immediate update either as I have several other stories that I have some good inspiration for that need updating.
Please review. Speaking of which, come on 300th review!
Thank you for reading. Until next time!