Hey! I'm not dead! I know, I know, I'm supposed to be working on We're Just Kids and I'll Leave the Love. Those are currently in progress, I swear! Chapter six of I'll Leave the Love should be up in the next few days.
But anyways! Here is chapter two of Even Fairy Tales Must Come to an End!
SPOILERS: The first half of A New Hope
WARNINGS: Canonical character deaths
Ryven stared up at the old hut, the scent of tea wafting towards her in the evening air. She rapped quickly on the door, and a minute later, Obi-Wan opened it.
"Ahsoka!" he exclaimed warmly.
She laughed and hugged him. "I haven't heard that name in over two years, Obi-Wan," she said.
He raised an eyebrow. "Ah. Ryven Kial'yr, isn't it?"
She gave a sharp smile, and he snorted.
"Yes, yes. You are fearsome and not to be challenged. Now get in here and eat something, for Force's sake! You look like you haven't had a proper meal since you left!"
Ryven—Ahsoka—threw back her head and laughed as the old Master all but dragged her in the door.
Ryven told her old friend all about the two years she'd spent training Leia. Obi-Wan was very pleased. Then she put forward her plan to train Luke, and that got instant approval.
"I've been dropping hints about it for years now," he told her. "But Owen won't hear of it."
Her mouth thinned. "We can't afford to lose any more time, Obi-Wan."
He studied her. "You've seen something."
"Bits and pieces, but enough to know that the kid needs to know more than he does right now."
Obi-Wan nodded, and didn't press. "Alright then. He needs to meet Ahsoka first, not Ryven."
She tilted her head. "How come?"
He grinned at her. "Because I've been telling him stories. About a man named Anakin, a woman named Padme, and a girl called Ahsoka."
She groaned. "Master!"
Obi-Wan laughed. "I promise, I haven't made you into some untouchable paragon of power and perfection. But he knows that Anakin is his father, Padme his mother, and Ahsoka basically his aunt. I haven't told him about Vader yet, but I'm planning on it."
Ryven nodded. "That sounds like a plan." She snorted. "But with our track record, I'm pretty sure something is going to blow up in our faces pretty soon."
"Oh, undoubtedly." Obi-Wan's eyes twinkled. "Just give it a while. After all, Luke is a Skywalker."
Ryven burst out laughing. "Force help us all!"
That night, Ryven slipped into the fresher and spent nearly two hours removing all the cosmetics and dye from her person. Obi-Wan had to help her get it off her back lekku. She took out the eye filters and threw them away, and stood like that, back to the mirror, for a very long time.
"Ahsoka?" Obi-Wan asked gently.
She bit her lip, then took a deep breath and spun to face herself for the first time in two years.
Ahsoka Tano stared back, blue eyes still burning with that unquenchable will to survive.
Obi-Wan clapped a hand on her shoulder. "Welcome back."
She grinned. "It's good to be back."
Two days later, Luke came to visit.
They heard the old speeder pull up out front, the engine sputtering and clunking in a way that made Ahsoka cringe. "That thing needs so much help," she groaned.
Obi-Wan stared at her. "You haven't even seen it yet!"
"I don't need to! Just listening to it is making my teeth grind."
Obi-Wan dropped his face into his hand with a dramatic sigh.
She slapped his shoulder and went back to the datapad in her hand as Obi-Wan (Ben. It was Ben now, she had to get used to that) went to open the door.
"Ben!" the fourteen year old gave a lopsided smile that had Ahsoka's heart twisting.
By the Force, Anakin, he's practically your carbon copy.
The boy bounded in the door, already babbling at hyperspeed when he noticed Ahsoka and stopped short. "Who're you supposed to be?" he asked, head tilting to one side and innocent, crystal blue eyes locking onto hers.
And for a heartbeat, she felt like she'd been thrown back in time.
"And…..who're you supposed to be?"
Same head tilt, same eyes, same blinding, innocent light.
Ahsoka shook her head and laughed. "By the Force, Ben, a little warning next time before you catapult me into the past!" She rose to her feet, still staring at the boy.
"Um, not to be rude or anything, but that didn't make sense and I still don't know who you are." Luke said, rubbing the back of his neck.
"Relax, Kid." Ahsoka grinned at him, flopping back into her seat, and he instantly smiled back. "My name's Ahsoka Tano," she said.
His mouth dropped open and his eyes got huge. "Wait. You mean like—the one—how—Ben—that is so cool!" he shouted. He shot forward to sit next to her. "So you're a Jedi? You knew my father? Did you fight in the war? Are you a pilot? How do you know Ben? Is Ahsoka your real name? Do you have a special name that you use when you're undercover? How old are you? Where are you from? Why have you neve—"
Ahsoka exploded into laughter. Tears sprang to her eyes, and she wasn't really sure if she was laughing or crying.
"By the Force you remind me of your parents," she gasped, with another laugh that sounded rather sob-like.
Luke's big blue eyes filled with concern. "I didn't make you upset, did I?" he asked quickly.
She ruffled his hair. "No, no, you're fine. And yes, to answer some of your million questions. My name is Ahsoka, I did used to be a Jedi, I knew your parents very well, and yes, I am a reasonably talented pilot."
Ben scoffed. "Reasonably talented? Ahsoka, you are still more skilled than anyone I have ever met with the exception of your Master."
The stripes on her lekku darkened with embarrassment. "Well, he did teach me."
"Your Master?" Luke cut in. "You weren't a slave, were you? Oh, wait!" he cut himself off. "Your Jedi Master?"
She nodded, and he grinned. "That was my dad! Right?"
She laughed and ruffled his hair. "Right!"
He almost bounced off the seat. "Will you teach me?"
"It does seem rather fitting," Ben said softly. "I taught his father, his father taught you, and you teach him."
Ahsoka felt tears sting her eyes. "If that is truly what you want….."
Luke's eyes grew serious. "It feels right," he told her, "and Ben is always saying that I should trust in my feelings."
"In that case," she slid off the divan and knelt in front of the boy, clasping his hands in hers. "Luke Skywalker, it would be my honor to teach you in the ways of the Jedi, as your father taught me."
Luke's smile outshone the suns.
Ahsoka straightened and stretched, feeling her back pop. She'd been bent over the engine of Luke's speeder for the better part of the day, and she was really feeling it.
The young boy himself was still underneath the thing, babbling cheerfully about Biggs and the Imperial Academy and dreaming of the day he'd get off this dustball.
Ahsoka couldn't help but grin as Luke veered off on a tangent about how dustball was actually a very misleading term when referring to Tatooine because there wasn't really any dust. Just sand.
She loved this kid so much.
She'd been back on Tatooine for over a year and a half, and suffice to say Owen Lars had not been happy to see her—and that displeasure had multiplied exponentially when she told him that Luke was going to be trained. The boy himself had been thrilled, but the deciding factor had been Beru Lars.
Beru looked Owen in the eye and said, "How much longer are you going to try and keep a shooting star captive? The boy was made to fly, just like his father. You can try all you want, but someday, he'll be streaking through the stars, just you wait. And I, for one, refuse to try and keep him grounded any longer."
The woman spun on one heel and locked blazing eyes onto Ahsoka. "You teach that boy to fly," she said fervently. "You teach him to fly."
Ahsoka felt tears sting her eyes. "I will," she vowed hoarsely. "I swear it by the Force."
Ahsoka's smile turned into something far more nostalgic as the memory ended. Beru's faith in Luke, and her constant, gentle presence were an incredible encouragement to the boy. His skills in the Force and with his father's lightsaber were astounding, especially since he'd been training for less than a year.
"…and the power converters might need a little help, but the cooling vents are actually working now, which means we can…..Master? Master!"
She jumped. "Yes?"
Luke had rolled out from under the machine and was glaring at her, but she could feel his amusement through their training bond. "Are you listening to me?"
The stripes on her lekku darkened. "No," she said sheepishly.
Luke rolled his eyes, but he was full out grinning now. "Get your head out of the clouds and pass me that hydrospanner, would you?"
She quirked an eye marking. "And is there any reason you can't get it yourself?"
"The Force isn't to be used for frivolous things," Luke parroted one of Ben's favorite sayings and gave her his best impression of his displeased look.
Ahsoka snorted. "Right," she said. "I'm just going to ignore that and say that this is an exercise in control."
Luke grinned and held out a hand. The tool zipped through the air, curved around Ahsoka, and landed neatly in his palm.
She gave him a mocking bow. "Well done, my young Padawan," she drawled.
He laughed and rolled back underneath the machine.
They worked in an easy companionship, talking and laughing and sometimes not saying anything at all.
They'd been at it for a while when Luke's uncle came through the door of the garage. He nodded politely to Ahsoka, and she returned it before kicking Luke's leg.
"Oi, Kid," she said, and saw Owen stifle a laugh as a clang sounded from under the machine.
"Ow!" Luke yelped. He rolled out and gave her a rueful look, rubbing his shin. "What?!"
She grinned unrepentantly and gestured towards Owen.
The man shook his head and gave up on trying to hide his grin. "We got a message from Old Ben," he told the Togruta. "He said you should start back now unless you want to be running in the dark again."
Her eyes widened. "Is it already that late?" She leaped over the speeder with ease and bolted to a window. "Oh, kriff!" she hissed.
Luke snickered as she rushed around, quickly saying her farewells and grabbing her weapons from the rack at the door of the house—Beru flat out refused to let her have anything but her lightsabers inside. (Even though she had reclaimed her real identity, she'd grown accustomed to the vibroblades and blasters. Ben was very carefully not saying anything about it.) Beru gave her a warm hug at the door, with orders to be safe on the way home and contact them when she got there, and Owen gave her a gruff handshake.
Luke burrowed into her arms and wrapped his own around her waist. "I'll see you tomorrow, right, Master?"
She rested her chin on his head. "I still can't believe you'll be turning sixteen tomorrow."
He snorted. "Me either. I know you can't come to the actual celebration, but I can come to Ben's afterwards, right?"
She let go and teasingly thumped his forehead. "Of course you can. You can stay the night if you like, and if it's alright with your aunt and uncle."
Luke's eyes lit up, and he practically teleported over to his guardians. Ahsoka muffled her laughter with one hand. Luke could be astonishingly mature at times, but at others, especially around those he trusted, he was just so young and childish and full of life and she loved it. That was something that none of them, not herself, Anakin, Padme, or Ben had ever had, and she was overjoyed that at least one member of their little family got it.
Beru looked at her over Luke's head and called, "Yes, it's perfectly alright as long as you and Ben don't mind!"
"Yes!" Luke whooped, and Ahsoka laughed aloud as his joy swept over their bond. He gave her another hug, and she messed his hair up.
"See you tomorrow, Kid," she said, affectionately tugging the Padawan braid that dangled behind his right ear. Had they lived on literally any other planet, she wouldn't have dared to give him one—it was simply too noticeable.
But Tatooine was secluded enough, and the braid looked innocent enough, that they could get away with it here. Plus, Luke had asked for it, and Ahsoka seriously needed to develop some immunity to those huge, slightly teary, pleading blue eyes. She'd caved in less than ten minutes.
She decided to just be grateful that Leia considered puppy dog eyes "too childish" to use. (She also decided right then and there to never tell the girl how effectively her mother had used her own version of the Look to sway many a political opponent—the galaxy would be doomed)
Ahsoka sent one last wave of affection over the bond, then turned and sped into the desert.
Ahsoka stepped outside and yawned, stretching her arms over her head. It had been nearly five months since Luke's sixteenth life day. That had been the day she and Ben had chosen to tell him the entire truth—Vader, Leia, Palpatine, Ryven Kial'yr, Obi-Wan Kenobi—all of it.
The boy had taken it incredibly well, though Ahsoka could feel his turbulent emotions through their bond. Once the story had been told, he'd turned to her with wide, pain-filled eyes that shimmered with tears. She'd opened her arms, and he fell into them, and Obi-Wan wrapped his around her, and all three of them stayed there for a long while.
But Luke refused to let the revelation affect him. He maintained his bright, joyful outlook on life, still laughing and smiling—with the usual teenage sulking. But Ahsoka could see it in his eyes, the pain that the knowledge brought him. He didn't try to hide it from her, but neither did he dwell on it, and she knew that one day, he would be the greatest of them all.
But as for now, he was a sixteen year old moisture farmer with dreams that reached to the stars.
Ahsoka watched the suns rise, then headed back inside to help Obi-Wan with breakfast. There was an odd feeling to the air, and from Obi-Wan's subdued "Good morning, Little One," she could tell that he'd felt it too. They exchanged worried looks.
Something was going to happen today.
Whether it would be good or bad remained to be seen.
Are you and Ben at home?
Yes. Why do you ask?
Uncle Owen bought a couple of droids today, from the Jawas, and one of them has a message for Ben. He says he belongs to him.
Ahsoka frowned. That's odd. Obi-Wan's never owned a droid. At least, not that I can remember. Describe it for me?
It's an old Nubian R2 unit. Its called—
Ahsoka distantly registered the dishes in her hands crashing to the floor. R2D2?!
Um….yeah, actually. How did you know?
He's not Obi-Wan's, he was Anakin's! I—I lost him at the end of the Clone Wars. I figured he'd been captured, or dismantled, or something.
Luke was silent for a long moment.
Well. In that case, I suppose he belongs to you then, doesn't he?
I—I don't know. You're his son, so you have more claim to him than I do.
Luke was smiling, she could tell. No, I think he's yours. I just said your name and he went ballistic, wheeling around in circles. I don't understand binary very well, but from what the protocol droid said, he was ecstatic to hear that you're still alive.
Did you just say PROTOCOL DROID?!
Yes! Was he Dad's, too?
No. He was your mother's. Your father built him for his—you know what? Just bring them both out here. I'll explain everything then.
Alright, I'll be there as soon as I can!
Ahsoka turned around and bolted out of the kitchen. "Obi-Wan! Obi-Wan! You'll never guess who Luke just found!"
Ahsoka swore in Huttese. She was tearing apart every piece of machinery in the house and putting it back together while she waited for Luke and the droids to arrive. She couldn't believe that Artoo was still around! And C3PO! It was unbeli—
MASTER! The shout echoed in her mind, accompanied by a torrent of fear.
An abrupt spike of pain stabbed through her head, and she stumbled with a low cry. One hand flew to her montrals to try and stave off the headache that was taking up residence there, and her other hand reached out, locking onto the edge of a table to support herself.
Obi-Wan materialized by her elbow and guided her into a chair.
"Ahsoka?!" he said sharply. "What was that?"
"Luke," she gasped. "Raiders…..Luke…Blasted Skywalkers!"
She shot to her feet and sprinted out the door, calling her blasters to her hands with the Force.
Ahsoka sprinted out into the desert, tracking her Padawan's presence. It was sluggish, so unconscious, but it was there, so alive. She considered alive to be a success.
She could hear the Sand People now, just below her in a deep gully. She closed her eyes and reached for the Force, using it to determine where each of them were. She took a deep breath to calm herself, then dropped lightly over the edge of the gorge.
She was a good hundred meters from the Sand People, and they couldn't see her. She sucked in a deep breath and cupped her hands like Obi-Wan had showed her and screamed into them. The haunting, shrieking wail of a Krayt dragon tore through the air, and she had to bite her lip to keep from laughing as the Sand People leapt ten feet in the air and scattered.
She sprang from her hiding place and sprinted towards the limp form of her Padawan.
"Luke!" she called sharply, giving him a firm slap to the cheek. "Come on, Kid, wake up!"
"Ugh….M'st'r?" he mumbled, blinking up at her.
She sighed in relief and quickly reached through their bond, sending soothing waves of safety and healing. Luke sighed and rested his head on her shoulder for a moment before scrambling to his feet.
"The droids!" he exclaimed.
"Oh, boy," Ahsoka winced. "I hope Artoo at least has aged out of his disappearing acts. The Sand People will be back before long." She turned her eyes to the canyon walls. "Artoo!" she shouted. "Threepio!"
There was an instant explosion of beeps from their left, and the blue and white astromech came rolling towards them as fast as he could, letting out a continuous stream of whistles and beeps. He made a beeline straight for Ahsoka, and the Togruta dropped to her knees and hugged him.
Yes, he was a droid, but he was their droid. He was special.
Artoo beeped gently, and she laughed. "Yes, Artoo, it's really me," she said. She sighed and patted his dome. He whistled and chirped.
"I didn't think I'd ever see you again, either."
"You can understand him?" Luke asked, impressed.
Ahsoka grinned up at him. "Yeah."
Luke shook his head. You never cease to surprise me, Master.
She laughed. I should hope not, Padawan. Otherwise, I would be dreadfully boring.
Luke snickered, then his head jerked up as Threepio started wailing up ahead of them.
"Oh, no," Ahsoka groaned. "He hasn't changed a bit!"
Artoo let out a string of blips.
Ahsoka gaped at him. "Seriously? A memory wipe?"
He chirped in the affirmative.
She groaned again and banged her head against his dome. "Of course."
Artoo snickered. She smacked him and stood up.
"Let's go rescue His Royal Patheticness."
By the time they got the droids to Ben's and got them cleaned up, it was too late for Luke to make the trip back home, so Ahsoka contacted Beru to let her know Luke would be staying the night.
The woman laughed. "Of course I don't mind, Ahsoka. I'm thrilled that he's being allowed to grow to his full potential! But you make sure that you're taking care of yourself, as well." She leveled the younger woman with a look that made her hold up both hands and laughingly swear to do so.
Ahsoka said goodnight to Beru, then called Luke in to do the same. She went and sat down next to Obi-Wan, who was fiddling with R2's holoprojector—there was a fair amount of sand in it, and it was taking a good deal of care to get it out without damaging R2.
"Almost got it, and then we can see this message that was so important," he muttered.
Ahsoka heard the door open behind her, and a second later Luke flopped down next to her. "Aunt Beru said to tell you two that she loves you, and she expects you to be at dinner tomorrow night."
Obi-Wan and Ahsoka grinned at the boy. "Wouldn't miss it for the world, Luke," Obi-Wan assured him. "There! Now, R2, let's see this message of yours."
Artoo chirped obligingly, and a moment later a tiny hologram of—
Ahsoka sat bolt upright with a sharp sound.
It was Leia.
The message was obviously very important, but Ahsoka only heard one line:
"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
Ahsoka turned desperate eyes to Obi-Wan. "I cannot lose her," she said hoarsely. "We have to find her."
"Who—who is she?" Luke asked softly, eyes still riveted on the hologram. "I feel like I know her, but I don't."
Ahsoka rested a hand on his shoulder. "That's because you do. Luke, that's Leia."
His eyes got very wide. "Oh." He studied her a moment longer. "She looks different from the memories you showed me."
"Well, the last time I saw her, she was fifteen." Ahsoka pointed out. "She turned fifteen, was elected Senator of Alderaan, was inducted into the Rebel Alliance, told she had a brother, and told who I really am, all in the space of a few months." The Togruta shook her head. "She handled it incredibly well."
Luke grinned proudly. "She's amazing!" he exclaimed. "What are we waiting for? Let's go get my sister!"
"Slow down," Obi-Wan cautioned. "This isn't one of those things that you can just go tearing off, make a plan on the fly, blow everything up, and hope it works. This is going to take some actual planning."
"Master," Ahsoka said. "Every plan we've ever made has blown up in our faces. The only ones that even marginally work are the ones we make up on the fly to adapt to situation changes."
Luke snickered. "I'm going to guess you blew a lot of stuff up, too."
Ahsoka winced. "No comment."
Obi-Wan sighed. "Point."
Ahsoka offered a sympathetic grimace. "Well, our first stop needs to be Alderaan," she said. "I don't know where the actual base is, but Bail will. He'll also have the information and contacts we need to find Leia and rescue her."
Luke's face suddenly fell. "But what about Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru? I can't just up and leave them. They'll be needing my help. I—I can't leave Leia, but I can't—" he turned to Ahsoka. "Master, what do I do?"
"You trust your feelings," she said simply.
He glared at her, and she rolled her eyes.
Obi-Wan laughed quietly. "I'll start packing," he said, and conveniently disappeared.
"Come on." Ahsoka dragged Luke to the room that they used for meditation, and they sat facing each other, knees just touching.
Luke quickly calmed himself and slipped into meditation, and Ahsoka sent a soft wave of pride over the bond. He responded with a quick nudge of affection.
Obi-Wan joined them eventually, and they meditated for almost an hour when they began to pick up on a foreboding feeling that was growing stronger and stronger. The older Jedi tried to trace it, but it was evasive, refusing to reveal where it was going. The feeling grew stronger and stronger, and turned into a sharp sense of danger. Ahsoka identified the victims a heartbeat before the others, and a cry of denial ripped from her throat.
Then Death screamed into the Force, and Luke screamed with it.
He shot up off the floor and tore out of the house. Ahsoka leapt after him and tackled him before he'd gotten two steps out the door.
"No, let me go! Let me go! I can still—I have to—"
Ahsoka wrapped him tight in her arms and refused to let go. His pleading turned into sobbing, and he clung to her. She rested her chin on his shoulder and let her own tears fall.
Owen and Beru. Two innocent lives. Gone. Just like everyone else that got close to her.
Warm arms wrapped around her and her charge, and Obi-Wan wrapped them both in a wave of sorrow, love and understanding.
When Luke had sobbed himself out, the older Jedi managed to get him back into the house and into bed. Ahsoka started to let go of him, but a wave of complete panic blasted through their bond, and she just situated herself against the headboard and let Luke cling to her. He put his head in her lap and looped his arms around her waist.
Silent tears still streaked down both their faces. Obi-Wan slipped in again with two extra blankets. One he oh-so-gently tucked around Luke, and the other he wrapped around Ahsoka's shoulders. He settled himself next to Ahsoka, and she tilted until her head was on his shoulder.
They mourned together all night long.
The next morning, they returned to the Lars farm with great caution, but there was no need. It was gone. Burned to the ground.
Luke didn't weep again—not when they found his almost-parents, not when they buried them, not when they climbed back in the speeder and left it behind.
Ahsoka rested a hand on his shoulder. "How are you doing?"
He offered her a tiny smile. "My heart hurts," he said softly.
Her eyes stung.
"Don't ever forget this pain, Luke." Obi-Wan said. "Don't use it to fuel your hate or anger, but use it to remind yourself that there are things in this life worth feeling that pain for."
He nodded firmly. "I will never forget them," he vowed quietly.
Ahsoka said nothing, just gripped his shoulder tight.
They returned to Obi-Wan and Ahsoka's hut, and packed up their belongings. While Obi-Wan exchanged his robes for something a little more discreet, Ahsoka changed her features until she was once again Ryven Kial'yr.
Luke's eyebrows went up when she stepped out of the fresher. "Um, excuse me, ma'am?" he said.
"What?" she said, confused.
"Have you seen my Master?" he continued, keeping a straight face. "She's a Togruta like yourself, only with blue eyes and—"
"Oh, shut up you insolent little brat!"
She lunged forward, grabbing him and dragging him into a headlock. He wormed out of it and snickered. She met his eyes and he nodded once to her. A part of him was broken, but he would make it. He wasn't giving up anytime soon. She nodded back, and sent him a wave of pride through the bond.
"Alright," Ben said as he tossed the last pack into the skyhopper. "That's all of it." He looked at Ryven. "Mos Eisley?"
She grimaced, but nodded. "We can hire a smuggler to get us to Alderaan," she said. "The Cantina's our best bet."
"Lovely," Ben drawled.
Luke snorted. "And here we go."
"A Kenobi, A Skywalker, and a Tano," Ben shook his head with a rueful grin. "What could go wrong?"
Ryven lounged carelessly against the speeder. Luke and Ben were inside the Mos Eisley Cantina, searching for a pilot. She had volunteered to keep watch over the speeder and the droids.
So far, a Chiss, a Bith, and seven Jawas had tried to steal either the speeder or the droids. Threepio she protected. Artoo?
She sat back and smirked as the little astromech shocked the Force out of his would-be abductors.
The Bith had been pretty insistent, but she drew a blaster in her right hand and a vibroblade with her left and bared her fangs, and he backed off pretty quick. After that, she'd been mostly left alone with the exception of the Jawas.
Eventually, her companions came out of the Cantina, the younger of the two smirking in victory.
She straightened up and uncrossed her arms. "We got a pilot?"
Luke grinned. "Yep! He and his copilot are going to meet us in Docking Bay…" he faltered. "Um…"
"Ninety-four," Ben supplied.
Luke grinned sheepishly. "Yeah. There."
Ryven laughed and tugged on his braid. "Then we should probably get going."
They grabbed their packs and sold the speeder to one of the half a million Jawas milling around.
Luke watched it go, and Ryven could feel his sorrow at losing the last piece of his past. She gently mussed his hair and sent him a wave of reassurance and understanding. He offered her a small smile.
"Thanks, Ryven," he said, mocking her "name."
She rolled her eyes and slugged him in the shoulder. "Shut up, Skywalker."
He rubbed his arm and snickered, and Ben sighed with mock exasperation.
They reached Bay 94 soon enough, and as soon as he saw the ship, Ben stopped short. "Oh, no."
Ryven doubled up with laughter.
"What?" Luke asked, confused.
"Not another one," the oldest Jedi groaned, ignoring him completely.
Ryven just laughed harder.
"What?!" Luke asked again.
"And here—I-I thought that you—ha ha!—loved the Twilight, M—Master!" Ryven gasped between shouts of amusement.
Ben massaged the bridge of his nose like he had a headache. "And here I thought I was finally done skipping from one side of the galaxy to the other on a piece of junk that was just as likely to explode as it was to fly."
Ryven cracked up again, leaning on her apprentice, and even Luke was snickering now.
"She'll make .5 past lightspeed."
The voice sounded from under the boarding ramp, and a moment later, a human male came into view, wiping his hands off on a cloth. "She may not look like much, but she's got it where it counts, old man."
"I think she's beautiful," Ryven said with a sickly sweet smile at Ben.
A low roaring sound came from inside the ship, and Ryven's hands dropped to her blasters as she stepped in front of Luke.
"Relax!" the pilot held up his hands. "It's just my copilot." He turned to shout up the ramp. "It's just the passengers, Chewie! No need to worry!"
Ryven's eyes widened. "Chewie?" she whispered. Ben caught his breath, and Luke shot them both a confused look.
A series of low growls and roars was the response, drawing closer and closer. A tall, chestnut-furred, blue-eyed Wookie strode down the ramp, and Ryven's mouth dropped open.
"Chewbacca?!" she shouted in disbelief.
The Wookie stared at her and growled a question.
"It is you!" she shook her head in astonishment. "Remember me? I was with you on Wasskah!" She laughed and leaped forwards. "You big walking carpet, c'mere, you!"
Chewbacca's eyes widened, and he roared in delight, striding towards her and sweeping her up into his massive arms. They embraced tightly for a moment, then he released her and she stepped back, staring at him.
"I don't believe it!" she exclaimed. "I didn't think I'd ever see you again!"
[Nor I you, Ahsoka Tano,] Chewbacca replied. [I was with Grand Master Yoda when Order 66 came through, and I believed that you had died.]
Her smile faded. "No, I'm still here." She sighed and crossed her arms. "But I'm something of a fugitive now." She gestured to herself. "Hence the disguise."
"Wait, wait, wait," the human interrupted, looking back and forth between them. "You know each other?" he looked at Chewie. "You know her?" he looked at her. "You can understand him?"
Ryven laughed. "Yes, we know each other. We met during the Clone Wars."
The man's eyes widened. "Oh."
[This is the Togruta I have told you about,] Chewbacca told him. [The one that saved me from the Trandoshans. Her name is Ahsoka Tano, and she is a great friend to my people.] He turned to Ryven. [This is Han Solo. He rescued me from slavery to the empire.]
Ryven shook her head at him. "What is it with you and getting yourself captured. Did you have to build a transmitter out of wreckage again?"
He laughed. [I did try, but I was caught. However,] his eyes sparkled, [it was significantly easier without the naysaying Twi'lek in the background.]
Ryven burst out laughing again. "I bet!"
"Um…..Ryven?" Luke ventured from behind her. "Who is this?"
Ryven turned to him with a smile. "Luke, this is Chewbacca. We met on Wasskah, when we were both captured by Trandoshan hunters. Chewbacca, this is Luke Skywalker, my apprentice."
The Wookie made a sound of surprise. [Skywalker? Like your Master?]
She nodded, a rueful smile tugging at the corners of her mouth. "This is his son."
The Wookie laughed. Then he faced Luke and bowed. [It is an honor, Youngling,] he said. [I never thought I would see the day that the Jedi returned, and yet here are three before me.]
Ryven's eyes stung with tears as she translated for the other two.
Ben stepped forward and offered his own bow to the warrior. "I remember you, Chewbacca. And believe me when I say that we are equally honored."
Luke's eyes were still wide with amazement, but he quickly sketched his own bow. "Wow!" he muttered. "Master, I swear sometimes you know every being in this galaxy."
She snorted. "Hardly."
The pilot, Han, was gaping at the Togruta. "Ahsoka Tano?!" he repeated, dumbfounded. "As in, the apprentice of the Hero With No Fear?"
She offered a tiny smile. "Not anymore. I go by Ryven these days. Ryven Kial'yr."
Han raised an eyebrow. "Not the bounty hunter that taught Princess Leia of Alderaan?"
She smirked. "The one and only."
Han started to grin, but then his eyes locked on something behind them. "Oh, karabast," he muttered. "Ah, I might have forgotten to mention that we're on something of a time limit here, so we should probably be going. Like, now."
Ryven's eyes narrowed. Her hands started to drift towards her blasters.
Get on the ship. NOW.
Luke nodded and grabbed Ben's arm. "Let's go."
The old man raised an amused eyebrow in Ryven's direction. "It has begun."
She couldn't quite bite back her snicker, and Chewbacca snorted as he guided the youngest and oldest of their passengers onboard.
"Right," Han muttered. "Just let me—"
"There they are! Don't let them escape!"
Ryven whipped around, drawing her blasters and swearing as a group of Stormtroopers poured through the door, already blasting.
She snarled and returned fire, leaping to guard the smuggler as he darted for the boarding ramp.
"Let's go, Kial'yr!" Han shouted, whipping his own blaster out and laying down cover fire for her.
She sprinted past him, punching the ramp controls on her way to the cockpit.
"Chewie!" she shouted. "Get us out of here!"
[Where is Han?] he roared back.
"He's right behind me, and so are half a platoon of bucket heads! Now move it!"
By the time the bounty hunter and the smuggler skidded into the cockpit, the Millennium Falcon had already blasted out of the port.
Ryven started laughing, slumping against the wall since all the seats were taken. "Well, that was fun."
Luke shook his head at her, eyes sparkling with amusement. "You weren't kidding when you said that none of your plans ever work."
"Hey!" she protested over Ben's half-smothered laughter. "We're all in one piece, and made it off the planet with our ship intact. I'd call that success."
"Yes, but was the plan really just blast our way out of Mos Eisley under fire from Stormtroopers?"
Ryven opened her mouth to answer, then had to close it again. She settled for just aiming a smack at his head, which he dodged with ease of practice, snickering.
Han slumped back against his chair and ran his fingers through his hair. "You people are crazy."
"Oh, please, like we haven't ever heard that before," Ryven snorted.
Ben shot her a quelling look, and she subsided with an unrepentant grin. "Yes, well, that aside, we do need to reach Alderaan with all possible haste."
"Right," Han muttered. "Let's get those coordinates in, Chewie."
The Wookie gave a growl of agreement and started flipping switches.
Ryven was sitting at the table, splitting her attention between C3PO's attempts to placate Chewbacca and Luke's training. The boy was excelling, as usual. And as usual, he maintained his cheerful, gentle, humble personality.
Luke finished the exercise and powered down his saber, using the Force to shut off the probe and put it away before turning to Ryven.
She gave him a smile. "Well done, Padawan."
He grinned and bowed. "Thank you, Master."
Ben nodded. "Your skills have come so far in such a short amount of time—it's truly incredible."
Luke blushed. "Thank you, Ben."
Ryven pushed herself to her feet and ruffled Luke's air. "Another year or so of this, and you won't need me any—"
Pain. Pain. Pain. Death. Loss. Fear. Grief. Pain. Screaming. Death. Death. Death. Death.
"Ahhh!" Ryven staggered, one hand going to her head, the other desperately grasping at the wall to keep herself upright.
Luke screamed and collapsed to the floor, hands ripping at his hair.
Ben turned absolutely white and half-fell back into his chair, one hand rising to rest over his heart.
[Ahsoka!] Chewbacca reached for the Togruta, but she waved him away and gestured towards Luke. The Wookie knelt and lifted the boy, lowering him onto a bench. [Han! Han!]
"Wha—what was that?" Luke rasped out, voice hoarse.
Ryven trembled. "I don't—I don't know. I haven't felt anything like it since—"she cut herself off and closed her eyes, one hand rising to her forehead.
"There was a great disturbance in the Force," Ben said quietly.
Han skidded into the room, blaster out. "What's wrong?!" he demanded. "I heard screaming—"he broke off, staring at the Jedi. "What happened?!" He quickly holstered his blaster and bolted over to Ryven, catching her just as she staggered. He guided her to the table and lowered her down, and she folded her arms on it and dropped her head on them with a groan.
"What happened?" Han repeated, one hand lingering on Ryven's shoulder like he wasn't entirely convinced she wouldn't just topple out of her seat as soon as he let go.
[Something in the Force,] Chewie answered. [I do not know exactly what it was, but it was powerful indeed, to have such an effect on Jedi Masters.]
"Not a Master," Ryven corrected without raising her head.
"Well, you're my Master," Luke pointed out. He had regained most of his color now, and was beginning to push gentle waves of healing across the bond.
Ryven felt her shoulders relax as the lingering pain in her mind began to fade. She straightened slowly, wincing as her back popped. "Ugh. The downside of being Force-sensitive."
"No kidding," Han said. He ran his hand through his hair. "You know, literally ten minutes ago, I would have told you that the Force was nothing more than a bunch of hocus pocus."
Ben gave a weary laugh. "I assure you, it is anything but."
"Yeah," Han shook his head. "I think I got that."
It took almost a half an hour, but the last vestiges of pain finally vanished, and the Jedi returned to the cockpit fully recovered.
"You good?" Han asked without turning to look at them.
"Yeah," Ryven said. She ruffled Luke's hair and he half-heartedly swatted at her. "We're fine."
"Good," the smuggler flipped a few switches and reached for the hyperdrive lever. "Because we have arrived at—what the kriff?!"
The ship shuddered as she dropped out of hyperspace into an asteroid field.
Luke was thrown out of his seat and Ryven hit the wall before the pilots managed to regain control and steady the spacecraft.
"What is this?" Ryven cried, staring out the viewport. "There's not an asteroid field within sixty parsecs of Alderaan!"
"I know!" Han snapped. "But here it is! Unless it's just a random meteor collision. But I don't see Alderaan. And unless Chewie put in the wrong coordinates—"
[I did no such thing!] the Wookie roared.
"—then something is really wrong!" the smuggler finished.
"Ben?" Luke said suddenly, drawing their attention.
The old man was staring at the chunks of rock going by with something resembling horror.
"Ahsoka….." he said softly.
Ryven's eyes got wide. "Master?" she murmured softly, going to kneel beside him. Ben had used her real name—that was not a good sign.
"Ahsoka, this is Alderaan," he told her, voice thin.
Her heart stopped. "….what?" she gasped.
"They're not asteroids," he said. "Ahsoka…."
"No," she whispered, shooting to her feet. "No, no, no, NO!"
Luke turned white. "Master?" he whispered. "Was Leia—"
She whirled on him. "NO! No, they can't be—"
Luke didn't let her finish. He tackled her, clinging to her with a strength that his wiry frame belied. "I'm so sorry," he whispered.
Her arms closed around him automatically.
Her mind was still screaming.
She hadn't let go of her Padawan when Han said quietly, "What could make a planet disappear like that?"
"The Empire," Ben answered.
"That's ridiculous. The entire Starfleet couldn't destroy a planet. It would take over a thousand ships with more firepower than I've ever—"
An alert went off on the controls, and Han broke off, staring at it.
"There's another ship coming in," he warned.
Luke focused for a heartbeat. "It's an Imperial fighter," he told them grimly.
Ryven set her jaw, releasing her apprentice from her hold as a TIE fighter screamed overhead.
"It followed us!" Luke exclaimed.
"No," she answered absently, "it's a short range fighter. Couldn't get this deep in space on its own."
"There aren't any bases around here," Han said tersely. "Where did it come from?"
"It sure is leaving in a hurry," Luke said. "If they identify us, we're in big trouble."
"Not if I can help it," Han said. "Chewie, jam its transmissions."
Ryven let one side of her mouth screw up. "It's too far out of range," she muttered.
"Not for long!" Han poured on the speed, and the freighter raced after the TIE, closing the distance.
"He's heading for that small moon!" Luke said.
"I think I can get him before he gets there," Han said, fingers dancing across the console. "Almost in range…."
Ryven felt Ben stiffen beside her as dread washed over her through the Force.
"That's no moon," Ben said grimly. "It's a space station."
"No," Han objected. "It's too big to be a space station."
"I have a very bad feeling about this," Luke murmured as the station grew larger in the viewport.
[You and I both, young Skywalker,] Chewie growled.
Ryven swallowed hard. "Add me to the list," she muttered. "Turn the Falcon around, Han. Preferably now."
"Yeah," the smuggler murmured, eyes still locked on the station. "I think you're right…..Full reverse, Chewie, lock in auxiliary power."
The Wookie growled in agreement, but the ship abruptly began to jerk and tremble—still moving towards the station.
"Oh, no," Ryven groaned, recognizing the sensation easily enough.
"What?" Luke turned to her.
"Chewie, lock in the auxiliary power!" Han repeated, just a tinge of panic in his voice.
"Tractor beam," she snapped.
Chewie closed his eyes, and Ben dropped his head into his hands.
"Oh, this is not good," Luke said, "very much not good!"
"Well, they're not getting' me without a fight!" Han snarled.
"We can't win," Ben cautioned, "but there are alternatives to fighting."
Ryven felt her lips curl up.
The General was back, and Force have mercy on his enemies.
The last pair of boots finally went down the ramp, and the Ryven carefully scrambled out of the stuffy hole in the floor. "What do you put in there?" she hissed, wrinkling her nose.
"I use 'em for smuggling," Han grunted, pulling himself up after her. "Never thought I'd be smuggling myself in 'em." He glared after the Stormtroopers. "Even if I could take off, I'd never get past the tractor beam."
"Leave that to me," Ben told him.
"Blasted fool, I knew you were gonna say that," Han groaned.
"Who's more foolish, the fool or the fool who follows him?" was Ben's dry response.
[The one who follows him,] was Chewie's instant reply. [Especially if it happens to be that fool.] He jerked his head at Han.
Ryven laughed softly. "I'll go with you, Ben," she said.
But Ben gave her a quick smile and a shake of his head. "You stay with Luke. It's better that the two of us stay apart. Less chances of capture."
She winced. "True. But with our track record, I'll be seeing you in the cell across from mine in—oh, I'd say an hour. Maybe two. Sound right?"
He laughed. "Just about."
Luke rolled his eyes and muttered grumpily, "Just for once, can we go into a situation actually expecting to win?!"
Chewbacca huffed a laugh. [It would not appear so.]
Ryven didn't bother to translate, just smirked and ran her hands over her weapons, ensuring they were all in place.
"Well then," she sighed. "I suppose we should start by getting rid of the guards."
Ten minutes later, they had two sets of Stormtrooper armor. Luke and Han scrambled into them, and they made their way to a closed terminal with Chewie carefully staying in the shadows. They only had to threaten Threepio nine times to shut up or be dismembered. Ryven and Ben slunk along behind them, using the Force to redirect any crew member who looked like he might notice them.
They slipped into the terminal and shut the door behind them, locking it.
Luke and Han ripped off their helmets with matching expressions of disgust.
"Never thought I'd see the day I actually felt sorry for a Stormtrooper," the smuggler groused.
Ryven rolled her eyes. "Threepio, have you located the main computer yet?"
"Yes, ma'am," the protocol droid replied.
"R2?" she waved a hand at the little droid. "You know what to do."
R2 let out a string of whistles as he wheeled forwards and easily hacked into the framework. After a bit, he started chirping and bleeping, and Ryven quickly translated for Ben.
"He's found the main controls for the beam," she said. "He's going to pull it up on the monitor."
Artoo kept beeping.
"The tractor beam is coupled to the main reactor in seven locations," Ryven repeated. "A loss at any of them will disable it."
The diagram zoomed in on the closest terminal, and Ben nodded decisively. "Stay with the droids," he told Ryven and Luke. "Protect them. The information they carry must reach its destination, or countless other star systems will meet the same fate as Alderaan."
Ryven's back straightened and Luke's jaw set. They nodded in unison, and their eyes burned with determination.
Ben gently clapped a hand on each of their shoulders. "Work together and trust each other. You are powerful warriors, and truly great Jedi. I am proud of you, and I know you will succeed. May the Force be with you."
"And you, Master," they murmured in unison.
Ben gave them both a smile, and then he slipped out of the door.
Ryven slouched against the wall while Han made himself comfortable in one of the chairs. Chewie stood guard by the door, and Luke started pacing back and forth.
She watched him go from one side of the room to the other and back again and again and again and—
You know, if you keep doing that, Han might actually combust.
Luke snorted. I don't think so.
Ryven considered the smuggler for a moment. I give him ten more seconds.
I say two more minutes.
She smirked. Ten credits says you're wrong.
Luke had a little smile on his face, obviously sure of his victory.
Back and forth and back and forth and back and forth and—
"Will you please sit down?!" Han exploded.
"Ha!" Ryven shouted victoriously.
Luke swore in Huttese as she held out her hand for her winnings. He slapped the credits down with a scowl, but his eyes were sparkling.
"Wha—" Han started.
Ryven stretched her arms over her head, grinning. "I bet ten credits that you were going to lose your patience with him within ten seconds. He bet two minutes. I won."
Han stared at them incredulously. "We are sitting on an Imperial space station that is the size of a small planet, and you two are making bets about how long it takes me to lose my patience?"
"Yep!" Luke said, cheerfully tackling his Master.
She shoved him back and mussed his hair.
Han looked at Chewie. "We're gonna die."
Their smiles faded, however, when Artoo practically exploded, hopping up and down.
"What do you mean, Princess Leia is here?" Threepio said.
"What." Ryven shoved past the smuggler and her apprentice to reach the droid.
Artoo let out another stream of whistles.
"He says—" Threepio started.
"I can understand him just fine," she cut him off. "What do you mean, Leia's here?" she crouched down next to the astromech.
There was another explosion of beeps and whistles, and Ryven staggered back with a strangled gasp, her face pale.
"What's wrong?!" Luke jumped forwards, gripping her shoulders.
[Ahsoka?] Chewie shoved off the wall.
Han took his feet off the control board and slowly straightened, drawing his blaster.
"He—he said—" she stammered, hands shaking.
"Artoo has discovered that the Princess is being held captive on this very station," Threepio said primly. "And—she has been sentenced to die in the morning."
FINALLY! It took me forever to get this thing done. But there it is! You're welcome!
If you guys have any specific requests or ideas for things that you want to see happen differently with Ahsoka/Ryven, let me know!
Till next time!