Chapter Two: Tremors in the Force

The Force – it's an energy field created by all living things. It surrounds us, penetrates us and binds the galaxy together.

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Coruscant, Skywalker Residence

Absentmindedly, Mara Jade Skywalker let strands of soft red hair coil around her fingers, as she gazed through the viewport. Lying awake in bed for hours, she had started counting the vehicles flying by in various traffic lanes, watching advertisements rush by on a huge screen attached to the building opposite her window.

Of course, she could have let down the blinds to have more peace and quiet but sleep would evade her either way. The Coruscant night was as adventurous as the daytime hours, never needing to rest, never needing to recover. Always lively and there was always trouble lurking somewhere within the shadows.

Mara smiled slightly as she stared at the holo advertisement, now shifting to a commercial portraying a young woman who smiled brightly as she held up a packet of what looked like bacta patches, claiming to be "the fountain of eternal youth".

For a moment, Mara wondered how many sentient beings actually believed that stuff…

Turning onto her back and switching her gaze to the ceiling, she heaved a deep sigh. The bedroom felt cold and empty since Luke had gone onto a senatorial escort mission. She knew he would only be gone for two or three days but still she missed him terribly.

She heaved yet another sigh as she shifted onto her other side, grabbing Luke's lonesome pillow into her arms and tucking it underneath her chin. She breathed in his scent and let pictures of his boyish grin play through her mind; she let pictures cross her mind of his blue eyes twinkling when he was near her. Pure mischief.

The door to Luke and Mara's bedroom swished aside almost soundlessly, bathing the sparsely decorated interior in a golden light.

Mara turned towards the door, a bright smile on her face, "Can't sleep?" she asked softly.

The little boy nodded once, strands of his tousled red hair falling into his face. Mara patted the mattress as she scooted aside, "Hurry up before you get cold."

Ben smiled and ran up to his mother; after he climbed into bed with her, she draped the sheets over his small form and laid an arm over his slender shoulders.

Mara raised a brow at his pajamas, "Weren't you wearing the ones with the X-Wings earlier?"

Ben nodded, "I wanted to wear lightsabers, Mom. I don't wanna be a fighterpilot; I wanna be a Jedi like you and Dad."

Mara laughed softly as she pulled her son closer, "But Aunt Leia gave you those PJ's for your lifeday, sweetheart."

"She'll understand. Aunt Leia's smart." Ben closed his eyes as Mara curved her body around his – within minutes the eight year old was sound asleep.

Mara sighed as she let her fingers play with short strands of his thick, soft hair. Ben had been waking up in the middle of the night for weeks now, having nightmares and being afraid of falling back to sleep. He hardly ever wanted to be alone but refused to talk about his dreams – he closed up completely when either Mara or Luke asked him about it.

A brooding child had replaced the laughing, smiling, fun-loving little boy. Not even his cousins were able to reach out to him.

Probing his mind with the Force had been pointless. His natural affinity for blocking unwanted visitors venturing into his mind was far too great and noticing someone – no matter whom – trying to break through his defenses in secret obviously angered him.

Both parents had tried to persuade him to see the Jedi Healer Cilgal but he had refused and they didn't want to force him to do anything.

Therefore, every night he came to lay with his mother, who was worried that she was slowly losing her son.

Coruscant, N8 nightclub

Aggressive, yet melodic music pounded through the speakers hanging in each corner of the large nightclub. Passing by the security guards at the entrance, there was a long tunnel lit by red and blue elongated bulbs that were supposed to give the place a futuristic feel.

The tunnel opened onto a large dance floor, flashing lights making the dancers' moves seem chopped in a way that was slightly amusing.

A circular bar was situated in the back, people mingling about and waiting for their drinks. The bartender, a beautiful blue-skinned Twi'lek girl, did her job well and it was obvious she had fun while working. It seemed to her, flirting and skin contact was part of the job.

Anakin Solo stood in a far corner opposite the door, sweeping his gaze across the dance floor towards his sister and Tahiri Veila. They whispered into each other's ears to be heard across the music, giggling and laughing the way they always did when the two of them were together.

Anakin nursed his drink as his ice blue eyes took in Tahiri – she was beautiful and she was his.

Blond curls framed beautiful face, green eyes shone with anticipation and joy. Anakin groaned at her appearance and downed his drink in a single move. Setting it atop a table at his side, he made his way through the mingling crowd, gently shoving and gently pushing.

Jaina looked up and smiled as she saw him approaching; Tahiri whipped around, her hair dancing around her shoulders.

Without a word, Anakin grabbed her hand and pulled her towards him, capturing her lips in a hot and fiery kiss. One hand fisted in her hair, the other encircled her waist in a warm and tender embrace. Her moans reverberated through his skin, further fueling his need for her. No one mattered at that moment; the universe didn't matter – there was only Tahiri and Anakin.

Wanting to give her brother the privacy he and Tahiri needed, Jaina turned around and headed back to the table her twin Jacen and the most important man of her life, Jagged Fel, sat. They seemed deep in talk, which Jaina thought was curious. Instead of stepping outside to converse in standard tones, Jag and Jacen seemed to be yelling at each other over the loud music.

Jag looked up as Jaina approached, smiling lovingly at the tall brunette he considered the most beautiful woman to walk the universe. He sat back and gestured for her to take a seat on his lap and she did so, laying her arm across his shoulders. He pulled her closer and placed a gentle kiss on her neck as his arm encircled her waist.

Jaina felt content and she sighed; she valued the free time she had to enjoy in whichever way she thought would suffice to let herself relax for a little while. No Jedi missions, no military missions – just being a mere mortal for a while and enjoying everything life had to offer.

"They need to get a room." Jacen commented, raising his voice and inclining his head towards his younger brother.

Jaina smiled and held her peace. She was happy for Anakin and Tahiri. How long had it taken them to finally understand and grasp the feelings they held for one another? Too long, Jaina thought with a slight shake of her head.

The perfect moment was suddenly shattered by a wave of silence. Jaina stiffened as she sat bolt upright, listening to the music, watching the people around her and yet – silence.

Thoughts, emotions even unwanted voices through the Force suddenly ceased to exist.

Throughout the known galaxy, those attuned to the Force witnessed a numbness bordering on excruciating pain. A scream ripped through the fabric of silence – a heart wrenching, bone-shattering scream ripped through their minds.

Coruscant, Skywalker residence

Mara jerked upward as the scream echoed through her very being. Ben lay beside her, curled up into a ball and he was shivering, as if he were cold.

His eyes squeezed shut, he murmured unknown words, words Mara couldn't make sense of. Then suddenly he lay still, unmoving as if in sleep. However, something was very, very wrong – she could feel it.

Gently she shook him, laying her hand onto his arm. When he didn't respond she shook him harder, forcefully but still he lay unmoving. His breathing was flat, his skin pale and clammy.

"Ben!" Mara shrieked, fear for her son suddenly overwhelming her, closing around her heart, she shook him yet again but received no response. Through the Force, she saw him as a flickering dim light, as if he were ill.

"Ben!" Fear strangled her and she had trouble breathing. She pulled him into her arms, gently rocking him back and forth, using her hand to shove wayward red hair out of his face. "Ben…"

Tears welled up in her eyes as she held him. For the first time in her life, she didn't know what to do.

"Luke…I need you…"

Near Kuat System, Coruscanti Passenger Liner 0512X82

Luke Skywalker sat up in his bunk, skimming through a data pad with reports of the Jedi padawans attending the academy. Once a month, the youngsters were given an assignment to be turned in the following week, ranging from their personal missions with their masters or essays on Jedi history. The variety was huge and most of the padawans didn't mind the extra work.

In Luke's opinion, it was not only important to train the body and mind but also train the workings of the brain.

He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The mission of accompanying a Kuati senator had been a full success – therefore rather boring. After a day of making sure no one planned to assassinate her, Luke took his leave and was now quite happy to be heading home.

Touching the bridge of his nose, he heaved a sigh and shook his head. There was a headache building at his nape, slowly slithering further down his back. Of course, he could use the Force to alleviate the pain but he wouldn't. He considered these normal small pains to be of human nature and wouldn't interfere if he didn't need to.

His thoughts wandered out to his wife and son – he took a quick look at his wrist chrono and smiled sadly. Both of them would no doubt already be sleeping, most likely in Mara and Luke's bedroom.

His thoughts were diverted by the headache growing in pain and he hissed through his teeth as it continued into a throbbing, as if threatening to split his skull in two. Luke squeezed his eyes shut and clenched his jaw, balling his hands into fists as the pain grew fiercer.

Then he heard the blood-curdling scream mixed with silence.

Luke…I need you…

Breathing heavily, Luke sat up straight and shook his head. Something was terribly wrong and the weight of the force of this wrongness lay heavily on his chest.

Something dangerous and dark awaited the galaxy in the near future… He could feel it with every cell in his body.

Planet Ios, Feriae System

Kriss doubled over, clutching the fabric of his Jedi robes with both his hands. His stomach heaved and he fell to his knees. He could hear Ganner hurrying towards him but there wasn't anything the older Jedi could do – Kriss was feeling sick and that was all.

"I felt great just a minute ago. " He whispered, wiping his mouth with the sleeve of his robes.

"Are you alright?" Ganner asked, placing a hand on his shoulder.

Kriss nodded, "Yes. I don't know what happened."

"It wasn't just you, Kriss, I felt it, too."

"Felt what?"

"A disturbance in the Force." Ganner's voice and expression were grim.

"But I've felt plenty disturbances in the Force and I've never gotten sick."

Ganner shook his head, "This is different. This is very different."

As if on cue, there was a loud growl as if from a wild animal. However, the sound emanated from within the stone ziggurat, echoing throughout the surrounding woods.

"What the hell was that?" Kriss asked with wide eyes.

"I don't know. But we should assist Master Durron and Zekk."

Kriss let a small smile play across his face, "After you, Ganner." Kriss knew why he liked Ganner – he wasn't one to follow rules either.