Some of you will remember, a while back I did a post about rebooting Star Wars. I cast Jason Statham as Han Solo and Jude Law as C-3PO (both of which I stand by, for the moment. Although I’ve been watching a lot of TNG lately, and that Brent Spiner does an excellent android. When the script allows), and kind of re-thought the characters a bit.
Well, I had a writing fit today, and here’s what came out. Here’s Ewan McGregor and Hayden Panetierre (I realize she’s too old now, but she was young enough in Heroes 1. Anyway, she’s not really who I imagine, but she’s the only person I can think of who’s anything like close). Enjoy:
One day. Just one day. She'd been in possession of that damned eccentric lump of scrap metal for one blasted day, and now (mostly due to her own negligence), it had run off. She supposed it could be worse. It could have been stolen outright. In regards to where she knew it had gone, it may as well have been. When a little trashcan-shaped robot wanders into the Jundland Wastes, it's going to get nabbed by Tuskens. It had happened before, but this would be the last time. She would see to that.
This would be the last time one of her mechs "wandered off" into the dessert and was "found" by those filthy Sandies. The absolute nerve of those people. She was furious. It's not like she didn't know where to find them. It wasn't so much the theft itself that bothered her (though the resultant lectures and shouting matches with her uncle did) as the brazenness of it. They knew she could find them, knew that she knew they had taken the little bot. And they knew her. While they could be violent, it was hardly ever that the Sandies set upon someone for little or no reason.
She was already going to catch hell from her uncle over the little thing missing it's first day's work, and for chasing after it on her own. Damned if she was going to let this happen ever again. It was time someone stood up to those thieving man-creatures, and Leia Skywalker would be the one to do it.
In her fury, she had lost herself. Glancing down at her dunerunner's dusty instrument panel, she noticed that she was just a kilometer out from the Tuskens' camp.
She had her lightsaber (properly her father's lightsaber, given to her by Ben Kenobi a year ago, when they had first met) hooked to her right hip and her blaster pistol strapped to her left. Being a Tatooine farm girl of seventeen, she had plenty of experience with the blaster and didn't doubt her ability to wield it in battle (though she had never done before). The blade, Ben had taught her. He had been reluctant at first, but she had eventually worn the old man down until he finally relented. Leia had every confidence that she would leave a smoking pile of sand people bits in the camp when she left.
As her dunespeeder hovered nearer the camp, the Tuskens took notice. There was no alarm. They recognized her vehicle and knew her well. They had no reason to expect anything but the usual whining child that had visited them so many times in the past, insisting (rightly) that they had stolen some piece of her uncle's property and demanding it's return. Sometimes they had complied, but usually not. She was, after all, just a child.
"Not anymore," Leia whispered to herself. After today, when Sandies saw her beat-up old dunespeeder on the horizon, they wouldn't laugh. After today, they would be afraid.
She pulled into the middle of the camp. It was early in the day. The second sun was just over the horizon and several of the creatures were tending a dying fire, no doubt cooking breakfast for the rest of the camp. Several of them were milling about, busying themselves with various tasks. Some (but not many) were just awaking, emerging from their little tents. Many of the sand people noticed her. One of them (one of the ones she had dealt with before) waved to her and called out a decidedly disparaging greeting. She couldn't speak their grunting gargle language, but she understood enough to know when she was being taunted.
She slammed the controls out of alignment, tossed her goggled sun hat into the storage bin beside her and launched herself over the side of the vehicle. She stood at least two heads shorter than the shortest of the Sandies and had been afraid of them (largely for just that reason) for as long as she (or they) could remember. But not today.
The one who had waved at Leia continued to call out and beckon her, amused at her arrival. He stood about forty meters from where she stood. Hand at her belt, she stalked toward him, as her dunespeeder fluttered noisily to the ground. Her slitted eyes and slightly downturned mouth spelled death. By now, several of the other Tuskens were watching the little farm girl approach her antagonist.
She stopped twenty meters from him, working herself up. She began to breathe heavy as the dessert creature continued to crow away at her. Her eyes narrowed further, her hands balled into fists. She committed herself. This has to be done. These parasites can't keep leeching off the farmers. It's not right. Someone has to stop them.
Leia quieted her mind, entering the battle state that Ben had taught her. Time slowed. She became less aware of the fact that her visual world was made up of colliding colors and more aware of the movement of the colors. Here, a spot of red fluttered in the harsh dessert wind. There, a stroke of brown walked out of her line of sight. In this state of other awareness, she always took a moment, not only to adjust to the different rate of time, but also to marvel at her own ability to make it happen. In that briefest of moments, Leia Skywalker blinked and allowed herself a slight grin at the thought of her own magnificence.
She opened her eyes, re-acquiring her target. He was still standing there, in almost the same position he had been before she had taken that brief moment of revelry. Drawing the sword from her belt and activating it, she advanced quickly toward him. She saw the raider's eyes. She saw them grow instantly wide, even as his mocking gesture was only half-finished. Then, just as she was upon him, Leia saw his eyes flicker to her left. Time resumed it's normal course as her blade struck. And froze, seemingly in mid-air.
Unable to mask her shock, the girl let out a cry. The tall man she had intended to strike fell backward and scrabbled away. Her blade hummed and crackled in the air. It took a moment for enough of her rage and shock to drain away before she realized what exactly had happened.
In the instant after she saw her prey's eyes flick away from her, another shimmering energy blade had thrust itself in front of hers. She whipped her head up and saw a grey-haired, almost old man, dressed in the sandy brown tunic common on Tatooine and a darker brown, heavy, hooded cloak. His eyes blazed with, not rage, but anger. The man swung his blade up in front of her, creating a space for his body to step into. She took half a step backwards, more surprised than perturbed, assuming a low guard. They faced each other, matching blue blades of light whirring in the swirling sand.
"Ben?" She almost didn't believe it. How did he get here so quickly? How did he know to get here at all? "But..." She stammered, dropping her guard.
Obi-Wan Kenobi, his morning thoroughly spoiled, glared down the blade of his lightsaber at the girl. "Skywalker," he growled her name. Her father's name. To the old master, all of this was too familiar. He had felt her, in the Force, an hour ago. He knew it was her, not because he had felt her presence before, but because his first instinct was that he was dreaming. Dreaming of the day Anakin Skywalker had butchered a camp full of Tuskens: men, women and children. Even across star systems, he had felt that Skywalker's anguish clearly.
Now, with no worlds between them, he had felt her rage instantly and, as soon as he realized that he was indeed awake, had immediately despaired. He had jumped on the repulsor bike Leia had left at his home (to keep it hidden from her uncle) and sped off in the direction of the disturbance. As he approached the Tusken camp, Obi-Wan had seen her jump out of her vehicle, had seen the tall man-beast taunting her, and willed the bike to go faster. It obliged.
Just as Obi-Wan felt young Leia enter the battle trance, he leapt from the bike, its momentum carrying him nearly the full distance. Just as she swung her weapon downward, he took a single step and thrust his own blade in front of it.
Now they stood, teacher and student (he had never considered Leia his apprentice), facing each other with weapons drawn. For a moment, they just stared at each other. For that long moment, Obi-Wan could feel the rage building in her again. Once again, he felt despair.
With a scream that would curdle the blood of a Krayt Dragon, the young Skywalker rushed at her teacher with a swinging blade. His despair subsided as he easily deflected her wild attack. While she was skilled with the weapon, Leia was attacking him, not with the lightsaber, but with her rage. He could outlast that. He could probably do it without injuring her, though he was prepared to kill her if it became necessary. He wouldn't repeat the same mistake he had made with Anakin: he had allowed that Skywalker to live.
The duel (if it is fair to call it that) lasted the better part of a half-hour. They traded blows, back and forth, Leia attacking furiously out of anger, Obi-Wan intentionally bashing against her guard to tire her.
"Enough of this," Leia muttered to herself. She no longer saw Ben Kenobi, her friend and teacher. She only saw the man with the other lightsaber, standing in her way. She paused for a moment, focusing herself. She made a wild, feinting swing followed by a forceful lunge.
The old man easily saw it coming. raising his sword above his head, he stepped back from her swing, spun away from her lunge, continued to whirl in a full circle. He closed his eyes as he brought his weapon down on the girl's hand to sever it from her arm, and shoved his leg sternly into her mid-section.
He heard her shriek in pain for an instant before his knee slammed the breath from her, heard her weapon sputter to its death, heard her strike the hard sand a meter or two away. With a rising sadness, the old man sensed that the fight was almost over. Almost.
Almost before she even knew she had pulled the trigger, his blade returned her blaster bolt to her left ear. Unable to scream properly, the wind still knocked out of her, she made a hideous retching sound as she writhed on the ground. Moments later, she was back on her feet, coughing, but in a perfect shooting stance (perfect for someone who's shooting at small animals, but less perfect for someone at whom others are pointing their blasters), still pointing her gun at him.
"You... Missed," she managed, between labored breaths.
"Do you believe that?" For half a moment, she looked crestfallen (in addition to looking breathless and bloody), as she realized he hadn't. That he hadn't meant to kill her. He had only meant to dissuade her from continuing the battle. He decided at that moment that the next shot would end her life.
"Leia," he growled at the child. "Have I taught you nothing?" She grimaced briefly, obviously confused.
"You said . . . Jedi . . . guardians of . . . peace . . . And . . . lightsaber . . . weapon of . . ."
"OF JUSTICE!!!" he shouted at the very summit of his lungs, cutting her off as he whirled around to face her. "Not revenge!"
Only now did Obi-Wan realize that he had not injured her. Hadn't removed her hand, at any rate. Half of her father's lightsaber lay, sliced clean, on the ground at his feet. The other half lay covered in blood at hers. Only now did he sense the wheels in her head finally beginning to turn for the first time since his arrival. Her face said she was momentarily disarmed. He turned away. He could make the kill. She was worn out. He could have his blade in her before she could blink. But he sensed something else.
Rather, it was what he did not sense that gave him pause. When he had felt Anakin's rage when he had butchered the sand people, and again when they had battled on Mustafar, there was something else. An additional component that he was only now able to recognize as an addition to rage, rather than a part of it. He was still not sure he could identify it, but it gave him the mildest hope that perhaps this Skywalker was not yet beyond salvation.
Just as he had made the decision not to kill her, his hand was forced.
"Ben . . ." she managed to whimper. He felt Leia's left foot lurch forward, felt the blaster jolt in her hand behind him. Eyes closed in resignation, with only the merest of thoughts, with no conscious effort, he twitched his blade behind his back to deflect the bolt of light. His eyes flashed open.
He spun around swiftly, in shock. The girl still stood, heavy blaster shaking in her small hand, the consternation on her face replaced by an absolute horror. She had not fired. She had only stumbled. But she had seen the flick of his weapon, and knew what it meant. Knew what would have happened, had her finger twitched a hair more than it had.
In half an instant, Obi-Wan extinguished his blade and returned it to his belt. Before Leia's eyes could process that his weapon had been deactivated, hers was sailing through the air thirty meters away, swatted from her hand by Ben's use of Force, and he was upon her, wrapping her in the heavy brown cloak he had dropped during the fight.
Part of Obi-Wan was still used to space. Even after seventeen years of life on this scorched dessert world, part of his mind still ran to dead space and cold Coruscant. He knew that, in a cold environment such as a starship, if someone's ear was burned off, body heat would rush out of the wound. If the injured was also sweating profusely from half an hour of single combat, keeping them from getting cold was supremely important.
"Ben," she croaked again, once he had lifted her into his arms. "I'm sorry." There it was. That was the missing component to her rage. Leia was capable of remorse. Anakin had slaughtered younglings and butchered Tusken Raiders because he thought it was right. It may be that he found these things hard to do, but he felt no shame in doing them. Leia's intended rampage had no such conception of righteousness. She knew she had done wrong, and she was sorry. She was genuinely sorry. Ben considered his response to the child's heartfelt regret.
"We'll talk about that later," he decided to say. "Right now, let's see about that little robot."