Okay. A quick intro. Here’s chapter two of what I have decided to call “hope anew.” A little cheesy, I know. But it serves the dual purpose of letting you know exactly what you’re reading with very little ambiguity and saying “maybe Star Wars doesn’t have to suck.” So, without further dudes, here’s draft one of part two:
A sound woke the young man. Something loud. A metal crash, then footsteps. The boy opened his eyes to barely a slit. Enough to see, but not enough to be detected if someone else was looking at him. The room was dark. He could just see the ocean out his bedroom window. There was nothing out there. Why should there be? The noise came from the corridor. He could see the soft green light spilling in beneath the door. Again, he heard the footsteps.
Not his father's footsteps. Not his mother's either. Certainly not the whir-clank of C-3PO. They stopped outside the door to his bedroom. The boy was only a little afraid. If there was someone in the house who wasn't supposed to be, the guards would not let them near his room. It was probably one of them out in the hallway. One of the guards had knocked over a wall hanging in the corridor and was trying to be quiet about cleaning it up. That must be it.
He closed his eyes and sank back into his bedding. He heard the door hiss open. This time he didn't bother opening his eyes. It was just the guard looking in on him. They all did that. They all loved his father, and by extension most of them were quite fond of the young master himself. Far from startling him further, the additional noise comforted the young prince. What he heard next did not comfort him.
“Luke.” A woman's stern voice, not his mother's, at the side of his bed. “Luke, I know you're awake and I know you can hear me.” Luke Organa opened his eyes. He started at the sight that met him. A woman knelt beside his bed. She was dressed in a black, sleeveless jumpsuit. Her hair was hidden under a cap. A little of it spilled out, and Luke was struck by its silvery color.
“Don't speak,” the woman said. Luke was inexplicably compelled to obey. “The guards are dead.” His eyes went suddenly wide. Luke would have gasped, but some indescribable force kept him from making a sound. “They have taken your father,” she continued. Luke's fear gave way to a compulsion to act. He found that he could not move. His face displayed his consternation. He was confused. What was happening?
“You need to come with me now. There's no time to talk. Just come along. Nod if you understand.” Luke nodded once. He trusted the young woman, though he could not explain why.
The woman walked to the window and looked down the face of the building. Luke's small apartment was on the third floor of the senator's mansion. It was not an especially long way down, but the boy might be injured. Injured, but not permanently damaged. The risk was acceptable. She held out her hand. Luke threw back the bedding and sprang up from the bed. His hand gently grasped her elbow.
This caught her off-guard for an instant. She had not been expecting this. Had not expected him. The Emperor had sent her to kidnap a boy. Here, she found a young man. It was nothing, but she was expecting a child, to be led around by the hand, not a youth who was going to want to help her kidnap him. That would not do. She slapped his hand, sensed his momentary shock, then his realization that this was not the moment for gallantry.
Delani waved him away from the window, then took a step back herself. From her utility belt, she removed a small molecular destabilizer. It wasn't powerful enough to injure a person, but it would certainly do a job on the window. She tossed it at the transparasteel pane. The device struck its target without a sound and fell to the ground outside, shattering upon impact. Moving swiftly, Delani stuck her head out the opening, checked the area below for any guardsmen she may have left alive. There were none.
The woman yanked her head back into the room. She turned quickly to the young prince, saying simply: “go.” Luke looked down to the ground below, and then looked at her. The trust he had somehow felt only a moment ago seemed now a little less automatic; a little less infinite. He was uncertain of whether or not to obey this woman.
“What do you mean, go?” She grabbed him by the arm and threw him against the wall beside the opening.
“Stay here or come with me,” she growled. “Decide now.” She didn't want to kill this boy, but she would if she couldn't get him to come with her. Luke threw her off of him, hesitated for half a moment before launching himself out the window. She followed directly after him. He had surprised Delani. She had underestimated him. That made her uncomfortable, and she resolved that it would not happen again.
As Luke followed her brisk jog through the courtyard, the absence of the house guards unsettled him. The mysterious woman had told him they were dead, but he hadn't realized that she meant all of them. Even then, where were the bodies? That wasn't important right now. At this moment, they needed to escape from whatever had killed them and had taken his father. Luke saw that the woman had already reached the front gate. He ran to catch up with her.
The gate had already been opened, presumably by the intruders that had killed the guards. They ran through it and turned left, heading West toward the landing field. From this distance, Luke could make out the silhouette of a lambda-class interstellar shuttle. He knew how to fly it. He had been taught to pilot all kinds of ships. His instructors had always complimented him on his abilities.
The closer the pair grew to the landing field, the clearer it became to Luke that the craft was not a Lambda-class, but an Imperial Landing Craft. This he also knew how to pilot, though he had never received instruction.
Once, when he was nine years old, Luke had snuck out to the landing field while a squadron of Imperial troopers was doing whatever Imperial troopers did. He had slipped unseen into the ship and studied the controls. When he noticed the troopers returning to their vessel, he stood at the bottom of the boarding ramp and saluted. As the small column marched past him up the ramp, they had turned their heads in his direction and returned the gesture. At the time, Luke had thought himself Emperor of the galaxy. Looking back on it now, he thought he understood. He was mistaken.
Pouring on speed, Luke thought to beat the woman to the craft, impressing her with his ability to pilot it. But as he gained speed, so did she. She stayed a constant distance in front of him and arrived at the boarding ramp first. As she took the first step up the ramp, two imperial troopers appeared in the doorway above.
Seeming to Luke to be startled, she leaped back, landing between the young man and the white-armored soldiers, their blaster rifles leveled at her. Delani took a moment to steady herself, and thrust her left hand at the troopers, palm forward, fingers clawed, then wrenched it back over her shoulder. The two men flew into the air and sailed across the landing field, back toward the house, landing thirty meters or so behind Luke.
The woman tossed a smirk over her shoulder at the young noble, then sprinted up the boarding ramp. Luke took half a moment to glance behind him at the stormtroopers crumpled on the ground behind him. He allowed himself a smile of surprise as he ran up the ramp after his rescuer.
“Strap in,” she called over her shoulder as she sat down in the pilot's chair. He sat in the co-pilot seat beside her and started the launch sequence. Delani was again surprised by the young man. She sensed what he was doing, sensed that he was doing it properly, and set about the task of setting the astrogation circuit.
“My name is Delani Rowan,” the woman said to her young co-pilot, as the shuttle left the ground and sped away from the landing field. “You're Luke Organa. I'm here to rescue you.”
Getting back to the story: I had initially put in a bit where Luke thought he was being rescued by Winter, who was his nanny when he was small. A reference to the character in the Thrawn Trilogy who played the same role for Leia. I thought it made sense. Delani did the equivalent of Doctor Who’s psychic paper trick, and Luke saw what he needed to see: someone he would trust unconditionally, if only for the brief amount of time it took him to realize that it wasn’t really her. It was a nod to a character that I enjoyed and told the reader that this is a woman who knows how to manipulate people, but didn’t yet come right out and say “force-user.”
Kerry thought it was clumsy and didn’t add anything to the story and felt like I was just trying to pack in too much nostalgia for no good reason. She was of course right, so I took it out. I only just now went through and cleaned it up properly. There were still references to Winter in the version that i sent to anyone before today (lookin’ at you mom(s)).
I said I was going to call them stormtroopers just this once, but I didn’t. I restrained myself. If it was unclear at any point that I was talking about dudes in white armor with door-frame attractant sprayed across their foreheads, I will fix it.Paul C: As I re-read this, I still feel like there’s that staccato you mentioned before. I don’t think it’s as pronounced as before (I’ve been through this bit since then), but it’s definitely still there. I maintain that it’s just the way I write. I wrote a lot of bad poetry in the time before time, and paid a lot of attention to meter (the only hard and fast rule of poetry, in my opinion). So I guess it’s just kind of ingrained in my style, even though I’m consciously not writing verse.
But, like I said before, I’m not writing this for me to read. I’m writing it for an audience, of which you are a member. If the staccato(ness?) makes you not want to read any more, I should definitely change it. I’m not Cormac McCarthy.