Lady Obscura: Little More Than a Shadow

Chapter 21

If it wasn’t one extreme, it was another, it seemed. Tatooine had to be blisteringly hot. Of course, hours in a rickety old landspeeder, wrapped up in the loose, rough-spun garments typical of the locals hadn’t helped in the slightest. It had been early morning when she had landed in Mos Espa, before the heat of the day had become fully realized. And it had been all day that she had been stuck in that speeder.

Selling her ship had been laughably easy, but finding a speeder had proved more of a challenge. Even though Tatooine was a perfect planet for hiding and disappearing on, Athara was still inclined to be cautious; that was why it was a smaller shop she tried. But because it was a smaller, and rather run-down, establishment, the speeder she had ended up with was all but an outright piece of junk. The owner was obviously down on his luck, because the old toydarian was almost desperate to sell anything to her at whatever price he could get. Even so, she probably paid more for it than she should have. Still, it worked, and with her limited mechanical knowledge and N3’s help she was able to verify that the engine, though old, was sturdy and in relatively good order.

So, once she had filled the speeder with supplies, she and her droid had been on their way to Mos Eisley. Then Anchorhead the next day. She had remembered upon her approach to the sandy planet what little Luke had told her of his life there. From those stories she remembered the city of Mos Eisley, the town of Anchorhead and the Jundland Wastes. She had debated just landing in Mos Eisley, being the largest settlement, but again, her overactive sense of caution had pushed her to land in the smaller port city of Mos Espa; the expectation was always to land in the bigger city with the intention of disappearing in the crowd, after all, so anyone tracking her would likely start there.

Once she had reached Anchorhead, though, she was at a bit of a loss. She remembered that Luke had said Kenobi’s hut had been in the Jundland Wastes, but she had never been to Tatooine before, and knew better than to blindly wander into the wilderness of the desert planet. And the rudimentary Nav-system in her speeder was next to useless. It had labeled a huge swath of the area as the Jundland Wastes. There were also three main towns around the eastern edge; Mos Eisley, Anchorhead, and Bestine.

And she was, essentially, lost.

It was then that N3 made a noise that sounded remarkably like a sigh before plugging into the Nav-system that she had just finished verbally abusing. Before Athara could say anything, he had programmed a route out into the middle of the Wastes, not really all that far from Bestine.

“You couldn’t have done this earlier, before we came all the way to Anchorhead? Where did you get this?” The little droid whirred happily, his response appearing on the display screen of the speeder.

“Artoo. You were talking to Artoo. And he told you where to find Kenobi’s hut.” She couldn’t help but be a little skeptical. But she didn’t have any better ideas, and Luke’s little droid had proven his reliability and inventiveness time and time again. Then another thought struck her.

“Wait—you knew Luke was going to be here on Tatooine? You couldn’t have said something?!” The little droid at least had the grace to make a rather meek and abashed little whistle. Athara groaned as she settled back into the pilot’s seat. “Alright. But I’m not going through that,” she muttered, gesturing to the image of the Jundland Wastes, “so back to Mos Eisley and around, I guess. We should be able to make it back there before dark.” One up side to a planet with two suns? Lots of daylight.

So it was back to Mos Eisley. Then, the next morning, they were off toward Bestine and into the Jundland Wastes. The trip was surprisingly uneventful. After everything she had heard about Tatooine, she was expecting, well, anything to go wrong.

But then they hit the Jundland Wastes proper, complete with winding canyons and crevasses, looming towers of rock and outcroppings and walls high enough to provide actual shade from the merciless suns. It was slow going, thanks to the uneven terrain, and Athara didn’t like it. She had a bad feeling about it.

That feeling proved to be right.

A flicker through the Force was all that alerted her; she didn’t see them coming. Out of nowhere came a wail, and then another, heralding the approach of six fearsome figures that seemed to melt out of the rocks, each brandishing a curved and bladed weapon that Athara instinctively wanted to cringe away from. But she wouldn’t. She couldn’t. Beside her N3 moaned quietly. She could feel the aggression and the fury pouring off the figures, who were all so bundled and bandaged that she couldn’t make out anything about them. Slowly, she pulled out the blaster she had strapped to her hip before standing, desperately wishing she had her lightsabre and cursing her own overabundance of caution in not getting out Kenobi’s. Kenobi’s old lightsabre was still hidden among her few meager possessions, and thus out of easy reach. Judging by appearance alone, she hazarded a guess that they were the nomadic raiders that Luke had once mentioned. In her experience, less advanced races tended to fear lightsabres instinctively… having one would have been very helpful.

It was a stand off. The fact that she deliberately and calmly stood to face them put them off, something that she could feel distressed and bothered them. They were used to their prey freezing in terror, panicking, screaming or shooting at them. She just stood there. But she wasn’t deceived by their hesitation; they still fully intended to attack. In preparation, she began pulling the Force to herself, ready to Force-push them away if she needed to. She desperately wanted to avoid pulling from the Dark Side, so the power she was able to gather was worryingly less than she had hoped. She simply wasn’t practiced enough with the Light to manage it with quite as much skill or control.

She just hoped her blaster skills combined with her use of the Force would be good enough that she could either convince them she wasn’t worth it, push them back enough that she could get away, or maybe enough to allow her to go for Kenobi’s blue blade. She was not terribly interested in killing all of them, though she feared that was precisely what she was going to have to do.

She also hoped she wouldn’t instinctively start pulling from the Dark Side. She hadn’t faced a fight without it before.

It was going to be a brutal test, that was for sure.

Then one of them decided to be brave, leaping forward, his weapon raised above his head. It showed just how instinctive her use of the Force, even the Light, that instead of raising her blaster, she flung out her empty hand, channeling a powerful Force-push toward the raider, knocking him back past the outcropping he had leapt from. His body slammed into the rock wall, a dull, sickening thud echoing off the outcroppings around them. The other five didn’t quite know how to react at first, but then the one to her far right wailed in rage, leaping forward as well. This time it was her blaster Athara whipped up, her shot hitting the roaring raider square in the chest, and he toppled from his particular outcropping to land motionless not five feet from her speeder.

Then the rest decided to attack. The two on her left were closer, so she sent another push toward them through the Force, sending them flying backward as well, though not quite as violently as before. This time they got up. As those two recovered, she turned her attention to the others that remained. She caught one of them with her blaster, but the other one managed to dodge her first and second shots. It took a Force push to keep him back.

By then the others had managed to regain their feet. She managed to pick off another one, causing his companion to hesitate. Another flicker in the Force caused her to spin around just in time to see one she had pushed away earlier had recovered much quicker than she had anticipated and was barreling toward her.

She brought her blaster around, but he was too close and his clubbed weapon slammed the blaster from her hand. With a surge of Force energy she pushed him back, but she was too unfocused and he only wavered for a moment before balancing out. But it was enough to give her time to call her blaster back into her hand. Another guttural roar came from the mouthpiece as he swung his club up and over his bound and spiked head, preparing to bring it crashing down on her as she brought the blaster back up.

But she didn’t get a chance to fire just as the raider didn’t get a chance to swing.

From out of nowhere a familiar blue flash whirred behind the raider, slicing through the clubbed weapon as easily as a knife through butter.

The roar turned into a terrified yowl, and in the blink of an eye the nomad had leaped away, scrambling up the rock face to rejoin his remaining companions in retreat.

For a long moment, Luke’s lightsabre made the only sound beyond Athara’s heaving breaths and N3’s worried beeps.

“I had that,” she managed to choke out after a moment. Her Farmboy smiled and deactivated his lightsabre, his gaze dipping to her blaster.

“I know.” With an answering smile she grabbed the hand he offered, letting him help her to her feet before taking her into his arms in a crushing hug. It was one she eagerly returned, melting against him. She hadn’t allowed herself to think about just how much she had missed him until that moment. And it didn’t matter anymore, because they were together again.

“How did you know I was here?” she asked after a long moment, pulling back from him.

“Well, I was working through a circuit, like the ones Master Yoda had me doing on Dagobah. I felt a disturbance and heard the Sand People howling so I decided to investigate. And, well, I suppose you know the rest.”

“Ah,” was all she could say as they climbed into her speeder. Moments later and they were once again moving. Luke was now driving, as he knew where he was going, while Athara sat beside him, deep in thought as the rocky landscape went by. After a few quiet moments she turned to Luke, unable to keep her questions to herself any more.

“Did you help get me out?” Luke’s gaze wavered for a moment, but he kept his eyes on the route ahead of them. It was answer enough. Athara couldn’t help the sigh that escaped as she turned her eyes back to the landscape around them. It was another several moments before Athara couldn’t stand the silence anymore.

“You shouldn’t have, you know. If they find out you were involv—”

“They won’t.” He sounded so confident. Athara felt anything but.

“How can you know that?”

“I just do.” She fixed him with a skeptical stare, one that he mildly ignored.

“Still. It was a risk you shouldn’t have taken,” she hesitated, but before she could speak again, he started talking, his voice low and deceptively calm. She could feel his worry and uncertainly simmering, but it was far fainter than she had ever known it in the past. He was growing stronger and more confident, she realized with a start. A faint smile came unbidden to her lips.

“Yes, it was. Whether High Command wants to admit it or not, the Alliance needs you as an ally; you’re more help to us out here. And, well—” he paused for a moment in a way that caused a faint blush to rise to Athara’s cheeks, “—I need you.” He cleared his throat before continuing.

“We both know that General Alrik was steadfast against you being let out of custody, no matter how well you co-operated. So when I heard talk of your imprisonment being extended indefinitely, I knew that we were going to have to get you out another way. Besides,” he hesitated, as if gauging what her reaction was going to be, “other than my thought to leave directions to Ben’s hut with N3 and get him back to you, none of it was my plan or even my idea.” Athara frowned.

“Commander Adyé?” This time it was her turn to hesitate, the name sticking in her throat. Luke glanced over at her before continuing.

“Yeah. It was his idea. Though, neither of us expected Mona Jengal to get herself involved.” Athara started. Luke glanced over again in concern, his bright blue gaze meeting hers for a brief moment.

“Mona?” She tried to adopt an unaffected tone; it didn’t work. For a brief moment the young Jedi actually contemplated stopping the speeder, but decided against it at the last moment.

“She approached him, actually. She was curious about, well, uh— you know, if there was any relation, and when she found out not only that you were in Rebel custody but that he was sympathetic to you—saw you as an Imperial defector, or an asset rather than a threat, etcetera, etcetera—she wanted to help. Especially when she found out about Alrik’s plan to keep you locked up and Adyé’s plan to free you, she insisted on helping. She was quite convincing, apparently,” here he hesitated again, deciding how to continue, “even before she told him about your link to her family.” Athara blanched. Guilt and regret over the Jengal’s fate surged forward, swamping her as she tried to regain control over her emotions. Luke was patient, waiting for her to recover.

“She shouldn’t have done that. She didn’t have to. She doesn’t owe me anything.” Luke frowned at the level of remorse in her voice.

“I’m not sure Mona thought of it as a matter of owing, Athara. She wanted to help you because she sees you as family.”

“She shouldn’t. It’s because of me that her family is gone.” Athara was suddenly on the verge of tears, but she pushed them back. The temptation to pull from the Dark Side surged then…and she was so close to giving in; anger felt so right in that moment. “If I hadn’t run—” It was Luke’s voice that snapped her out of it.

“You’d be dead. The Jengals are gone because of Palpatine, not you.” Athara didn’t have a response to that. She knew that it was Palpatine’s order that had torn the Jengal family apart, but she couldn’t help the feelings of guilt and responsibility that gnawed at her. Luke navigated the speeder around one final rock outcropping, bringing a small hut atop a bluff overlooking the Dune Sea into view. Neither of them spoke as he brought the speeder to a halt on the far side of the lonely little building. But even after he shut it down, neither of them moved from their seats. Finally, Luke sighed, breaking the silence between them.

“It was Mona that you made your promise to, wasn’t it. She never said it explicitly but, Adyé and I, we wondered,” he glanced over as Athara’s hand instinctively went to the pendant around her neck. He didn’t need her to answer, her tumultuous emotions were answer enough. He sighed before speaking again.

“She did what she did because she believes in you, Athara, just as I do. Even now, you haven’t fallen back on the Dark Side; I can feel it. Together, I really think we have a chance of beating the Emperor.” He reached out, taking the hand she had clenched around the pebble pendant into his own.

A wave of calm overtook her as his fingers closed around hers, and for the first time in weeks, she felt like she could breathe freely. On an impulse she leaned over, placing a quick kiss on her Farmboy’s lips, thanking him without the words that she couldn’t seem to find anyway. As she pulled away, he smiled before leaning forward himself and, a little more enthusiastically, returned the kiss. Then he pulled away himself before all but leaping from the speeder.

“Come on. Let me show you around. You won’t believe all the material Ben had tucked away on the Jedi.” Athara couldn’t help but laugh at his excitement. Gone was the calm, poised Jedi from moments before. Now he was like a little boy, eagerly showing off his toys. After checking that N3 was all right—he was, and was already happily greeting Artoo, who had trundled up almost immediately at the sound of their arrival—she followed Luke inside the little hut.

A little thrill of excitement went through her at the thought of being in Kenobi’s home. She couldn’t help but feel there were answers here, though part of her was nervous to find out what they were.

It was a humble little dwelling; one main room with sparse furnishings. There was really very little to show, but Athara was fascinated nonetheless. She could almost feel the old Jedi’s Force-signature lingering in the hut. Luke had been living in the dwelling for a couple of weeks now, and figured he had discovered most of its secrets. He uncovered a mostly hidden hatchway that led to a second space underneath the main one.

It was made up of a main room, a work room really, about the size of the main room above, and a small, unfinished chamber, a bedroom judging by the scattered furniture, that projected underground beyond the main hut’s exterior boundaries. During his time there so far, it appeared as though Luke had been working away at finishing the smaller room.

It was in the larger basement room that he had found Kenobi’s writings on the Jedi and other materials the older Jedi must had recovered from the Order after its fall. There were several old holopads and a small but organized box of datachips secreted away in a far corner, beneath a workbench that Kenobi had obviously used for tinkering and small mechanical paraphernalia. Luke had also found a small chest hidden beneath a handful of other parts boxes that held items he hadn’t quite discerned the use of yet. Athara had recognized them immediately.

“Lightsabre components. Force, there are crystals here! Power cells, field conductors, modulation circuits; Luke, there might be enough materials here for each of us to build a lightsabre.” She looked up at him, her cheeks flushed with excitement. Luke looked at her for a moment, a considering look on his face.

“What about the lightsabre I have?” Athara’s gaze dropped to the lightsabre on Luke’s belt, and her thoughts went to the weapon hidden among her things.

“It isn’t yours, though.” Luke frowned for a moment, his own gaze dropping to the weapon hooked at his waist. Athara left the box on the workbench, scaling the narrow steps up into the main room and out to the speeder. It took a little looking, but she did manage to find what she was looking for among the variety of supplies she and N3 had packed into the cargo compartment. By the time she straightened with Kenobi’s lightsabre in hand, Luke had followed her out, and was watching her with a look of curiosity on his face, especially when he caught sight of the lightsabre in her hand.

“Wait,” his voice was hesitant, “I thought you said Vader took your lightsabre.”

“He did.” Athara had walked over to him, sitting on a perfect sitting-level section of wall of the hut. She couldn’t seem to find the words she needed to explain it to him.

From where she sat she could see out over the Jundland Wastes and past to the Dune Sea. Evening was approaching, suffusing the landscape in rich golds and bronzes. After a moment Luke sat beside her. She still felt horrible about keeping her past from him in the first place, but even now that he knew, she still hesitated in sharing any of it; she was so afraid of seeing a look in his eyes like the one in Leia’s or Han’s or Chewie’s or, well, anyone’s when they realized who, and what, she was. She finally held up the worn lightsabre hilt, handing it to the young Jedi.

“This isn’t mine. It’s Kenobi’s. I’ve been using because the blade colour on mine was too distinctive. I couldn’t risk anyone putting the pieces together,” she couldn’t meet Luke’s startled gaze.

“Where did you get this?” She could feel that he didn’t mean it as such, but the accusing cast to his voice was enough to make Athara flinch.

“I was there, on the Death Star, when Vader killed Kenobi. I took it from his robes after the Blast Door was jammed. I still don’t know why, but I was furious at Vader for k—for what he did, so I took it. And then I was on the run, and it was too widely known that my blade was red, like my Master’s, so I couldn’t use mine anymore when I used a lightsabre at all. I hid it on my ship or with N3, in one of his compartments, while I carried this one. But then Bespin happened. I got my lightsabre out again, and hid Kenobi’s. It was my lightsabre Vader took.” When Luke didn’t respond, Athara tentatively reached out with the Force, anxiety beginning to build in the pit of Athara’s stomach. He was so troubled, but she couldn’t be sure just what it was that was bothering him.

It was a long time before he spoke. Off in the distance, the twin suns were beginning to make their way toward the horizon, the sky now bathed in vibrant pinks and oranges.

“Did you know?” Luke’s voice was hesitant, and Athara instinctively knew what was coming. “Did you know Vader was my father?” He looked over at her, and she could see in his eyes that he could feel that she knew. It was a long moment before she answered him.

“No. Not until Bespin. Not until he told me. Then again, I’m not sure he even meant to tell me at all,” she answered quietly. He frowned.

“What do you mean?” She met his gaze, formulating how to explain what had transpired between her and her Master. Her eyes dropped after a moment, catching sight of the weapon still hooked at his waist.

“He saw I was holding that.” She gestured to the lightsabre hanging from his belt. “I don’t even think he meant to say anything, but he said he should have known Kenobi would give you his lightsabre. At first I couldn’t understand why he said that, then I couldn’t believe it…but now…”

“You do,” he finished, his voice betraying his own pain at the revelation. She nodded. He had been hoping he was wrong, that Vader had tricked him, even though his feelings told him otherwise. Part of him was still refusing to believe it and she imagined he would still for some time, possibly even until he heard it from Kenobi himself. Part of her was still hoping it was a lie, but the Force told her it was the truth, as did her own reason. After a moment she sighed, feeling like she owed him more of an explanation.

“The first lightsabre I ever held was Vader’s. I know it as well as I know my own. A lightsabre is unique to its owner, Luke. No two Jedi or Sith lightsabres are the same. My Master always used to say that a lightsabre is an extension of its owner, built to compliment its wielder’s fighting style and personality. It is your life, he liked reminding me. When the first one I ever made was destroyed, the second one I built to replace it looked almost exactly the same. I didn’t even intend it to. It just happened. Vader’s lightsabre looks just like that one, with very few differences beyond the colour of the blade. When I realized that, I knew.

“There was so much more than that, though. I realize now that the evidence was right in front of me all along.” The frown returned to Luke’s face when she paused, though he waited patiently for her to continue. She couldn’t help but notice the change; before Bespin he would have questioned her, urging her to explain what she meant, pressing her for information. It seemed he had learned a hard lesson in caution, and in patience. She instantly regretted that he’d had to learn it the way he did.

After a moment, though, she began to elaborate. She explained how, through the information she had found on Kenobi when she had first gone on the run, the incidental information on Anakin Skywalker contained clues that she felt she should have seen. Her possession of the holofiles on Kenobi and his apprentice was all new to Luke, as she had never shared the information she had found for fear that it would raise too many questions. At first he seemed a little hurt that she had kept them from him, but he was soon too absorbed by what she was telling him for the emotion to linger.

Besides that, hearing more about his father, before his fall at least, seemed to work as a bit of a balm to Luke. He was still so troubled by Vader’s revelation, and was desperately fighting the feelings of betrayal that were gnawing at him. It helped him to hear that Anakin Skywalker had been a good man. For Athara, in relating what little she had learned of him, she could see traits the Jedi had passed to his son, noticing similarities that she hadn’t before.

It was also a concern, though. In some respects Luke and Anakin were so much alike; eager for adventure, periodically reckless, capable and devoted commanders, natural leaders, utterly selfless at times and steadfastly loyal to those they cared about. She couldn’t help but wonder at whether those shared traits would make Luke as vulnerable to the Dark Side as Anakin had evidently been.

They continued on talking quietly for a while, though it was mostly Athara relating everything she knew of Kenobi and Anakin. Eventually though, she fell quiet.

“What did you mean, what you said to Leia on the Medical Frigate?” Luke asked softly, breaking the silence not long after it had fallen. Athara frowned at Luke’s question. He didn’t miss it and promptly continued “you said something about despair. What were you talking about?” He sounded tired and heart-sore. Athara suddenly understood, and suddenly didn’t want to talk about it. But the earnest look of curiosity on her Farmboy’s face prodded her on.

“She asked me once, as we were about to transfer to the Death Star, what drove Vader. I didn’t know then. It wasn’t until Hoth that I finally understood,” he frowned a little when she mentioned the ice planet, but waited patiently for her to continue. She took a shaking breath to try and settle her nerves; what had happened between her and her master on Hoth still haunted her. It didn’t work.

“Vader and I, we—reunited on Hoth, as I was trying to reach my fighter. He felt betrayed that I was there, with the Alliance, and—and Force-choked me in his pain and rage.” Luke’s eyes widened in shock, but Athara pressed on, afraid she’d be unable to continue if she stopped now. “But then he let me go and I—I felt a side of him I hadn’t before. The most overwhelming well of guilt and despair I have ever encountered. And it wasn’t just borne out of realizing what he was doing to me, what he almost did. It was—more. It consumes him. I can barely even describe it. It’s that despair that drives him—not hate—of that I am completely certain.

“There is good in him.” the words slipped out as she finished before Athara could stop them. Luke started a little, his brow furrowing. But he didn’t say anything. Athara was fairly certain he wanted to, but couldn’t find the right words. She knew how he felt. She was still struggling with the truths she had learned, but her feelings and Qui-gon’s hope had her convinced that she was right. “Anakin is still in there.”

“How can you be sure?” Luke’s voice wavered, and Athara could tell that part of him hoped she was right, but he was fighting against everything he knew about Vader, or really, everything he had known. If she was having a hard time of it, she couldn’t imagine what he was going through. She’d been raised by Vader, she had seen glimpses of that good that allowed her to believe now the Dark Side hadn’t consumed him completely. He had only ever known the stories, and had seen his Aunt and Uncle’s charred bodies, had watched Vader murder his mentor and had learned that the Dark Lord of the Sith was his father. She could understand why he couldn’t quite believe it.

“I know him. I have since I was a child. I’ve seen a side of him that makes no sense given what he is…unless Anakin is still in there. I can’t shake the feeling that he’s fighting the darkness; that he’s—” She couldn’t quite find the words she needed, but she just couldn’t explain it. It was a feeling. By now the suns had set, a gentle glow on the horizon all that was left of the merciless orbs. It was a spectacular sight, one that was followed close behind by the rising of the first of Tatooine’s three moons even as the total darkness that characterized the desert night deepened.

It was then that the way to show him came to mind; a memory, one that she had almost forgotten. But actually sharing it was going to be hard. She was still not good at voicing anything personal. But she had to; not matter how angry and hurt she was at her Master’s actions, she still cared for him. She could admit that, at least.

It took several minutes to muster up the courage to start speaking, but once she had, she found that she couldn’t stop.

It had been right after he had taken her back from the Jengals, possibly even that first night away from them. She had been afraid of the dark back then. But she had tried to put on a brave face; she hadn’t wanted to show any weakness in front of her new Master. But he had known, somehow, that behind her quiet goodnight after he had ensured she was settled in her bunk, that she was nervous, dreading that moment when he turned off the light.

“What is it you are afraid of, youngling?” She couldn’t help but remember how surprisingly gentle he had sounded.

“Nothing,” she had said, far too quickly. He had fixed her with a knowing look, one that she recognized then even without the Force. She couldn’t help but curl in on herself as she admitted it: “could you leave the light on?” A thoughtful silence had followed before he spoke again.

“You fear the dark.” It wasn’t a question. She hadn’t been able to help how her five-year old cheeks had flamed red when she nodded. After a long moment he had come over to sit on the end of her bunk.

“Close your eyes.” She had been startled. She had been expecting a rebuke or, well, something else. He watched her expectantly until she did. Then, reaching out with the Force, he had deactivated the lights, plunging the room into darkness. She knew because she had, ever so faintly, felt the action through the Force herself. She also knew because the warm glow from the other side of her eyelids was gone. She let out a frightened squeak, nearly opening her eyes in panic. But then a large, gloved hand had come to rest on her small shoulder, sending an involuntary wave of comfort through her. He made her feel safe in that moment, and even now she still didn’t quite know why.

“Keep you eyes closed, little one, just for a few moments. ” They sat together, in the dark for a few moments, just as her new Master had instructed. Finally, he told her to open her eyes.

“What do you see?” Athara was astonished. She knew now that he had just allowed for her eyes to adjust, but her five-year-old self had imagined it was some sort of magic. She could see the room around her; the bunk, the little dresser across the room, the desk beside it and the tiny closet beyond that. It was still dark, but it wasn’t the all-encompassing, pitch-black dark that came as soon as someone turned out the lights.

Vader had still been sitting at the end of her bunk, watching her. Behind him was a small window. She couldn’t remember what planet they had been on, but she remembered that there had been two distant moons, for both of them had hung in slim crescents through that window. Vader had turned then, to look out that window. No matter where they had gone, if it had been at all possible, her Master had always ensured she had a window in her quarters.

“There is always light somewhere. When those moons are full, it will seem almost as bright as day. But there will also be nights when there is no moon. It will be harder, but you will still be able to see without the lights as you do now. And you will have the Force to aid you. You can use it to enhance your eyes to see in greater darkness than this when you have learned to control it. You will be able to feel everything around you. The Force is your ally, Athara. You will always have it by your side.

“You need never fear the dark again.” He had been silent for a moment after he had finished. But then he had laid a gentle hand on her head before standing and leaving her to sleep.

Now, though, looking back on the memory, Athara couldn’t help but think that he had been talking about more than the dark.

Luke hadn’t looked at her the entire time she spoke, instead looking out over the rocky wasteland before them as overhead the stars began appearing. Athara hadn’t even realized that silent tears had begun trickling down her cheeks. After hastily brushing them aside, she reached out to Luke, taking his hand in hers.

“You say you see the good in me. Well, I can see the good in him. I think I have always been able to, I just didn’t know it. I can only hope that, maybe, we can help him see it too.” Relief coursed through her when, instead of pulling away, his fingers tightened around hers.

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