Hello! This is one of my first major alternate-universe Star Wars stories, and I liked the way it turned out… This story is a bit darker than some of the others I’ve written, not as light-hearted and feisty, but it had its moments. Mainly innocent, I think… but some people may be disturbed by the darker (though not evil!) Obi-Wan portrayed herein. Like “A Tale of Two Cities,” it may contain some adult content, but this is passed over and not compounded. This should be fairly wholesome reading for anyone over 10.
One warning… unmitigated violence in parts, and some (mild) torture. However, it’s not like the “Lord of the Rings” movies (I love Peter Jackson, but honestly? Those orcs were disgusting, and the fighting was too close-in!), and it wouldn’t be Star Wars without some fighting, would it?!
On with the tale!
[10/27/2013: Minor edits, to update the story to its most recent and correct form, and add the proper emphasis in the right place…]
[11/2/2013: Changed tagging to reflect current story status; aka, completed.]
The Hero’s Dream
In a galaxy ruled by the Sith, things are not what they might have been. All the heroes are dead. All the Jedi are believed extinct. No one dares to cross the Emperor.
However, all is not as it seems. In the shadows, the Jedi still live on, and there is hope, though not, perhaps, in the shape that it would seem… And once again, fate hangs by a thread, and its balance lies in the hands of a small group of unlikely heroes…
Padme threw herself down on the bed. Three weeks. She had been gone from home for three weeks. And she still did not understand why she was here. She still did not know who her captors were. Her attendants were still faceless and silent, as if they did not even exist, as if it was invisible spirits who served her and waited on her hand and foot.
It was the fact that she had been waited on hand and foot that made her anxious.
The door creaked slowly open and someone walked in, bearing a tray. With an odd, almost feline grace, he hooked a foot around the open one of the carven oak double doors and pulled it shut again. It snicked as it shut, locking behind him. Padme gazed at him with some interest. A boy. No, wait, a young man, at least ten years her senior. Unlike the other slaves and servants, he looked her straight in the eye rather than keeping his head down. She wondered who he was for a moment; he looked like a nobleman’s son even though he was dressed in the livery of the Imperial Palace. So… that was where she was? She watched her new companion with some interest. Maybe someone had been sent to rescue her? Her hopes fell as she saw the symbol branded on his arm. He was a slave. Hope gone, Padme decided that she might as well still make a thorough study. He was handsome, not overly tall or muscular, slender, broad-shouldered yet lithe and slight in build, wiry, well-knit, sinewy. Fair-skinned with sunny auburn hair—though under certain lighting, she supposed, it must appear brassy or nondescript—angular, sharply cut features, a dimple in his chin, and the most unusual eyes Padme had ever seen. It was hard to tell whether they were blue, gray, or green, or some strange combination of the three, strangely changeable and always moving, not shifty, but untamed. Eyes that were like the sea. Padme had seen lakes on Naboo, where she had been born, but they were always the same, still, uniform dark blue. She had never seen an ocean, but she imagined that that must be what the sea looked like. Wild, uncontrollable, and yet steady, firm, everlasting as the rock. He must be Shendi, Padme thought, but then there was the Flame of Deriaka tattooed across his right cheek, among the several that emblazoned his face. A member of the Royal House and yet a slave… Once again, Padme wondered who he was.
“Your supper, milady,” he said in a bright, clear, ringing tenor voice, oddly enchanting, with a cultured accent. In no way did he fit any stereotype that Padme could think of. She gawked at him as he spoke. He smiled, oddly. He had a charming smile. “What? Did I forget to brush my hair this morning?” In spite of herself, Padme laughed.
“No! It’s just… well, you’re the first person who has spoken to me since… since…” Tears began to roll freely down her cheek. Setting down the tray, her companion sat down next to her, wiping them away. Padme allowed herself to fall against him and let her reserve slip. For the first time, she allowed herself to cry. Calloused, strong, surprisingly slender hands wiped her tears away.
“Hush, it’s all right. Cry for what you have lost, it’s the path to healing. I won’t let anyone harm you,” her new friend promised. Padme cried her heart out as he rocked her gently back and forth, just like her father used to. Padme found herself thinking that he reminded her a little of her father, and yet he was not like her father. The sort of person you can laugh with as a friend and love like a brother, but who is impossible to become romantically involved with. She came back to herself to realize that he was chanting—or singing—she wasn’t quite sure which—a song in some language she did not understand. Padme let go of him and sat back, brushing her hair away in embarrassment.
“I’m done crying now,” she informed him. A slight smile perked up the corners of his mouth, revealing dimples there.
“I’m glad to hear it.”
“Please,” Padme asked, almost shyly, “I don’t mean to intrude, but who are you?”
“My name is Obi-Wan Kenobi.” A silence followed. “Or rather Raelynn Ae’enn Narshala Joseph Kenobi, if you prefer full titles. Obi-Wan was my secret name, but a slave has no secrets.” Eyes that were currently a shimmering emerald green watched her closely.
“You’re a slave?” Padme asked, and instantly wanted to kick herself. “I mean, it looks like you’re a member of the Royal Family.”
“Both, actually,” Obi-Wan replied quietly. “I’ve told you my name, but not who I am. Well, I’m Palpatine’s deepest, darkest secret.” There was a sort of amusement in those changeable, stormy eyes, but Padme could not possibly miss the implications of his words. If he was telling the truth, then Palpatine was completely confident that Padme herself would never escape. As if he read her thoughts, Obi-Wan smiled again. “His overconfidence is his weakness. Believe it or not, it is actually possible to slip out of the palace.”
“H-how did you…” Padme stuttered. “And why do you trust me? Why should I trust you?”
“I’m not going to list any reasons why you should trust me. As to why I should trust you…” He stood, and his eyes steeled into hard, cold, dangerous gray. “I am not an easy man to deceive.” Padme gave a little gasp of fear, but the hardness in Obi-Wan’s eyes melted away, leaving nothing but an unsettling memory. Padme shrank away slowly. Obi-Wan sighed suddenly, and the fear shattered, leaving nothing behind.
“Why am I here?” Padme asked slowly. Brows knitted, Obi-Wan contemplated.
“That’s what worries me.” Just then, the doors slammed open and a group of the Red Guard ran in, followed by none other than Palpatine, in the flesh.
“Korzu!” the latter snapped. “So you’re up to your old tricks.” Obi-Wan stiffened and drew himself up to his full height, a few inches taller than Palpatine, though still not above average height.
“The lady seemed lonely, my lord,” he said, the title at the end coming out with a sharp bite to it. “I thought it wise to welcome her, lest she think less of your famed hospitality.” This with an exquisite slight lift to one eyebrow, signifying the sarcastic tone in which it was spoken. Padme was impressed. He displayed a level of control that was completely beyond her, keeping his cues—posturing, expression, gestures, and such—down to a bare minimum, making him nearly impossible to read apart from what he did allow. He controlled the image he projected, in a very deep and subtle way. Palpatine frowned slightly.
“Indeed.” He signaled a guard, who instantly grabbed Obi-Wan roughly by the arm. Palpatine slapped Obi-Wan hard, across the face. Obi-Wan did not flinch, did not even move. He stared cool defiance back at Palpatine, who ignored it, bowing in a quasi-deferential manner to Padme. “I’m afraid, my very dear young lady, that this slave has yet to learn his place. If you wish to learn the way things are done here, then you will come along.” With another mocking bow, Palpatine turned and walked away.
It was not a request. As the guards came forward to grab her, Padme marched purposefully, disdainfully after Palpatine and the guards who held Obi-Wan tightly by the arms. She was not about to submit to the indignity of being manhandled. Even if she, too, was a pawn in this game, she would keep her pride. The guards fell into formation around them, holding their activated electropikes.
Padme lost track of time and direction during the long march down to… well, wherever it was they were going. She had a hunch it wasn’t going to be a nice place.
Chains hanging on the dingy gray walls, harsh lighting ruining the place—if it even was already a complete sewer tunnel to begin with. Damp, dirty, the lighting a weird, acidic green. Padme didn’t even want to think about the musty, sweet, horrible smell which was partly blood and partly something even more sick than that, or the scamperings, squeaks, hisses, and other noises in the shadows.
Obi-Wan was dragged forward and flung down on his face. A guard kicked him as he walked by to fiddle with the chains in the center of the room. One of the other faceless, masked guards picked him up from the floor and held him still as the other forced his hands into the manacles, clinching them shut, leaving Obi-Wan half-dangling by his wrists. The guards cuffed his ankles, then moved away from him. Obi-Wan’s eyes held Padme’s. Courage. Don’t do anything rash, no matter what happens. Padme shuddered inwardly. Whatever was about to happen, she doubted it would be pretty. Palpatine turned slightly away from the young prisoner. “Xanatos,” the Sith snapped. “I believe this is in your way.” Padme started in fear as the shadows moved. A tall man in a black cloak—or a shadow of a tall man in a black cloak—broke away from them and walked forward.
“I have your permission to proceed then, my master?”
“Get on with it,” Palpatine said in a bored voice. Xanatos gave an unsettling toothy smile and turned toward the helpless prisoner in the center of the room. With a single, sweeping, careless movement, he ripped the shirt from Obi-Wan’s back and dropped it in tatters of shredded cloth to the floor. Padme noticed that the prisoner’s back was already thoroughly scarred, but she had no time to reflect on this. A guard held out a simple, slightly rounded cylinder. Xanatos took it and activated it, releasing a long stream of glowing, screaming energy. He whirled it expertly and brought it down across Obi-Wan’s shoulders. Obi-Wan didn’t move, didn’t cry out, though electricity sizzled over his skin, twisting around his exposed body. Blow after blow, stroke after stroke, and still the prisoner disdained to make a sound. Xanatos grabbed the thick shock of shoulder-length auburn hair and pulled Obi-Wan’s head up.
“No fainting now,” the tormentor reprimanded. Hard, ice blue eyes stared back at the Sith, but the slave did not speak. “Come, come. Despite your obvious belief to the contrary, you are not a delicate lady out picking flowers to make daisy chains.” A sharp fingernail scratched the back of Obi-Wan’s neck, and those expressive eyes flickered shut. “Really? No sharp comeback? You disappoint me.” Suddenly, the bench that rested in the shadows at one side of the room came flying without warning at Xanatos. The Sith, however, whirled and held out a hand, and the bench suddenly stopped and broke into millions of splinters. Padme watched, open-mouthed in shock. She had never seen anything like this in her life before. Xanatos was only concerned with the captive before him. “Your raw talent with the Force is quite impressive,” he whispered silkily. “But it is not power.” Xanatos flung out a hand. Crackling blue electricity flew from his fingertips as he directed his obvious hatred at Obi-Wan. The slave twisted in agony, writhing like a helpless insect on a pin, but still did not cry out. “Untutored, unrefined,” Xanatos continued. “And most certainly, not lethal.” The lightning stopped, leaving Obi-Wan gasping for breath, still quivering slightly. Xanatos dropped the electrowhip carelessly on the floor and held out his hand. Another guard came forward and handed him the most vicious-looking implement Padme had ever seen. Xanatos raised it slowly, then lashed out without warning at the guard. Padme almost gasped, but Obi-Wan’s eyes suddenly fixed her and held her steady. Courage. The unspoken word echoed in her mind. The lash had nine flails, nine. It was knotted, and there were tiny metal spikes interspersed throughout all the flails. It was a devilishly clever, cruel, brutal thing, that could only have been derived from the most sadistic of minds. And Xanatos brought it down on Obi-Wan’s broad shoulders. Padme almost screamed. The lash drew blood at the first blow. This was not a clean way to suffer. It was an inhuman means of torture. Padme was held to the spot, her eyes frozen open, her mind fleeing to some inward place where there was no evil, only peace, but it could not separate from the real world. The sound of each stroke brought her abruptly back to this horror. Do anything, anything at all, and it only makes it worse. Padme almost started. Was that Obi-Wan’s voice in her head? Before, she had only known what he was thinking by the glances he shot her—innocuous enough in themselves, but laden with a deeper meaning. She had studied politics for years, she knew how to read people. And yet, Obi-Wan undercut her.
The merciless beating went on for what seemed like hours. By the time it was over, Padme had been violently, uncontrollably sick on the floor at least twice, and Obi-Wan was mercifully unconscious, though whether he had passed out due to pain or blood loss, Padme could not tell. He was practically covered in blood; it streamed down him, soaking his trousers and dripping freely onto the floor. With inhuman carelessness, as if they were not even aware that it was a fellow creature who had been reduced to this state, the guards dropped him from the chains. Palpatine spoke up, suddenly, quite close to Padme’s ear; she started. “Oh, don’t worry. He won’t die,” the cold, inhuman voice said. Palpatine took no notice of the young woman’s discomfort, turning to Xanatos. “Well done, Xanatos. You have my thanks. Retire.” Then to the guards, “Take his Highness back to his chamber.” Returning his attention to Padme, Palpatine continued in that same, sinister, seeping, oozing voice, “You see now, my dear young lady, what we are capable of… what we do to those who cross us. Korzu there—who is to be your personal attendant—we decided to use him as an example due to his resilience, and the fact that his screams won’t disturb you, since he never screams in the first place. Make no mistake, we will do worse to both you and him if you defy us. We will now return you to your room, and you can go on with your life as you wish.” Padme felt a surge of anger; she felt strongly tempted to leap forward and claw his eyes out.
“Monster!” she shrieked, finding her voice at last. “Horrid, horrid, hateful monster!” Instead of going into a fit of rage, Palpatine smiled; the smile sent shivers up her spine.
“Quite,” he said naturally. “You had best accustom yourself to the fact.” With that, Palpatine left her to be taken back to her suite by the guards.