Chapter 61: The Abyss
Descent. Pure descent through veils of shadow and fire. He sank deeper and deeper, deeper than he had ever gone, deeper than any Jedi had ever gone before. His thoughts floated freely now, fear and anger seemed to slip away like discarded old clothes. All sound ceased, even the dull beating of his heart and it grew cold, colder than the frozen hell of Hoth.
As he descended his memories turned to a quiet time on the swamp world of Dagobah, sitting under the cool shade of a Eunice tree. The broad long leaves formed a thick canopy keeping the sunlight that would sometimes shine through the upper layers of trees away from him. He lay back, arms folded under the back of his head as he stared up into the leaves as if listening to some far off song.
“Beautiful?” Yoda asked casually, standing on the end of a rotting log jutting out of the muck. He contentedly chewed on one end of his walking stick as he watched the birds migrating overhead, their calls echoing in the thick foliage.
“Yes. Its like the forest is singing to me.” Luke replied dreamily.
“Many wonders the Force has. Seductive and peaceful it is.” Yoda replied. Luke knew a lesson was coming when the old master spoke in a certain tone.
“Seductive? I thought that was the Dark Side’s ways.” Luke noted but half of his attention was on the lattice of leaves and ferns above his head and the chorus of life singing around him in a private concert for his ears only.
Yoda eyed his student with a critical eye. Such promise in Anakin Skywalker’s son. How the different the galaxy would have been if the father had the boy’s inquisitive mind and peaceful nature.
But there were moments, brief flashes of truth when Luke failed at an appointed task, when the target drones scored a particularly painful strike that a rage clouded his eyes, an angry scowl on his face that looked almost exactly like Anakin as a padawan long ago. And the darkest possibility entered the old Master’s mind.
That he had trained Luke Skywalker to be a new Sith lord for the seductive employ of the dark lord himself, Palpatine.
It was a chance they were willing to take. Yoda paused and shook his head sadly. No, that was not right at all. It was the only chance they had.
“Evil seduction is not.”
“You make it sound like it is.” Luke replied.
“Different seduction is for each path. Seductive the Force is to Jedi for the songs of life it weaves. Seductive the dark side is for the warrior.”
“I don’t know if I see the difference.”
“Hmmm...” Yoda mused. “Pretty woman smiles at you, to dance with you she asks. How does this make you feel?”
“And now, with song of life around you how do you feel?”
“Good, Master.” Luke replied hesitantly. “Are you saying the Force is like a pretty woman at a dance?” Luke added in confusion.
“No, like the feeling of happiness when woman smiles at you is the Force. Good this seduction is.”
“And the Dark side?”
Always with Luke were questions about the dark side. Such curiosity would have marked a padawan as someone to keep a close eye on during training. The utter irony of that caution was that Anakin never once asked about the dark side when training. He expressed absolutely no interest in it.
“When meditate you do, find you the center?”
“Yes.” Luke answered and shifted position slightly, his interest slowly being drawn back to his teacher.
“In the center what find you?”
Luke thought for a moment.
“Nothing else. It’s the place I go to clear my mind of questions, just like you taught me.”
“Nothing else you feel?” Yoda pressed.
“Well, there is this sense, like I’m standing over a yawning abyss sometimes, as if I’m floating over Beggar’s Canyon. It’s strange really, I could swear that there are times I might descend.”
“But something holds me back.”
“Yet tempted are you?” Yoda asked softly.
“Yes…like a song it calls me in the dark.”
“The song in the darkness the dark side is. See you the difference now?”
“But Master, you told me there’s nothing beyond the center. Isn’t that true?” Luke asked sitting up for the first time.
Yoda shook his head sadly. There was no control in this padawan. He was listening to what he wanted to listen to. He was trying to teach him about the dark side and its seductive siren song and he was asking questions unrelated to the topic at hand.
“Do not listen you do.” Yoda chided gently. It was hard to be angry at the eager youth no matter what his shortcomings. It was becoming clear what Obi Wan experienced training young Anakin Skywalker and why matters were allowed to get so out of hand.
“Please, master. I need to know. Because when I do think about descending…” Luke’s voice trailed off.
“Afraid are you?”
“Yes.” Luke replied embarrassed, he had assured the wizened Jedi master that he would never be afraid.
“Hmmm…and wise are you, Luke. Past the center, one level is, a deep dark pit.”
Luke leaned in closely as he watched his master speak.
“The Abyss the ancient masters called it. A place before there was the force.”
“Is that possible?” Luke gasped.
Yoda nodded as he seemed to be looking far away.
“Explore the depths of the abyss many Jedi have tried.”
“Tried and failed?” Luke asked.
Yoda fixed his erstwhile student with a stony gaze.
“Tried and died.”
Luke stared at Yoda for a moment then looked away, thinking of those times when he had peered down in the vain attempt to see the Abyss that he could feel looming below him.
“So the Dark side resides there.” Luke concluded.
“No.” Yoda answered simply. “A place of shadow with no substance the Abyss is, there is no life there, only memories thus the force cannot propagate, no sway the force has there.”
“What is that place where the Force hold no sway? How is that possible? You taught me that the Force is everywhere.” Luke replied feeling as if he were out of his depth. Why must there always be exceptions to every rule?
“A powerful ally the force is, but life creates it, makes it grow. Without life, the force holds no sway.”
“What is down there?” Luke asked quietly, and noticed that the chirping animal sounds that seemed to perpetually carry on around him had silenced slightly, as if the swamp itself were waiting for the answer.
“Not important, Luke. Lessons you have to learn. Many tests yet to accomplish.” Yoda protested and started to walk off the tree stump. Luke reached out and touched his master’s shoulder.
“Please Master. I would like to know.” Luke implored.
Yoda frowned and regarded his student closely.
“A dark and forbidding place, the Abyss is. A place of primal memories and refuse of the darkest, basest instincts. There can be no light and dark side for instincts so base. It is the place where we were all once animals. Born there is the beast.”
Luke did not truly understand but he could feel the apprehension in Yoda’s voice as he discussed it.
“Lost have we many Jedi probing the darkness of the pit. Forced were we to put down those that did return. Brought back they did evil such as we have never known since. Same fate for the Sith that dared plunder the secrets of that dark place.” Yoda fixed Luke with a grave stare, his eyes not wandering from his students’. “No power, light or dark dare venture into the Abyss. Madness and death that path lies.”
“I’ll never go there, Master, I promise.”
“Hmmmm…” Yoda murmured. “Come, we have much more to train, stop we will when we reach a certain tree.”
“Of course Master.” Luke replied obediently and slipped on the modified rucksack to carry his wizened master. “What tree? Is it that old battered tree you told me never to go near?” Luke asked curiously as he helped Yoda into the rucksack.
“Different today is.” Yoda replied mysteriously.
How deep must I plummet, and what manner of madness lies here where the beast is born and dwells? He kept his eyes closed as he descended, fearing the dark things he could feel clinging to the very air around him, like insects clutching to a rotted carcass, sometime he could even feel them scurrying around him. Dark thoughts chattered madly and a whisper of secret desires and pains blew through the darkness like a cold clammy wind, carrying on it the scent of rot and despair.
He felt it closing in around him, like someone squeezing its fist closed around him and the descent stopped suddenly. Dark cloying mists whipped around him and the smell of rot overwhelmed his nose and he gagged reflexively.
As if in response the darkness and the chittering things swarmed him. He calmed himself as best he could as their cold hard talons grabbed at his flesh and clothes and he could feel them doing something, he wasn’t quite sure what. It was a burning sensation at first all along his back and chest and especially stomach.
He cleared his mind and focused on one thing. Escape. He released his tense grip on the force and swatted outward, letting the waves of power course through him like a dam holding back a raging river.
Save that nothing happened.
The darkness continued to swarm and now he felt as if her were drowning in foul filthy water and as he struggled valiantly he suddenly stopped and realized what they were doing to him, why the claws were clutching at him so insistently, why he his flesh was burning.
They were burrowing.
He screamed and flailed madly as more of the brackish water spilled into his mouth and his stomach cramped horribly as the filthy water settled in. He wanted to scream again but only more water rushed in and the pain was agonizing as he felt them entering his flesh and the sick wet slap of slime covered egg sacks deposited within his torn flesh and he opened his eyes finally.
He stared at himself rotting before his very eyes as the black insects scurried along his body, blood and fluids covered their indigo carapaces, their sharp legs slicing up the flesh and muscle with their passage.
He screamed, mouth wide open as the tendons anchoring his jaw rotted away. One of the beetle like creatures scuttled into his mouth as one crawled up past his fore head and dug a scalpel like leg into his left eyeball. It popped in a soft whisper of popping jelly.
Luke Skywalker finished rotting into a feast for the insects of the Abyss.
“I’m so tired.” Kirk whispered standing in the middle of the cold white room wearing his Starfleet uniform.
“It’s to be expected Jim. You’ve done so much, more than can possibly be expected of you.” Edith Keeler replied as he looked around slowly. There was a door slightly ajar opposite where he stood in the stark white room. Kirk slowly approached the door. He turned his head to look back at Edith.
“What’s on the other side of that door?” Kirk asked.
“As with all doors, James, another side.” she replied and got up from her seated position on a stark white chair and led him to the door, pushing it open gently. Kirk hesitantly followed her through the door, simultaneously he was thrilled by the prospect of seeing her again.
He felt disoriented. It was a feeling like knowing you were in a dream but still feeling like it was real.
He stepped into a beautiful Iowa morning with the sun painting its gorgeous hues of gold and white along the fields and the horizon.
“My god, I had forgotten.” he whispered.
“It is beautiful James. The kind of place one would not want to leave.” Edith noted.
“Your horse sir.” a new voice intruded on the reverie.
Kirk turned slowly and his eyes widened.
“Trelayne?” he exclaimed. Q smiled and held out the bridals of the beautiful chocolate colored horse to Kirk. The horse snorted obediently.
“Are you ready?” Q asked.
“For what?” Kirk asked suspiciously. Q smirked.
“You are too suspicious good sir. This is your horse, sir and you’re now ready to ride off into the sunrise.”
Kirk looked at Q for a moment and glanced backwards at the horizon and the beautiful sun. He looked back at Q.
“I’m dead?” he asked hesitantly.
Q shrugged. Kirk advanced on him, hands clenched into fists at his sides. Q held up his hands defensively.
“Jimmy this is so unlike you. Working out your problems with your fists.” Q mocked.
“Damn you why I can’t I get a simple straight answer out of you!” Kirk snapped. Edith floated over to him and placed a soft restraining hand on his shoulder.
“The truth is, dear boy, you and your kind don’t WANT a straight answer. If we were to pull the veil from your eyes, oh how you would all wilt. Your kind lives on hope and illusions. It really is rather moving and sad at the same time. An odd convergence of neurosis.” Q replied.
“Jim. Please. Don’t be upset. let us just leave this place. I’ll go with you.”
“You will?” Kirk replied softly, eyes softened as he looked into her open naive ones. Somewhere far off, like a gathering thunderhead in the distance he heard a voice.
“Again! Increase power on the defibrillator by 20% and initiate neural stimulation.”
“Doctor, blood pressure is bottoming out.”
“Max out the Enerretherol.”
“His dosage is already dangerously high.”
“We don’t have a choice, now clear.”
Thunder rumbled and lightning danced on the horizon, threatening to mar the beautiful sunset. Kirk felt an odd sensation in his chest as if lightning bugs were dancing on his flesh.
“Are you alright?” Edith asked, her touch a reassuring gentleness.
Luke slowly looked up from oblivion. The bartender looked upset, his eyes fixed on Luke, nostrils flaring.
“What?” he asked dreamily.
“Your droids, we don’t serve their kind here.” the bartender growled. Luke looked behind him. Threepio and Artoo stood at the entrance trying to look inconspicuous and faring badly.
“Ok.” Luke replied and walked over to the droids. “I think it would be best if you left, we wouldn’t want to start any problems.”
“I couldn’t agree with you more Master Luke. Come on Artoo.”
The droids walked out of the cantina. Luke turned back to the bar and watched the assembled clientele with a mix of humor and fear. There were more aliens collected in one place than he had ever dreamed of. Smoke and all manner of narcotics drifted through the cramped cantina as a band played.
Luke walked down to the bar and tugged on the bartender’s shirt. He turned glaring at Luke. Luke quietly ordered his drink and waited. Someone shoved into him but he tried to pointedly ignore the commotion. The thing shoved him again and he was forced to turn around and look right into the eyes of a walrus alien that was grunting something guttural and unintelligible.
“He doesn’t like you.” Another man spoke up and Luke stopped short. It was undeniably him. Behind the twisted nose and filthy tufts of hair on the head was his own face looking back at him.
Luke hesitantly turned away.
“I don’t like you either. You’d best watch yourself, I have the death sentence on twelve systems. I’m a mass murderer of epic proportions young fool, why I once destroyed a battle station with hundreds of thousands of lives on it and celebrated afterwards.”
Luke froze and his eyes locked on the horrible version of himself.
“That battle station was altogether evil.” Luke replied softly.
“Really?! I tell myself the same thing every night so I don’t have to think about the fathers, mothers, sons and daughters that I killed.” the twisted nose monster whispered to Luke and gave him a conspiratorial wink.
“Wait that’s not right!” Luke protested.
Suddenly a snap hiss interrupted their conversation and a humming lightsaber blade swung out like a stroke of lightning and took the twisted monster’s arm off at the shoulder. He screamed and retreated away from them clutching his smoking stump that was once his arm.
“Ben?” Luke asked quickly turning to see Obi Wan but instead he saw himself, gray hair and old battered Jedi tunic and robes looking around the cantina, his face was wrinkled as if he had aged half a century in a day, lightsaber activated.
“What’s happening here?” Luke asked in dismay.
“Are you alright?” Obi Luke asked sternly and deactivated his lightsaber, snapping it back onto his belt in one smooth motion.
“Who are you?”
“Chewbacca here is first mate on a ship that just might suit us.” Obi Luke replied and put an arm around Luke’s shoulder and guided him through the throng in the cantina, now all backing away a respectful distance from the Jedi warrior.
“I don’t like this.”
“What is there not to like Luke? We are creatures of duty and honor. All Jedi must do what they have to do. We follow orders and obey. Just as I obeyed my old master when told to lie to you about your heritage. Just as I hid away the child of my oldest and dearest friend for fear of what he may do to them.”
“Ben, what are you saying?”
“That the only thing a Jedi must worry about is his duty Luke and you have failed in yours have you not?” Obi Luke replied and glanced at his young charge with an expression of disgust.
“I have NOT failed. You lied to me, you betrayed me.”
“Yes I did.” Obi Luke responded without hesitation. “That is the truth, there is no certain point of view, I lied to you, I betrayed you and yes in many ways I hoped you would kill your father to put him out of his misery and release him from the grip of evil.”
Luke stared at the older wizened version of himself as it spoke, completely surprised by the answer.
“You did not expect that answer but the truth is all we have now, Luke. And now that I’ve told you the truth, answer me a question.”
Luke nodded slowly.
“Despite all that, despite the lies and betrayals, is your father any less evil than what we said about him?”
“Stop it.” Luke snapped and started to turn away. Obi Luke squeezed his shoulder painfully.
“If you turn away now, if you run away now, all will be lost. This is your final chance Luke so I expect you to do your best.” Obi Luke said sternly then suddenly nodded politely at the young Corellian sitting at the table Chewbacca had led them to.
“I hear you’re looking for passage to the Alderaan system.”
Luke stared, mouth agape. It was him, a slightly older and more cynical version of himself and what was worse was Leia was there, seated on his lap in a state of near nudity and Han/Luke had one hand slowly sliding up her inner thigh. She was smiling seductively and whispering something in his ear before turning her eyes on him.
“You want me don’t you?” she whispered to him.
“I’m Han Solo Captain of the Millennium Falcon and this is my first mate Chewbacca. The lovely young lady here is Leia. We like to call her unattainable Leia.”
“Unattainable?” Luke commented without thinking.
“For you.” Leia replied softly and extended a long silky leg towards Luke and rested her foot on his chest. “How could I be interested in a boy like you when I have a man like this.” she said and nuzzled under Han/Luke’s cheek.
“Stop it.” Luke snapped.
“What’s the matter kid? Don’t like the way the cards were dealt? I know how you secretly carried that jealousy in your heart when you heard the whispers in the halls.” Han/Luke replied with a sardonic grin.
“Shut up! I don’t want to be angry at you.” Luke lamented.
“But I’m angry at you kid. Don’t you get it. You never came for me, despite everything I did for you, I pulled your ass out of the fire so many times that I lost count and where were you when I needed you most?”
“What was I supposed to do?”
“You were off cozying up to daddy. What did he do for you, chop off your hand, turn you away from the only friends you ever had, killed your aunt and uncle-”
“He had no idea about that!” Luke protested.
“That’s it, stand up for the old man, he might let us kill some more people. Remember what if felt like back on Romulus, when you blew up their largest city in one clean blast. How did it make us feel when we smelled their fear surging around us?” The twisted nose Luke whispered to Luke as he appeared behind him.
“I guess he had no idea about Biggs either.”
“Biggs?” Luke asked, eyes watering as he remembered his friend.
“He did blast him in the death star right? And as I recall he was hot to trot to send you into oblivion to.”
“He didn’t know.”
“Stick to that story kid, and we’ll be home free.” twisted nose Luke hissed hungrily.
“What of your duty to your friends?” Obi Luke asked sternly.
“With you its all about duty!” Luke shouted angrily.
“What else is there? Duty kept me from betraying the order, slaughtering my friends and abandoning my children.”
“And what did it gain you? Living in some desert hoping that one day I would give a shit enough to follow in your footsteps. You wanted me to be a good little soldier and do my duty for the Force and the Order.” Luke roared.
“Yes, that’s it.” Twisted nose Luke urged, gripping Luke’s forearm.
“He’s got spunk, I’ll give him that.” Leia commented lazily as her hand slid down the front of Han/Luke’s shirt.
“I never had to come this far down to find myself after walking the path of shadow.” Obi Luke replied haughtily.
“This is all your fault!!” Luke screamed and he instantly reached for the lightsaber at his belt. The saber leapt into his hand and activated with a snap hiss. Obi Luke was drawing his own blade when Luke whipped his weapon down in flash and recovered the blade in the next heartbeat.
There was a loud thump of meat hitting the floor. Obi/Luke was cut in half, his legs and lower torso still stood, while his upper torso and head had slipped down to the floor, half cauterized arteries pumped blood onto the floor.
Obi/Luke looked up at the young man.
“And at least duty never led me to slay the one man that never judged me and accepted me for who I was. I always loved you Luke. Even now.” Obi/Luke’s head slumped down and his eyes closed.
“Wow, that was great kid. Good to know you can follow in daddy’s footsteps and kill your mentor and teacher because he annoyed you.” Han/Luke laughed.
Luke was breathing hard as he held the lightsaber up at face level and slowly examined the carnage that he wrought.
“That’s it, we can handle this. What’s one more life in the scheme of things?” Twisted nose Luke noted.
“Keep it up, big man, you just might win me in the process. You know how much I aaddorreeee homicidal maniacs.” Leia added as she rocked back and forth on Han/Luke’s thigh and her hands hungrily groped his body.
“This is all wrong. This isn’t me.” Luke whispered shaking his head. “This can’t be me.”
“So you say.” twisted nose Luke hissed.
“Hmmm…looks like someone took an interest in your work.” Han/Luke noted with a grin. Luke turned around and saw him. He was walking through the crowd, black cape flowing behind him as he approached like an avenging angel.
“No..” Luke whispered in fear and started to turn and run.
“If you run now, kid, you’re never going to stop running.” Luke/Han cautioned.
“Running now, Luke, is the end of everything. Why not be a man?” Leia asked, licking her lips hungrily.
“You should run, yes, there’s no telling what he will do to you when he catches you.” twisted nose Luke added, fear in his voice.
“It is your duty to stand and face the darkness you so casually embraced and see if this is worth it.”
“I wanted to know.” Luke said softly as he stopped in mid-stride. “I wanted the answer to my question didn’t I? But the sad part is that I have spent all my time running away from the one person that could answer my question. I’ve run across the galaxy…” Luke stood up tall and started to turn around, he could hear the figure’s footsteps approaching, booming like the footfalls of doom itself. “tried to batter the answer out of James Kirk, run into my own mind and finally descended into the abyss itself, where no other Jedi has come out again whole to avoid the one person that can answer my question.” Luke finished turning and faced the newcomer.
“So now, I won’t run anymore. Now I am facing you and asking you once and for all. Was it worth it?” Luke asked.
Darth Nemesis stood before him, crimson lightsaber lit and black cloak fluttering around him like the enormous wings of some obscene bat.
“We shall now see, Luke Skywalker. Here in the shadows of the abyss, where the force holds no sway we will answer each other’s questions and only one of us will be allowed to return.”
“So be it.” Luke replied and raised his lightsaber in a classic fighting stance.
“I don’t know.” Kirk replied to Edith’s question. “I feel like I’m being drawn somewhere else.”
“Don’t leave James. You’ve done so much already. Let someone else take up the cause, carry the burden. Fate has asked too much of you already.” Edith replied with concern as she ran her hand along his cheek.
“The lady does have a point, Jimmy. You’ve done far more than I could ever give you credit for. This horse will lead you to the third path.”
Kirk froze as he cupped his hand over Edith’s. How he had wanted to feel her warm skin again, to smell her scent of roses and jasmines. But Q’s words were like ice water.
“The third path? You told me there were only two paths.”
“Well there are always other possibilities, and the sole other possibility that will not lead down the other two paths is this one.” Q helpfully held out the reigns of the horse.
Kirk slowly approached the horse and patted its nose. He could feel the power in its flanks and the warm gentle gaze as it looked into his eyes. Edith smiled gently.
“James, rest. Please. I’ve seen what waits for you.”
Kirk looked down at Edith.
“I missed you so much.” he sighed.
“Then come with me and leave your woes behind. There will always be others.”
Kirk shook his head and laughed softly. “How could I have let you go?”
Thunderheads were still gathering and another rumble carried strange voices to his ears.
“He’s not responding to the Enerretherol.”
“Switch to Diaximine.”
“Doctor that is dangerous, unless we’re careful it could cause his blood vessels to rupture.”
“I don’t expect second opinions on my OR table. Now assist me or go reside in whatever holoemitter they dragged you out from!”
“Now I need another defib charge – clear!”
Thunder rumbled then lightning flashed, much brighter this time and Kirk doubled over as a sharp pain lanced through his chest followed by the strange feeling of spider legs crawling along the flesh on his chest.
“Jim!” Edith exclaimed and was by his side. She helped him back up.
“This is strange I feel…like this is a dream.” He looked over sharply at Q. “This is a dream isn’t it?”
Q looked pensive as he tapped a finger to his chin.
“Well, in a manner of speaking, yes, but not really. You see, unlike a dream, the decision you make here will carry on in real life.”
Kirk slowly looked over at the horse then at Edith who was watching him with concern.
“If I ride off in that horse…”
“That’s the long and short of it Jimmy. The story ends for you and you accept the third path offered to you.”
“Death is my only other choice?!” Kirk exclaimed. “I can’t accept that!” he snapped.
“James, please, don’t get angry.” Edith pleaded. He turned to her and grasped her hands to his chest. “And why are you here Edith? How can I leave you again?”
“Then don’t leave.”
He glared at Q.
“Trelayne, you sadistic son of a bitch! Why did you bring her here?”
“I didn’t. Frankly I was as surprised as you that she is here. I guess your final thoughts in life were about her and your mind has conjured her here for your benefit.”
“James, what’s the matter, have I done something wrong?” she asked quietly.
“No…no, Edith, you could never do anything wrong. This is my fault…again.”
Kirk fought the tears in his eyes.
“Is he crying?”
“Must be a reaction to the medication.”
“More likely the neural stimulation, increase it to maximum. I’m closing him up.”
“Edith, honey, I can’t get on that horse.”
“Why?” Edith asked stunned as she took his face in her hands and looked into his eyes. “What have I done?”
“Nothing. You see, I have responsibilities.”
“You’re a starship Captain. You must save the Federation.” she replied nodding slowly.
“Yes.” he replied, tears drifting down his cheeks.
“Did it ever occur to you that others could save the Federation or maybe it was meant to fall. Why fight the inevitable?”
Kirk looked into her eyes and slowly bent his head down and kissed her. It was deep and slow and his heart soared as he felt her lips and her touch and her body wrapped up in his.
“Every time I see that it gives me the heebie jeebies.” Q snorted.
Their lips parted and Kirk smiled gently, touching her lips with his forefinger. “I fight, because I can.” he replied. “Now you have to go.” he said, voice thick with emotion.
“Please, don’t leave me again.”
“Edith, please…I have no choice. I cannot rest, I cannot hope there will be others and I will not accept that fate exists.” Kirk answered and dropped his head. He started sobbing into his chest as he felt her disappear, his hands no longer clasped hers, now they gripped empty air and he no longer smelled roses and jasmine.
Q peered in closely, his head at Kirk’s shoulder. Q’s lips were right at Kirk’s shoulder.
“Never say I didn’t try and do something nice for you. Now your path is set, Jimmy.” Q whispered.
“His vitals are coming back.”
“I’m reading normal levels of neural activity.”
“I have a feeling that I wasn’t the only reason he came back.”
The clash of lightsabers lit the interior of the cantina in a kaleidoscope of crimson and blue light. The patrons scrambled out of the way of the two dueling warriors. Luke swept in low and Nemesis leapt over the blade stroke, legs tucked in and lashed out with his own crimson blade.
Luke parried and spun around to slash out at Nemesis’ midsection. Nemesis blocked the attack and delivered a sharp riposte to Luke’s face. Luke back flipped away from attack and landed on top of a table waving the lightsaber in a defensive pattern in front of him as he watched Nemesis stalking after him.
“You are no longer relevant, Luke.” Nemesis growled as he launched another series of strikes. Luke backed away, parrying and blocking the blows as he leapt from table to table top.
Nemesis leapt up to another table top opposite Luke and continued a furious assault. Both warriors attacked and parries, counterattacked and dodged, moving from one wobbly table top to another, their balance absolutely perfect despite the movement.
Luke catapulted himself off the last table, backwards onto the bar. Nemesis followed like a panther, landing dangerously close to Luke, viciously pushing Luke’s blade out of the way as he landed and brought his blade up by his ear for a thrusting attack.
Luke positioned himself in a defensive crouch and waited for the attack.
“Why so desperate to get rid of me Nemesis? What are you afraid of?” Luke asked pointedly.
“I fear nothing!” Nemesis snapped and drove his blade forward, stabbing down at Luke. Luke managed to redirect the blow away from him. The crimson blade continued forward and struck one of the shelves of drinks, shattering the glass bottles and igniting the liquor within.
Flame quickly lapped up the sides of the bar.
Nemesis strode through the flames as Luke back up to the end of the bar and swung out in a series of precise clean strokes. Nemesis was forced back a few steps as he parried and looked for an opening for a counter attack.
Luke sprang backwards and landed at the entrance to the cantina.
“Run all you wish, Luke. You’ve been running from me all this time. Why doesn’t it surprise me that you are running now.” Nemesis said with a feral grin as he hopped off the bar and stalked over to Luke.
“I’m not running, Nemesis. You’d like me to stand and be cut down. Why are you so desperate to kill me? I thought you were in control here.”
“No one is in control here, Luke, that’s the point of this place. And frankly I am sick” he launched a series of rapid slashing attacks at Luke’s head. “and tired” he grunted as the blades locked and he shoved Luke backwards towards the door. “of listening to your whining!” Nemesis exclaimed and brought his blade down in a two handed over head strike that Luke managed to parry but was shoved back by the impact as the doors gave way to his body’s impact.
Luke landed on his back and quickly rolled backwards and came up in a tight crouch as he sung his lightsaber out in front of him in a warding gesture.
Nemesis was no longer in front of him.
In fact he was no longer on Tattoine. He could not feel the heat and stench of Mos Eisley as he suspected. Instead he smelled the cold sanitized smell of machinery and the dull roar of wind behind him. A low rhythmic tone was omnipresent around him.
He slowly rose up to his feet.
“Oh no.” he muttered as he looked around. He was in an all too familiar control room outside the central wind tunnel of the floating city of Bespin. It was here that he had died, where he decided to walk the dark path.
He turned quickly, alert for any movement.
He could not feel anything here, the force did not register here at all, unlike the last time he had been here.
He slowly creepy forward, lightsaber at the ready as he resolved to find a way out of here as he tried to do so long ago.
Suddenly a lightsaber slashed down over him and he leapt out of the way just as it sliced down to the floor and the steel grating on the floor hissed away immediately from the blade’s heat.
Nemesis surged forward from behind the pylon and drove his blade forward in a series of brutal all out attacks. All Luke could do was hold his lightsaber up and block the attacks, the sheer ferocity of it was devastating and frightening and Nemesis’ face was twisted into a mask of anger and fury.
The attacks irresistibly drove Luke backwards through the door of the control room where he entered the roar of the central wind chamber. Luke barely ducked under an overhead blow of Nemesis’ and sidestepped out of an immediate side stroke as Nemesis recovered the stroke and tried to catch Luke’s head in the side stroke. Luke’s hair was blown around him as he managed to lock blades with Nemesis and drove it to the side putting all his weight behind it. Nemesis’s lips curled back in an animal growl as he fought against Luke’s push and managed to throw Luke to the side into the corner of the walkway leading to the end of the catwalk that flew away from the central control station.
Luke tried to race out of the corner but Nemesis blocked him off and attacked again forcing Luke onto the catwalk. Their lightsabers crackled and hissed as they crossed and hacked into each other.
Luke locked blades with Nemesis again and he grunted as he managed to hook the saber and drive in into the guardrail which gave way with a metallic squeal as both blades cut through the metal effortlessly. Nemesis flashed his shoulder forward into Luke’s chest and knocked him off his feet onto the stairs.
Luke landed on his back with a sharp exhalation of air and shook his head to clear it. The crimson blade flashed down to Luke’s throat. Luke’s own blade hummed in his right hand having not lost his grip on it when he fell.
“You are beaten. It is useless to resist.” Nemesis said, slightly out of breath. “Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Obi Wan did.” Nemesis asked darkly.
Luke watched the blade, eyes wide with apprehension and fear as the hungry blade hummed aggressively at his throat. His right hand slipped down to his side as he tried to pull himself up on his left hand, the crimson blade followed him unerringly.
Luke rallied and suddenly his blade flashed up and caught the tip of Nemesis’ blade and drove it up and away from his throat, delivered two quick strikes to keep the blade away from him and kipped up to his feet as he got up to the top of the catwalk platform. Behind him there was nothing but the open yawning abyss beyond.
Nemesis attacked, strokes falling in wide sweeping arcs as if her were trying to cut down a tree. Luke blocked one of the blows and pushed it backwards. Nemesis brought the blade around his shoulder as quickly as he could and swung out in a monstrous aggressive stroke that Luke managed to duck underneath, snaked at his waist and drove his lightsaber up into Nemesis’ shoulder in a glancing blow, hissing blood and tissue spun away into the wild wind current flowing around them like a tempest.
Nemesis brought his blade down quickly while clutching at his ruined shoulder and howled in pain. Luke danced out of the way of the lightsaber blade and deftly climbed over the safety railing onto the instrument panel out at the end of the catwalk.
Nemesis growled something unintelligible and attacked wildly. Luke parried one blow and tried to counter attack hoping to take advantage of Nemesis’ unbalanced anger. Nemesis’ rage gave him speed and strength and he managed to hook the leading edge of Luke’s strike and spun the blade savagely upward.
Luke’s blade was thrown up as well as his hand and Nemesis struck out quickly in a snap of his wrist and severed Luke’s right hand at the wrist. Luke screamed as he watched his hand and lightsaber spin away into the void below.
He jammed his smoldering stump under his left arm and desperately moved away from the triumphant Nemesis. Nemesis watched Luke moving away with a strange mix of fear and apprehension as he felt events coming to a head. The noise of the wind channel seemed to die down and even the lighting dimmed.
“So here we are again.” Nemesis said softly. Luke looked up at him fighting the pain.
“I never wanted to come here again. This was not supposed to be like this.” Luke protested.
“We never want to come back to moments when we knowingly made a wrong choice.” Nemesis replied as his lightsaber blade deactivated. He snapped the lightsaber onto his utility belt and watched himself dangling at the end of the instrument panel.
Luke looked up sharply.
“Yes. I said it.” Nemesis replied.
“All this time…I was running from myself.” Luke said sadly.
“All this time I was trying to deny that my heart and soul have suffered every moment as I walked this path. The path my father had set for me.” Nemesis noted and shook his head ruefully.
“And I out of fear reached out to walk that path.” He looked at the young man in black tunic and robes across from him. “I left you alone to face the fury of the Emperor and our father.” he said softly.
“I was more alone than you can ever know. Who could I speak to, who could I unpack my hearts troubles to? Who could soothe this tortured soul? I could not even turn to myself.”
“I am so sorry.” Luke replied.
Both of them stared at each other, the only sound was the wind whipping around them.
“What do we do?” Nemesis asked.
“Kill him!!” The ruined nose Luke shouted from the other end of the catwalk. “Your hate has made you powerful! Do it and we can go back to what we like to do!”
“Wow, kid, looks like I won’t be coming to save you.” Han/Luke said from beside twisted nose Luke. Leia had one leg curled around Han/Luke’s waist as she hungrily kissed his neck. She glanced over at him.
“You could never have me as Luke. Nemesis might just take me.” she whispered.
Luke looked back at Nemesis.
“They are from the Abyss.”
“No. Haven’t you figured it out yet.” Nemesis replied with a soft sigh.
“The Abyss, its not a place is it?”
“No more than the Force is a simple energy field. Why does the force hold no sway here?”
“Yoda said because there is no life here.”
“Yoda was wrong. There is life here.”
A moment of silence and Luke’s reply.
“My life. The Abyss, its not a place, its not a dimension, its here, within me, the deepest darkest part of me, the part of me that always will be petty and perverse,” he looked at twisted nose Luke, “lustful” he looked at Han/Luke and Leia. “And angry” his eyes locked with Nemesis’.
“I came looking for answers.”
“Now you have them.”
Luke looked at Nemesis.
“You’re more powerful than I am, than I could never be now. You faced what I could not and you did your best.”
“I was angry, always angry. I missed your humanity.”
Luke looked down at the chasm below him. What he could not do before now stretched before him. He looked back at Nemesis.
“Come with me.” he said softly.
“I cannot do this alone anymore. I am not the man I was before Bespin. I am not the Jedi I could be. But you, you are my strength, my will, my driving ambition and together, together Nemesis we can do this. We can do what no other Jedi could do. We could ascend out of the abyss because I am willing to embrace what they could not.”
“Your dark side.” Nemesis replied, comprehension dawning in his eyes.
“We could not do this alone. If you slew me and rose up you would be nothing more than festering rage, my humanity no longer able to color your actions. If I slew you, I would be weak and listless, unable to embrace my destiny, I would run away from what must be done.”
Nemesis slowly threw one leg over the railing.
“What are you doing?! Kill him!!” twisted nose Luke shouted in outrage.
“Wonderful, now both of them got suicidal.”
“I guess they’ll never have me now.” Leia added lustily.
Nemesis slowly walked along the panel to Luke. Luke reached out and Nemesis clasped his hand.
“I once promised to never join you.” Nemesis said softly to Luke. Luke smiled and drew Nemesis close to him. “In the end, no matter what happens we will be whole.”
Nemesis and Luke dropped off the end of the platform.
They plummeted, the wind whipping through them like wild animals and they did not break eye contact as they fell. They fell holding each other tightly, Nemesis’ black cloak wrapping around them like a blanket of night and as the darkness overcame them both they suddenly realized they were not falling but rising.
Luke Skywalker and Lord Darth Nemesis vanished in the frantic flailing of the black cape and someone else ascended, someone not Luke Skywalker, not Darth Nemesis, but someone whole.
The slow dull hum of the starship’s warp drive could barely be heard through the deck plates. Artoo stood silently watching over his master. The Vulcan had placed a small explosive device on Artoo’s dome, should he leave a certain radius of the quarters, the Vulcan assured him that the device would blow a whole clean through the droid.
Artoo instead focused his attention on his master. Luke was frozen in a rigid posture, the collar snapped around his neck glowed a corpse like white and Artoo could detect a powerful subspace field that had placed his master into stasis.
The band that captured him were all sleeping, the Nausican’s snores were like explosive devices going off but the others had grown accustomed to it over the years and slept peacefully.
Artoo managed to ascertain that this group was part of an Organization known as the Orion syndicate. They were hired by one of the most powerful Orion crime lords in the galaxy to bring him Lord Darth Nemesis. For what reason, Artoo could not decipher but he seemed to be a collector of sorts and Nemesis would be a prime addition to that collection.
Artoo briefly wondered how insane this Orion crime lord must be to want to have a Sith lord as a trophy but he had more important things on his mind. Like escape.
He whistled mournfully as he regarded his master’s plight and his small nozzle eye suddenly lowered and focused on something. A tear was welling up in Nemesis’ eye and slowly dropped down his cheek. It was the first positive sign that his master was still alive that he had seen.
Artoo beeped happily.
An alert klaxon suddenly accompanied his beeping.
“All hands, all hands report to stations. We’re entering the Vanguard system. Lord Darkstar is most anxious to receive his present. He’s dispatched his personal ship to intercept and take on the booty.” a cool female voice announced.
Artoo whistled apprehensively.
So now they would fall into the hands of the crime lord Anton Hieronymous Darkstar.
Wherever you go, there you are.Ripped Shirt Monkey - BOTMWriter's Guild Cybertron's Finest Justice League
This updated sig brought to you by JME2