Vaders fortress, p.1

Vader's Fortress, page 1

 

Vader's Fortress
 


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Vader's Fortress


  Star Wars

  Junior Jedi Knights

  5

  Vader's Fortress

  by Rebecca Moesta

  OCR: Ãîëîäíûé Ýâîê Ãðûçëè

  upload: 29.XII.2005

  Drops of moisture sparkled on the short grass of the landing field in

  front of the Jedi academy. The sunlight on Yavin 4 seemed especially bright

  after the morning's rain. Smells of leaves and flowers drifted from the

  jungle nearby.

  The air felt comfortably damp and warm to Anakin Solo, who gazed

  expectantly toward the sky. He brushed his fringe of straight brown bangs

  away from his ice blue eyes and then shaded them with one hand so that he

  could see better. The ship should arrive soon, he thought. Anakin's best

  friend Tahiri stood beside him, barefoot on the grassy stubble. Her pale

  yellow hair blew free in the breeze, and her sea green eyes also looked

  skyward. Beside her waited Uldir, the strong teenage son of two cargo

  pilots. Shaggy chestnut hair framed his proud face.

  Uldir had stowed away and come to the Jedi academy in hopes of

  becoming a Jedi. He had persuaded Anakin's uncle, Luke Skywalker, to accept

  him as a Jedi trainee for a while, even though the teen had no real talent

  with the Force. Although Uldir was several years older than Anakin, the two

  youngest Jedi trainees had befriended the new student..

  Both Tahiri and Uldir were unusually silent today, and Anakin felt

  himself growing impatient.

  "We've been waiting almost an hour," Anakin said.

  "Do you think something's wrong?" Uldir shrugged.

  Tahiri didn't respond. Anakin shifted his weight. So far, he had

  managed to amuse himself by solving puzzles in his head, but he was getting

  tired of standing. He wanted to sit down, but he knew the wet grass would

  soak his comfortable flightsuit in no time. He wasn't sure that would feel

  any better than just standing. Even though Tahiri was a couple of years

  younger than he was, the long wait this morning didn't seem to bother her

  at all.

  Uldir whistled a tune under his breath and retied the belt of his new

  brown Jedi robe. Anakin guessed it made Uldir feel more like a student to

  have a robe like the ones Jedi Masters often wore. A Jedi needs to be

  patient, Anakin reminded himself.

  Taking a deep breath, he did one of his calming exercises using the

  Force. He thought back on the quest that had recently taken them all to the

  planet Dagobah. He, Tahiri, and Uldir had had many adventures there, guided

  by the Jedi Master Ikrit. One at a time, the three junior Jedi had gone

  into a special cave to find out about who they were inside themselves. In

  the cave Anakin and Tahiri had learned that their parents and the people in

  their past were a part of who each of them was today. But they also learned

  that only their own choices could decide whom they would become now.

  Uldir had seen nothing in the cave, though, and Anakin wondered if the

  older boy had learned anything.

  "I don't think so," Tahiri said suddenly. Just like that, with no

  explanation.

  "Huh?" Anakin blinked at her. "What don't you think?"

  Tahiri shrugged.

  "I don't think that there's anything wrong, of course. That is what

  you asked, isn't it? You asked if I thought that anything was wrong. And I

  don't. So I said-"

  "Yes... yes, I heard you," Anakin said. "I only meant-"

  Tahiri gave him an odd look.

  "Really, Anakin! Sometimes I wonder how you manage to get so confused

  even during a simple conversation. And anyway, I don't know why you'd think

  that anything might be wrong. Master Skywalker wouldn't have sent us out

  here to meet Tionne if he hadn't been sure she was going to arrive sooner

  or later. So I'm positive that everything is fine. Relax and enjoy the

  beautiful weather. She'll be here any time now."

  "Well, I hope she hurries," Uldir said. His amber eyes searched the

  sky. "I don't have much time before my next shift working in the kitchen. I

  thought we were going to go into the jungle together so you could give me

  some tips on using the Force to lift leaves."

  "We'll have plenty of time to practice," Tahiri said confidently.

  "I just wish there was an easier way to learn about the Force," Uldir

  said. His voice had started low, but changed with a squeak i n midsentence.

  "It always seems like such hard work."

  "I guess I don't think about whether it's hard to study the Force and

  practice, because I enjoy it so much," Anakin admitted.

  Tahiri gave Uldir an encouraging smile.

  "I have a feeling you're going to start catching on pretty soon now.

  After all, when Tionne found me on Tatooine-"

  "That's Uncle Luke's homeworld, you know," Anakin explained to Uldir.

  "Right," Tahiri said. "Anyway; when Tionne found me out in the middle

  of the desert living with the Sand People, I didn't know any more about

  using the Force than you--but look how much I've learned already. Tionne is

  a natural teacher, and I'm never bored when she's talking. That's why I

  love to go along on her research trips, you know. I wish I could have gone

  with her this time to Borgo Prime.... I always learn so much." Tahiri

  looked pensive for a moment; then her face brightened. "Well, she did

  promise to take me along on her next research trip. Traveling with her is

  always an adventure. I hope-"

  "That sounds fun," Anakin said. "I wonder if she'd mind if I came

  along with you."

  "Yeah, me too," Uldir said.

  "Well, you can ask her yourself," Tahiri said, pointing upward. "That

  must be her now. But where did she get that strange ship? I've never seen

  it before."

  A ship had indeed arrived and was floating down through the air toward

  the landing field. The craft was very old and had a strange design, with a

  plump reddish-orange body and broad solar sails that collected sunlight to

  power the ship. The shimmering metallic sails spread out on each side like

  wings, making the craft look something like a pudgy copper dragon. Tahiri

  seemed to dance with excitement as they waited for the ship to land. When

  the orange sails finally folded and the spacecraft touched down, Tahiri

  could contain herself no longer. She ran forward, shouting a greeting as

  her good friend and Jedi instructor Tionne stepped down from the odd little

  ship.

  Anakin wanted to give the two of them a chance to talk before he

  joined them, so he hung back for a moment with Uldir. He could sense

  through the Force that Tionne was just as giddy as the blonde-haired girl,

  but he couldn't tell what the excitement was about. Watching the talkative

  girl and the quiet Jedi instructor together always made Anakin smile. In

  spite of their differences, the two shared a close bond.

  They could almost be mother and daughter, Anakin mused. Since Tahiri's

  mother had died when she was only three, he wondered if she did think of
/>
  the Jedi teacher that way. Beside Anakin, Uldir cleared his throat

  impatiently and fidgeted with his robe.

  "Okay," Anakin said, "I guess we can go help Tionne now." They started

  forward.

  "Welcome back," Anakin called.

  "Hi," Uldir said. Tionne turned.

  Her large mother-of-pearl eyes sparkled with delight at seeing them.

  "It's good to be back," she said. "Even better because I have such

  exciting news for Master Skywalker."

  "So you found something?" Anakin asked.

  Tionne smiled in an I've-got-a-secret kind of way.

  "Quite a bit, actually. But first, what do you think of my new ship?"

  Uldir snorted. "If that's a new model, then I'm the son of a nerf

  herder."

  The silvery-haired instructor gave a musical laugh.

  "You're right, of course. The Lore Seeker - that's what I named my

  ship-is really quite old. That's why I loved the design so much."

  "Well, I think the ship is perfect for you," Tahiri said.

  "It's just right. And so is the name." Anakin nodded.

  He knew Tionne had called her craft the Lore Seeker because she loved

  to look for stories and legends about Jedi who lived long ago. He closed

  his eyes for a moment and reached into the ship with his mind then looked

  up at Tionne with surprise.

  "It's in excellent condition," he announced. "I'm glad to hear you say

  that," the Jedi instructor said with a smile.

  "I thought so, too. But because the ship was so old, I was able to buy

  it from a Randoni trader for a song."

  "How much did you really pay?" Uldir asked.

  Tionne shrugged.

  "Just a song. Really. While I was looking for Jedi legends, I came

  across an ancient song that told about the very first Ran - doni merchants

  and the vaults where they hid their wealth. The trader was so interested

  that she offered me the Lore Seeker in exchange for the song. Now come help

  me unload my cargo, and I'll show you some of my other treasures."

  Anakin and Tahiri needed no more urging. They hurried to explore the

  strange ship and help Tionne. Uldir grumbled something about never getting

  the fun jobs, but lie went along with them anyway. Inside the Lore Seeker's

  tiny hold, Tionne said,

  "You may carry this Twi'lek story-chain, Tahiri-each link tells a

  different part of a story. Please be very careful with it. Uldir, here is a

  holodisk. It holds a recording of some very old Jedi songs. Anakin, would

  you please carry this scroll? I'll take the tapestry."'

  On the way back to the Jedi academy they each carried their packages

  with extra care. As usual, Tahiri chattered gaily.

  "I can't wait to see Master Skywalker's face when you show him

  everything you found. He'll probably want to see the Lore Seeker right

  away. Have you learned any of the old songs from that holodisk yet? Will

  you sing them to us?"

  "You sure seem to have had a successful trip," Anakin put in.

  Tionne tossed back her silvery hair and chuckled.

  "Oh, that's not all-I found something even more important. I learned

  where to find an object that may have more meaning for Master Skywalker

  than any of these treasures we're holding."

  "Well, where is it then?" Tahiri said. "In an old fortress on a planet

  called Vjun," Tionne said.

  "Does anyone live in the fortress?" Anakin asked.

  Tionne shook her head.

  "Not anymore."

  "Well, if it's really that important, don't you think you ought to go

  find it?" Tahiri said. "And don't forget that you promised to take me with

  you this time."

  "I'd like to go along, too," Anakin added.

  "Yeah, it sounds like fun," Uldir said.

  Tionne frowned.

  "I'm not sure Master Skywalker will approve. It could be a bit

  dangerous. The news about this special thing had just reached Borgo Prime,

  but there might be other people who learned about where it is-other people

  who might want to find it too."

  "Then it sounds important enough that we ought to go after it," Tahiri

  insisted. "As soon as possible."

  "Why would someone else want it?" Anakin asked, his ice blue eyes

  alive with curiosity. "What kind of special object is this?"

  Tionne's face lit with a wondering smile, and she gave a happy sigh.

  "It's Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber!"

  Luke Skywalker, dressed in a comfortable black flightsuit, sat on the

  stone floor in the room where he meditated and did his office work. At the

  moment, though, Luke was not meditating. Before him in the center of the

  room stood his barrel-shaped blue and white droid, Artoo-Detoo. It was time

  for Artoo's routine cleaning. Anakin's older sister Jaina often helped Luke

  with this chore, but the Jedi Master didn't mind doing it himself. He

  actually found it relaxing. With his tools neatly laid out on the floor and

  fresh packets of lubricant beside him, Master Skywalker opened Artoo-

  Detoo's front panels and got to work.

  After checking the droid's numerous electrical connections, Luke added

  a few gadgets and upgrades Jaina had scrounged up for Artoo: a retractable

  mirror attachment, a power booster for the comm unit, and a new focusing

  lens for the hologram projector.

  A white-furred creature with floppy ears watched from his favorite

  perch on top of ArtooDetoo 's domed head. Most people at the Jedi academy

  thought the quiet, friendly creature was Anakin's pet, but Ikrit was really

  a Jedi Master himself. Luke had just begun to drain dirty, oily grunge from

  the droid's wheel axles when he heard a knock on the heavy wooden door.

  "Would you get that, please?" Luke asked Ikrit.

  The fluffy-furred Jedi Master sprang down from the top of Artoo's head

  and bounded toward the arched doorway. Then he reached up, unhooked the

  latch, and opened the door. Luke looked up from the packet of slippery

  lubricant he held in his hand, then smiled when he saw who his visitors

  were.

  "Come in," he said, "all of you."

  His words seemed to open an invisible dam, because people and noises

  instantly flooded into his quiet room. Luke laughed as everyone tried to

  talk to him at once.

  "Master Skywalker, I have wonderful news," Tionne said. "You'll never

  guess in a million years," Tahiri added.

  "Can I go with them?" Anakin asked.

  "Yeah, me too!" Uldir said.

  "I don't want to get left behind." Luke put down the lubricant and

  chuckled.

  "All right, I'm ready to hear your news," he said as Artoo-Detoo

  warbled enthusiastically. "Let's start with Tionne."

  Luke was amazed.

  He thought back to the last time he had seen Obi-Wan Kenobi's

  lightsaber.

  Kenobi,

  Luke's first Jedi instructor, had fought Darth Vader on the first

  Death Star. The old man had sacrificed himself so that Luke, the Wookiee

  Chewbacca, and Anakin's parents Han and Leia could escape in the Millennium

  Falcon.

  "Let me get this straight," Luke said. "Someone on Borgo Prime-an

  information broker - told you that Obi-Wan Kenobi's lightsaber was taken

  away from the Death Star before it blew up!"

&
nbsp; "That's right," Tionne said. "The Hutt who sold me the information

  said that the lightsaber was taken to the planet Vjun and hidden in some

  sort of fortress or castle. But it's all right-no one lives there anymore."

  "Darth Vader...," Luke said.

  It surprised him that Darth Vader would want to keep the lightsaber of

  his former teacher, but it wasn't impossible. Vader could have sent it away

  from the Death Star just after he defeated Kenobi. Or he might even have

  taken it with him when he escaped the destruction of the Death Star.

  "What about Darth Vader?" Tionne asked in confusion.

  "That fortress," Luke answered. He pulled some wires from a panel

  inside Artoo-Detoo, cleaned the contacts, and reattached the wires. "I've

  been there. It's called Bast Castle, and it belonged to my father when he

  was known as Darth Vader."

  Luke heard Anakin draw in a sharp breath. Tahiri gasped and looked at

  Anakin. Uldir gave a low whistle.

  "Maybe that explains why the broker on Borgo Prime said that only `the

  family' had a right to claim the lightsaber," Tionne said..

 
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