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Wreckage and Rescue

by Murasaki99

Part Three

Three days passed after Anakin Skywalker's visit. Part of the time was spent in what the Rebels called ‘formal debriefings’, but were really just relatively polite sessions of interrogation meant to discover if Jir or his men possessed any information of tactical value. It did not take the Rebel intelligence officers too long to learn the only people who might have had useful information were the four officers, and all of them, including Commander Jir, readily admitted that with the deaths of the Emperor and Darth Vader, the tactical plans they knew had been rendered useless. The movement of ships, the positioning of troops, everything regarding the disposition of the Imperial military forces was now a large unknown factor, given the chaos caused by the loss of the two strongest leaders of the Empire.

In between those sessions, Jir and his men were allowed to exercise and use the ship's recreational section. They were accompanied by armed escorts as they traveled back and forth between their quarters and the rec room, but were not harassed or abused by their guards. One afternoon, after a hard-fought game of smashball, Jir found Lieutenant Orvit waiting for him on the sidelines. The lieutenant was carrying a hardcopy file folder under one arm and his face held an _expression somewhere between amusement and surprise.

“Lieutenant! Good to see you again.” Jir was honestly glad to see the officer, as he was one of the rebels with whom he felt most comfortable. He had learned during the course of a long conversation with Orvit that the man had once been an Imperial officer; switching sides not long after his home world of Alderan had been destroyed by the Death Star. Orvit had been pleased to find a few more Alderanian survivors among Jir’s troopers and he had been trying to encourage everyone to stay with the New Republic.

“Commander.” Orvit grinned at Jir, gave him a quick salute and offered him the file folder. “I’m not sure how you managed it, but your papers have arrived in record time.”

“Our papers?” Jir took the folder and peered inside curiously. “What papers?”

“The papers you requested from Imperial Center. You've got pull, Commander, or else friends in very high places back on Coruscant. I've never known military paperwork to come through so quickly, not in the Empire or the Rebellion.”

Jir pulled out several of the uppermost documents and quickly scanned the first one. “This is an honorable discharge from the Imperial navy for Lieutenant Tazlon!” Jir riffled through the papers. “And here is one for Corporal Darklan, and for Chief Drycin, and… for me.” Opening the folder Jir flipped through the remaining papers, shaking his head in disbelief as he did so.

“I think you'll find honorable discharge papers for everyone in your group, Commander. My CO checked them himself. Quite frankly, he was surprised to find Imperial headquarters had managed to process discharges for people in several different branches of the service and deliver the paperwork in one tidy bundle.” Orvit waved an expressive hand. “I mean, you and I both know how it was back at Imperial Center. What were the odds of them getting everything done like this?”

Jir stared at Orvit without really seeing him, his hands clutching the folder tightly. “’Never tell me the odds’,” he murmured softly. He did it. He actually did it. Slowly Jir breathed out a long, soft sigh, feeling some of his long-held tension drain away. “This is very good news indeed. We’re free now, free to choose.”

Orvit nodded and gave Jir an encouraging smile. “I hope that means you will choose the New Republic.”

“We'll see. I need to present the news to my people and then they will have to select the course of action that seems best to them. Technically, now that we have been discharged, I am no longer their commanding officer. I won't be able to order them to stay or go.”

“Ah, but they trust your judgment, Commander. Whatever you recommend will hold great weight in their minds,” said Orvit.

“Well then, allow me to gather my people together and speak to them. After that, they can decide whether my judgment is any good or not.” Jir tucked the papers neatly back into the folder.

“You can meet in your quarters, Commander. I’ll have Chief Drycin sent up this afternoon.” Orvit looked at Jir. “And what about yourself, Commander Jir? Will you be joining us?”

“I don't know, Lieutenant.” Jir frowned slightly as he considered his options. “I need to talk to some people before I decide. One of those people is Luke Skywalker.”

Orvit nodded. “Yes, I remember Dr. Cadval and Commander Skywalker mentioning that possibility. Commander Skywalker should be returning fairly soon. I'll mention you’re willing to meet with him once he gets back.”

“Thank you,” said Jir. As he watched Orvit leave the room, he muttered. “No sense in delaying the execution, so to speak.”


“We’re all ready, Commander,” said Lieutenant Tazlon, giving Jir a crisp salute. The Naval officer had become Jir’s informal second in command during their time in Rebel custody. He stood between Jir and the group of men and one woman crowded into the common area of their quarters. All faces regarded Jir expectantly. Many held cups of kaffe or other drinks as they rested from their exercise session. Jir’s own cup was balanced on the edge of a small table, where he had placed the stack of papers.

“Very good.” Jir raised his voice slightly. “Listen up, everyone. I have here official honorable discharges from Imperial Central command. I'm going to hand them out in a minute. I want you to read them thoroughly and hang onto them. With those papers, you've got a number of options open to you. You can return to your home world as a civilian, you can return to Imperial controlled space and apply to rejoin the service, you can head out to someplace entirely new, or you can join the New Republic either as a civvie or a soldier.” While a slight murmur had greeted the news of their discharges, the group had quieted quickly and listened to his words intently.

“I'm not going to give you a lecture on which decision I think is best for you, that's for you to decide.” Jir paused for a moment then plunged ahead. “I will tell you that I am going to stay with the New Republic for now, since I feel I cannot return to the Empire safely. I'll be willing to discuss with you any possible plans once I finish distributing these.” Jir lifted the first set of documents. “Private Tunrin.” The stormtrooper stepped forward to accept his papers and to exchange salutes with his commander. Methodically, Jir called out the names and handed out the papers.

“I don't understand Sir,” said Corporal Darklan, as he waited beside his officer. “Why can't you go back to the Empire? I'm only a grunt, but as far as I can see you’ve done nothing wrong to make the brass unhappy, quite the opposite. You're the one who saved all our lives.” He pointed at the papers on the table. “Those say you can take up your commission again. Your home world is near Imperial core, isn't it?”

Jir nodded. “Yes, it is.”

“I thought so. Why not go back, then?” He looked at Jir hopefully. “I'd go with you.”

Unnoticed in the busy shuffle, Jir’s kaffe mug had migrated slowly closer to the edge as the table was bumped repeatedly by the soldiers. At last, as Jir handed another young stormtrooper his honorable discharge, the cup was bumped one time too many, overbalanced, and hopped over the edge. Noticing the movement, Jir made a long arm in an attempt to stop its fall. Jir gripped the hard ceramic in his fingers and lifted the cup to place it back on the table. His eyes widened as he realized that while he felt what he thought was the cup in his hand, he had actually missed the cup by several inches and yet somehow he held it and it floated obediently in front of him. Flinching, he let go and it fell onto the table, causing the contents to slosh out in a small tidal wave. Tan droplets pattered down, barely missing the cover sheet of his papers. Corporal Darklan watched the entire event in silence, his face mirroring Jir's own surprise and shock.

Picking up a napkin, Jir wiped up the spill, meeting Darklan’s astonished gaze. “That's why,” he said calmly. No one else had noticed the little byplay.

“You've got… it, that thing the Jedi do.” Darklan waved his fingers. “Like Lord Vader?”

“Yes, I'm afraid so. I started noticing it after I came out of the tank.” Jir flexed his fingers and shook his head. The cup had felt so real, even though he was gripping only empty air. “It's been getting stronger, and Force users are still outlawed in the Empire.”

“Permission to speak plainly, Sir?” said Corporal Darklan.

“Permission granted.”

“You're screwed, Sir.”

Jir laughed aloud, causing several heads in the room to turn and look at them curiously. “Tell me something I don't know, Corporal.”


“Commander Jir, come to me.” The familiar summons echoed as if from a long distance away.

“Yes, my Lord.” Jir walked quickly, head up, scanning the horizon for his Lordship, but saw no one. Sand patterned in complex swirls of dark and light grated under his boots. Jir looked down at the stuff and hesitated. “I’ve seen this before, I know it. Where was I? What was I doing?” Turning slowly in place, he examined the patterns closely. They seemed to cover the ground in all directions, showing clearly even in places where sand gave way to vegetation. Selecting one of the traceries, he began to follow it, hiking around trees, through fields, and into the mountains. His path led him under a waterfall and into a cavern tunnel, until at last the rough, rocky walls smoothed into durasteel and he found himself in a large chamber. His heart beat faster. Lord Vader stood in that room, his back to Jir, looking down at something on a table in front of him. His hands moved and his head bent forward now and again as if he were working diligently on something.

“Here is the secret – to be strong and yet have a delicate touch. Only the combination yields the results I need.” Lord Vader spoke calmly as he motioned with one hand over whatever was on the table.

A medical droid positioned on the opposite side of the table responded. “Of course, Sir.”

“It is a pity you cannot see it as I do, the magnificent complexity combined with the promise of the Force.” Vader’s fingers flexed slightly and Jir could see a shower of bright bits of light, almost like fine sparks, drift down from his hand toward the table.

“Sir, the patient’s core temperature is rising and he is beginning to suffer respiratory distress. You did say to warn you if the patient began to experience ill effects.” The droid’s voice held concern.

“So I did.” Vader lowered his hands. “I believe I am finished here, anyway. Already his presence in the Force is much stronger.”

Jir could not see what or who Vader was working on with such intensity. Bright lights beamed down on the work area, and Vader’s bulky frame and long cloak blocked much of Jir’s view. Drawing closer, he caught a glimpse of a black Imperial uniform and he hesitated for a moment, then taking a deep breath, stepped up to the table beside Vader and looked down. A man in the uniform of a stormtrooper officer lay on the table, the skin on his bare chest and arms showing pale in the brilliant work lights. His face was half-obscured by the medical droid’s various appendages and a length of tubing. Jir risked a glance at Vader. “My Lord, did you call me?” Vader did not seem to either see or hear him.

“His temperature is still rising, Sir,” said the droid, who seemed to be equally blind to Jir’s presence. “I have given him an antipyretic, but he needs to have his temperature stabilized as quickly as possible to avoid damage to the neural tissue.”

“Very well, release him and I will take him to sick bay.”

“Yes, Sir, that would be for the best.” Swiftly the droid began to remove the confusing tangle of tubing that snaked along the officer’s arms and the larger tube that trailed from his mouth. Jir studied the ceiling while this was done. Jir had never much liked medical procedures and found he had no desire to watch them being performed on others. Freed from the tubing, the man on the table heaved a great sigh and ceased breathing.

“Respiratory failure,” said the droid. “Shall I…”

“No!” Vader reached out and placed a hand on the officer’s forehead. Jir felt the air crackle with energy. The officer shuddered and began breathing again in deep gasps. Vader thrust his arms under the man’s body and lifted him easily, turning toward the doors of his chamber. For the first time Jir had an unobstructed view of the man’s face. It was a face much like his own, with high cheekbones and an aquiline nose, framed by sweat-soaked hair, and so flushed with fever he looked sunburned.

“W-what?! Who is this?” Jir reached toward the man and found himself pulled helplessly forward, drawn into the body Lord Vader held in his arms. Jir was suddenly falling, falling. He landed with a jolt and sat up in his bunk, breathing hard, his body clammy with sweat and his hands clutching the sheets. “A dream?” It took several minutes for his heartbeat to return to normal. “I guess it was a dream.”

“It is not uncommon to have visions of the future or the past.” Anakin Skywalker moved easily through the wall to sit down in the one chair in the room. “It is a manifestation of the Force.”

“The Force.” Jir sighed, drew his knees up to his chin and wrapped his arms around them. “There’s no escaping it, is there? Yesterday I grabbed for a cup and lifted it without touching it.”

Anakin nodded. “It’s only to be expected. Now that you are out of the grip of the Empire, you are progressing rapidly.” Anakin smiled at Jir. “Training will teach you how to fully use your abilities. My son will be a good teacher – he was instructed by the best, after all.”

“Couldn’t you teach me, my Lord?”

Anakin looked startled by Jir’s request. “Certainly I can help, but believe me, I haven’t exactly been the best model for the use of Force abilities.” Anakin’s smile was self-depreciating. “Better to learn from Luke, who is not burdened by the past.”

“But…he is with the New Republic.”

“It doesn’t matter. Luke is a Jedi, and that transcends political affiliation.”

Jir grunted. “You’re sure of that? The Mon Calamari woman called me ‘Imperial Jedi’.” Jir felt himself blush again at the memory.

Anakin chuckled. “That isn’t so bad, as titles go. Don’t worry. Luke will teach you, and he will not force you to join the New Republic.”

“Thank goodness for small mercies.” Jir looked at Anakin, still finding it hard to believe this healthy man had once been trapped in the armor of Lord Vader. “I don’t understand why I suddenly have the Force.”

“As I said, now that the Emperor’s influence is waning, your abilities are beginning to awaken. My helping you escape from the wreck of the Executor probably didn’t hurt, either. You let me into your mind, and that may have opened some of the lesser-used pathways.”

Jir dug his fingers into his knees. “But I wasn’t born this way!?”

“No, of course not.” Anakin rose and paced the narrow room as he spoke. “You were a Force-sensitive to start, but not strong enough to be a Jedi. Not strong enough to be noticed by the Emperor and killed by him or worse yet, corrupted by him.”

“Well, then, what happened? You don’t just wake up one morning stronger in the Force, do you?” Jir flung out his arms. “It’s not as if someone could make me stronger on a whim, right? I mean… wait a minute…” Jir paused and stared at Anakin, who suddenly seemed to be studying the toes of his boots intently. He spoke slowly, as if thinking out loud. “I had the strangest dream tonight – it reminded me of a dream I had years ago. You were calling to me, and I came to you through whatever obstacles were in the way. This time, it was similar, except when I reached your side, I saw you doing something to a stormtrooper officer who looked a lot like me. He seemed to be ill, and at the end, you picked him up and took him away.”

“Yes, that’s something I needed to talk to you about. Those dreams you had – they weren’t simply dreams, not entirely.” Anakin moved his fingers as if making some sort of delicate adjustment. “The first time you had those dreams, I was working, you see, and you couldn’t help but notice, asleep, or even unconscious.”

Jir felt his mouth go dry. “Working? On what?” He knew before Anakin replied he would not like the answer.

“On you.”


“Me? That was me?” Jir rubbed his forearms, trying to get the fine hairs to lie back down. “What were you doing?”

“Increasing your Force abilities.” Anakin’s boots appeared to be infinitely fascinating.

The fine hairs on the back of Jir’s neck stood up as well. “What? You… you didn’t really, did you?”

“’Fraid I did, sorry.” Anakin raised his head and looked at Jir, his face embarrassed. Taking a deep breath he continued. “I honestly did. Nearly four years ago, over the course of two days, I greatly increased your Force-using capability. You went from being a Force-sensitive, to someone with the potential to be a Jedi.”

“How? Surely I would’ve remembered?!” Jir frowned as he racked his memories for any clues. “I don’t remember being asked.”

“That’s because I never asked, I just did as I wanted.”

Jir’s brows knotted in puzzlement. “But, I should’ve noticed something!”

Anakin produced a guilty grin. “Would have done, if you’d been awake to notice. It turned out the process was painful, so you wouldn’t sit still as I tried to alter you while you stood late watch one night. The solution was to have you sleep through it. You wouldn’t stay asleep when I tried the first time, so the next night I er, drugged your kaffe. Once you were out, I had a medical droid assist me. It kept you anesthetized while I worked. By the time you woke up, it was all over.” Anakin’s smile vanished. “You were sick, too, when I got done. I didn’t have a good understanding of what I was doing, and ended up changing too much, too fast. I was afraid you were going to die of fever, so I took you down to sick bay as quickly as I could. You woke up when we were almost there.”

Jir blinked. “What, you mean that time when I had the alien flu and fainted while on duty?”

“That wasn’t flu.”

“But…! It had to be!” Jir shook his head. “It wasn’t just me that got sick, Praji got it and Belkan and…” he wound down as he looked at Anakin’s unhappy _expression.

“You were the first I ‘improved’, but not the last,” Anakin admitted. “Everyone reacted to having their Force ability increased by running a fever and experiencing some level of illness. You were the first – and were the sickest as a result of my inexperience. I took my time with the others, ‘improving’ them over several days, and so they while they felt ill, they were much less sick than you were.”

“But, but, why?” Jir found himself torn between horror at having been altered and reluctant admiration at Vader’s sheer daring. “If it was risky for us, surely it was even more dangerous for you – if the Emperor had found out!” Jir shuddered over the magnitude of the risk Vader had run.

“Pride.” The word was short and harsh with self-knowledge. “I wanted to do something the Emperor could not. I was triumphant when I mastered the process.” Anakin’s tone became softer. “Pride and… loneliness.” Watching Jir’s confused face, he continued. “This is something I can admit only now. Please understand, what I did was unforgivable, an abuse of my power over those who trusted me with their lives. But… you’ve no idea how very lonely it was to be the last Force-user in the galaxy, or so it seemed at the time.”

Anakin rose and paced the room restlessly, walking through the chair and desk during his peregrinations. “I’d been used to hearing the voices, the presence, of friends and other fellow-Jedi in the Force for much of my life. But once I had so eagerly done the Emperor’s work for him, the voices all fell silent. I was utterly alone with my thoughts, and believe me, that was no good place to be.” He stopped; his face haggard. “It was dark and cold or dark and burning – a bitter desert night with no sunrise, a fire that consumed without warming.”

“Surely the Emperor was there?” Jir offered. “So you were not entirely alone.”

Anakin made a face as if he’d suddenly smelled something noxious. “Palpatine was not a presence as much as a void in the fabric of the Force. Bleak as my life had become, echoes of his thoughts were not something I wished to hear. He was hunger and hatred. He had nothing of substance to share, with me, or with anyone.”

Anakin stopped and looked at Jir. It seemed to the young officer as if the Jedi was barely older than himself. The lines of worry and pain were gone. “As soon as I changed you, I was no longer alone. Your voice, your thoughts in the Force, not only assured me that I had been successful, but let shine that first ray of light into my darkness. Your steady presence kept me from falling into madness and despair. For that I cannot thank you and your fellow-officers enough.”

“You do, however, have every right to be angry,” said Anakin soberly. “My acknowledging the harm I caused to you does little to remedy the situation.”

Jir thought about it as Anakin waited for his response. His head buzzed with astonishment and wonder. After a long minute he found his voice. “Can these changes be undone?”

“No.”

Anakin held his hands out toward Jir, who felt an odd sensation, as if something were touching all his nerves at once, a delicate stroke of brightness. He sucked in his breath quickly.

“You felt that?” Anakin watched him closely.

“Yes,” said Jir. Rising from his bed he took up his shirt and pulled it on, hoping it would offer some protection from the chill of the room.

“That feeling shows you something of the extent of the changes I worked into your body. In the course of the years, your system has adjusted to a new level of energy. To try and remove the extra midichlorians now would kill you.” Anakin shook his head. “I can’t do it, nor could even the most powerful Jedi Master.”

“ Midi- what?” Jir scowled as he pulled on his breeches then sat on the edge of his bed. He ran his hands through his short hair, rumpling it further. “Sounds like a disease or something.”

Anakin chuckled. “Not exactly, midichlorians are those parts of our cells that both produce the energy we need to live and connect us to the Force. Many of the old Masters theorized they expressed the will of the Force as well, working through our physical bodies. They – or some equivalent – occur naturally in all life forms. The amount varies from species to species, and between individuals of the same species. In humans, the level of midichlorians you have now puts you squarely into the ranks of the Jedi.”

“These midi-chlorian things are in all our cells?” Jir sternly resisted the urge to scratch at his skin. The thought of having new, hitherto unknown, internal passengers made him feel thoroughly crawly, as if sand-fleas had gotten into his armor.

“Yes, they have to be, or the cells would die. Jedi just happen to have more of them than most people. You started out with enough extra to be considered Force-sensitive, so you already had more than the average human being.”

“But you increased the amount I had?”

“Yes, in you I doubled their number.” Anakin added this information helpfully.

“How deep do these changes run?” asked Jir, staring at Anakin as if he still couldn’t quite believe what he was hearing.

“Pretty deep.” Anakin looked at the floor for some time, a gesture which Jir was beginning to understand meant embarrassment. Anakin’s eyes met his own. “Let’s put it this way – I was very thorough when I increased your Force-sensitivity. When you have children, they’ll probably be Jedi, too. Marry a Force-sensitive like your technical chief and I guarantee it.”

Jir uttered a low croak of surprise. “You changed all that, too?”

Anakin’s grin was like a sudden flash of lightning. “Well, I couldn’t leave the job half-done, could I? Everything had to balance out.”

“I don’t feel terribly well-balanced at the moment.” Jir gave Anakin an unhappy stare. “Everything’s turned upside-down.”

“Are you angry then?”

“I… don’t know. I think maybe I’m in shock. I don’t feel much of anything right now except numb and cold.”

“I’m sorry,” said Anakin. It sounded as if he meant it.

“So’m I,” Jir sighed.

“You are still recovering from your wounds. This was a heavy burden to lay on you now, but I felt it best not to wait – you needed the full story to make a proper decision for your future.” Anakin began to fade away. “Once you have rested, I will return to answer any questions you may have.”

A sudden thought made Jir sit up quickly. “Wait!” Anakin paused. “You said ‘my chief’ – did you mean Chief Drycin has the Force?”

“Yes, indeed she does. Several of your men do as well.” Anakin put a hand through the wall separating Jir’s small room from the larger dormitory and nodded. “Six of them, I’d say.”

“Did you… improve them also?”

“No, no, they’re none of my doing. They are simply naturally sensitive to the Force, as you were. It could well be that their survival was due to the enhanced reflexes the Force grants those who are so gifted.” Anakin spoke gently. “You are not alone, Daine Jir. If you relax and stretch out with your feelings, you will know the truth of that. The Force is with you, always.” Anakin faded away, leaving Jir alone.

With a deep sigh, Jir lay down on his bed and closed his eyes. Hovering at the edges of his mind was a soft susurration, as of people speaking softly among themselves. He could not distinguish exact words, but the feeling was one of closeness and sleepy calm. Not alone, he thought as he let his anxiety drop away into that ocean of presence. Not alone at all.


The next morning Jir set about quietly finding his fellow Force-sensitives. Anakin Skywalker had told him the number, but with the exception of Chief Drycin, had not given him names. Jir interpreted this as an unspoken command to ferret them out on his own.

While he took a break in the exercise room, Drycin joined him.

“So you’re definitely staying?” she asked as she toweled the sweat from her hands and face.

“Yes, I must. There is training I need, and only Commander Skywalker can supply it.”

“Training from Skywalker?” Drycin shot him a startled look. “What can he give you that you can’t get back home? Granted, he’s a great pilot,” she continued quickly. “But I didn’t think you really wanted to go that way.”

“I don’t. But he’s the only one who can train me to control… this.” Holding his hand palm out, he gave an experimental Force-poke at an exercise ball sitting on the floor. It bounced away as if tugged by an invisible string.

Drycin watched it go, her face holding wonder. “I thought you said you weren’t a Jedi? That you couldn’t be one?”

“It is what I believed at the time, yes. But I’ve since found out I was mistaken.”

"That's amazing news," she said, watching his face closely.

"Well, that isn't exactly how I first received the information. To tell the truth, I was utterly appalled." Jir looked down at his hands, unsure how to proceed.

Drycin put a hand on his arm. "You shouldn't feel bad about it. Luke Skywalker seems to be a fine man, I’ve only heard good things about him and it seems to me having Jedi back in the galaxy is a good thing too."

Jir placed a hand over hers and smiled as he felt the connecting threads of the Force weaving between them. "I'm very glad you feel that way. Will you walk with me around the track?" He indicated the jogging track which formed the perimeter of the large exercise room. "I have a few more things to share that you need to know." He walked toward the track and smiled again as Drycin took up a position by his side. "And once I have told you, perhaps you can help me figure out how to tell the others."

-----------------------

“I’m very glad you and some of your people decided to stay, Commander Jir,” Luke Skywalker said with an easy smile. “The galaxy needs all the Jedi it can get.”

"I now find I must agree. I have this feeling we all should be working as hard as we can to learn the ways of the Force." The corners of Jir's mouth turned up in a wry grin. "It took me some time to come to grips with your offer of training, and the better part of this week to persuade the others to give it a try. If it wasn't for Chief Drycin’s assistance, I don't think I would have been able to persuade half of them. Most of them were pretty leery of the idea at first. Corporal Darklan took it very well, but Private Tunrin thought it was some kind of horrible prank. His misgivings were not that much different from my own. I'm just not sure if the galaxy is ready for a contingent of Imperial Jedi."

Luke chuckled. "Imperial, New Republic, fringer, or anyone in between, all are one in the Force, and all are welcome." Luke shifted his position within the confines of Jir's small room. "I've decided our former base on Yavin IV will make an excellent place to teach students. It'll need work of course, but the core facility is livable now, and no one else has a claim on it. We leave tomorrow."

"Very good then." Jir offered Luke a salute before he could stop himself and decided he wasn't about to feel embarrassed for saluting someone who was in effect now his commanding officer. "My people and I will be ready."

"You didn't say; I'm ready for anything." Luke's eyes sparkled with humor, as if he were remembering an old joke.

"I know better than that," said Jir. "Alll I can promise is that we will do our best."

"Then you’ll be fine." Luke placed a hand on the door in preparation to leave, hesitated, and turned back to face Jir. "Just a moment, I almost forgot this." Opening his outer robe he rummaged around inside and pulled out a cylindrical object. Laying it across the palms of his hands he offered it to Jir. "Take this, and keep it with you at all times. Instruction on how to use it will begin immediately in the forward exercise room."

Gingerly, Jir accepted the piece of equipment. Light glittered on bright metalwork as he carefully turned it over. “This is a lightsaber.”

"Yes. I took it with me when I left the Death Star. It was pretty damaged, but I repaired it, and put in a new crystal. I had to replace much of the outer shell so it's now composed of more light than dark metal. I hope you don't mind."

Jir stared at the weapon, holding it as if it were made of spun glass. "This was his Lordship's?"

"Yes it was. The lightsaber is the weapon of a Jedi. Eventually you will learn how to make your own, but for your training I think my father would want you to have it."

Jir looked up. Anakin Skywalker stood a little behind Luke; his _expression was both pleased and thoughtful. Noticing he had Jir's attention, Anakin pointed at the lightsaber, nodded, and spoke. "Keep it. You’re going to need it. May it serve you well. I'm off to see how the others I gifted with the Force are faring; I'll let you know once I have found them." Anakin's teeth flashed in a quick smile. "Until then, attend to your studies, young Jedi. There will be a test later. There always is."

"Very good, my Lord," Jir answered with a smart salute as Anakin faded away. Looking at Luke, Jir nodded. "The answer to your speculation is yes, he does." Jir breathed out a long sigh, looking at the lightsaber in his hand. "Well, to work."

 

END


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