Return of the Aurors
Chapter 4: Diagobah
By Anne B. Walsh
The lights flashed overhead. Remus looked up. "Time?" he asked the curtained screen.
"Time," Harry’s voice answered. "We’re all set back here."
"You know, it strikes me there are some bit parts in this," Sirius said quietly as the Pack-parents made their way back to their seats in the darkening theatre. "They could make them just the same as the movie, but that’s no fun..."
Danger laughed. "You want to get into it, don’t you, mangy mutt?"
"What’s wrong with that? It looks like fun!"
"Nothing’s wrong with that," said Aletha, chuckling. "It’s just that you’re a little old to be playacting..."
"You’re never too old to have fun," Sirius said. "But of course, this all depends on one important question."
"What’s that?" Remus asked.
Sirius looked at Danger. "Can you sneak us in?"
"I’ll meet you back at the Fleet," Drake said into the comlink in his X-wing.
"Hurry," Neenie’s voice crackled back. "The Alliance should be assembled by now."
"Hey, Drake, thanks," Ron broke in. "Thanks for coming after me. Now I owe you one."
Drake grinned but didn’t answer. That’s the way I like it, hothead. His fingers danced over their controls, locking in his course.
Behind him, Emtoo beeped. Her translated message appeared on his computer screen.
"That’s right, Emtoo," Drake said, pulling on a glove over his artificial hand. Weird how it feels heavy, but at the same time, normal... "We’re going to the Diagobah system. I have a promise to keep... to an old friend."
Idly he wondered what Yoda would look like...
What you make him look like, moron. You’re running this. With Neenie to help, of course, but a lot of it is you, and that scene’s going to be all you. You could make him ten feet tall and bright red if you wanted.
The image was amusing, but he preferred the classic Yoda, personally.
The computer beeped, signaling that its computations were done. Drake pulled a lever to send the X-wing into hyperspace and sat back. Time for the in-flight movie...
The Imperial March began to play, and four squads of TIE fighters flew past on his viewscreen, escorting an Imperial shuttle towards the half-finished Death Star.
Not my first choice, but it’s what comes next.
The scene changed to the interior of the Death Star, where Darth Malius in his black armor and the nervous-looking commander of the Death Star were just entering the shuttle bay. The Emperor’s shuttle landed gently on the deck in the only clear space left by the thousands of troops drawn up at attention. A ramp hissed out, red-robed guards emerged to scan the area for potential threats, and finally, the Emperor himself walked slowly from the shuttle.
Well, that’s different. Drake sat up straighter. The Emperor in the movies had been old, bent, and wrinkled. This Emperor was erect and smooth-skinned, with no visible signs of age on his face. As in the movie, he wore a hooded black robe, but this robe looked as if it were made of silk. Malius and the commander both knelt.
"Rise, my friend," said the Emperor in a smooth voice.
Malius rose to walk beside his master. "The Death Star will be completed on schedule," he promised in his mechanically booming voice.
The Emperor nodded as they passed the rows of troops. "You have done well, Lord Malius. And now I sense you wish to continue your search for young Skywalker."
"Yes, my Master," Malius admitted.
"Patience, my friend," said the Emperor idly. "In time, he will seek you out. And when he does, you must bring him before me. He has grown strong. Only together can we turn him to the dark side of the Force."
Malius inclined his helmeted head. "As you wish."
Drake snickered. Wrong movie again.
"Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen," said the Emperor, and turned his head as though seeking the source of some passing breeze. His red eyes met Drake’s, and he began to laugh.
Drake jerked back. His screen went instantly black, then cleared to show the familiar starlines of hyperspace.
"That never happened," he muttered. "Never happened."
Just then, the alarm went off that meant they were almost to their destination, and coming out of hyperspace and landing took Drake’s full attention.
After he’d parked the X-wing and extracted Emtoo, he set off for the house of the Jedi Masterâ€”
Mistress, whispered a voice.
Jedi Mistress Gerta.
"You have to be kidding," Drake said, stopping in his tracks.
The scene blurred around him, and he was sitting inside the small mud hut. The creature which moved slowly across the floor nearby was the size and general shape he’d been expecting, but there the resemblance stopped. This creature had brown skin, not green, and there were curves under that Jedi robe that had never been there before.
"Hmm," said the creature in a voice he knew. "That face you make. Look I so old to young eyes?" There was a smile lurking on the oddly-shaped lips, a very familiar smile...
"No," Drake said, belatedly remembering his cue. "Of course not."
"I do, yes, I do!" the Jedi Mistress chortled. "Sick have I become. Old and weak." One hand came up to point a gnarled finger at him. "When nine hundred years old you reach, look as good you will not, hmm?" She chuckled at her own wit. "Soon will I rest. Yes, forever sleep. Earned it, I have." She hoisted herself onto her bed, panting a little with the effort.
You had better not mean that when this is over. "Mistress Gerta, you can’t die," Drake said, putting a little of his true feeling into the line.
Gerta swung her feet onto the bed, then looked up at him and smiled. "Strong am I with the Force, but not that strong. Twilight is upon me, and soon night must fall. That is the way of things. The way of the Force."
"But I need your help," Drake coaxed. "I’ve come back to complete the training."
Gerta shook her head. "No more training do you require," she said, her eyes betraying the true feelings behind the scripted words. "Already know you that which you need."
Drake closed his eyes and opened them again. "Then I am an Auror," he said quietly.
"Ohhh." Gerta shook a finger at him. "Not yet. One thing remains. Malius. You must confront Malius. Then, only then, an Auror will you be. And confront him you will." She lay back on the pillow with a sigh.
"Mistress..." Drake wanted nothing more than to let this question die, but he had to know the truth. "Is Darth Malius my father?"
"Mmm." Gerta sighed again. "Rest I need." She turned on her side, away from him. "Yes, rest."
"Gerta, I must know."
A long pause.
"Your father he is."
Drake winced, feeling both the character’s fresh pain at a supposed lie confirmed and his own ever-renewed pain at a detested truth reexposed.
"Told you, did he?" Gerta asked.
Gerta turned over again to look at him. "Unexpected this is," she said. "And unfortunate."
"Unfortunate that I know the truth?" Drake snapped.
"No." Gerta shook her head. "Unfortunate that you rushed to face him...that incomplete was your training." A momentary image of a snow-filled forest. "Not ready for the burden were you."
"Well, I’m sorry," Drake said sarcastically.
Gerta ignored the tone. "Remember, an Auror’s strength flows from the Force," she murmured. "But beware. Anger, fear, aggression. The dark side are they." Her small brown hand reached out to him, and Drake took it, accepting the small deviation for the sake of the comfort. "Once you start down the dark path, forever will it influence your destiny."
I refuse to say â€˜dominate,’ added a silent voice, since I don’t happen to believe it. One action will not taint your entire life. If you do have to do something terrible, you’ll never forget itâ€”I hopeâ€”but it won’t ruin everything you’ve ever done.
Thanks. Better finish, though.
"Drake..." Gerta whispered. "Do not underestimate the power of the Emperor, or suffer your father’s fate, you will."
Have you considered he’s probably thrilled by his fate?
If you make me laugh in the middle of this speech, I’ll hurt you. "Drake, when gone am I, the last of the Aurors will you be. Drake, the Force runs strong in your family...pass along what you have learned..." Gerta’s voice was breathy and cracking, but still audible. "Drake...there is...another...Sky...walker..."
Her hand went limp in his, her eyes fell shut.
She’s still alive, Drake reminded himself. This is only a game, a play. Laying her hand gently on her chest, he watched the small brown body disappear into the air.
But it still hurts.
He stood up and went outside to the X-wing and Emtoo, who beeped at him and rolled up next to him, pressing her metal body against his legs. He knelt and put his arms around her. "I can’t do it, Emtoo," he said. "I can’t go on alone."
"Gerta will always be with you," said a familiar voice.
Drake turned to see a shining form approaching. "Albu-Wan!" he said, half in welcome, half accusingly. "Why didn’t you tell me? You said Malius betrayed and murdered my father."
"Your father was seduced by the dark side of the Force," old Brian Dunobi answered, seating himself on a convenient log. "He ceased to be Lucas Skywalker and became Darth Malius. When that happened, the good man who was your father was destroyed. So what I have told you was true...from a certain point of view."
Drake snorted. "A certain point of view," he repeated derisively.
"Drake, you're going to find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our own point of view," said Dunobi gently. "I don't blame you for being angry. If I was wrong in what I did, it certainly wouldn't have been for the first time. You see, what happened to your father was my fault."
Interested in spite of himself, Drake turned to look back at Dunobi. Emtoo’s wheels whirred as she too drew nearer, to offer the comfort of her presence to Drake, but also to hear the story.
"Lucas was a good friend," Dunobi began. "When I first knew him, he was already a great pilot. But I was amazed how strongly the Force was with him. I took it upon myself to train him as an Auror. I thought that I could instruct him just as well as Gerta. I was wrong. My pride has had terrible consequences for the galaxy."
Ego-boosting much? Drake thought "out loud."
Oh, be quiet, his Pack-mother shot back. It wasn’t worth the Muppet costume.
"Is there still good in him?" Drake asked. He knew the script called for a statement, a declaration, but he wasn’t sure enough to make one.
"I thought he could be turned back to the light side," Dunobi said. "It couldn’t be done. He is more machine now than man. Twisted and evil."
So true. "I can’t do it, Brian," Drake said.
Dunobi’s eyes twinkled. "You...cannot escape your destiny," he said, putting a delicate spin on the words to make it clear he wasn’t sure he believed what he was saying.
Wait a secondâ€”that’s awfully advanced stuff for just a dream-figure to be doing...
Ten points to the boy with the robot under his arm, said Danger’s voice. Move along, now, time’s a-wasting...
"I tried to stop him once," Drake said truthfully, moderating his tone now that he knew he was talking to a real person. "I couldn’t do it."
"Malius humbled you when first you met him, Drake, but that experience was part of your training." Dunobi’s tone was as polite as ever it was in real life. "It taught you, among other things, the value of patience. Had you not been so impatient to defeat Malius then, you could have finished your training here with Gerta. You would have been prepared."
"But I had to help my friends!"
"And did you help them?" Dunobi asked delicately. "It was they who had to save you. You achieved little by rushing back prematurely, I fear."
"I found out Darth Malius was my father," said Drake, and let the words and the tone say what he couldn’t. I found out I have some of him in me. I found out we think alike about some things. I found out I can be like him if I’m not careful.
"To be an Auror, Drake, you must confront and then go beyond the dark side," Dunobi reminded him, "the side your father couldn't get past. Impatience is the easiest door for you, like your father. Only, your father was seduced by what he found on the other side of the door, and you have held firm." His smile was quietly proud. "You're no longer so reckless now, Drake. You are strong and patient. And now, you must face Darth Malius again."
"I can’t kill my own father!" The cry came straight from the heart of Draco Black.
Dunobi did not move. "Then the Emperor has already won."
"Gerta spoke of another," Drake said, snatching at even the flimsiest of hopes.
"The other she spoke of is your twin sister."
"Butâ€”I have no sister!" And even if I did, I’m not going to load this onto her.
Dunobi shook his head. "To protect you both from the Emperor, you were hidden from your father when you were born. The Emperor knew, as I did, if Lucas were to have any offspring, they would be a threat to him. That is the reason why your sister remains safely anonymous."
Dunobi hadn’t named her, but anonymous his sister could never now be to Drake. He had held her in his arms, breathed the same breath she breathed. "Neenie," he said with certainty. "Neenie’s my sister."
"Your insight serves you well," said Dunobi with a trace of sadness. "Bury your feelings deep down, Drake. They do you credit, but they could be made to serve the Emperor."
"I will never serve him," Drake said, knowing he was deviating but not caring. "But I won’t kill my father, either."
"You may not have a choice," Dunobi said solemnly. "If it is to be him or you, I know which I would prefer."
Emtoo beeped emphatically in agreement.
"I know." Drake looked away. "But I don’t want to think about it."
"Your mind is your own." Dunobi rose. "Unless you happen to be in contact with your sister. Hurry back, Drake. They will need you."
"I know." Drake listened to the old man walking away, felt the pull of the story to move on, but he needed to stay where he was for a moment.
I mean it. I don’t want to kill my father. I don’t want to kill anyone, but especially not my father. I know what he’s done, and what he’d do if he got the chance, and maybe he deserves to dieâ€”all right, not maybe, he does deserve to dieâ€”but I don’t want to be the one to do it.
But the way his own story was trending made that seem more and more likely.
And if it does come down to him or me...
He shook off his thoughts and stood up. "Come on, Emtoo," he said. "We’ve got a moon to run around on, and a whole bunch of cute little furballs to hug."
Somewhere offstage, Ginny humphed loudly.
It's aliiiiiive! Yes, this story is officially active once more! I shall attempt to update more frequently than twice a year... hope you like it!