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Fic: Escape (SW) - The Phantom Librarian
Spewing out too many words since November 2003
fernwithy
fernwithy
Fic: Escape (SW)
Well, I still appear to be here. Anyway, awhile back, I wrote a fic called A Voice in the Ashes about a youngling OC. I'm pleased to say that I only need to change a couple of minor details (time of day, precise precipitating circumstances) to make it fit with new canon. So I decided to give it a backstory. Don't click if you're unspoiled--I wrote it before the movie and it hasn't got a lot of minor details right, so it's not a spoiler exactly, but the fact that I just mentioned only having to change a couple of details probably would be enough to qualify as a spoiler of a large event.

It's very, very difficult to write a story about a boy who doesn't know his own name. That's my observation for the day.

The last one had nothing in the way of spoilers. This one is ENTIRELY spoiled. You're warned.

EDIT: Apparently, the unnamed-in-the-film character played by Jett Lucas has a name in the credits ("Zett"), so I changed "Raham" in this story to that name.




There is no me, the boy thought, lying still. It seemed an important thought, but he couldn't allow himself to remember why.

There is no me. There is only the Force.

He let go, let his body slow nearly to a stop, let his mind become diffuse. No one had taught him to do this, but he knew it was the only way. He didn't know how old the body he was in was, but he was sure that the thoughts moving through it were older, ancient, infinite.

It wasn't simply a matter of becoming invisible. He had to become nothing and no one. He had to be not there.

Although he did not exist, he felt eyes pass over the spot where he wasn't, felt them pause there, consider.

And move on.

He remained still, not allowing himself to return, even as the sound of the elevator faded to a distant hum and finally disappeared.

He opened his eyes.

He was crumpled at the base of a window, which had shattered above him. Someone here had been thrown into it. A jagged piece of glass had torn through his tunic and drawn blood from his side.

Around the room, he saw bodies. He knew their names, but not which belonged to whom, or to him. There was someone called Cetin, and someone called Arita, and someone called Emon. Atou and Slon, Viani and M'Bek. Arderin. Garvish. Topowa. Ivinat. There was one more name in his mind than there were bodies on the floor, but he didn't know which was unmatched, and therefore his own.

Slowly, he rolled over and got to his feet. The cut on his side bled freely and he felt dizzy, but the Force, beyond himself and more than himself, soothed it.

Somewhere far below, an alarm started to blare. Fire.

He made his way across the room, not looking at the bodies, or at least trying not to look. He reached for the call button for the elevator, but his hand stopped. He didn't stop it; of that, he was sure. It simply stopped.

If you call for the elevator, he will know that something here survived. He will have to know it, and be forced to acknowledge it, and he will come back.

For a moment, he stood in front of the door, confused. His own identity tried to flicker back to him, and he wanted to sit on the floor and cry, and perhaps suck his thumb, but he didn't do it. Couldn't do it. Not now.

Use the Force.

The voice was quite clear in his mind, commanding. He looked around nervously, but no one was moving.

Wait until he is occupied, then move.

"But how..."

Of course. Wait until he was killing again.

Pain flared up in his mind, a burning agony, and he knew. It was his only chance. He raised his hand at the door, and felt something push through him. The elevator opened onto the steep shaft. He swung onto the access ladder beside the door.

Not too far. Don't risk being trapped here.

He carefully made his way down to the next level, waited for another wave of pain, and pushed the door open.

Out of the darkness, light. Buzzing at him, stopping an inch from his throat.

"Who's there?"

The boy looked up. The lightsaber in front of him was held by a human girl, maybe twelve years old. Her long pony tail was matted with blood. Beyond her, he could see other lightsabers, poised and ready, but held low.

"What's happening?" he asked.

The girl frowned. "We don't know. Master Skywalker brought clones, and they're killing everyone they find." One of the others started crying in the dark, and she looked over her shoulder with a harsh shushing sound. "Who are you?"

The boy frowned, trying to make it come back. Finally he shook his head. "I'm not sure. Everyone's dead upstairs."

She looked at him in horror and said, "All right. I'm Urkasa. This is Zett." She pulled a boy of about fifteen forward. "Zett, do you know who this is?"

"Sorry."

"Do any of you know who this is?" Urkasa asked.

The others came forward. They were all younger. None looked familiar, and all of them shook their heads. "I think he's Kaadu Clan," one of them offered. "They were all in training when it started."

"All right," Urkasa said. "Kaadu Clan, then. We're going to get out. We're trying to find a way. You're coming with us."

The boy nodded.

Zett pulled him into the circle the others made, and squatted down beside him. "Okay," he said. "I think there's a way off the spire, but we're going to have to work together. It's dangerous. Feleri, stop crying."

A little Ampinuan girl with a long purple braid drew her knees up to her face and made a whimpering noise. Her useless wings waved behind her in a disspirited way. "Master Skywalker tells stories," she said. "He told me about podracing."

The boy next to her drew back, his eyes wide, and then started sniffling as well.

"Feleri, Idko." Urkasa reached in and touched both of their wrists. "I don't know why Master Skywalker is doing this, but he's not telling stories now, and if you don't follow the Code, we're all going to die."

This was singularly uneffective. Feleri wailed, and threw herself into Zett's arms.

"Good job, Kasa," he said, patting the little one's head.

The boy from Kaadu Clan watched all of it, detached. He could feel Feleri crying inside of him, and feel Urkasa's frustration. Only Zett seemed to have things together.

"We can't take the elevators and I don't trust the stairs," he said. "But we've got to get out of the spire and down into the main part of the building. That means we have to climb down the outside. There's wire. We can string ourselves together and go out the window. You--" He pointed at the boy. "Youngling. Can you help us break it?"

Youngling--which was as good a thing to call himself as any--stood up and went to the window. He looked at it. "What are we breaking it with?"

"The Force," Zett said. "I hope. I think we just need to push really hard. Can you do that? Can you push things?"

Youngling thought about this carefully. He wasn't sure what he could do, but he thought maybe a lot more than he could do yesterday or would be able to do tomorrow, if the fog lifted. He shrugged and nodded.

Urkasa and Zett came and stood to either side of him, and they all raised their hands toward the window.

"Wait," Youngling said.

Zett cocked his head to one side, listening, and a scream rose up.

Together, they pushed hard at the window. It exploded outward with a deafening crash.

"They'll have heard that," Urkasa said , glancing nervously over her shoulder.

Zett nodded. "Then we can't waste any time. Get the wire."

Urkasa scurried to a far corner of the room and came back with a length of wrapped copper wire. She looped it around them carefully. making sure it was thick enough that it wouldn't slice, binding them into an odd, three-pronged shape, with the little ones trailing in a line behind herself, Zett, and Youngling. She gave two lightsabers to each of the boys and kept two for herself.

"Are you sure you're strong enough?" she asked before slipping into her place. "You're not very big. Just, you know, big enough."

"Big enough," he repeated.

"All right," Zett said. "We lower them out first. Then ligthsabers up, and use them to slow the descent. Dig in as far as you can. The flat of the roof is about fifty meters down."

There was a tug as the first of the little ones went over the edge of the window, growing harder and harder as their acculumated weight built up. Finally, the boy crouched at the window's edge with Zett and Urkasa. "On three?" he said.

"Tuck in," Urkasa reminded him, and they sprung out into nothingness. There was a sharp, startling drop for a moment, and the little ones screamed, but the three in the lead rolled quickly over in the air, drawing their lightsabers at the same time and plunging them into the metal wall of the spire.

Somehow far above, the boy could see the room he'd started in. There was no sign of movement there. Nothing. Nothing in the Force.

His arm jarred painfully as the buzzing lightsaber dragged through the metal. Six lines of molten steel were drawn parallel on the spire, six trails of fire in the night, lost in the rising glow of fire in a place where the roof below had caved in. They sank into the smoke.

"Almost there!" Urkasa called, looking anxiously over her shoulder. "Almost... Feleri! No!"

There was a loud, painful buzz in the air, and a hovercraft appeared from nowhere, firing. Little Feleri, at the bottom of the chain, had swung out into the night on a current of air. A laser blast struck the wire.

The hit reverberated up through the chain, and Youngling looked over his shoulder to see Feleri, separated from the others, hanging in the air, flapping her delicate, decorative wings futilely. She looked up, wailed.

And fell into the smoke.

There was another blast.

And an unspeakable thud below.

The craft disapperaed, but they could hear it gearing up for a return run.

Zett looked across at Urkasa. "Jump?

She nodded.

"We have to get down now," she called back. It'll be a hard landing. Use the Force. Trust the Force. Lightsabers, on three."

She counted.

The lightsabers went out, and the whole bound group fell like a stone. The roof rushed up to meet them. Buffeted by the heat of the fire and the strength of the Force, it seemed to take them a long time to go the last ten meters, but finally, little Idko cried out in the smoke, hitting the flat of the roof. The others followed, landing in a sprawling Y-shape on the metal.

Zett untied them. "We have to get inside, out one of the service droid exits."

"Master Skywalker knows about them," Urkasa said.

"Yes. And he'll have had them closed them off first. He'll think he's done with them. We'll open them back up. Come on. There's a service hatch over here."

They followed him over to the round-topped service hatch. It was closer to the flames than they'd been, and the roof became hotter with every step.

"Step back," Urkasa said. She raised her hand at the hatch. It shook, rattled, and finally exploded up into the night, followed by roiling smoke.

Zett went over to it, looked down into the murk (absently rubbing his shoulder as he did so. "It's clear," he said. "They've already been through here. I'll drop down first. Urkasa, you put the others through, then come down."

One by one, they dropped through the ceiling into the upper floors around the Temple gardens. The plant life was smoldering and the fountains billowing up steam. Zett was looking at it with confusion and disgust on his face. "The gardens," he muttered as Urkasa jumped down. "Why the gardens?"

Urkasa frowned at him. "The gardens? Why the younglings?"

"Right. Yes. Of course." Zett shook his head sharply. "There's a service droid exit near the main entrance. It's four levels down. We can get there if we're careful. Stay in the shadows."

Don't be here.

The boy from Kaadu Clan, whose name was not Youngling, nodded vaguely. He felt like something was being sapped away from him, steamed away.

He followed the others.

For three levels, they found only dead bodies and broken statuary. And smoke. The air pumps were working; this area would be clear soon. But for now, the smoke was cover. One of the little ones lit extra plants on fire to make more smoke, until Zett told him to stop.

The fourth level--the main entrance level--was a nightmare.

Older padawans were fighting with clonetroopers; one of the creche masters lay dead on the floor among them, his lightsaber far from his hand. Children of all ages lay around him, some killed with the unmistakable burns of a blaster, others with the clean stroke of a lightsaber. Master Skywalker had moved on, but the battle still raged here. Blaster fire ricocheted from one side of the entrance way to another.

An older padawan spotted them, and her eyes widened. A thought came from her: ESCAPE. GET THEM OUT.

A bolt from a blaster hit her from behind, and she fell to the floor, her body smoking.

Urkasa caught the stranger's lightsaber with the Force and threw it at the clonetrooper. It caught the side of his helmet and he fell in two pieces.

"This way," Zett whispered, leading them away from the battle, toward the far side of the entrance hall, near a shadowy alcove where a tiny service door had been built into the side of the stairs. "We can..."

He stopped, and pulled everyone he could reach under the shadow of the stairs.

Five clonetroopers clacked down above them, blasters drawn, their backs turned... for now.

Idko covered his mouth with his hand, two of the others closed their eyes.

A trooper turned. Slowly.

Something crackled, and the trooper picked it up. "Yes, sir?"

A deep, unknown voice: "There is a speeder approaching the doors. It would not be well for it to leave."

"Yes, sir."

"That was close," Urkasa said.

"They're going to kill whoever it is," Zett told her.

"We have to get them out."

Zett looked at the younglings, looked toward the door, then looked at Urkasa. "You get them out," he said, and picked up his lightsaber.

He ran hellbent for the door, lightsaber drawn. The youngling of Kaadu Clan watched only long enough to see him leap at the clonetroopers, and then Urkasa, her breath coming in shaky gasps, dragged all of them further back into the shadows. She touched the service door with shaking hands, then leaned onto it and started pounding it with her fists.

"What is it?"

"It's sealed. He melded it." Her face twisted horribly, and she took more gasping breaths. "You... youngling... I need... "

"There they are!"

They looked up. The clone troopers were back, only three now, but that was enough.

"RUN!" Urkasa screamed, throwing a fallen lightsaber at them. "RUN!"

There was no choice.

They broke from the shadows and ran into the smoke, deeper into the burning zone. Pieces of the ceiling were falling in. The boy was panting. He could hear Urkasa panting at the rearguard.

Then something clanged.

He turned. Urkasa grabbed the smallest child, and threw him unceremoniously into a garbage chute. Above, the ceiling groaned ominously.

"Good idea," the boy said.

"Only idea. It comes out in the lower levels somewhere."

She grabbed a second child and threw her in after the first, and then a third, the boy Idko. He was sniffling again. "I never want to podrace," he said soberly, then jumped into the chute by himself.

"Come on," Urkasa said to the last of the little ones, a human girl with blonde pigtails. "You can do it."

The girl slipped forward, looked at Urkasa, and screamed as a large chunk of the ceiling broke away, falling sharply into the floor, carrying a pile of debris with it. It blocked off the chute entirely, and the children below started calling to one another to hurry, because the rubbish around them was on fire. Urkasa stood on one side of the debris wall., the boy on the other. He could see her from the neck up.

The girl with pig tails was silent beneath the steel.

Urkasa dig her fingers into her hair and opened her mouth to scream, then bit it back with a horrible grimace. "Go," she said. "Get out through the next chute."

"What about you?"

"I'm going back to the fight."

"But--"

"Go," she said. "I'm older and I'm telling you. Get out."

And she ran back into the fray.

The boy was alone again.

He thought about trying to climb the debris pile, but another chunk of the ceiling came down, making it impossible.

He ran further down the hall, searching for the next chute. It was nearly at the end, nearly at the place where a wall of fire jutted up and hemmed him in, but he made it. He used the lightsaber he still carried to cut it open, then threw the weapon aside forever.

He dove.

What he landed in wasn't garbage.

The compactor stretched the length of the hallway, and much of the far end was engulfed in rapidly moving flames, but the boy could see that others--wounded, burned, unable to fight--had also thought of Urkasa's solution. They lay unmoving among the kitchen scraps and broken mechanical components.

He took the hand of a Wookiee boy and held it for a long time, then crawled away, crawled over them, away from the fire, toward the narrow outflow that led to the processing plant outside.

It was blocked.

Of course it was blocked.

Master Skywalker would have thought to block it.

Easier to just sit here, wait for the fire.

Use the Force. It will let you pass.

"Too tired," he whispered.

The bodies in the chamber seemed to shimmer in the heat, to whisper to him, to escape or to join them, he didn't know and never would. But the voice that spoke clearly in his mind was unequivocal.

Slowly, he turned over, held up his hand at the debris and watched it start to push aside, making a tunnel for him. He slithered into it, pushing the debris around himself, swimming through it, down, always down.

It could have gone on for minutes or hours. He didn't know. He bacame aware of voices at some point, getting louder as he grew closer to them.

"...you think it's gold?"

"...nah, just plasteel... we could melt it down..."

"...Did you see that crystal thing? I can't believe it didn't break!"

"Leave it, Karka. Everyone will know where it came from, so we can't sell it and we can't eat it. It's nothing."

"It's pretty." Ill tempered footsteps. Close.

The boy slithered the last two meters through the debris, breaking through into open air. It was dirty, sooty open air, and he could barely see in the murk. A girl in filthy clothes was standing in front of him, a bag slung over her shoulder which was stuffed with bits of precious things that had fallen from the burning building. A blanket was sling over her shoulder. She seemed to fade in and out of view.

"Who are you?" she asked.

He shook his head. "I don't know."

And then the world grayed out.

When he awakened, her blanket was wrapped around him, and the galaxy had faded to black.

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Comments
(Deleted comment)
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2005 03:10 am (UTC) (Link)
Nope, Slither's an OC.
chicleeblair From: chicleeblair Date: May 26th, 2005 01:48 am (UTC) (Link)
Ha! yes I think that should be him too.
chancecraz101 From: chancecraz101 Date: May 24th, 2005 03:50 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh it's Han! Oh....how heartbreakingly sad. No wonder he choose the name Solo. :(
fernwithy From: fernwithy Date: May 24th, 2005 03:56 am (UTC) (Link)
No, it's not Han... that never even occurred to me. I think I'd better take out the reference to him being alone again. He's the OC, Slither, from the fic I linked at the beginning of the post. My young Han is on Corellia and does encounter a Jedi, but not any of these--I did a fic on the subject for sjepstein awhile back, called Fighter. Slither is just Slither.
chancecraz101 From: chancecraz101 Date: May 24th, 2005 05:13 am (UTC) (Link)
Oh. Whoops. That's what I get for just clicking on the story and not reading the intro. You're other story is also quite good.
ringlass From: ringlass Date: May 29th, 2005 05:13 pm (UTC) (Link)
Han Solo? I guess I'm the lone reader who never thought of it, though it would make sense. However, I think I like it better as some random non-Solo youngling.

Awesome story. Just ... aweseome.
sreya From: sreya Date: May 24th, 2005 04:45 am (UTC) (Link)
It's good to see Slither again! You did a powerful job of describing the devastation to the children. The bit about stories got to me, since I'm working with Kay Aleron, who's a Knight at the time, but has the same reaction -- "This is the man who told me fairy tales, and taught me what happily ever after means? It can't be true!"

What's best about this is that you show the Padawans really taking charge, willing to fight and die in the battle. They've been trained well, and are ready to do what's necessary, even when they shouldn't have to.
From: psalm_27 Date: May 24th, 2005 12:22 pm (UTC) (Link)
"I never want to podrace,"

*heart breaks in two*

thalia_seawood From: thalia_seawood Date: May 24th, 2005 05:24 pm (UTC) (Link)
I hardly could bare reading this story. It's especially hard to stomach that Anakin *knew* these children and cared for them once. And still he's so thorough in hunting them down and killing them. Chilling!

I really would like to see you write a story about Anakin's (or Vader's) thoughts about the younglings'slaughter. E.g. in the Penitent universe. I'd like to see how he copes with this enormous guilt in the future.
chocolatepot From: chocolatepot Date: May 25th, 2005 12:10 am (UTC) (Link)
There is hardly anything to say, save T_T. That was the saddest bit of the whole movie.
From: general_calypso Date: June 2nd, 2005 03:33 am (UTC) (Link)
Hi, I was recommended here by swfanfic and I am very glad becuase this was one of the best Star Wars fanfictions I've read! You have a great story telling talent.
hlglne From: hlglne Date: June 2nd, 2005 02:04 pm (UTC) (Link)

AWEWSOME!

you have a friend. I mostly slash, but I am working on some Quinlan-Aayla stuff that is not and your fics are great help...also came from starwarsfanfic..
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