An Old Friend is my second stab at Star Wars fanfiction- you can find the previous one here (and it actually occurs right before this one)- and while I don't write a lot of fanfic I do have certain ideas about Star Wars that I want to explore. This came out of that desire to write Star Wars my way, as it were. I hope you like it- let me know!- and happy reading!
The Millennium Falcon came to rest in a dry patch of ground that Luke had plotted from orbit. Astronav and sensors had come a long way, he thought wryly, since his last visit. He remembered the terror he had felt as he had flown blind into Dagobah's atmosphere, not being able to see a thing and his shipboard sensors proving to be no help at all. Of course, he was in the Falcon now and had a few more resources at his disposal, compared to his old X-wing.
The cave was much as he remembered. It would be almost impossible to find if one didn't know where to look- or have the psychic emanations radiating from it for a guide. He licked his lips and shuddered a bit in spite of himself- his last time here had not been a pleasant experience. He had wondered what the point of it was, why Yoda had been so insistent he enter. Now he thought he understood. One must face oneself, after all, and make peace with uncomfortable truths if one were to truly understand the path of the Jedi.
He entered the depression gingerly, picking his way, trying to avoid the multi- legged things that crawled everywhere, keeping his mind focused on his goal. Controlling his breathing. His fear. He told himself he was a Jedi now, he need fear nothing here. After all, you only face what you bring with you, right? Not sure if that helps. He also felt a bit naked without his weapons, but he had learned many things, not least of which to trust Yoda's judgment. This time he went in without them, his blaster and lightsaber placed carefully on a log outside.
Luke dropped down into a splash of water, and wrinkled his nose at the smell. Often he had wondered just what this place had been, ages ago- a Sith shrine, a scene of some unspeakable evil, an old temple- and his researches had uncovered little. It was now overgrown to the point of being almost impenetrable, but at the same time it seemed so familiar. He pushed on, making his way through the hanging vines and the squelching mud. Something bit him and he slapped at it, fighting a rising panic- he closed his eyes and concentrated on his breathing.
Then he was in a level space, the place where he had confronted his fears years ago- and had, perhaps, reacted rashly, immediately going to weapons. He understood now the warning that he had received then. The funny thing about wisdom is you only appreciate it after the fact. He took a breath and proceeded on, past the point where once he had gazed into his own face, underneath a Sith mask.The way twisted and grew narrow, almost as if something was hemming him in, embracing him. He could sense thoughts, feelings, echoes of panic, fear, anger. Lust, resentment. The Dark side is strong here, Yoda had told him. A domain of evil. He pushed on. The air was cooler now, and damp. He shivered involuntarily, but also felt strangely more confident. No longer a callow youth, he felt he was as ready as he could be to face whatever was to come.
After an indeterminate amount of time, he came to an opening. A cave of sorts, almost a grotto, with tree roots snaking down from a roof that seemed shrouded in darkness. And yet it felt intimate, somehow, as if like could detect like- a Sith shrine, perhaps, but still familiar to a Jedi accustomed to temples and sacred spaces. Still, there was a chill here that went beyond mere cold, and the whisperings and shadows continued to beckon him. One could go mad here. As he waved the torch about, to get a sense of the place, he felt fear return, and reckoned it a healthy reaction. Towards the rear there was an earthen dais or altar with a depression in it. Had it held something? Some long missing artifact?
The visions came then. Just as a Sith lord- his father, it turned out- had appeared to him, years ago, now he saw them- the hooded figures, arrayed around him with lightsabers in hand. There were maybe a dozen, and he knew instinctively who they were- these were his apprentices, his students. The young men and women who had come from all over the galaxy to study and learn the Jedi way, but here they were threatening. Several threw back their hoods, and he could see scars, deformities, leering visages that hated him. What have I done? There was no answer, only the accusing eyes, the whispering hate, and then the lightsabers fell in unison. Again and again, and Luke knew despair. He had failed. Somehow, he had failed them.
He came back to himself shivering, and had to clear his mind. Last time, after confronting Vader/ himself, he had fled the cave in terror, scrambling out in near panic. This time, however, was different. After scouring the grotto for anything resembling a clue to its purpose or origin, he sat for a time, letting the torch gutter beside him, and made himself one with the Force. It was difficult, after all, with the miasma of evil and fear that dominated this place, but Luke knew he had to face fear and despair- his age old enemies. How long he spent there he couldn't have said- a day, a year- but in time he rose, stretched his cramped muscles, and took his leave.