Eyes of the Jedi 3

While the smoked lenses of the visored helmet had protected his eyes, the visibility had still been minimal. He had been forced to stop, to wait impatiently for the storm to break, for the air to clear. When it did, he looked upon a deserted plain. His prey had vanished as if swallowed by the very ground on which he stood.

hɂĂ邭񂾃Yڂی삵ĂĂA܂E͕sĂȂ܂܂Bނ͋Iɑ~߂AՁXȂ痒ݑCނ̂҂Ƃ]VȂĂB҂]łƔނ͍rnBނ̊ĺA܂ō܂ɔނĂnʂɈݍ܂Ă܂̂悤ɎpĂB

Meticulously, the being swept the plains with his micro-binoculars. Nothing moved. Again, he made a careful sweep of the plains westward. The foothills were close. He swept them with care. It was possible the Corellian had been able to reach them during the storm. Perhaps, even now, the being reasoned, the outlawed spacer could be deep within the protection of those hills.

j͙{ʂɖ]ŒnnB̂͌ȂBĂєނ͓̕OOɌ񂵂BR߂ɂBނ͂ɒJɌB̃RAl̊Ԃɂɂǂ蒅ĂĂsvcł͂ȂB̖@҂̔sm͋ȕǂ̉ŌĂ̂ȂAƒj͌_tB

Against the full throes of the storm he had seen the man go down several times under the burden he carried. He had thought the man unable to rise on each occasion, but he had. He had kept moving during the savageness of the storm. Fett's respect for the smuggler increased. The man, hurt, weak from blood loss and the disadvantages of thin air, would survive the storm and find shelter. Now, he would seek high ground to put himself above the hunter. He was not a man to underestimate.

̒Aނ͂̒j^łdׂ̏dŉxꗎ̂ڂɂĂBNオ邱Ƃ͖낤Ƃ̓xɎvAނ͗オB𑝂łÂĂBtFbg͂̒jɍXȂhӂ悤ɂȂĂBAoʂƔCƂnfwȂA̒j͗zĔꏊBꂩނ͎荂ꏊɍsƂ邾낤BтĂ͂ȂȂ肾B

Fett studied the roughed foothills. He would reach the slopes in another hour. If he had not seen movement by then, he would attempt to gain the higher ground, find shelter and set his ambush. He had played the game long enough; he was growing impatient.

rXnnB1ԂŎ͌X΂ɍ|邾낤B܂łɉ炩̓𔭌łȂ΁AƂ܂ŏĂĉBꏊT҂邾BQ[͂񂾂BEςsĂB

He knelt and checked the mobile units of his kneedarts. He grunted in exasperation, at his findings. The delicate mechanisms were frozen useless by fine grains of sand. He unfastened the weaponry and let it fall. Without the added weight he would be able to increase his speed.

ނ݂͋ނƕGɎtĂ_[cẻғ_Aڂɂ̂ɑ΂ĂԂԂƕsk炵B̑@ׂȋ@͍Ōł܂AgɂȂȂȂĂBOƁAނ͂𖳑ɓ̂ĂBdʂ΁Aړ邱Ƃo邾낤B

He checked his utility belt and the storage packs for the laser rifle he carried. The Corellian would be weakened, badly by now, he reasoned. He would need nothing more than time and a fully charged rifle to take him. Yes, he assured himself, the end was near.

ނ͖\xgƁAĂ郌[U[Ctp̗\m߂B̃RAl͍덓サĂ͂BԂƏ[UꂽCtΊlɏoBAƔނ͎ɌBI͋߂ÂĂB

* * *

Luke Skywalker listened wearily to the howling of the winds outside their shelter and shivered with discomfort. Silence had fallen between them as they rested from the ordeal that had brought them through the storm. He could hear Solo's ragged breathing within the silence about them. And, he worried.

[NEXJCEH[J[́Åڂ̊OŐr镗̉sCɕȂAsɐĝk킹B̒蔲ĂꂵAxKvƂނ̊Ԃɂ́AقĂBÎ̒A\̋ꂵȑB[N͔ނ̂ƂSzB

Han Solo was hurt. Luke remembered the wet bandages he had touched - the agony that had coursed the Corellian's body when his fingers had encountered the foreign matter imbedded in his back. Han had made light of the injury. But, Luke knew the constant blood loss would drain what strength the man had and leave him vulnerable to the being who followed.

nE\͉ĂB[N͔Gꂽт̊GƁAwɎh ނ̎wGꂽuԃRAl̐ĝɑɂvoB n͑債ł͂Ȃ悤ȌĂA[N͑ʂ̏o_͂DA ǐՎ҂ɑ΂Ď݂ɂȂĂ܂ƂmĂB

The young Jedi gingerly touched the blood-caked bandage at his temple. There was more. He was conscious - on his feet. He should be a help to the rapidly failing Solo now when he needed him the most. How could he tell him that he would probably be more of a hindrance now then he'd been before?

߂݂ɓĂĂ錌Ōł܂тɂƐGB͂ꂾł͂ȂB ͂ƈӎ߂ĂBAǂǂƎĂ\ނłKvƂĂƂ ͂ɂȂĂׂȂ̂ɁB܂ł̎ȏɍ̎gɂȂĂ܂ȂȂāAǂČ邾낤B

Luke blinked, closed his eyes and drew the familiar essence of the Force about him. It was a warmth, a comfort, He drew on it greedily, letting it settle about him like a cloak of well being. It was a friend, a guiding hand, he told himself. It had become a lot to him since Ben had awakened him to its existence. Now, he asked it to become his eyes. A feeling of contentment settled over him and Luke felt his anxieties ebb away. He was secure in the Force. It was there for him - for Han. A contented, benign smile pulled at the youth's pale lips. Someday the Corellian would believe. Someday he would accept what he could not now acknowledge.

[N͏uĖڂƁAe񂾃tH[X񂹂B Ɩ߁Aꂪ_̈ߕ̂悤Ɏ̑̂𕢂܂܂ɂA ̊oÂBtH[X͖l̗FBAĂ肾ƎɌB x݂̑ɋCÂĂĂAtH[X͔ނ̒ő傫Ȉʒu߂悤ɂȂĂB ނ͂̃tH[XɁAނ̖ڂɂȂ邱ƂvĂB[ɖsĂB tH[X̒ł͔ނ͈SBނ̂߂Ɂ\\n̂߂ɁA͂ɂB 肽Dȏ΂݂AN̐߂Oɕ񂾁BnMĂ邾낤B ͔F߂悤ƂȂƂA󂯓Ă邾낤B

Luke sighed. There was so much he longed to tell his friend; to share with him. There was so much the willful Corellian could learn if he would only lower his mental prejudices. His eyes closed, his breathing shallow, relaxed, Luke Skywalker opened himself willingly to the power within and meditated.

[N͂ߑBƁAƂRB ȃRAlł̕ΌF߂ďĂ΁A FȂƂĂ锤BڂA₩Ȍċz͐󂭁A [NEXJCEH[J[̗͑̓͂ɐgCґzn߂B

He had no idea how long he had sat bathed in the contentment of the Force when the power sounded its alarm. He acknowledged it immediately and retuned his senses to his surroundings. Everything seemed as before. He could still hear the wind outside, but its intensity had lessened. The storm was blowing itself out. They would soon have to get moving again. Although he had not dwelt on the thought during the storm, his instincts had warned him that the small beacon could not penetrate the storm's interference. They would have to get it into the open and offer it more elevation.

tH[Xx𔭂ƂAނ͏[̒łǂꂾ̊ԍĂȂB ͂̏󋵂ւƂ΂₭o߂BSĂςĂȂ悤ɊB ܂OŕrĂ̂𕷂邱ƂoA͎܂ĂB ĂѓoȂ΂ȂȂ낤B̊Ԃ̂ƂSzĂ킯ł͂ȂA ނ̊ȔM@̔M˂邱Ƃ͏oȂ̂ƍĂB ƊJƂ֋@ړAmۂȂ΂ȂȂ낤B

"Han." Luke's voice sounded loud within the confines of their shelter. There was no answer. His heart quickened.

unv
[N͕̐ǓIȉBƂɂ₯ɑ傫B͖Bۓ܂B

"Han?"

unHv

He could hear the breathing of the older man. Why didn't he answer? Reaching out, Luke felt his way through the darkness until he touched the shoulder of the Corellian. He knelt beside the spacer and fumbled for Solo's face. His fingers encountered hair gritty with sand. He pushed it away from the smuggler's forehead.

N̒j̑BǂĉȂ񂾂낤HL΂A [N̓RAľɐG܂ňł̒TŐi񂾁B T삭ƃ\̊ւƂȂL΂BłɎwGꂽB ̔z͂ĂB

"Han? Hey, ol' buddy, come on. Wake up!"

unH˂Ă΁BNĂIv

Luke's fingers brushed Solo's closed eyes and lightly touched the thick lashes. There was no flicker of awareness. His hand, now unsteady with fear, moved downward until he touched Solo's mouth; the lips dry, caked with sand and grit.

"Han! Damn it. Wake up!"

unIBNIv

Desperately, Luke slapped at Solo's warm cheeks. Once. Twice. Movement? He stopped, again he felt for the eyes. This time, the lids reacted to his feather-like touch. He sighed with relief allowing the fear to dissipate as he shook the Corellian.

]ɂāA[N̓\̔Mттj@B AcHނ͒@̂~߁AĂіڂTB x́A̗߂悤ȊGقBg̑ƁA |Ă̂Ȃ炻̃RAlhԂB

"Han! Come out of it!"

unI肵Ă΁Iv

Solo groaned and attempted to force the heaviness of sleep from him. "Luke?"

u[NHv

"I'm right here. God, you had me worried! The headaches you mentioned - were you dizzy - sick?"

uɂBA{ɐSzI Ăɂ́cc῝́HĆHv

"Yeah. Take it easy, kid. I'm all right - " Solo struggled to sit up and gentle, caring hands helped him.

"You shouldn't have gone to sleep," Luke admonished sharply, fear still noticeable in his voice.

uႾ߂v
郋[N̐ɂ́A܂B؂ĂȂ|B

"Didn't mean to - it slipped up - on - me - "

uȂ肶cȂc̂܂ɂcv

"How are you now?"

uC͂ǂHv

Solo grimaced as he slowly opened his eyes. He blinked away the dregs of sleep, then settled dull-eyed attention on the youth beside him. "I'm okay - just damned sore. I don't think I want - to try - moving the shoulder - "

ڂJƃ\͊߂B܂Ƃ܂΂ŎU炷ƁA T̐NɂڂƂڂB
u܂܂c̒ɂǂȁBcƂ́Avȁcv

Solo looked up. Worry touched hazel eyes and he studied the youthful features of his friend more closely. Luke knelt beside him, his countenance still somewhat hazy in the semi-darkness of their surroundings. There was something disturbing in the boy's bearings, something he didn't like. Suspicion hit him hard.

\͊グBnVo~F̓ɐSzȉe悬A Fl̂ǂȂeeƌ߂B[N͔ނׂ̗ɕGA ̎p͔Âł܂ڂ₯ĂBN̗lqɂ͉̂\\ CɓȂ̂B^fނPB

"How are you, Kid? Any more headaches?"

uO͑vHLbhB܂͒ɂHv

"No." Luke denied softly. He turned his head to the Corellian's welcomed voice. "It hurts to touch my temple, but there's no headache."

uv[NB҂тRAl̐ɊB
uɐĜ͒ɂǁAɂ͂Ȃv

Solo's brow furrowed with worry. The side of the boy's face was caked with blood, sand and the grit of their struggles. His features pale, as Solo was sure his own were, from their pain, their injuries but there was something else - something wrong.

\͐Szɔ񂹂BN̊̑ʂɂ́Ȃ啱ɂ錌⍻тĂB ނ̊F͒ɂ݂⏝őގĝƓ炢߂ĂBɂ\\B

He settled his gaze on the young rebel's pale-blue eyes. They were clear, pain-free. He stiffened. They also looked beyond him - through him. They did not focus on his face. A cold touch of fear ran his spine.

ႢR̒W̓ɖڐ킹B񂾁A̒ɂ݂\Ȃ̓B ĝ΂B͔̓ނ̌Ă\\ނʂ蔲ĂB ނ̊ɏœ_킹ĂȂB₽|w؂~肽B

"Han, I think the storm is letting up - we should get moving for higher ground - "

unA݂c낻ƍɈړȂƁcv

Han, his mouth dry with the agony of long hours without water, knew that was not the reason behind the sudden dryness and the tight constriction in his throat. His eyes were hardened agates of gun-metal gray as he raised a hand and slowly moved it before those blank - yes, he confirmed - sightless eyes.

Ԃێ悵Ȃߌ̒ɂقǊĂA ˑRPĂƍAߕt悤Ȋǒ͂ꂾ͂ȂƂĂB mÊ悤ȊDF̂ȂŖڂׂ߁Aނ͎Ƌ󋕂ȁ\\ނ͊mM\\ ̑OɂƓB

Luke's hand reached out and caught his, held it, as if sensing its presence. Solo knew he had not seen it. The pale-blue eyes were as vacant as the abyss of a black hole. Luke Skywalker was blind.

܂ł̂悤Ƀ[N̎肪LтĂ̎A͂񂾁B 킯ł͂ȂƂ\ɂ͉ĂBW̓ ܂ŒȂ̃ubNz[̂悤ɋ󋕂B [NEXJCEH[J[͎ĂB

"How long - " he faltered.

ucvނ͌tB

"Since I regained consciousness." Luke answered softly.

uӎ߂Ƃv[NÂɓB

Their hands tightened; one radiating fear, helplessness, anger; the other offering reassurance, comfort and strength.

Ȃꂽ̗͂܂BЕ͋|]AA͈SƈԂ߁AėEC^悤ɁB

"I'm sorry." Han whispered, his voice husky with an emotion he could not control.

u܂vnBłȂŐB

Luke smiled, his features reflecting a peaceful acceptance in vivid contrast to the anguish he sensed on the handsome features of his tall friend.

w̍Fl̒[Ȋɕԋ̕\@AƑΏƓIȉ₩ȊÎ̕\𕂂ׂă[N͔΂񂾁B

"It's all right - "

uCcv

"It's not all right!" Solo flared. "It's my trouble - my fight - "

uCȂ킯邩Iv\͂ƂȂB
u͉̖肾c̐킢cv

"Han, it's our trouble, our fight. He brought us down." Luke reassured the Corellian. "He'll have to deal with us both. I think he may have taken on more than he can handle."

unA͖l̖ŁAl̐킢B͖ll񂾂񂾁v[N̓RAlG߂B
u͖ll𑊎ɂȂȂȂBɂȂ̑Ɍ܂𔄂񂾁v

"Luke," helplessness radiated in Solo's pain filled voice as he studied the peaceful countenance of his friend. "You're blind - "

u[NvFl̈炩Ȋ߂Ȃbɂɖ\̐́A]ĂB
uO̖ڂcv

"A physically blinded Jedi, my friend, is not necessarily a blind Jedi."

uڂȂWF_ĆAKSɖӖڂĂ킯Ȃv

There was an assurance in the youthful voice that added a knowing maturity to his words. Solo groaned and looked away from the sightless eyes that continued to fill him with mounting helplessness and eager hatred towards the being responsible. "He'll pay for this," he vowed softly between tightly clenched teeth.

X̐ɂ͗܂悤ȋAꂪtɈӎIȐnĂB \͙k炵A̎ԂɐӔClɑ΂ǂ悤Ȃ݂ ͊Ă̖ڂ炵B
u㏞͕킹Ă邼cvݒ߂̉ÂɐĂB

"No." Luke stopped him. "We'll do what we must to survive. Revenge, hatred, anger are wrong - they are weaknesses, Han, not strengths."

uʖڂv[Nނ~߂B
uт邽߂ɏôƂ邾B񕜂ƂA݂Ƃ{͊ԈĂcnA͋ȂĎ݂Ȃ񂾁v

Solo swore hotly. "You're sounding more like that crazy old man every day."

\͕ɈԂB
uɓɌƂ̋CႢꂳɎĂȁv

"I wish I had his knowledge - his wisdom." Luke voiced sadly. "Maybe I could find a way to be a help to you now - instead of a handicap - "

ux̒m\\pm΁AĎvv[N͎₵ɌB
u獡A񂽂̖ɗĂ邩Ȃ̂Ɂ\\gɂȂɁcv

"You don't talk like that!" Han snapped. "We got here in one piece - I sure in hell plan on us leaving the same way - "

uȌȁIvn҂ƌB
u͂܂Ōܑ̖ŗꂽ񂾁c悤ɂEoĂcv

"Then, the first thing we've got to do is get the beacon to higher ground." Luke spoke softly, attempting to ease Solo's anger.

uႠA܂M@ƍɎĂȂv\̓{Â߂悤ƁA[NÂɌB

Han shot him a suspicious glance. "It may have gotten a weak signal out - " he voiced hopefully.

n^킵፷𓊂Ă悱B
uアM͑ꂽȂcv]݂悤ɌɂB

"No. It didn't."

uĂȂv

"We can't be sure of that."

uƂ͌Ȃ낤v

"It didn't, Han."

uȂ񂾂Anv

Solo sighed. "I ain't gonna argue the point. You're probably right."

\͂ߑBu_C͂ȂBOv

He struggled to his feet, swaying as weakness and growing vertigo sent his head spinning. Luke's hand reached out and steadied him.

߂Ȃ痧オƁAXƂݏグĂ῝œ炮炵B[N̎肪LтĔނxB

"Han?"

unHv

"Kid, I think we're in trouble." The Corellian gasped as his first step sent waves of pain through his shoulder. He blanched, swayed again, vivid colors of pain flashing behind his eyes. "We're in trouble."

uLbhA܂ƂɂȂv𓥂ݏor[AɌɂbkBق̗悤Ȓɂ݂ɔނ͐߁AĂт߂B
u܂v

"Take it easy - you got up too fast - "

uāc}ɗオ炾cv

Solo tried to nod, then remembered the young Rebel could not see his acknowledgement. He could not trust his voice as he attempted to voice his fears. "Ain't a complete man - between us - " He clipped off his words and glanced apologetically at the youth who held him on his feet. "I didn't mean - "

\ƂāAꂪɂ͌Ȃ̂ƂƂvoBsɂ悤ƂAg̐MpoȂB
uɁcnft̒jcv͂ƌt~߂āAނ͔wɊYNɂ܂ȂȎB
uÔƂcv

"Han, it's all right. I understand. How are you?"

unAB킩ĂBvHv

"Weak. A little dizzy." Solo answered honestly. "The shoulder - I don't know how - I can make it -"

uĂB炭炷ȁv\͐ɉB
ucǂႢ̂Acv

Luke gently touched the bound wound. The dressing was stiff, hard, unyielding to his probing fingers.

[NƕтɐGꂽB͂ł܂ĂāAT悤Ȏwɂ邱Ƃ͖B

"I think - the bleeding's stopped."

uóc~܂݂v

Solo grunted his relief. "Maybe - we've got a chance. Damn it, Luke - I can't hold a blaster - much less - " He allowed his words to trail off, the rest left unspoken between them as his hazel eyes hardened in helpless frustration.

ucȂƂȂ邩ȁBA[Nc̓uX^[玝グȂcꂶႠcv ނ͑Ȃ܂܌tr؂ꂳBǂ悤Ȃ՗ɁAnVo~F̓𑝂B

"I can."

ul΂v

A flicker of pride touched Solo's handsome features as he looked at the young Jedi at his side. "Damned right. Chewie'll be looking for us. Let's not keep him waiting."

[ȑɂǂւ炵ȕ\𕂂ׁA\͖T̎ႢWF_CB
uȁB[CTĂ͂B҂̂͂悻v

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