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Dawn of a New Threat

Chapter 9

Callista did always find it hard to sleep on starships, or anyplace else, for that matter, other than her own bed. She lay there in the stillness of the main cabin, still awake, her head resting on Luke's bare chest as he slept soundly.

Exhaustion had claimed him, sending him into deep slumber in the wee hours of the early morning, still holding Callista in the passionate embrace they had been in when he fell asleep, their limbs still intertwined.

Gently, she lifted her head up and propped herself up on her elbows. She watched him sleeping, his body rising and sinking with each breath he took. She loved watching him like this, peaceful and content. It always reminded her of their first night together on the Eye. A smile came to her lips, and she felt herself blush, as she remembered the sight of him sleeping beside her that night, looking much like he did at that moment. She could still recall the feel of his body next to hers that night on the Eye, the rush that had come over her when he had held her in his arms, her head secure on his shoulder as they fell asleep. They had dreamed of each other that night, seeing each other's childhood on Tatooine and Chad, both experiencing the sweet feel of laughter for the first time in years.

She continued to watch him, tenderly running her hand down his arms, tracing his cheeks, his dimpled chin, feeling his stubble against her delicate skin. She touched him ever so gently, so as not to wake him from his heavy sleep. She saw him smile faintly, as if he knew nonetheless that she was caressing him.

"Mama!!!"

The sound of Owen's pained crying startled Callista immediately. There was no time to get dressed; he was clearly in distress. Without hesitation, she fumbled in the dark for her robe then slipped it on hurriedly.

"I'll be right there, sweetheart," she called out to him, sending her Force energy to the children's cabin to quiet his crying, as she ran towards them. "I'm here, sweetheart... Shhhh..." She took him in her arms and rocked him gently, as he opened his eyes. "Mama's right here... I'm right here..." He rubbed at his eyes as she continued to cradle him.

"What is it, sweetie? You had a bad dream?"

"Mommy, he was having a nightmare," Cray told her mother, as she sat up in bed, now awake.

"You were?" Callista asked Owen, brushing aside the wet blond locks from his forehead.

"Uh huh," he answered sleepily, "I was scared."

"Oh, it's all right now, baby, I'm here now..." Callista squeezed him tight, gently stroking his back for comfort.

"We had the same dream, Mommy," Cray said, causing Callista to look at her with curiosity. They had the same dream?

"You did?" Callista asked her daughter, not quite sure what to think. "Tell me about the dream, sweetheart. What was it that scared your brother?"

Cray crawled across the bed to move closer to her mother. "I was scared too, Mommy, but I didn't want to wake you up. I wanted to be brave for you and Daddy."

"Oh, baby, you know you can tell me and Daddy anything," Callista told her, gathering her up in her arms as well. "Don't be afraid to tell us if something is scaring you... What was it?"

"Hey, is everything all right in here?" Luke asked as leaned against the doorway, rubbing his face to wake himself up.

"The kids had a nightmare, Luke," his wife told him, her voice laced with concern. "The same nightmare."

Luke shook his off his drowsiness immediately and sat beside them on the bed. "A nightmare? What was it, princess?" he said, turning to his daughter, who was clinging to Callista.

She took a deep breath, looking at her parents with frightened gray eyes. "Owen and I were somewhere, but I don't know where," she began quietly, "We kept calling you and Mommy, but you wouldn't come. We heard you, but you weren't there. And we were so scared. I had to be the big sister and watch over Owen, Mommy. He started crying and I knew you would want me to be brave for him. He kept crying and then we woke up."

Callista looked at Luke, and even in the darkness, he could see the worry in her eyes. He reached over to cradle Cray, who by now was trembling slightly from the ordeal in her dream. "We're here now, princess," he reassured her softly, stroking her hair gently to calm her. "You and Owen are safe... The nightmare's over now. We're right here, and we're not going anywhere, I promise."

"Sir? Is everything all right in here? I heard one of the children crying--"

Luke looked up to see his Threepio peeking through the door, not quite sure whether he should go in. His golden armour twinkled slightly in the darkness, as he looked at the family, his head cocked in hesitation.

"It's fine, Threepio, we've got it," Luke told him. "Thanks for checking on us."

"Oh, it's no trouble whatsoever, Master Luke. Artoo and I heard crying from the children's cabin, and I thought it might be Master Owen. I came to see if he needed anything. If you wish... I can stay here with the children to watch over them..."

Cray hugged her father tightly. "I'm okay, now, Daddy. I'm a big girl now, remember? You guys can go back to your cabin now. Threepio's here, he and I will watch over Owen."

Luke couldn't help but smile at his little girl's attempt to be brave. But he was still troubled about the children's nightmare and didn't want to leave them alone just yet. "Are you sure?" he asked her. "You can sleep in our cabin if you'd like."

"I'm sure, Daddy," she nodded. "Look, Owen's already asleep again..."

Callista nodded as she carefully laid Owen back down on his bed. "We'll be right in there, Cray, you can call us anytime, all right?" She kissed her on the forehead to reassure her.

Luke pulled Threepio aside. "Thanks, for coming in to look after them," he whispered so Cray wouldn't hear. "Will you come get us if they wake up again?"

"Certainly, Master Luke. I'll make sure to call you and Mistress Callista should the children need you."

Luke patted Threepio's shoulder in gratitude.

"I'm sorry we woke you," the four year old said softly to Luke and Callista.

"You don't have to be sorry, sweetie," Callista reassured her. "Don't be afraid to wake us if you get scared again, promise?"

Callista smiled as Cray nodded, and she turned to walk out of their room. Careful to make sure she was out of the children's sight, she gently took Luke's hands and pulled him into their cabin. "Luke," she whispered, "I meant to talk to you about this when we got to Coruscant, but now..."

"What is it, Callie?" he asked immediately. He recognized that tone of concern in his wife's husky voice, and now he grew even more worried himself.

She nervously ran her hands through her long hair, then folded her arms across her chest. "Before we left Yavin," she began, "Cray said something that threw me a little. She told she didn't want to leave, and at first I just assumed it was because we were leaving the only place she had ever known."

"That makes sense," Luke nodded. "She was born there... It's the only place the kids have ever really known."

Callista unfolded her arms and sat down on the bed, taking a deep breath. "Luke, the next thing she told me was that she still didn't 'feel very good' about Coruscant... I didn't know what to make of that." She looked up at him, seeing that he was concerned now too. "And now... To be honest with you, I'm not really sure if she meant only that she was going to miss Yavin..."

Luke exhaled, letting his apprehension come to the surface now, his eyes instinctively going towards the direction of his children's cabin. "That wasn't an ordinary nightmare, then, was it?" he asked her, holding her hand tightly.

Callista shook her head. "I... I don't know," she stammered. "I haven't really sensed anything bad about returning to Coruscant... Have you?"

"No, I haven't either," Luke admitted, shaking his head as he sat back down beside her on the bed.

"Are you thinking what I'm thinking?" He laughed softly, in spite of himself, before she could answer. "As if I had to ask..."

Callista managed a weak smile and moved closer to him, seeking reassurance in his arms. "They're sensing something, aren't they?" she asked, as she nestled her cheek against his chest, her fingers lightly caressing his arms absent-mindedly. She clung to him, wishing she could will her anxiety away. Even opening herself up to the Force didn't seem to lessen the worry she felt.

She prided herself on being a strong person, able to handle anything fate threw her way, but when it came to her children, her emotions always got the best of her. They were her pride and joy, and she guarded them fiercely.

Luke wrapped his arms tighter around her, gathering as much comfort from her as she did from him. "Yes, and I think we better watch over them very carefully and see if they can make more sense out of what they're feeling."

After some time, Luke sensed Callista's eyes on him. He pulled away slightly to meet her gaze.

"We really should start training her soon, you know," she said softly. "Those two are getting stronger in the Force everyday, but they still don't have any control over it. With training, they would be able to articulate what they're sensing in times like these."

"Isn't she a little young, Callie?" Luke asked somewhat apprehensively.

"They used to train them really young," she told him with a laugh, recalling the obstacles she had to face to get her training approved at an age considered far too old. "Master Dijinn found me when I was already considered too old," she recalled, "Boy did he have to do a lot of sweet talking to get the Council to agree to let him train me. Back then they would start training children when they were six months old. I don't know what he told them, but Master Dijinn managed to convince them about me somehow."

"Well clearly they knew a good thing when they saw it," he said, giving her a sly smile that made her blush. "Now I know why Master Yoda said I was too old," he chuckled. "And here I was wondering why a nine hundred year old would think a twenty-one year old was too old to be trained..."

She laughed in response, her lightened mood easing his as well. "So what do you say, Luke? I think she's old enough now. With both of us doing the training, she'll be up for it."

"Let's do it," Luke agreed. "As soon as we get everything settled on Coruscant, we'll talk to her about starting her formal training."

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