by Season Irwin and Ginna Wilcoxen

Octavia opened her eyes. Her mouth felt like cotton and her body ached. What happened? Where was she? Memories of the transport came back to her. She was talking to Jerella and Master Skywalker. Then then nothing no, there was something: the feeling of unrest danger.

Octavia looked around the small room. She was laying on the floor. She noticed that Luke Skywalker was there, too. He was dressed differently than when they were on the ship, and he had cuffs around his wrists. From all appearances, he was still asleep. What bothered her was the empty feeling she felt inside her being. It reminded her of Mrykr and the time she lived with her mother.

"Octavia are you awake?" Luke asked.

Octavia thought before she replied. "Yes." She rose to a sitting position. "What happened? Why are we here? Wherever here is."

Luke rubbed a hand through his hair and studied the room. Besides their change of clothing, all their possessions were missing. There was evidence that other occupants had been there recently. He saw benches in a section of the room. Basically, it was quite empty. "We seem to be in captivity somewhere, and there is Force-damping equipment in use." Sitting up slowly, Luke peered around again and let his eyes come to rest on Octavia.

Octavia stared at the cuffs on her wrists. "That would explain why I feel so cut off?" She automatically reached to where her lightsaber had hung.

"It's gone, my grandfather's lightsaber."

"I understand your concern; mine is missing, too," Luke answered evenly.

"What about Jerella and the other passengers?" Octavia asked. "Where are they?"

"I'm not sure. We can't use the Force to find out, either." Luke gave her a wry look, a bit frustrated.

"I take it you've not been in a position like this before?" Octavia fought to keep her tone even, but she was having difficulty. She was scared and wished to be any place but where she was.

"Just the opposite. I have," Luke answered. "I never appreciate it.

Especially being held captive and having no idea why." He shook his head and then turned it to listen outside the door.

Octavia watched Luke carefully. "I wonder what these cuffs do?"

Luke turned back to her and then down to examine his own briefly. "Some sort of controlling device I expect." He looked at her carefully.

"I know you're probably scared. But just hang on, there will be a way out of here." He paused. "Right now, we have to do whatever we can to learn why we are here and do something about it."

"Scared?" Octavia echoed rising to her feet. Looking over the beds that were present, she wondered who was here before her and Luke, and where they were. Turning, she looked at Luke. "How can you be so calm about all this?"

Luke looked at her kindly. "I have been through many different situations, sometimes in captivity, and staying calm is the only way to survive. That is the only advantage I have over you right now. I wish I could use the Force just as much as you do. But we still have our wits."

Octavia leaned against the wall and allowed herself to think back to the difficult times she had on the Electria. The times the engines failed or the Captain got himself too drunk to think straight. She didn't know of this thing called Force; but she had gotten through it. "If these cuffs are a controlling unit, we should figure out what activates them."

"Good," Luke answered her, smiling at her change of composure. He began to inspect his own cuffs cautiously.

Looking around the room after finding nothing of interest in her restraints, Octavia searched for a sensor that would give her an idea of what made the things work.

"The restraints are solid, which means there has to be a sensor somewhere else."

"True. Most likely they are controlled by people with other devices out of our reach." Luke got up and paced the room, slowly examining every inch. only access to the room and the only way to leave it. It apparently slid into the wall when it opened.

Octavia studied the bunks and the benches; they were formed from the same piece of plastic and didn't have anything that could be used as a weapon or a means to try to deactivate the cuffs. Part of the wall looked like it slid back enough for a tray to be pushed through. She didn't want to think of what kind of food was provided.

"The sensors must be on the other side of this wall or the door."

Luke studied the vent that was in the ceiling that provided the air circulation; he could barely make out a ledge. "I wonder how long they intend to keep us waiting before we know anything? And I wonder why they allowed us to be together, and not also with Jerella?"

"I don't know, I hope she's all right.

Luke tried reaching out with the Force from different areas of the room. "No, we are definitely not going to be able to find out using the Force."

Octavia and Luke looked up as a male Twilek appeared in the middle of the room via hologram.

"Welcome New Gladiators! Some of you are here voluntarily while others are not. In either case, there is only two ways out of here. The first way is to win 10 fights, the other is dead. If you try to escape, you will be killed wihtout hesitation. Your bracelets will stun you if you try to go beyond the room boundaries. If you try to escape through the door, the bracelets will kill you." The Twilek immediately left the chamber. Luke listened to the news with horror for his young companion. She was not trained in the warrior's ways. As far as he knew. "Octavia listen to me, we don't have much time," he entreated her.

Octavia shook her head as the news of what was expected of them, of her. Every fiber of her being was screaming in denial. "I can't I can't do it. I can't kill someone." She turned away from Luke, looking at the room that held them prisoner.

Luke pulled her face by the chin gently around to face him. "Listen, until we can find a way out of here, we have to follow their instructions and we have to be prepared to fight and kill. We don't have any choice." His tone conveyed he was deadly earnest.

"You don't understand." Octavia protested. "I've dealt with engines and droids, not people. I don't know how to fight. I'm lucky if I don't shoot my own feet off with a blaster."

"Do you want to survive this?" Luke questioned her. He knew it was a scary question. He waited for her answer.

Octavia's face became hard and cold. What was he asking? Of course she wanted to survive! Who wanted to die? "Yes, I do."

"Good. We need to prepare you with what time we have. First, you'll need to become as familiar with your weapon as possible the moment you get it. Second, you will have to fight dirty. If you try to spare your opponent they will most likely kill you. Anticipate their moves, and do not move in ways they can anticipate. You have to use everything in your own power to win, whatever the means." Luke did not pace as he spoke, but watched her eyes for a sign that she was receiving the information.

Octavia nodded slowly, pushing back the fear she was starting to feel. She could panic later, when and if she survived. "Get acquainted with the weapon, I understand," she repeated.

Luke nodded, encouraged by her response. "We won't know if we will be allowed to have the luxury of the Force when we are taken out there, but don't discount the possibility. This is going to be a test to see if you can survive as a Jedi trainee." Wiping his forehead, Luke continued. "We might be put up against opponents that are more than our own equal." He looked at Octavia meaningfully. "But there will be a way for you to win. You have to look for that way."

"I don't know much about the Force, so I wouldn't say that is a luxury on my part." Octavia said thinking out loud. "A way to win. Perhaps their over-confidence," she mused soberly.

"Or their lack of creativity. Many ways," Luke added.

Octavia looked at the man in front of her. She had seen how others respected him at Port Lansing, and by following other people's suggestions she'd sought him out to train, or at least to help her find someone to continue what her father started when she was younger. "Have you ever taken a life Master Skywalker?"

Luke exhaled slowly. "Yes, many times. And it never gets any easier. But since this will be for your own survival, you must do it." Luke wanted so much for her to be able to survive!

"You make it sound so easy, so black and white."

"It is never easy. But you have to simplify it in your mind to get through it. If there was a way I could keep this from happening to you." His voice faltered, but he maintained eye contact with her. "If it helps any, I never like anything to do with killing. No respectable Jedi would feel any different." He reached out and touched her shoulder reassuringly.

Octavia found herself smiling slightly. "Thanks for the reassurance." Octavia listened as the crowd began to cheer, then the announcement came.