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Between the Light and Shadows: Luke & Vader One-Shots

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Introduction:

Welcome and come on down to Between the Light and Shadows! This is a one-shot collection focusing all your favorite father-son duo, Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader! We've got all sorts of AUs! Canon-divergent AUs. Comic AUs. Time travel AU. Modern AU. Fashion designer AU! DRAGONS! We got all sort of one-shots in here. We've got those crack ones that make you laugh. Those sad ones that make you cry. *Slaps the roof of a fic* It's all in here at Between the Light and Shadows!


Table of Contents


Chapter 2: To the Past
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Original one-shot my fic In the Past is based off of. Post ESB AU. Vader and Luke got into a dogfight in their fighters. Both managing to shoot the other down. Both spun out of control. Both crashed. When they awaken they're both on Coruscant at the end of the Clone Wars. And to Vader's dismay, Luke has been taken to the Jedi Temple.

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Chapter 3: Amnesia
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Bounty hunters find Luke after he crashed his X-Wing. Vader comes to collect his son..

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Chapter 4: Born a Sith
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A Vampire AU. Fourteen year old Luke is a Sith (a vampire), though he doesn't want to be one. He's always been told by his father, Darth Vader, he was born a Sith. Then he meets a princess who tells him that's not how Sith usually come about.

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Chapter 5: The Podrace
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Marvel's Star Wars Comics Annual #4 AU. Luke goes to Hradreek to meet with an Alliance benefactor to pick up some funds. After securing the funds, he has a run with the local Imperial troops after he finds a mysterious red lightsaber. It appears his only way to escape the troops is by stealing one of the pod racers and running in a race. Meanwhile, Darth Vader is also on the planet hunting down two twin relic Sith lightsabers. Yet the Force pulls him towards watching the pod race.

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Chapter 6: Before the Emperor
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Luke is defeated and captured at Cloud City by Vader. He is then dragged before the Emperor. (Made into a short multi-chapter fic of the same name.)

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Chapter 7: The Question
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Luke Skywalker spent his early years with his father, Anakin, on Tatooine. Until one day Anakin disappeared and never came back. Everyone said Anakin died, but Luke still believes his father is alive. After the death of Obi-Wan, it appears the only person with answers about what happened to Anakin is Darth Vader.

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Chapter 8: The Thief
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A thief has snuck into a large house hoping to find something to steal. Meanwhile Darth Vader returns home to find his young twin children have escaped their nannies.

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Chapter 9: The Way of the Order
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Vader was never a Jedi. Instead he stayed on Tatooine where he discovered a Sith holocron with a Sith ghost living inside. A Sith master that will do anything so its apprentice becomes stronger in the ways of the Dark Side.

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Chapter 10: You've Got to be Kitten Me
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((Part of my Halloween Trick or Treat Luke & Vader series.)) Ensign Han Solo didn't know if this was a trick or not. He had been summoned to Lord Vader's personal quarters. Now the Supreme Commander was asking Han about . . . cats? It'll be a treat if Han makes it through this alive.

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Chapter 11: The Red Place
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((Part of my Halloween Trick or Treat Luke & Vader series.)) When Luke Skywalker sleeps he often dreams of the Red Place, a dream landscape where is able to meet with his father Anakin Skywalker. A man who claims he is alive and kept prisoner by the Empire. It's a treat to find out his father is alive, but Luke desperately wants to save his father. Plus he secretly fears this is some trick of the Force. Perhaps his father is dead, and this is all but a dream.

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Chapter 12: Vader, Lord of Fashion
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((Part of my Halloween Trick or Treat Luke & Vader series.)) Modern AU: Who knew helping out famous fashion model Han Solo with his car would lead a farmer boy to New York City? To see a real live Vader fashion show, was a treat to Luke's eyes. However, he wasn't expecting to catch the eye of the world famous designer. When Vader asks Luke if he wants to be a model, he fears it is some sort of trick. (Made into a short multi-chapter fic.)

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Chapter 13: Night of Spirits
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((Part of my Halloween Trick or Treat Luke & Vader series.)) It has been a few months since Darth Vader discovered and claimed his young son. The child asks his father if they can go to the Festival of Harvest to attend the Night of Spirits where festival goers dress up in costumes and collect treats. While Vader buys Luke a costume, the child changes it in secret to trick his father.

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Chapter 14: The Story of the Sith Dragon
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Leia, the young princess of Alderaan, finds a storyteller at a banquet to tell her the tale the of Vader, the Sith Dragon. It is a story she's heard hundred of times, but no matter what she longs to hear it again. There is just something about the story that draws her in.

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Chapter 15: Luke, Prince of Fashion
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A direct sequel to a previous one-shot in this collection: Vader, Lord of Fashion. A modern AU in which Vader is a world famous fashion designer that has recently discovered his long lost son, Luke. Now Luke is thrown into the vicious world of the rich and famous and the dread paparazzi.

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Chapter 16: tumblr One-Shot Prompts
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These are three unconnected small one-shots that come from tumblr prompts people submitted to me on my tumblr.

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Chapter 17: Vader's Baby
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Vader has tracked down Obi-Wan Kenobi and killed him. What he then finds is his one-month old son.

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Chapter 18: Naberrie's Flowers
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Vader finds his son on Naboo working as a florist.

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Chapter 19: The Recording
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Princess Leia's cell on the Death Star had security recording devices. Darth Vader views the recordings after her escape. He watches as a stormtrooper takes off his helmet and says he's Luke Skywalker.

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Chapter : Twenty-Four Hours
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An AU set directly after ROTJ, Darth Vader didn't die on the second Death Star but is gravely injured. Luke secures an Imperial shuttle, but isn't sure where to take his father to get medical help. Vader mutters to take him to Mustafar.

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Chapter : Battle of Corellia Bay
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Historic War AU. Based on the Battle of Mobile Bay from the American Civil War. Newly appointed Rear Admiral Han Solo is on a personal mission to break the blockade of Corellia Bay so the Alliance can seize Coronet City. But getting through the heavily guarded channel, known as the Kessel Run, will be tough. Luke Skywalker has a bad feeling as he spies Darth Vader aboard one of the Imperial ships.

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Chapter 22: Retribution
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The Imperial Prince Luke has been killed by Rebel assassins. The Emperor looks over the body with a smile. Darth Vader looks over the body with barely held back rage and grief. Yet the Emperor doesn't know is that Vader has been planning for this event for years.

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Chapter 23: Malfunction
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Crackfic. Luke hangs on to the gantry above the reactor shaft. Darth Vader is ready to tell his son the truth, except there seems to be a malfunction with his vocoder.

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Chapter 24: Luke Amidala
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Luke is raised by his mother, who becomes the leader of the Rebellion known by the code name Lotus. When Luke is captured on the first Death Star and questioned, he recalls his mother's words to use his real name.

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Chapter 25: Luke Amidala, part 2
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Sequel to the previous fic. Padmé Amidala and her daughter Leia Skywalker go to the Imperial Palace to save Luke Amidala from the clutches of Vader.

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Chapter 26: Luke Amidala, part 3
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The last in the series. Luke Amidala slowly fights his way free of his coma, but is kidnapped by Palpatine and goes missing for two years. When the second Death Star is stolen, Luke's family believes they will finally face Palpatine and find Luke.

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Chapter 27: The Sith Dragon and His Baby
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A prequel to the other dragon AU. The Sith dragon Vader takes care of his young son. However, something else keeps brushing against his mind. It feels like another dragon, and it isn't his son.

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Chapter 28: There's Too Many
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Luke Skywalker was on the second Death Star being electrocuted by the Emperor begging his father to save him. He passed out, but when he awakes he finds himself in a strange featureless foggy place. He quickly discovered he is not alone. There he meets another Luke Skywalker and then another.

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Chapter 29: On the Run
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Han Solo has gotten to know a young teen named Luke, who drifts between jobs in spaceports. He's not surprised when Luke shows up one day and asks for a lift. He knows the kid is running away from something. However, that something has found Han Solo first and wants his assistance in getting Luke back.

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Chapter 30: Tumblr Quote Prompts
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Six different short ficlets based on prompts given to me over on my Tumblr. All unconnected to one another.

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Chapter 31 : The Lost Commanders and Son
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(Rebels AU) Luke lives on Seelos with three old clone commanders. One day the crew of The Ghost arrives trying to recruit the clones to join the rebellion. However, the rebels draw the attention of the Empire including Darth Vader. He has been searching for Captain Rex ever since he stole something very important to him.

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Chapter 32: In the Shadows of the Woods, Part 1
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(Horror Movie AU) A group of college students go out to a secluded and hidden lake in the forest. One of them spies a large house near the lake, and takes a group to check it out. Soon screams fill the forest, so the rest of the group investigate. Arriving at the house they see something lurking in the shadows . . .

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Chapter 33: In the Shadows of the Woods, Part 2
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(Horror Movie AU) Anakin Skywalker is trying his best to be a good husband and father. But it's hard to raise two wonderterror babies who can shapeshift and bend the rules of reality. What's worse is when a group of punk teenagers show up to his secluded house when he's already in a bad mood and hungry.

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Chapter 34: A Rumor in Coruscant
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(Anastasia AU) Luke and Han are on a mission to Coruscant. They plan to pass off Luke as Darth Vader's long lost son, at least just long enough for them to get into the Imperial Palace to plant some spy devices for the Alliance. The plan goes a bit too smoothly, and soon Luke finds himself face to face with Darth Vader, who does not believe Luke is his son.

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Chapter 35: In the Dark of the Night
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(Anastasia AU, Part 2) Darth Vader is holding a ball to announce he has found his long lost son and heir. Luke is unsure if he wants to become a prince to the Empire, but doesn't want to leave his newly found family. On the night of the ball, an attractive young woman lures Luke out into the gardens and Luke goes willingly . . .

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Chapter 36: Ficlets Collection 1
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A collection of ficlets I originally posted on my tumblr I've been collecting over the last few months. Some of these are short. Some of them are a bit longer. There are all sorts of little fics in here. Serious ones. Crack ones. Almost all of these came from people providing me the first line or two as a prompt and then I would write the rest of it.

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Chapter 37: Ficlets Collection 2
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This is another collection of ficlets I originally posted on my tumblr that I've been collecting over the last few months. Some of these are short. Some of them are a bit longer. Some expand on some other fics / AUs I've written before. Most of these were from people giving me a prompt for the first line, and then I wrote a ficlet based on it.

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Chapter 38: Drawn to You
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The young little Prince Luke Palpatine isn't afraid of Darth Vader, much to Vader's annoyance. In fact, the boy seems to like him.

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Chapter 39: The Last Mission
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Luke is determined to defeat Vader as lands on Cloud City at Bespin.

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Chapter 40: "Are you lost?"
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Vader runs into a mechanic fixing his TIE who goes by the name Skywalker. The more that is revealed about this boy and his similarities to himself, the angrier he gets.

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Chapter 41: Child of Mine
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Vader has discovered his son amongst the Force sensitive children kept at Fortress Inquisitorius. Despite trying to give Luke a normal childhood, the poison of the Inqistors training in the Dark Side runs deep.

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Chapter Text

The speeder sped through the Coruscant traffic. Darth Vader looked over at his son, Luke. The boy was pale. He was pushed back into his seat. Vader wondered if he had fully recovered from the crash and whatever had brought the two of them here to the past. About twenty-four years in the past. It was the end of the Clone Wars, though those in this time were unaware of the upcoming conclusion to the war.

Vader still wasn't sure how he and his son were here, or why Vader was healed. He wasn't completely healed. All of his limbs were still prosthetic, but he no longer needed the suit. His lungs worked fine. In fact all of his internal systems appeared to be working just fine. He could breathe and eat. His eyes and skin had been healed too, though scars still lashed all along his body. Small stubbly hair was starting to grow back on his head.

Vader thought back to how this had happened. He had been chasing down his son in his X-Wing. Vader in his TIE Advance. The two had managed to hit the other's fighter. Both fighters spun out of control. Vader lost consciousness and when he awoke, he was here on Coruscant in this time. Luckily Vader's suit had protected him, but Luke had been injured and found by the CPF. It hadn't taken much for Vader to sneak into the hospital they had moved Luke into.

"The past . . ." Luke said softly. "I'm not even born yet."

"No," Vader said. He was unsure what else to say to his child. For now Vader was contempt that Luke was by his side. That he had willingly left the hospital with him.

"Is my mother . . . Is she still alive? Is she here? Somewhere?" Luke asked. Vader could sense the hopefulness and fear mixed inside the boy.

"Yes, she's alive," Vader replied. His eyes shot towards the direction of Padme's apartment. He had been tempted, very tempted, to go to her. To see her. But how could he? After what he had done to her? Plus she wouldn't even know him. He was a monster. Scarred. Aged. He didn't deserve to see her again.

"Does that mean that you- that Anakin Skywalker is here as well?" Luke asked. His sense of hope raising. Vader gripped the handles of the steering yokes harder as jealousy raged through him. He could sense his son's desire to know Anakin Skywalker.

Luke is my son, Vader thought to himself. He was born to me. Darth Vader. Not that fool Anakin Skywalker.

Vader would need to keep Luke and Anakin far apart. He would not be sharing his son with his past self.

"Anakin Skywalker should be in the outer rim fighting in the wars at this moment," Vader said. He felt Luke's hope dim a little bit, which only made a small bit of happiness flare up inside of Vader.

"Now what?" Luke asked. "Do we find a way back? To our time?"

"Ideally," Vader said.

"Do you know how to?"

"No."

Luke let out a sigh. The boy's anger and frustration were starting to build. Vader inwardly smiled at how easily the boy's emotions got the better of him. He still might be able to lure the boy to the dark side yet. But not right now. Now wasn't the time for that.

"So then what are we going to do?"

Vader looked over at Luke. Luke was looking at Vader. His blue eyes, the same blue eyes that Vader once had (he would not think of it as the same blue eyes as Anakin), were staring right at Vader.

"We-" Vader started, but never finished. The speeder violently rocked to the side. Vader had been distracted. His focus had been on his son. He hadn't felt the warning in the Force. Suddenly three CPF speeders swooped down behind Vader. Their sirens blaring and lights flashing.

"Land the speeder," came the voice of one of the CPF droids.

Vader cursed. Had the hospital noticed Luke's absence? Or was this due to Vader's stunt in the hospital hanger? Regardless, Vader gripped the steering handle and dove the speeder down. He dropped through several lanes of traffic. He swerved expertly pass speeders and shuttles. The CPF were having a hard time following. Vader aimed the speeder lower and lower. It would be easier to ditch the speeder and find a hiding place in the lower levels.

The Force sent a shrill warning. Vader moved the speeder hard to the left, but still the shot hit left side. Luke's side. The engine had been hit and was losing power. Vader aimed the speeder towards an open roof. It would be a hard landing. Again another warning in the Force. This time Vader couldn't steer the speeder out of the way of the shot.

The shot hit the speeder. Vader was thrown out of the speeder. He used the Force to land softly on the rooftop. His eyes immediately snapped up at the burning speeder. It crashed into the roof. Instantly pain flooded Vader's senses.

"Luke!" Vader shouted as he started to run across the roof towards the crash. Luke was in there. He was in pain. Two shadows dropped from above and landed between Vader and the crash. At once a green and blue lightsaber shot from the two figures. Two Jedi stood between Vader and his son. His injured son.

"Don't move, Sith!" shouted one Jedi. He was near-human but Vader didn't care to figure out what race he was. He merely unclipped his own lightsaber and ignited the red blade.

"Leave," Vader growled at them. His robes whipped in the wind. Vader was tired of this stand-off. He had to get to Luke. He had to help his son.

He rushed at the Jedi holding the green saber. The near-human one. Of course the second Jedi, a female human, lunged into the fight at once. Vader could feel their confidence. They thought the two of them were enough to take on one Sith. Fools. These two weak Jedi would be no match for Vader. He had personally killed hundreds of Jedi before. Possibly these very two Jedi for all he knew.

The duel was short lived. With the two Jedi disposed of, Vader's attention went at once to Luke. The pain Luke had been throwing into the Force bond with Vader had dimmed. The boy most likely had fallen unconscious.

A cold shot of fear raced through Vader as he saw a figure at the crash sight pulling Luke's body out of the wreckage. Another Jedi. When had this third Jedi arrived? This Jedi had his hands on his son. He was hauling the boy away from the speeder. Vader was going to lose his son, again, to the Jedi.

"No!" Vader shouted. His hand shot out. It was all too easy to summon the Force around the Jedi's throat.

 


 

Anakin Skywalker stood in a briefing room in the Jedi Temple. He had been called from the frontlines back to Coruscant. It must have been important for them to call him back from his current mission. Anakin hated leaving in the middle, but hopefully Rex and his men would be able to manage without him.

In the middle of the briefing room sat a large holotable. Standing around the table were Obi-Wan Kenobi, Master Yoda, Mace Windu, and Luminara Unduli. Obi-Wan nodded at Anakin in greeting. A small smile on his lips.

"Good you're here, Skywalker," Mace said.

"Masters," Anakin said with a slight bob of his head. "What's going on? Why have I been summoned back here?"

Mace clicked a button on the holotable. The table projected a blue hologram of a young human man. About Anakin's age, if not younger. He could tell his hair was light colored. He didn't look happy. It appeared to Anakin he was sitting in a bed.

"Recognize this face, do you?" Master Yoda asked. All four masters were staring at Anakin intently.

"No," Anakin replied honestly. The masters exchanged a look with each other. "Should I?"

Again Mace clicked a button and this time a the projector showed a hologram of a lightsaber. "And this lightsaber?" Mace asked. "Have you seen it before?"

"No," Anakin answered again. "What is this about?"

"We believe a Sith is here on Coruscant," Obi-Wan said. "A new one. One we haven't encountered before."

"The Sith master?" Anakin asked hopefully. Could the mastermind behind Dooku have finally slipped up?

"We aren't sure," Mace replied. "But it is possible."

Anakin thought back at the youth in the hologram. No way that kid was Dooku's Sith master. "So what is with the kid then?" Anakin asked.

"We don't know that either," Obi-Wan said. "Two days ago a strange fighter crashed in the Industrial District. That man was inside it. He was taken to a local hospital."

"While he was still healing, he kept calling out a name." Mace paused here as he looked over at Anakin. "Your name."

"My name?" Anakin asked.

Mace clicked a button and the hologram changed. It showed the kid laying down in the hospital bed. His eyes were open, but he was clearly out of it. He kept tossing his head from side to side.

"Skywalker," he murmured in his dazed and fevered state. "Skywalker. Skywalker."

"So that's why I was summoned here?" Anakin asked a bit skeptical. "You couldn't just ask me about some kid over a holocall?"

"The kid's missing," Mace continued.

"Took him, this new Sith did," Yoda added.

"Took him?" Anakin asked.

The hologram changed yet again. It showed a hanger of a hospital. Medical speeders were parked neatly. There a few droids rolling about. One pilot leaned against a speeder. Suddenly the pilot became alert. It appeared he shouted something, he started to move, but then he was levitated off the floor. His hands grabbing at his throat. Then his head turned sharply to the side and the body fell to the floor.

A second pilot ran onto the scene. He dropped next to the fallen pilot. He pulled out a blaster and fired a few shots. Anakin could see the shots had been deflected. Then a man wearing a long robe with a hood confidently strode into view. He held a lightsaber, which Anakin could tell was red despite the blue of the holograph. Without hesitation, the man cut down the other pilot.

Then the robed man disappeared, only to shortly reappear. He was hunched over as he helped the kid from the holo before to a speeder. The kid was still clearly injured and the man moved with care. Once they were both in the speeder, they were gone.

Mace again changed the holographic image. It appeared to be from a security camera. It was of a rooftop. Near one edge was a burning wreckage of a speeder. On the other side of the roof stood three figures. Two quickly ignited their blades, followed the third whose blade was red. The Sith. Anakin leaned in close. The security holo didn't provide a good detail shot of the Sith. He looked human, but his back was mostly to the camera.

Anakin watched the security holo play out. It wasn't much of a fight. The Sith fought very well. The two Jedi were quickly cut down. The third Jedi, who was helping the mystery kid out of the speeder, had his head snapped around like the pilot from the hospital. There was no sound, but Anakin could easily imagine the sound of bones breaking as the third Jedi's head was snapped at an awkward angle.

Anakin watched intently as the Sith ran over to the unconscious and clearly injured kid. The Sith gently ( gently?) cradled the boy to him. Anakin could just make out the Sith bring up a gloved hand to the boy's face and caress his cheek.

"That was almost a loving gesture," Anakin pointed out. "As if the Sith cared about this boy."

"Love, Sith do not," Yoda said.

"But Anakin is right," Obi-Wan said. "I would say that from an appearance standpoint, the Sith did seem to care about this boy."

"He also took great care getting the kid into the speeder. What else do we know about this mystery boy?" Anakin asked.

"We've gone over the medical report," Luminara said. "We ran his blood through the system. No known matches. The hospital said the boy never gave a name. He was possibly in shock. When the hospital sent us his records, it including a blood sample. We did run a midichlorian count on it. It was 15,000."

"15,000?" Anakin asked with clear shock on his face. Sure it didn't beat Anakin's count of 27,000, but Anakin's count was unnaturally high. Unheard of. Yoda's count was 17,000, which was also considered extremely high. The highest in history until Anakin. Obi-Wan was at 13,500, and even that count was considered high. For a kid to have a higher count than Obi-Wan . . . what kind of power did that kid have?

"You understand the dilemma, Skywalker," Luminara said dragging Anakin from his thoughts.

Obi-Wan spoke up. "It's easy to see why a Sith Lord would have gone out of their way to get the boy."

"Find this Sith and this boy we must," Yoda said. "Fall to the dark side, the boy must not. If the boy falls too powerful the Dark Side will become."

Anakin hoped the boy hadn't fallen already.

 


 

Anakin made his way through the dark streets of the lower levels of Coruscant. Luckily, the Council had allowed Anakin to hunt for this supposed Sith lord. Anakin guessed the Sith had not gotten very far with the boy. The boy was clearly injured. Anakin assumed the two were still nearby and hiding while the Sith treated the boy's injuries.

Anakin made sure he was shielding himself properly. He didn't want the Sith lord or even the boy to know he was coming. Anakin's thoughts kept going back to the boy more than the Sith lord. The boy was a mystery. Anakin had gone over the data collected on the kid. The fighter the boy had first been found in was a mystery too. It matched no known designs. Anakin had glanced over the holos of the pieces. He had never seen anything quite like it.

Anakin had examined the clothing the boy was first found in. It was a bright orange jumpsuit. The helmet had a red signal on it, which reminded Anakin of the Jedi symbol but it looked more like a bird. Even odder than the fighter, was the boy's right arm. It was prosthetic, but like the fighter it matched no known prosthetics. In fact the healers hadn't even known it was prosthetic until they did a scan. The skin over the fake arm was extremely life like.

Anakin wished they had gotten a better scan of the mechanics of the hand. He would have liked to seen it. From what little they did have, the technology was more advanced than Anakin's own hand. Which was an impressive feat.

A mystery boy crashed on to Coruscant in a mystery fighter with a mystery symbol on the helmet. The boy had a prosthetic hand more advanced than any current model. The boy also has an insanely high midichlorian count. He carried a lightsaber, but was not in any Jedi records. The kid called out the name Skywalker in his sleep. Then the kid was taken by a Sith lord. A Sith lord who was gentle with the kid?

None of it was adding up, and Anakin hated it. But he did agree with the Council. Whoever this kid was, he needed to be found. Along with this mystery Sith. Anakin couldn't help but wonder if this was the Sith mastermind. What if they did catch him? What if they could finally end the war? All this bloodshed could finally stop.

. . . father . . .

Anakin stopped. He had heard a call in the Force. At least he thought he had.

. . . father . . .

There it was again. Anakin reached out towards the source. He felt pain. Confusion. Anakin started to move towards it. Why was he hearing this voice? To be able to speak telepathically to another Force user, one must have an established bond. Anakin could just barely sense whoever it was. It wasn't Obi-Wan. It wasn't Ahsoka either . . .

Father . . .

Anakin followed the pull of the Force to a shady rundown apartment building. He felt no danger lurking inside, so Anakin carefully made his way in. He followed the pull up several flights of stairs to a door. A simple flick of the Force unlocked the door and Anakin was inside. The apartment was filthy, but mostly empty. In the main room Anakin found a large bed with someone sleeping in it.

Father.

This was the person talking to Anakin in the Force. Anakin approached very carefully. His hand was right above his lightsaber. Then he paused as he made out the blonde hair on the pillow. He edged closer to the bed. With a small wave of his hand, he used the Force to pull down the covers. It was the boy! The mystery boy. He laid on his side. His face was plastered with sweat. He was shirtless, but his left side was covered in wrappings but blood was staining through. Cuts and bruises covered the kid.

Father, the kid called out again through the Force.

Anakin was on his comm unit at once with the Jedi Temple telling them he had found the kid. Anakin stretched out his senses with the Force, but still didn't feel the icy coldness of the Dark Side nearby. Granted the Sith could always been shielding himself. Anakin looked back down at the kid. Why did he keep calling out for his father? Was the Sith . . . the Sith his father? Surely not. Sith didn't love . . . and yet Anakin recalled the security holo of the roof. How the Sith had gently caressed the kid's cheek. Was it possible this kid was the Sith's child? And if that was the case, why hadn't he fallen to the dark side?

 


 

Vader watched from several rooftops over as Luke was loaded onto a Jedi shuttle inside a medical capsule. Vader was tempted to go down there and retrieve his son. It wouldn't take much. A powerful pull to the shuttle's engines would disable them. He could easily take down whatever Jedi and clone troopers they had down there. But . . .

Luke needed medical attention. A dip in a bacta tank preferably. Vader did not have access to any of that, and the Jedi did. The Jedi would see that Luke was healed. Vader was just going to have to . . . trust Luke to the Jedi for now. Plus Vader needed to get himself more secure in this time. He had no money. No resources. Vader knew Luke would return to him, regardless of the boy's foolish longing to know Vader's past self. The only way for Luke to return to his proper time was with Vader.

Vader already knew all the weaknesses of the Order. He knew exactly how to manipulate them to freely handing Luke over if need be. The only thing that worried Vader was Sidious. Hopefully Vader's wayward reckless child would be wise enough to avoid the future Emperor. But that didn't mean Sidious was going to avoid Luke. Vader needed to act quickly.

Chapter Text

Talking had never accomplished Darth Vader anything. He asked to save his mother. He asked his padawan to stay. He had asked his wife to wait for him and later to rule the galaxy with him. His words had accomplished nothing. He had lost it all instead. He had lost his mother, padawan, and wife.

What got Vader results was action. Violence finally brought Vader the respect he deserved. It was his actions that made him feared throughout the galaxy. It was through violence he solved his problems. The fear and hatred this violence created only gave him more power through the Dark Side.

This was why Vader turned to violence against his son at Bespin. Vader wanted his son to join him, but the only way he knew how to achieve that was through violence. So he fought his son. Cut off his son’s hand. When he finally used words to try and convince his son, the son denied his father. Again words had failed Vader as he watched his son let go and fall.

Yet his son hadn’t died. He had somehow survived Bespin and got away on that insufferable freighter. Violence had gotten him nowhere with the boy. Neither had words . . . but perhaps . . . The boy was too much like his mother. Kind hearted, and a person of words. His wife had been a great woman of words as a senator. Perhaps Vader should try words again.

It appeared Vader would have his chance. He sat in the command cabin of the shuttle as it made its way down to the surface of some poor planet of the Outer Rim. A group of bounty hunters had claimed they captured Skywalker and wanted to cash in on the boy’s large bounty. Of course Vader received multiple claims on the bounty and had requested a DNA sample. Blood did not lie. Not only was the midichlorian count too high, but also Vader’s own blood was a parental match.

The boy had successfully invaded capture or escaped from Vader for years now. How the bounty hunter scum had come to capture the boy, Vader did not know. Regardless, Vader was not one to pass up an opportunity. Perhaps it was the will of Force. The son was destined to be with his father after all.

As the shuttle continued its way to the planet, Vader reached out to the Force. He quickly found the strong bright burning light that was his son. The boy wasn’t even shielding himself. Vader gently reached out and prodded the boy’s presence. It flickered, but didn’t shrink away or flinch. Again Vader touched the presence. There was a sense of curiosity, a question, not fear or hate. Vader pulled back into himself. What had changed Luke?

He landed his shuttle landing at a medical facility. The small party of bounty hunters led him to a doctor. The Twi'lek woman held her own against Vader. She didn’t cower or shrink in fear. A trait Vader enjoyed seeing. The doctor motioned for Vader to walk with her. The bounty hunters stayed behind.

“The patient was found in wrecked X-Wing fighter in a field. The bounty hunters found him and brought him here. He suffered a severe brain injury along with a broken rib and some bruises and scratches. We also noted a prosthetic hand. Looks to be a recent addition. The skin around the prosthetic is still healing,” the doctor explained as she led the Sith down the hall.

She came to a door and stopped. Vader could sense Luke was on the other side. He was so close. “Most important,” the doctor said looking up into the black mask, “he has dissociative amnesia.”

“Which is what doctor?” Vader asked growing a bit impatient.

“The patient has not only forgotten his past but also his identity. He can’t recall who he is. We’ve shown him holos of his bounty, and he was unable to recognize himself. While suffering a severe brain injury can cause amnesia, usually dissociative amnesia is caused by a traumatic event the patient is unable to cope with properly.”

Vader was quiet and still, at least as quiet as his breathing allowed him to be. Finally he spoke, “He cannot recall anything?”

“No sir. He doesn’t know his name. How he got here. I asked him what he knew about the Rebellion and the Empire, but again he was clueless.”

That would explain why the boy wasn’t shielding himself. Why he didn’t shy away from Vader’s prodding in the Force. The boy simply didn’t know who Vader was. Had Vader gotten so lucky? That his prize be handed to him in such a condition? There was nothing else for the boy to fall back on. He would have nowhere else to go, but where his father led him. Darth Vader smiled under his mask.

“Will his memories return?” Vader asked.

“They usually do. Though how and when is unknown. It could all come back suddenly or slowly over time,” the doctor said with a shrug of her shoulders. “Generally it should happen within a few a days. He is still showing signs of a brain injury. He is uncoordinated when he stands and easily gets dizzy and confused.”

“Very good doctor. I will see the patient. Alone,” Vader rumbled. He pushed the door panel and the door slid open. Laying on a medical bed was his son, Luke Skywalker. He looked as he did on Bespin. His blond hair disheveled. Wide blue eyes staring at the Sith. Healing cuts and bruises littered the boy’s face and exposed arms.

“Luke,” Vader said softly as he could.  

“Who are you?” Luke asked. There was no lie in his voice. The boy clearly did not know.

“You do not know who I am?” Vader asked.

“No,” Luke responded. “You know who I am, I think. They tell me my name is Luke.”

“It is,” Vader confirmed. He walked over to Luke. The boy didn’t shy away. He just followed Vader with his gaze. Vader grabbed the boy’s arm, raising the prosthetic hand up. Vader twisted the arm to examine the prosthetic. The Rebels had fitted the boy with a decent model. “Do you not know how you lost your hand?”

“No,” Luke said a bit annoyed. “I don’t remember anything.”

Vader opened himself up to the Force and reached out to his son’s mind. His son’s mind was easily accessed. There was no fight, no shields. The boy was an open book, but the book was empty. There was an obvious sign of confusion and pain leftover from the crash. Vader pulled himself out of the boy’s mind.

Vader dropped the boy’s hand and moved closer. A gloved hand reached out and gently pushed a strand of hair from the boy’s face. The boy only slightly backed away from the hand, but let Vader touch him. Vader couldn’t stop the sense of victory growing inside of him. He had the boy, his son. Not only that but the boy knew nothing. He had no allegiance to the pathetic Rebels. No hatred of the Empire. No disgust of his father. He was a blank slate.

He was perfect.

“You will come with me,” Vader announced. He turned and left the room. The doctor still waited outside. The bounty hunters had joined her. “I will be taking the boy,” he announced.

“Hey what about our payment?” one bounty hunter asked.

“Yeah that kid’s got a fortune on his head,” another joined in.

“You will get your payment, bounty hunters,” Vader growled at them. He brought out his com and ordered the captain of the squad of stormtroopers that had accompanied him to the planet into the building. When the troopers arrived, Vader ordered, “Take the boy in a holochair to the command cabin of my shuttle. Let nothing happen to him. Do not let him escape. You are allowed to stun him if need be.”

The trooper saluted and entered the room. Shortly Luke was pushed out of the room in a holochair. His hands were bound by binders. The troopers were clearly taking no risks in angering their commander and letting the boy escape. Luke looked around wildly in confusion and fear.

Calm down, young one , Vader said through the Force. Vader had established their bond earlier when he dug into the boy’s mind. Luke’s eyes snapped to Vader. His mouth was agape. The shock of hearing a voice inside his head was clear. You are safe , Vader said again sending warm and soothing waves to the boy.

Vader watched as the troopers pushed the boy down the hall. The bounty hunters shifted uncomfortably until one of them finally spoke up. “Payment, Lord Vader?”

“Of course,” Vader said as turned away from his son. He looked at the hunters and the doctor. It took only a second for him to summon his lightsaber and to ignite it. Their screams died on their lips as they were cut down. The lot fell to the ground sliced in half. The fact that Skywalker had been captured could not reach the Emperor. Even more important, Sidious could not discover Luke’s mental state.

Vader turned his saber off and reattached it to his belt. He stormed out of the medical clinic back to his shuttle and son. He turned to a waiting trooper at the bottom of the loading ramp. “Destroy this facility,” he ordered. “Kill everyone inside. Track down any and all transmission they made about Skywalker. Kill and destroy anyone who knew of him being here.” The trooper acknowledged the order and set out to carry it out.

Vader walked inside the shuttle and ordered it to return back to the Executor , which was waiting in orbit. He entered the command cabin and was met with a wave of annoyance and confusion from Luke.

“What’s going on?” he demanded. He held up his bound hands. With a wave of his hand, Vader unlatched the binders with the Force. The binders fell open on the boy’s lap. Luke rubbed his wrists were the binders had dug into his skin.

“You are safe,” Vader explained. “Those were a mere precaution.”

“For what?” Luke snapped back. The boy would need to learn some discipline and respect, but that would come soon enough. Words, Vader reminded himself. He needed to use words. “Who are you? What do I call you?”

“Father,” Vader responded. Luke paused and looked Vader over.

“Father?” Luke asked a bit skeptical.

“Yes, Luke I am your father,” Vader replied.

“What do you look like under that mask? Why do you wear it?”

Perhaps it was natural. The boy was trying to see how the two were related. He was trying to make sense out of his world he remembered nothing of.

“I wear it to breath,” Vader explained. “This is a life support suit. I cannot take it off unless I’m in a control environment.”

“Oh,” Luke said. A small silence stretched between them, but then the boy’s curiosity got the better of him. “What is your name? Those men in the white armor don’t call you father.”

“Darth Vader,” Vader replied. He paused as he watched for Luke’s reaction. Perhaps hearing the name would cause some of the memories to return, but nothing.

“But those men called you Lord Vader,” Luke said.

“Yes that is the proper way to address me,” Vader explained.

“Where are we going? What’s going to happen?” Luke said a bit quietly. He glanced down at his lap at the open binders.

“I am taking you to my ship. You will be examined by the best medical team. It will be determined how bad your brain injury is.”

“Will I get my memories back? The doctor said I might get it back in a few days,” Luke said hopefully.

“We shall see, my son,” Vader explained. “When you are healed we shall start your training. You have a lot to learn.”

“Training?”

“In the ways of the Force.”

“The Force?”

Vader sighed. “In due time, Luke, you will understand it all.”

Vader’s com beeped. The pilot announced they had landed on the super star destroyer. Two stormtroopers entered the command cabin and escorted Luke in the holochair out with Vader right behind. They brought the boy to the med bay. A team was already waiting to admit Luke per Vader’s orders. Luke was taken away and put through a variety of tests. Vader stayed and carefully watched it all. He wasn’t quite willing to let the boy out of his sight yet.

“We’ve got the preliminary results, my lord,” the head doctor said as he approached the Sith.

“Your findings?” Vader inquired.

“He did indeed suffer a brain injury causing amnesia. The amnesia should clear itself away in a few days time,” the doctor explained.

“And what if I do not want the memories to return?” Vader asked. The doctor looked a bit surprised. “I do not want his memories to return, doctor. Find a way to prevent it. If you cannot, I will find another who can.” With a wave of his hand he dismissed the flabbergasted doctor.

Yes, the boy was with his father as it should have been all along. Now nothing was holding the boy back. No misguided notions of a dead order or the lies of a dead betrayer. Vader would train his son. Together they would take down the Emperor and claim the galaxy. Together they would rule. To achieve this would require violent action, the type Vader was used to. But to get that point, first there would be words. Calm and soothing words for a confused child and a wanting father.

Chapter Text

Luke’s favorite spot in the castle was the observatory. It was located at the top of one of the many towers. A large telescope was pointed at the sky. However, since the sky was always dark and overcast, Luke had never been able to see the stars through it. But the room was still beautiful. The floor was made of a swirling blue marble with silver lines that created a star map. The teenager loved to sit and trace the lines of the constellations.

The fourteen year old sat with his knees to his chests. He wore all black clothes, which made him easily blend in with the black stones of the castle. He brushed a piece of blonde hair from his face when a sudden sharp wind blew through the open room. The screeches of dragons could be heard in the distance.

Luke , a deep voice called inside Luke’s mind.

Luke huffed, ignoring his father’s call. He uncurled himself from the floor. The room had no windows or closed walls. Just open archways to the sky. Luke approached the railing and looked across Star Destroyer Castle. It was a massive complex built on top of a low craggy mountain. It got its name from the many sharp point spires and towers. As if the castle would destroy the stars.

Loud screeches filled the air as a flock of TIE dragons whipped through the spires. Luke turned his attention past the wall of the castle into the sharp rocky mountains. Eventually he spotted the huge lumbering form of an AT-AT, a massive shelled monster with two pinchers set on either side of its face. The creatures were huge but slow, yet what made them fearsome was the acid they could shoot.

Everywhere around the castle were the creatures of the dark side. Twisted and monstrous. The lands around the castle had been burned and twisted by the dark magics. The stones of the castle had turned black long ago. There were still places, like the observatory, that gave a hint of what the castle had been like before. Before the rise of the Dark Empire.

Luke . This time the voice was harder. Sterner.

With a sigh Luke pushed off the railing and made for the spiraling stairway. He could only ignore his father for so long. He made his way through the castle silently. He knew this part of the castle very well. Luke saw nothing else moving through the empty, quiet, and dark halls.

He found his father in a large sitting room with large floor-to-ceiling windows that were draped in heavy purple curtains. The curtains were pulled aside. Gray light filtered in from the overcast skies. Lord Vader stood in front of the window. He was massive and tall. He was still in his armor and mask. His breathing was loud and harsh. Luke silently walked into the room and kneeled on one knee next to his father.

Silence stretched between them. Luke felt the cold icy tendrils of the Force reach out from his father and wrap around Luke. When he had first come here seven years ago, Luke had no clue what his father was doing. The icy invisible tendrils had scared him and caused him to tremble. Now Luke knew his father was simply checking on him. Making sure the boy was fine.

There was a nudge in the Force, and Luke rose from his feet. His father had turned to look at his son. He held out his arm, and Luke slowly walked forward. He knew what was expected of him. Defying Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was not a wise course of action. Luke knew from a multitude of experience. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want to be a Sith. When he was brought here as a seven year old boy, he had fought as much as he could. He had tried to escape. Defied and disobeyed Vader over and over again. But each time Vader would win. He would get what he wanted out of Luke one way or another.

Luke walked up to Vader’s outstretched arm and grabbed the black magic-enhanced metal of the armor. His fingers knew the way to the hidden straps that would loosen the braces. Slowly Luke helped his father out from his famous black armor. Luke gently placed each piece on a nearby table. He folded up his father’s thick black cloak. Lastly Luke waited as his father took off the black helmet and the black skull mask. Luke placed both on the table and then returned to his father side.

Vader reattached his saber hilt to his belt, but then he looked over at his fourteen year old son with burning yellow eyes of a Sith. Very few people laid eyes on Darth Vader without his infamous armor on. He wore all black clothing including black leather gloves and boots. His long wavy dark blonde hair was brushed back into a loose ponytail. A scar ran on the right side of his face which cut close to his eye. Another scar ran across his left cheek.

“When was the last time you ate?” Vader asked. His voice was always deep, dark, and demanding.

“Two days ago,” Luke replied softly. There would be no point in lying. Vader would be able to tell. Luke could feel his father’s annoyance and dissatisfaction in the Force.

“Come,” was all Vader said as he turned and stalked out of the room. Luke followed directly behind him. Luke had to keep a brisk pace to keep up with the long legs of his father. Vader didn’t like if Luke fell behind. Luke either kept pace with Vader, or Vader would drag Luke.

They entered a large hall. Five stormtroopers waited at the far end. Three humans stood in front of the troopers. They were pushed to their knees as Lord Vader entered. The troopers saluted as Vader neared. The stormtroopers were dressed in their fearsome bone amour and white skull masks. The bones came from the dreaded dark side beasts like the AT-AT and the TIE dragons.

“Dismissed,” Vader said and the five troopers promptly left leaving the three kneeling humans.

Vader wasted no time. He marched over to the human on the right. It was a middle aged man with long brown hair. Vader grabbed the hair and sharply pulled the man’s head. The human’s neck was fully displayed. Vader looked up at Luke.

“Eat,” Vader ordered.

Luke closed his eyes as he took a deep steadying breath. He hated this. He hated this. He hated this. But it was too late for Luke. He had lost his humanity seven years ago when his father had found him. He opened his yellow eyes and slowly walked forward. He could feel his fangs growing longer. He became acutely aware of the blood flowing through the human. He could hear the human’s heartbeat. Smell the human’s blood.

He stepped up to the man and placed one hand on the man’s chin and the other on the shoulder. He leaned in and stabbed his fangs into the man’s neck. Instantly sweet blood rushed into Luke’s mouth. He drank and drank and drank. Force, he was hungry. He hated to admit it, because he hated having to drink blood to live.

When Vader wasn’t there to supervise Luke’s meals, Luke was a lot better at self control. He would only drink enough to sate his hunger. The human would still be alive in the end. But it meant Luke quickly got hungry again. When Vader was watching, he would not allow Luke to eat so little, so Luke didn’t hold back. He drank the human dry.

Luke stepped back. The human’s skin had turned pale and white and now looked sunken in. Vader let go of the man’s hair. The man crashed to the floor dead. Luke could sense his father’s satisfaction in him. Vader moved to the second human. A female with curly hair. Again Vader grabbed the woman’s hair to display her throat.

“Eat,” Vader ordered again. Luke opened his mouth to argue. He was going to say he was full, but he knew it was lie. Vader knew that as well. There was no point in lying. No point in arguing. This woman’s fate was already decided. Luke would drink her blood, willingly or not. Vader would see to it personally.

So again Luke drank the blood. He didn’t drink her dry. He became full and stepped away. He could sense his father’s icy tendrils of the dark side examining Luke. Satisfied, they withdrew. Vader open his mouth, his fangs long and sharp. He pulled the woman off the floor by her hair. Vader viciously bit into the woman. Luke resisted flinching at the crunching sound of Vader snapping some of the neck bones.

Vader quickly finished the woman and threw her to the ground. He took two large steps to the last human and pulled the man up. He bit into the man’s neck without hesitation. Vader finished his meal quickly and again threw the human to the ground without a care. He wiped his mouth with his sleeve as he walked over to his son.

“Luke,” he said. “You must let go of whatever shreds of your humanity you still think you have. Fully open yourself up to the Dark Side. It will get better. Easier. It doesn’t have to always be a fight.”

“I don’t want to be a Sith,” Luke said softly. He was staring down at the ground. He heard his father sighing. They were words Luke had said to his father when the two had met seven years ago. A gloved hand came under Luke’s chin and gently brought his head up. Luke’s yellow eyes met his father’s yellow eyes.

“Foolish child,” Vader said softly. “You already are a Sith. You were born a Sith.” Luke said nothing. What Vader said was true. “Walk with me,” Vader said as he clasped his hands behind his back. Luke came in step beside his father. Vader walked a slower pace that allowed Luke to comfortably walk beside his father.

“There are guests here at the castle,” Vader said. Luke snapped his head up at his father.

“Guests?” Luke asked.

He wasn’t sure what his father meant by guests. His father didn’t have guests. People didn’t come to this castle as guests. At least not to this part of it. The west portion of the castle was completely dedicated to his father’s job as Supreme Commander of the Dark Empire’s Military. Guests came to that part of the castle. Generals, admirals, soldiers.

But Luke was not allowed in the west part of the castle and no one was allowed in the east part. It was just Luke, Vader, the few servants, and the guards in the east part. The guards didn’t just keep unwanted visitors out, but also kept Luke in. Vader granted the guards to use whatever force was necessary to keep Luke from leaving.

“Yes, guests. They will be quartered in the Lakeview Wing,” Vader explained.

It was a self-contained wing. It had its own set of rooms and a small kitchen. It was the most south-eastern portion of the castle. It sat right at the edge of a small lake. Luke assumed it must have looked nice before the taint of the dark side turned the waters inky and black.

“You are not to go near that wing. You are not to interact with these guests,” Vader paused and he turned to face his son. “Am I clear?”

“Yes father,” Luke replied.

 


 

 

Luke wasn’t sure what or who his father’s guests would be, but he had not expected the teenage girl staring at Luke. She was about the same height as Luke. She wore a white dress with flowing sleeves. Her brown hair was braided into a bun. Her hands were on her hips as her brown eyes bore down on Luke.

Luke had obeyed his father’s order for a week. He hadn’t approached the Lakeview Wing, but he had gotten a good look at it. Warm lights shone from the windows at night. Shadows were seen moving through the rooms. If Luke got closer he could smell things. Mostly food. The warm flakey smell of bread, of stew, or frying meat. Smells Luke hadn’t smelled in seven years.

A week after the guests had arrived, Lord Vader left for Imperial Center, the capital of the Dark Empire. He flew on his personal TIE dragon, which was much larger and faster than all the rest. Vader’s departure meant he would be gone for a few days. Luke couldn’t contain his curiosity any more. Sneaking into the wing did give Luke pause, but in the end his curiosity won out. He hadn’t planned on actually meeting any of the guests, lest they report back to his father.

Luke had found himself in a sitting room. Some of the furniture had white sheets covering it, protecting it from the dust. Some of it was exposed. Layers of dust and spiderwebs covered much of the furniture. The paint was peeling in a few places on the walls. Holes were seen in the fabrics of the curtains and cushions. Luke had been distracted by a tarnished painting on the wall of a beautiful woman. He hair was done up in a elaborate style and she wore white makeup covering her whole face. As he had moved to get a closer look, he had knocked over a small table. Now he was crouched on the floor with this girl glaring at him.

“Who are you?” she asked.

Luke stood up leaving the fallen table on the floor. “Who are you?” Luke asked back.

“I am Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan,” she said. There was a strong sense of confidence in her words and a bit of arrogance.

It was weird to have someone talking to him like this. The only person Luke had talked to in years had been his father. While the servants may have talked to him, they didn’t hold conversations. They only said what was necessary. Leia was looking Luke over. He wore all black clothing. A long sleeve shirt with a button-up collar, long pants, and soft leather boots.

“Your eyes!” she said. Luke at once glanced down at the floor as he felt himself blush. “You’re. . . you’re a Sith!”

Luke meekly looked up at her. He knew his yellow eyes gave him away, and she had already seen them. Again she seemed to assessing him. She frowned and crossed her arms.

“You don’t look much like a Sith to me,” she said unimpressed.

“Sorry,” Luke grumbled at her. “Not like I asked to be one.”

“Of course you did,” she responded. “How else did you become a Sith?”

“I was born a Sith,” Luke explained. Leia paused. She tilted her head.

“You can’t be born a Sith,” she said. “That’s impossible.”

“Well it’s not,” Luke said defensively. “My father is a Sith, and so I’m a Sith.”

Leia took a step closer and leaned in towards Luke. “Is your father Darth Vader?” There was a clear note of interest in her voice. She was fascinated. Shouldn’t she be scared? Disgusted? Luke opened his mouth to answer, but then shut it. “He is, isn’t he?” Leia prodded when Luke didn’t respond. “So is that the lie he told you? That you were born a Sith?”

“He didn’t lie!” Luke snapped at her. Luke would have known. He would sensed his father’s lie. Plus his father never lied.

Leia straightened up and gave Luke a look of pity. Luke hated it. His canine teeth ached. They wanted to grow into fangs. His anger was growing. He couldn’t lose himself here.

“I never thought Lord Vader would take on some kid as his apprentice,” Leia said. “Surely there were better options.”

“I’m his son, not his apprentice,” Luke said in a dark voice. Or at least as dark as he could make it, which clearly did not intimidate this girl.

“I’ve never heard of such a thing,” Leia continued unphased. “I’ve never heard of a Sith so young as you either. Were you even aware of what you were doing when you pledged yourself?”

“What?” Luke asked.

“When you took your oath to the darkness?” she said. “That’s how one usually becomes a Sith. You have to choose to be a Sith. Choose to fall to the Dark Side, and then you pledge yourself to it. You just aren’t born into it.”

“I . . .” Luke stuttered. He had never heard about this before. He had to pledge himself to the Dark Side? Hadn’t his father always just said to simply accept the Dark Side? It was already apart of Luke. “I’ve never made any pledge,” he finally said. That was the truth. He was sure he would recall that, for he was sure he wouldn’t pledge himself.

“Really?” Leia asked. “So how are you a Sith? Is there another way to be a Sith?”

“I told you,” he said getting annoyed. “I was born one.”

“Interesting,” Leia said. “So you’ve always been like this? Since you were a baby? Yellow eyes? Drinking blood? You do drink blood right?”

Luke was quiet. A coldness had washed over him. He turned his attention towards the window. Gray light came through. Dust particles danced in the light beams. Without looking back at her, Luke replied softly in almost whisper. “No,” he said.

“No?”

Luke sighed. He was getting a headache. He should leave before the guards found him. That would be a true headache. They were not kind whenever they found Luke someplace he wasn’t supposed to be. Neither would his father’s punishment when he found out Luke had disobeyed him.

“No,” Luke barked back her. “No I was not always like this .”

“So you did decide to become a Sith,” Leia said.

“No!” Luke shouted. “I never wanted to be a Sith! But I had no choice! My father is Darth Vader, a Sith! I was born a Sith too!”

“But you said you weren’t always like this?” she pushed. “I’m just trying to make sense of it. How could you say you were born a Sith and at the same time say you weren’t always like a Sith? It makes no sense.”

Luke dug his hands in his blonde hair. “I don’t have to explain myself to you! You don’t understand anything!” Luke marched passed her towards the open door. It was time to leave. Time to sneak back out of this part of the castle and back into his part. Away from her. Yet Leia grabbed his sleeve.

“No! Wait! Please!”

Luke turned to look back at her. Her brown eyes were big and round and pleading.

“I’m sorry,” she said a bit uncomfortably. It felt unnatural, as if she wasn’t used to having to apologize. “I . . .” She let go of Luke’s sleeve and looked at the ground. “They also said I was born a Sith.”

Luke took a small step back. What? How? She didn’t look up at him. She simply turned and made her way through the room leaving a trail of footprints in the dust on the floor. She stopped and looked out the window.

“It’s why I know so much about how one becomes a Sith,” Leia explained. “I was told three years ago by my parents that . . . that . . . one day I might become a Sith. They just don’t know.”

“Your parents weren’t Sith?” Luke asked.

“I was adopted,” Leia explained. “I don’t know who my birth parents are, but I know that my birth father was a Sith. When I was adopted they thought I was normal. It’s never been heard of before, you know? To be born a Sith. You have to choose to be one. Usually when you’re older. Yet the sun always hurt my skin. Holy water burned me . . .”

Luke’s heart plunged into his chest. He knew this all too well. The memories of his childhood before . . . before his father had found him were bubbling up to the surface. He knew what it was like. He knew the burning sensation direct sunlight caused to his skin. How holy water caused him to scream and writhe in pain. How he could see in the dark much better than everyone else.

“I had a Jedi teacher,” Leia continued. “My parents thought if I was raised up in the Light Side, the Dark Side could be chased away . . .”

“Is that why you’re here?” Luke asked softly. “To become a Sith?”

“No,” Leia sighed. “Lord Vader doesn’t know anything. My parents were very adamant I not let him know anything about my birth parents.” She paused as she looked over at him. Her brown eyes seeking his yellow ones. “You won’t tell him?”

“No,” Luke said. Or at least he wouldn’t outright tell his father. If his father directly asked him . . . well there was no point in lying to Darth Vader. But he didn’t need to let Leia know that.

“I was sent here as a political hostage,” Leia grumbled. “The Emperor thought my father was getting too out-of-line. He had too strong of anti-Imperial ideals. So the Emperor said I would stay here to remind my father of his proper place in the Empire.”

Luke didn’t know how to respond that. Though he did see why his father allowed guests in his castle if it wasn’t even his father’s choice, but the Emperor’s.

“So how did you change?” Leia asked. “How did you become a Sith like you are now? I assume you were like me once.”

“Are you sure you want to hear this?” Luke asked as he started walking through the room towards her. “It’s not a . . . It’s not a happy story.” He stopped as he stood besides her. She gently grabbed the wrist of his hand. She felt warm. Human. He could sense the blood rushing through her.

“I’m sure,” she said. There was no hesitation in her words or eyes. She looked at Luke with hard determined eyes.

 


 

Luke was seven years old. He was small for his age, something the other initiates liked to point out. It wasn’t the only thing he was teased about. Luke was different. The Jedi masters treated him differently. There were certain things Luke wasn’t allowed to do. Certain things only he was allowed to do. The other initiates and even the padawans didn’t like this.

Luke sighed as he pulled at his light tan tunic. Even now he was being treated differently. He walked up to the window and looked outside. A few of the Jedi masters and knights had taken the rest of the younglings out. Luke couldn’t see them from his window. All he saw were the golden dunes of the Western Dune Sea of the Tatooine Desert. It stretched endlessly into the horizon. The Jedi Temple Luke lived in was built into the side of a cliff wall, right at the edge of the Jundland Wastes.

Luckily the tall cliff wall provided plenty of shade and shadow, which Luke was thankful for. He didn’t like the sun. The sun, which was so strong in the desert, hurt him. The other younglings liked to tease him about it. They would stick their hands in a direct beam of sunlight coming in through a window carved from the stone of the building. They would start to pretend their arm hurt them. The others would all laugh.

The Jedi said Luke was just allergic to the sun. It was natural. He wasn’t the only one to have such allergies, though it was quite rare. As such Luke wasn’t brought on any lessons or trainings that took place outside during the day. There were a few lessons that took place in the shadowed depths of the canyons of the Jundland Wastes or at night. Luke loved those lessons. He loved the night. A few times Luke had crawled through a window and out into the cold sands. The cold never bothered him. He would sit against the wall of the temple and stare at the stars. They stretched endlessly and brightly in the desert sky.

Since Luke couldn’t attend today’s lesson, he was given barn duty. The barn was carved into the cliff wall like the temple was. They were connected via a carved out tunnel, which meant Luke didn’t have to be in the sunlight. Large windows were carved into the stone, letting the light come in though luckily no direct light. The sun was now behind the cliff putting the temple in shadow.

Large stalls made of wood lined the left side of the barn. Each stall had a door carved out of the stone and a wooden door. Work benches and tables lined the right side along with hooks and shelves filled with harnesses and saddles.

Luke set about cleaning up the old dirty hay from the stalls and putting out fresh hay. Luke liked the barn. It was probably his favorite place, especially at times like this. The Jedi masters and knights were all busy and Luke was left alone with the animals.

The barn was filled with many animals. There were two large banthas, one dewback, and a mated pair of jerbas with their calf. The barn also had three eopies, but they were kept in the back and separate from everything else as they didn’t get along with any of the other creatures. The barn also had a small hutch of raivor lizards which the Jedi raised for meat and hides.

Though Luke’s favorite animal were the chickens. They weren’t native to the Tatooine deserts. The Jedi masters said they came from a country called Takodana. A place filled with lakes of water and green forests. Luke loved the chickens. They were much kinder than than the raivor lizards. Plus they had soft feathers. The chickens had come to like Luke, at least that’s what Luke thought. He could pick up a few and hold them for a small while.

Luke found himself in the chicken pen after he had finished cleaning out the hay. He had just collected the eggs from the nests. He gently carried the basket of eggs out of the pen and placed it on a bench in the barn. Next he would feed the chickens, but something caught his eye. He turned and saw a tall dark form standing on the other end of the barn. Shadows clung to it. There was a harsh breathing sound, which Luke only noticed now, coming from the figure.

Luke took a small step back. Fear had instantly washed over him upon seeing this darkness. Again Luke stepped away from this darkness. The animals had gotten quiet. The barn was oddly silent. There wasn’t even the clucking from the chickens. The darkened form stepped forward. Luke glanced wildy from side to side. How could he get away? The way back to the temple via the tunnel was behind the shadowed figured. There were the stall doors that lead outside . . . into the sun. Luke glanced uneasily at the doors. He would have to act soon. The form was quickly approaching Luke.

“Don’t,” came a dark deep voice. There was a sense of power in those words. It seemed to reverberate inside of Luke. In his bones. “You can not run from me, boy.”

The shadows seemed to give way as the creature came closer. Luke noticed it was a man. A tall towering man dressed in black armor. He wore a black skull mask under a black helmet. Luke noticed the saber sword attached to the man’s waist. It looked just like the Jedi sabers, but this man was no Jedi. Luke recognized the bone mask. All the initiates had seen the drawings. The Jedi Masters often preached about these creatures. The Sith. The dark lords of the Dark Side of the Force, the opposite of the Light Side which the Jedi served.

Luke took another step back, but he stumbled and fell. He should get up. He should move. Run. Go get the masters or a knight. Go get anyone. The Sith now stood only a few paces away. His terrible breathing filled the barn. It was the only sound Luke could hear except for his beating heart. A coldness had crept into the barn, and Luke shivered slightly.

The Sith’s hand raised up and slowly took off his black helmet and then his black skull mask. Luke was surprised to see a very normal looking man underneath. He had long curled dark blond hair. There was a scar above his right eye and another scar across his left cheek. But he wasn’t a normal man. Luke knew from the golden yellow eyes. The eyes of a blood-drinking Sith.

The Sith slowly kneeled to the ground in front of Luke. He placed his helmet and mask on the ground next to him. Luke noticed the breathing sound had stopped. The Sith was looking at Luke intently. Assessing him. Examining him. Luke shivered again.

“You are . . . Luke,” the Sith said. Luke dared not say anything. He dared not even move. The Sith let out a small breath and then . . . he smiled. Luke didn’t think the expression fit on this man’s face. “My Luke,” he said softly and affectionately. “It was the name she wanted. You look so much like her.”

An odd tense silence filled the air. Luke felt frozen. His body felt like it was under pressure, as if at a moment’s notice his body would jump up and spring forward. The Sith edged a bit closer, and Luke let a small whine of fear.

“Luke,” the Sith said softly and quietly. “Come.” He opened his arms to Luke as if inviting Luke to him.

“You’re-you’re a Sith!” Luke finally said.

“Yes,” the Sith replied with a laugh. He seemed amused. “As you are too, little one.”

“No-no!” Luke croaked. “I’m a Jedi!”

“You are anything but a Jedi,” the Sith said harshly. “You are my son.”

“No. No. That’s not true! That’s impossible!” Luke cried. It wasn’t true. It couldn’t be true. Luke was an orphan adopted by the Temple. He was going to be a Jedi.

“Search your feelings, young one. You know what I say is true.”

Luke scooted further away from the man. He bumped into one of the work tables in the barn. Several items clattered on the table and rolled off to the floor. Luke eyed the training saber swords that had fallen to the floor. They had been brought into the barn to be cleaned. Luke desperately reached out and grabbed one. He pulled the sheath from the sword. The white metal blade started to glow blue.

“Put down that saber, child,” the Sith growled.

Luke unsteadily got to his feet. He was trembling. He was scared, but he had to do this. The Sith were bad! Luke held the blade out in front of him and pointed it at the Sith. The Sith just looked annoyed. He slowly stood to his full towering height. He looked down at Luke and then pulled free his saber hilt from his belt. There was no sheath nor blade, yet suddenly a sword made of red light erupted from the hilt.

This man was a true master. A true Sith lord. Only Jedi masters could produce a true lightsaber blade. Luke’s training sword had been dipped in holy water. When channeling the Force into the sword it made it glow, but as one mastered the Force eventually the water and the even the metal blade were no longer necessary.

“Do you really wish to duel me, young one?” the Sith asked. The glow of his red blade was much stronger than the dull light of Luke’s blue sword. The barn was casted in the eerie red light. Luke didn’t drop his sword or his stance. He just stared at the Sith. “You truly are my child,” the Sith said with a smile.

In an instant it was all over. The fight had never even started. Luke was slammed to the ground. The air pushed out of him. He stared wide eyed at the stone ceiling of the barn. His mind swam in dizzying circles. He blinked a few times clearing the spots from his eyes. Luke laid on the ground flat on his back. The Sith crouched over him. A heavy knee was pressed against Luke’s stomach. Luke’s training blade was stretched across his chest. A large and heavy hand grasped Luke’s hand that held the sword handle. The Sith’s red sword was gone.

The Sith stared down at Luke. Luke noticed that the Sith’s yellow eyes had a red ring around them. The Sith’s free hand came to up to Luke’s face and gently brushed the hair from Luke’s face. Then the Sith’s eyes traveled down to the blue sword. His hand tightened on Luke’s and started to push the hand down. The blade grew closer to Luke. Luke wiggled and squirmed, but the Sith had him pinned down.

“Why do you fear this blade?” the Sith asked in a calm tone. He pushed the blade down some more. Luke could feel the metal sitting right on the cloth of his tunic. Luke whimpered as again he tried to wiggle away, but this time his thrashing was much more subdued. Much more careful. “A Jedi shouldn’t fear this blade, a mere training sword. It has only been coated in Holy Water, which causes no harm . . . except to those of the Dark Side. Luke, you are my son. You were born a Sith.”

“I don’t want to be a Sith,” Luke cried.

“You cannot fight this,” the Sith replied softly. “It is your destiny.”

“No! I’m not a Sith! I’m a Jedi!”

“Then this won’t hurt,” the Sith said as he pushed the blade of the sword against Luke.

The top part of the blade touched Luke’s collarbone and lower neck. At once a scream tore out of Luke as pain tore into the boy like lightning. Then the pressure was gone. The blade was gone. Luke heard it clatter to the ground as the Sith threw it to the side. The Sith slipped his armored arms under Luke and carefully picked the boy. He gently cradled the boy in his arms and to his chest. Tears had formed into Luke’s eyes as he still fought back the burning sting of where the blade had touched his skin.

“Luke,” the Sith said softly. “My little Luke. As you see you are a Sith. You were born one. The Jedi have lied to you.”

“No,” Luke cried weakly.

“It’s time to accept your destiny,” the Sith said. Through Luke’s tear-stained version he saw the Sith open his mouth. His saw the fangs grow longer and pointed.

“No. No. No,” Luke pleaded. His voice was weak and hoarse.

The Sith tightened his hold on the little boy. The Sith leaned over, his mouth open wide. Luke felt the two sharp fangs against his neck. For a brief second Luke thought perhaps this man, this Sith, this person who claimed to be Luke’s father, wouldn’t bite him. But then the fangs pushed into him slowly. It hurt, but not as bad as the sword had moments ago. Luke could feel the warmth of blood trickling down his neck.

Then he felt the cold grow from fangs in his neck. The cold grew colder and colder until it started to hurt. It started to burn. A cold burning that tore through Luke’s veins. He started to scream. His whole body writhed in pain, but the Sith kept his tight grip on the boy. Luke thrashed and pushed at the Sith. The pain was all over his body. Each nerve was screaming. His body started to slow down as he grew sluggish. His eyes grew heavy. His screaming stopped as his breaths grew long and deep. Slowly his eyes shut, and Luke fell into the darkness.

 


 

Luke felt cold. Colder than he had ever felt before. He felt like stone. Heavy. Unmovable. Cold. He slowly opened his eyes, but even do that simple task was hard. It took a while for his eyes to even focus. When they did, he saw a high vaulted ceiling. It wasn’t the rough carved ceiling of the barn. He knew this ceiling. This was the ceiling of the sanctuary inside the temple. The most holy spot where the Jedi sat to meditate and connect with the Force.

Then a shadow fell over Luke. The blurry black shape slowly came into Focus. It was the Sith. He was wearing his black skull mask and helmet. He looked down at Luke for a short moment, before he dragged something into Luke’s view. The Sith was holding one of the Jedi master’s by the throat. The Jedi’s tan and brown robes were torn and tattered. A large bruise was on the master’s face.

Luke tried to move. Tried to open his mouth. Tried to do anything he could to communicate to the master, but he couldn’t. His body was too cold. Too heavy. But Luke did feel his eyes widen as he watched the Sith take a small sharp knife across the Jedi’s throat. At once bright red blood poured from the cut. The Sith pulled the Jedi over Luke so the blood poured in to Luke’s mouth.

Luke didn’t even realize he had opened his mouth. Didn’t know he could, but his mouth must have been open as he felt the blood going down his throat. It was warm. So warm. It felt good. He could feel the warm blood going into his stomach.

Wait.

He was drinking blood. No. No. No. He couldn’t drink blood. That was what Sith do. His body shuddered as he started to gag and couch. The master was pulled away from Luke. The blood stopped pouring into him. The Sith looked down at him. With his free hand, the Sith reached up and pulled off the jaw piece of his mask revealing his mouth. Then the Sith bit into the Jedi’s neck. The Sith didn’t feast for long on the already drained Jedi. He threw the corpse to the side.

The Sith disappeared and returned with another Jedi master, who like the one before looked worn and battered. Luke wondered if they had fought the Sith. He hoped they did. He hoped they didn’t go quietly. Again the Sith slashed the Jedi’s throat. Again the Jedi’s neck was placed above Luke’s throat so the blood would pour into his mouth.

Don’t fight it, Luke . A dark deep rich voice echoed inside Luke’s mind. Yet Luke tried. He tried so hard not to drink, but the blood was pouring into his mouth and down his throat. Again the Sith pulled the Jedi away. Again the Sith stabbed his own fangs into the Jedi and drank the rest of the blood.

Luke was thankful when the Sith didn’t disappear to go get another one of the Jedi. Instead the Sith carefully picked Luke up. It was over, Luke thought. He had fought it off. There would be no more blood. The boy was cradled against the cold black armor of the Sith. Luke started to relax. He could go to sleep. When he woke up this would all be over. But then he noticed the Sith leaning over with long sharp fangs. Luke tried to wiggle away, but still his body was cold and heavy. The fangs pierced into him. The horrible searing pain tore through him again. Though this time Luke blacked out shortly after.

 


 

Leia had been quiet throughout the whole story. The two now stood side by side looking out the window. The view showed the black inky waters of the small lake that sat next to the castle. The castle itself could be seen towering up into the cloudy sky on the left side of the lake.

“I’m not sure how long it lasted,” Luke said. His voice was almost a whisper. “But it carried out the same. I would wake up. Father would slit the throat of a Jedi and force me to drink their blood. When all the masters had died, he moved on to the knights. Then to the padawans and lastly the other initiates. None of them survived. Each of them . . . each of them their blood is in me.”

Luke paused. His eyes were a bit unfocused. He wasn’t seeing the dreary landscape of Star Destroyer Castle, but the warm bright dunes and the Jedi Temple. He recalled the faces of the Jedi he had grown up with. The kind yet stern faces of the masters as they lectured. The faces of the knights as they laughed or scolded the younglings for skipping out on their duties. He even recalled the padawans and initiates. Then he saw each of their faces etched in horror as Vader had slit their throats open.

“I then slept for a very long time. When I woke up, I was here. And here I’ve been ever since over the last seven years,” Luke said.

Leia’s face looked paler. A slight look of horror played across her face. Luke didn’t blame her. He did warn her his story was not a good story.

“I understand what it’s like,” Luke said breaking the small silence that had fallen between them. “To be different. To be picked on, but . . . Leia . . . I would never wish this life on anyone. The life of a Sith. I never got to pick. Father always tells me I had no choice in the matter. I was born a Sith. It was my destiny. And . . . and I don’t know. You may become a Sith yet, but if you have a choice . . . it’s much better to be a human.”

Leia said nothing. Her wide eyes just stared at Luke.

“I need to go,” he said softly. Leia was quiet and still, too lost in her own thoughts. Too lost in the details of Luke’s story. He nodded goodbye and slipped back off in to the castle.

Chapter Text

 

“Pilots! Take your starting positions!” a voice came over a loudspeaker.

Luke Skywalker had been running away from a squad of stormtroopers. He was here on Hradreek to meet with an Alliance benefactor. The meetup had gone successful. The benefactor was running the betting pools of the many gamblers of the planet, especially those of the pod races. A percent of those bets went to the Alliance. The funds were placed on a cred stick, Luke and R2-D2 were on their back to their ship, when something called to Luke in the Force. There was something off. He felt a presence of something old and powerful.

Luke had followed the pull of the Force to room full of corpses. On the ground near one of the bodies was a lightsaber. One that had a red beam. When the stormtroopers had come in, demanding Luke drop the red saber, something had come over him. An unshakable urge of anger and rage. The troopers quickly fell to his blade. Luke didn’t like it. Something was wrong with this lightsaber.

Yet he hadn’t had too much time to dwell on it. An explosion rocked the hallway he was in, separating Luke from his droid. Then there was the new squad of troopers chasing him down. Thus he found himself outside. He looked behind him to see the rows and rows of seats filled with sentients of all kinds. He was on the race track.

Luke glanced around. Pod racers were parked all along the track. Crews, pilots, and droids ran about as they prepared to start the race. Luke eyed the large double engines of the pod racers as he wove between them. He needed a way out. As he eyed each entrance under the bleachers, they were blocked, either by the racing crews or stormtroopers.

“Artoo . . .” Luke said quietly into his com unit. “If you’re there . . . If you can hear me . . . I’m about to do something . . . really stupid.”

He mind was set. There was only on way out of here without engaging the troopers. He ran at a nearby racer. A blue humanoid alien with long limbs was being handed his helmet by a red droid. He knocked the droid over with the hand holding the lightsaber.

“Sorry about this,” Luke said as he grabbed the helmet.

“What do you think you’re doing?” The alien angrily shouted as he reached out to grab Luke’s shoulder. “You can’t just come out here and-” The alien stepped back as the hissing sound of the red lightsaber filled the air. “Oh! Hey! I don’t want any trouble!”

Luke let the red blade disappear as he stepped into the pilot’s pod of the racer. “I . . . Like I said . . . Sorry about this,” Luke said glancing back at the shocked alien. As he settled into the seat and put the helmet on, he muttered, “Can’t be too different than a landspeeder. Right?”

 


 

“It’s only a matter of time before the race turns dirty!” the race announcer announced. “We’re seeing some rough flying out there as the racers vie for the winner’s circle!”

Darth Vader summoned his hate and rage as he summoned the Dark Side. He wasn’t sure how long he blacked out for from the explosion, but he knew it had been only a couple of minutes at best. By now that criminal had gotten a good head start on him, but no matter. He would find her. But first he had to do something about the large pieces of rubble from the wall that scum had blown up.

He grabbed at the Force. Demanded it do his bidding. Slowly he pushed up on the large pieces of wall. The sounds of rocks clattering down to the ground filled the destroyed room. The rocks around him started to levitate, and Vader stood tall and free. His cloak was torn and his armor was scuffed but otherwise he was fine.

As the rocks settled, Vader could hear the annoying announcer again.

“Who let this guy onto the track?” the announcer continued. “It’s amateur hour out there right now! And amateur hour usually means someone gets splattered! So we hope you’ve wagered on the fatality pool!”

The Sith lightsaber he had been sent to retrieved floated to Vader. If only the officer had been competent and hadn’t been swindled, Vader would have had both lightsabers. It was useless to only return with one. He made his way through the dusty room and into the hallway. He reached into the Force to find which way the criminal woman had run. The Force pulled him strongly down the hall. Vader frowned. This isn’t what he wanted. Whatever this pull in the Force was, it wasn’t about the criminal.

No , Vader hissed at the Force. You will bend to my will.

He was not a puppet of the Force. The Force listened to him. Did as he wished. There was a small flicker as the Force lightly pointed towards the criminal, but then it doubled its pull from earlier. There was something the Force wanted Vader to see. He gripped the Sith lightsaber tightly as he followed the pull. He found himself at the top of the bleacher seats of the racing stands. The crowd looked at large blue holograms of the race.

Vader walked down the steps ignoring the crowd. However he did enjoy their growing fear and panic as they saw him, realized who he was, and then fled for their lives. As he reached the bottom of the steps and stood before the blue hologram of the race, there were no other spectators. The Force was abuzz. Had it wanted him to see this race?

Anger boiled inside of him. Was the Force trying to remind him of the fool pathetic boy he had once been? That child was dead. Whatever was left him had been burned into ash on Mustafar decades ago.

And yet . . . he didn’t turn away. He watched the race and listened to the announcer. “We’re now hearing that a human is piloting one of the racers. Traditionally, humans are not equipped to survive this long in a podrace! Note that all wagers remain final! But management- as an act of good will- is doubling the payoff in the case this pilot taking it all!”

Vader watched the human pilot swerved through the race’s obstacles.

“I’ve never seen anything like it!” the announcer shouted. Excitement clear in his voice. “This pilot, despite a rough start, seems to be hanging in there!”

“Impressive,” Vader murmured to himself. It wasn’t praise he was likely to give, but this pilot deserved it. He easily remembered how hard it was to pilot a pod racer. The skill it took. The announcer wasn’t wrong. It was a remarkable feat for a human.

“There’s never been a case of a human winning a major circuit race like this one,” the announcer said. “Stories have circulated in some of the lesser systems, but this in unparalleled.”

Never a case? Vader snarled to himself. His own win was nothing more than a story from a lesser system? Is this why the Force had called him here? It didn’t matter. This pilot would not be claiming any history today. Vader would not have his own glory stolen. It would be all too easy. His hand came slightly forwarded as he called upon the Force. The Force seemed to be waiting anxiously to be used. It still hummed around him. How should he do it? A simple pull on one part of one of the engines is all it would take to send the racer tumbling and spinning out of control. Vader would like to see how well this human pilot handled that.

Yet, as Vader’s fingers curled to pull on the Force, he felt something. He paused. The race continued. He let his hand drop to his side as he reached out into the Force. There had been something there with this pilot. It had been elusive. It had slipped by him, but this time Vader would not allow it. He opened himself up and focused on the racer and the human pilot inside.

It couldn’t be!

Vader had sharply retreated back into himself for a moment once he touched the presence of the pilot. There was no way that pilot was . . . but then again who else could it be? What other human could possibly manage to pilot a pod racer like that? They had to be Force sensitive. Vader slowly reached out again, and this time there was no mistake. The bright light of the pilot’s presence shone in the Force. It was the same presence he felt in the trench on the Death Star and on Cymoon 1. There was no denying it. The Force buzzed around him in confirmation. This is what it had wanted Vader to know. The pilot in the racer was his son.

 


 

“Not. Like. A. Landspeeder. At. All!” Luke grunted to himself as he tightly gripped the two steering handles. His knuckles were white. He was racing through a forested canyon. The track was following the natural path of a river that twisted below him. A large explosion behind him rocked his racer, and Luke fought to keep the racer under control. Most likely it was the lost of another racer. This was dangerous. Luke was barely able to steer this thing correctly, much less avoid the other racers. He’d already bumped into a few racers already. One of which Luke was sure had spun out of control and crashed.

“Artoo!” he shouted into his com. “Where are you? I’m gonna need a pick up? Do you hear me? Artoo?”

Nothing. No response from the droid. He hoped R2 got the message. He wasn’t sure how much he could keep this up. Plus he didn’t want to end up back at the finish line where the troopers were. He needed to get off the track and land this thing safely. He needed to think of something and fast.

The right engine bounced into the air. Luke gripped the right handle, ready to bring the engine back in line with its partner. Then a panel burst off the engine. Flames and smoke poured out. The right engine was losing stability and fast. The racer was rocking side to side. Luke aimed it towards the ground. He needed to land and now. As Luke got closer to the ground, the right engine took a sudden dive into the ground, pulling the left engine and the pilot pod down with it. The left engine rammed into the ground.

Large pieces were falling off both engines. Flames created smoke which blocked Luke’s view. He could hear the screeching of metal as the engines slid against the ground. Then the pilot pod roughly slammed into the ground, jumped back into the air, and slammed into the ground again. The air was knocked out of Luke as the racer finally slid to a stop.

Luke’s head spun as he sat in the damaged pod. Pod racers zoomed past above him. He tried to move his legs, but they were stuck. He glanced down. The metal had been bent and his legs were now trapped. He couldn’t reach his own lightsaber, but he could get to the Sith lightsaber. The red beam shot up and a loud crackling sound buzzed around Luke. He slowly and carefully cut himself loose from the metal.

He climbed out of the pod and paused staring at the red saber. He could feel it again. The anger. The rage. There was an icy coldness wrapping around him.

“N-no,” Luke said. He turned the lightsaber off and dropped it.

In a quick fluid motion, he had his own lightsaber ignited. The blue beam slashed through the hilt of the other saber. The Sith saber fell to the ground in two. The anger and rage subsided, but the coldness did not. In fact it only seemed to be getting stronger. Luke stared at the broken saber. Had he done something wrong? The inky coldness seemed to be tightening around him. Luke didn’t like this feeling. He needed to get out here. Find R2 and get back to his X-Wing.

Yet as he took his first step, he found his movements sluggish. It had taken considerable effort to move. It felt like he was moving through thick mud. The inky iciness clawed at him.

He looked down at the broken Sith lightsaber. “No. I’m not going to let you overwhelm me,” he growled at it.

“That is nothing but a useless trinket,” a deep voice said through the smoke.

A voice Luke recognized. His head spun for a moment as he snapped his head up. A shadow appeared through the smoke. It was tall and dark and the sound of mechanical regulated breathing was coming from it.

“No,” Luke whispered. He pushed his muscles as much as he could. He wasn’t ready to face Darth Vader. He had learned that hard lesson on Cymoon 1. Yet despite how much he tried, his body was now frozen as if the inky coldness had solidified and turned into ice.

Darth Vader stepped through the smoke. His form was now clearly visible. His tattered cloak gently swayed with each of the man’s steps towards Luke. The Sith lord glanced down at the broken lightsaber on the ground. He pulled out a matching lightsaber. Luke’s eyes widened as he glanced from the broken saber to the one in Vader’s hand. How could there be two? The lightsaber in Vader’s hand cracked and broke apart as the Sith’s hand formed into a fist. The saber fell to the ground in pieces.

Not wasting any time, Vader pulled a pair of binders from his belt. Luke again tried to move, but still found himself unable to. Vader approached and sharply grabbed at Luke’s arm. Vader pulled it behind Luke’s back. He twisted the other arm back, and secured both wrists into the binders. Luke clenched his teeth, biting back words he wanted to throw at his father’s murder. Then he felt a pull on his belt. Luke glanced down to see Vader unclipping Luke’s lightsaber from his belt.

“No!” Luke shouted. “That was my father’s!”

“I know,” Vader said.

He held Anakin Skywalker’s lightsaber in his hand. His helmet was titled down, as if he was examining it. Then he clipped it to his belt next to his lightsaber. Vader’s helmet turned towards Luke. A shiver ran through Luke as he felt the Sith’s eyes on him.

“Your name,” Vader demanded.

“Rebel,” Luke growled at him. He would give this man nothing.

Vader’s hand came up and he pointed a finger at Luke. “Your name, Skywalker ,” he hissed.

“What does it matter to you?” Luke said. Clearly Vader knew his last name. Why did it matter if he knew his first name?

“It matters,” Vader said.

Luke looked at the monster in front of him. Was it him or was his tone of voice . . . soft? Not threatening? Regardless, he wouldn’t tell Vader a single thing about him nor the Alliance. Slowly the sound of engines were heard, and they weren’t the engines of a pod racer. Luke knew the sound very well. The smoke was harshly blown to the side, and Luke’s X-Wing slowly lowered itself.

Vader grabbed Luke’s arm and pulled him close to him. Luke was pressed against the large body of Vader. He never imagined he would ever be this close to Darth Vader. Luke heard R2’s shrill beeps coming from his X-Wing. The droid wanted to shoot Vader, but now that he held Luke to him the droid couldn’t get a clear shot. R2 asked if there was any way for Luke to get free.

“Artoo!” Luke shouted at the same time Vader’s free hand came up. His hand waved to the right and so did Luke’s X-Wing. It slammed into the ground, mixing with the wreckage of the pod racer. Luke could hear R2’s screaming as the X-Wing went down. Luke’s eyes searched the wreckage. Then he felt a large glove hand grip at his chin. His head was turned to look directly into the eye lenses of Vader’s helmet.

“Luke,” he said. “Your name is Luke.”

How? Luke asked himself then he realized. “You speak binary,” Luke said slightly shocked. Vader had heard his name from R2.

“Luke . . .” Vader said again. There was something off about him. “That was the name . . . The name she . . .” Whatever state Vader had been in, he suddenly snapped out of it. Luke could feel the man tense up. “Who named you?” Vader demanded.

Luke only growled at him and struggled against the Sith’s hold on him. He wasn’t in the mood to play Vader’s game. He needed to make sure R2 was ok. He had to get free.

“Tell me,” Vader said. “And I’ll see that your droid is secured.”

Luke turned back to the helmet. Could he trust Vader? But there was something there in the back of his mind saying that Vader was telling him the truth. The Sith would honor his deal.

“My aunt said my mother named me,” Luke said. “There. Happy?”

Vader didn’t move. He only stared down at Luke. When he finally did speak his voice sounded sad. Broken. “She . . . lived that long?” Vader asked. “How long? How long did she live for?”

Was Vader sad? Luke reached out. He barely knew how to do it. Yet sometimes he could read other’s emotions if he just pushed himself a small bit. He didn’t know what he was expecting, but he was not expecting the maelstrom that was Vader’s emotions. Grief, sharp and painful, lashed out the strongest from the whirlwind. There were currents of sadness, lost, love, relief, happiness, and anger. There was a lot of anger. Yet the grief was the strongest.

“My aunt said she died in childbirth,” Luke said. He wasn’t sure why he answered, but it appeared as if Darth Vader cared . “That’s all I know.”

Vader said nothing. Luke just listened to the man’s breathing through his respirator. This close the sound was grating on Luke’s ears. Then Vader stepped back, though he kept a hand gripped on Luke’s arm. The other arm came up and the hand curled. Luke heard the sound of metal screeching and braking. Slowly the small form of R2-D2 floated out of the smoke and wreckage.

Luke was amazed at Vader’s use of the Force. He had been too angry earlier when the Sith had knocked his X-Wing over. But this man clearly knew how to use it. Vader placed the droid down on the ground.

“Artoo!” Luke shouted. R2 was unresponsive. His lights were all out.

“Come,” Vader said. He pulled on Luke’s arm. Luke resisted at first, but Vader was too strong. Luke tripped over his feet as he was pulled along. The two quickly came to a speeder. Vader pushed Luke into the passenger seat. Luke tried to scramble out while Vader walked around to the driver’s side, but Luke felt himself pushed down. Vader’s casual use of the Force was starting to annoy Luke.

The speeder slowly lifted off the ground. Luke looked down at the wreckage of his fighter and the racer. R2 still sat unmoving.

“I will see the droid is collected,” Vader said.

Luke glared over at Vader. “Why?” Luke asked.

“I am sure he has intel of the Alliance in his memory banks,” Vader said.

Luke groaned. Of course. They sat in silence as Vader piloted the speeder back towards the city. Luke was left to his thoughts. What would happen now? Darth Vader had him. Luke had been prepped about Imperial interrogations, but that lesson had come with a warning. To be interrogated by Vader was certain death.

“Your mother . . .” Vader’s deep voice brought Luke at of his dark thoughts. “She named you Luke. It means light giving.” Luke looked at the dark armored man sitting next to him. This was Darth Vader? The feared Sith Lord and henchmen of the Emperor? The man that would torture you to death?

Vader continued, “Luke, Giver of Light. It is . . .” He turned to look over at Luke. “It is an appropriate name.”

The comment left Luke in a stunned silence. Why does he think that? Luke asked himself as he studied the man next to him. He became aware of the Force. It was buzzing in his ear. It kept pulling Luke’s gaze to Vader as if it was trying to tell Luke something about Vader. Luke recalled Vader’s words. Vader had said it mattered what Luke’s name was. He wanted to know who named him. He wanted to know about his mother. Then he recalled the hurricane of grief within the Sith Lord. Vader had been sad.

“Did . . .” Luke said. “Did you know my mother?”

Vader looked back over at Luke. It took a while before he finally answered, “Yes.”

The Force seemed to jump and hum around Luke. Truth , it said. Vader did know Luke’s mother. But . . . “How?” Luke said. He was only aware he had voiced his thought until after he had said it.

“She was . . . She was my wife.”

The Force seemed to grow louder in Luke’s ear. Luke could stare at Vader with his mouth open in shock. Luke’s mother was Vader’s wife ? How? Why? What? Luke didn’t understand.

“Your name,” Vader had demanded.

“What does it matter to you?” Luke replied.

“It matters,” Vader said.

It mattered to Vader. Vader wanted to know his first name.

“Luke . . .” Vader had said. “That was the name . . . The name she . . . Who named you?” Vader demanded.

“My aunt said my mother named me,” Luke said.

“She . . . lived that long?” Vader asked. “How long? How long did she live for?”

Why did Vader care? Why did Vader want to know about his mother?

“She named you Luke. It means light giving.”

How did he know what Luke’s name meant? The Force was singing all around Luke. It vibrated in anticipation. Waiting.

“She was . . . She was my wife.”

If . . . Vader’s wife was Luke’s mother . . . than what . . . how . . . It could not be. It was not possible.

“Are . . . are . . .  you my father?” Luke asked. His voice was barely a whisper. Hopefully Vader hadn’t heard him. But the black helmet slowly turned towards Luke.

“Yes,” Vader said. The word seemed to send shockwaves through the Force. Truth! It sung out. Truth!

Luke slumped back into his seat as best he could with his hands still bound behind his back. His mind was reeling. How could Vader be his father? Was he really Anakin Skywalker? Yet the Force kept singing that this was true. Darth Vader was his father. Luke leaned his head back and closed his eyes. It felt like he was back in the pod race. His mind was being jerked from end to the other, while Luke desperately tried to keep everything together.

Then there was a sudden moment of clarity as Luke recalled when he touched Vader’s emotions. He had been shocked by the overwhelming amount of grief and anger, but they weren’t the only emotions. There had also been relief, happiness, and love. Happiness. Love. Light.

“Luke, Giver of Light. It is an appropriate name.” Vader had told Luke.

Chapter Text

“You are beaten. It is useless to resist,” the deep dark voice of Darth Vader said. His red lightsaber was pointed down at Luke Skywalker. The young Rebel was on his back on the walkway in the reactor shaft in Cloud City. His shoulders dug into the metal staircase behind him. “Don’t let yourself be destroyed as Ahsoka did,” Vader continued.

Anger surged with in Luke as he recalled Ahsoka’s robes simply falling empty to the ground in the Death Star. Luke pushed himself to his knees, rolled, and jabbed his father’s blue lightsaber towards the dark lord. It landed a blow on Vader’s shoulder. The black armor hissed, sparked briefly, and smoked. Vader had jerked back at the initial impact, but then he recovered immediately. At once his red saber was crashing against Luke’s again.

Luke had wasted precious time. He had thought about ducking under the instruments and railing, but that led to a dead end on a gantry. Instead he had side stepped, hoping to get around Vader and away from the shaft. However, Vader was quickly back on him. His powerful strokes smashed into Luke’s saber. Luke was covered in sweat, cuts, and bruises. This duel was going on too long. Vader was simply too strong.

Vader swung wide, slashed at the walls and machinery. Pieces fell loose. Vader used the Force to fling pieces of machinery and the reactor at the Rebel. Luke slashed through a large pipe, deflected two pieces of paneling, but a large metal box slammed into him. A strong pull in the Force ripped the lightsaber from Luke’s hand. Luke let out a weak yell as he toppled to the ground. As he rolled over he saw Vader towering above him with both blue and red lightsabers are pointed at Luke.

“You have lost, boy,” Vader said with a bit of triumph in his voice. “Surrender.”

 


 

Luke was tired. Down to his bones he was tired. Every part of him was sore. He desperately wanted to sleep. His eyes were tired and heavy. He still wore his torn and tattered jumpsuit he had fought Vader in. He had been offered no first aid. Dried blood and bruises dotted his skin. His hair was pressed down to his head in a sweaty and greasy mess. His hands were tightly bound in binders in front of him.

This was how he was to meet the Emperor.

Vader marched in front of Luke. His black cape slightly swaying from side to side with each of the Sith’s long powerful strides. Luke was being escorted by two stormtroopers. They both gripped Luke’s upper arms tightly. Luke wasn’t the steadiest on his feet at the moment. He had tripped and stumbled a few times, causing the troopers to grab him and drag him at times. Luke was barely aware of his surroundings through the Imperial Palace. He was just focused on taking one step at a time.

There was a welcomed ride in a lift where Luke took a moment to collect himself. But shortly he was grabbed and pulled out of the lift into the throne room. The red Imperial Guards stood attentively on either side of the lift door. Six more guards were stationed down the narrow room near the throne. The actual black throne chair sat in front of a large circular window that was divided into eight parts. The afternoon sun bore through the window, making it hard to stare at the chair.

Finally the group came to the stairs leading up to the throne. Vader turned sharply and promptly dismissed the two troopers with a wave of his hand. Vader tightly gripped Luke by the arm and dragged him so the two stood side by side. Suddenly the red Imperial Guards quietly walked away. Leaving Vader and Luke alone with the Emperor.

Luke stared at the chair, which had its back to Luke. Luke’s heart pounded in his chest. He could hear the beating throbbing in his ears. Luke questioned if he was ready. He was in no state to actual defeat him. The only thing Luke could possibly walk away with was a noble and quick death. He wouldn’t give the Emperor the joy of a public execution.

The chair slowly turned around. In it sat the Emperor, a small hunched over old man in all black clothes. His eyes were shadowed in the black hood of his robes. They seemed to glow and pierce into Luke. Then suddenly the Emperor slouched forward. His head swayed a bit from side to side. It reminded Luke of a toy doll unable to support itself.

What had just happened? Luke glanced up at Vader. The Sith was unchanging. His breathing still even. His grip still tight on Luke’s arm. He stood unmoved. Then suddenly he dragged Luke down with him as kneeled down to one knee. Luke ungracefully fell to his knees as well.

“My master,” Vader’s deep voice broke the silence of the room. “I have brought young Skywalker.”

If Vader hadn’t dragged Luke down, he wouldn’t have kneeled in front of the Emperor. He would show that man no respect. Luke snapped his head up in defiance, ready to stare down this plague to the galaxy. Yet the figure on the throne was still slumped in the chair. That’s when Luke heard the sound of boots clicking on metal. They were coming from behind Luke.

A cold shiver ran up Luke’s spine. His hair on the back of his neck stood on end. The Force screamed that whoever was walking behind him was dangerous. Luke could sense the dark side rolling off this newcomer in waves. He was stronger than Vader, which Luke didn’t think was possible. A man walked around the two kneeling figures and stopped right in front of them.

“Hello, Luke,” the man said.

Luke just stared at him. He was mid-aged. His brown hair was greying, but was combed back into a sleek style. The man projected a sense of confidence and arrogance. He was smiling down at Luke. Luke noted a lightsaber hilt clipped to the man’s belt. He wore a black leather tunic and black robes that reminded Luke of the Jedi robes Ahsoka had worn. Granted the feature that pulled Luke in was the eyes. Bright golden eyes that were staring right at Luke. A scar slashed against the man's face above the right eye.

“Rise, Lord Vader,” the man said.

Vader let go of Luke’s arm and rose to his feet. Luke stayed on the ground for a brief second unsure of what to do before he finally clambered up to his feet as well. The man was tall. Luke glanced uncomfortably from the man to Vader and back to the man.

“We meet at last, Luke,” the man said.

“You-you seem to know me,” Luke said. His voice started off shaky, but he quickly found his confidence. “But who are you?”

The man took a step closer to Luke. Luke wanted to back away, but held his ground.

“I’m Anakin Skywalker,” the man said. “I’m your father.”

Now Luke did take a small step back. He looked at the man- his father- Anakin Skywalker again. This couldn’t be true. His father was dead. He couldn’t be- He couldn’t be alive. And here in the throne room. And . . . the darkness swirled around the man. And . . . a Sith.

“No . . .” Luke said softly. “No. That’s not true! You can’t be! That’s impossible! My father- Anakin Skywalker is dead!”

The man calling himself Anakin sighed. “And who told you that lie? Ahsoka? Luke, search your feelings. Listen to the Force. You know what I say to be true.”

He was right. Anakin Skywalker was right. The Force hummed that this was the truth. This was Anakin. This was Luke’s father. The father Luke had always dreamed would come and take him away to the stars. The hero that had fought valiantly in the Clone Wars. The brave Jedi.

“No . . . No. No,” Luke said.

There was a pain gripping at his heart. This couldn’t be true! Yet the Force hummed truth over and over and over again. Anakin stepped forward. He grabbed Luke’s shoulder with a gloved hand. His other hand came to rest gently under Luke’s chin. Anakin tipped the chin so Luke looked at Anakin in the eyes. Luke could feel the cold darkness from Anakin start to wind itself around Luke.

“Luke,” Anakin said softly. “Join me. This is your destiny. I will complete your training. Together we can rule the galaxy as father and son.”

Luke’s eyes glanced behind Anakin to the slouched figure on the throne. Anakin looked over his shoulder following Luke’s gaze. He let out a hearty laugh. Anakin stepped away from Luke. Anakin walked up the steps to the throne. He grabbed a fistful of the hood of the Emperor and sharply pulled the head back. The Emperor didn’t respond. Then Anakin threw the head back down, which slammed into the chest.

“This Luke is nothing more than a mere puppet,” Anakin said as he started down the steps towards Luke. “A shell of a once prideful and foolish man. Sheev Palpatine has been dead for years now. But his body still serves my purposes.”

Anakin again stood in front of Luke. Vader was still quietly standing to the side. Anakin flicked his hand. Luke could sense the darkness lash out from Anakin towards the throne. Suddenly the Emperor’s body sat up. He folded his fingers in front of his face and looked down at the group below.

“Who stands before me?” the voice of the Emperor croaked. A shiver ran through Luke hearing that voice. It was the voice he heard over the holonet time and time again when the Emperor gave speeches.

“Quite convincing, isn’t it?” Anakin said proudly. He flicked his hand again and the body sagged lifelessly into the chair again. Anakin’s golden gaze turned back to Luke and smiled a crooked smile.

“This . . . this isn’t possible,” Luke said.

“With the Force, all things are possible,” Vader said. His deep voice echoing through the room.

“But . . . how are you even alive?” Luke asked.

“What lies were you fed, young one? I’m curious to hear how they said I died,” Anakin prompted.

“They said . . . Uncle Owen said you died in a crash. You used to pilot a spice freighter,” Luke explained.

For a brief second, Anakin looked surprised. Then he let out a loud laugh. “That’s the first time I’ve heard that!” he said. He turned to Vader. “A spice freighter?” Vader nodded his head very slightly. “And tell me, what did my old padawan Ahsoka tell you?”

Luke looked uncomfortably between Anakin and Vader. He brought his hands together in front of them and clasped them together. “She said you were betrayed and killed by Darth Vader,” Luke whispered.

An odd sound came out of Vader’s vocoder. Luke wasn’t sure what it was supposed to be. A laugh. A huff. A sigh. Anakin turned and looked at Vader.

“She’s the one that betrayed us,” Anakin hissed. “She turned your mother against me. She dueled me. Left me to die in a mining facility that was falling into lava. And . . . “

“And when I tried to save you,” Vader spoked up. “She attacked me from behind. Sliced off my limbs. Left me burning alive on the bank of a river of lava.”

“Then she stole you,” Anakin said turning back to Luke.

The anger, hurt, and betrayal was clear in the Force. There were deep wounds. The Dark Side reacted to both Anakin and Vader’s anger. It swirled and thrashed throughout the room. Luckily not at Luke. It seemed to bend around him as if there was a bubble protecting him.

“But now,” Anakin said calming down. He approached Luke and again placed a hand on his shoulder. “We’re now together. As it should have been all along.”

“I . . . I won’t turn to the dark side,” Luke said.

“So you say now, my son,” Anakin said smiling at Luke. “I don’t think now is the time to be making any decisions. You’ve had quite a day. I’m sure you need some time to sort through everything.”

Luke shook his head. “No,” he said more confident. “I won’t turn.”

“Stubborn,” Vader said. “Like his father.”

“Like his mother,” Anakin added softly. His gold eyes dug into Luke. “In time I’m sure you’ll understand the power of the Dark Side. But regardless, Luke, your destiny is here by my side. You won’t be leaving it.”

Chapter Text

Darth Vader was here. Luke knew it. He could feel it in the Force. The anger, the rage, the fear, and the cold swirled about this place. There was a wrongness to it. Luke had only felt it a few times before with the first being in the trench of the Death Star. Yet there was also a sense of familiarity behind it. Perhaps it was just due to Luke finally being able to recognize this darkness as Vader.

Luke gripped the steering yoke of his ship. He shouldn't go in. While everything reported to be calm coming out of the Alliance base ahead, Luke knew better. Vader was there. Waiting. Instead of turning his fighter around, Luke brought it into the hangar. As he took off his helmet, he noticed there was no life to be seen. No mechanics. No pilots. No deck crew. No one. Luke glanced around for the tell-tale sight of blaster burns, but he didn't even see those.

With no crew to bring a ladder, Luke was forced to jump from the cockpit. R2 made a sad little whine. "Stay there, buddy," Luke said up to the droid. "Keep the engines warm. I have a feeling we may need a fast getaway." The little droid beeped back at him.

Luke pulled his father's lightsaber free. His fingers slide along the all-too familiar grooves and lines of the saber.

"Can I touch it, please? Please daddy? Please?" Luke had begged his father. Anakin Skywalker just looked down at his young son. Anakin slowly brought out his lightsaber.

"You can touch it, but you can't hold it," Anakin said.

Luke jumped up and down in excitement. He reached out his hand and let his fingers gently slide along the groves. The same groves Luke touched now in the present. He had to face Vader. He was the only one with answers about Luke's father.

"Luke," Anakin said to the young child he carried. "You're going to go stay with your aunt and uncle for a while."

Anakin carried Luke out of the small house they lived in. Luke shaded his eyes from the harsh Tatooine suns. He was quiet the whole ride to his uncle's homestead. His father's face was scrunched up and serious. Something was wrong. Luke wanted to ask what it was, but he didn't. Once they arrived, Anakin carried Luke down into the homestead.

He recalled this moment with such clarity. Even years later he could recall the Tatooine heat. The feel of his course linen tunic. His father's glove and flesh hand cupping Luke's face. He remembered the smell of his father, leather and sweat, as he leaned in and gave Luke a kiss. He remembered the soft whispered words, the last words his father ever said to him. "I love you, Luke. Be good. I'll be back."

Except he had never come back. Anakin Skywalker never came back for his son. One night as a teen, Luke heard his aunt and uncle whispering in the dining room. He was supposed to be asleep, but he had stayed up late in the garage tinkering with some engine parts to his skyhopper. He crept closer to the dining room, careful not to be heard.

"Are you sure?" Aunt Beru asked.

"Yes, I'm sure," Uncle Owen replied. "His name was on the confirmed list."

"Oh Luke," Beru said sadly. "He'll be devastated."

"We don't have to tell him," Owen replied.

"Owen. We can't do that. Luke still believes Anakin is going to come back. That he's alive."

That was when Luke stepped into the dining room. His aunt and uncle stared at him. "What do you mean?" Luke asked. Beru and Owen shared a glance.

"Luke," Beru said, "Honey, listen . . .Your father is dead."

"No," Luke said. He couldn't believe it. It wasn't true. He would know. He would know if his father was dead, and he wasn't. "No. How do you know?"

"When I went to Mos Espa, I checked the holonet's record of confirmed dead Jedi. Anakin Skywalker's name is on that list," Owen explained.

"That doesn't mean his dead," Luke said. When no one spoke up, Luke continued, "Everyone thought he died back when the Empire was created!"

"But his name wasn't on the list," Owen explained. "Not until now and . . . and it's been on there for a while. It's been on there for years. I've just haven't checked until now."

Then just a few months ago, his uncle had bought the two droids. The R2 unit claimed he was owned by Anakin Skywalker. Luke never recalled his father owning any droids. The droid didn't have answers about Anakin, but there was one person who might know. Obi-Wan Kenobi, who the droid was looking for. That was how Luke ended up on the freighter with the Corellian smuggler, the wookie, the two droids, and the old Jedi.

A Jedi who claimed he was Anakin's master. Who had Anakin's lightsaber, because Anakin had died at the hands of Darth Vader. Obi-Wan said Vader was a Jedi who betrayed Anakin. Luke had so many questions for Obi-Wan. He had wanted to know more about his father. Who was he before Luke was born? But more importantly, how did he die? Luke wanted to know exactly how his father had died, but then Ben had died. Now the only way to get that answer was to meet with Vader.

Apparently Darth Vader wanted to meet Luke as well. Since Luke had blown up the Death Star, Lord Vader had put out a very high alive-only bounty on Luke. The past months Luke had avoided capture several times from bounty hunters and Imperials alike. This included a few close calls of almost running into Vader himself. Now Luke was walking willingly to the man. Luke wasn't completely sure what Vader wanted in him. To kill all the Jedi? To kill what remained of Anakin Skywalker? To kill the pilot who blew up the Death Star?

As Luke walked through the base, he found it as devoid of life as the hangar. He finally saw some signs of a battle though. A few blaster burn marks. Some drops of blood. Scuff marks on the floor. Luke kept moving through the base toward the ever growing inky cold in the Force. The darkness seemed to be growing into a cold fire that wrapped around and licked at Luke. Finally, Luke came to the door of the command center of the base. He keyed the door panel, and the door slid open with a soft swoosh.

The room was large filled with terminals, displays, and holoprojectors. The far part of the room was elevated above the rest, so the commanders could overlook the rest of the room easily. That is where the large dark mass of Darth Vader stood. Luke noticed the eerily regulated mechanical breathing coming from the man. It was also where all the cold darkness emitted from. Vader was a black inferno in the Force. Cold fear and hate swirled around him violently. Luke unclipped his lightsaber and ignited it. He slowly walked towards the Sith lord.

"The Force is with you, young Skywalker," Vader's deep booming voice said. "But you hold that weapon like an untrained child. You are not a Jedi."

A small growl escaped Luke, though he easily bit it back down. He deactivated his lightsaber and lowered it to his side. He sensed Vader's surprise in the Force. The Sith started to walk slowly towards Luke.

"A wise decision," Vader said with a wave of his hand at Luke's unlit saber. Vader stopped a short distance away, just a bit out of a lightsaber blade's reach. Luke's heart felt like it was being squeezed. His vision was a little blurry on the edges. He could feel sweat dripping down his neck and back.

"I have a question," Luke said. Vader said nothing, but there was a very slight tilt of his helmet. Through the Force, Luke could sense the curiosity. "What . . . How did you kill my father, Anakin Skywalker?"

For a brief second, nothing happened. Then the darkness exploded off of Vader. Freezing cold dark tendrils lashed out in the Force. Luke winced as it felt like he was being sliced from icy shards. Luke ignited his lightsaber, ready to defend from any attack.

"What?" the dark lord boomed. "Who told you that? Kenobi?" Vader snarled the name. "The Rebels? Who has filled your head with such lies, child? Tell me."

Luke took a step back. He had never felt this much power and darkness in the Force before. Vader was an inferno. A maelstrom in the Force. Vader moved in closer, and Luke slashed his saber out at him. Vader easily stepped to the side.

"Don't come any closer," Luke barked. Vader's red lightsaber quickly came to life, yet he didn't move. "You didn't answer my question," Luke continued. "How did you kill my father?"

"I will answer you question, if you first answer mine," Vader replied. "Who told you I killed Anakin Skywalker?"

Luke listened and felt for the Force. It was hard with Vader so close, but there was something there. A small thread weaving amongst the flames of Vader. The Sith was telling the truth.

"Ben told me enough," Luke said. "He told me you killed him. You were a Jedi who betrayed my father."

An odd noise came from Vader's vocoder. Luke wasn't sure what to make of it.

"Kenobi. That treacherous scum," Vader said. His voice was filled with disgust and venom. A shiver ran up Luke's back. "He did not deserve his easy death. It should been far worse."

"Now tell me!" Luke shouted. "Tell me what happened to my father!"

Vader paused. The lenses of his mask were focused right on Luke. Then he started to approach again.

"What do your feelings tell you, Skywalker?" Vader asked. "What do you believe happened to your father?"

That he isn't dead, the thought raced through Luke's mind. The hope Luke had never been able to cast out regardless how many people told him his father was dead. He knew it was childish, and at times he tried to rationalize with himself. His father had to be dead. Yet no matter how hard he tried, he still clung to the hope Anakin was still alive.

"You are indeed strong in the Force," Vader said. "Your feelings serve you well. Obi-Wan lied. I did not kill your father."

Luke's lightsaber hummed and hissed as it sliced through the air and met Vader's. Luke had opened his mouth to yell liar, but his voice died the moment his mouth opened. It wasn't a lie. Luke just somehow knew. Vader wasn't lying. Luke's saber crashed again and again against Vader's. He was angry. Frustrated. Obi-Wan had lied? Then what had happened? How did Obi-Wan have his father's lightsaber? Luke never saw his father without it.

Vader had only been moving on the defense. Suddenly he brought his saber down from a low angle. Luke backstepped to avoid it, but something slammed into his legs from behind. Luke tripped and fell hard to the metal ground. Vader was on top of him at once. A heavy boot slammed on Luke's wrist, which instantly released the saber hilt. Anakin Skywalker's lightsaber flew into Darth Vader's hand. For a moment he held both sabers, red and blue, on either side of him. Then he deactivated both and clipped both to his belt. He lifted his boot off Luke's wrist.

"Luke," Vader said. "Your father isn't dead."

Luke pushed himself up to his elbows. "Then . . . then what happened?" Luke whispered. He wasn't even sure if Vader had heard him. The Sith knelt down to one knee on the floor next to Luke. The large gloved hands came up to the helmet and slowly took it off. He placed the helmet on the floor and then slowly took off the mask.

Luke looked at Darth Vader unmasked. He wasn't sure what he expected to find under the mask, but he was a man. The first thing he noticed were the yellow eyes. Then the pale skin. Shorn short hair that appeared to be light brown or dark blonde. His face was covered with scars. Luke had seen his share of scars as a Rebel. These looked to be burn scars, except for the scar by Vader's right eye that slashed through his eyebrow . . .

Luke suddenly couldn't breathe. His eyes danced across Vader's face again. He noted the similarities. The shape of the nose. The cheekbones. The eyebrows. The eyes . . . they weren't blue anymore . . . but . . . They were familiar. Painfully familiar. "I love you, Luke. Be good. I'll be back."

A large lump filled Luke's throat. He could feel the stinging sensation starting to form in his eyes as tears threatened to form.

"Da-Dad?" Luke croaked.

At once Vader's face changed. He sighed. Relief washed over the Sith. Luke could even feel it in the Force. The angry whirlwind that Vader casted into the Force was slowly dying down and becoming more calm.

"Luke," came a raspy voice. Slowly, Vader's hand rose and reached toward Luke. Luke didn't move. Didn't know if he could if he wanted to. Slowly the large leather glove gently touched Luke's cheek. Vader's lips started to curl into what eventually became a smile. "Luke," he said again.

"How-how?" Luke said. His voice choked with emotion that threatened to spill out at any moment. "Why?"

Suddenly Vader coughed. The coughing shook the large man's entire form. When it had finished, there was a brief look from Vader to Luke. Vader's yellow eyes were filled with pain. Vader put back on his mask and helmet. After, he didn't move or say anything. The only sound was his breathing. Finally his hand grabbed at Luke's upper arm. He pulled the boy up with him as he stood.

"Come," Vader said. He kept his grip tight on Luke as he steered the two out the door of the command room.

"Why? Why are you Darth Vader? What happened?" Luke asked. He had to know. What had caused this to happen?

Vader's mask only slightly moved to look at Luke. "We can discuss this later," Vader said. He continued to pull Luke down the hallway. Yet Luke dug his heels in, causing both of them to stop.

"No," Luke said defiantly. "What happened? Why are you a . . . a Sith?"

Vader stared at Luke for moment, before he pulled on Luke's arm. "We can discuss this later," Vader repeated. His voice lower this time. "Once we have gotten to a more appropriate location."

Luke let out a small crazed laugh. "A better location? Where is that? There will never a better location. Just tell me, please. I have to know." He did. His thoughts were going a million different directions at lightspeed. His father was alive this whole time. Yet all he kept hearing were the words of everyone telling Luke his father was dead.

"Honey, listen . . .Your father is dead."

"I'm afraid Luke, Anakin Skywalker is dead. Betrayed by a fellow Jedi named Vader."

"I checked the holonet's record of confirmed dead Jedi. Anakin Skywalker's name is on that list."

"Luke," Vader had said. "Your father isn't dead."

It was too much. Luke had reached his tipping point. Tears started to pour down his face. His chest started to heave with sobs.

"Why . . ." Luke said when he was able to catch his breath. He couldn't bear to look at that horrible black mask, so he just looked at the ground. "Why didn't you come back? Send a message? Any-anything?"

Vader turned to completely face his son. Luke felt a smooth leather glove come under his chin. Vader gently lifted Luke's face so he stared into the lenses of the mask.

"Luke," Vader said softly as his vocoder allowed. "I did what I had to to keep you safe." The Force coming off Vader was still cold, but seemed to gently wrap around Luke. It felt soothing in an odd way.

"Safe from what?"

"The Emperor."

Luke didn't understand. From the Emperor? He opened his mouth to voice this question, but felt metal wrap around his wrist. He heard the soft clink of metal clicking into place. Luke looked down to see Vader had placed Luke's hands into binders.

"What?" Luke asked. His sorrow was wiped out by anger and confusion. "Why am I in binders?"

"If you're not going to come willingly, I will force you to come," Vader said as his hand returned to Luke's arm and pulled. Luke stumbled a few feet as Vader pulled, but he once again pushed his weight down and dug his heels in. Vader stopped again and looked at his son.

"So you put me in binders?" Luke asked incredulously.

"You are still dressed in your Rebel flight suit," Vader pointed out. "It will be far less conspicuous if you are restrained."

"Where . . . where are you taking me?" Luke asked in a hushed tone.

"Back to my ship," Vader replied simply as if it was obvious.

"No," Luke said. He pulled against Vader, but his grip was iron tight. He tried to grab at the Sith's arm and push him away, but it was awkward with both his hands bound.

"Luke, calm down," Vader said.

"No!" Luke shouted. "I'm not going to your ship! If you want to talk, we can do it here!" He continued to struggle, to break free. With a sharp tug, Vader pulled Luke towards him. Luke stumbled forward. Vader's free hand came up and placed it on Luke's forehead.

"Cease this, child," Vader said. "Sleep."

Luke was ready to shout back a retort, but a wave of tiredness hit him. At once his knees went weak. His head sagged back. His whole body felt heavy. It was struggle to stay standing. His eye lids felt incredibly heavy. He felt hands grabbing at him. He tried to push away and fight them off, but his body barely responded. A strong arm slipped under his knees and around his shoulders. His body was lifted up and pressed against Vader. Luke's head rested on Vader's hard shoulder armor.

Vader started to walk, but Luke continued to fight off the sleep. He wouldn't sleep. He couldn't, but his whole body no longer listened to him. It felt like he was paralyzed. It was a fight just to keep conscious and keep his eyes open. A strange noise came off Vader.

"It appears some things don't change, young one," Vader said. It was then Luke realized the noise earlier was a laugh. A memory came into Luke's mind of his father, Anakin, carrying a young Luke to bed much like Vader carried Luke now.

"Imnotsleepy," young Luke had said. His words slurring together. "Nobed."

Anakin laughed as he looked down at his obvious sleepy son. The child's head kept nodding back. His eyes kept drooping shut.

"Yes bedtime, my little youngling," Anakin said. He placed the child on the small bed against a sandstone wall. "Sleep, Luke. Sleep."

In the present as Vader carried his grown son through the Rebel base, Luke could no longer keep his eyes open. They finally shut. It felt wonderful for them to be closed. Now Luke just had to let go. Let himself fall in slumber, yet he still didn't. He focused on the even breathing of Vader. Of the rhythm of Vader's steps.

Then he started to hear other noises. Luke focused on those. He felt Vader stop walking. "Report Commander." Vader's deep voice vibrated through Luke.

"All Rebel troops have been contained or eliminated, sir," came a voice.

"They are no longer needed," Vader said. "Kill them all. Burn this base down."

"Yes sir."

"And the X-Wing in the other hangar," Vader added. "Have it collected and placed on my ship."

"At once, sir."

Luke felt the rocking of Vader walking again, but even Vader's breathing was starting to float away. Luke could barely make the sound anymore. His mind went to the last time he had seen his father as a child. Anakin cupping his face and kissing him. "I love you, Luke. Be good. I'll be back."

"Luke, I'm back," came a deep voice somewhere outside of his body. "I love you. I always have. I always will."

Unable to fight it anymore, Luke finally fell asleep.

Chapter Text

Rusk was glad he wasn't completely human or completely alien. He had no idea what he truly was. He had no idea who his parents were. He was just another orphan in the under layers of Coruscant. Though he supposed it was now called Imperial Center. That didn't matter. What did matter was this change in names had brought a change of rich people. Rumors had it a lot of rich people died when the Emperor took over. They probably had it coming. New rich people came in. Dumb rich people. Unfamiliar to the dangers of Coruscant.

Rusk was thinner than a normal human. His limbs were longer and narrower. His body was more limber. The only downside was his head was a bit bigger and his skin was a pale blue-grey. Rusk sometimes wondered if he had Duros blood in him. Regardless his body was good for sneaking into places. Coruscant was ripe with places to sneak into. The city had been built upon buildings on top of buildings on top of buildings. Old tunnels, sewers, air vents, and piping mazed its way through the city. If one wasn't smart, then fancy new homes could be accessed by forgotten passages. Luckily for Rusk, the new rich of the Empire didn't seem to be that smart.

Well except for whoever lived on the other side of the current passages Rusk had been navigating through. He had found this place months ago. At first he thought it would be another easy hit. Another new rich person who wasn't wise enough to completely block out the old passages. Yet than Rusk ran into security. Whoever built their home here was smart. This should have discouraged Rusk. He should have just turned around and found an easier hit, which was what he did the first time he ran into the place. But then he thought about it. Security meant money. There was sure to be a big hit if Rusk could get himself through.

It had taken months of delicate work. The security to this large home was intense. Now finally he was in. Gold light shone in from the air vent in front of him. He carefully undid the screws and slowly lifted the vent. Then he lowered himself down into the hallway. He had been almost living in that vent for a week to observe the living patterns of whoever lived here. He had only observed cleaning droids moving through this hallway.

Rusk took in the hallway, finally able to get a good look at it. The place was indeed rich. Rusk didn't know the names of fancy materials these rich homes were made of. But he could see the white swirling stone on the floor, which he only saw in rich homes. He knew this home had riches, and Rusk just had to find them. He cautiously made his way through the home.

He first came upon a sitting room. As expected it had fine looking couches and chairs with real wooden tables. Yet there wasn't a knick-knack or piece to steal. At least nothing Rusk could shove into his sack. The place was nice and all, but it seemed sparse. There were some very nice vases holding fresh flowers on the wooden tables and some large paintings on the walls. Rusk was sure those might be worth something, but it wasn't something he could take back through the vent.

He continued down the hall. Each room was like the first. Very nice furniture, but nothing for Rusk to take. No sculptures. No bottles of fine wine or liquor. No jewelry. Not even some tossed-aside datapad or com unit to swipe. It made Rusk wonder if anyone actually lived here. Rusk had just entered a strange room. Not much to it. Lots of plants. The room had large open windows. Again nothing for Rusk, so he made his way back into the hallway.

That's when he saw them, or well almost stepped right on them. Rusk jumped back and grabbed his blaster, but he lowered it once he saw what it was. Two small human children. Very small. They still had some of their baby fat. They were the same size. Both wore red outfits. One in pants and the other in a dress. A boy and girl? The boy had blonde hair and blue eyes. The girl had brown hair and brown eyes. They held each other's hand as they looked up at Rusk silently.

All three just stood like that for a while. Rusk had shifted to the balls of his feet. He was ready to run back to vent, the moment the children ran away to get their adults. But they didn't. They just stood staring at Rusk.

"Go," he hissed in a whisper at them. "Go and play little ones."

The two children shared a look with each other, before they looked back at Rusk.

"Who you?" a high pitched voice asked. Rusk wasn't even sure which one had spoken.

"No one," Rusk hissed back at them. He stepped around them and started to make his way back to the vent. The two children followed right behind him. He kept glancing back over at them. Their large round eyes followed him. He found his way back to the spot and looked up . . .

Kriffin' hells, Rusk cursed to himself. There was no vent. He had gotten turned around. He casted a glare at the children. They were not affected by it. They just stared back him. Their faces unchanged. He turned and made his way back. He would just have to restart. Find a spot he did know and retrace his steps back to the vent.

He walked up to a door, hand out to the door panel, when a small voice came behind him. "No." Rusk looked down at the two children who were still following him.

"Das dada's room," said one of the children. The girl one? "No go there. Dada mad."

A wicked smile spread across Rusk's face. Perhaps he could still find something to take with him after all. He pressed the door panel and the door slid open. He walked into the room and looked around. He was expecting a bedroom, but instead it was a large empty room. Rusk frowned as he continued to look over the room. But then his eyes caught something.

Weapons! Rusk thought with glee.

Rusk rushed over to the far wall. There were shelves displaying different types of blasters and knives. Rusk greedily eyed them, sized them up, and figured out which one would get him the most money. He followed the shelves down the wall, when suddenly the shelving stopped. Hanging on the wall in neat row after row were lightsabers.

Lightsabers! Jedi lightsabers! These things were worth a fortune each. After the Jedi had been declared criminals, their lightsabers had been confiscated and destroyed. Now these weapons were worth some serious credits in the right market for arms dealers and collectors. Just one of these metal tubes would make Rusk rich, and there was a whole karking wall of them.

He grabbed one of the lightsabers off its display. He turned it over in his hands before he stuffed it in his bag. He wasted no time in grabbing about five more of the sabers. He wanted more, but he couldn't be bogged down. He turned around to see the children. They hadn't entered the room. They stood in the door just staring at him with their big child eyes. He stormed back to the door. The children were smart enough to back out of the way.

"Das dadas!" one little voice said as Rusk passed the children. He paused and looked down at them. The boy one was pointing his finger at Rusk's bag filled with lightsabers. "Das dada's sticks!"

"Dada mad!" the girl one said backing up the other one. Her brother? Siblings?

Rusk only scoffed at them and made his way back down the hallway. He paused and looked back. The two children still stood by the door. They hadn't followed him this time, but they were still watching.

 


 

Darth Vader walked with long steps down the halls of his palace. He still wore his military uniform having come from Imperial High Command. His caped swayed behind him. His two little children had escaped their nannies yet again. He had yet to punish the nannies, as he understood all too well the annoyances of raising two Force sensitive children. While Vader would never admit it, the twins had given their father the slip before. Luckily, for Vader, it wasn't hard to find them when using the Force. Their presence in the Force was bright and unmistakable.

"Luke. Leia," Vader called as he saw his two younglings standing down the hallway. They turned to face him.

"Dada! Dada!" they shouted happily as they ran over to him.

Vader tried to keep his face stern. They were in trouble, but he couldn't. Not with them. He smiled as he knelt down and opened his arms. The two children ran into their father's arms. They wrapped their little arms around his neck. Vader kissed each one on the cheek and then on the head. They both kissed him back.

"Now my little ones what are you doing here? You know you're supposed to be with your nannies," Vader said. The twins took a step back. Leia grabbed at Vader's cape and pulled at it.

"Dada," she said as she pulled. She clearly wanted to lead him somewhere. Vader stood up and let Leia pull him down the hallway. Vader's cape was tightly clutched in her hand. Her little face was scrunched up in determination. Luke calmly walked next to his father. She paused at the door to Vader's training room.

"Dada!" she said as pointed at the door.

Vader crossed his arms. "You know you're not allowed in there," he said.

"No go," Luke said as he walked to stand next to his sister.

"Yes, Luke," Vader said. "You don't go in there, but did you go in there?"

"Weia no go," Leia said. "Wuke no go."

"You didn't go inside?" Vader asked.

"No," Leia answered.

"Good," Vader said smiling at them. Perhaps this was just an episode of the two exploring and reasserting their boundaries. They just wanted to confirm that they indeed were not supposed to go in there. "Let's go back," Vader said.

"Dada no," Leia said. "Dada go!" She pointed at the training room.

"You want me to go in there?" Vader asked. Leia smiled and nodded. "I'm not going to go train right now, baby."

"Dada go," Luke said. "Dada's sticks gone!"

"Sticks?" Vader asked.

Luke pointed at Vader's lightsaber, which was clipped to his belt. "Dadas sticks," Luke said. "Dadas sticks gone!"

Vader looked from one child to the next. It was hard to read their emotions, especially the more delicate ones. They were so young, they really hadn't sorted out their emotions yet. Anger, happiness, and sadness were easy to read, often without the use of the Force. Yet at times like this Vader could sometimes only tell they were bothered by something.

He sighed, keyed the door panel, and stepped into the room. At once he noticed an unease in the Force. Something was off. His eyes made a sweep of the room and paused when he saw the far wall. He stormed over to it. Six lightsabers were gone. The trophies he had kept from the Jedi he had personally slain. He looked back over at the children, who hadn't entered the room. They stood in the doorway.

They knew. This is what they were trying to tell him. The lightsabers were gone. A panic surged through Vader as he quickly made his way back to his very little and very fragile children. He had to find those lightsabers before the children accidentally turned one on. It was miracle they hadn't already gotten hurt.

"Luke, Leia," he said fighting to keep his voice even and calm. "What did you do with the lightsabers? With daddy's sticks?"

"Wuke no have," Luke replied. Vader looked at Leia.

"Weia no go!" she said angrily at Vader. She was trying to tell her father she hadn't even entered the room, much less have the lightsabers.

"Did . . . did someone take them?" Vader asked.

Both twins smiled. "Yes," they both said.

Vader pushed his growing anger under a shield. It would do no good to get angry here in front of the children. There would be a time for that later. He would find whoever on his staff thought they could steal from him. There was a small part of relief inside him knowing his precious little ones hadn't gotten their hands on deadly weapons.

"Dada sticks!" Luke said pointing down the hallway. Then he started off jogging the way he had pointed with Leia right behind him.

"No. Luke! Leia!" Vader called out, but they were too set in their little minds. Vader sighed as he ran after them. Luckily they hadn't gone far. They stopped a bit down the hallway. Vader knelt down next to the children and pulled them close to him. Vader was about to lecture the children on running off and not listening to him.

"Dada sticks!" Luke said happily and pointed up.

"Up Dada!" Leia said.

Vader looked up to see an air vent. He noticed that one of the screws of the vent wasn't as tight as the others. The anger was doubling, tripling inside of him. It pushed at his shields. The Dark Side of the Force swirled around Vader. It hungered for the anger growing inside of him. It wasn't one of his staff members who thought to steal from him. It was an intruder. Someone, some pathetic fool, had managed to sneak into his house and steal from him. Darth Vader.

"Dada mad?" a small voice asked.

Vader looked down at the children who he still had at his side. For a moment his anger was washed away as realization dawned on him. This could have gone much worse. What if intruder had hurt his children? Vader pulled the two into a hug and kissed their heads. He couldn't allow that. He couldn't allow them to be hurt. To be taken away from him. They were all he had.

Gold eyes glared up at the vent. Vader would see his small children back to their nannies. Then he would hunt down this intruder personally.

 


 

Rusk made his way through the vents and passageways. It was slow. The security of this place was tight and heavy. He understood why now. Lightsabers. He hoped that whoever owned this place didn't move the lightsabers. Perhaps Rusk could come back and score some more. Yet wouldn't these six be enough? How much could he get for them? It had to be a lot. More than he had ever scored before.

Rusk paused. He noticed the metal beneath him getting colder. Why was it getting colder? And quite suddenly at that. He glanced around looking for any cooling coils or tubes that would explain the coldness, but there was nothing. The cold was starting to make him uncomfortable, so once again he started forward.

Suddenly the spot where he had been a moment before in the vent, bent upward. The metal groaning and screaming as the metal bent down and tore open. Rusk gasped. Over his shoulder and through the opening he saw a man. He stood staring right up at Rusk with angry golden eyes.

Run.

And Rusk did. He didn't pause to think about it any more. He pushed himself up on the balls of his feet and used his hands to crawl as fast as he could. Now he ignored all the security. Whatever that was, knew he was here. There was no point going slow now. That person, that thing, was dangerous.

Stop.

Rusk stopped without thinking. A red beam shot up into the metal in front of him. It sliced toward him, but Rusk was just out of range.

Back. Back.

Rusk scrambled backwards as he watched as the metal of vent was ripped down as if by a giant claw. He had avoided being dragged down with it. The man was there again. This time holding a red laser sword. No a lightsaber. That was a lightsaber. Like the six he carried in his bag.

"A force sensitive thief?" snarled the man.

Run. RUN. MOVE!

Rusk was again moving as fast as he could. He crawled back the way he came, but this time he took a turn he hadn't before. He had to get away from that man. That . . .

KarkKarkin' kriff. How had Rusk kronged this up? That was Vader. That was Lord karking Vader. Rusk ran through all the other curse words he knew. He soon ran out and just repeated the ones he already said. How had he run into Vader? What was he doing here? Rusk had to run. He was going to have run fast.

He was so lost in his thoughts, he didn't notice the air vent and until he tripped over it. He slammed into the vent, causing it to buckle. Rusk tried to regain himself, but the vent buckled and broke open. Rusk toppled out and slammed into the floor below. He heard a scream. Luckily a woman's scream. Not a manly scream. Did Vader scream?

Rusk rolled himself on to his feet. His was in a hallway of the rich house. The same white floor and soft gold walls. How kriffin' big was this place? That's when he noticed the woman. A human. An adult, but young. She wore a black dress with a white apron. In front of her were . . . Oh shavit, seriously? The two human children were there. Again. The two were unchanged how Rusk had seen them earlier. They both wore their little red outfits. They big round eyes were staring at Rusk.

The woman's eyes darted down to the children and back to Rusk and back to the children. She ran towards them, and so did Rusk. The woman grabbed the girl child. Or at least the one with the brown hair. Rusk grabbed the yellow hair one. The child let out a whiny scream noise as Rusk hauled the boy up into his arms. He put the child in a choke hold and then pulled out his blaster from his bag. He pressed the end of the blaster to the child's head.

"Wuke!" the other child cried. Her little hands were reaching out for the one in Rusk's hold. The human woman held her child tighter and angled her body so she was between Rusk and the child she held.

"Weia!" the child in his arms called back. "Weia!"

"Wuke!"

"Shut up!" Rusk shouted. The boy, Wuke?, started to cry and wiggle in Rusk's hold.

"Please," the human woman cired. "Let him go! He's just a child! A baby! Please!"

"Where's the exit?" Rusk hissed. Darth Vader was still lurking around this place. He had to get out.

"No, please give him back," the woman pleaded.

"Where's the karking exit?" Rusk shouted. He squeezed the boy tighter. He made little choking noises and wiggled harder.

"Dada," he cried. "Dada!"

The woman's eyes were large and full of fear. They kept flickered to the boy and then back to Rusk. "This-this way," she said. She slowly started down the hall. She was walking backwards. Never taking her eyes off Rusk. Not allowing the girl child to be firing range. Smart woman, Rusk noted.

The boy continued with his pleas but softer now, "Dada. Dada."

 


 

Something was wrong. Darth Vader didn't know what, but the Force was a buzz all around him. Something was wrong and Vader hated not knowing what was wrong. He knew there was an intruder in his house. A pale blue humanoid, but was there something else? He moved towards the disturbance. That was when he felt the fear. It almost caused Vader to trip over his own feet. His breath got caught up in his throat.

Luke!

Luke's fear was broadcasting into the Force all around Vader. Vader ran. He wasn't a person who ran, but he ran now towards the glowing beacon of his children. He reached out in the Force towards his children. Leia was scared as well, but nowhere near as scared as Luke. His son was on the edge of panic. Why? Vader asked. He was almost there. Almost to his precious little ones.

He turned the last corner and stopped dead in his tracks as he took in the scene. One of the nannies was holding Leia. She jumped and let out a small yelp as she saw Vader. She squeezed Leia tighter. Further down the hall was the thief who had stolen the lightsabers. The thief held Luke in a chokehold and a blaster to Luke's head. The little child was crying.

"Dada! Dada!" Luke cried. His little hands reached and grabbed for his father.

"Dada! Dada!" Leia cried as well.

But Vader was only focused on Luke. His son. His precious tiny little son hanging in the grasp of some scum. His child. His. HIS. The rage that overtook Vader was bottomless. It fed his powers into the Dark Side. He could feel his rage and hate lash out violently. Leia let out a cry and hugged the nanny.

"Dada," she whimpered.

"Let my son go," Vader growled as he started to approach the thief. There was a small bit of satisfaction as the thief realized the boy in his arms was Vader's son. As Vader came even with the nanny, he glared over at her. "Take Leia and go," he ordered. She only hesitated a second, then she nodded and ran down the hall.

With Leia safely away, Vader could devote his whole attention to the scum ahead of him. The scum whose hold on Luke had tightened. Luke was trying to break free. Vader's poor little baby kicked and clawed at the thief. But he was so little, so little and tiny, that he couldn't fight back against the creature holding him.

"Let. My. Son. Go," Vader demanded again as he came closer to the thief who was now backing away from Vader.

Vader brought up his hand. The blaster in the thief's hand was ripped away. Vader swiped his hand to the side and blaster was thrown into the wall nearby. The thief watched in horror as he weapon fell to the ground. At once his free hand started to grab at the bag. The lightsabers, Vader realized.

"No," Vader said.

At once his own lightsaber was in his hand. The red blade came to life with a quick snap-hiss. Vader wasted no time. He couldn't allow the thief to pull a saber out. A lightsaber was dangerous, and that fool would easily cut off his own arm and the child it held. Vader titled his body low and threw his saber out. It spun across the hall, just above the floor, and easily sliced into the legs of the thief.

He let out a loud scream and fell to the floor. Luke screamed as well as he fell with the thief. Vader was there at once grabbing Luke's arm and ripping the boy away from the thief. Luke was crying and his little hands at once tightly clasped around Vader's neck.

"Dadadadadada," the child cried into Vader's neck.

"Shhhhh," Vader said as his flesh hand came to rest on Luke's head. He gently stroked his son's soft hair. "Shhhh. It's ok now. I've got you. You're safe. Daddy's here. Shhh."

A pained groan snapped Vader's attention back to the body squirmed at his feet. Vader snarled in disgust at the thief. Vader took a moment to consider how he should kill him. Choke with him with the Force? Stab with his lightsaber? Decapitate him?

"Dada . . . Dada . . ." Luke continued to cry. Vader's shoulder was wet from his son's tears. No this thief did not deserve any of those quick deaths. That was too merciful. Vader summoned his lightsaber back to him. He deactivated it and clipped it back on his belt. He used the Force to turn on his commlink so he could summon his guards to drag the scum away. Vader would deal with him later. The thief would have a death deserving of his crimes. A very slow painful death.

Yet later that night, Vader's thoughts were not on the thief. Instead they were on the two small children snuggled up on his chest deep asleep. It had been a hard night with the twins. Any time Vader put Luke down, the boy would start screaming to be held again. Leia, Vader's tiny little angel, would ask her brother where his boo-boo was. She would kiss his arm or cheek to try and make him feel better.

Luke finally fell asleep exhausted from all of his crying. Leia followed soon after. Vader laid still. Not daring to move in fear of waking either child. He listened to their small breathing. He felt their little heartbeats against his chest. Every now and then he would lean his head down and give them both a small and gentle kiss on the head.

Eventually Vader allowed sleep to claim him. He had to convince himself his children were safe. They were in his arms. Right here with him, where he could keep them safe.

 


 

Rusk laid on the bench in his cell. His eyes kept traveling down his body. He would look past his knees, see a bit of leg and then nothing. No ankles. No feet. Nothing. His legs had been cut off a bit below his knee. By Darth kriffing Vader and his red lightsaber. He thought of two little children. Darth Vader's children. He should have known. With those stupid red little outfits. Red like Vader's lightsaber. And those big round eyes that followed him everywhere. How they weren't afraid when he had first pulled his blaster.

The more Rusk thought about it the more and more he realized how stupid he had been. Who else had a wall of karking lightsabers in their house? Who else was actually smart enough to have security like that? Rusk shivered as he recalled Vader's words to him. "Let my son go." There was a deep anger and hatred in those words. Why was Rusk even alive?

Well he wouldn't be for long if he just let himself sit in this cell. The troopers that emptied him in here had given him a shot. They laughed and said it would keep him awake and make his pain more intense. But Rusk wasn't some soft Coruscantee. He was used to working on no sleep. He was used to pain. He examined his cell again. It was made of dark gray metal. The walls angled slowly upward.

But the floor was made of grates. There was no toilet in here. No other drainage system. The grates allowed for easy clean up. Rusk noticed the slow drainage below the floor and smiled. He reached into his mouth and pulled out the fake teeth. The troopers had only down a quick pat down on him. Only searching for the obvious weapons. Good thing Rusk wasn't human and didn't have as many teeth as them naturally. His back few teeth were fake. They came out together along with a metal mouthpiece that kept it all together.

He snapped the metal ribbing bars off the teeth. They snapped perfectly into small sharp little tools. He screwed the battery-pack teeth into the end of the tools. He slid off the bench and onto the floor. He at once used his tools to burn through the metal of the grates. Luckily it was only simple durasteel. Slowly Rusk was able to create a hole big enough for him to fit through.

He pocketed his tools and eased down into the hole. The drain tunnel below was filled with foul smelling liquid, but it wasn't the first time Rusk had crawled through sewage before. He would do it again and again if it meant he would live. He flipped himself on to his stomach and started to crawl down the sewer to hopeful freedom. He was grateful to walk away with only his life.

Chapter Text

Slowly Luke started to awaken. His blue eyes blinked a few times as he took in his surroundings. The child slowly pushed himself up and looked around the large cavern. A small pallet lay on the ground on which he had been asleep on. Sitting nearby on the floor, with legs crossed, his arm on his knee, his head rested in his arm, was Luke's father. He wore a black leather tunic. His dark blonde hair curled around his face. His right hand was completely gloved up to his elbow.

"Daddy!" Luke called seeing his father. At once he tried to get up but was jerked down before he could finish standing. Luke's head whipped around to notice his body was chained to the wall at his wrists and ankles.

"Da-daddy?" he cried as his blue eyes sought Vader. "Daddy why am I chained up? Daddy?"

The other figure said nothing. He didn't move. Just sat there staring. His gold eyes never wavering.

"Daddy!" the child cried again. "Let me out! Please! Let me out! Why am I chains?" The child's voice was getting more pained and more frantic. The father's free hand clenched into a fist. He bit down on his teeth as he listened to the pleading continue. "Daddy! Daddy!"

"Tell me," a dark voice said. At once the child quieted. His chest heaved in deep breaths as he fought off panic and sobs. "Where did you get that scar on your knee?" Luke's father asked.

Luke looked down. He wore a simple white tunic and pants. He pulled up his pant legs and saw a large pink scar that ran down the side of one his knees. He gently fingered the length of the scar. Then he laughed. It was not the laugh of a child. As the laughter faded into echoes in the cavern, gold eyes squinted at the father from the child.

"Vader. Vader. Vader," Luke said. His voice was no longer that of a sweet child. It was off. Distorted. It scratched against Vader's ears. "Still acting so cruel to your son?"

"You," Vader hissed, "are not my son. Get out of him."

"How many times have we been through this Vader?" the thing inside Luke asked. "The only way to free me from your son is to kill the boy."

"I will not accept that answer," Vader snarled back.

The not-Luke shrugged and sighed. "Still weak," he whispered. Then suddenly he shouted, "Still weak! I am trying to make you strong, Vader! Make you invincible! This child is a weakness. Cut him down!" Vader still sat unmoving and quiet. "Tell me I haven't already done my job as a good master and made you stronger already? Now that you're free of that pathetic wife and daughter?"

"You will not speak of them!" Vader roared as he jumped to his feet. The Sith inside Luke only laughed.

"See? See how much anger you have now? How much hatred? Pain? How much stronger in the Dark Side you have become? Let it go, Vader. You wish for revenge against the murderer of your wife and daughter, well he's right here." The Sith motioned to the body he inhabited. To Luke. "You're still the same boy that crashed his podracer into a canyon and rolled down into a cavern and found a Sith holocron. Found me. A Sith master trapped inside that infernal device. You are still the same. Still angry and burning with desire of revenge against all who have wronged you."

"You," Vader said as he pointed a finger at Luke, "are the one who killed my family. Not my son. Not my Luke. You."

"And your Luke is a weakness!" the Sith inside Luke hissed. "You are a Sith! You cannot love! It only holds you back. Unleash your power. Strike the boy down. No one will be able to stand above you. You can finally strike that fool Darth Sidious down and claim this galaxy as yours!"

Vader took a deep steadying breath. Then he turned on his heels and marched away.

"Don't run away!" the not-Luke screamed. "You are weak, Vader! You will never be a full Sith while this boy lives! You know it to be true! To become a true Sith one must strike down their master! It is the way of our Order!"

Vader said nothing. He didn't turn to face the creature using his young son's body and voice. He stalked out of the cavern, letting the accusing screams die behind him.

He made his way up the winding staircase that had been cut into the rock itself. It was a long trek until he made it to the thick blast doors. There was no control panel on this side. Only an intercom and a single button to call with. Vader pressed it. At once a voice responded.

"It's Vader," was all Vader had to say. The doors slowly slid open. He stepped through and the doors slid shut behind him. There was a heavy thunk as the doors rested into place and the locked settled. The two guards saluted Vader, who only ignored them and walked on. He made his way up from the lower levels of his palace, back to his own personal room.

Once there he walked across the room to the large balcony that gave him an impressive view of the sand dunes of Tatooine. He leaned against the railing as his eyes found the road that led to his palace from Mos Espa. Vader could make out the white skulls that lined the roadway on either side. Most of the skulls belonged to the now-extinct Tusken Raiders. Though there were other skulls mixed as well of various races. Many of which were the old slavers of this planet.

It was a testament to all who came here. To all who dared challenge Vader. Let the skulls speak for themselves. There had been those who hadn't heeded the warning. The Trade Federation had come to beg for trade deals with Vader once he controlled a nice portion of the galaxy. They thought to offer Vader a slave. He still recalled seeing her. Brown curls and brown eyes that burned with a fire. A fire that Vader easily recognized. She wore a skimpy slave outfit of gold metal and loose fabric. A giant collar hung heavily on her neck.

He marched over to her. The Federation ambassadors thought he was examining the slave. Instead he leaned over and whispered into her ear, "Take my blaster. Kill them. I won't stop you." He leaned back so she could read his eyes. See the truth there. He could clearly see her thinking through it. Was Vader telling her the truth? In the end she had only internally debated for mere seconds. Her chained hands grabbed at his blaster, she spun around, and expertly shot the two ambassadors and their two droid guards down.

Vader wasted no time in using his red lightsaber to free her from her chains. Then he took her to the processing wing to get her slave chip removed. She marveled at the others in the room. "What is this?" she whispered. Around the room all types of sentients were having their slave chips removed. From Twi'leks to humans to Wookies. Once the chips were removed they received a basic medical check up.

"Freedom," Vader replied. Her large eyes stared up at him. "Go have your chip removed," he told her. "I can arrange for a transport to take you back to wherever you wish to go."

He thought that would have been the end of her, but it wasn't. Somehow she found him in the maze of his palace. How she got pass his guards, he didn't know.

"I wanted to thank you," she said. She told him her story. She was Padme Amidala, former queen of Naboo. Her planet had successfully fought back against the Trade Federation when she was queen. In revenge, they had captured her and forced her into slavery where she had been ever since. "I don't want to go back to Naboo. Not yet," she told Vader.

Vader let out a small laugh. "I know that look," he said. "I know that tone of voice. You want revenge against those who did this to you."

"Yes," she said. "Those two earlier were just underlings. Even if I return home . . . I'll never be safe. I don't see them letting me go back. Once they know I'm free, they hunt me down."

"Then stay here," he offered and she did. The two fell in love and married. They had two wonderful little children. Twins. A boy and a girl. Luke and Leia.

A red light seared through Vader's memories. He recalled that night. Running into the room. Seeing Padme and Leia laying on the ground. Their heads twisted at odd angles. Their faces forever etched in fear. Luke's eyes glowing yellow in the light. A horrible grin twisted on his angelic features. A cruel laugh echoing across the room. The fight to subdue his son had not been easy. The Sith inside Luke held nothing back. It had cost Vader his right arm, but in the end he was able to knock his child out.

"My lord?" a voice called bringing Vader out of his thoughts.

"What is it Cody?" he asked as he turned to face the clone.

Vader's first conquest outside of Tatooine had been Geonosis. They had underestimated him. He laid claim to their droid factories and was able to build his first army. When the newly minted Empire came for him, he focused on the clones. He called them his brethren. They were slaves as he had once been, and he offered them freedom. Citizenship amongst his lands. He would remove their biochips, no more than slave chips, and allowed them free choice. Originally it was only a few who defected, but once word spread more and more clones joined Vader.

"Latest intel, sir. From the Empire," Cody said. He held out a holodisc. Vader took the disc. Vader had his own men wear black with a large gold V on the shoulder. Many of the clones simply painted their amour black. Cody was no exception. The clone saluted and promptly left.

Vader turned the holodisc on. A recording of the holonet played. The holograph showed Emperor Palpatine giving a speech, one that Vader barely listened to, but the speech was directed at him. The Emperorhated Vader, but to Vader, Palpatine was one of many he had pissed off. Vader now held much of the outer rim in the galactic south. It cut off a lot of trade and resources to not only the Empire but to the Hutts as well. Vader's combined bounty was a very impressive number.

But it didn't matter. In the end they would all fall. Like Jabba the Hutt had on this planet years ago. He had been Vader's first conquest after he found the Sith holocron with his Sith master inside of it in the desert canyon. Yet a dead Sith master wasn't the only thing Vader found down there, he also found a large cache of water. He would later learn it was Jabba's secret cache, but Vader piped it out. He sold the water off. For in the desert, water is worth more than gold. He used his new fortune to build his army and lead the assault against the Hutt.

It was not a quick battle. It was long and bloody. In the end the sands of Tatooine ran with blood, but the slavers were dead. The slaves were free and swore their loyalty to Vader. That was when Vader took his vengeance against the sand people for killing his mother. He killed them all. He lined the road to his new palace with their skulls along with the many slavers of the planet.

But Tatooine wasn't enough. Vader craved more. His water cache had run dry, but what was left behind was more valuable than water. Water was only precious on Tatooine. Ionite was precious throughout the whole galaxy. At the time the only other planet to have ionite was Bandomeer. How it had remained unnoticed on Tatooine, Vader didn't know. Miners had long ago settled on Tatooine. They sucked the planet dry and then abandoned it. The native Jawas used the old mining transports as caravans. Even Jabba had used an old mining facility as his palace.

It didn't matter to Vader in the end. The ionite provided him with not only wealth but power. Ionite could break through any energy field and could be made into explosives that would destroy defensive shields leaving Vader's enemies defenseless. It was how he was able to conquer Geonosis. It was how he was able to defeat any of the Hutts who came for revenge. By the time the galaxy realized the threat Vader possessed, it was too late. By then he lay claimed to multiple systems.

But Vader would freely hand over planets, whole systems, if it meant he could have his son back. His Sith master was right, he was weak. He couldn't kill his little boy. His innocent child. The only one Vader had left that he loved. Everyone else had been killed. His mother, his step family, his wife, and daughter. That only left Luke.

Vader looked back at the blue holograph of the Emperor. Vader sighed. He tossed the holodisc over his balcony. He turned and retreated back into his room. Into the cold, dark emptiness that awaited him.

 


 

Vader slowly and quietly made his way across the cavern. Luke lay sleeping on his palette. Vader placed the tray of food down. He slowly kneeled down next to his child. As gently as he could, he collected the boy into his arms. It wasn't easy to do without jostling the boy too much due to the thick chains, but Vader managed. He had done this before.

He cradled Luke to his chest. He kissed and petted the soft feathery blond hair. When Luke was asleep, he appeared as if he was fine. There was no parasitic Sith lord inside his mind. He was nothing more than Vader's child calmly asleep. Vader often wondered if his Sith master let Vader this close knowing the pain it caused him.

Sometimes, very rarely, would Luke wake up. It would be his Luke. The true Luke. It was how Vader knew his son wasn't dead. The two would be in tears. His poor son would apologize nonstop for killing his mother and sister. Vader would rock him and tell him it wasn't his fault. Eventually Luke would cry himself to sleep. The next time he awoke, Vader would meet with the Sith.

"So gentle, so loving," came a whisper that sent a shiver up Vader's spine. "So weak," Luke hissed. Vader looked down to see Luke's eyes open. Golden eyes. Vader slowly let Luke go. The Sith crawled back over to his bed. He looked at the food tray, but didn't touch it. He didn't eat in Vader's presence.

"I grow tired of this," not-Luke said.

"As do I," Vader grumbled in return. "Leave my son."

The Sith in the boy's body squinted his eyes at Vader. Then slowly a smile twisted across the pale cheeks of the boy. It was a horrible smile. "This ends now," the boy whispered. Before Vader could say anything, Luke's hand slammed into his neck. Only when he pulled it away did Vader notice the sharp piece of rock shaped into crude sharp needle. Blood started pouring at once from the neck wound.

"No!" Vader screamed as dashed over to the boy and placed his hands on the neck to slow the bleeding.

"The only way to save him," the Sith wheezed, "Is to free me."

It wasn't the metal chains keeping the Sith down here, but the Force dampening qualities each cuff had in them. If Vader undid the cuffs, the Sith would have access to the Force again. He cared not for Luke. If the boy bled out during a battle with Vader, so be it.

"No," Vader moaned as he realized his dilemma. The boy only laughed. Vader delved into the Force. He summoned all of his rage and hatred. He recalled holding his mother's limp body in the tent at the Tusken camp. He remembered seeing the charred remains of his step-brother and step-sister-in-law. He saw Padme's glossy eyes staring wide at him in horror. He saw Leia's mouth open in a silent scream. He felt the warm blood flowing through his flesh hand.

Vader dove into Luke's mind. Shattering the shields the Sith had built. "OUT!" Vader shouted. At once the Sith was on him. He appeared as an inky black creature with four taloned arms and two legs. A large mouth filled with sharp teeth opened and let out an ear-shattering scream. He lept at Vader. The claws sinking into him. His real body grew cold where the claws dug into him.

Vader summoned the Force to him and pushed the creature off. The claws left long gashes along his arms. Vader pictured himself holding a lightsaber, and thus it appeared. He swung his lightsaber and cut off one of the arms of the creature, who let out a loud screech. Suddenly the creature had a lightsaber in each arm. Three sabers. All red and brought up to ready position. Vader didn't hesitate. He ran forward. His own red saber clashing and hissing against the other three.

"You can't win Vader!" the creature shouted. "I am your master! I have taught you everything I know! I know all your moves because they are my moves, boy!"

Vader didn't react to the creature's words. He delved deeper into the Force. It allowed him to stay just one step ahead of the three lightsabers. If he allowed for any distraction it would be fatal. Vader had no doubt if he died here, he would die in the real world as well. He couldn't allow that. He wouldn't allow Luke to die either. The only option was for this Sith ghost to die.

He was brought back to the previous duel. To the room with the two corpses lying on the floor. Of the horrible laugh coming out from Vader's boy. Luke had been able to use the Force with such ease and finesse that spoke of years of use. More years than Luke was old. Vader had swung his right arm forward and at once it imploded on itself. The bones snapping and creaking and blood vessels popping. The Sith had been so satisfied by this pain, he hadn't noticed Vader coming in with his other hand. A sharp blow to the head knocked Luke off his feet. Vader knocked the child unconscious.

A screech from the monster brought Vader back to the fight. He jumped back away from the creature. He deactivated his lightsaber. It disappeared. He slumped to his knees. The beast was there instantly. Its lightsabers also had vanished. Claws tightened around Vader's neck.

"What are you doing, Vader?" it hissed. "Where has your fight gone? Do not tell me you mean to give up?"

Vader said nothing. The claws tightened their hold around him.

"Get up," the Sith hissed. "Fight me! The boy will die!"

The third arm grabbed Vader's right arm. It squeezed and the mechanical arm crunched and broke apart.

"Yes," the creature purred. "Yes. Let that anger consume you. Welcome the Dark Side."

"Yes," Vader said softly. He could sense the surprise from the creature. Vader leaned forward. "You were right master," Vader said. "I need to welcome the Dark Side." Vader's left arm lashed out and grabbed the creature by the throat. "I need to consume the anger!" Vader shouted. "Come now master! Be consumed by me!"

Vader pulled as hard as he could. He latched onto the Sith with all he head and pulled it towards him. The creature screamed. It's claws slashed at Vader, squeezed at his throat, but nothing stopped Vader from sucking the creature into him. The inky blackness was being stripped from the creature and flowing into Vader. He welcomed it in. The anger. The hatred. The darkness. He consumed it all. It coursed through his veins. Through his mind. He could feel the creature clawing inside of Vader. Hear its screeching now inside of Vader.

Vader withdrew from Luke's mind and entered his own mind. The Sith creature was pacing and snarling. Vader only smiled as he summoned all of his rage and all of his powers. No longer did he have to worry about Luke. For a brief moment he felt the fear coming off his master.

"It is the way of our Order, master," Vader said as he let his darkness completely crush and consume the Sith.

 


 

Vader leaned against the railing of the balcony of his bedroom. Night had settled on Tatooine bringing with it a cooling breeze. Vader's flesh hand gently rubbed up and down his right arm. He could feel the faint scars left from his battle with the Sith. It had left his arms crossed with thin slashes.

He turned to his room. He could make out the large bed and the small form that slept on it. Luke was sound asleep. There were no chains. No Force dampening cuffs. No parasitic Force ghosts. Just Vader's child deep asleep. Luke had not been left unscathed from the Sith. His mind had been injured. It left the child huge gaps of memory loss. It was perhaps for the best the boy didn't recall the death of his mother and sister. Yet some of his good memories of his family were gone as well.

Vader's mind had been changed as well after consuming his Sith master. His rage was quicker to rise. He was much quicker to lash out violently and often deadly. He found he was enjoying pain and suffering and fear much more than before. He was enjoying the darkness. In the end, it was a price Vader was willing to pay as long as he had his Luke back. He walked back into his room toward the child that Vader would scoop into his arms and hold all night. Every part of him thankful he was able to do so.

Chapter Text

 

The pathetic Rebel worms had been crushed. The warehouses they had used as a base of operations now burned. Millions of residents called the Kuat Drive Yards orbital stardocks home. These residents worked in the Drive Yars building the Empire's ships. There could be no rebellion here. Darth Vader marched through the streets back to where his shuttle waited. The drive workers had all scattered earlier when they heard the march of the boots of the stormtroopers. Now Darth Vader walked alone along the empty streets.

As Vader walked he noticed a box on the side of the road. Written in sloppy writing the front of the box read: Free Kittens. As Vader got closer, a small cat jumped up to the lip of the box. Its front paws resting on the side. It was a small yellow cat with bright blue eyes. At once they seemed to settle on the Sith lord. Vader's step faltered only a second as he looked into the large round eyes, but then he kept moving on leaving the box and the kitten behind.

But then his steps started to slow. He couldn't shake the feeling he was being watched. He turned sharply. The small kitten was watching him from the box. Vader clenched his fists, stormed back down the street, and stopped right in front of the box. He towered above it, but the kitten didn't shrink back in fear.

The yellow kitten looked up at Vader with its blue eyes and let out a soft little mew. The Sith didn't move. He just stared. Another little mew escape the kitten and one of its little paws clawed playfully towards Vader.

That was when Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, Supreme Commander of the Imperial Navy, decided to he wanted a kitten. He couldn't explain it. Sith did not have pets, especially such small useless ones as this kitten. But . . . those eyes and pleading mews and it's cute little paw trying to play with him. With Vader.

He knelt down and gently wrapped his large hands around the yellow cat. It didn't run away. It was calm as Vader started to lift it up. That was when Vader heard the hiss. His eyes were on the yellow cat, thinking he had squeezed too hard. But it wasn't the yellow cat, but a new cat. Jumping out of the box, claws out, a brown cat stuck its claws into Vader's glove. The brown cat had round folded ears that were now flat against its head as it hissed at Vader.

Vader transferred the yellow cat into the unmolested hand and tried to shake the brown cat off. But all four feet had clawed themselves into Vader's gloved. The cat had unnatural brown eyes. (Didn't cats have yellow eyes?) After several moments of trying to shake the other kitten off of him, Vader knocked the brown cat into the hand with the yellow cat. At once the vicious cat calmed down. It snuggled against the yellow cat though it still threw some hisses in Vader's direction.

Thus Vader returned to his shuttle with not one cat, but two.


Ensign Han Solo had no idea why he had been summoned to personal quarters of Darth Vader. Solo had never been to any decks near this level. They were all for high ranking officers, and this deck alone was exclusive to Darth Vader. His stormtrooper escort led him down the endless halls to a large double door. The doors slid open to reveal the large form of Solo's supreme commander.

Fear was an adequate word to describe how Solo felt in that moment.

The stormtrooper stepped out of the room, the doors slide shut, and left Solo alone with Lord Vader. There was a tense moment of silence and stillness, and then Solo remembered protocol. He snapped into a salute.

"Ensign Solo, sir," he said.

Vader didn't immediately respond. There was just the eerie sound of his breathing for a few long antagonizing seconds. Finally the dark lord spoke up.

"At ease ensign," Vader said. Solo clasped his hands behind his back. "I looked over your file. An orphan from Corellia. No family. Just the Empire."

Kriff, Solo cursed to himself. This was not good. Not good at all. This was the type of talk people gave you when they wanted someone to do something unsavory. When they wanted someone who didn't matter if you disappeared and were never heard from again.

"Tell me Ensign Solo . . ." Vader paused. Solo felt his breath trapped in his chest. What was Vader going to ask him to do? Spy on officers? Kill someone? Sabotage something? "What do you know about cats?"

Solo stood there dumbfounded. At first he thought about perhaps cats was a codeword for a secret Imperial project. But finally he managed to squeeze out, "Ca-cats? Sir?"

"Yes."

"Like . . . like the pet, sir?"

"Yes."

"I uh . . . don't know much about cats."

Another long pause filled with breathing.

"You will need to research cats, especially their young."

Ok, what was this about? Solo was so confused. "Sir?"

"Kittens, Solo. You will need to read up on kittens," Darth Vader replied.

"Why?" He couldn't stop himself from asking. Only afterwards did he curse at himself with for his loose tongue. One didn't just question their superior officers. It was why Han hadn't advanced much in the navy as he should have. And quite frankly, questioning Darth Vader could end up worse than a demotion. Everyone knew Vader killed people who annoyed him. Han swallowed hard as he awaited the commander's response.

Vader stood still examining Solo. Despite the mask, Solo was sure Vader was eyeing him up and down. Probably thinking of the best way to kill him. Maybe he would be lucky and get the laser sword. That would be quick. Then Vader turned sharpy on his heels. His cloak snapped behind him as he marched over to another door.

"Come," Vader ordered without looking back.

Han took a sharp intake of breath, steeled his nerves, and followed Vader through the other door. It appeared to be a large office. Han looked over his shoulder. Hadn't he just been in an office? There was a large formal desk in the previous room. But that room was rather . . . empty. Bare bones. This other office was larger and clearly looked more used.

The large desk was piled with neat stacks of datapads. A large holotable stood nearby. There was a large board on the wall with flimsi prints of engine schematics and fighter blueprints that had handwritten notes posted up near them. This clearly looked like Vader's personal office compared to the other office. Perhaps the other one was for more official and public uses?

Vader hadn't paused. He walked into the room over to a large metal box. There was no lid. He stopped and looked down into it. Then he looked over at Han, who slowly walked over. He grew more cautious the closer he got to Vader. He reached the box and looked down. Inside were . . . kittens. Two kittens. A yellow and brown kitten. They were curled up next to each other sleeping.

"Luke and Leia," Vader said guestering to the cats with a large gloved hand.

"Kittens?" Han said completely surprised. "Sir?" he added quickly.

The black mask turned to face Solo again. "Yes, Solo. Kittens. My kittens. They are in need of supplies. You are to research everything there are to need. Procure such items, and bring them to me." Vader fished a chipstick out of his belt pocket. "This will provide plenty of credits."

Han took the stick. He looked at the stick, down at the kittens, and back up at Vader.

"Uh . . . Sir? I don't . . . I don't think I'm going to find pet supplies on a star destroyer. I don't think they're keeping kitty litter on stock."

"The fleet will soon pull out of hyperspace at Corellia. Surely you know your home planet enough to procure pet supplies. A shuttle will be waiting to take you planetside."

Was Darth Vader pulling his whole kriffin' fleet out of hyperspace so he could allow some random ensign to go get him pet supplies for his new kitties? Is that what was happening?

"I understand sir," Solo said a bit slowly.

"Good," Vader replied. "Also, Solo, if you mention my pets, this mission, to anyone, I will know. You are not to tell anyone about this. Am I clear?"

The threat was super clear to Han. "Yes sir," Han replied.


Solo had done a decent job in finding adequate pet supplies for Luke and Leia. The kittens themselves seemed to enjoy their new belongings. Vader had set aside a corner of his personal office for the cats. He placed their cat beds next to a small heater. As Solo had explained "They really like sleeping where it's warm. It's not very warm on a starship, sir." It had been a correct assessment. The two little kittens slept by the heater a lot.

Luke had a little blue bed while Leia's bed was white with the word "Princess" embroidered in gold across the side. It appeared that Solo had a sense of humor. The ensign had also gotten a collection of cat toys and scratching pads and treats.

It was a very odd thought for Vader to realize he enjoyed the kittens. When was the last time he enjoyed something? When he felt joy? That wasn't in killing? But he did enjoy his two new little pets. He liked playing with them. His scarred lips smiled as he watched them chase a feather on a string.

Luke was by far Vader's favorite. The kitten would climb into Vader's lap and rub against him. He would purr, curl up, and sleep on Vader's lap. Leia was a different matter. She had gotten better, but she still disliked Vader. She hissed at him a lot. He could get her to play, and every now and then, if Luke was next to her, he could pet her without her hissing or attacking his glove.

Though what annoyed him the most was that Leia had no issues with Solo. In fact the brown kitten appeared to like Solo a lot. Whenever the ensign would come in, Leia would trot over to him and meow loudly at him. She would rub against his legs and let herself be picked up. She would purr happily in Solo's arms. Vader wanted Leia to do that with him.

"Ensign Solo," Vader said when Solo had come by to check on the kittens.

"Yes sir?" Solo asked.

"Why is that Leia likes you?" Solo looked down. He was holding Leia in his arms. Vader could read the confusion off the simple man. So he continued, "She does not like me. She hisses at me and won't let me hold her unlike her brother."

"Uh . . . I don't know sir. Have you tried being nice to her?" Solo asked, but Vader's silence was a clear answer. "How about only give her good treats when you're around? That way she thinks being around you is a good thing? Also make sure you aren't too . . . "

"Too?" Vader prompted.

"Scary," Solo said.


Han Solo gently took the cats out of the pet carrier and put them on their beds. They had both been sedated and were still sleepy. He gently pet them both for a bit before he stood up and left Vader's office. He was tired and ready to go get some sleep. Darth Vader had commed him in the middle of the night requesting Solo's immediate presence. When Solo arrived at the lord's quarters, he saw poor little Luke vomiting. It was clear Vader was tense and uncomfortable.

Thus this was how Han Solo had hidden two kittens and their pet carrier in a metal supplies box. Darth Vader had pulled his fleet out of hyperspace, so a shuttle could leave his ship to take his pet cats to a vet in a nearby star system.

How had Han's Imperial navy career come to this? A cat wrangler for the Supreme Commander?

Han yawned as he entered the tubrolift. However, it only went down a few more levels before the door opened again. An older man walked in. Han eyed the rank insignia on his chest. It had four red squares on top and four blue squares on bottom that were spaced widely apart. A single code cylinder hung to the right.

Han snapped to attention. "General, sir," he said.

"At ease ensign," the general said in a tired tone. He clicked a few buttons on the lift and the doors slid shut.

As the two rode down in silence, Han became very aware of the general looking at him. Not just looking, blatantly staring.

"Ensign what is your name?" the general asked.

"Ensign Han Solo, sir."

"Solo?" the general said in an oddly pleased tone. He smiled. The lift came to the general's stop and the door slid open. The general looped his arm around Solo's shoulders pulling him out of the lift. "How about a drink Solo?"

"A- a drink? Sir?" Solo asked.

The general dragged him through a set of double doors into a large room. Han looked around uncomfortably. This had to be the officer's lounge. A bar was against one wall. Various couches and chairs were set up around the room. There were tables where a few officers were playing sabacc or other games.

A few glanced at the general and the ensign. Some, most of those in the army like the general, nodded their heads at the general. A few eyed Solo's ensign rank questioningly. The general dragged Han to the bar.

"The usual," the general said to the droid bartender. He turned to Han. "And you?"

"Corellian whiskey," Han said. He wasn't about to pass up a free drink. The droid whizzed away to prepare the drinks. Once they had their glasses, the general steered Han to a set of couches near the large viewport. A man already sat there nursing a drink.

"Firmus," the general greeted happily.

"Max," Firmus nodded back. He looked over at Han. "Who is this?"

"This is Ensign Solo," Max said as he clapped Han on the back. Firmus eyes widened, but otherwise he didn't respond.

Han sat down in a chair next to Max and Firmus, which allowed him a good glance at Firmus' rank insignia. He quickly noted Firmus was a captain. Wait. Captain? As in the captain of the kriffin' ship Han was on at the moment? Han took a big swig of his whiskey.

"Solo," Max said. "I was hoping you could help me out."

"With what sir?" Han asked not liking where this was going.

"With a bet," Max said with a smile. "I've got a good amount of credits riding on this." Han only stared. "Now I know you've been assigned as Lord Vader's assistant." Kriff. "You've been going to his personal quarters quite regularly." Karkin' kriff. "And you see, the weirdest thing happened at an officer's meeting the other day. It was noticed that there was hair on Lord Vader's cloak. Blonde hair."

Kriff me into all hells, Solo cursed.

"Now, I've never seen hair on Lord Vader before. Does he even have hair? No one knows. But many believe its not his hair. So thus brings us around to the bet I've gotten involved with," Max said.

Han only stared at the general. What was he going to say? He couldn't say anything. Vader had made it pretty clear he would kill Han if he ever told anyone about the cats. The captain mistook Han's silence for ignorance.

"He wants to know where the hair came from," Firmus said dryly.

Max nodded, smiled, and took a sip of his drink.

"I'm afraid . . . sir . . . I can't tell you that," Han said.

Max leaned over towards Han. "But you do know, don't you?"

"Leave him alone, Max," Firmus scowled. "Even if Lord Vader did have some secret lover on the side, I'm sure he's been quite clear to this lowly ensign not to tell anyone."

"Secret lover?" Han exclaimed.

"Is it not a lover? Something else then?" Max asked still looking intently at Han.

"I'm sure the ensign would like to keep his head," Firmus said, "by keeping Lord Vader's personal life . . . personal."

Max sighed and leaned back in his seat. Han empitied his glass in one swallow.


Vader looked over the item Ensign Solo had left for him along with the note. It read: Your officers have noticed cat hair on you. You can have a droid use it on you next time you walk out. It's a hair collector. Picks up stray hairs the kittens have gotten all over your cloak. P.S. There is a betting pool that believes your stray hairs are from a secret lover. P.S.S. I told them nothing. P.S.S.S. To prove I have said nothing, some think I'm your secret lover, which I value my life far too much to ever say that about myself.

Vader slowly made his way into the room with his hyperbaric chamber. He sat down in the large chair and with a wave of a hand used the Force to press the button to close the large globe. The chamber hissed as it sealed shut and the fresh oxygen started to pump through. Vader slowly took off his helmet and mask. He set the mask and helmet down at his feet.

He leaned his head back and closed his eyes. He started to let himself go into the Force. However, his meditation was quickly cut short from a soft sound. At once he sat up straight and glanced down. Pawing at his helmet was little Luke. As if sensing Vader's attention was him, the kitten stopped and turned its blue eyes up at Vader.

At once the kitten jumped at Vader's legs. It used its little claws to climb up his leg into his lap. Vader at once wrapped his large gloved hands around the kitten. What should he do? Was it even safe for the cat to be in here? Would the air affect the kitten and its small lungs? Vader placed the kitten back in his lap. He leaned over to grab his helmet and mask. Luke took the opportunity to jump onto Vader's shoulder.

Vader froze as he felt, he felt, the small wet nose press against the skin of his cheek. Vader slowly looked over at the yellow cat. Luke was sniffing Vader. Vader could feel the wet nose, the tickle of the whiskers, and the soft fur pressing against him. When was the last time he actually felt such things? Then he felt the rough little tongue as Luke licked him. Vader flinched as the tongue inflamed his sensitive skin.

Luke seemed to sense Vader's pain. The kitten started to purr and rubbed his head against Vader. Then the little cat curled up in the crook of Vader's neck. Luke purred as his eyes slowly closed. Vader slowly leaned back in his seat. He didn't want to knock Luke off his perch, which would happen if he reached down for his helmet. Instead he used the Force to bring the helmet and mask into his hands, but then he froze. Luke was in the way of him putting his mask and helmet on properly.

Vader sat there frozen. He knew he should just gently grab Luke and pull him down, but . . . he couldn't. That is when he heard another sound and felt another set of claws climbing up his leg. He glanced down to see Leia was now in his lap staring up at him and Luke. Clearly wanting to be where her brother was, she climbed up Vader's chest and on to his other shoulder.

Like her brother, she sniffed Vader's exposed face. She didn't lick him, but she didn't hiss or growl at him either. Instead she started to purr. She curled up on his shoulder. Vader figured he might as well try to meditate as he was unwilling to move or put his mask back on. He closed his eyes and let himself go into the Force. He became so acutely aware of the two little kittens sitting on his shoulders. He could not only hear their happy purrs, but feel it in the Force as well.

Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was lulled to sleep by the purrs of his two little kittens.

Chapter Text

Luke threw his orange jumpsuit into the cockpit of his fighter. He pulled on a black robe with a hood over a black nondescript outfit. It would help him blend in with the black volcanic rocks of the Mustafar landscape. Stepping out from the rocky overhang he had hid his ship in, he pulled the hood over his head and looked up. A large towering fortress pierced the smokey red sky. The tower was backlit by the bright lava river that flowed behind it. A single thin lava waterfall exited the tower and made its way down the cliff the tower sat upon.

The Red Place, Luke thought as he made his way over the sharp rocks towards the base of the cliff. This is the Red Place. I didn't know it was a real place.

Shortly after the Battle of Yavin, Luke started to have dreams of the Red Place. A dreamscape of red smokey skies and black rocks. The landscape was endless and offered very little besides the black rocky hills. Until one dream Luke spotted a figure sitting on a large rock on top of a hill. It took several dreams for Luke to even reach the hill the figure sat on. When he finally made it to the top of the hill, the figure turned to him. It wore a long black cloak with a deep hood. Its face was completely covered by shadows.

". . . Luke?" the figure asked clearly surprised.

That was when Luke learned that the figure was his father, Anakin Skywalker. Like Luke, Anakin visited this place in his dreams. Yet the real surprising part was that Anakin was alive. All of his life, Luke had been led to believe his father was dead.

On Mustafar, Luke reached the base of the cliff. He carefully walked along the side of the cliff until he spotted the ventilation tunnel with a grate covering it. Using his lightsaber, he sliced open the grate and walked into the tunnel. His hand gripped the hilt of the lightsaber, his father's lightsaber.

"Have you practiced what I last I taught you?" Anakin had asked as he sat on his usual rock on top of the hill in the dream Red Place.

Luke unclipped his dream lightsaber from his belt. At once he fell into the opening stance of the kata Anakin had taught him. He went through the kata while Anakin sat quietly and watched.

"Good," Anakin replied when Luke finished. "Though the question is, can you do it that well outside the dream?"

"Yes," Luke replied. "I think."

Now inside the ventilation tunnels, Luke slowly made his up toward the fortress. Toward the prison his father was kept in.

"Please father let me help you," Luke begged for the hundredth time to his father in the Red Place. "There has to be a way! Tell me where you're being kept prisoner. I can get the Alliance to help free you."

Anakin let out a small sad laugh. "No Rebel fleet can free me, young one."

"Is there no way for me to free you?" Luke asked dejected.

Anakin was quiet for a long time before he finally spoke. "You may not be able to free me, but there is a way you might be able to meet me." Luke looked into the dark shadows of the hood. "In person," Anakin added. "Not here." He waved his hand at the place around them.

"Yes!" Luke said instantly. He noticed Anakin's sharp movement of surprise.

"This would not be a rescue attempt," Anakin warned.

Luke knew that, but even just meeting his father in person would be enough. Perhaps he could learn of a way to get his father free. Anakin spoke so little about his situation, despite all the prying Luke did. Luke was convinced there had to be a way to get Anakin free. Plus . . . meeting his father in real life. Sometimes he worried that perhaps this was all just a dream. That Anakin was a ghost like Ben was.

"That's fine," Luke said. "It would be nice to meet you face to face. Then I could show you I do know these katas just as well in the real world."

There was a flare of warmth from Anakin in the Force, which was how he showed his happiness. Luke labeled the action as Anakin smiling under his hood.

"Let's do this," Luke said. He couldn't hide the excitement in his voice or in his eyes. Anakin paused as he clearly looked at Luke.

"You would have to come alone . . ."

Luke frowned. No doubt Anakin was being kept some place very secure and most likely very top secret. Luke had wondered a few times if perhaps Anakin was kept somewhere on Imperial Center.

"I am not completely powerless here," Anakin continued. "I can mind trick a guard or two, but only enough for one person. Any more and they would grow suspicious."

Luke nodded. "Very well," he agreed. "I will come alone." Another flash of warmth from his father.

Luke was so close to finally meeting his father in real life. It wouldn't just be a dream. But this fortress bothered him. The place vibrated and reeked of darkness in the Force. A few times Luke had put his hand to his mouth, as if protecting himself from noxious fumes. He eyed the black rocks of the old lava tubes. The rocks sometimes seemed to move and shift on their own, but when he took a harder look the rocks had not moved.

There was something wrong with this place. Something dark and twisted. Perhaps Anakin was right. Perhaps there was no escaping from this prison. Luke had yet to even make into the fortress. Would the darkness being thicker there? How had his father lived the past twenty years here?

Something brushed against Luke's mind. It caused him to jump not only in real life but in the Force as well. The presence quickly backed away. But then it came back slower and gentler.

Luke? a voice called in the Force.

Father?

A flash of warmth. A smile. He was here! Anakin Skywalker was here! Luke was so close to meeting his father.

You have done well so far, young one. Keep going, Anakin said.

Luke pushed on. He was rejuvenated after hearing his father's voice. It was getting hotter and louder. He could hear the low rumbling of lava and feel it shaking the earth around him. A layer of sweat was starting to build up under his robe. The tunnels were starting to lighten with a red glow. Finally Luke turned a corner and the tunnel emptied into a much larger tunnel.

A steady flow of lava flowed through the large tunnel. The lava roiled and bubbled. It was loud, but not deathening. A man made walkway carved into the rock lined one side of the tunnel. Luke followed it. He had memorized the directions from Anakin, but he felt the gentle pull and push from his father in the Force. The tunnel ended, at least horizontally. Luke glanced up as he saw the lava falling down from a height unseen.

It was now loud as the lava crashed into the underground river. Luke found a stairwell and climbed up the flights till he reached a durasteel walkway. The tunnel up here was large and wide. Now metal paneling was built into the wall. There were also a few instruments and control panels spaced throughout. A walkway extended across the tunnel in front of the lava. On the far side stood several control stations and . . . a tall figure wearing a black robe.

Luke would know the silhouette of his father anywhere. He shouted out, but Anakin didn't react. His back was turned to his son. Luke quickly made his way across the walkway. The lava waterfall was to his left. It was loud as it poured down the tunnel. No wonder Anakin hadn't responded. He wouldn't have heard Luke's shout.

Luke, Anakin said. His back still to his son. We will have to talk to through the Force.

That's . . . that's fine, Luke replied a bit disappointed.

This was the best place for us to meet without anyone being able to hear or see us, Anakin explained.

Luke nodded. He understood. He took a deep breath as he looked at his father, who was now slowly turning to face him. He was met with the same image he had seen the Red Place. Anakin was tall. He appeared much taller in real life, but otherwise he wore the dark heavy black robe that completely hid his face with a long hood.

Luke couldn't hide the disappointment from crossing his face. He wanted to know what Anakin looked like. He wanted to know . . . to understand who he was. Where had he come from. Did he look like his father? But perhaps it wasn't too surprising. Afterall it looked like the Red Place was based on a the real Mustafar. It made sense that how Anakin appeared in the dream was also how he looked in real life.

A black gloved hand came out of a fold in the cloak. It reached cautiously towards Luke. Luke stepped forward and grabbed it. While the hand curled slowly around Luke's hands, he noticed how hard and solid the hand felt.

It is . . . it is a prosthetic, Anakin explained.

That doesn't matter, Luke replied. He squeezed the hand harder. It's still your hand.

A silence stretched between the two. It was clear Anakin was looking at his son. Luke could feel the gaze all over him. Finally Anakin spoke again. Thank you.

Of course I would come, Luke said.

No . . . that is not . . .

Luke titled his head to the side. Anakin sounded pained. As if he was struggling. Perhaps he was. How long had he been kept in this place? Twenty years? How much true human interaction had he had? What did they do to him in this place? He was a Jedi knight. Had they tortured him? When was the last time Anakin had felt any sort of kindness and love in the real world?

So Luke just smiled up at the shadowed hood. He saw the cloaked shoulders rise in surprise, and then slump back down in relief. There was a flash of warmth in the Force as Anakin smiled, which only made Luke smile bigger in return.

Father . . . Is there really no way I can save you? That I can free you from this place?

Even if I were to leave this place, I would not be free my son. The Emperor has his chains deep around me.

There must be a way . . . Luke cried.

The hooded head turned away from Luke. There is only one way I know of, Anakin said slowly.

What? What is it?

For the Emperor to die.

That wasn't . . . That wasn't that surprising. But it was also an almost impossible task. Clearly Luke looked dejected.

He can be killed Luke, Anakin said. There was a confidence in those words. A sizzle of determination, power, and desire.

How? You think the Alliance hasn't tried?

A bright flare shot through the Force laced with amusement. Had his father laughed?

Only through using the Force can the Emperor be killed, Anakin explained. The Emperor is a Sith, a lord of the Dark Side. It is his power that keeps me imprisoned.

Luke's mouth hung open. The Emperor? He thought Darth Vader was the only Sith. But there were two? Luke once again became aware of the darkness that hung around this place. It was heavy.

You can do it, Luke, Anakin said. His hood was once again pointed at his son. Together. You and I can take the Emperor down.

No . . . Luke shook his head. No . . . I . . .

He was barely trained. He thought of the one time he had faced Vader on Cymoon 1. It had showed how little he knew. Though he knew he had progressed some under Anakin's tutelage in the Red Place. He feared it was nowhere near enough.

I'm not a Jedi yet, Luke said softly.

I am well aware of that young one.

Luke felt his cheeks burn and he glanced down at the ground.

Let me complete your training.

Luke's head snapped up. His blue eyes went round. But . . . how? When Luke had discovered his father lived in the Red Place, he had asked Anakin to train him in the ways of the Force. But Anakin said such things in the dreamscape were impossible. The most he was able to do was to show Luke lightsaber katas and give a few lectures on the Force. Proper teaching of the Force had to be done outside of the dream.

Stay here, Anakin said. Swear yourself to my teachings, Luke.

There was a pain in Luke's heart. Stay here? In this prison? But . . . He looked at the hooded figure. He recalled Anakin's soft words. They were almost a plea as if he was begging Luke.

What if he did? What if he did stay here and properly learn the ways of the Force? He would finally be a proper Jedi. He would be able to face Darth Vader and the Emperor. And he would be with his father. He could get to truly know Anakin Skywalker. It wouldn't be just in dreams, but in real life. Hadn't this been what Luke always wanted? To know his father? To learn how to be a Jedi just like him?

But there still seemed to be so many other questions. What about the Alliance? Leia and Han? Would they be alright without him? But in the long run wouldn't this be for the better? Plus . . . the only way for Anakin and Luke to kill the Emperor together, would mean Anakin escaping. His father would be free!

Ye- yes . . . Luke finally said. Then he took a deep breath and raised his head up high. Yes, I'll stay here and let you teach me.

You must swear yourself to my teachings, Luke, Anakin said.

How do I do that?

Kneel and repeat these words.

Luke slowly knelt in front of his father. Then he repeated the words, I pledge myself to your teachings.

Henceforth you shall be my apprentice, Anakin said. Rise.

Luke stood back up. It felt like such a simple thing, but it must have been some Jedi ceremony. Ben had never asked Luke to do such a thing, granted he never had time. But there seemed to be something different. The connection between his father had changed. Had it grown stronger?

Luke could sense Anakin's happiness and . . . a sense of victory? Also the darkness seemed to have grown thicker. Despite the heat of the lava, there was a chill. Though it seemed to be more inside Luke now than outside. Was this what Anakin had meant about the Emperor's power keeping him chained? Was Luke feeling some of that?

Anakin took a step closer. Now that you pledged yourself to me, he said, it is time that you learn the truth.

Luke titled his head. What truth would he learn? He watched as Anakin's gloved hands slowly rose to the hood. Luke eyes went wide. He was finally going to see what his father looked like! The hands lifted the hood up and the hood slid down. Luke only stared in horror to see the black mask of Darth Vader staring back at him.

Anakin Skywalker, the voice of his father said through the Force, died long ago and was reborn as Darth Vader.

Luke took a small step back. He shook his head. This couldn't be true. This was impossible. There was no way . . . no way that . . . Anakin . . . his father was . . . Darth Vader. The rest of the cloak fell off of Vader's shoulders revealing the full suit. Vader raised a hand and offered it to Luke.

Now come my son, my apprentice. I shall teach you the ways of the Force. Together we shall end this bloody conflict that has spread across the galaxy. We shall remake the galaxy into how we want it. We shall rule together as father and son.

Luke wanted to scream. He wanted to run. For a brief second he even thought about jumping off the walkway into the lava. But found he could do none of those. His body felt heavy. Weighted down. As if cold heavy metal chains were wrapped around him pinning him in place. Then he realized what his father had meant earlier. The Emperor has his chains deep around me. It is his power that keeps me imprisoned.

And now Darth Vader had done the same to his son, Luke Skywalker.

Chapter Text

 

The backstage was a hive activity. Assistants and stagehands buzzed around Darth Vader, but he was still. He stood tall, unmoving, his arms crossed. Like always he wore all black. His long dark blonde hair hung in loose waves and curls. He wore a frown, because annoyance, anger, and frustration always appeared to be Vader's permanent expression.

In mere moments his fall haute couture fashion line would be debuting down the runway. He should be happy or excited, perhaps nervous. But no, the world famous designer was internally fuming. The models were starting to line up as the start time to the show crept nearer. Vader looked along the line and noticed the still empty spot. Spot number 17.

Han Solo, Vader cursed to himself.

Vader had made and broken many model's careers. Solo had oddly come out as the most successful. Vader had met him on a New York City street corner trying sell cheap knock-off Vader purses. But there was something about the dirty swindler that Vader liked. A rogue-ish look that drew him in, and clearly that charm drew the world in as well. After appearing in several of Vader's runways and ad campaigns, the model started to book commercials and TV spots. Current rumors were he was being signed to a big movie deal.

However, the man was supposed to be here. Now. At Vader's show in spot number 17. The two still had a contract together. And Vader was a man not to be crossed with. For he was the best of the best. For the past nineteen years the Vader name was equivalent to high fashion.

No one knew where Vader came from, but from his first runway show he'd been a force to be reckoned with. He knew how to design. He could see a body regardless of size or shape and make a stunning outfit with all the right lines and curves. He was, however, a merciless designer. If one wanted a custom one-of-a-kind outfit, all he wanted from the client was their measurements and what type of event the outfit would be worn to. Everything else was Vader's decision.

From fabric choice, color, length, or patterns it was all Vader's choice. He was rarely a compromising man. You asked him for an outfit, you got an outfit. There was no changing it. You either accepted it or didn't. Those who had were his long-time repeat customers, had just come to accept his way of designing. You just had to put faith in him even if the outfit wasn't what you were expecting. It was almost like Vader had this sixth sense that extended beyond fashion. He could read the upcoming trends in fashion, and made it so his creations were always on the forefront in new ideas and trends.

Vader prided himself that he had only hit the worst-dressed list once. However, that wasn't his fault. He had designed a dress for a new up-and-coming young actress. She took his dress and let some other designer hack away at it. She showed up to the Oscars wearing some bastardized version of the dress and claimed it was a Vader.

Vader had his revenge. He got Artoo to hack into the actress's phone. It took a bit of digging before Artoo was able to get a video of the actress going off on some racist and homophobic rant. A simple leak to the media was all it took to drag her career down the drain. As for the designer, well once again Vader used Artoo's hacking skills. The designer would be coming out with a new high-end fashion line that heavily used a wonderful brocade fabric from Italy.

Vader secured a swatch of the fabric, sold the design to cheap knock-off factories in China, and then made sure the fabric made its way into the the low-end cheap ready-to-wear lines. By the time the designer's fashion-line debuted on the runway, the same high-end Italian fabric was seen all across Targets and Sears. Yes, Darth Vader was not a man to cross.

Vader glanced over at his personal assistant, Piett. The man had no sense for fashion, but he was an excellent assistant. Piett caught Vader's eye and shook his head. Still no word from Solo. Already the wheels were starting to turn in Vader's head if Solo didn't show up. First he would find out if that Hollywood deal was true, then he would do whatever was necessary to make sure Solo was kicked off the project.

"Sir!" Piett said snapping Vader out of his thoughts of revenge.

Vader looked pass the assistants, models, and stagehands. There swaggering in with an air of relaxed confidence was one Han Solo. In his wake was the large Russian man, Chewbacca, who was Solo's agent. Solo slowly made his way over, only causing Vader to grind his teeth. The insufferable man clearly either didn't care how late he was or he was just trying to anger Vader. Or both.

"Yo!" Solo said as he approached. "Sorry I'm late. My car broke down."

Why was Vader not surprised that Solo's piece-of-junk YT-1300 Corellian had broken down. It was the same car the man was living in and selling purses out of when Vader first met him. Why he still had the thing, Vader did not know.

"Get him in hair and makeup, now!" Vader snapped not in the mood to verbally spar with Solo.

Solo had the sense to let himself be led away. Chewbacca nodded at Vader as he moved to go follow his charge. As the Russian turned away that was when Vader saw him. A boy. Young. Fresh. He was glancing around at everything in wide-eyed wonder. He was covered in engine grease and Vader almost wondered if this was the mechanic that Solo had found to fix his car. Clearly the boy wasn't in the modeling business. He wore worn out old jeans and a faded red t-shirt. His blonde hair was long and shaggy . . . and yet . . .

Vader scowled at himself as he marched away. It was time to get the show started. A large TV screen was set up behind stage so Vader could watch as the models walked down the runway. Yet his attention kept being drawn back to that dirty kid. He spotted him milling around with Solo and Chewbacca.

The kid reminded Vader of himself. Young and starry eyed once. He also reminded him of someone else who was small with the same facial build. She had the same wonderful smile and eyes. Such thoughts caused Vader's heart to clench in pain. He snapped his attention back to the screen and the fashion show.

After the show ended, Vader dragged Solo into a corner.

"I know. I know!" Solo growled. "You can save the lecture, old man."

Vader pointed a finger at the model. "Do not think for one second Solo your actions are excusable," he hissed.

"And I told ya, my car broke down."

"Get. A. New. Car," Vader said. "You can afford it. I think you can afford paying your mechanic as well. What did you do, bribe him?"

"What Luke?" Solo said with a smile. "He's a good kid! Look at how much fun he's having."

The two both glanced over at the wide-eyed youth as he talked shyly to a group of models. His cheeks were flushed with pink. There was such a fresh innocence to him.

"This is not a place for entertaining guests, Solo," Vader snapped a moment later. Then he turned and left.

"I thought this was exactly that! How many guests are you entertaining here today, Vader?" Han called out after the designer.

After the interviews and small-talk with celebrities, Vader finally found himself home in his penthouse apartment. The skyline of New York city glowed through the windows. A whistle caught Vader's attention. Sitting on the couch was Artoo. He was a short African man only a few years older than Vader.

Artoo didn't speak. Couldn't. Instead he communicated in sign language as well as a combination of clicks and whistles. Sometimes he just took to texting.

"The show went fine," Vader mumbled as he made his way into the apartment. Another whistle from Artoo. "I'm angry because of that insufferable Han Solo, who showed up five minutes before the start."

"Oh, Master Vader you're home!" Vader's butler, Threepio, said. He was a tall pale man with blonde hair. He had a thing for wearing bright yellow. Said it was a happy color, which was odd considering how filled with anxiety and nerves the butler was. "I shall have dinner readied at once," Threepio stated as he tottered off towards the kitchen.

The three of them made up Vader's odd little family. They both knew Vader from before he was Vader. When he went by a different name. When he had a different life. One filled with friends and love . . . a wife . . . there was even going to be a child. Then he lost it all. The friends. The wife. The child. Now he just had Artoo and Threepio. And fashion to keep him busy.

As Vader walked sluggishly into his bedroom, he eyed a portrait of his late wife. She had been dazzling. A true fashion icon. And she wasn't even a model. She had been a politician. The old pain in Vader's heart flared up whenever he thought of her. Force, he missed her. How would his life had turned out of if she had lived? Had their child lived?

The image of the boy from the show popped into Vader's head. His goofy smile and bright blue eyes. Vader scowled. Why was he thinking of that kid? But . . . he looked at the picture of his wife. What would their child look like? Would it have looked like that kid? Like Vader had when he was young?


Luke Skywalker was surprised when he was told that Darth Vader wanted to meet with him. He was just some kid from the country. He was supposed to be helping on his uncle's farm, but instead he had been helping in Fixer's Garage in Anchorhead when Han Solo had rolled up with his busted YT-1300 Corellian. Well one thing had led to another which had led to a being backstage at a high-end fancy fashion show.

And now that designer wanted to meet him.

He was nervous as he walked off the elevator into Vader Studios. A secretary met him.

"I'm Luke Skywalker," he said. "I was asked-"

But the secretary cut him off, "Yes, yes. Mr. Vader has been waiting for you. His assistant will be with you shortly."

Luke nodded and moved to sit on a nearby padded bench. The assistant didn't take long. He was an older man who led Luke through the design rooms. Designers sat hunched over at drafting tables or desks with laptops. There were racks of clothes everywhere. Bolts of rolled up fabric leaned against tables next to sewing machines. Large boards were everywhere with fashion sketches and photos of models or inspirational photos with swatches of fabric tacked up.

Luke felt really out of place. He knew nothing about fashion or clothes. He got a lot of his clothes at the thrift store or were gifts from his aunt. No one really cared much about clothes out in Anchorhead. He looked at what some of the designers were constructing on mannequins. They were amazing creations. Clothes that looked far too luxe and expensive for Luke. He had been amazed to hear from Han that the outfits worn at the fashion show started at $30,000. Luke simply could not imagine buying a single outfit for that much money.

He was led to the back of the studio and up a spiral staircase to a second level. This area was much more open. Not as much clutter, and there weren't any people. In fact there was only one person who stood near a table by a large window. Luke recognized him from the fashion show. Darth Vader. It was a name even Luke knew. Granted he only knew that Vader had to do with rich fashion like Gucci, Prada, Armani, Chanel, and Louis Vuitton. Names Luke had only heard of in movies or songs. He honestly would never be able to pick out anything from those designers. And yet here he was meeting the famous Darth Vader. He wondered how many girls or guys from his old high school would kill just to be standing here.

Vader stopped his work and looked over at Luke. It was Luke's first time being so close to the man. Luke could tell he was older than he looked. There was a certain age to his face that was still relatively wrinkle free. Luke was sure the millionaire, or maybe he was a billionaire, could afford some amazing skin care products as well as plastic surgery. Yet the man didn't look like he had ever had any work done to him. There was something natural about him. He also looked very serious and stern. He held himself rigidly. Made Luke think of old military veterans.

"Mr. Luke," the assistant said. Vader nodded and the assistant walked away.

"Tell me, Luke," Vader said. "How is it you came to know Han Solo?"

"Oh uh . . . his car broke down. I fixed up for him," Luke answered shyly.

"And then what?" Vader said. "He just offered a ride into the city? To go backstage at my fashion show?"

Luke blushed. "Yeah something like that."

"You do not seem like the fashion type."

"Uh . . . no I'm not."

"Why agree to go to a fashion show?"

Luke shrugged. "Why not?"

One of Vader's eyebrows titled up. There was a very slight curve to his mouth, but nowhere near enough to call it a smile or even a smirk.

"Can I ask why you called me here?" Luke asked.

"You remind me of myself a bit," Vader replied. "When I was young I worked in a mechanic's shop. Even did some street racing."

Luke smiled largely at that. "Oh? I've done some racing myself. Not much. I've fixed up a Skyhopper. My friends and I like to go racing down Beggar's Canyon."

Vader paused. "Beggar's Canyon? As in . . . the road? Out of Mos Espa?"

Luke tilted his head. "You've heard of it?" He couldn't hide the surprise in his voice.

"I . . . I am familiar with the area," Vader said.

"Oh wow," Luke replied excitedly. "Really? That's where I'm from. I live a few miles out of Anchorhead."

Vader's sharp blue eyes narrowed at Luke. He was reexamining Luke. It was clear the wheels were turning inside the designer's brain, but Luke didn't know about what.

"Come here," Vader said as he waved over to a table that had some clothes laying on it. Luke walked over to it. "Take your shirt off," Vader ordered. Luke paused, but then did as instructed. Vader handed him a shirt. It was silky soft dark green shirt. Luke pulled it over his head. Vader walked around Luke like he was a prize cow up for auction. The designer pulled at the sides and started to pin the shirt tighter with bobby pins.

"Better," Vader mumbled.

"Uhhh?" Luke asked unable to form words.

"Better," Vader repeated louder. "Much better than those dirty mechanic clothes you walked in with."

Luke didn't doubt that. "Uh . . . sir? Why are you dressing me in clothes? Why am I here?"

"Ever considered modeling, Luke?" Vader asked.

"Me? No. No. I just work at my uncle's farm and do some part time at Fixer's Garage."

"Really? That is all you have ever thought about being? A farmer or a mechanic?"

"Not much else to be in Tatooine County," Luke said with a shrug. "Plus I thought models were tall and dashing. Like Han Solo."

Vader scoffed at the name. "Let me show you something boy," Vader said as he walked away. Luke followed. Vader led him over to a wall. On it was a large full-body photo of a woman. Luke recognized her from his New York state history class.

"That's Senator Amidala!" Luke said.

Vader nodded.

She was dressed in a stunning gown. The outer layer was a blue velvet while the inner dress looked like rippling flowing gold. The gold dress was high collared an elaborate black beaded necklace wrapped around her throat and draped down all the way to her chest.

"Did you . . . Did you design that outfit?" Luke asked.

A small soft laugh escaped Vader. Luke looked over to see him smiling.

"No," he said softly. "No, she was before my time as a designer."

Luke nodded. The senator had died tragically quite young at the end of the war twenty years ago. It was rumored she had been assassinated.

"But she was a leader in fashion. She was also small and petite. Size does not matter."

"Pfft," Luke said softly. "I mean no offense, sir, but . . . She is . . . amazing. Beautiful. I get the point you're trying to make. But to compare me to her . . . no offense but I'm just a simple farm boy. She's a goddess."

"A goddess? Yes she was," Vader said more to himself than to Luke. Luke wondered if perhaps Vader had known the senator. "But you do not recognize your own importance, Luke. You do not realize the power within yourself. You can be a force in fashion just as she was. I know this to be true."

"You know this?" Luke asked. "How?"

Vader smiled at him. "That is my power, young one. I know fashion."

Luke looked back over at the senator. Vader saw the same thing that was inside her inside of him? A simple boy? He tried to imagine himself as one of the models on the runway from the fashion show. He tried to imagined himself in Han's spot. It just seemed funny.

"I don't know," Luke said. "My uncle needs me on the farm . . ."

"Why is your uncle of importance?" Vader asked.

"Oh well he's my guardian. My parents died when I was born. My aunt and uncle raised me," Luke explained.

"I would think your guardians would want you to rise above your station," Vader said a bit coldly.

"I would just need some time to think about it," Luke said. "If you don't mind that is."

"I suppose that is fair," Vader said. He walked back over to his table and Luke followed behind. "What is your contact information?" Vader asked as he picked up his phone from the table. It felt so weird giving some famous guy his cell number. Luke listed his number to him. "Last name?" Vader asked.

"Oh, Skywalker." Vader eye's snapped up from his phone and zeroed in on Luke. Luke shifted uncomfortably on his feet. "Skywalker," Luke repeated in case Vader hadn't heard him. "Luke Skywalker."

"What were your the names of your aunt and uncle?" Vader asked. The tone had suddenly shifted. Vader was very serious. He almost seemed dangerous. Luke was unsure if he should answer.

"Umm Owen and Beru Lars," Luke said.

" . . . Lars?"

"Do- do you know them?" Luke asked recalling Vader had said he did know the Tatooine County area. Though it would be kind of odd to know of the Lars family.

"As in Cliegg Lars?" Vader asked.

"Oh that was my grandfather," Luke said a bit relieved as clearly Vader did know the family. How, was a mystery.

"Grand- grandfather?" Vader choked the word out.

"Yeah, he married my grandmother, Shmi."

Vader's face had gone pale. "Your . . . your grandmother Shmi. Was your . . . was your father . . . Anakin? Anakin Skywalker?"

"Oh? Did you know him?" Luke asked.

Vader was quiet for a long time. Luke didn't know what to do. Should he leave? By the time Luke got the nerve to say something, Vader spoke up. His words were dark and angry.

"I would like to speak with your uncle, young Skywalker. Owen Lars and I need to have some words."

Chapter Text

Darth Vader looked down at the small child. It had been a few months since Vader had discovered the truth. That his child, his son, had lived. The boy had been whisked away and kept from his father. But Vader had found out the truth and claimed the child as was his right.

"Father?" Luke asked. His big blue eyes looking up at the tall dark Sith lord. There was uncertainty there, but not due to fear as almost all others when looking at Vader. Luke had quickly overcome any fear towards his father. Something to this day Vader was honestly amazed by.

Luke was just little ball of joy and sunshine and love. Yes love. The little boy loved Vader. It sung triumphantly in the Force all around the child. Luke was a blessing. He was everything a child of Padme Amidala should be. Kind, sweet, caring, and loving. There was very little of the father in the child, which honestly Vader was thankful for. He liked Luke just the way he was.

"Yes Luke?" Vader replied.

"Your ship can go anywhere in the galaxy right?" Luke asked.

"Yes."

"Can it go to Rendili?"

"Any system you can name, this ship can go there," Vader replied. Luke took a step closer to his father. Vader asked, "But why Rendili?"

"There's a festival there," Luke explained. "I saw it on the holonet. It's the Festival of Harvest. The festival ends on Night of Spirits. Everyone dresses up in costumes! And they get sweets and candy if they do! I want to go!"

Vader's first instinct was at once to tell the boy no. The child had no concept of his own importance. A public festival would be a nightmare to keep Luke safe.

"Please, father," Luke begged. He leaned forward and grabbed one of Vader's large hands. Little fingers wrapped around black gloved ones.

"I will . . . think about it," Vader answered not having the heart to disappoint the child. "I will research this Festival of Harvest and Night of Spirits."

A huge smile spread across Luke's face. That was all it took for Vader to know he would be taking his son to Rendili.

Several days later Luke sat in Vader's lap at Vader's desk. They were shopping via the holonet for a costume. Vader had researched the Rendili holiday. Originally the idea had been to scare away evil spirits by dressing up in scary costumes, but over time that notion was lost. Now people dressed up in whatever costumes they desired.

Luke didn't seem all the interested in the creature costumes. There were costumes of nexus, rancors, gundarks, and more. Luke showed some interest in animal costumes such as loth cats, banthas, and convors. There were a dizzying amount of costumes. From plants, to famous holonet celebrities, to even food items.

After two hours of looking at countless costumes, Luke finally exclaimed, "That one! I want that one!"

"Are you sure?" Vader asked.

"Yes!" Luke said excitedly.

Vader eyed the costume. It was based on local Rindili legends. Something called a vampire. A humanoid with sharp teeth that went around biting people's necks to suck their blood.

"Didn't you like that loth cat costume?" Vader argued. Luke would look adorable in it.

"No," Luke said. "I want that one."

So Vader ordered the costume. The week before the festival, Luke spent a lot of time in his room. Each time Vader went in there Luke would shout at his father.

"You can't come in!" Luke said. "I'm working on my costume!"

At night when Luke was asleep, Vader would take a peek at the small desk in the child's room. All his saw was a mess of black fabric and cut up pieces of paper. Finally the day arrived. Luke was so excited, though Vader was not. He dreaded this trip. He loathed social functions. He hated the stares and whispers. But Luke glowed with happiness, and Vader didn't want to dim that light.

Vader held a black furry cloak in his hands. It was his costume. Some tusks had been attached to the hood to make it look like an animal. It would blend in decent enough with his suit.

"Luke?" Vader called. "Have you finished getting dressed yet?" Vader's star destroyer was in orbit over Rendili. A shuttle had been prepared to take Lord Vader and his son to the surface. It was time to depart.

"Yes!" Luke shouted.

The door to the child's room slid open and Luke marched out. He wore a black shirt and pants with the long black cloak that Vader recognized from the vampire costume. The child also had on black gloves and black boots. On his head he wore a black plastoid bucket. Tied around his face was a black paper mask Luke had cleary made himself. On his chest, he had tied a thin paper box with grey and red squares on it. Lastly he had a belt on with a cardboard tube painted silver hanging off of it.

It took a moment, but then Vader realized that Luke wasn't dressed up as some vampire humanoid.

"Do you like my costume?" Luke asked.

The only sound that came out of Vader was the hiss of his respirator. He looked down at his son unable to think of anything to say.

"I'm you!" Luke said joyously.

It became clear now why Luke wanted the vampire costume. It came with the black cloak. The child had made everything else. From the helmet to the mask to the control panel on his chest to the sloppily painted lightsaber. Luke walked up and grabbed his father's hand.

"We match!" Luke exclaimed.


Night had fallen on Rendili. The Night of Spirits had begun. People walked around in costumes carrying orange buckets made to look like local orange gourds. Others gave out sweets, which the festival-goers collected in their gourd buckets. Walking through the crowd was a very tall man holding the hand of a young boy. The boy happily swung his bucket that sloshed with collected treats.

Darth Vader was all too aware of all the stares and whispers. He hated it, but . . . he had to admit it was quite different to see people smiling and nodding at him. He had left the black furry cloak behind. He simply walked around in his suit. The festival goers thought his suit was his costume.

It was wrong. Vader was on to be feared. People shouldn't be shouting at him for a good costume. They should be shrinking away. Hiding their children behind them, not calling their children over to look at him. Vader's hand twitched next to his lightsaber. He was tempted to light it to show it was real, but the weight pulling his other hand kept him from taking such an action.

Luke tightly gripped his father's hand. Though Vader couldn't see Luke's face beyond his paper mask, he knew the boy was smiling from ear to ear. His happiness radiated into the Force causing it to ripple in the world around him. At the end of the night, Vader collected the child into his arms. Luke rested his head sleepily against his father's armored shoulders. Luke's mask had been shoved into his gourd sweet bucket. His eyes drooped as he yawned.

"Father?" Luke said sleepily.

"Yes?"

"Thank you."

Vader didn't reply. He just squeezed his son a bit tighter as he made his way back to his shuttle. The Night of Spirits was coming to an end. Vader thought about how originally the festival had started as a way to scare evil spirits away. Who else was scarier than Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith? And any evil spirits who came near his son wouldn't just be scared away, they would be destroyed. Vader wasn't going to let anything touch this precious child. A child who loved his father so much he wanted to dress up like him. Who didn't see the suit and the black mask as scary, but something he loved instead.

Chapter Text

 

Leia moved quickly through the great room. The young girl was small and few noticed her slip amongst the crowd. The tables were completely filled. The noise was loud. It was filled with people talking and laughing and clanking plates and cups. There were a few drunken tunes being sung here and there. Every now and then she could make out the sound of a fiddle or flute.

She carefully eyed the travelers as she made her way through the room. The soldiers of Alderaan wore the blue and white of her house. Plus she knew many of their faces. Instead she focused on the many visitors who had come into the palace with a visiting delegation from Chandrila.

She finally spotted what she was looking for. He was a dark skinned man in a patch quilt cloak. A small group of drunks gathered around him as told some lewd tale of a fair maid and a stupid knight. He finished his tale and the crowd dispatched. Most likely off to get more drinks and food. Leia at once placed herself in front of the storyteller.

"I'd like a story please," Leia said.

The storyteller looked at her. He looked annoyed. He was most likely looking for a drink and a rest before he rounded up the next crowd. But he smiled when Leia held up a gold coin. The man quickly pocketed it.

"What kind of story do you want milady?" he asked. "One of dashing knights and evil fairies? Perhaps you would like to hear of the great forests of Kashyyyk and the giant Wookies?"

"I want a story about the dragon," Leia said.

"I know many stories about dragons!" the storyteller said. "The great krayt that swallowed an ocean whole!"

"No," Leia said a bit sternly. "I want to hear about the dragon."

The storyteller paused. "Surely . . . you don't want to hear about the Sith dragon."

Leia smiled and nodded. She had always been fascinated about the story about the Sith dragon. Her father and mother hated her fascination. They banned all stories and books about the subject. Official minstrels and visiting acts were warned beforehand. As such Leia had to wait for moments like these when storytellers and jesters got swept in with a large crowd.

"Very well," the storyteller said. "But this it not a happy tale."

"I know," Leia said. She had heard the story a hundred times and a hundred different ways. Each story was different. There was always something added or taken away, but she loved hearing them all.

"Ages ago, in the time of early man," the teller started, "was the time of dragons."


Ages ago, in the time of early man, was the time of dragons. Skywalkers as they were called. Great beasts who took to the sky. They were able to harness the magic of the earth. The Force. They taught their secrets to man, to the Jedi Knights. But some knights grew jealous. They thought the skywalkers were keeping secrets from them. Withholding techniques of the Force. These knights turned the world of man against the dragons and thus the dragon hunts began.

It was thought that all the true and proper skywalkers were killed off. There were still dragons. The krayts of the desert. The sandos of the lakes and oceans. But none of these could fly. None of them were smart. None of them could use the Force. And time continued. Only the Jedi Knights knew the secrets of the Force. The great dragon skywalkers were a thing of stories and myths.

Now out in the east, there was a beautiful and peaceful country of Naboo. It was known as the land of hundred lakes and waterfalls. It was a rich and bountiful land. At the time, a girl had ascended the throne. She was Queen Amidala. However shortly upon her crowning, her country was invaded by Neimoidia. The young queen fled for her life, but the Neimoidians gave chase.

The queen had a four handmaids that were chosen due to the likeness to the queen. The queen and the handmaids each dressed in the same outfit. Then they split into five separate groups to confuse the pursuing enemy. The real queen fled into the Tatooine desert, but the Neimodians sent a fierce Dathomirian assassin who was not tricked by the queen's ruse. He chased after her into the canyons of the desert. Right when she thought she would die by the assassin's blade, a beast swooped down and killed the assassin.

The beast was like none the young queen knew to exist, but had seen in plenty of paintings. It was a skywalker dragon. He had gold scales and blue eyes the color of the sky. Then she noticed a shackle around his leg with a long chain connected to it. The skywalker was trapped in the canyon by a cruel Toydarian peddler. The young queen freed the dragon from his chains and the two flew to great island city of Coruscant.

Now in Coruscant there meets the Great Assembly. They say 2,000 nations and tribes meet in the great rotunda there. Queen Amidala pleaded her case to the Assembly, but the Neimoidians had representatives there. They said the queen was lying for she had no proof of an invasion. Behind the queen stood a boy with gold hair and blue eyes, and suddenly he transformed into a dragon. He said he knew the queen was not lying and would accompany her back to her nation.

Seeing a real dragon, the great Jedi Knights sent two of their own with the queen and the dragon. The company returned to Naboo, and with the aid of the dragon and the knights, the queen was able to liberate her country from the Neimoidians. With peace restored, the Jedi asked the young dragon if he would return to their temple back in Coruscant. In his human form, he could learn to be a Jedi Knight. The boy agreed and bid farewell to Naboo and the lovely queen.

Time went on. Skywalker grew older into a Jedi Knight. Eventually he crossed paths with Queen Amidala again. The two fell in love, but such a thing was forbidden for a Jedi Knight. They were sworn to their Order and weren't allowed to marry, but Skywalker and the queen married in secret. However soon the Great Trade Wars spread across the land. Skywalker became a great general and was known as the Hero With No Fear. Whenever he could, he would sneak off and spend time with his wife.


The storyteller paused. A few others had gathered around during his story, but he eyed Leia. "Girl," he said, "Are you sure you wish to hear this story? It's not one for young maids."

"I already know how it ends," Leia said. "Everyone does."

The storyteller nodded. A sad look crossed his face. He took a deep breath and continued.


Queen Amidala grew pregnant with Skywalker's child, but since their marriage was forbidden she hid all signs of it the best she could. However, eventually the Jedi Order found out the truth. They confronted the queen. There was an argument, which led to a fight. In the end, the lovely Queen Amidala of Naboo was dead. Her child with her.

When Skywalker saw his dead wife, he was overcome with grief and rage. His once golden scales turned black. His blue eyes turned a red gold color. No longer was he a skywalker, but a Sith dragon who they called Vader. Vader flew to Coruscant and attacked the Jedi temple. His mighty roar brought flames that towered into the sky. Boats said they could see the glow from Kuat and Corellia. All within the temple perished. No one survived, not even the younglings.

But Vader was not finished. As you may recall, the dragons were the original users of the Force. Skywalker and thus Vader had abilities beyond any other Jedi Knight. Somehow the mighty Sith infected the minds of the soldiers serving under the Jedi generals. A single order filled their minds: to kill the Jedi. The soldiers carried this order out without hesitation. It was only after the Jedi lay dead, did the soldiers realize what had happened.

With the majority of the Jedi dead, Vader returned to Naboo. There he mourned his wife. His grief created a poison across the land. His rage turned the hundred lakes and waterfalls into boiling lava. The land became blackened and barren. The beautiful palace in Theed transformed into a tall towering black fortress where Vader lives to this day. No longer do they call the land Naboo. It is now Mustafar, land of the Sith dragon. Home of Vader.


"To this day the dragon still flies from his fortress," the storyteller said. "Sometimes he attacks places where there are rumored to be hiding Jedi. Sometimes no one knows why the horrible creature descends upon a town or city. Many brave knights and hunters have set forth to Mustafar to slay the beast, but none have been successful. None have returned. It is said that only a Jedi Knight's crystal saber could pierce a dragon's scales. Now that there are no Jedi, there is no one to craft the kyber crystals into glowing swords."

The storyteller sighed. "We can only hope that one day the dragon's anger will finally die out."

The storyteller nodded at Leia and moved off to get a drink. The small crowd that had gathered went back to their own food and drinks, expect for one man in a hooded cloak who seemed lost in thought. Leia was losing herself in her own thoughts. She was comparing and contrasting the story she had just heard to all the others stories about Vader.

There were many different variations. There were some that said the Jedi Knights were already in Naboo when the Neimoidians attacked and were with Amidala when she was in the desert. Some stories included Skywalker's mother, who was a human slave who had to be left behind. There were also sometimes tales of how Skywalker was forced to compete in races against horse riders through the canyons.

There were tons of details that got added or taken away, but the core of the story remained. There was something about that story that resonated within Leia. She didn't know why, but the story of the dragon always fascinated her and annoyed her parents. They said it wasn't healthy or proper for her to focus on such things. She was a princess, and needed to focus on her studies. On her country. Her people.

The cloaked man made a grumbling noise bringing Leia out of her thoughts. She looked up at him. He was tall. His hood was deep which casted his face in shadow. His was looking at her. It set a shiver up her back. His eyes . . . were they gold in color?

"Tell me you do not believe in that fool's tale, girl," the man said to her. His voice was rich and deep.

"Some of it has to be true," Leia replied. It had to be. Her father was on the city island when Vader attacked the Jedi Temple. King Bail Organa had gone to the temple to help the Jedi, but the flames were too strong. The city guard turned him away.

"Perhaps there is a sliver of truth in there."

"Regardless it's just so sad."

". . . sad?"

"Yes, sad. That the dragon's wife and child died. He was just lonely and sad."

The man took a long look at Leia. "I have heard that story a great many times. Afterwards people usually curse the Sith's name. Never have I heard anyone symphansize with the dragon."

Leia shrugged. "What would you do?" she asked. "If the one you loved was killed by your own people? The people who raised you and you fought besides?"

"I do not have to wonder such things, child," the man said in a very soft voice that Leia almost didn't hear.

"Ahem," came a voice from behind her. Leia turned around and looked up at the Captain of the Royal Guard.

"Captain Antilles," Leia said. "I hope you are having a good night."

"Princess Leia. It is time to bid your guests good night," the captain said sternly.

Leia bobbed her head at the tall man and allowed herself to be lead away from the great hall. It was late, so when she got back to her room she crawled into bed. Her thoughts were of dragons and queens and knights as she drifted to sleep.

She awoke to the bright warm light of day. But as her eyes looked up at the ceiling, she noticed dark shadows still clung to the walls. It was still night, but warm light flooded in from the window. That was when she noticed the flames. That was when she heard the screams. At once she jumped from her bed and raced to the window. The palace was on fire! Flames stretched high into the night sky.

A great shadow moved through the flames. Large black wings spread out. A black head with spikes and sharp teeth reared back. A horrible roar filled the air causing Leia to flinch. The very walls and windows shook and rattled from the sound. Then fire poured out of the mouth of the great beast. It was Vader. The sith dragon. He was here!

"Princess!"

Captain Antilles barged into the room. His guard tunic was scorched and tattered. He had a large cut on his upper arm and his face was dirty and bloodied.

"Come princess!" he shouted as he marched into the room and grabbed Leia by the arm. He pulled her out of her room and down the hall. Her bare feet slapped against the stone tile of the palace hallways. The captain often had to change their path due to flames, smoke, or collapsed hallways. But eventually they made it down into one of the large cellars.

It was quiet and cool down here. The air was still nice. The cellar was currently empty. It usually held crates and barrels, but those had been given to the Chandrilans. Now the large room was bare, except for the group of people on the far end.

"Mother! Father!" Leia cried seeing her parents. At once she saw the queen and king turn to face Leia. Both of them smiled.

"Leia!" her mother called and took a step forward towards the girl. But then she stopped suddenly. The queen's eyes grew large as did the king's.

Leia looked up at Captain Antilles. He no longer was holding her by her arm. His hands were by his throat. They were grasping and clawing. His face was white. His eyes large and round. He made short choking sounds. Slowly he started to rise. His feet left the floor, but the captain didn't seem to notice. His hands still grabbed at his throat. Then suddenly a sharp snapping sound was heard. The captain's hands fell limp to his side. Then his whole body flew to the ground as if casually flung to the side.

Leia wrapped her arms around her as she stared at the captain's unmoving form. She glanced back over at her parents on the other side of the large storage room. She was going to walk over to them, but found her feet couldn't move.

"You will not go back to them, child."

She turned her head to see a man walk into the room. It was the same man who had listened to the storyteller's dragon story. Except now his hood pooled on his shoulders. She could see his long curly hair and a scar that slashed by his right eye. But most alarming were the eyes. Golden red eyes that glowed. Eyes that were focused right on Leia.

"Leia!" Queen Breha shouted.

"Vader!" King Bail shouted. "Let go of my daughter!"

"She is not yours!" Vader roared. His voice seemed much louder than a man's should be. It shook the air. "You stole her! She is mine!" Vader came to a stop besides Leia. His gold eyes looked down at her. As her eyes met his, his eyes softened. She could see it. She could feel it. There was a deep sadness in those eyes, but also a deep love. A black gloved hand came out of Vader's cloak and rested on her shoulder.

"She is a daughter of Alderaan," King Bail said as he took two steps forward. "She is my daughter despite whatever you may claim."

The softness in Vader's eyes instantly disappeared. His pupils turned into slits. His lips curled in a snarl and Leia noticed sharp teeth.

"She is a dragon," Vader hissed. "A skywalker. A creature of the air. Let me show you."

"No!" Queen Breha shouted.

But Vader ignored the cry. He looked down at Leia again. Her brown eyes were wide as she looked up at the silted eyes of the Sith dragon. Slowly his gloved hand rose, and he gently pressed a finger right in the middle of Leia's forehead. She took a deep breath and her eyes slid shut. There was something ringing inside of her. Like a large bell. She could feel the vibrations humming inside of her. They were growing louder and louder.

Change, came a dark deep voice.

Her body grew warmer and warmer. It felt like she was in a really hot bath. As if she was melting into the water. Her body was moving, changing. The ringing in her mind continued to grow louder and louder. Then it faded away. The heat cooled. When she opened her eyes she noticed she was now on the floor. She felt the cool stones against her belly.

She looked up to see Vader staring wide eyed at her. There was a look of shock on him as he stared down at her. Leia turned her head to look at her parents, but as she did . . . Her body was wrong. Something was off. Then she saw it. The white scales. The white leathery wings. Then she felt it. Those were her scales. Her wings.

At once her head whipped around to take stock of her body. No longer was the body of a girl, but that of a dragon. She tried to move, but her body felt heavy. It wasn't responding. It felt so off. How did she move wings? And a tail?

But it also felt so right. This was her. She was a dragon. A skywalker.

It is all right, came a soothing deep voice. Vader was slowly approaching. This is just the first time in this body. You will eventually learn to move.

Vader walked up and his glove hands reached down to her face. His hands rested gently on her . . . her snout? Is that what she had now in this body? He gently stroked her.

Beautiful, he said softly. You are so beautiful.

She looked into his gold eyes. She felt pulled into them. She could feel him. Not just his human body, but . . . beyond that. He was large. Fierce. Dark. Cold and hot at the same time. And horribly powerful. She could also feel her parents behind her. They were so small and weak compared to the tempest before her. She could also feel the hum of life above her. She could feel lives fading out as they fell to the fires.

Was this the Force? The magic of the earth and life?

She also felt the truth. This man in front of her was not just a man. He was a dragon. He was her father. There was a connection between them. It was now growing larger and larger. She could feel her father's sharp cold presence digging into her mind. She winced, but he didn't retreat. Then she felt like something locked into place.

Vader, in his human form, leaned forward and kissed Leia's snout. You need to change back, he said softly. Change.

Again she could feel her body warming up. No. No! She didn't want to go back to being a human! Not yet! She wanted to stay like this. But her body grew warmer and warmer. She could feel the wings getting smaller and smaller. Until finally she was just a heap of human flesh curled up on a cold floor.

Something heavy fell over her body. She saw the heavy black fabric pool around her. "Here," a came a soft but deep whisper. Hands gently pulled her up and wrapped the large cloak around her. She was cradled against Vader's- her father's- chest. Hot tears formed in her eyes and started to burn down her cheeks. She couldn't stop her sobbing.

How different it was to be human! She had felt so much as a dragon! It felt so right. And now she was so little and that power . . . that power she felt inside of herself. It had dimmed so much. So she cried. She didn't know what else to do. She felt lips gently press against her cheek where her tears burned her skin.

It is ok, little one, Vader's voice said into her mind. She just curled up and buried her face into his chest and neck. His arms tightened around her.

"Let go of her!" she heard her father . . . her other father, King Bail, shout.

"No," Vader hissed. She again heard the deep ring of a bell, but this one was much deeper. The body she was pressed against was growing hotter and hotter. It was changing. It was growing larger. The arms holding her were growing thicker. The fabric faded away and black scales replaced it. The hands were growing longer. The fingers grew into large sharp claws. In mere moments she was no longer being cradled by a man, but being held in the large claw of a dragon. A Sith.

The room was too small. The dragon had to crouch low. His back and head scraped against the ceiling. Dust fell everywhere. Leia was pressed firmly against the dragon's smooth belly scales. But they were growing warmer and hotter. She could feel the power humming inside. She twisted in the great claw. It wasn't easy. The black cloak and the scaled fingers made it hard for her to turn, but she managed. She peered through two of the scaled fingers. She saw her parents. Their faces etched in horror as the fire poured down on them.

She saw the blackened forms dance amongst the flames. Their flailing arms waved erratically. Luckily she couldn't hear their screams over the roar of the flames and the humming of the power inside the dragon holding her. Tears came to her again. She pressed her cheek against the hard finger of the dragon. Her thoughts were of dragons and a queen and a king as she drifted to sleep.


The night air felt good across his scales and wings. He loved flying. He always had. There was a peace to the sky that didn't exist on the land. He watched the farmlands go by below. The flames and smoke of the Alderaan palace had been left far behind. He was making his way home, back to Mustafar, but not alone. Darth Vader, the Sith dragon, slowly landed in a large field. He had to be careful. He had to do the landing with only three legs as his fourth leg held something very precious. Slowly he brought his large taloned claw away from his chest and uncurled his paw.

Laying asleep in his hand was the girl. His girl. His daughter. He lowered his head down and gently sniffed her. He reached out in to the Force. She was deep asleep. He slowly curled his claws back around her and brought his paw back to rest against his chest. There she would be warm. With a powerful lunge, he was back into the sky again making his way back home.

The sun had risen when the landscape below him changed. The green farmlands changed into brown grass lands and then into blackened rocks. The rivers and creeks started to boil and bubble until they turned into streams of lava. Then Vader saw his home. His fortress. A tall black tower that sat on the edge of a cliff. A lava waterfall flowing out the center of the fortress.

The fortress stood where once the palace of Theed sat. The rest of the city was half consumed by black flowing lava rocks. Vader landed in the courtyard of his fortress. Slowly he transformed back into his human form. He made sure he kept a tight hold of the girl. He adjusted his grip and held her small form with both of his arms.

His fortress was made to accommodate his large dragon form. It would be faster for him to move as a dragon, but with only three legs it would make his gait awkward and slow. So instead her carried his daughter into her new home as a human. He didn't make his up to the tower, instead he wound his way down into the earth itself. Tunnels wound into the rock creating a labyrinth only he knew how to navigate. The air grew warmer as they approached underground rivers of lava.

Finally he walked around a sharp curve into a large cavern. On one far wall stood an open pool of lava steaming and boiling. Next to it was the nest. Vader had collected large smooth rocks and formed them into the circle. Then he lined the nest with furs and skins of beasts he had hunted and ate. He stopped in front of the nest and placed Leia on the ground.

Unlike the Alderaan palace, the ground here was warm. The girl didn't stir. Vader took a moment to take a good look at her. She was so much like her mother. It was almost painful for Vader. He reached out into the Force along their newly created bond. He triggered her transformation. Slowly her body shifted into that of a small dragon.

Her scales were white with a bit of an iridescent sheen to it. She blinked her eyes sleepily as the change had awoken her. Her eyes had been the same as her mother's. A rich brown. But as a dragon they took on the proper skywalker color, sky blue. Vader wasted no time in switching back to a dragon. It was time they met as dragon to dragon. She was so small compared to his massive size. He sniffed and gently prodded her with his snout along her body. Then he started to groom her. She smelled like Alderaan.

Vader was gently licking along her back when she let out a small squeak. She still hadn't quite figured out how to move in her dragon body, except for her head. Her blue eyes looked back at him. He could feel her needs through their bond. He let a small snort. A laugh. She was hungry. Hanging on a wall near the lava pit were smoked and dried carcasses of cattle and other animals Vader had hunted. None were human. While he would eat humans, they were too small and not worth saving.

He pulled down a cow carcass and pulled some meat free. He chewed as he walked back to the girl, then spit it out right in front of her. Her head snapped back. She recoiled from the sight. Her human logic kicking in. One did not eat food another had spit out. But the smell of meat was filling his nose. She was still too new to being a dragon to properly eat food thus why he had softened it up for her. She sniffed the meat cautiously. She licked it, and eventually her hunger won out.

Once she had been fed and cleaned, Vader gently picked her up back the scruff of her neck and carried her to the nest. Her placed her on the side of the nest as he started to dig through the furs. He shoved his nose into the furs as he smelled and searched the nest. Eventually his nose brushed against smooth scales. Very gently he dug and shifted the furs out of the way.

Vader's son was curled up at the bottom of the nest. He looked like Vader once had. Golden scales and blue eyes. He was small and tiny just like his twin sister. Vader gently nudged him awake. Luke let out a small squeaky huff in protest of being woken up and being cold.

Wake up, Luke, Vader said. There is someone here to meet you.

Luke blinked up at his father confused. The child knew there were no others here. It was him and his father. That's when he saw her at the edge of the nest. She had been quiet the whole time. Her eyes were on him. Vader could feel Luke's surprise in the Force. He could sense Luke reaching out towards Leia curiously at this new dragon. Once he touched her, felt her, he knew instantly she was his sister.

Luke let out a small squeak of happiness. He jumped up and hopped over to her. He squeaked a few times and stomped his feet at her to show how happy he was to meet her. Then he settled down and waited for her to greet him back. His body hummed with excitement. He could barely sit still. But Leia did not know the ways of dragons. She couldn't even move her body yet.

Luke. Leia, he said to both of them. Both sets of blue dragon eyes fell on him. You two are twins. Brother and sister. Luke, this is Leia's first time in her dragon form. She has much to get used to.

Luke looked back over at Leia curiously. Vader grabbed Leia and pulled her gently into the center of the nest. Luke followed along. Vader tucked her wing's to her side and helped her curl up. Luke curled up beside her. Once the two little ones were settled Vader gently clawed at the furs and piled them up, around, and eventually on top of the children.

Little dragons couldn't create heat within their cores. They got cold easily. They liked to stay warm, especially when they slept. The warm air and rocks along with the furs was the perfect nest for them. He felt their minds as they both drifted to sleep. He was tempted to curl up alongside the nest and sleep with them, but not now. Not yet. He moved to the entrance of the cavern. He glanced back at the nest where his children slept, before he turned back and left.

He had to make sure this place was still safe and secure. He would do his rounds of his fortress and of the ruins of Theed. Once he knew there were no dangers could he rest. He already lived through losing everything once. It changed him. His burning heart of a skywalker had cooled and hardened. His scales blackened. His eyes reddened. He thought he knew what cold was, but it was so different. He was dying, but he wouldn't give in until he had his revenge.

He kept the fire burning inside of him so he could burn down the Jedi Temple. Burn down Theed. And when the burning finally stopped, he was finally ready to let the cold take over. He would die and join his wife and child. As the ice was about to fully claim his insides, he felt something warm brush against his mind. It was small, so very small and fragile. He ignored it. He was ready to die. But it came again and again.

Annoyed he reached out into the Force. That was when he felt it. When he felt Luke for the first time. His child lived! It had been a battle to reignite the fire with himself, but he did it. Then he found his son. Then one night as Luke slept, he felt a brush again against his mind. It wasn't from Luke. That was he realized he had two children. Twins.

It had taken Vader years to finally locate Leia. But finally . . . finally they were all together. The last of the skywalkers. Vader would watch and protect his children. Their fate would be different from his. They wouldn't know the coldness like he had. They would be beautiful, strong, and free skywalker dragons. Free to fly. Free to love and have children. He would make sure of it. Even if that meant burning the rest of the world down.

Chapter Text

Bixene Rubix was a trust fund baby, yet still aspired to be a singer. She had a decent voice, and her first single had hit the top 10 in the pop charts. Though it wasn't due to singing prowess, but more due to the easy catchy tune. Bixene would be attending her first big award show, and of course she wanted to wear a Vader. She stood in front of a series of mirrors in a private room in Vader Studios. It was the final fitting. The award show was only a week away.

Luke thought she was a good looking young woman. Tan skin. Straight long blonde hair. Her nose was too big though. She was also on the tall side. In her heels she towered over him. She looked like the type of woman who had to struggle to keep her thin shape. He thought she would look better with a bit of a fuller figure. Some curves would suit her well.

Her Vader dress was sleeveless with a plunging neckline. The straps were a nude color made to match Bixene's skin. Gold and bronze scales started at her chest and thickened until they merged in a lovely metallic pattern. The dress tightened around her waist and then flooded out. The metallic scales again tapered away to a beautiful dark gold fabric.

Bixene swayed back and forth in front of the mirror as she examined the dress from different angles. The entire room was quiet except for the soft swoosh of the dress and light tinkles of the scales hitting each other. Luke sat on a stool near the back wall, and he examined the others in the room.

There was of course the world renowned fashion designer Darth Vader, whom Luke had recently learned was his father. He wore his normal all black and plain but well tailored clothing. His dark blonde hair fell in well groomed waves and curls. His face was stern. He always looked stern. Han Solo said that the old man had a resting b*tch face. Luke couldn't argue for that was the mask Vader showed the world, but it wasn't the one he showed his son. If Luke was honest, he had been scared and a bit intimidated by his father at first. But Vader had a soft caring side. He could also be a bit goofy. Like the goofiness you would expect from a father. It felt good. It felt right.

But here at his work, Darth Vader was completely serious. He had looped his thumbs into his belt as he silently watched Bixene. There were a few assistants standing around. Troopers they called themselves. Always running out to the frontline. There was Piett, his father's assistant. His hand was in his pocket clutching his phone. He was ready for anything and everything. There was also a small entourage that had come with Bixene.

The singer pursed her lips. Her brows furrowed, and Luke frowned. He could sense it, the upcoming storm. She placed her hands on her hips and did a twirl to face Vader causing the dress to dramatically spin in the air and settle at her feet. Vader was unphased. He stood unmoving.

"I don't like it," Bixene announced. She was projecting every bit of her arrogant spoiled rich girl fearless attitude. "The neckline should be lower. Also maybe a slit. Or two. These legs have been working too hard to hide under all this fabric."

Bixene seemed to be completely unaware how the rest of the room had tensed up. The troopers stood on the balls of the feet. Piette squeezed his phone tighter and pulled it up to the cusp on his pocket's opening. Bixene's entourage casted nervous glances amongst each other. Vader was the only who hadn't changed. He stood unmoving.

"These alterations shouldn't take that long," Bixene continued. "You should be able to complete them for the show."

"No." Vader's voice was deep and dark. It almost seemed like with that one word, everyone in the room had stopped breathing. All eyes had turned to him.

Bixene cocked her head to the side as she placed her hands on her hips. "No?"

"There will be no alterations," Vader said.

"Excuse me? I am not going on the red carpet in this."

"Then don't."

Bixene took in a sharp breath of air.

"I do not do alterations, girl. Wear it or do not. There will be no changes," Vader said. That was simply how Vader designed. You either loved what he did or didn't. He was rarely wrong in his assessment of what was needed for a design. He was a great designer. He knew how to read a body and make stunning clothes for it. He easily foresaw fashion trends. His creations never made a worst dressed list.

"This is my dress. I have already paid $20,000 for it. If I want it turned into a mini skirt and a tube top, it damn well will be that."

"It is not your dress," Vader replied. For the first time he moved. He brought his hand up and pointed at her. "That $20,000 was a down payment. It was for supplies and man hours. It was in the contract you signed. To actually own that dress, it would be another $30,000. Right now, that dress is still mine."

Bixene's eyes widened. Her perfectly lip glossed mouth fell open, but she quickly recovered. Her mouth close and twisted into a scowl. She bent over and grabbed fistfulls of the skirt. Then she turned and marched towards the door. The room exploded into a flurry of motion. The troopers jumped to the door, barring her exit. Piett's phone was already up to his ear as he called security.

"Out of the way!" Bixene shouted at the assistants blocking the door. "This is my dress and I'm leaving with it!"

Luke had been so focused on Bixene, that he hadn't noticed his father move. For someone who was tall and dark and demanded so much attention, he could move fast and stealthy if he wanted to. A small shiver ran through Luke as he knew it was from Vader's past experience. When he had gone by the name Anakin Skywalker. When had been a JEDI Knight. The elite of the elite of the military.

Vader grabbed Bixene's arm and spun her around. He pulled out his scissors and with one clean swipe, the dress was cut right down the side on the seem. Bixene gasped as she saw the dress fall open revealing her body. At once she let go of the skirt and grabbed at the dress to bring it together. Vader took the opportunity and grabbed a fistful of the dress. He slashed the dress again with his scissors right across the middle almost severing the dress in two. Metallic scales scattered across the floor. Luke could easily make out of the soft pinging noise they made as they hit the floor.

At once the dress left a huge gapin hole revealing Bixene's not very tasteful underwear on display to the whole room. Her face had gone red. Her mouth open and gaping, but no sounds came out except a strange choking noise.

"Walk out of here with that dress if you wish," Vader said. He glanced over at Luke. It was a look that said it all. Luke slid off his stool and was at once taking large strides to catch up with his father as he left the room. Vader stormed down the halls. Any who saw him knew to flatten themselves to the wall and let him pass undisturbed. He marched up the stairs to his private office and design studio where it was empty and quiet. It was just the two of them.

Vader plopped onto a large gray sofa by one of the large windows. He slumped into the cushions and let his head hang back. Luke quietly sat on a large armchair opposite of him.

"You disagree," Vader said softly. He lifted his head to look over at his son.

"I don't know if that was the . . . the best way to handle it," Luke said.

"And how would you have handled it?" Vader said as he sat up a bit straighter. "Let her go? Sue her for not following the contract?"

Luke looked down at his lap.

"I have done this a long time, Luke. I would much rather deal with an angry little wannabe starlet than have one of my designs walk out of here without my permission."

"What if she sues you?"

Vader let out a small laugh. "Whatever legal team her daddy has is nothing compared to mine."

Luke could personally attest to that. When Vader revealed Luke was his son, at once the designer wanted Luke to be apart of his family. Luke was nineteen, legally an adult. There would be no custody battles. Instead Vader reworked his will and holdings to include his son. Overnight Luke had gone from having nothing but a patched-up skyhopper to his name to having millions of dollars and being a significant shareholder in all of Vader's companies.

Luke had been surprised by all the different companies Vader owned. It wasn't just his high end fashion line. He owned a few fashion lines, including some that were much more reasonable priced. It was actually these lines that brought in a lot of money for Vader. Though the one that surprised Luke the most was the Empire luxury car company.

That fateful day Luke and Vader met in this same studio, Vader had dragged Luke to the parking garage. He was going to drive the boy to Anchorhead to speak with his uncle at once. Luke was gaping as Vader pushed him into the passenger seat of a black TIE Advanced X1. Vader was saying something to Luke, but he wasn't paying attention. Instead his hands were gently gliding over the smooth black leather. He eyed the dashboard and the gearshift. Later when Vader told Luke he owned the Empire car company and also designed the cars, Luke was left completely speechless.

In the studio, Vader had pulled out his scissors. They were the strangest pair of scissors Luke had ever seen, especially since they were made from a rare red crystal. Supposedly the scissors were very sharp. Vader had a special leather hilt made for them and carried them on his belt. The sunlight was coming through the window. The way it hit the blades made the scissors almost seem to glow red. Vader sighed as he tucked the scissors away.

"My mood had been soured," he said as he looked back at Luke. "I will get no more work done here today. Let us return home."

Luke only nodded as he got up and collected his coat and scarf from his desk. He wasn't sure why he had been given a desk here. Not like he knew anything about designing clothes, but Vader had wanted to include and welcome Luke in all facets of his life. Including giving him a spot in his personal and private studio.

The father and son walked quietly to the elevator. Two large men in black waited by doors. All four entered the elevator quietly. Vader had just finished buttoning up his jacket when he glanced over at Luke. The boy noticed his father's frown. At once Vader tugged on Luke's sleeve so Luke would face him. The designer spent the rest of the elevator ride adjusting Luke's coat and tying the knot in his scarf so it would look just right. As the doors opened, Vader gave a small smile and nod. Luke was presentable.

And presentable he needed to be. Waiting by the front doors of the skyscraper that housed Vader Studios stood a throng of paparazzi. The two bodyguards that had come down with them, at once took positions in front and behind them. As the bodyguard opened the door, a cacophony of shouts and camera shutters blasted against Luke's ears. Vader looped his arm through Luke's and tightly pulled him to his side.

"Luke!"

"Prince Luke!"

"Luke! Over here!"

"Luke! Prince Luke."

The group pushed pass the throng into the waiting white Empire AT-AT SUV. The sound of the paparazzi didn't die out until they had driven away.

"I wish they didn't call me that," Luke said softly. He and Vader sat in the backseat. He could feel his father's gaze on him.

"That is what you are," Vader replied softly.

The rest of the ride was in quiet. Luke was glad that the parking garage to Vader's apartment was underground and private. He didn't have to deal with the paparazzi as they exited the car and made the long ride up in the elevator to the penthouse suite. Luke said nothing. He heard the whistle of Artoo and Threepio's greeting, but responded to neither. He went straight to his room. He ripped off his coat and scarf and fell face first onto his bed.

It was hard to believe his life just three months ago had been so different. He had just been a farm boy working at a car shop half time. Now? Now he was a millionaire. Now he was royalty. Actual royalty. He hadn't just inherited his father's clothing empire, but he also got his mother's legacy.

Padmé Amidala. He knew about her. She had been a young and famous senator of New York who died tragically and young at the end of the war. Like Luke, she hadn't been raised as royalty. She had been raised as Padmé Naberrie, a well known Nubian family. But when the old queen died and left a vacant spot on the throne, it was revealed the Padmé was actually an illegitimate daughter of the late king. At fourteen, she took the throne. She would eventually abdicate, handing the throne over to a cousin, relocate to the US, and become a senator. She would also secretly marry Anakin Skywalker.

Luke had stayed up light into the night texting. Mainly he talked to his best friend from Anchorhead, Biggs Darklighter, and Han Solo. The fashion model and Luke had become close friends over the few months since their meeting had started the chain events that led to Luke finding his father. Han kept wanting Luke to meet his girlfriend, Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan.

He woke up groggy the next morning. The sun was already a decent way up the horizon, but still peaking through the New York City skyline. He checked his phone, and the alarm was turned off. Odd, he hadn't turned it off last night. He had been accompanying his father to work everday, and Vader was an early riser. Luke shuffled into the kitchen.

Threepio and Artoo sat at the table drinking coffee together. While Vader had no other biological family, he did have these two as his family of sorts. When Vader had gone by Anakin, he had been born to an immigrant mother who had come to the United States illegally as a victim of sex trafficking. Threepio had been adopted into the family when Anakin was a child and his mother still nothing more than a slave. Threepio had stayed with the Lars after Anakin left to attend the prestigious military Temple Academy and Shmi married Cliegg Lars. Threepio was a pale tall man with bright blond hair. He liked to wear outlandishly yellow or gold outfits. Though sometimes he opted for a more subtle grey or silver.

Artoo had been Luke's mother's companion at first. He was a short African man. He had been born with white hair and bright blue eyes. The people of his tribe thought he had been touched by the gods. They had cut off pieces of him to cook into potions to heal the sick or give power to the healthy. It was why he was unable to talk and had several prosthetics. Like Threepio, he seemed to favor certain colors. He wore a lot of white with accented blue and black.

The two had been the only ones aware of Padmé and Anakin's secret marriage. They were the only witnesses to it besides the priest. Even back then they were a family. The four of them, and it continued to be so after Padmé's death. Though Luke doubted any of its members actually called it that. Technically Threepio was Vader's butler. Artoo a personal assistant. Though Artoo didn't act like one. Mostly he sat at a computer. He was supposedly a master slicer.

"Master Luke!" Threepio said happily. "Good morning!"

Luke had asked Threepio to just call him Luke, but Threepio just continued to use the title. Artoo whistled a happy greeting. He often communicated via whistles and clicks. It almost seemed to be a whole language that both Vader and Threepio seemed to understand.

"I shall get breakfast going at once," Threepio said as he got and walked off to the kitchen. Artoo picked up his phone and started tapping away at it. Luke reached for the nearby slender remote of the tv mounted to the wall. He clicked it on, but right as he did so Artoo let out a sharp warning whistle. Luke looked over at him questioningly. Artoo just shook his head sadly.

Luke looked over at the TV. It was the news featuring him. Artoo had known what the TV was going to show when Luke turned it on. Had Artoo and Threepio been watching this? It showed the scenes from yesterday of Luke and Vader exiting the building into their waiting car.

"Luke Skywalker continues to be seen with his father, fashion designer Darth Vader. Is Vader grooming his recently found son to take over his brand? Will the little prince become a fashion emperor?"

Luke moaned and clicked off the TV. Artoo whistled as if saying "I told you not to watch." When the media found out that Vader had a secret child, Vader decided to put to rest any rumors that would spring up about Luke's legitimacy. It meant revealing he was the well-known and assumed-dead war general known as the Hero With No Fear. It also meant revealing Anakin Skywalker and Padmé Amidala had been lawfully married. Luke was not a bastard.

Neither Luke nor Vader had expected the Nubian response. Padmé, despite her scandalous claim to the throne, had been a much loved queen. Since his mother had been queen, the nickname of prince quickly stuck in the press. Luke had no claim to the throne. Despite that, he had met with the queen and she had welcomed him to the family as well as made him an official citizen of Naboo.

He had also met his mother's family. Luke had been nervous. What would the Naberrie family think of him? He was just some poor American farm boy. He met his grandparents first. The moment they saw him, their eyes watered as they pulled Luke into a big hug. The whole family had been so happy and accepting of Luke, including his mother's sister and her family. His grandparents gave him what was left on his inheritance from his mother. It wasn't much (though still quite a lot) as most of it had gone into charities and scholarship funds in his mother's name. They also gave him the Varykino lakehouse. Luke didn't really want a Nubian lakehouse, but it was his father who convinced him to keep it once Vader revealed the intimate history the house had for Luke's parents.

The past few months had been overwhelming. He enjoyed getting to know his father and extended family, but everything else still felt like it was part of another world. He still hadn't wrapped his head around the fact he was a millionaire European prince. And the press was having an absolute field day with the story. It was a trending topic across social media websites. A modern day rag to riches story.

Luke sighed. "You know, my alarm didn't go off this morning," he said.

Really? Artoo seemed to whistle. It wasn't a tone that was surprised.

"Did you turn it off?" Luke asked. Bright blue eyes snapped up from the phone. Artoo shrugged then went back to his phone. "You did, didn't you? Why did you turn it off?"

Artoo continued tapping. Luke's own phone pinged. He reached into his pocket and pulled it out. It was a text from Artoo that read, [Yes I did. Anakin asked me to do it. He said to let you sleep.]

"But he went to work?"

Yes, came a whistle.

Luke moaned. "Can you call the car?"

[You want to go to the studio?] Artoo texted.

"Yeah. Why not?"

[You don't have to. You could do something else.]

"Are you trying to keep me away from the studio?"

[No,] Artoo texted while also shaking his head. [Just reminding you there are other things you can do. All you seem to do is go to the studio of late.]

"Is that what Vader said as well?" Luke asked a bit darkly.

Artoo flashed a smile. [Of course not. Anakin loves that you come with him to the studio. He wouldn't ask you to stop coming.]

"Yet he didn't want me to come today," Luke mumbled.

[He's worried about you, Luke. He fears all this media attention is too much for you. He thought you could use a day away from it.]

"Doesn't he need it too?"

[He's used to it.]

"He never seems to take a break. Even at home he's got a little studio where he's up all night. I've woken up to the sound of his sewing machine in there. Does he ever do anything else?"

Artoo whistled and rolled his eyes. Of course he does. But then he texted, [You've seen his other houses and the garages. He loves working on cars and racing.]

"Yes, but he has no garage here in his apartment," Luke noted.

Artoo sighed. [It's how he shows his love.]

"What?"

[When he's up late at night sewing and designing, it's not for a client. It's for you, Luke.]

Luke looked down at his shirt and pants. Both simple, but both Vader had gifted him. In fact Vader had given Luke a whole new wardrobe. Vader not-so-secretly hated Luke's old clothes. He called them dirty rags or scum. If Luke wasn't careful, his old clothes would disappear never to be seen again.

[He didn't pull those clothes off a rack in one of his stores,] Artoo continued. [He made them himself specifically for you.]

Vader had . . . had hand made all the clothing in Luke's room? Luke opened his mouth. He was going to say that Vader didn't need to do that, but the soft ping of his phone stopped him.

[He's bad at showing his love,] Artoo's text read. [So he shows it through designing, something he loves to do. Where do you think Threepio and my clothes come from? Anakin made them all.]

"He made your clothes?" Luke said. He couldn't believe Vader designed the outlandish clothes of Artoo and Threepio.

[That surprising? But, yes he does. Yes, even these bright colors and horrible designs. Oh he hates making these clothes. But he knows what Threepio and I like. He wants us happy. He wants us to feel loved, and that is the best way he knows how to show it. Your father is a bit hopeless at times. If your mother were still alive, she would be drowning in a mountain of handmade Vader couture like I'm sure you eventually will.]

Artoo smiled a bit sadly, but softly. Luke at once thought back to the scene yesterday. What did that say about Vader to his clients? He clearly didn't care if Bixene was happy or not. In fact Vader only seemed to care about his design. He didn't want to change the design, because the design was already perfect. He would keep the design instead of making the client happy.

Threepio returned with a simple breakfast of eggs and toast. Luke was quiet as he listened to the almost one-sided conversation between Threepio and Artoo. Threepio was worrying about the upstate house and if the staff had dealt with the moth problem in one of the hallway closets. Artoo whisteled or clicked a few comments, which either sent Threepio into a new fit of worry or him throwing snarky comments at Artoo.

"Artoo?"

A whistle.

"Did you text the driver to bring the car?"

[You're going to go to the studio?]

"Yes," Luke replied.

Half an hour later, Luke stood at the elevator door as they swung open. He entered the elevator and keyed the parking garage floor. The elevator started to move down, but shortly stopped. The doors swung open and a lady walked in. Luke didn't get a good look at her. He glanced down hoping she wouldn't recognize him and start up a conversation.

"Luke . . . Skywalker?" came a sweet high voice.

Luke internally groaned as he looked up. He was surprised to see Bixene Rubix. She was dressed in a all white fur coat with a long gold tunic and black leather tights and boots. As soon as his eyes were on her, her eyes lit up. She crossed the small distance between them in two large steps. She was close. He could feel the fur of her coat and smell the sickly sweet stench of her perfume.

"I don't think we've properly met," she purred.

Luke backed up and bumped into the wall of the elevator. Was it just him, or was this ride taking forever? Bixene followed him. This time she was closer. Her coat was pressed against him. He could just make out the warmth of her body. She gave him a devilish smile. The ping of the elevator and the doors sliding open, gave Luke the distraction he needed to press himself flat against the elevator wall and slide away. Once into the parking level, he was met with a black car that would take him to Vader Studios.

 


 

Of course Vader had noticed the boy come into the studios. He had told Artoo to keep the boy at home today. He needed rest. Vader was trying to work in a vacation to get the two of them away. But with an award show coming up next week, he was still quite busy. Then Artoo had texted him saying Luke was coming.

The boy had chosen to avoid his father. Insead he hung around the designers and the assistants. They seemed to have taken to Luke easily. They now laughed and joked with him. He sat at a table while two assistants hand sewed tiny crystals into a gown. Vader was tempted to go over there and order the boy back home. To go rest, but he had learned over the past few months Luke did not take direct orders well. The boy had a stubbornness in him that reminded Vader far too much of a brown-haired senator and perhaps a bit of a young war hero.

So for now he let the boy be, but he would be bringing up the topic of Luke resting and staying at home again. Vader went back to work. He was in the main studio space where his senior design teams worked. He was meeting with teams as he checked in with their progress on several outfits. He was examining some detailed seam work when Piett approached.

"Sir," he said in a soft but stern voice. That one word said it all. Something was wrong and needed Vader's attention. Vader nodded to the design team and marched away to a quiet corner. Piett was right on his heels. The moment they were alone, Piett pulled out his phone and showed him a video streaming in live from a news site.

The headline across the bottom read: Prince Luke in Love?

Vader recognized the interior of the elevator of the building where his apartment was located. Luke stood in the elevator with Bixene Rubix. They were close and with the camera angle, it looked like they were more than just close. It looked like they were intimate. Possibly kissing. The feed changed to a live interview with Bixene. Her cheeks were bright red. She still wore the same outfit from the elevator security camera.

"We met at Vader Studios," she said, "When I was doing consultations for a dress for the award show. Love at first sight." She shrugged her shoulders in a way that would be read as 'cute and flirty,' but to Vader it only enraged him. At once his eyes snapped onto the boy across the room. He was smiling and laughing as he talked to the two assistants.

Vader gripped the phone and marched through the room. Luke saw him approaching and stood up.

"Fath-" he started to say, but Vader cut him off.

"Come. Now," he barked and marched away not even waiting for Luke's response. He didn't even turn to see if he was following, but luckily the boy was. He led Luke up to the second floor of the studios to Vader's private work area and office. As soon as they were alone, Vader turned on his heels and shoved the phone into Luke's chest.

Luke took the phone and looked down. Vader watched his reactions carefully. First there was nothing, just earnest curiosity. Then Luke's face scrunched up in confusion which quickly turned into horror. His mouth hung open. His eyes were wide.

"What . . . What?" Luke looked at Vader. His eyes were large and pleading. It was a single look that sent a stab of pain through Vader. "I . . . I am not in relationship with her! We did nothing in the elevator! How did they get this?"

"When did you meet her in the elevator?" Vader asked.

"Today, on my way down to come here."

"This was all planned," Vader growled.

Luke glanced back down at the phone and then back up at his father. "What . . . what should I do?" he whispered. It was so painfully clear the boy was in over his head. The world of the rich and famous was not a merciful one. Vader hadn't wanted to reveal to the public he had a long-lost son. But when a lower assistant of Vader's legal team leaked the news to the media, Vader had to act quick before the media ruined Luke's reputation by painting him as an illegitimate bastard.

It meant Vader had to reveal a lot of truths about himself to the world. That he previously went by the name of Anakin Skywalker. That he had been in a secret marriage. And of course the media was enjoying every second of the Skywalker family scandal. And now this.

"You do nothing," Vader said.

"Nothing?" Luke said disheartened. "I can't do nothing! I have to . . . to something! This isn't true!"

Vader walked forward and placed a hand on his son's shoulder. "The story is already out in the news. There is no way to take what has been said and seen back. If we argue that this never happened, it'll only create more waves and more of a media storm."

Luke paused as he considered the words and then nodded his head. Like the day before, Vader left work early. Waiting on the street was a thick swarm of paparazzi. Vader pulled Luke close to him as they pushed through the shouting reporters. The ride back to the penthouse apartment was quiet, so was the long elevator ride. Both Luke and Vader eyed the security camera. Once home, Luke disappeared into his room.

Vader march straight to Artoo's office. He had a large desk with an impressive computer setup with three display screens. The small dark-skinned man sat in a rolling chair hunched over the keyboard. He whistled and clicked as Vader walked in.

How is Luke? Artoo asked.

"Handling it," Vader replied. Artoo looked over his shoulder and raised an eyebrow, but he turned back to his work. Vader walked up and stood behind Artoo. There wasn't much to see on the screens. "Found anything?" Vader asked.

Not much, Artoo said. But just give it time. I will find something. He looked up at Vader with an evil little grin. I always do. Yes Artoo was excellent at slicing into people's lives and uncovering their dirty little secrets. Secrets Vader would use against Bixene Rubix. He wasn't surprised when Piett texted him later in the day saying Bixene had contacted the studio and left a personal message for Vader.

She was blackmailing him in revenge for his stunt with the dress. Bixene wanted a Vader dress to wear to the award show. Once she got it, then she would tell the media the relationship between her and Luke was but a mere passing thing. It would no longer be much of a story, and the media would move on. He texted Pieet back. He wanted Bixene in the studio as soon as possible. He would make whatever blasted dress she wanted to get this to go away as painlessly and quickly as it could. His own revenge would come later. Vader could be patient, but he wasn't patient when it came to Luke.

A fresh stab of pain hit him as he recalled Luke's pitiful look in the studio earlier as he first saw the media coverage. Part of the reason it had been decided to keep Vader's marriage a secret was to avoid the media storm. There was a war going on. Both Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala had work to do. Hard and serious work to end the war. When they went working, all they both wanted was to be with each other. If the media found out, those small peaceful rendezvous would have been shattered.

Now their child was having to pay the price of their secrecy. Vader sighed as he watched Artoo work. He crossed his arms across his chest. Vader would right this. He wanted Luke to feel welcomed here. He wanted . . . he wanted Luke to stay. Each time Luke asked to go back to Anchorhead to visit the Lars, Vader had a deep rooted fear Luke was leaving. Leaving him like so many had. Already Vader had missed out on so much of Luke's life. He didn't want to miss out on any more. He wanted to be apart of Luke's life and for Luke to be apart of his.

Yes, one way or another, Vader would fix this. He would make sure Luke felt comfortable and that the boy wanted to be here.

 


 

Luke sat curled up on the big couch in his father's apartment. A large flat screen TV was tuned to the channel showing the award show. Vader sat next to Luke. His back was straight and he didn't lean against the couch. His arms were crossed. His eyes narrowed as he watched celebrities walk down the red carpet. Threepio sat on the other end of the couch, while Artoo sat in a large chair with a laptop on his lap.

The rich and famous paraded down the red carpet in front of a sea of photographers, cameras, and reporters. They would often pause at some point so the camera could get a good shot of their outfit. It was then followed by a reporter asking them about the clothing. Vader said nothing, but made small noises such as grunts, huffs, and rarely he would hum in approval with a slight nod of his head.

Then the shouts started to come. "Bixene! Bixene here! Bixene!"

Bixene had stepped out of her limo and onto the red carpet wearing a brand new gown. Vader had been working on it the past several days. He had almost lived at the studio. Luke had stayed home. His father had insisted he stay out of sight until everything died down.

It was an interesting gown. It was nothing like the previous one. It was strapless and showed off her pushed up breasts. A large portion of fabric folded down from the top in a cream color, while the rest of the dress was in a soft olive green. The sleeves were long and belled out. The skirt sucked tightly around her rear then flowed out with two slits up either side off her legs. The dress was simple. There were no embellishments. Probably no time for it. Though the most striking feature of her outfit was her headwear. Headdress? It was almost a gold helmet that pointed straight up and out to each side. Her blond hair spilled out the back.

The room had become quiet. Luke turned his head to look at his father. His face had darkened. Vader kept looking straight ahead.

"Bixene! Who's your date?" asked one female reporter.

Luke's head snapped back to the screen. Standing next to the starlet was a young man. He was very average looking. Pale skin. Short brown hair.

"Oh this is Befa!" Bixene said. She leaned over and kissed his cheek. Artoo let out a few whistles.

"Is that so?" Threepio asked. "He's of the Jedha Crystal family fame?"

"Why aren't you with Luke Skywalker?" one reporter asked.

"Weren't you a couple?" another one chimed in.

"Oh that was such a passing thing," Bixene giggled. "We've called it off and both have moved on. Myself? I've moved on to Befa here." Bixene stroked Befa's arm. He smiled at her.

And then the next celebrity arrived and the cameras and reporters swooped back down the red carpet. It was a famous rapper, who had two ladies on his side. His current hit song started to play while he walked down the carpet.

"Shawty was gettin' low. Her booty touchin' them red Garrett heels~," rapped the lyrics.

Vader let out a low groan. Artoo let out a cheerful whistle. Garrett was a shoe company and one of Vader's many companies. Luke had asked his father why did he name a company Garrett. Vader only responded with a low, "It was a joke." Artoo later filled Luke in that Vader had been gifted the company by an old 'friend.' The name had been a jab at Vader. Instead of changing the name, Vader had turned the company into a booming success.

Artoo whistled something.

"It does not," growled Vader in response.

"Did he say the dress looked good?" Luke asked softly. Vader's sharp blue eyes darted over to Luke, but that was the only part of him that moved. Then the eyes were back on the TV. "It didn't look that bad."

"Harumph," Vader said. "That bad? 'That bad' is still a degree of bad. It is just another way of saying 'not that good.'"

"Oh I do hope you don't end up on the Worst Dressed List," Threepio chimed in.

"Doubtful considering what else has been walking the carpet," Vader said as he waved his hand at the TV. It was showing a thicker woman with a very short crop top that showed off a bit of underboob. Luke had to agree. Bixene's gown wasn't the worst at the show.

 


 

Vader's fingers tapped impatiently on the tray table. His laptop was open. His eyes kept dashing between the screen and Luke. His son sat curled in a chair opposite of him on Vader's private jet. Now that the award show was over, Vader was taking his son to his estate in northern California. It was a large secluded estate that included an old airport tarmac. Vader now used the runway as a place to race his cars. He was sure Luke would enjoy it.

A small smile graced Luke's lips as he looked down at his phone. He was busy texting with his friends. The boy did seem calmer now that the incident with Bixene was over. The media had moved on to other stories. But Vader was not done with Bixene Rubix. His eyes went back to the computer screen. His fingers still tapped on the table.

It was time for his revenge. He wanted to strike while Bixene was still a trending topic though a fading one. An alert popped up on his computer. Vader at once clicked it. It was a message from Artoo. It was a single line: It's done. Vader smiled as he opened the attachment.

The scene showed Bixene walking to her car after leaving one her shows. A group of people had gathered which consisted mostly of teenage girls. They shouted the singer's name. Bixene smiled and waved, but otherwise kept walking. But then she took a step wrong on her high heeled pumps. Her foot wavered and she stumbled towards the crowd of girls. One girl grabbed at Bixene's arm. The starlet ripped her arm out of the girl's hold and swung her other arm slapping the girl clear across the face.

"Don't touch me!" she shouted. Then she stormed off towards her car. The crowd of teenagers stood there stunned.

A new alert popped up. Vader clicked on it. Already a gossip website had gotten hold of the footage. They tweeted the video out with the caption: Bixene attacks teenage fan! Then a second alert popped up, followed by a third and a fourth. Artoo was doing his job making sure the footage was spread far and fast. Bixene's reputation would be reeling.

Vader muted the alerts and instead brought up a different message from Artoo. He had dug into the Rubix estate. The family fortune came from mining precious ores. They're most profitable ones were out in the Shu-Torun region in the Pacific Ocean. Underwater mining was dangerous, but there were good veins of precious metals down there as well as oil. It was a shame that Rubix's main mining platform had malfunctioned a few hours ago. A pipe had unexpectedly cracked causing the ocean water to flood in effectively cutting off power to the underwater drills and halting production.

The only shame in all of this was that they wouldn't know it was Vader. They rarely did. They would just curse the galaxy for their cruel luck not knowing it was he who had orchestrated this all. But that was fine. Bixene Rubix may have thought she got one over on Vader, but in the end he had the last laugh. There was no way she would be able to afford one of his designs for a long time.

"Father?"

Vader looked up from his laptop. Luke was looking at him. His face scrunched up just a bit as he wondered what Vader was laughing at. Vader could only smile. It was an expression so much like Padme. Vader slowly shut the lip of his laptop.

"It's nothing," Vader said. "Merely . . ." he paused as he thought of the right words. "Merely something from Artoo."

Luke gave him a skeptical look. The child might know of Vader's various companies, but he didn't know everything. He didn't know the dark side of Vader. The one who would cruelly destroy anyone who dared hurt his son.

"Father . . . I was talking to Han Solo . . ."

Vader groaned. He wasn't shy about showing his disdain of that model. Luke sighed.

"I know you don't like him," Luke said. "But he's my friend." Luke paused as he gave his father a look. "Anyways he's invited me to meet his girlfriend."

"Leia Organa?" Vader asked.

"Yeah. Apparently she wants to meet me," Luke said as he blushed a bit. Vader smiled again as his heart warmed at how innocent and fresh Luke still was. How he got flustered at the thought of meeting a pretty girl.

"And where would you be meeting?"

"They want me to come to her country. Alderaan . . ."

Ah, that was the catch. The Scandinavian country was quite beautiful, but Vader had never visited even though his late wife had been close friends with the royal family, the Organas. He wondered if perhaps that was why the princess had asked Luke to come visit. Had Bail Organa told his daughter of his old friend Padme Amidala?

"I do not see why you shouldn't go," Vader said. A huge smile spread across Luke's face. One that Vader would never tire of seeing. But then the smile fell.

"Ummm. Uhhhh . . ." he said as he wiggled in his seat. "They uh . . . want me to go alone . . . Without you . . ."

Vader frowned and crossed his arms. If Luke had asked to go alone, he would have respected his son's wishes. But the fact that Solo and Organa were asking him not to come . . .

"Han says it would be good for me," Luke mumbled as looked down at his lap.

"No doubt that smuggler has some planned a few activities I would frown upon," Vader said.

Luke glanced up and a sheepish smile spread across his face. Vader sighed.

"You are old enough to make your own decisions, Luke," he said. "If you wish to go to Alderaan alone, you can."

Another heart melting smile from the boy. His boy. His son. "Thank you!"

Perhaps a trip to Alderaan would be good for Luke. What was the worst that could happen?

Chapter Text

Tumblr Music Shuffle Prompt. "Wild Things" by Alessia Cara

The Emperor's large hooded face was projected in the air in the hangar. Pilots in their orange flight suits, pit crew in overalls, engineers, officers, and even a few droids had all stopped to look up. The Emperor was hissing and spitting some speech about the evils of the Rebellion.

"I can come to no terms with these so called Rebels," the Emperor's hologram stated. "Which everywhere as its first act after gaining power in systems is not the liberation of the poor and wretched souls of the galaxy but the liberation of the scum of all sentients, creatures that are concentrated in prisons. These Rebels then let loose these wild beasts upon the terrified and helpless galaxy about them. The Rebellion turns flourishing systems into sinister wastes of ruins. It has been the Empire that has turned the destruction and misery this galaxy once in into a healthy State with flourishing life.

"These Rebels, these wild things, wish to restore democracy. The same democracy that caused the Clone Wars. That caused the corruption of the galaxy. It is with grave anxiety that I see the possibility that if democracy is allowed to return it will continuously disintegrate this fine galaxy. The Rebellion are internally uncertain in their judgements and get caught up in decisions. Democracy is the canal which the Rebellion lets its poisons flow into the separate systems, which allows the Rebellion to take root and cause infections that lead to a crippling of intelligence . . ."

The hologram suddenly blinked out. There were a few moans, but a lot more grumbles and angry tones as conversation broke out across the hangar.

"Gather all the rebels now!" a voice shouted out. Wedge Antilles jumped up on a metal crate. He continued to shout in a sing-song voice. "We'll rebel-rouse and sing aloud!" A cheer broke out amongst the Rebels gathered in the hangar. Wedge continued, "We don't care what they say no way, no way! I'd rather be a wild one instead!" A loud cheer went out. "Find me where the wild things are!"

The rebels started to chant 'Wild Things' while pumping their fists into the air. Luke Skywalker could only smile at the scene unfolding in front of him. It was good to see this spirit amongst the Alliance. Too often were they fighting back the grief and worry that war brought. They all needed moments like this. But even Wedge's best efforts were always short lived for Luke now. Always the creeping cold anxiety returned. His thoughts always turned back to the Empire. To Darth Vader. To his . . . To his father.

Luke shuddered and let out an uneven breath. He turned from the chanting crowd and moved deeper into the hangar. He found a secluded crate and sat down. He wasn't surprised to feel a bump against his leg. He looked to see R2-D2 standing right next to him. The little droid let a few soft beeps of concern.

"I'm alright, buddy," Luke lied. Clearly the droid had picked up on that as he let a few beeps and whistles that seemed a bit on the angry side. Luke looked up at the hangar. He couldn't help but think of his friend Biggs Darklighter.

"We're a couple of shooting stars that'll never be stopped . . ." Luke whispered sadly recalling one of the last things Biggs said to him.

"Sounds about right."

Luke snapped his head up. Wedge and Tycho Celchu stood both smiling down at Luke.

"Why are you hiding over here?" Tycho asked as he took a seat on the crate next to Luke. Wedge shot Tycho a dirty look. "You can't be still upset about Bespin," Tycho said.

Luke took a deep breath and casted his eyes downward. He heard a smacking sound. Most likely Wedge slapping Tycho on the head.

"I've just been thinking," Luke said as he looked back up at his friends and squadmates. "What I should do next. I . . . just . . ." He stopped and sighed as he was unable to voice his concerns or feelings.

"Hey," Wedge said. "Whatever you decide, we'll be here." Tycho smiled and nodded in agreement. A huge grin spread across Wedge's face. "Because hey, we brought our drum and this is how we dance!" He started dancing very poorly. Tycho let out a small laugh and Luke couldn't help but smile. "No mistakin', we make our breaks. If you don't like our 808s, then leave us alone, cause we don't need your policies. We have no apologies for being Rebels!"

Wedge continued to dance around in a circle while he kept his little sing-song speech going.

"We will carve our place into time and space! We will find our way, or we'll make a way! Find your great. Don't hide your face!" Wedge gestured to Luke with that line. "Let it shine, shine, shine, shine, shine!"

Wedge stopped and Tycho clapped. Wedge did a dramatic bow, and Luke joined the clapping.

"See?" Wedge said. "You look so much better when you shine, Luke."

Luke could feel a small blush of pink on his cheeks. "Thanks," he mumbled under his breath. Yes, he would find a way or make a way. They were the wild things. The Rebels. The shooting stars as Biggs had said. Luke took a deep steadying breath and smiled at his friends. He nodded at them ready to continue the fight.

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Tumblr Music Shuffle Prompt. "Red Lights" by Tiesto

Red and green blaster bolts zipped through space. The battle continued to rage on. At least according to Luke's perspective. The second Death Star was destroyed and with it the Emperor. Yet, the Imperial fleet had yet to completely back down. Perhaps they were preparing for a retreat. Perhaps they had chosen this as their last stand. Luke didn't know, and honestly he didn't care at this moment.

His focus was finding a clear vector so he could jump to hyperspace. He needed to get away and fast. He couldn't just land on an Alliance cruiser in the middle of the battle while on an Imperial shuttle. Well he probably could, but . . . Luke glanced over his shoulder. Laying on the floor of the cockpit was his father, Anakin Skywalker. He was no longer Darth Vader. He had chosen to be that man no longer when he chose to save his son and kill his master.

But he was gravely injured and would soon die if Luke didn't get him medical help soon. The problem was, Luke wasn't sure what the Alliance would do if he showed up with Darth Vader. Would they give him aid? Or would they let him die? Plus if they did give him aid, what would happen afterward? For now Luke thought it best not to return to the Alliance.

"Mustafar . . . " Anakin had whispered. "Mustafar . . ."

Luckily the shuttle brought up the coordinates for wherever this Mustafar was, but Luke still needed a clear shot to jump. Blaster bolts continued to spray around him. He just needed to out run them. And when he did, he pushed the lever to jump to hyperspace. The white lights that were flirting in the darkness turned to white streaks.

Luke leaned back in the pilot's seat and let out a long exhale of breath. He pushed himself up and lowered himself to the ground next to his father. His breathing was still ragged. He was painfully still, and with the mask on Luke didn't know if he was even conscious. Regardless, Luke reached over and grabbed his father's hand.

"Luke . . ." Anakin croaked in his baritone modulated voice.

"Father," Luke said. "We got away. We're on our way to Mustafar. We're going to make it now."

"Why . . . did you . . . not go to . . . rebels . . ." Anakin said painfully between breaths.

"I wasn't sure what they would do with you," Luke replied in a low voice hoping perhaps his father wouldn't hear him.

"I . . . " Anakin started, but Luke cut him off.

"No," Luke said. "Nobody else needs to know right now." Luke could feel his father's eyes on him. Feel the curiosity that pushed itself free from the consuming pain. Luke squeezed his father's hand. He hoped he was making the right choice. He may get court martialed later for this, but he wasn't going to back down. He was going to save Anakin Skywalker. Even if it meant going against the Alliance and the Empire and anyone else, Luke knew this was the right thing. He saw the light return to his father. It was something he couldn't ignore.

"Luke . . ." Anakin said again. "I am . . . . guilty of so . . . so much . . . Turn back . . ."

"No," Luke said. "At least not yet. We're going to heal you first."

Anakin seemed to accept that. He was quiet for a long time. Luke finally let go of his father's hand and stood up. He looked out the viewport to the whorls of hyperspace. He wasn't sure where this road was going. He had just run them red lights of the blasters of the battle. He glanced back down at his father. No, he wasn't going to back down. They were going to make it now.

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Tumblr prompt AU mash up.

Absolute rage poured out of Darth Vader. The entire room shook. The lighting cracked and sparked before it finally blinked out. Cracks started crawling along the walls, floors, and even on the viewports. Steam and smoke poured out of pipes. Wires suddenly burst open sending bright sprays of sparks into the air.

Luke Skywalker curled up against the wall. He put his right arm tightly under his left. He could still see his right hand gripping his lightsaber. It laid on the floor a few steps away. It had been cut off by that young Imperial guy who looked like a Jedi. Or at the very least he had wielded a yellow lightsaber. But now the Imperial had been thrown against a wall. His hand grasping at his throat. Vader was slowly approaching him. His hand was out in front of him with his fingers curled.

Slowly Vader marched forward. His red lightsaber snapped to life with a sharp hiss. He paused right in front of the Imperial.

"This is how it was always going to end, Morit," Vader said in his deep baritone voice. Then in a quick smooth motion, he sliced through the young Imperial. His body landed with a distinctive two thumps on to the ground. Vader looked down at the smoldering body for only a moment before he sharply turned on his heels and turned his full attention to the Rebel huddling against the wall.

Luke's breath got caught in his throat as the Imperial Supreme Commander marched towards him. Vader paused at Luke's hand; the one Morit had sliced off in their duel. A surprising slash of cold whipped through the room. Luke shivered, and his teeth chattered. He swore he could see his breath. The lightsaber was ripped out of the grasp of the severed hand and into Vader's hand. Vader looked at the saber for only a moment before he clipped it to his belt. He also deactivated his own lightsaber and placed it beside Luke's saber. Luke's father's saber, which now hung on his father's murderer's belt.

Vader only needed two more large steps before he stood towering above Luke. The mask was titled down to look at the injured Rebel.

"Luke Skywalker," Vader said slowly.

"Darth Va-Vader," Luke said through his chattering teeth. He pushed against the wall and tried to stand. It was an awkward movement laced in small flinches of pain, but finally he stood on his own two feet. He was still hunched over making him even smaller than he would normally be. Vader's large black form was fearsome.

"Here-here to kill me-me?" Luke asked. There was a silence that was broken by the steady and even breathing of Vader. "Like you-you did to him-him?" Luke nodded his head over at Morit.

Finally Vader spoke, "No."

The response caught Luke by surprise. But then his brain caught up. Vader's impressive bounty on the Rebel That Shot Down the Death Star did say alive only. Most likely Vader wanted Luke for a public execution or perhaps a long interrogation session. A large gloved hand swooped down and tightly grabbed Luke by his left uninjured arm. He was pulled sharply to the dark lord's side. Luke tried to pull away, but Vader's grip was hard and cold.

Luke glared up at the black mask. Vader was merely watching him. This lasted a few seconds before Vader turned and started to walk away pulling Luke with him. Luke stumbled along. Vader's strides were long and fast. He tripped a few times, but managed to catch himself before he fell to the ground. But it was starting to get a bit easier . . . Was Vader slowing his stride?

As they moved through the strange half-organic, half-mechanical whale ship, it shuddered and shook. Telltale signs of a battle raging on outside in space. Vader tightened his grip and his pace quickened a small amount. The stomping of feet was heard, and Luke noticed Vader had pulled out his lightsaber hilt. He gripped it tightly in his other black gloved hand.

Stormtroopers rounded the corner. Blaster bolts barreled down the corridor at Luke and Vader, and Vader's red lightsaber snapped to life. Vader expertely blocked the bolts. A few he managed to send back into the troopers. One trooper was lifted off his feet and slammed into a wall. His helmeted head snapping awkwardly and sharply to the side. His body fell limp to the floor. Another was slashed apart as he ran at Vader. It wasn't long before all the troopers were laying still and quiet at Vader's feet.

Through it all he had never let go of Luke. Luke realized he should have tried to pull free while Vader was distracted. He could have used the fight as cover to get away, but he had been so enthralled by Vader's fluid use of the Force. Vader pulled Luke on. They were met with a wave of small round seeker droids. Again Vader quickly destroyed them all. Luke tripped and the Sith let out a growl.

"Sorry for angering you," Luke growled back. Perhaps he could provoke Vader to just kill him now. Let it be quick and easy.

Vader paused. His mask fully turned to look at the young rebel. "It is not you," Vader said slowly. "It is my enemies." The two just stared. It only lasted a few moments before Vader was pulling Luke on again. Luke ran Vader's comment over in his head. What did that mean? His enemies? Wasn't Luke his enemy? He was a rebel. A rebel commander. A rebel who destroyed the Death Star.

They came to a hangar, in which Vader promptly pulled Luke into the first shuttle they saw. He shoved Luke into the copilot's seat. It wasn't long before they were out in space. Vader turned the shuttle around to view the battle. A whole fleet of large whale-like space ships were fighting against a massive star destroyer, the size of which Luke had never seen before. It looked like it was undergoing repairs or perhaps even being built. It was in a stardock. Various ships and machines buzzed between the TIE fighters and the whale ships.

Vader was furiously typing at something on the control board. Then a droid's voice came over the shuttle's com.

"Yes Lord Vader?"

"Activate Code 157-Axion829-34."

"Activation sequence password?"

Vader paused. His head slightly turned toward Luke, but then it faced forward again. "Skywalker," he said evenly.

"Password accepted. Activating code 157-Axion829-34."

Why did Darth Vader use Luke's name as a password? Vader started piloting the shuttle away from the star dock and the battle. Luke felt it first. The hairs on the back of his neck and on his arms stood on end. There was a shiver that ran through him. Then he saw the bright blinding light bursting from behind them. Then the shuttle rattled and shook from the shock wave. Vader was an expert pilot. He kept the shuttle steady. Only after things calmed down, did Vader turn the shuttle back around.

The giant star destroyer was gone. The whale fleet and the star dock were as well. Luke's mouth hung open. Had Vader . . . Had Vader activated the self-destruct of that star destroyer? The shuttle's com beeped incessantly. Vader clicked it on.

"Vader," he said.

"Lord-lord Vader," stumbled the person on the other end. "This is the ISD Malice stationed at Kuat. The . . . The Executor has just been destroyed . . ."

"I am aware," Vader said. "It had been hijacked by traitors."

There was a short silence from the com before the officer spoke again. "But my-my lord," the officer said in squeezed pain voice. "The Emp-Emperor was aboard the Executor."

Luke could feel Vader's shock though he showed no body language of it.

"I thought the Emperor was on board the Eclipse," Vader said.

"No-no," the officer said. "He was on the Executor." Silence stretched between the two. Between the space. Luke held his breath. It felt like the entire Empire was holding its breath. As if every being under Imperial rule was listening to this conversation as Luke was. "Sir?" the officer asked again. "What . . . what should we do, sir? The Empire is yours."

Chapter Text

The baby seemed to be screaming louder. For something so small and young, its screams were loud and piercing. That baby was laying on a changing table in a fresh diaper. Its little hands were balled up and waving in the air. The small feet were squirming with each wail. The baby's round cheeks were red. The brilliant blue eyes were red and full of tears.

Darth Vader stood motionless at the edge of the changing table simply staring down at the baby. His baby. His son, who was only a month old. It was such a small amount of time, and yet . . . A month ago Darth Vader was a different man. He went by a different name. He had a different life. He looked different. He had a family. A wife. A baby on the way . . .

A month was too much time. It was a whole month that been stolen. It was only month, but that month was this baby's whole life so far. And if Vader hadn't hunted down Obi-Wan, how much more time would have been lost? How much longer would this baby not know his father? His only family?

But now Obi-Wan was dead and Vader had his son. Tatooine didn't have the best in childcare items, but the new Sith was able to procure at the least the necessary items. A crib, a changing table, and baby supplies. And now it was just father and son. A son who was screaming at the top of his lungs.

"Baby is fine," the TDL nanny droid had said. Vader had also found it on Tatooine. It was an old model and in need of repairs. But at the moment Vader just needed someone or something that could help him take care of his son. "Baby has been changed. Baby has been fed," the droid stated. "Baby is fine."

"Then why is he crying?" Vader growled.

"Baby needs to be soothed," the droid responded matter-of-factly. It had little in terms of a personality program. The droid went to reach down to pick up the baby, but Vader stopped it.

"Don't," he said. "You are dismissed. I will handle this."

The droid paused, but then straightened up and promptly left the room leaving Vader alone with his son. The baby was still crying and wailing. Vader could do this. He could sooth his baby. He was a father. Yes . . . a father . . . Thinking of himself like that only brought a fresh stab of pain into his heart for it made him think of Padmé.

She should be here. Alive. She should be the one to collect the baby into her arms. She would know just what to do. He could see her gently rocking the baby with a loving soft smile on her face as she looked down at it. Possibly she would hum a Nubian lullaby that her mother had once sung to her.

The baby let out a fresh string of screams. They seemed more intense. Stronger. Vader could feel them. He wasn't sure if perhaps it was just his nerves, or if the baby was projecting into the Force. It was interesting to sense the baby's emotions. They were so unformed, but also so intense and raw. It was hard to pinpoint exactly which emotion it was. Fear. Cold. Sadness. Discomfort. Loneliness.

Slowly Vader's arms started to move. One large black leather gloved hand came to rest on the baby's head. He gently slipped it under the small head. Padmé's voice floated through him.

"You have to support the head," she teased when she had given an impromptu baby holding lesson. The baby was a medium piece of fruit wrapped in a towel. He could still hear her giggles as the fruit slipped out of the towel and rolled on the floor after he had held it wrong. He remembered her smooth hands positioning his arms into the proper position to hold the baby just as he was doing now.

He had eased the crying baby into his arms and was slowly bringing the child to his chest. The baby continued to wiggle and wail. What should he do? Rock the baby? He didn't think humming or singing from his modulated voice would sooth the child. Vader slowly turned around and glanced around the rather empty room. There was just the crib and a set of drawers. Perhaps if he walked something would come to mind.

He walked to the viewport. The blue streaks of hyperspace whirled outside as the starship traveled back to Coruscant. In the viewport's reflection, Vader could make out the baby's form. It stood out sharply against the darkness of the life support suit. Vader shifted the baby so he was now more upright. Then Vader turned and walked back over to the changing table.

He just felt so useless and restless. He started to pace back and forth in the small room. He should be able to do this! To calm his son down. And yet the baby still cried. What was he doing wrong? Why wasn't the baby calming down? Was it him? Was he not good enough? Strong enough? Was it this horrible life support suit? It wasn't soft or warm. His breathing sharply sounded evenly. Perhaps the sound grated on the baby's tender ears. Perhaps it was simply Vader himself that was upsetting the child.

Again Vader found himself at the viewport. He should just put the baby down and call the nanny droid back in. His son shouldn't be wailing this much. He didn't need to be so miserable. Again Vader caught the reflection in the transparisteel. The baby was being held upright against Vader's chest. One of Vader's hands rested against the baby's head. The other hand against the back while the baby's weight rested on the arm.

The baby was quiet. There were no screams. Since when had it stopped? In fact the little one's eyes were closed. He breathed evenly.

Vader had . . . done it . . . He had . . . soothed the baby! His baby!

Gently and slowly he tightened his hold on the child. He bowed his head down. How he desperately wished to be able to kiss the forehead of this sleeping baby. To smell it's gentle baby smell. To feel the soft hair. So much had been taken from Vader. So much had been stolen.

But at least he had this. This child. This small wonderful miraculous baby. The one amazing thing that had come out so beautiful and perfect despite the heat and chaos the baby had been born into it.

The Tatooine couple whom Obi-Wan had given the baby to had called the child a name. A name Vader wasn't even sure where it had originated from. Had Obi-Wan named Vader's son? The Lars? Or perhaps . . . had she named him? That at least in her final moments, mother and son had been together. Vader hoped it had been peaceful. He hoped she died holding her son to her chest like Vader did now. That at least as this baby's life started and hers ended, it was filled with love.

That was when Vader knew that she had named him. She had to. The name fit. It was perfect. He took his eyes off the reflection and looked down at the baby.

"Luke," he said.

Chapter Text

Darth Vader made his way to his private chambers on board his flagship star destroyer. Those he met along the way, quickly flattened themselves against the wall. Vader keyed in his personal code to unlock the door. He stepped into a rather plain and empty reception room. He didn't pause here. He continued on to the next door. It slid open silently.

Vader stepped into a room filled with flowers. All sorts of flowers from every corner of the galaxy. They sat in tall beautiful arrangements in various vases and containers. The room was completely filled. Some arrangements were even as tall as he was. Vader walked up and gently brought his hand up to one white flower. Then he moved on deeper into his quarters and left the flowers behind.

He walked down the hall and stopped at an open door. Flowers filled this room, but unlike the sitting room the flowers were sorted by type, size, and color into thin plastoid vases. Against the far wall by the viewport sat a large workbench.

"Luke?" Vader asked.

The figure sitting at the benched turned around. Luke smiled. He stood up and wiped his hands on his pants. He wore a simple white shirt and gray pants but with no shoes or socks. He walked over and stopped in front of Vader.

"Did you see them?" Luke asked. He was referring to the new flower arrangements filling the sitting room.

"They are hard to miss," Vader replied.

"What did you think?"

Vader paused. There was a smile on the boy's lips. He shone in the Force. He was so bright. So eager.

"They are marvelous, young one," Vader said.

Luke's smile grew large and wide. His light grew brighter. It was almost painful to look at him. In truth Vader did not care much for the flowers. They took up a lot of room. He could barely discern their colors through the red lenses of his helmet. He couldn't smell their sweet perfumed scents. Plus Vader had to deal with getting rid of the flowers as well as procuring new ones.

Vader had never expected to find his son on Naboo. He had been there to attend a parade that was being held in the Emperor's honor that the Emperor himself was unable to attend. Most likely it had all been arranged by Sidious. Another jab in Vader's side knowing how well Vader hated the planet. How much it reminded him of her.

Vader had stormed away from the parade and into the side streets. That was when he saw a shop sign. In the center was a large pink lotus flower. In curling letters underneath it said: Naberrie's Flowers. Padmé had been named after the lotus. Why did this shop use her name so?

Inside he found the young blonde human florist working on his latest creation at the counter. When he looked up and saw Darth Vader, his eyes grew wide with fear. He took a small step away from the counter.

"Boy," Vader grumbled. "Who owns this shop?"

"I . . . I do," he replied.

"You?" Vader asked. "You do not look old enough."

The boy straightened up. "It was a gift from my grandparents," he said defiantly. The boy had a bit of a fight in him, Vader noted.

"What is your name?" Vader asked. The fight fled away from the boy. He nervously glanced around. "Your name." Vader growled. "Do not make me ask again."

"Luke," he said softly. "Luke Naberrie."

"Naberrie?" Vader asked. It was possible. Padmé did have an older sister. Plus there could be other families who used the name. "What are the name of your parents?" he demanded.

"Uhh my parents are dead, sir," Luke said quietly. "I was raised by my grandparents."

"Their names."

"Ruwee and Jobal Naberrie."

So he was Padmé's nephew. But . . . that thought didn't sit right with the dark lord. He looked nothing like Padmé's sister, Sola. He had blonde hair and blue eyes. He had met Sola's daughters once with Padmé. The girls had dark hair and dark eyes like their mother and father.

"Your mother's name," Vader demanded. He wasn't sure why he asked. This boy had to be the son of Sola. He didn't look old enough to be . . . her son . . . their son . . .

Fear started to snake off the boy in the Force. Vader reached for it, and what he found made him skip a breath. When he touched the boy in the Force, Luke shone. He was bright. So unmistakingly bright. He was strong in the Force but also untrained. Vader pulled back and passed through whatever shields had been erected to hide the boy.

Vader's mind spun. No. It wasn't possible. She had died. The baby had died!

Vader jumped over the counter in one smooth motion. Luke let out a squeak and quickly stepped away. He didn't get far until he bumped into the back wall. Vader was there. He gripped the boy's chin and titled the head so he could get a better look.

He could see it. Her eyes, but they were dark. Luke's eyes were light in color. Were they blue? Like Vader's had once been? He saw his chin, but her nose. His hair.

"What is the name of your mother?" Vader growled. It came out harsher than he had intended. The boy flinched.

"Pad . . . Padmé Naberrie," the boy whispered.

That was how Vader had discovered his son had lived. Luke Naberrie. He had been raised by his grandparents. By Padmé's parents. Of course Vader had grabbed the boy and dragged him back to his ship. Luke did not go willingly. Only once they were on board the star destroyer did Vader reveal the truth. It was a hard truth. Luke knew his father was Anakin Skywalker, but had assumed like the rest of the Naberries that Anakin had been killed in the Jedi purge.

It took awhile for Luke to warm up to Vader. He kept asking for flowers, and finally Vader relented. For the first time, Vader saw his son smile. The flowers brought him so much joy, so Vader kept buying them. Luke kept arranging them. The flowers kept flooding his quarters.

But Luke loved the flowers, and Vader loved Luke. So the flowers stayed, and so did Luke. But if the flowers left, Luke would stay. For he no longer stayed for the flowers. He stayed for his father.

Chapter Text

"I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you," the blonde youth said.

"You're who?" Princess Leia Organa asked back.

The blue security holograph froze. Then it rewound back only a few seconds. Again the blonde youth pulled off his stormtrooper helmet. "What? Oh . . . the uniform. I'm Luke Skywalker. I'm here to rescue you."

Darth Vader paused the recording. He looked at the small blue holographic figure of the boy who called himself Luke Skywalker. Who had come to the Death Star with Obi-Wan Kenobi.

"It seems in your anger . . . you killed her." Old words that haunted him for twenty years whispered at him. He had tried over and over to chase those words from his mind, but no matter what it always crept back. Vader compared the old words, the words that burned at his heart and soul, and compared it to the words repeating on the holo.

At first Vader wanted to lash out at this boy. This young fool who dared to claim his name. Even if it was the name of that pathetic weak Jedi. It was still his. The Force seemed to swirl around the words of this youth. They flowed smoothly with each repeat of "I'm Luke Skywalker." The boy was telling the truth, or at least what he thought was the truth. And if this boy was Luke Skywalker, then this boy, like everything that had once belonged to that Jedi, belonged to Vader.

Vader thought back to the unusual death of his old master, Obi-Wan Kenobi. He had simply vanished leaving behind only his outer robe and lightsaber. Why had Obi-Wan showed up then? Vader remembered seeing the boy in the hangar. He had shouted out when Obi-Wan died. They had arrived together.

An anger grew from Vader. Its intensity was like none Vader had felt in years. Obi-Wan Kenobi. Obi-Wan . . . Had he . . . Had he stolen Vader's child? Ripped the baby out of the mother's dying body? Hidden him away from his father? Obi-Wan was now dead and would fail in keeping the boy from Vader. For Vader would find the boy. The boy would be his.

A beep from an incoming com call pulled him out of his thoughts. The Death Star had arrived at Yavin IV and the rebel base. At once Vader could feel the bright mark in the Force that was his son. How had he not noticed this before? Had Obi-Wan been shielding and hiding the boy in the Force that much? The boy was so bright, so strong, and so . . . untrained. A smile painfully stretched the damage skin around Vader's lips.

However it didn't last long. The Death Star would be powering up its laser to fire on the rebel base, the base where Vader's son was. How was Vader going to secure the child? That was when he sensed the brightness approaching. The boy was coming here. Most likely in a snub fighter. Vader gave an order to have his TIE fighter squadron released. He would be joining them.


It took some time before Vader had his son's fighter in his sights. The rebels were focusing on a specific spot on the Death Star. There was a pull in the Force that this was important, but Vader ignored it. His sole focus was on the X-Wing his son was in. Vader would need full control of the Force to get his son safely out of this dog fight. Ideally he needed to get the boy away from the active fighting. Into open space where Vader could disable his ship without fear of being shot down by anything else and get the fighter towed in.

But that meant chasing the child out away from the Death Star. The Rebels were still focusing all of their energy on doing suicide runs down a heavily armed trenched. Vader's mind raced over the schematics of the Death Star. Why were they focusing on this trench? The nagging of the Force was still telling him this was important. Again Vader pushed it aside. Once he had his son secured, he could worry about the Rebels.

He moved through the battlefield. He took down any X-wings he could. The less Rebel scum there were, the better. He could feel his son's bright light in the Force. Vader zeroed in on it and moved his fighter directly towards it. His two wingmen faithfully followed along with him in their own TIE fighters.

"Black 2. Black 3," Vader said over the com to his wingmen. "There is a Rebel I will isolate from the rest. Only fire to disarm and disable. I want him alive." Vader's words were heavy with the unspoken threat of what would happen should be displeased.

"Yes, sir," came the response of the two pilots.

They were part of Vader's elite pilots. They knew to follow his orders unquestionably. Vader also knew the rest of the Black Squadron had heard that as well. They were the only squadron out in the battle. The squadron Vader had personal control over and thus had ordered out to fight off the Rebel fighters. The Death Star held thousands upon thousands of fighters. This battle could have already been over, but Tarkin and the other fools saw these Rebels as mere flies buzzing around their heads. It was perhaps for the best none of the other fighter squads were out. Vader had much more control with just his squadron. His son was less likely to be shot down.

Vader needed to get rid of the other fighters around his son. They were easy pickings. A smile tugged on his lips as Vader saw his son use the Force instinctively to weave through the fire of blaster bolts coming from the cannons along the trench. Yes, the Force was strong with the child. Vader followed his son into the trench. He aimed expertly at non-vital parts of the X-wing. For now he just needed to chase the boy out of the trench and away from the cannon fire.

Vader's mind wandered. Soon he would have his son. The son he had thought dead all these long years. Finally they would be reunited. Together as they should have been. His son would be a perfect and truly worthy apprentice. Finally Vader would free himself from his master. The galaxy could finally be set right-

A shot slammed into Vader's fighter at once causing him to spin wildly uncontrolled away from the trench and the Death Star. Rage poured into him. He had been so close! What rebel rat had managed that lucky shot on him? They would pay. He would get his son-

For the second time Vader's thoughts were interrupted as blinding light caused him to slam his eyes shut. In the Force he could feel the massive lost of life. It echoed the destruction of Alderaan. In a single instant millions had died. The Death Star had been destroyed. Yet his mind wasn't on the lost of the blasphemous battle station. His thoughts were on the child. His child. The child he had just discovered. Would fate be so cruel to rip away this small sliver of hope away from him?

But through all the death, there was a small beacon of light. It flared the brightest Vader had ever felt it. It was triumphant. Happy. And most importantly, it was alive. Vader's son still lived.


Night had fallen on Yavin IV. A light rain was falling, which served Vader well. It hid his approach to the Rebel base. After he had recovered from the shot, he had made his way to the moon. There was a mess left up in space from the remainder pilots of his squad. He ordered them to hide amongst the large pieces of the Death Star. He had already sent orders to nearby fleets to meet here. There was no point in him waiting around in space, especially when he still had a son to collect.

The Sith was surprised at how relaxed the Rebels were. Perhaps the victory had gone to their heads. They should be scrambling to leave the moon before Imperial forces arrived. Surely they had to know that someone would respond to the Death Star's destruction. That the Empire would investigate it and collect and scavenge what they could of the battle station's remains.

Vader could only sense overwhelming happiness and justice from the Rebels in the base. If a few were more practical and worried, their feelings were overshadowed by the majority. Vader stood on a dark ridge amongst the trees staring down at the temple the Rebels were using as a base. Even from here he could make out the partying going on. The Rebels were celebrating. These pathetic worms had nothing to truly celebrate. This was but a mere scratch in the mighty Empire. Vader would soon see to their end personally. Perhaps he would have help with his son by his side . . .

He refocused. He first needed to get the son. Vader reached out into the Force towards the temple. His son was easy to locate. It seemed he wasn't that deep into the temple. He was in a hangar. So Vader reached in further. He brushed against the boy's mind. He couldn't help but pause. His son's mind swirled warmly with positive energy and thoughts. He was feeling pride in his accomplishment. As he should.

Vader pushed on into his son's mind. Luke was his name, Vader remembered. For a brief moment Vader wondered where he had gotten the name. Had Kenobi named him? But yet that thought didn't seem quite right. Not Kenobi, but someone else. Surely it hadn't been . . . Padme. Had it? Had she lived long enough to meet her son? To hold him?

Vader cursed. He was getting side tracked. He pushed into Luke's mind.

Luke, he called out in the Force. At once he felt Luke's startlement, curiosity and even a small bit of fear. Luke, he called out again. The curiosity burned brighter in the boy. He clearly didn't understand who he was hearing or why. Vader could feel the unsaid question being pushed towards him from Luke.

Luke, come, Vader ordered.

. . . who? Luke finally managed to project out into the Force. The boy was very strong. He was using the Force intuitively. Vader paused as he considered how to answer back. What should he say? Finally he decided to answer with the truth.

I am your father, he said.

Alarm and anger sparked the Force, but it quickly eased away. Luke's curiosity burned. It was almost painful for Vader when he was so connected to him in the Force.

father? Luke asked.

Yes, Vader replied. Now come, Luke.

where?

Vader pulled on the child. Luke felt the tug of the Force and followed it. It wasn't long before Vader saw a Rebel pilot dressed in the garish orange and white flight suit cautiously step out of the hangar and make his way slowly across the lawn in front of the temple. Luke paused as he reached the edge of the woods. He looked into the trees almost right at Vader. The Sith was still a ways off into the woods. Surely the child could not see him. Vader pulled again, and Luke walked on.

Vader pulled his cloak around him masking the lights on the control panel of his suit. He also summoned the Force around him to help hide his presence and mask the sound of his respirator. With the rain hitting the leaves, it would be hard to notice.

Luke made his way carefully up the ridge and through the rain and woods. As Luke got closer, Vader reached out with the Force. He sent tendrils of the Dark Side to slowly surround the boy. Not completely encase him, but Vader was not going to allow the boy to slip through his fingers again.

father? Luke asked. where?

The boy was so close. Vader tightened the tendrils and snapped them around Luke. The boy shouted in alarm, but he couldn't move. Vader slowly lifted the boy off the forest floor and floated him carefully the remainder of the distance to Vader. Luke squirmed and wiggled as he tried to break free of the invisible hold he was in. Vader lowered him down and released Luke from the Force hold. The boy at once toppled to his knees.

It only took him a second before Luke was back up on his feet. His eyes settled on Vader. His eyes grew wide with realization as he took in the dark form before him. He tried to step away, but again Vader tightened the Force around the child.

"Stop!" Luke shouted as he squirmed. "Let go of me!"

father? Luke called into the Force. father? father! where?

Here, Luke, Vader replied.

Luke stilled as he looked at Vader.

"Luke, I am here," Vader said as he stepped up to his son.

"No," Luke said weakly. "No. No!"

"Search your feelings, young one," Vader said. "I am your father."

"No," Luke repeated. "It can't be."

Vader reached forward and grabbed Luke's- his son's!- arm. He pulled the boy to him. At once Luke was pushing against Vader.

"Cease," Vader said. Luke only glared up at him. "Come," Vader said as he pulled Luke back to his fighter. It would be a tight fit with the two of them, but Vader would make it work. His hand tightened around Luke's arm. He had his son now.


Vader's fighter landed at his fortress on Mustafar. Two stormtroopers saluted as Vader climbed out. Their necks were snapped immediately. His rage could not be sated. He stormed through the fortress. Any and all he met along the way felt his anger. Droids and guards alike were violently snapped apart in the Force. They had failed. Their one and most important duty.

He made it to the security room and at once brought up the recording. The blue hologram sprung to life. Luke had been in his room. Where he was supposed to be. Where it was safe and secure while Vader trained him in secret so they could overthrow the Emperor. Luke jumped to his feet as something was burning a hole in the door. The view of the security camera did not capture exactly what had happened. But suddenly a girl walked into view.

She wore an all white jumpsuit. Her hair was braided and wrapped around her head. She held a green lightsaber. Vader scowled as he recognized her as Princess Leia, traitor and Rebel leader. However, that was not how she introduced herself.

"I'm Leia Skywalker," she said with a big smile on her face. "I'm here to rescue you."

"Leia?" Luke shouted as he ran up to her. "What are you-?" He looked at her lightsaber. "Skywalker?" he asked.

"Yeah," she said. "I'm Leia Skywalker. Your twin sister."

Vader just stared. His mouth hung open. Air continued to be pushed into his lungs, but he wasn't breathing. Finally time seemed to catch up to him. His hands formed fists and slammed them down on the console in front of him. Sparks flew and the metal screeched as it crumpled on itself.

"WHAT?" he shouted.

Chapter Text

The various medical machines beeped and buzzed. The medical and surgery droids worked tirelessly to remove Darth Vader's suit and to heal his injuries. Luke stood helplessly against a wall. His own body was worn and tired. He knew he should also see to his injuries, but for now he pushed the pain aside. He could only focus on the scene unfolding on the medical table.

The droids had to cut through layers of Vader's suit. Now the pale white flesh was starting to be exposed. As chunks of the suit were cut off and removed, Luke could see the horror of what was Lord Vader's body. Wires and tubes buried into his flesh. There were metal plates grafted onto his skin where the suit connected to the body. There seemed to be bags attached to his right side. One of which rose and fell with Vader's breathing. A mechanical lung?

More and more of the suit was taken off. Luke saw all of Vader's limbs were prosthetics, not just the one Luke had cut off on the Death Star. A memory from long ago drifted into Luke's mind.

"He's more machine now than man," Ben's ghost had said. He was right. There appeared to be so little of Vader left.

One of the med droids approached Luke, who straightened up.

"He is in decline," the droid stated. "The life support systems have received major damage. The artificial organs are only operating at half of their capacity and continue to fail. The prognosis is not good."

"There isn't anything you can do?" Luke asked. "Get new artificial organs?"

"The damage has already been done. The organ failure has been going on for too long. It is surprising he is still alive. By all accounts, he should be dead. It is too risky to give him new organs. His body is already under a great deal of stress. It is 97% likely the moment we unhook the old organs, total organ failure would occur."

There was a pressure building up in his eyes. "So . . . so now what?" he whispered.

"Give him pain medication to dull the pain," the droid said. "I predict he has only twenty-four standard hours to live."

Luke said nothing. His eyes at once went back to the white form on the medical table. He moved past the droid and came to a stop at the table. Vader, no Anakin, looked so different. He looked so sad. So broken. All of his limbs had been removed. The suit was completely gone. All that was left was a body and head with various tubes and plates and nasty scars.

Gently Luke placed his hand, his flesh hand, on Anakin's arm. For the first time, they were touching, truly touching. Anakin stirred. His head weakly rocked from side to side and then his blue eyes slowly opened. At once they focused on Luke. A plastoid breathing mask had been placed over Anakin's nose and mouth to assist with the breathing. It obstructed the view of his mouth, but despite that Luke swore he saw the corners of Anakin's mouth raise just a tiny bit.

"Luke . . ." Anakin said in a whispery raspy voice.

"Father," Luke replied. His voice was laced with pain and grief.

"I . . . know . . . I am . . . dying . . ."

Luke's body shook as he fought off a sob. He squeezed Anakin's arm tighter.

"It's not fair," Luke mumbled. Finally he had gotten back his father. His true father. Anakin Skywalker.

"Luke . . ." Anakin said. "I am . . . fine . . . with . . . dying."

Luke couldn't stop the sob that escaped him this time. "Fath . . . father . . ." he said sadly.

"Stay . . . with . . . me . . ." Anakin asked.

If he opened his mouth, he would cry. So Luke nodded. His eyes were wet, blurry and filled with tears. He squeezed his father's arm again. They were quiet for a while. The only sound was the hum of machines and whirl of the droids working still to keep Anakin alive a little bit longer.

"Tell me . . . about your . . . sister . . ." Anakin asked.

A sad smile stretched across Luke's lips. "She's brave and smart and pretty. I uh had a crush on her when I first met her. I didn't know she was my sister. She puts on a tough act; I suppose a bit like you."

Luke went on and on about his sister. He told Anakin various stories about her. He only stopped when a coughing fits would wrack Anakin's entire body. A few times blood sputtered out into the breathing mask. The most recent fit had morphed into a full seizure. The medical droids buzzed into action. Luke backed away to let them work.

He couldn't watch. He ran out of the room. Anakin was dying. All Luke had done was ramble on pointlessly about stupid stories. He was ruining it! Anakin's last moments! He slammed his fist into the wall. The impact left a small crater in the durasteel. He hadn't been aware he had used the Force to power his punch.

Tears streamed down his face. He leaned over and placed his head against the smooth cold metal of the wall. He let himself cry as he didn't want to do it front of his father. After a few moments, he collected himself and returned back to the med room.

Everything had calmed down. As Luke returned to Anakin's side, he saw his father with his eyes closed and breathing slowly but evenly. He looked peaceful. Luke just stood there not wanting to wake him. But eventually Anakin's blue eyes opened. They looked cloudy and unfocused. A sob caught in Luke's throat.

A wheezy sound came of Anakin. Perhaps he was trying to talk, and now finally he was unable to.

"Father . . ." Luke croaked painfully. "I'm sorry. These last few hours. I've just been rambling on and on about the most useless things."

He leaned over and placed his own face above his father's. Slowly and as gently as he could, he kissed his father's forehead. Luke's body trembled as he fought off waves of grief. He lowered his forehead and placed against it his father's scarred one.

Suddenly, Luke was filled with warmth and light. He blinked. No longer was he standing in the med room, bu in a large open field. Tall grass and flowers swayed in a soft breeze. Rolling hills were seen in the distance in one direction and in the other were waterfalls tumbling down short cliffs into a river. The sky was a beautiful light blue.

"Beautiful isn't it?"

Luke spun. A man stood beside him. He was tall and wore black and brown tunics similar in style to that of a Jedi. He had long wavy dark blonde hair. A scar slashed along his face near his right eye. His eyes were the same color of the sky. Blue and bright.

The man smiled at Luke. It was large smile that felt so genuine and full of love. A smile tugged at Luke's lips, but he didn't let it form. He was still confused about where he was and who this man was.

"Luke," the man said. "There is no need to apologize. These last few hours with you have been the happiest I've had in years. Possibly decades even."

"Fa-father?" Luke whispered.

Anakin Skywalker smiled and nodded. He turned his attention to the field and Luke looked out as well.

"This is where your mother and I . . . well where we started to fall in love. Or perhaps we already were in love. At least I was," Anakin said amused.

"Where is this?" Luke asked.

"Naboo," Anakin replied. He turned back and faced his son. "What do you know of her? Your mother?"

"Nothing."

Anakin's mouth twisted into a painful grimace. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. Again he faced the serene scenery.

"She was an angel," Anakin said in a soft voice. Luke took a step closer to hear better. "Her name was Padme Amidala. She was a queen and a senator of Naboo. She was beautiful and fierce and smart. And . . ." Anakin again faced Luke. Anakin's eyes were watery as if any moment he'd start crying. "And she loved you. And your sister. She was going to leave the Senate. She wanted to come here. Her family had an estate in the lake country. She wanted to have the nursery by the garden."

Luke again looked out across the green field. What would it have been like to grow up here? Amongst all this green and water? With both of his parents and his sister?

"She had long brown curly hair with warm brown eyes," Anakin continued.

As he spoke a figure seemed to appear amongst the grass. A young woman sat picking at the wild flowers. She wore a yellow dress that hung off her shoulders except for a pair of thin straps. The dress had small flowers sewn into it. Colorful ribbons were tied around her arms and streamed down past her hands. She laughed at something unseen.

"She was beautiful," Luke said. He had never seen his mother. Had always wondered what she looked like. He could see Leia in her.

"Yes," Anakin said.

Her laughter grew louder and then she looked up. Her eyes widened as if she spotted the two of them.

"Ani?" she shouted. A huge smile grew across her face. "Ani!" she shouted as she jumped up. She ran across the grass. Anakin took a hesitant step forward. He looked over at Luke. He was fighting back tears.

"Go," Luke said.

Anakin said nothing. Only nodded and smiled. Then he turned and ran. He scooped her up into his arms and spun her around. She laughed and so did he. Her arms wrapped around his neck. Their faces came together in a long and passionate kiss. Then she took a small step away. She placed a hand on his cheek and he leaned into her. She took his hand, his ungloved hand, into both of hers and started to lead him into the grassy field.

Anakin never looked back. His eyes were on her. The field started to brighten, and Luke's eyes started to hurt. He wasn't sure if it was the light or his grief or the scene that caused the tears to fall. But right before everything faded into white, he saw his mother turn around. She looked right at Luke. A smile upon her face. Her lips moved, but he heard nothing.

Then he was back in the med room. The machines were blaring their alarms. Luke stepped away unable to face his father's lifeless body. He didn't need to hear the med droids tell him his father had died. He had already felt it in the Force. He left the room and the body and the alarms behind. The tears fell down his face. His body shook with sobs he could no longer fight back. But despite all of that, Luke Skywalker smiled as he recalled the words his mother had said. The ones he hadn't heard but knew she had said.

"Thank you."

Chapter Text

"Han!" Luke shouted. "Come see this!"

The spyglass was pressed to Luke's face. He looked at the opposing Imperial fleet. It matched the Alliance fleet ship for ship. But Luke was drawn to the dark figure standing on the bow of the first ship. He was tall and dressed in all black. A cape billowed behind him in the wind. He wore a black helmet and mask.

There was no denying it. Luke had seen plenty of posters depicting Darth Vader. It had to be him.

"Let me look, kid," Han said as he approached.

He took the spyglass and looked out across the water. He stared for a few moments before lowering the glass.

"What am I supposed to be looking for?" he asked. "It all looks the same to me."

Luke snatched the glass away and brought it back up to his eye. There was no dark figure standing on the front ship. Had he just been imagining things?

"I . . . uh . . . must be seeing things," he mumbled.

Han clapped him on the back. "Just pre-battle nerves," he said.

Luke nodded. Plus why would Darth Vader be here? Shouldn't he with his own fleet? The dreaded Death Squadron? This was not the Death Squadron. It was a smaller Imperial fleet made of small boats made for the shallows of river warfare. Like the Alliance fleet, the ships were a combination of ironclads and wooden-hulled gunners.

Luke was on the Alliance fleet's flagship the Millennium Falcon. It was a wooden-hulled ship, but what it lacked in iron-plated armor it made up with in speed. It was the fastest ship in the fleet.

"How are you doing?" Luke asked. "How are your nerves?"

Han shifted and pulled at the collar of his new uniform reflecting his new rank, rear admiral. He looked stiff in the tan double-breasted coat that bore the shoulder markings of two stars with the stripes. The cuffs of his sleeves bore the three stripes and a star. The light blue collar of the undershirt was neatly folded over the jacket into two triangular points. Han had never strived to be part of the rebellion, much less an officer. But that didn't mean he was undeserving of his rank. He had earned this rank, and everyone in this fleet knew it.

This would be Han's first real battle as the highest ranking officer. It was a bit on the personal side for him, which was why he volunteered to do it. The Alliance fleet was going to break the Imperial blockade on Corellia Bay. They would then secure Coronet City, Han's hometown, and the shipyards there. This would weaken the Imperial war machine, but breaking the blockade was not going to be easy.

Attempts had been made to secure the bay earlier in the war, but all had failed. Natural geography helped the Empire. A long narrow peninsula of sand came out from the east side of the bay, while a line of barrier islands came in from the west. There was only one main thin channel going in and out of the bay called the Kessel Run.

The Empire had two forts on both sides of the Run. One on the island side and one on the peninsula side. Even though the two forts were within eyesight of each other, their gun range didn't reach into the middle of the Run. That was why there was a submerged minefield under the water. It stretched from the western islands almost all the way across the channel. It forced ships to come close to the eastern fort and its heavy guns.

Of course even if the fleet managed to make it through the Run, mines, guns and all, there was still an Imperial Fleet waiting in the bay.

"This plan seems a bit crazy," Han muttered.

"It's your plan," Luke said with a smile. He now held the rank of lieutenant commander, but unlike Han he wasn't wearing an officer's uniform. Instead he wore the simple sailor outfit of a light gray shirt, black vest, khaki pants, and black boots.

"The wind is working for us," Han noted. He gave Luke a nod, and then walked off. It was time to begin.

Han's plan had each of the sixteen ships in the fleet paired up. Each wooden-hull was paired with an ironclad, and the two ships were tethered together. The ironclad was on the eastern side, the fort side. As the boats made their way through the Run, the ironclad would act as a shield for its wooden sister. If one boat was damaged, then the other boat could tow it along. Once out of range of the fort's guns, then the fleet would untether themselves and focus on the Imperial ships.

It seemed like a good plan. But Luke had this sinking cold feeling in his stomach ever since he had seen that large dark figure on the Imperial ship. He had to remind himself it wasn't Darth Vader. It couldn't be. The Supreme Commander of the Imperial Forces would not be bothered with such a battle. There were more important fronts to focus on. Right?

Luke had missed the signal. The fleet was moving. The fleet had formed a single column of paired ships, since the Run wasn't wide enough for anything bigger. The Falcon was in the middle. The tide was running in, so Han ordered the ships to cut back on steam pressure on their engines. If the ships' boilers were hit by enemy fire, it would minimize the damage. Luke sent a silent prayer to the Force that the current would give their ships speed.

The ARS Aspiration tied with the ARS Ghorman's Honor led the column. As soon as the Aspiration got close enough, the Imperial fort started to fire. The column pushed on. Everything was going smoothly. The ironclads were shielding their wooden sisters. They were going to make it through the Kessel Run.

But the Aspiration wasn't staying on course. It was veering westward. Han was shouting. Flags were flashing orders down the column. But the Aspiration kept on. Luke could swear he could hear the shouts coming from the Ghorman's Honor. Why was their sister ship leading them to the mines? The Honor desperately went to work to cut themselves free, but that was when the Aspiration hit a mine.

It took less than three minutes for the Aspiration to sink. The Honor was being pulled after it, but finally the ropes were cut. The ship tried to steer itself free of the mines, but met with the same fate as its sister.

Why had they lost those two ships? Why hadn't they followed orders? Luke couldn't see. Thick clouds of gun smoke filled the air. If only he could see! He glanced up. The air was clear higher up . . . It wasn't long before Luke was climbing up into the rigging. There was a slight shift in the wind as Luke got higher. It cleared the smoke enough for him to see out across the Run.

The rest of the column held true. They kept their pace down the Run.

"Luke!" came a shout. It was Han. "What do you see?"

"The column is holding!" Luke said. He glanced up again. The Imperial fleet had moved. A cold dread built up in him. They were preparing their rammers. The moment the column would come out of the minefield, the moment their ships would be rammed.

Something tugged on Luke's mind. A thought. He looked back westward across the minefield.

"Han!" he shouted down. "Adjust the heading! Order the whole column!" Luke gave the directions.

"That puts us too far west!" Han shouted back up.

"We'll get through the Run faster!"

"Yeah in pieces!"

"Just trust me! Damn the mines! Full speed ahead!"

Luke wasn't sure why he said that or even if he trusted those words himself. Han was right. This was foolish to run the whole fleet through the minefield. But it would put them out of range of the Imperial fleet's guns and rammers. The flags were raised. The signal ran down the column. The two new leaders, the Liberty Gambler and the Star Breeze II, started to turn and make their way into the mines.

Luke held his breath. Any moment now the hull of either ship would brush against a mine, but nothing came. The next two ships in line entered the field followed by the Falcon and her ironclad sister the Sundog. Then the two leaders were free of the mines. Then the next two and the next and the next. The whole column was out of the mines. The ship pairs started to untie themselves as they prepared to face the approaching Imperial fleet.

They had done it! They made it through the Kessel Run in record time! The Imperial ships were thrown off as they moved to confront the Alliance. No longer was this battle on the Empire's terms, but the Imperial ships came on anyways. A fierce battle started. The air filled with dark heavy gunsmoke. The Imperial ships moved to pincher the Alliance ships between them.

Luke was still up in the rigging as he watched the battle unfold. The Alliance had lost three ships, but the Empire had yet to lose any. Luke couldn't help but frown. Things were not going their way despite the good start. There was a sudden sharp change in the wind, which cleared away the smoke clouds. It gave him a clear view of the battlefield. He looked out assessing the two fleets, and that was when he saw it.

There standing in the middle of the deck of the Imperial flag ship was the tall dark figure. Luke didn't need the spyglass to know it was Darth Vader. He was here.

Luke swung down to the deck. "Han!" he shouted. The rear admiral was shouting orders to get the ships into a better formation. "We need to retreat!"

"What?" Han said. "That was the fastest time anyone has ever broken through the Kessel Run! It was luck we only lost two ships. Perhaps those mines have just been submerged too long to be effective."

"Han!" Luke said. "It's Vader! Lord Vader! He's on the lead ship!"

Han paused. "What?" he gaped. "Why . . . Would he . . . Why? Are you sure?"

"Yes," Luke said.

Han looked out at the battle. "He's just a man," he said. "None of those stories are true. He can't revert the tide or change the wind."

"Can't alter the course of our two lead ships so they go into the minefield and sink?" Luke asked.

Han glared at him, but the thought clearly bothered him.

"If that was the case," Han said slowly, "Why didn't the rest of us get hit?"

Luke shrugged. That he didn't have the answer to.

"It's a bunch of nonsense," Han said.

"Han. We've also lost the Sundog, the Night Sail, and the Inspire, yet none of the Imperial ships have gone down." Han didn't reply. "Han," Luke said again. "We're going to lose."

"You don't know that," Han replied angrily. "We could still win!"

An explosion instantly stole both of their attentions. The Star Breeze II's steam engine had been hit by Imperial fire. The ship was lost. An Imperial ship was plowing through the waters straight at the Falcon. The tall dark figure stood at the bow.

"Darth Vader," Han said under his breath. Then he looked at Luke with wide eyes. "We retreat," he said. "We'll head to the Bespin."

"Bespin?" Luke asked.

"It's a river a bit to the west. A bunch of marshland and swamps. Always thick with fog. There's a smuggler's hideout there called Cloud City."

Luke nodded. He prayed to the Force again. They needed just a bit more luck to get away.


The Bespin River didn't look like much of a river, but Han said this was just the large basin at the mouth of the river. It branched and braided over several miles creating various wetlands, marshes, bayous, and swamps. The water was black and murky. Pond cypress trees grew out of the water. They had large bases that spread out into the dark water. Gray moss hung from the branches. Green algae and water plants floated in the dark water. Tall marsh grasses grew where the water was shallow.

Luke wasn't sure how Han knew the way. He just seemed to know which turns to take. Luke expected the fleet to run aground even though these ships were made for shallow rivers. But the boats moved smoothly on. The deeper they went, the more the fog grew. It started off as a white wispy clouds clinging to the water between the tree roots. But it got thicker and thicker. Luke shivered.

All the ships had become quiet. Out of the original sixteen they had started with, they were down to nine. Two had been lost at the beginning, five during the battle, and another two during the retreat. They came to another branch in the river. The small waterway twisted into the dark trees and fog. A wooden sign with dark letters and green moss hung from a tree. It read: Dagobah. Do Not Enter.

"Dagobah?" Luke asked.

"A swamp," Han said. "You don't want to go in there, kid. It's nothing but a maze. Plus there's nothing in there besides ghosts if you believe in that nonsense."

They continued on. The fog was now thick and heavy. They couldn't see that much in front of them. Luke started to notice signs of humans. Floating planks of wood. A chair. An old fishing pole. He saw paint on some of the trees. Then he heard the singing. Drunken singing.

"Looks like someone is having a good time," Han murmured.

Then the lights started to appear in the fog. Slowly a whole town made of shanty buildings on stilts or boats came into view. There was no large port, so the Falcon had to anchor amongst the trees. They took a boat to the town. They stumbled on to the pier and at once a dark skinned man was marching towards them.

"You know we don't want your type here," he said sternly. A group of men followed behind him. The man in front stopped as he took in Han's uniform. "An officer?" he said surprised. "You? You an officer? You slimy, double-crossing, no-good swindler?"

Han shrugged and pointed at himself innocently. Then the dark skinned man broke into a huge smile and laughed as he walked up to Han and wrapped him into a hug.

"How you been doing, you old pirate? Can't believe the Rebellion made you an officer. They must be really desperate," the man said.

"Hey, they were the one to throw the promotion on me," Han said. He looked over at Luke and waved him over. "This is Lando Calrissian. A friend. We go way back."

"And who is this?" Lando asked as stepped forward and offered his hand. Luke shook it.

"This is Luke," Han said.

"What are you doing here?" Lando asked.

"We just had a brush in with the Imps over in the bay. Just need to lay low for a bit."

"Trying to break the blockade?"

"Hey we made it through the Kessel Run in sixteen minutes!"

"Sixteen minutes?" Lando laughed. "In what? Kicking on a plank of wood?"

"We went over the minefield," Luke explained. "Twice, actually." They had to cross back over to get out.

Lando looked from Luke to Han and back. "Now that sounds like a tale," he said clapping Han on the back. "Let's hear it over some drinks."

Laughter filled the air as the Alliance sailors were welcomed into Cloud City. Soon they joined the drunken singing and shouting and fighting. Luke joined Han and Lando for a while before he drifted away to the docks. He couldn't shake this feeling he had in him. It kept pulling his mind back to the Dagobah. He went back to the Falcon and curled up in his bunk. But still the word Dagobah repeated in his head.

The next morning he took the boat on to the river. No one was on watch. Probably everyone had got drunk last night. Luke should reprimand them when got back, but having escaped the Empire, having escaped Darth Vader, was a good reason for a night of drinking. Plus it allowed Luke to get away unseen. He made his back down the foggy river until he came back to the sign. He rowed the boat into the dark trees.

Han was right. The swamp was a maze. There were no clear paths. Sometimes Luke had to stand up and use his feet to push off muddy islands. There were a few tight squeezes between trees. Luke saw alligators and snakes swimming through the water. Birds swooped over head. He was about to turn around as he was unsure why he had even ventured here in the first place when he saw lights.

He made his way toward them. There was an island, slightly bigger than the rest. On it was a hut. It looked like it was made from a large tree and mud. It was rounded and small, but had several small windows from which gold light escaped out of. Luke pulled his boat ashore and walked cautiously to the hut.

"Made it you finally have," an odd voice called out.

Luke froze and looked around wildly. That was when he noticed an odd old man sitting hunched over on a fallen log. The man stood up and leaned heavily on a cane. He was short and old. Really old. His skin was brown and wrinkly. It almost seemed to sag off of him in spots. He wore a turban on his head that had two pointed pieces of fabric hanging out the sides. It almost looked like large ears. He wore a dirty beige robe.

"I uh . . ." Luke said completely at a lost of what to say.

"Young Skywalker you are," the man said.

"How . . . How did you know that?"

"Yoda I am," the old man said. "Come. Come." He hobbled past Luke and made his way to the hut. He paused in the door and repeated, "Come. Come." Luke followed.

The hut was small and Luke couldn't stand up all the way. He sat down on a small wooden stool.

"Yoda was it?" Luke asked. "How did you know who I am?"

"Know your father I did," Yoda said. Luke's mouth hung open. "A Jedi I am."

Luke's mouth gaped open. "A . . . a jedi?" he almost shouted.

He had thought they were all dead, especially after the death of old Ben.

"Can you train me? In how to use the Force?" Luke asked.

"Why you wish become Jedi? Hmm?"

"Mostly because of my father, I guess."

"Ah, your father. Powerful Jedi was he. Powerful Jedi. Mmm."

Luke just watched as Yoda walked over to a fire where he had an iron pot hanging. He stirred the insides with a long spoon.

"I cannot teach him," Yoda said irritated. "Much anger in him. Like his father." Then there was silence. Luke looked around. "The boy has no patience." Again a stretch of silence. "Hah. He is not ready."

Was Yoda talking to someone?

"I am ready," Luke said jumping to his defense. "Yoda! I am!"

"He is too old. Yes, too old to begin the training."

"But I've learned so much!" Luke said.

Yoda turned and looked at Luke. Luke noticed the man's eyes were a piercing green. They seem to dig at Luke. Not just the outside, but into his mind as well. Luke feels like he is being weighed and tested. Finally Yoda sighed.

"Will he finished what he begins?"

"Yes!" Luke said. "I won't fail you. I'm not afraid!"

"Oh, you will be. You will be."

An awkward silence stretched through the hut.

"Training we shall begin. Ahead of you long road is, young Skywalker."

"Wait," Luke said. "I need to go back to Cloud City. I need to tell Han and the others."

"No," Yoda said slamming down his walking stick. "Stay here you must. Said you would finished what you begin."

"We haven't even begun yet," Luke pointed out. "If I don't go back, they'll worry about me. I won't mention anything about you, but they need to know I'm safe. I'll come back, I promise. I just need to tell my friends."

"You must not go!" Yoda shouted.

Luke stood up and moved towards the door. "I will return. I promise." He opened the door and walked back into the swamp.

He made his way back to his boat. He found it far easier to make his way out of the Dagobah Swamp. Once back on the Bespin River, he made his way back upstream. As he passed the first anchored Alliance ship, Luke looked up. The fog was still heavy, but he could see up to the deck. No one was on board. Luke frowned. It was one thing to give the crew a night off, but there should be someone on watch now.

Then Luke passed the next ship and the next. No one stood on deck. The ships were quiet and still. He wondered where everyone was. Had they all gone into Cloud City? He would need to have a word with Han. He saw the lights of the city. He expected a loud ruckus, but it was just a soft murmur. Everything seemed subdued. A few smugglers and outlaws lingered about, but Luke didn't see any Alliance sailors.

Once he tied up his ship, he made his way across the various boardwalks to the hut Han was staying in. The lights were dark. Was Han even in? Luke pushed open the door.

"Han!" he shouted as ran across the floor.

Han was tied up to a support pole. His hands were stretched back around the pole. His face was bruised and bloodied. There was a gag in his mouth. His head rolled from side to side as he looked up at Luke. Luke knelt down and pulled down the gag.

"Han," he said. "What happened?"

"Luke, it's a trap," Han muttered.

Before Luke could say another word, strong hands grabbed at his arms. At once Luke was screaming and kicking, but more hands grabbed him. Then a cloth was placed against his nose and mouth. Luke squirmed and continued to try and break free, but then his body started to feel heavy. His movements started to slow down. His head spun. He felt sluggish. He fought to keep his eyes open.

The hands lowered him to the ground. He couldn't move at all. Not even a finger. But he fought to keep his eyes open. Heavy footsteps were heard. They echoed loudly in Luke's dazed mind. They came to a stop right in front of him. Luke could only see black. He could just make out that some of the black was different from the other. Black boats and a black . . . cape?

Then the blackness stirred. It was a figure. A person in all black. He even wore a black metal helmet and mask. A black gloved hand rested on Luke's forehead. It laid there softly. The black glove slowly slid down his face. As it covered his eyes, they closed. He could no longer keep them open. There was a heavy pull inside of him calling him to sleep. He tried to fight off, but eventually he could no longer fight it.


Luke woke up to the gentle rocking of the sea. As his eyes came into focus he found himself staring at an unfamiliar wooden roof. He turned his head and found he was in a bunk that was placed against the wall. High slats prevented him from rolling out of the bed, even if the water got rough.

He blinked as he took in the rest of the room. The bunk was in a corner. In the opposite corner sat a large desk under a large window. Pinned up on the wall next to the desk were maps and notes. Luke could see a bit of clutter on the desk itself. There was a globe, an inkwell, stacks of papers under a paper weight, and a clock.

Luke glanced around. This room was big for a ship. It had to be the captain's quarters. But it wasn't Han's. This wasn't the Falcon. So where was he?

He tried to push himself up, but found his body was still weak and not responding. He flopped down back on to the bed. His head spun, and he squeezed his eyes shut. He sighed and reopened his eyes. That was when he noticed the bright red flag on the wall by his bed. A horrible sense of dread started to claw its way up inside of him. That was the red flag of the Empire. This was an Imperial ship.

What was he doing on an Imperial ship? In the captain's quarters? Why wasn't he in the brig? He tried to push himself up again. He managed to sit up, but at once nausea overwhelmed him. Spots swam in his eyes, and he fell back down into the bed. He groaned as he tried not to throw up. At some point he must have drifted off to sleep, because he awoke to the sound of heavy steps, the click of a key, and a door opening.

Yet he didn't open his eyes. He laid still. He heard the door close and the key click again. Luke cursed to himself. So he was locked in here. The heavy steps came closer and closer until they stopped right at edge of the bunk. Luke could feel there was someone next to him. Someone watching.

"Do not pretend to sleep," came a deep dark voice.

Luke opened his eyes. A man stood towering over him. His arms crossed across his chest. He wore all black. His long wavy blond hair was tied back in a loose ponytail. A scar slashed next to his right eye. His eyes were a bright blue, but they were cold. They made Luke shiver.

"Who are you?" Luke asked. His voice was weak. It felt unused and dry. "Where am I?"

The man stared at Luke for a long while, before he sharply turned. He marched over to the desk and picked something up. He returned to Luke holding a flask. He held it out to Luke, who only eyed it suspiciously.

"It is water," the man said.

Luke slowly sat up and took the flask. The water though it had a metallic taste was still cold and good. He emptied the whole flask and handed it back to the man.

"Thank you," Luke said.

The man took the flask. As he walked back over to the desk, he asked, "What do you know of your father?"

"My father?"

Than man placed the flask on the desk and turned back to Luke. "Anakin Skywalker," he said.

"I . . . uh . . ." Luke stumbled. "He was a sailor."

The man walked back over to Luke. "Is that all?" he asked slowly. "They never said what happened to him?"

"He died," Luke whispered.

"How?"

What was with all these questions? Why did this man want to know so much about his father?

"His ship- ship sunk," Luke replied.

The man's eyes narrowed. A lump formed in Luke's throat and a shiver ran through him. He suddenly wished for another blanket covering him.

"Is that all they said?"

"Yes," Luke whispered.

The room grew colder still. The man stared unblinking at Luke. His sharp blue eyes felt like ice digging into him. A sharp knock on the door finally caused those eyes to look elsewhere. The man let out a soft growl as he walked over to the door. Luke could not see it from the bunk, but he heard the door unlock and open.

"Yes captain?" the man asked.

"Lord Vader," a new voice said.

Instantly goosebumps ran up Luke's arms. He grabbed at the blanket covering him.

The new voice continued, "A new com just arrived via messenger bird."

No one else talked. There was just the sound of the door closing and locking. Then Vader's boots as he walked back into the room. He walked over to his desk as he unrolled the message. He took a minute reading it and then looked up at the map pinned up on the wall. He scowled and threw the message on to his desk. Then he turned and faced Luke again.

"You're Darth Vader?" Luke had to ask.

"I am," Vader replied as he walked back over.

"You were at Corellia Bay. Why?"

"Because you were there."

That didn't make any sense. Why did it matter if Luke was there or not? Was this still about Luke sinking the Empire's horrid dreadnaught the Death Star? It was a ship with such huge cannons it could destroy a whole seaside town single handedly.

"You are strong in the force, young Skywalker. You were able to get you fleet over the minefield without loosing a single ship. You were able to manipulate the tides and winds in your favor. Impressive, most impressive."

"I did no such thing," Luke squawked. Vader raised an eyebrow.

"I assure you, young one, you did. You are strong, but untrained. But I will complete your training."

"No," Luke said horrified. "No," he repeated louder this time. "I won't become like you!"

Vader glared down at Luke. The room seemed to grow cold again.

"I was not always like this," Vader said. "I once had a different life. I had a wife, and we were expecting a baby. But she grew ill. If I did nothing I would lose her and our baby. So I went to the Jedi for surely in their infinite wisdom and powers they knew of a way to save her. Do you know what they said to me?"

Luke said nothing. Only stared wide eyed up at Vader.

"They told me to let her die. To rejoice in her passing and rejoining the Force," Vader spat angrily. "If the Jedi would not help me I would find someone else. And I did. Chancellor Palpatine. He promised me power. Power to save my wife and child. All at the price of becoming his right hand man. His enforcer. His attack dog. And I did so willingly. I burned down the Jedi Temple. I slaughtered the Separatist Council to end the Trade War."

He stopped and just stared. His hands were balled into tight fists. Luke wondered if it was a trick of the light, but did his eyes looked yellow?

"Did . . . did you save her?" Luke asked. He had to ask. There was something inside of him that needed to know. "Your-your wife? And your baby?"

"No," Vader growled. "A Jedi, a friend my wife had known since since she was a girl, a person who was like a brother to me, came to her. He told her lies about me. Worried for my safety she boarded a ship and sailed to my location. The Jedi stole aboard. Once she arrived at the island, the Jedi revealed himself. We dueled. I lost. I was left to die there. The Jedi took my wife. When I recovered from my injuries the first thing I asked was what had happened to my wife. She had died. The baby with her."

Why was Vader telling him this? Why was Luke in his room? In his bed? What did this have to do with him?

"Was the Jedi my father?" Luke asked. Was this what this was all about? Was Vader out for revenge.

But suddenly Vader's expression softened. "No," he said softly. He took a deep breath and the hardness and cold returned. "No, it was not your father. I was to learn this Jedi's crimes did not end with my wife's death. I was to learn later, much much later that my child lived. That the Jedi had stolen my child and hid him away from me."

Luke shivered. It felt like the room was shaking. The wood creaked. It sound like a piece of wood splintered open. There was the sound of cracking glass.

"The Jedi who dared such a thing was none other than Obi-Wan Kenobi," Vader growled.

"Ben- Ben?" Luke asked. He couldn't believe old Ben would do such a thing.

"Yes, Luke. Now tell me, what lies did that Jedi tell you about your father?"

Luke's breath caught in his throat. Everything stopped. Even Vader was frozen. The only thing that seemed to move was Luke's thoughts.

"No," Luke whimpered. His voice broke the spell. Time moved again. "No," he said again. "It can't be. You can't be . . . my father."

Vader's face softened. He walked over and placed a hand on Luke's shoulder.

"It is true, my son," he said. "I am your father."

Chapter Text

Darth Vader stood straight, tall, and unmoving. Even his cape was still. The only thing that marked him as alive was his breathing. It was an even kish-kosh of the respirator. His masked and helmeted head was pointed down. He was looking straight at the twisted body on the dark floor.

The body was twisted unnaturally. Its limbs were askew. Blood stained the black clothes and pooled around on the floor. Burn marks were spotted all over. The blond hair was caked in sweat and blood. The face was twisted and etched forever in a silent scream. The blue eyes were open and unseeing.

The sounds of steps approached, but Darth Vader still did not move. Emperor Palpatine walked up and stopped beside his Sith apprentice. He stood there unmoving as well, except for his face as a twisted smile slowly stretched across it. When he spoke, his tone was somber and serious.

"It is such a shame," the Emperor said slowly. "For your son to die so young and so cruelly. Assassinated by rebels."

Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh. Vader still did not stir. His unblinking lenses were still looking at the body of the sixteen year old.

"I have no doubt you will hunt these rebels down yourself Lord Vader," the Emperor said as he slowly turned away. "You will show them the wrath of the Empire."

Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh.

"Lord Vader?" the Emperor paused and looked over his shoulder.

Finally Vader moved. He straightened up then he turned to fully face the Emperor. He bowed down to one knee. "These rebels will be burned out of hiding, my master," Vader said. His voice was off. It was rough. Dry. Pained. "Whole systems will bleed rebel blood. The scum will finally be purged from the galaxy."

"Good, good," the Emperor said with a smile. "Now go. Execute your revenge. Bring peace and justice to our Empire."

"As you wish, my master," Vader said as he stood. But then he turned and looked back at the broken body.

The Emperor spoke up, "I will see to the boy. Now go."

Vader only hesitated a moment more, before he marched away. The Emperor eyed the corpse. His smile only grew larger.


Vader's fleet had just jumped to hyperspace. Vader had stood at his usual spot in front of the viewport on the bridge. The only thing he had said since coming on board was to order the fleet to Kestos Minor in the Kwymar Sector. Several officers jumped when Vader finally turned sharply on his heels. The entire bridge quieted down. All the small talk disappeared. Everyone at once appeared to be dutifully at work, but everyone was keeping track of their supreme commander.

However, Vader paid no attention to the bridge crew. He walked straight out of the bridge. He ignored all he passed in the hallways. Once inside his personal quarters, he paused. Then he moved deeper into the suite. He entered his private med room. The med droids stood powered down in a corner, yet he didn't activate them.

He walked up to a set of cabinets made of shiny metal. He waved his hand, and the shelves silently slid to the side revealing a hidden door. Vader keyed in a passcode into the door panel, and the door slid quietly open. Once inside, the door and the cabinet slid back into place. There was a short hallway with only one door. A wave of Vader's hand opened it.

The dark lord stepped inside and quickly made his way to the small bed against the wall. He lowered himself down to his knees at the edge of the bed. All was quiet except for Vader's loud breathing, kish-kosh kish-kosh, and the soft barely audible breathing of the sleeping boy in the bed. Cautiously Vader reached out his hand and placed it on the boy's head. He gently started to stroke the feathery blond hair.

The boy stirred in his sleep and slowly opened his eyes. Bright blue eyes blinked a few times and then settled on the black mask.

"Father," Luke said a bit sleepily. A lazy smile grew across his lips, but it was stopped by a yawn. "You're back."

Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh. Vader was unmoving. Only his hand stroking Luke's hair continued to move. Luke's brows wrinkled. Slowly he sat up.

"Father?" he whispered.

"It is done," Vader said as he slowly stood.

Luke's eyes widened. His hands clenched at the bed sheets. He took in a sharp breath and held it. Then he let it out in a soft hiss.

"He's . . . he's dead?" Luke said not looking up at his father.

"Yes," Vader said.

Luke clenched his teeth down. He knew he shouldn't get emotional. But his shoulders bunched up as he tried to stop himself from trembling. His eyes blinked rapidly trying to keep the tears at bay. A heavy weight settled on the edge of the bed. Luke saw in his blurry vision his father sit on down.

Vader wrapped an arm around his son and brought the boy into a hug. Luke wrapped his arms around his father and buried his head into the thick material of Vader's suit.

"It is okay," Vader said. "You are allowed to grieve."

"But-but I shouldn't," Luke mumbled.

"It was still a life," Vader said. "One you spent time with. Laughed with. Became attached to."

Luke nodded. The tears were now falling down his face. He tightly grabbed on to his father. Soon his whole body shook with sobs as the grief raked through his body. Vader shared his son's grief. He undid the iron tight grip on his emotions. Soon his heart pounded with pain.

It was foolish. They both knew this. Neither one should have been this upset. They had planned for this. And yet, they both mourned for the life that ended. The life of a clone of Luke.

When the first attempt was made on Luke's life at the age of four, Vader's investigation quickly pointed to his master, Emperor Palpatine. The Emperor had tried very hard to hide any connection to himself, but Vader had found it. When a second attempt on Luke's life happened only three months later, Vader knew he needed to do something. That was when he had Luke cloned.

The clone, like those of the clone troopers, was modified to age fast. But once it reached the equivalent age of three, Vader had taken the boy away from the cloners. By then Vader had created secret little pockets like this room amongst his ships and homes. Places where he could keep an extra child. The clone needed to fool Palpatine. And for that, the clone needed to be like the real Luke. So the clone was raised with Luke.

The clone wasn't even given a proper name. He was called Luke, though often shortened to Lu. The clone knew he was to be the real Luke's double. They studied together, played together, trained together, and flew ships together. As the clone became closer and closer to Luke's age, the two were swapped out. It would be the clone who stood beside Vader at state functions, followed Vader onto his warships, sat in on tactical meetings with the military, and would go on test runs of the latest TIE fighters together.

Vader knew the fate of the clone. Knew it wasn't his son, his real son. But he also knew he was going to need to sell the illusion to Palpatine. He was going to have to become attached to the clone. He was reluctant at first, but slowly over time he came to care for the clone. He was very similar to Luke, but Lu was his own person.

Lu liked being social. He liked the grand parties of the Empire. He loved to dance. He followed all the trashy holonet gossip shows. He always seemed to know who was dating who. He enjoyed romantic novels. He also liked to play jokes. One time Lu had filled Vader's feeding tube in his meditation pod with toothpaste. Both he and Luke had rolled on the floor with laughter. Vader stood there, mouth filled with minty paste, as he watched the joyful boys.

Lu was never told of his fate. His fate to one day die, but perhaps he knew. The attempts on Luke's life never diminished. A few times Lu had come close to losing his own life. After the most recent attempt, Lu broke into tears. Vader sat down on his med bed, like he was now with Luke, and pulled the clone to him. Lu cried and cried. When the tears finally stopped, he pulled away. He grabbed Vader's large gloved hand.

"I'm glad you're ok," he whispered. "You and Luke. I'm glad you're both ok."

The attempt had placed a bomb on the star destroyer Vader was currently traveling on. Luke and Lu had been in Vader's private hangar. Luke had been dressed as a mechanic and wore a dark wig. When the bomb went off, Lu had thrown himself on top of Luke.

"You know," Lu said with a smile. "I read a quote once that said, 'Life is not worth living until you have found something worth living for.' I'm glad I have that." The clone squeezed Vader's hand.

So Vader mourned. Sobs shook his own body. Tears formed in his damaged eyes and ran down and burned his scarred skin. And in the quiet of the night of space, father and son mourned the loss of their brother and son.


Luke now had to work really hard to stay hidden. He had cut his hair and dyed it black. He wore lenses on his eyes, making them look brown. It was important no one recognized him, because the entire galaxy now thought Prince Luke was dead. Luke had insisted, despite the crazy risk, he attend the funeral. Vader had protested. The Emperor would be there. What if Luke's shields slipped and Palpatine sensed him?

But Luke didn't give up, and eventually Vader relented. However, Luke did have to compromise. He stood amongst the hundreds of mourners on Imperial Center who gathered in the large parade ground in front of the Imperial Palace. Palpatine's speech was waning on. Of course he would use this moment to be more about himself and the Empire, but Luke wasn't listening.

His eyes were drawn to the large black casket that sat on a podium behind the Emperor. A large bright red flag of the Empire was draped across it. Small white flowers littered the top. He wondered who had put the flowers there. They didn't seem to match the stark almost emotionless ceremony. Had it been his father? Darth Vader stood to the side of the casket. His head was held high. He looked straight ahead. But Luke knew he was hurting as he was.

It wasn't until two days later that father and son were reunited back on Vader's ship. Vader's fleet was returning to space to hunt down rebels.

"Did you put those flowers on Lu's casket?" Luke asked.

Vader paused. He was quiet for a long while, before he spoke up. "Yes," he said. "They were placed in your mother's casket as well."

Luke couldn't stop the wave of grief that tore through him. He tried to blink back the tears. He thought he would be over this, but it was still there. The pain was still too raw. Vader collected his son into his arms. Again the two mourned together.

"We will stop him, won't we?" Luke whispered.

"Yes," Vader replied softly. "We shall have our revenge. Lu's retribution."


Luke wasn't there when Vader finally drove his red lightsaber through Palpatine's heart. He didn't hear the curses Palpatine threw at Vader. He didn't see the light fade from his eyes as his body grew cold.

Instead Luke stood in large medical room. Large tubes filled the room. Luke held his green lightsaber in his hand. He was now nineteen. It had been three years since Lu's death. Three years of hiding and training with his father. Three years of planning for this moment. For the death of Palpatine.

Luke looked over his shoulder at the massive bodies of the dead Imperial Sentinels. They had given Luke quite a fight, but eventually they had fallen. A small beeping sound brought Luke's attention back to the tubes. The base holding one of the tubes was blinking and beeping. Suddenly the liquid started to drain.

Inside was a man. Various wires and tubes were connected to the body to keep him alive. They snapped off and the body fell to the floor. Slowly the man took a big gasp of air and unsteadily pushed himself up from the ground.

"Hello your majesty," Luke said.

The clone of Emperor Palpatine slowly looked at Luke. The clone looked nothing like the Emperor. He was young with smooth skin. But the scowl he gave looked was completely that of Palpatine.

"Luke," he hissed. "You died. I saw it."

Luke shrugged. "You died as well."

"So you are a clone," Palpatine said as he pulled himself up to his full height.

"No," Luke said softly.

"The one who died was," Palpatine said. "I am going to enjoy cutting you down myself this time, but tell me boy are there more of you running around? Will I get to enjoy this experience again?"

"No," Luke said grimly. "But I will."

He lunged, and the body of Palpatine fell. This time Luke watched as the light faded from the eyes and the body cooled until the beeping of the base of the tube started to beep. Luke watched as the liquid drained and the next clone fell out. This time he didn't even let the clone say anything before the lightsaber slashed through it.

Luke was patient. He could have blown the whole facility up. Destroying all the clones in one go. But no this was personal. As the Emperor transferred his spirit essence from one clone to the next, Luke waited. Luke waited until the new clone stumbled out of its cloning tube. He made sure Palpatine knew that each of his deaths were at the hand of a Skywalker.

When Vader finally arrived on the planet Byss, Luke had made it through all the clones. It had taken hours, but finally there was only one. It was still alive, though Luke had cut off its arms, legs, and tongue. Vader and Luke wasted no time. They took the wiggling husk of Palpatine and threw him into the carbon-freezing chamber. There the last fragment of Emperor Palpatine, Darth Sidious, was frozen into carbonite.

Neither Luke nor Vader wanted to risk Palpatine transferring his spirit into someone else. Perhaps in a way Palpatine was getting his wish. He had mastered immortality. He would live forever as a limbless torso screaming silently as a slab of rock.


Luke stood in the tomb that was marked was once marked with his name. After Palpatine's death and Vader's rise to throne, the name had been changed. It now bore the proper name, Lu. Luke was now twenty-five. He placed a hand on the black casket.

"Thank you," he said.

He left the catacombs and returned back to the palace. He made his way through the hallways until he came to a room next to the gardens. The windows were open and outside the flowers were in full bloom. Luke smiled as he made his way to the crib that was placed next to the window. Inside was his son. He looked just his father. Blond hair and blue eyes.

The baby was awake. He wiggled happily as he recognized his father. Flowers had floated in from the window and into the crib. The baby held one flower tightly in his hand.

"What do you have there, little one?" Luke asked as he opened the baby's hands. It was a small white flower. The same the had been placed on Lu's casket. Luke looked out the window. Those flowers didn't grow in the garden. There weren't even any flowers that were similar currently in bloom.

He looked back down. The baby had wrapped his fingers back around the flower. Luke fought back a wave of sadness as he picked up his son and cradled him to his chest. He walked over to a window. Suddenly the baby let go of the flower. The wind picked up and blew it out into the garden. Both father and son watched it float away.

Chapter Text

Luke tucked his right arm under his left. His hand . . . his hand was gone. He tightly gripped the machinery at the end of the gantry. He glanced down at the bottomless shaft he was hanging over.

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your father," Darth Vader said.

"He told me enough!" Luke barked back with all the anger he could summon. "It was you who killed him!"

"No," Vader said with a heavy weight to his words. "I am- . . . -ath-"

Luke can't stop the frown that pulled on his lips. He shifted uncomfortably. It sounded as if Vader's vocoder had broken up. Vader just stood there frozen. The wind snapped at his cape and Luke's hair. Luke shivered.

Finally Luke asked, "You are . . . what?"

Vader straightened up as if bothered or shocked. He took a small moment. It looked as if he was collecting himself. Then he said, "I- -r- . . . -er."

"You err?" Luke asked. He was now really confused.

"No!" Vader shouted. "Fa- "

"Fa . . .? Er? You are far?" Luke said as tried to figure out Vader was so desperately trying to stay. "Far from what? Me? Good! Stay far away from me! Stay over there!"

There was an odd static sound that came from Vader. His hands balled into fists, but then he did them as he started to press buttons on the consoles on his belt. Luke glanced back down at the bottomless shaft. How was he going to get out of this?

Darth Vader was frustrated. Something is off with his suit. It is not projecting his voice properly. He fiddled with the controls, and finally felt like he has fixed the problem. He looked up. It was time. Time to tell his son who he was. Time to reveal the truth. Time for father and son to join together and rule the galaxy.

"Luke-" Vader said, but at the same time Luke spoke.

"Listen-" Luke said.

Both stopped. They stared at each other awkwardly.

"You," Luke said, "You go ahead."

"No, you," Vader said.

"What?" Luke asked. His body leaned forward slightly. "I can barely hear you."

Vader scowled and at once worked on adjusting the controls. Again.

"Can I help?" Luke mumbled softly. Vader's mask snapped up to look directly at his son. Luke glanced down at Vader's belt. "What happens if you turn that knob there?" Luke asked pointing at the belt.

Heat flashed across Vader's cheeks. He did not need help! He could maintain his own suit. He fiddled with the knobs and buttons some more. He hated this suit! This blasted prison! He hated being at its mercy!

Luke shifted again. He was growing tired and colder. He needed to get off this gantry. He eased back towards the small railing that connected to the walkway. Vader seemed completely preoccupied. Luke carefully crawled across the small rail and grabbed onto the railing. He was close to Vader who stood just on the other side of the railing. With Vader this close, Luke noticed the man was also huge. How was Luke going to get around him?

Slowly Luke put one foot through the railing and onto the walkway. He gripped the railing and started to pull himself forward, but he froze as Vader stopped messing with his belt.

Vader had finally got his vocoder working. The feed was working properly. The volume was set. The truth can no longer wait. He straightened up.

"Luke," he said. "I am your father."

What Darth Vader didn't know, was he over compensated on the volume. Instead of just the normal deep voice, it came out at full blast.

"LUKE. I AM YOUR FATHER."

Luke was frozen in shock. His eyes were wide. His mouth open. Vader finally noticed the boy was right next to him. The two just stood there. Staring at each other. Unsure of what to say or who should go first.

It was Luke who broke the silence. "You're uh . . . volume is up a little a loud," he said sheepishly. "I didn't quite catch that. It came out too distorted."

Vader sucked in a sharp breath. He grabbed the boy and dragged him onto the walkway. Luke gave a yelp. Vader would drag his son back to his ship. He would get his blasted Force forsaken suit looked at. Then he would talk to his son. Finally.

Chapter Text

"Run!" Luke shouted.

He saw her hesitate. Leia Skywalker looked just like the Jedi Luke had read about as a child. Tan robes with a long brown outer robe. She held her lightsaber hilt in her hand. Her brown hair was done in a brain that twisted around her head. Her brown eyes were full of concern and fear.

"Go," Luke said, but this time it was a whisper.

This time she turned and ran up the loading ramp of the Millenium Falcon. The ramp closed, and the ship took off. He sighed in relief. Luke wasn't what the Alliance needed. What they needed was Leia. Was a Jedi. A symbol of hope. Hopefully Captain Solo would see her safely to Yavin IV and to Luke's mother.

Luke grimaced in pain. His leg had been shot as they had tried to make to the hangar. Luckily Leia was safely gone and the Death Star plans as well. Boots were clicking against the smooth floor. Luke didn't turn to face them, but soon there was a snap-hiss and a steady hum. He could feel the heat on the side of his face. His eyes glanced at the red lightsaber pointed at his neck. He followed the beam up to the woman who held the blade.

"Mara," Luke said.

"Rebel," she spat. She looked over a group of nearby stormtroopers. "Stun him," she shouted.

Luke opened his mouth, but the stun shot hit him before he got a single sound out.


He woke up in a cell. He wasn't surprised. He felt the slight vibrations of an engine moving a ship through space. Was the Death Star moving? And if so, where? It wasn't long before Mara Jade stormed into the cell. She was alone. No longer did she wear the leathers of a spacer. She wore a simple tight black leather outfit. A lightsaber was clipped to her belt. Luke slowly sat up on the metal bench he had been lying on.

"So is this when the questioning begins?" Luke asked coyly.

Mara only glared down at him with her bright green eyes. "I already know about you Luke," she said in a harsh tone. "Son of the Rebel leader known as Lotus. She is currently the Chancellor of the Rebel Alliance. And you, are her son."

Luke just stared. He blinked a few times. "I didn't hear a question in there," he finally said.

"Your name," she growled. "What is your name?"

He paused. His mother's words rung in his ears.

"Luke," she had said. "If you ever get captured by the Empire, tell them your real name. Tell them my real name."

"Why?" he had asked. A wave of grief flashed over his mother's face. She placed a hand on his cheek.

"Because, hopefully it will save you."

He took a deep breath and said, "My name is Luke. Luke Amidala. My mother is Padme Amidala, former senator and queen of Naboo."

Clearly it was not the answer Mara had been expecting. Her face seemed to completely relax. It didn't show signs of shock. Mara was perhaps too well trained to show her emotions like that. But for a moment, it seemed like she forgot to keep the stern hard face of an Imperial. She quickly recovered.

"What?" she hissed. "Padme Amidala is dead. She has been dead for almost twenty years now."

"My mother is Padme Amidala," he repeated. "I am Luke Amidala."

"So are you saying the true identity of Lotus is that of Padme Amidala?"

Luke said nothing.

"Or were you adopted by Lotus?" Mara asked.

Again, Luke said nothing. Mara brought out a com and barked an order. It wasn't long before a med droid walked in.

"Get a blood sample," she barked.

Luke offered his arm voluntarily. Once the blood was taken, the droid left. Mara shot Luke one last dirty glare before she marched out of the cell herself.


The door slid open and Mara Jade stormed in. Time had passed since she was in here last. Luke had been given a meal of a nutrient bar and a cup of water. The last time he had seen her, she appeared composed. Now she was off.

"What did you do?" she spat.

"What did I do?" Luke asked honestly.

"Was it some sort of code?"

"I don't . . . I don't know."

He didn't know. He only knew what his mother had said. Was it a code? Were there Alliance spies that had reacted? Mara straightened up, and a smile twisted across her face.

"You think you're being saved?" she asked in a high-pitched voice. "Oh no, little Rebel boy. That stunt got the attention of Lord Vader himself. I heard he was quite enraged when he got the report that you were claiming to be the son of Padme Amidala." She took a step closer. "Rumor has it," she said in a low voice, "Vader was the one who killed her."

Then she winked, turned, and left Luke alone in his cell.

Lord Vader? Darth Vader?

His arms and legs grew numb. A coldness settled in the pit of his stomach. This was worse. Much worse than Mara. Much worse than anything else. Luke recalled his training on getting captured by Imperials. There was a whole section that went over Darth Vader. It was simple. If ever faced with Vader you do two things: run or kill yourself.

It seemed harsh, but facing Vader was far, far worse. There were many rumors about what Vader did to Rebels. Every Rebel feared to be interrogated by him. He could get anything out of any prisoner. Just give him enough time. Whenever a Rebel was reported to be taken in by Vader, the Alliance had to scramble to quickly make new codes, alter plans, and make whatever intelligence Vader was gaining obsolete. It was always a race against time, because he acted fast.

What would Vader get from Luke? Luke's mother was Lotus, the leader of the Rebellion. He may not have a lot of codes, but he knew a lot of faces and names. He knew some details about some missions. He also knew about Leia Skywalker.

They had met on Tatooine. Luke was there to get a hold of the Death Star plans. He was expecting to meet another shady undercover Alliance agent, but instead it was her. Leia. A Jedi. He thought the Jedi had all died, but here she was waving a blue lightsaber that she claimed was her father's. Luke and Leia had gotten a ride from Han Solo to go to Alderaan. They were to pass the plans to Bail Organa, a member of the Alliance's council.

But the Death Star had destroyed Alderaan. Solo's ship was taken aboard. Leia snuck out saying she had to go save her master, an old man who was supposedly a Jedi master. They did manage to rescue him, but then came Vader. A black behemoth amongst the white stormtroopers wielding a red blade.

"Kenobi!" he shouted.

The old Jedi master calmly stopped and turned to Vader. He told the rest of them to go as he took out his own lightsaber and ignited it. Luke had stopped to watch the duel. That was when his leg got shot and he fell. Leia hadn't wanted to leave him, but it was for the best she did.

Luke wondered what happened to the old man. Had he won against Vader? Had he escaped with Leia? Or had he met the fate of so many other Jedi? Was he cut down by Vader?

Luke's thoughts turned to himself. He shouldn't be worried about an old man. He should be worried about himself. What was Vader going to do to him?


It was a much longer wait this time. When the doors finally slid open, Luke was on the edge of the metal bench. He was ready, but no large black cyborg walked in. Instead two troopers and an officer filed in.

"Up," the officer ordered.

Luke briefly considered resisting, but decided not to. He stood up. The troopers clamped binders around his wrists. He was taken out of the detention bay up to a hangar where he was placed in a shuttle.

"Where are we going?" Luke asked.

"Lord Vader wants you on his ship," the officer snapped.

Luke was quiet during the ride through hyperspace, as he left the shuttle, and placed in a new cell on board Vader's personal star destroyer. Time stretched on and on. No dark lord. In fact there was no one. Only the food that came through the slat in the floor.

He wasn't even sure how much time had passed, when finally two stormtroopers came. He was again placed in binders and marched out of the detention block. This time he was taken up in a turbolift and marched into a large empty room. Standing in front a large viewport of space stood Darth Vader. He said nothing. He didn't even turn around, but the troopers left. The door shut behind them. Luke was alone with Vader.

"Luke Amidala."

Luke jumped at his name. Vader's voice was low and deep. The dark lord turned. Despite the mask, Luke knew he was staring directly at him. Vader slowly walked closer and stopped right in front of Luke. A large black hand came out and tightly gripped Luke's chin.

"Hey," Luke shouted. He tried to jerk his head away, but Vader's grip was tight. He twisted Luke's face one way and then another.

"You look more like your father," Vader said letting go.

"What?" Luke asked. He knew little of his father. His mother spoke little of him. "What do you know of my father?"

Vader paused. There was a slight tilt of his head. "What do you know of him?" Vader asked.

Luke glanced down. This wasn't the interrogation he was expecting. He sighed. "His name was Ani," Luke said slowly. "He was a pilot, and he died before I was born." Luke shrugged. That was all he knew. He knew his mother loved his father. She spoke of him warmly on the rare occasion she opened up about him.

Vader was quiet. Only the sound of his breathing through his suit was heard. Finally he spoke. "Ani?" he asked. "So your mother . . . is alive. And she is the leader of the Rebellion."

How did . . . How did Darth Vader get that? Luke had yet to say that Lotus was Padme Amidala.

"What did your mother say of the Jedi girl? Of Leia Skywalker?" Vader asked.

Luke bit down. Finally, it was starting. He would give Vader nothing. Vader raised a hand and pointed a finger at him.

"Tell me," he growled.

"Nothing," Luke said. "She told me nothing about her." It was the truth. Vader's hand lowered.

"Nothing?" he said. His voice full of disbelief. "Nothing of this little Jedi? The one trained by Kenobi." Vader spat the name. "Was she raised by him? Was she not raised by her mother?"

"I wouldn't know," Luke said. He hadn't gotten Leia's life story. "I just know that her fath-" Luke snapped his mouth shut. Why was he so talkative? Was this a trick by Vader?

"Her father?" Vader said in a dangerous tone. "Her father what?"

Vader grabbed Luke's arm. Luke let out a small yelp in pain. The grip lessened a small bit.

"I just know her father was Anakin Skywalker," Luke replied in a whisper.

The room seemed to grow suddenly cold.

"You speak of her as if you don't know her," Vader said.

"I don't! I just met her right before we got to the Death Star. That's all I know about her!"

There was another long stretch of silence filled by Vader's breathing.

"It seems, young Amidala," Vader said, "your mother has not be honest with you."

"What would you know?" Luke barked back as he tried to jerk his arm free. Vader's grip was strong.

"I know that Padme Amidala secretly married Anakin Skywalker," Vader said as he pulled Luke close. "Her nickname for him was Ani."

Luke stopped and just stared up at the black mask. How did Vader . . . How did he know that? And what . . . If . . . his mother was married to Anakin Skywalker . . . Then wouldn't that . . . make . . . Leia his sister? But how? How? And why?

"I had your blood tested," Vader continued. "You are the son of Padme and Anakin. I felt that girl in the Force as she flew above the Death Star. She used the Force to deliver the fatal shot."

Fatal shot? Did that mean? Luke's head was spinning.

"Your sister destroyed the Death Star," Vader said slowly.

Luke took a step away. Vader let go of him. Was Vader telling the truth? And if he was . . . then yes, his mother hadn't been honest with him. How could she keep such a secret? That he had a sister?

"Luke," Vader said bringing Luke out of his thoughts. "Why did you give your name as Luke Amidala?"

"Because that is my name," Luke said raising his chin.

"Why did you state your mother was Padme Amidala? Doing so gave away the true identity of Lotus. The Empire has been searching for that for years."

Luke just glared at Vader.

"Luke, why did she tell you to use that name?" he asked again.

"Why does it matter?" Luke asked. His voice was low.

"Do not test me, young one," Vader growled grabbing hold of Luke's arm again. There seemed to be a pressure on his throat.

"She said . . . She said if I was ever captured by Imperials to use her real name. That it might save me."

Vader was quiet for a while, before he finally said, "I see. She was correct."

"Correct?"

"No harm will come to you," Vader said.

"What?" Luke shouted. He was a Rebel! The son of the Rebel leader! "Why?"

"Because I once went by the name of Anakin Skywalker," Vader said.

The air was sucked out of Luke. His legs grew weak. His head was dizzy. Spots swam in front of his eyes. It wasn't true!

"I tested your blood against my own," Vader explained. "You are my son."

This couldn't be! This was impossible. His father couldn't be Darth Vader! He didn't have a sister! This was too much! Vader's hold of Luke seemed to soften. His other hand grabbed Luke's other arm. It wasn't a harsh touch. It almost seemed like he was trying to keep Luke steady.

"Now Luke," Vader said. "Tell me how to find your mother and sister. It is time we had a family reunion."

Chapter Text

Leia shared a look with Lotus, the current leader of the Rebel Alliance. Lotus's real name was Padmé Amidala. She was also Leia's mother as well as Luke's mother. Luke, her twin brother she had only just met. Padmé's hair was pulled back into a looping bun. She wore an outfit of an Imperial officer. Leia was dressed similar.

Mother and daughter eyed each other before they both looked at the looming ziggurat of the Imperial Palace.

There was a small chime over the com. "You sure about this, ma'am?" asked a voice.

"I'm sure, Antilles," Padmé replied.

"We'll be standing by," Antilles said.

Antilles was currently the commander of the newly and aptly named Rogue Squadron of X-Wing fighters. As currently they along with Padmé and Leia were on Coruscant against the Alliance's wishes. But Padmé wasn't going to leave her son in the hands of the Empire. She would have attempted the rescue mission all by herself, but Leia insisted she come as well.

Antilles and a few fighter pilots argued to join as well. Luke was a fighter pilot of the Alliance as well. He was their friend. They weren't going to abandon him, especially to the Empire.

Leia felt for her lightsaber through her jacket. Her father's lightsaber . . . Who was also . . .

"Why didn't you tell me?" Leia had snapped at Master Yoda and Obi-Wan's ghost. After the destruction of the Death Star, she had gone to Dagobah.

So much had happened in the course of a few short days. Master Kenobi had died at the hands of Darth Vader. Leia had destroyed the Death Star. She met her mother and learned she had twin brother. However, her brother had been capture by the Empire and Darth Vader. Darth Vader who had once gone by the name of Anakin Skywalker, who was her father.

Darth Vader who was now Emperor of the galaxy.

One month after the Death Star was destroyed, it was announced Emperor Palpatine was dead and Vader would take the throne. It was reported the Emperor died of old age, though there were plenty of rumors that Vader had killed him. The favorite rumor amongst the Alliance was that Palpatine was furious over the lost of the Death Star and blamed Vader, who had survived. Instead of taking his punishment, Vader simply killed Palpatine.

The sudden change in Emperor had caused huge cracks in the Empire. Groups had splintered off. Some broke off because they didn't support Vader. Some broke off because they simply didn't want to be apart of the Empire and were using the opportunity to break away. The Alliance was trying to capitalize on this moment as much as possible. Plans upon plans were being made to strike at the Empire while it was weak and broken. But Lotus wanted to go after her son. The rest of the Alliance High Command thought it would be a waste of resources.

So now Leia and Padmé were sneaking into the Imperial Palace of the newly minted Emperor Vader. They hoped to find Luke and rescue him. They had no information as to what had happened to him after he had been transferred to Vader's ship right before the destruction of the Death Star. Leia had to trust in the Force to know Luke was still alive.

Leia and Padmé made there way down a service staircase into the service tunnels that were like a maze in the under layers of Imperial Center. Obi-Wan's ghost was against the idea of rescuing Luke as well. He feared they would face off against Vader and that Leia was not ready for such a confrontation. However, he had provided a way to get into the palace. It had once been the old Jedi Temple. It was actually Yoda who shared the knowledge about the old service vent to Obi-wan, who passed it onto Leia.

The service tunnel did provide them safe unseen passage into the Palace. Once there they used the small tunnels used by small service droids to move around. The tunnels ran parallel to a lot of hallways. There were often openings for the droids to go out of. Leia and Padmé had to pause whenever they heard the boots of patrolling stormtroopers.

It had taken hours to make their way slowly through the tunnels. Both women were tired and sweaty, but neither one was ready to back down. Finally they had made to Vader's personal quarters. It was the best guest as to where Luke was. The Alliance spies on Vader's ships claimed Luke had been transferred out of the detention block to speak with Vader. However, he was never brought back. Usually that meant Vader had killed the prisoner, but there was, perhaps unsurprisingly, paperwork that had to be filled out about corpse removal on starships. Vader's ship showed no logs of Luke's corpse.

There were no other sightings of Luke. Thus that meant he was most likely being kept close to Vader where spies did not have access to. Plus, Padmé believed that's where Vader would keep Luke. Keep his son.

Finally, Leia and Padmé crawled out of the tunnel. Leia stretched. It was the first time in hours she had room to fully stand up. Then they slowly made their way down the hall. They checked each door along the wall, until about the fourth door down. It slid open silently and opened up into a large bedroom. A bed sat against the middle of the wall.

"Luke!" Padmé shouted as she rushed forward to the bed.

Luke laid in the bed. He appeared asleep. His eyes were closed. His chest rose and fell evenly. However, a chill washed through Leia as she eyed the medical equipment next to the bed. Wires and tubes went from the machines and connected to Luke. The machines beeped and hummed as they monitored Luke.

Padmé had reached her son. "Luke," she whispered urgently. "Luke!" She cupped his face with her hands. She kissed his face over and over again while repeating his name every so often. But Luke didn't stir. She straightened up and looked at the machines. Leia could feel Padmé's despair in the Force.

What had happened to Luke? What was wrong with him? Could he even be moved?

That was when the soft clink of the lock was heard. Both women jumped and looked at the door. Padmé brought out her blaster and held it in ready. Her eyes on the door. Leia fished out her lightsaber. It wasn't long before she felt it. The darkness. The cold. The storm of Darth Vader approaching.

He was like a black hole. The accretion disk around him was violent. But instead of intense heat as matter collided as it was suck in, it was an intense cold. And in the center was a black inky darkness. It was dense and also deep. Leia's breath caught in her throat as she felt it. She had no idea he would feel like this.

Again came the soft sound of the lock as it unlatched. The door slid upon, and Darth Vader walked into the room. He was huge. He towered over both women. He stopped a few steps into room. At once dark tendrils lashed out of him in the Force. They swirled around Leia. A few reached out and brushed against her mind. She doubled, tripled her mental shields. One or two tendrils slid away, but a few latched on and tried to worm their way in.

Padmé was tense and stiff. Her blaster was still up, and it was aimed right at control box on his chest. She glared up at the dark monster in front of her.

"What have you done to my son?" she asked. Her voice was even with a sharp edge to it.

"Your son?" came Vader's deep baritone voice amongst the even sound of his respirator. "Your son? Do you mean my son? Our son?"

"What have you done to him?" she asked again.

"Kept him alive," Vader said as pointed a finger at Padmé.

"What. Have. You. Done. To. Him?" she said louder. "Do not lie to me! I know you are to blame for his situation."

"The only one to blame is Palpatine," Vader hissed at her.

Padmé paused but a minute in thought. "Is that why you killed him?" she asked.

A strange sound came out of Vader's vocoder. Leia wasn't sure if it was a laugh or a huff.

"It is why I cut his hands off," he said. "When I transferred Luke off the Death Star, Palpatine had his loyal spy return to the palace and report to him. When he learned that the son of Padmé Amidala lived, he demanded that Luke be brought to him."

"And of course you did without hesitation," Padmé said darkly.

A tense stretch of silence filled the room, though the sound of the medical machines and Vader's breathing still filled the gap.

"And then?" Padmé prompted.

"And then Palpatine asked Luke to join him. Join the Empire. Join the Dark Side."

Padmé lowered her blaster a small bit. "And he said no," she said softly.

"And he said no," Vader said softly as well. At least what could be interrupted as softly.

"And Palpatine did not take this well?"

"No. He . . . He decided Luke would die. He was too much of a threat to his power otherwise. He used his Force Lightning on him . . . and . . . I . . ."

"Cut his arms off?" Leia finished. It was the first she had spoken up. Both Padmé and Vader turned and looked at her. "But not killed him?" she continued.

"I would have," Vader said, "until Mara Jade, ever faithful, attacked. She brought with her the royal guards. She was able to get Palpatine out. I could either go after her or see to Luke. I chose Luke."

"Wait," Padmé said. "You didn't kill him?"

"No."

"So how did he die?" Leia asked.

"He isn't dead," Vader said evenly.

Padmé and Leia shared a look.

"What?" Leia shouted. "So you lied? Said he was dead and made yourself Emperor?"

"Yes," he replied.

Quiet again fell between them. Padmé lowered her blaster completely and glanced over at Luke. Vader's mask also turned to look at Luke.

"So Palpatine is still alive," Padmé said slowly. "Are you sure?"

"Yes," Vader confirmed again.

"Then where is he?" Leia asked. It had been three weeks since Vader had become Emperor.

"I do not know," he said.

Padmé pursed her lips as she took in this new information. Leia shifted on her feet unevenly. She didn't know what to do, especially since Vader turned and was looking at her. She could feel his eyes on him. The tendrils had picked up their effort in trying to break down her shields.

"I believe it is time for my questions," Vader said. He turned back to Padmé. "Padmé, what happened?"

Leia noticed Padmé's breath hitch, but she quickly smoothed it back out.

"What happened, Anakin," she hissed his name, "is you attacked me."

"That name no longer has any meaning to me. Anakin Skywalker was weak. I killed him."

"Oh save your angsty dark poetic words for someone else," Padmé barked back. "You choked me. I almost died and your children with me. You thought I would come back? After you destroyed everything I stood for? After what you did? How many people you killed? No. I decided I was going to burn it down, and started the Rebellion."

"That much I could discern myself. I meant," and Vader turned to Leia, "what happened with our children? Why did you give our daughter away? To Kenobi? Luke knew nothing of her! He had no idea she was even his sister!"

Padmé took a sharp breath.

Slowly she said, "I had just finished faking my own death and pretending to be a corpse for own funeral. I had just given birth to twins. My husband tried and almost killed me. My Republic had fallen to an Empire. And Obi-Wan and Yoda said it was for the best. They insisted and persuaded me that if I kept the twins together you or Palpatine would eventually sense them. Eventually find them."

She looked over at Luke. "And clearly they were right what would happen if he did find them."

"And you told them nothing of each other?" Vader asked.

If felt odd to be defended by Vader. His anger was clear for Leia shared it as well. She understood the reasoning behind keeping her and Luke apart. But they could have told her! Told him! They said it was in case one of them was found, then the other would still be safe. Another logical decision, but still one her heart didn't completely agree with. Perhaps this was why they never told her. They knew she would always ache for her twin. Yearn to meet him. She looked over at Luke. She did want to know him.

Leia had lost track of the conversation between Padmé and Vader, though at this point it seemed more like an argument. The com softly beeping silenced them both.

"Yes?" Padmé asked.

"Ma'am . . ." Antilles asked. His voice was shaky. Unsteady. "Are you alright?"

Contacting Lotus should have been for an absolute emergency. It jeopardized their whole escape plan.

"Of course," Padmé said as she shot a nasty look at Vader.

"Ma'am . . . are you with . . . Vader?" Antilles asked.

Padmé jumped slightly in shock. She shot a look at Leia.

"What do you mean?"

"It's all over the holonet . . ."

Vader turned sharply on his heels. He was out of the door before Antilles had finished speaking. Padmé silenced the com and hurried after him. Leia was not far behind. Vader had gone into a room a bit further down the hallway. It was an office. He marched up to a large holotable and brought up the holonet.

An Imperial newscast was on. Behind the human woman reporter was the symbol of the Rebel Alliance along with old pictures of Padmé when she was a senator and Anakin Skywalker. Both Padmé and Vader were still and quiet as they listened to the news.

"The Rebel Alliance released a statement today, saying that their former Chancellor known as Lotus is none other than Padmé Amidala. A former well-known senator and queen of Naboo, it was thought Amidala died in the violence during the birth of the Empire."

The news cast showed a clip of Padmé's funeral. In it Padmé laid in a large casket.

"During the Clone Wars, Amidala married in secret to Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi general who earned the title Hero With No Fear. The Rebellion also claims that like Amidala, Skywalker didn't die as well. Instead he renamed himself Darth Vader."

Now the image showed Vader when he gave his speech announcing Palpatine's death.

"The claim states that Amidala and Vader, previously Skywalker, have been working together in secret for almost twenty years now. Their goal? To bring the galaxy under their rule. Amidala was using the Rebellion to undermine Emperor's Palpatine's from the outside, while Vader worked on it from the inside."

The news showed clips of the Death Star's destruction. They were shaky blurry as they were clips provided by the Rebellion. Generally such footage would never get pass the Imperial censors.

"With the report of Emperor Palpatine's death, it appeared Amidala as the leader Lotus was going to work on destroying the Rebellion from the inside and join her husband at his side."

The imagine changed to that of Mon Mothma. She stood in front of the red firebird symbol of the Alliance.

"The Alliance to Restore the Republic announces that we no longer associate or welcome Padmé Amidala also known as Lotus. She has been accused of treason and-"

"That is preposterous!" Padmé shouted. She turned on Vader. "You! Was this you? Your attempt to woe me back to your side?"

Vader was silent. His mask moved slightly as he looked from the newscast to Padmé.

"No," he finally said.

"No?" Padmé asked.

"This is Palpatine," Vader said slowly. "He is using his network of loyal spies. He is trying to weaken both me and you. Let this shattered Empire weaken itself further with a fight with the Rebellion. Then Palpatine will finally rear his head, but only to his loyalist within the Empire. They will flock to him. Meanwhile, he'll make a proposition to the Rebellion. Have them work together to overthrow me. He'll make sweet promises of new a reformed galaxy. Then once I'm out of the way, there will be something that will cast the Rebellion in a bad light. Some catastrophe with huge losses. That is when Palpatine will finally return to the public. That is when he'll swoop down and restore peace to his galaxy that only he can provide."

"That sneaky piece of kriffin' shavit," Padmé hissed. She stood straighter as she looked directly at Vader. "So what is your plan? You must have something planned to kill him off or reveal him early?"

"I was going to lure him out," Vader said after a moment's hesitation.

"With what?"

"The Death Star."

"It's gone," Leia said.

Vader turned to her. "No," he said. "The second Death Star."

Leia and Padmé shouted out at the same time.

"What!" "There's two?"

"Securing the second Death Star should be high on Palpatine's list. It is far too dangerous to leave in my hands even if it's not completely operational."

Pame let out a long sigh. Then she turned and left the room. Leia gave a quick glance at Vader, before she followed her mother. Padmé had returned to Luke's room and stood at his bedside. Slowly she fell to her knees. Her arms rested on the bed. She lowered her head down. She almost looked like she was praying.

"Pad-Padmé?" Leia asked. She hadn't quite gotten used to thinking or calling Padmé her mother.

Padmé took a deep breath. She bounced back on her feet. She turned, but she wasn't looking at Leia. Leia looked over her shoulder to see Vader standing in the doorway.

"He is not getting away with this," Padmé said.


Leia sat cross legged on the end of Luke's bed. She wore comfortable bed clothes of a loose pair of pants and a tank top. Her feet were bare. Resting on her lap was holoprojector projecting the news. It was currently on mute as she waited for the press conference with Emperor Vader to start.

Leia did a quick glance at her brother. It had been a week since Leia had come here. His condition hadn't changed. He was still in a coma, and the galaxy was moving on without him. She turned back to the holo.

The first thing Padmé had done was contact the Rogue X-Wings. The squadron returned to the Alliance fleet and collected information. What the Imperial news had reported was true. The Alliance believed Padmé was a traitor. An arrest warrant and bounty had been placed on her. Oddly the same hadn't been placed on Leia, though there was a call to have her escorted back to High Command if found.

The squad were unable to find out where or from who the Alliance was getting this information on Padmé from. They returned to Imperial Center, where Vader let them land in the palace amongst his Black TIE Fighter Squad. It was an odd sight to see TIE fighters and X-Wings docked side-by-side.

Padmé had paced up and down Luke's room once she got the report from Antilles. Leia and Vader watched her quietly.

"Palpatine wants to weaken us by dividing us and turning us against each other," she said.

She was across the room when she paused. She looked right at Vader and Leia. Like Leia was now, she sat on Luke's bed, while Vader stood beside her.

"Then we shall strengthen ourselves by uniting," Padmé continued.

"Uniting?" Vader asked.

Padmé smiled. It wasn't a kind smile. It was a hard smile. The wrinkles in her face said this wasn't a new smile. Perhaps she had learned it as the leader of the Alliance. Perhaps it was from when she was a politician. But it wasn't a joyful smile. It was a hard smile. A smile of determination, but also a bit deviousness.

"Let's give them something to really talk about," Padmé had said.

Padmé had worked hard on getting everything ready for the press conference. She worked furiously to make sure everything was right. Leia was most surprised by Darth Vader. From what she had seen, he had offered little resistance to Padmé's ideas. When Leia had voiced this to her mother, Padmé defended him.

"There is good in him," she said of Vader. "I know it."

Leia thought of the endless dark void that was Vader in the Force.

"I think something in him snapped," Padmé continued, "when he saw Luke being tortured by Palpatine. Whatever chains Palpatine had ensnared around him, finally broke. He was finally willing to step away."

"Because of Luke?" Leia asked.

"Yes. Because of love." Padmé smiled sadly. "Inside of him he loves Luke. He loves you."

"And you?"

Padmé took a deep breath and slowly let it go. "Yes," she said. "And me."

Leia saw the holofeed change. She unmuted it. The Imperial anthem started to play. It was made up of deep powerful marching notes. The music swelled as brass started to play the melody. The view showed a long walkway. A large red and black flag Imperial flag hung in the back.

Then Vader appeared at the end of the walkway. His suit had been changed. The chest and shoulder armor were now a silvery white. The tunic underneath was red, while the suit under that was still the old black one. His long flowing cloak was white on the inside and bright red on the outside. He still wore the same mask and helmet.

Walking directly beside him was Padmé. Her hand rested lightly on his hand. They walked side by side down the long walkway. Her lips were done in the style of Naboo royalty, bright red with a small mark on the lower lip. Two small red circles adorned her cheeks, but she didn't wear the thick white face makeup. Padmé's outfit matched Vader's in color. Red, black, and white. It was a marvelous dress. Like the makeup, it nodded heavily to Naboo and Padmé's time as queen. Her hair was twisted up into an elaborate headdress. Bright red lotus flowers sat on either side of her head, a clear nod to Rebel nickname.

There was no doubt she was Padmé Amidala. She walked with head held high. She truly looked an empress walking side by side with Vader. The media was going crazy. Holocam droids buzzed around snapping pictures. The reporters were all shouting.

"Are you sure about this?" Leia had asked Padmé as she was getting dressed. "You could go back to the Alliance."

"The damage is done," Padmé said. "I don't know what evidence Palpatine's spies brought against me, but to convince Mon Mothma and the others it had to be damning. I could fight it and prove myself innocent, but that will take time. I meant it when I said I was going to burn this Empire down. Just instead of burning it from the outside, I'm going to now do it from the inside."

She sighed. "Leia, I'm tired. And angry. I'm tired of losing the things I love. My husband. My son. My daughter. The Republic. The Alliance." She took a deep breath. "And Palpatine is the one to blame for all of this. So I'm going to take it all from him. I'm going to change this Empire, his Empire. I'm going to unify it, making it stronger, and better. Possibly eventually return it to a democracy. When Palpatine does reemerge, no one will want the Empire of old."

Emperor Vader and Empress Amidala stopped at the podium. Leia turned from the holonet and looked at Luke. The galaxy was going to be greatly different when he woke up.

Chapter Text

It was hard to wake up. It was a battle to keep conscious. So much seemed to be pulling down on him. It was far easier to let the blackness win. To slip back into empty slumber. But Luke Amidala fought it, and he wasn't alone. His mother was there. She was always smiling and giving him soft kisses on the cheek each time he finally awoke.

There was also Leia. Though he had only known her briefly, he now felt like her knew much longer. She smiled and laughed as she told him stories. Many of which he had a hard time following because it was hard to stay awake. It took up a lot of his focus. But it was nice to see her smile.

Twice he had seen his friends. Wedge Antilles, Biggs Darklighter, Hobbie, and a few other fighter pilots. They all talked over each other and spoke so animatedly. They all had huge smiles.

Lastly there was him. Darth Vader. Luke's . . . father. He rarely said anything, but Luke felt him. Vader's presence was cold and inky, but also soothing. It wrapped around Luke and seemed to be strengthening and pulling him up and out of his never ending battle with sleep. It seemed to get a bit easier to wake up and stay awake longer after one of Vader's visits.

Even now as Luke pushed himself to wake up, it was far easier and quicker than it used to be. The effort of finally getting his eyes open sent him tumbling back asleep. But now with a bit of focused work, he found himself awake. It was night time. The room was cast in dark shades of blue and purple.

And no one was there. No Leia or his mother or Vader. They weren't always there. Luke debated on just going back to sleep. Perhaps next time he woke up someone be there. It was a little too lonely all by himself. He sighed and was about to close his eyes, when movement caught his eye.

He looked towards the window. There was something there. A dark shadow. The shape of a person. The hairs on the back of his neck stood on end as he felt the person staring at him. Then they took a step forward. Paused. Then walked forward again. As they came closer, Luke noticed they were wearing a dark cape with the hood drawn up.

They stopped at the edge of his bed. A human hand came up and pulled down the hood. Luke frowned.

"Mara," he grumbled.

"Rebel boy," she said with a smile.

"What are you doing here?"

"My master would like a word with you."

"I already said no," Luke said remembering the last and only conversation he had with Emperor Palpatine.

"That isn't an option," Mara said as she pulled out a hypospray.

Luke flinched and pushed himself up. But his movements were slow. He felt something cold pushed against his arm. He heard the soft click of something releasing. Then he was falling. Falling back on to his bed. Falling back into slumber. Into the dark.


Padmé was hiding. She didn't like to do so, but there were moments when she just wanted to get away. Get away from being the empress. So she found herself here in this room. Luke's room.

Luke . . . Her son. The baby boy she had raised by herself while she fought to create a rebellion against the Empire. Luke who had been taken in the middle of the night while the rest of his family was off planet. That had been two years ago.

There was no doubt it was Palpatine who took and now had him. Vader theorized Palpatine would make Luke his new apprentice after losing Vader. Palpatine would want someone strong in the Force.

"There is no way Luke would agree!" Padmé had shouted.

"Do not underestimate Palpatine," Vader replied. "His evil knows no limits, and he is very powerful in the Dark Side. I fear what he may do to get Luke to turn, for I do not think Luke would turn willingly."

Despite the best efforts of Padmé and Vader, they had found no clues of Luke. No clues of Palpatine either. At least direct clues to where the foul creature was lurking. There were lots of signs he was pulling strings from the shadows, but there was nothing concrete to go after.

A lot had changed in the past two years. Padmé was recreating the Empire. Unifying it. Strengthening it. Palpatine sought to break it apart, and then he would be the one to come in and bring it back together. She wasn't going to let him. So her first goal was strengthening the current Empire. It was broken and shattered as groups broke into smaller cells. Vader had wanted to go after these cells and force them to return. Padmé said first they needed a loyal support amongst the people they already had.

The first thing she did was change Vader. He was a ruthless commander. A murderer. Who struck fear into all. There was no point in arguing his past crimes, but she could cast them in another light. It was simple, just blame it all on Palpatine. She wove a tale that Vader was a slave, forced to do his master's bidding. She released Vader's horrendous medical records to the press, which detailed the living hell he had been living in.

Vader was not pleased by this. He did argue about it, but he didn't win against Padmé. Mostly because the next step of the plan was to have Vader undergo new medical treatment. It had broken her heart to learn what had happened to her husband. What he had lived with for twenty years. Vader hated it as well and was willing to ease his pain.

Some of the damage was impossible to repair, but Vader was better. The list of changes was an exhaustive one. He gone through many procedures. Overall his health was much better. He also looked different. The old suit had been thrown away. He no longer hid his face. Instead he wore a thick metal collar that extended up and over his nose and mouth. This gave him the needed respirator for his lungs. It left the rest of his head uncovered. His head was bald and covered in scars. At first he hated going without the mask and helmet, but now seemed to be more at ease with it.

The second change was to wage war on slavery. Padmé knew this was one thing she knew she could easily and quickly get Vader behind, and she was right. Vader was all too willing to destroy any slavers such as the Hutts and Zygerrians. But it had to go beyond that. It also meant revealing to the public the Empire used slave labor. The Empire's slaves were freed. They were given medical care, credits, and the option to return home, wherever that may be. Planets like Kashyyk were 'returned' back to their rightful inhabitants. Then the Empire worked with the people to restore their homes.

There were of course those who hated this. There were those who betrayed the Empire. Those who broke away and joined some of the splinter cells. But Padmé was trying to right the wrongs. True they had lost individuals and companies with a lot of power and resources. They had depended on slave labor to help their profits. They were too used to the sense of entitlement and power it gave them. The entitlement Palpatine encouraged and created. Padmé was not sad to see them go.

Laws were reexamined to be more fair. Tons of prisoners were released. The senate was reestablished.

The Empire had lost a lot of money from these endeavours. But finally after two years, they were finally starting to see returns. Planets that had been enslaved or heavily enforced by Imperial military were starting to heal. New businesses and trade were starting to blossom. Overall the Empire was a happier one, which Padmé considered an impressive feat considering they were still at war.

Various fractions had come and gone over the two years. Some had been defeated by Vader. Others dissolved. Others joined another group. Now there were only a few big players with the biggest being the Empire, the Rebel Alliance, and a splinter group of the Empire calling themselves the True Empire. It was this last group that Vader believed was secretly being run by Palpatine. A lot of Palpatine's supporters had joined the True Empire. Thus it was watched the closest.


Vader stood in front of the large viewport in front on the bridge of the Executor. His hands were clasped behind his back. He wasn't dressed in his emperor suit, the one that showed his face. That one made him more human and thus more sympathetic. He was now in his battle suit. It wasn't the same as his old suit. The mask and helmet were different. The control box on his chest was smaller and lighter. But it was still all black.

"Never underestimate the power of a good outfit," Padmé had said. "We don't want you roaming around in your old suit. Remember, we're trying to step away from the image of Palpatine's Empire. But you in a battle suit still invokes power and fear. We need that too."

He would take whatever edge he could. For this was it, he was certain. Palpatine had finally made his move after two and a half years of waiting. He had stolen the second Death Star. It along with the True Empire's forces were in the Sava System. Finally, Palpatine would reveal himself. Finally, Vader would destroy him. Finally, he would get his son back.

Padmé stood beside him at the viewport. She was dressed in her battle outfit, as she called it. It was a simple affair, especially compared to some of her more elaborate outfits. It was a bright red coat with white and black detailing. It had a military style to it. She wore simple black pants and boots with it. Her hair was done up in a simple bun.

Next to her stood Leia. She was dressed as a Jedi in tan tunics and a brown robe. Despite Vader's very vocal dislike of the Jedi, he had never managed to persuade his daughter to abandon such foolish ideals. It didn't help that Padmé was very supportive of Leia as a Jedi. Claimed it helped the Empire's image. That it helped Vader's image. He didn't want to argue with that point. He didn't want to mention how many Jedi he had personally slain. Not to Padmé. Not to Leia.

Yet regardless of what they were, emperor, empress, Jedi, Sith, ex-rebel, they stood there together. As a family. As a mother, father, and daughter. They all looked at the hulking mass of the uncompleted second Death Star. All of them thinking of Luke. And of Palpatine.

Vader turned his helmet slightly. "Are you ready?" he asked.

Leia nodded and Padmé looked at her husband and daughter. She was unhappy that she was to stay behind. Someone needed to stay and lead the fleet and troops. Padmé had objected. She had never given up on Luke. She wanted to be the one to find her son. Vader could feel her pain in the Force, but it was for the best. Padmé would be no match against Palpatine. No match against Luke if it came to that.

Vader's fleet had just arrived. It wasn't long before they were hailed. He ordered the coms opened. The hooded figure of Palpatine was projected on a large holo.

"Vader," he hissed. No title. Not even darth.

"Palpatine," Vader replied evenly. "I have come to negotiate."

"Negotiate? Ha!" Palpatine laughed. "Negotiate your surrender before I blow your fleet apart?"

Vader's hands tightened into fists.

"Do you accept?" Padmé said taking a step forward.

"And who will do the negotiating?" Palpatine said. "You?"

"No," Vader said. "I will."

Palpatine paused. "Good. Good," he said. "Then come. I will be waiting, my old friend."


It was a long ride up to where ever Palpatine awaited them. Leia glanced over at Vader. They stood in a turbolift. Four troopers in black amour stood around them. Vader was looking straight ahead. It was in this moment he fully felt like Darth Vader. A raging black storm of the Dark Side. It sent a shiver down Leia's spine. She had never, never, seen her father like this.

Over the past two and a half years, she had come to know him as her father. Often it was in small private intimate moments. She recalled the first time she had let the word slip. Vader completely froze in shock. But in this moment he was not Father, he was Darth Vader.

Finally the lift stopped and the doors slid open. Vader and Leia stepped out into a dark room. On the far side was a large window. In front of it sat a chair in which a robed figure sat. Vader didn't hesitate. He marched forward.

"Palpatine," Vader said as he came to a stop at the bottom of a small set of stairs that led up to the throne.

"Anakin," Palpatine answered back. "Here to grovel at my feet?"

"I am here for my son," Vader said as one of his hands balled into a fist. The other rested on top of his lightsaber.

"Son?" Palpatine said with a slight crook of his head. "Ah yes. I remember now. Your son."

A tense silence stretched across the room. Palpatine raised his hands. Both were metal prosthetics. He had lost them to Vader, who had cut them off when Palpatine had used his lightning to hurt Luke. A chill ran up Leia's spin as she heard footsteps approaching. Out of the shadows to Palpatine's left came a figure.

It was Luke. He was dressed all in a fitted black outfit with black gloves. His hair was shorter and darker. The skin around his eyes were dark as if he hadn't slept in days. A lightsaber hung on his belt.

"I don't believe you've met my new apprentice," Palpatine said in a light hearted tone. "I had to replace the old one. Turned traitor, that one. Darth Natus step forward."

The anger inside Vader rose. The hair on Leia's arms stood on end. The air felt heavy and charged, as if at any moment lightning would strike.

"I see your confusion, girl," Palpatine said. "Natus means to produce, give birth. It means son."

A long silence stretched across the throne room. It was Vader's deep voice that broke it.

"Luke," Vader said. "Your mother is waiting for you. Come." He held his hand out to Luke.

Luke didn't move, but he did look at Vader's outstretched hand. After a moment, he cocked his head to the side and then looked at Palpatine, who only laughed a wheezy laugh.

"Did you really think that would work?" Palpatine said as his laughter died down. "Oh this has been amusing, but I tire of it. Natus." Luke snapped to attention. "Kill him."

It happened in a blur. Luke had his lightsaber in his hand. A red blade glowing from it. He jumped down the steps right at Vader. But Vader already had his own blade up. Red against red. Leia pulled her own lightsaber free, but didn't join the battle. Instead she just watched as father and son dueled.

It was heartbreaking. Luke attacked with such power. Such hatred. His attacks were heavy and ruthless. It was clear he did not have proper training. He pushed forward on instinct. Luckily, Vader was a good duelist. They two moved across the room. Each time Luke brought his blade down, it was for the kill. Vader was only fighting to disarm. It was a hard fight.

And then Vader slipped. Leia gasped. Luke hammered down blow after blow as Vader fell down to one knee. And then with a sharp slash, Luke cut through Vader's lightsaber arm. The hand was cleanly severed off. Luke paused as he looked down at his unarmed opponent. Then he brought his saber up, held it for a moment, and brought it down.

A scream broke through the room. It wasn't Vader's nor Leia's. It was Luke's as Leia's lightsaber slashed through Luke's arm. His hand, holding the lightsaber, fell to the ground. Luke fell to one knee clutching his injured arm. Leia stood over him pointing her blue lightsaber, her father's lightsaber, at Luke.

"Useless!" Palpatine shouted.

He stood up from his throne. Sparks danced from his fingertips. How? Leia thought. He shouldn't be able to do that with his prosthetics.

"You will all die here!" Palpatine shouted as the blue lightning zigzagged across the room right at the three Skywalkers.

Leia jumped in front. Her blade caught the blast, but Force! It was hard to hold it off. She took a small step back and then another. She was losing ground. Sweat dripped down her face and down her back. Her hands had gone numb. Her eyes watered from the bright light. She took another step back and another until her foot bumped against something. She quickly glanced down to see Luke.

He glanced up at her. His eyes were startling blue in the light. A clear blue. Not a sickly sulfur yellow as Vader's had been when he first went without his mask. They weren't even the clouded blue like Vader's were currently. But a clear sky blue. Like it had been when they first met on Tatooine.

"What?" Leia said softly.

And then the lightning jumped off her blade. It went wild. It struck all around them. Palpatine let out a scream. Leia looked through the dancing lightning to see streaks racing out of Palpatine's arms. Some arched back into his face and body. Over and over again he was electrocuted. Then it just suddenly stopped. The lightning. The screams. It went dark and quiet, save for the sound of Palpatine's body hitting the floor.

No one moved. No one said anything. Then Luke slowly rose to his feet.

"It's done," he said in a whisper.

Leia turned to him. "Luke?" she asked. "Are you . . .?"

"I am," he said with a small smile. "It's me. It's always been me."

Vader pushed himself to his feet. "What did you do?" he asked.

Luke looked back at the corpse. "I let him think he had destroyed me. Remade me. Then I offered to work on his arms so he could use the Force lightning again. When he tested them out, they worked fine not knowing I had engineered them to overload with extended use."

Leia and Vader just stared at Luke. Luke blinked and then shrugged.

"Can we go?" he finally asked. "You said . . . you said my mom was waiting."

Leia nodded. The three of them, as a family, left together.


Luke was finally alone in the room given to him on board the Executor. He had already visited the medbay. His arm was in a med cuff where it suddenly ended. He knew there was a chance he might be maimed. He also knew there was a chance he might die, and he was ready for it.

He had to put up the perfect act. He had to make Palpatine believe he had fallen to the Dark Side. Believe he was now loyal to him. And only him. Luke had to lock away apart of himself, and let a new part grow and fester. But when Luke offered to work on his master's prosthetic arms to it so he could shoot Force lightning again, the old Luke snuck out. Perhaps the new dark Luke also knew better as well. It was self preservation.

Luke didn't know when Palpatine would use his lightning for an extended amount of time. The amount of time needed to overload the arms and send electric shocks through the body. It could have been while Palpatine was torturing Luke. When he was torturing someone else. But it would come. Eventually. And it did.

The door opened behind him. He turned to see his father . . . Darth Vader. Vader walked through the room and came to stand beside Luke at the viewport. Vader no longer wore the new battlesuit. He now wore the suit that showed half of his face. Though Luke had seen it before on the Holonet, it was odd to see it in person.

"How . . . How are you?" Vader asked.

"I don't know," Luke said honestly. "I'm not in any pain. But . . . I just . . . I don't know."

"You do not know who you are," Vader continued.

Luke was quiet. Vader was right. Who was he? Luke Amidala? Luke the Rebel? But his mother had left the rebellion two and half years ago. So was he Luke the Imperial Prince? Son of Emperor Vader and Empress Amidala? Or was he still the Sith apprentice of Palpatine? Darth Natus?

"I understand," Vader said. "So much has changed since . . . since you and your mother and your sister came into my life. I found myself lost. Who was I? Darth Vader? Anakin Skywalker?" Vader paused. He was looking intently at Luke. "I realized I was no longer Darth Vader or Anakin Skywalker. I was someone else. Someone new. I can not go back to being who I was. I can only go forward."

Long after Vader had left, Luke thought on his father's words. He couldn't go back to who he was. He could only go forward as someone new. Those words sounded right. He wasn't sure who this new person was, but he was willing to find out.

He would get a prosthetic arm. He would spend time with his family. And then he wanted to go out in the galaxy. He wanted to find Mara Jade, who hadn't been on the Death Star when it exploded. She had been sent out on a mission. What would she do now? Palpatine had been her whole life. She would also need to become someone new.

It wasn't just Luke or Vader or Mara who needed to become someone new. Luke's mother would need to change. Luke doubted she would keep the Empire going for much longer. Slowly she would recreate the Republic and establish a democratic government. Luke wondered what would become of Leia. No longer was she the rebel Jedi nor would be the Imperial princess, which wasn't a role she had ever taken up anyway.

The whole galaxy was changing. It would all become something new.

Chapter Text

Vader, the massive Sith dragon, carefully cleaned his claws. They were stained with the blood and flesh of his meal. The large buck had calmed his appetite, for now. Vader stretched. The large cavern was massive and big enough for him to completely stretch his wings. His black scales and spikes glittered in the warm glow from the hole in the floor in the corner. Below this cavern were lakes and rivers of lava. Their warm glow danced from the hole into the cavern.

Vader turned his attention to what laid next the hole. A ring of rocks. Inside the rocks was a pile of furs and skins. Vader gently pushed the furs aside with his great snout. Deeper and deeper he went until he was close to the bottom. He clawed the furs away to reveal a small baby dragon. Vader looked down at his son.

While Vader was a Sith, a dragon who had lost its internal fire and fallen to the cold darkness, Luke was a skywalker, a true dragon, though he was still far too young for his internal fire to keep him warm. Thus little babies had to be kept warm. Luke slept close to the bottom of the nest where the rocks were warm from the lava below. He looked like Vader once had. Golden scales and sky blue eyes.

Vader let out a soft snort of a laugh. Luke was laying on his back. His wings spread out. His round belly, full from his meal, was up in the air. Surely it was not comfortable. Luke's back spikes may be nothing more than little nubs right now, but still he had them. Vader lowered his head and sniffed his son. Then he started to lick Luke.

He started on Luke's exposed belly. At once the baby started to stir. Vader knew Luke wasn't in a deep sleep. Earlier, Vader had fed Luke first and put him back in the nest while he ate. Luke let out a few squeaks as he woke up. He rolled him over to his side. Vader continued to groom his son. Blinking blue eyes looked up at Vader. Luke let out a long, loud squeak. The baby was far from being able to roar.

Vader used his snout to push Luke so he was laying on his belly, which allowed Vader able to easily and gently bite down on Luke's neck. Vader picked up his son, who curled up a bit as he was being carried. Vader made his way through the large cavern and into the twisting tunnels. He made his way up higher and higher.

Luke started to wiggle a little bit as they neared their destination. He let out a small muffled squeak. Vader soon stepped out of the tunnels into the large courtyard in front of his fortress. Luke could not longer contain his excitement. He squeaked and wiggeled. Vader slowly lowered him down. The moment his feet touched the ground, he was off running across the courtyard and flapping his wings in excitement.

This place Vader called home was called Mustafar, but once it had been known as Theed, the capital of Naboo. Naboo was the country known as the place with a hundred lakes and waterfalls. It was the home of Padme Amidala, Vader's human wife. After her death, after her murder, Vader had used his unquenchable rage to poison the land. The lakes and rivers turned to lava. The ground blackened. The once beautiful palace surrounded by waterfalls was now a towering fortress that pierced the sky with a single waterfall of lava that poured down the cliff it sat on.

Theed and the lands around it were now a wasteland. Nothing lived there except for Vader and his son, and that was how the Sith preferred it. With a leap, Vader jumped up onto a ledge on his fortress. He jumped up a few more stories. He curled around the fortress and laid down. It gave him a good view of the courtyard and the surrounding ruins. Every now and then Vader saw a flash of gold as Luke ran and climbed amongst the toppled walls and collapsed roofs.

Vader watched as Luke climbed up to the highest point of a destroyed house that overlooked the courtyard. Luke crouched low. His butt wiggled as his hind leg claws gripped into the stone. Then he leapt into the courtyard. He unfurled his wings. He glided across the courtyard. When he landed, he let out a happy squeak and quickly found a new building to climb to the top of. Once he was up high again, he jumped and glided across the courtyard again.

Luke had yet to figure the whole flying and flapping his wings bit, but the rest he had taught himself. It must be some innate drive inside a dragon to learn to fly. Afterall, Vader had no dragon parent to teach him. He had learned to fly on his own.

Vader loved to fly, and Luke seemed to have the same attachment. He loved to glide. He easily learned how to, but he took a while mastering the skill of landing. There had been some rough tumbles the baby had gone through. Only a few were hard enough for Luke to cry for his father to come soothe him. Most of the time, he just bounced back up and was gliding again.

Eventually Luke had gotten distracted by the ruins. He started to dig around the destroyed buildings. Vader stretched his wings and lazily glided down to the courtyard.

Luke, he called into the Force.

At once a bright response called back. Luke communicated mostly without the use of words. He talked by projecting a mix of his emotions, images, and colors along the shared Force bond with Vader. Vader assumed this was how dragons naturally talked, but the only other dragon he had ever talked to was his son.

Vader did wonder who his father was. His mother never shared anything about who it was or might be. Surely his father had to be a dragon. Most likely one in human form. So were there other dragons out there? Perhaps hiding?

When Vader was a child, when he had gone by a different name and had different colored scales, he had joined the Jedi Order. The Jedi were humans who able to wield the Force. They had been taught to do so by the skywalkers, the dragons of old. When Vader had been a Jedi, he had read through all of the Order's archives about dragons. There were some old scrolls that talked about the dragons teaching the Force to the first Jedi. But there was almost nothing about the dragons themselves.

But of course there was plenty of material on killing dragons. Eventually the Jedi grew jealous and greedy. They felt the dragons were withholding knowledge about the Force. Refusing to teach the humans everything. So they started to kill the dragons. There were piles upon piles of books and scrolls that talked about ways to sneak up on dragons, overwhelm them, maim them, poison them, and kill them. Once his Jedi master had taken him down into the lowest vaults of the the Jedi Temple and showed him the old bones and hides. The trophies of the dragon hunts.

It was believed all the dragons were killed off during the great purge. They weren't seen again for hundreds of years until Vader. So how did Vader exist? Had the old skywalkers discovered how to change their form into that of a human? Were dragons alive just living as humans? Vader didn't have the answer.

But he did have Luke, who had just jumped over a pile of rubble and was now trotting across the courtyard. His tail and head were held high. He walked up to his father and sat down right next to Vader's right leg. He leaned against it and then looked up with big blue eyes. Vader lowered his head. Snout to snout father and son touched. Then Luke stuck out his tongue and licked the tip of his father's nose.

Warm emotions flooded into Vader from his son. Warmth. Light. All in colors of gold and pink. Luke sent a vision of Vader, a big black scaley blog. Love. Luke was sending love. Vader sent happiness and love back to his son. Luke let out a small happy squeak as he received it.

Vader gently grabbed Luke by the scruff of his neck and picked him up. Luke curled up as Vader carried him back towards the sharp tower fortress. Vader headed down into the maze of tunnels that cut through the rock under the fortress, but he didn't make his way back to the nest cavern. Instead he wound away from the fortress.

It took a bit of a walk, but Luke stayed still and quiet. At last Vader stepped into a large open cavern. It was actually a series of connected caverns. Various pools of thermal springs were spaced amongst them. The largest of which was big enough for even Vader in his dragon form to go swimming, but he didn't take his baby there.

He dropped Luke into a small shallow pool. At once the baby squeaked and started running around the pool. The middle of the pool was deep enough Luke could swim if he curled his feet up. He used his wings to push himself around in circles. Just like with flying, Luke was able to figure out how to swim without any instruction.

After a few laps, Luke made his way back to the shallow edges of the pool. He laid down in the water and spread his wings out. He set his head against a rock on the side of the pool as if it was a pillow and let out a large yawn. Vader inwardly smiled to himself. Finally his son was tired out. Again Vader picked Luke up, but this time Luke hung limply. He yawned a few times and started to nod off as Vader brought them back to their cavern home.

Vader headed towards the ring of rocks that made up the nest, but stopped before he reached it. Slowly he lowered Luke to the ground. The baby let out one squeaky huff. His emotions were blue, purple and gray. He was sleepy and a bit cranky. Vader carefully lowered himself and gently pressed his snout against his son. He sniffed him and started to groom him. Luke rolled over to his side and with all four of his legs tried to bat and push his father away. He was not in the mood to be cleaned.

Vader laughed to himself. He was thankful cranky tired baby dragons didn't cry like their human counterparts. He curled around his son and tucked Luke into the crook of his foreleg against the warm smooth belly scales. Luke at once curled himself into a tight ball and fell asleep.

Vader sighed. He closed his eyes and focused on his core. His internal fire. The spark that gave a dragon life. Luke's was but a warm little ember glowing inside of him. It wasn't a raging fire, but one day would be. One day it would keep Luke warm and strong. For now, his fire was too tiny. He got cold far too easily, and thus snuggled up against his father. Vader would need to be the one to provide the warmth Luke needed.

But no longer did Vader's inner fire stay lit by itself. His core was a blackened coal he constantly fought to keep aflame. When Padme . . . when his wife died . . . Grief and anger consumed him. His fire raged through him, burned him, and changed him. His once gold scales became black and his blue eyes became a golden-red. But after he got his revenge on the Jedi and destroyed Theed, he laid down to rest. His fire slowly started to fade away.

Smaller and smaller it became. Colder and colder he got. He knew once the fire inside of him was gone, he would die. He was ready for it. There was no point in living anymore. Not without Padme. Not without their child. He had lost them both, and now he would join them in death.

Never had he experienced such cold before. His blood turned to ice. His scales hardened. His insides froze. Slowly, he was becoming stone. Cold stone. The Force was the magic of the Earth. The dragons were the children of the Earth. There were fueled by the same fires that fueled the Earth, and now Vader would return to the Earth.

And then he felt it. A soft brush of golden warmth against his mind.

He knocked it away. Whatever it was . . . it didn't matter anymore. Nothing mattered anymore. He was dying. He looked at his right front leg. It was starting to look more like rock than flesh.

But then it came again. That gentle happiness. Vader scowled. Why was he feeling this? Then it came again. What was it? Another . . . another dragon? Perhaps they would have better luck in this cruel world than Vader had.

Again it came. It was so tiny whatever it was. A young dragon? . . . a baby? Yes this world was cruel to the dragons.

Vader didn't know why he reached out to that tiny presence. Perhaps he wanted the baby to know it was not alone. Perhaps Vader himself was lonely as he died. But when touched the mind of that presence, he knew. He knew this presence. He had touched it before when it had been growing inside of its mother.

His child! His child still lived!

He tried to move, but his right front leg was solid rock. His whole giant body was sluggish. Cold. Weighted down. He couldn't even lift his wings.

No! He couldn't die! Not here! Not now!

His child would grow up without either parent! What would happen to them? Vader had to get to his child!

So he focused back on his core. It was now but a blacked coal that had a few flakes of glowing red embers in it. He had to reignite his core. With everything he had in him, he fanned the flames. Slowly, painfully slowly, his fire grew. It was a bit painful and took constant concentration to keep the fire strong, but he had to. Right now, in the present, it was to keep the little baby snuggle up against him warm. The little baby whose own internal fire was only a gentle flame.

He remember the first time seeing his baby. He followed the pull in the Force. It led him to the Tatooine deserts, the very same he had been born in and called home. It was there he found his son. He was in a human form. Just a small baby wrapped in a blanket. He was asleep the first time Vader had ever laid eyes on him, but when Luke's eyes opened, it stole Vader's breath away. They were so blue. A true sky blue. There was no doubt this baby was a skywalker. A dragon.

There was a brush against Vader's mind.

At once his eyes snapped open. His head jerked up, but the rest of him stayed still. It had felt just like when he had first felt Luke. He looked down. Luke was fast asleep. Had it been a trick of the mind? Vader had been recollecting on when he first felt and found Luke. Surely, it was just his memories. He lowered his head and fell asleep.

He awoke to the feeling of small claws digging their way into his scales. He opened his eyes and at once noted Luke was no longer curled up sleeping. Vader felt the claws dig into his back again. Bright warm orange and yellow danced across the Force bond from son to father. Luke was playing one of his favorite games: climb all over his father. Vader didn't get the appeal, but Luke loved to scramble up on Vader's back and wind his way around Vader's back thorns. Sometimes, he would stop and chew on them.

Vader rolled over. He could feel Luke trying to dig his claws in for purchase, but the baby failed and fell to the ground. Dark reds and oranges were blasted at Vader. Vader rolled back up and stretched his legs and wings. Luke marched to stand in front of his father. He let out a series of huffy angry squeaks while he walked in a circle. Then sat down and looked up at his father. It was the baby dragon equivalent of pouting.

Vader sat and just watched his son. The emotions Luke was projecting started to change colors. The darkness started to lighten. It became a brighter yellow orange. Then Luke let out one sharp staccato little squeak. It was a simple sound, but one Vader knew all too well. Luke was hungry. The baby looked over his shoulder to the far wall. Vader kept a few wildlife carcasses hanging there.

But Vader didn't walk over there and pull down some meat. He picked Luke up by the scruff of his neck and carried his baby out of the cavern into the tunnels. Luke's emotions turned a dark red again. He was annoyed. He was hungry. Where was his father taking him? Vader made his way upwards until he made it to a large cavern. At the far end the cavern there was a grand staircase leading up to a large door.

Vader approached the staircase, and as he did so he reached deep inside of him. He felt the hum of life and triggered the change. A deep loud bell sounded deep inside of him. His body started to get warmer and warmer. Vader also reached deep into Luke to start his transformation as well. But Luke's chime was a small higher pitched bell.

Father and son grew smaller and smaller. Vader's large wings morphed into a long flowing cape. His hind legs became legs and his front legs became arms. The black scales slowly faded away to tan skin and black clothes. However, his eyes stayed the same color.

It was no longer a dragon who strode across the cavern, but a man. A man holding a squirming toddler.

Luke was also in his human form. His hair was a fluffy blonde, his skin a light tan, and his eyes were still a bright sky blue. He was dressed in soft white clothes. He wiggled in his father's arms as he adjusted to being in his human form. He reached down and grabbed his feet. He looked intently at his toes.

Until Vader had found Luke, the baby had lived as a human. When Vader found him and brought him here, Luke lived the next several weeks as a dragon. They were both dragons. They should live as dragons! But Vader eventually faced the truth he had been avoiding. Luke would need to learn to be human in this world. They were the last of the dragons. When Vader died, there would only be Luke unless he had children as well. But how would Luke find love? He would have to learn to be human.

Vader initiated that change, and Luke changed into a small human baby. The child was frozen in confusion and then his face scrunched up. It slowly turned red. And then the crying began. Luke hated being a human baby that first time. He couldn't move! He couldn't even lift his head. His eyes couldn't see well. He didn't have wings, and now had this soft squishy flesh instead of scales. And he was so small!

Vader tried to calm him down, but eventually gave him. He changed Luke back into a dragon. Vader tried again to have Luke as a human, but had the same results. Luke would scream and cry until he was back as a dragon. One day, Vader was determined. Luke was going to be a human for more than an hour. He changed the baby into its human form. Then he put the baby on the blanket and walked into another room.

Oh the little baby cried and screamed. Vader could feel his sons wrecked emotions through their bond. He had to tighten his hands into fists. It was a battle not to hurry into the next room and console his son. After three hours of crying, Luke finally quieted down. When Vader entered the room, Luke was awake on the blanket. His face was red and puffy. His eyes were watery. His little human arms raised up towards his father.

Vader at once scooped his son up. "I'm sorry," he whispered into the soft downy hair. He walked over to a table and picked up the baby feeder pot. It looked like an oil lamp, but Vader had seen plenty of mothers use such devices to feed their babies. Inside was a mixture of milk and honey. He put the tip up to Luke's lips and gently poured a bit against the baby's lips. Vader pulled the pot away as Luke licked his lips.

The baby's face lit up. Vader brought the feeding pot back up to Luke's lips. Luke opened his mouth and quickly drank the milk. Bright pink came across the bond. Luke was happy. He enjoyed the milk. Vader couldn't help but smile. It had been the same for him as a child. There were many great things about being a dragon, but there was one thing humans were better at: food and taste.

A dragon's diet consisted of meat, but a human's? There were so many different and wonderful things to try. It was how a human slave had managed to get her dragon son to come inside after a day of flying. She just said it was dinner time, and a young boy with sun-kissed tan skin and gold hair would be sitting at her table. Luke was now no different.

Vader walked into his fortress. The levels above ground were made for a human. Eventually he made his way up the many stairs to the level Vader had furnished. He placed Luke down. The toddler wobbled a bit, and then off he went toddling around. Vader walked to the kitchen with the toddler waddling behind him.

Vader still ventured into the human world. Sometimes it was to hunt down Jedi scum who survived his initial purge. Sometimes he went as a human. Despite everything . . . he was still half human himself. He hated actual humans. A disgusting lot. But he enjoyed what they made, especially when it was something Vader could share with his son.

Luke and Vader had a meal. It was a messy affair. The toddler ate his hands and the food got everywhere. Vader had to change his son's clothes and wipe his face clean. Afterwards he held his son and kissed him. Luke giggled. He loved kisses. He pushed his lips against Vader's face. He hadn't quite figured out that he needed to suck. Instead Luke stuck his tongue out, which eventually just turned into him licking his father's face. But Vader loved Luke's affections. He loved the golden pinks that Luke would send him.

Vader loved his son.

The day wore on. Vader worked on teaching Luke to learn human words. As enjoyable as the colorful emotions and images Vader got from Luke, there was something easier about using words to convey complex ideas. Though Luke was still far too young for any complicated conversations.

After their lessons, Luke played. He had a few human toys Vader had purchased in human markets: wooden tops, dolls made of corn husks, and wooden blocks. His favorite toy was still his father. He loved to climb all over Vader even when they were both humans. Eventually Luke tired, and Vader cradled his son to his chest. He rocked Luke, who yawned and fought to keep his eyes open. But eventually he fell asleep.

Vader carried his son to a large bed where they both slept. As Vader started to nod off to sleep, again he felt a brush against his mind. It snapped him wide awake. He looked at Luke who was deep asleep. His emotions were dulled, but were currently a soft purple. What had brushed against his mind had been cold and green. That was . . . odd . . . Perhaps Luke was dreaming. The emotions didn't come again, and Vader soon fell asleep.

The next day, Vader brought Luke back down into the caverns. He pulled one of the carcasses off the wall. He had to chew the meat a bit before he gave it to Luke. But Luke was unphased. He happily gobbled down the meat. It was interesting to Vader how much his natural paternal instincts had kicked in once he had Luke. How he simply seemed to know things like to chew the meat before feed Luke or how to build a nest.

Vader kept giving Luke meat, more meat than he would usually give the small baby. Luke kept eating. Eventually he grew full and sluggish. His belly was round. He blinked a few times and sent his father bright purple emotions. He was tired and wanted to sleep. Vader collected his son and put him in the bottom of the nest next to the warm rocks. Then he covered the child in the furs and skins. Luke was asleep by the time Vader finished.

When overfed, the baby dragon would go into a deep long sleep which allowed Vader to go hunting. Even if Luke did wake up, he wouldn't leave the nest without his father near. Perhaps it was the baby's own instincts, but Luke knew to stay put. The first time Vader had ever left Luke like this, he had been a nervous wreck. He still felt anxious leaving Luke alone. Luke was so tiny. What if he crawled out of the nest? What if wandered into the tunnels? Fell down a hole into the lava?

Vader pushed those thoughts aside. He had other things to focus on. He started off by making rounds of Mustafar. Ever since Vader's attack on the Jedi, there had been nations who had sent fools to try and kill him. They had sent bounty hunters, great beast hunters, knights, mercenaries, even whole armies, and a few times surviving Jedi. Vader had killed any who dared venture into his lands. Sometimes he saw the remains of such scum. Armor glinting in the red light with rotting flesh clinging onto bones. Not even the scavenger birds ventured here to pick the bones clean. At least they had sense.

Something brushed against his mind. Yellow. Orange. Happiness. It caused Vader to lose focus. He took a short dive in his flying, but quickly recovered. He circled down to the ground. As soon as he landed, he reached out into the Force. He quickly found Luke. The baby's emotions were soft pale blues and purples. He was sleeping. Then what was that just a moment ago?

Vader shook his head. Luke dreaming again. He was preparing to jump into the sky, when it hit him again. Happiness. Vader froze. For a moment, it even caused him to forget to focus on his internal fire. His body started to cool. His head snapped to the east, away from his fortress. That was the direction this emotion was coming from. Away from Luke.

Another . . . dragon . . .? Surely . . . not.

Vader reached out searching for the source. Again it brushed against his mind. Yellow. Orange. Happiness. He caught a glimmer of a vision. Bright green grass and bushes. Flowers. Humans. Vader's lips rose in a snarl. Perhaps there were surviving dragons hiding amongst humans. But then he thought on the vision again. It was low in height as if the person was sitting or . . . they were small. Like the height of Luke . . .

Vader poured all of his strength into reaching out towards the source. It was fleeting. It kept slipping through his grasp. But just for an instance, he caught it again. This time he was sure. It was another dragon. Another baby dragon. Another child.

Twins.

His wife had given birth to twins. Just as Vader had felt Luke, he was feeling his other child.

Where? Where was this other child? He tried to search for their presence, but he was met with nothing. He had to find them! He would find them!

He didn't know it would take him years to eventually track down his daughter, but he eventually he would. Eventually he would bring his family together again. At last, all of the skywalkers would be together.

Chapter Text

Luke snapped awake. Was he dead? He had been on the floor writhing in pain while the Emperor shot him with Force lightning. He had begged his father to help him. Then he had blacked out. Now he was cold and a bit damp. He sat up, his body still ached and burned.

The place was featureless with a dull dark gray of mist and fog. The ground was smooth stone. Where was he? On the second Death Star? Back on Endor? Dead? He didn't feel dead. Slowly he stood up. He reached out with the Force, but there was nothingness all around him. Just silence and the swirling fog.

He ran his ungloved hand through his hair. What was he going to do? Out of the corner of his eye he saw something in the mist. At once he turned to face it. He stretched his senses. Was there something else out there? He thought he heard a faint voice saying the name Leia.

Leia? Was she here?

Luke moved in the direction of the sound. Again he saw something moving in the fog ahead. It was human shaped and gray. It was hunched over as if carrying something. Luke picked up his pace. He was almost running. Perhaps if there was someone else here he could get answers.

Something hard rammed right into him. His body, still not recovered from the lightning, flinched in pain. Luke bit back a curse.

"Sorry!" a voice next to him came out. "I didn't know there was anyone else here!"

"It's ok. I . . ."

Luke's words died on his lips as he saw the man standing next to him. It was . . . It was him. Another Luke. He was dressed in the orange flight suit of the Alliance. He didn't look completely like Luke. At least not how he looked now. This other Luke looked . . . younger. His hair was brighter. His face was more tanned.

The other Luke was also staring. His mouth hung open slightly. "Who . . . who are you?" he asked.

"I'm Luke," Luke said. "Luke Skywalker. Are you . . .?"

"Luke," said the other one. "Luke Skywalker."

The two said nothing. Neither one knew what to say. Both of their minds were reeling. How could there be two of them?

"Leia?" a voice called in the fog.

Both Lukes turned. A new figure stumbled out of the fog. He was hunched over, his right arm stuffed under his left armpit, his gray fatigues were torn and burned. But Luke instantly recognized him. It was himself. It was another Luke.

Luke glanced from the first Luke to the second. This second one looked like . . . looked like he had just finished that fateful duel with Darth Vader in Cloud City. He wore the dirty Alliance jumpsuit. His hair was plastered to his head wet with sweat. His eyes had a wild haunted look as he looked at the other two in front of him.

"Who . . . who are you? What is going on?" this new Luke croaked.

"That's what I'm trying to figure out!" the flight suit Luke exclaimed. "Who are you two? Why do you look like me?"

Luke's head spun. This was too much. He looked from one Luke to another. One Luke clearly from Bespin and the other . . . who looked younger.

"What was the last thing you remembered?" Luke asked. The other two looked at him. "You in the flight suit."

"Me?"

"Yes. What was the last thing you remembered before being here?"

"I was at the hangar on Yavin IV. I had wandered outside for a short break."

The Bespin Luke took in a sharp breath. He was coming to the same conclusion Endor Luke had come to.

"Yavin IV?" Bespin Luke asked. "As in . . . did you just come from the Death Star?"

"Yeah . . ."

"So you two are from the past," Endor Luke said. The other two Lukes looked at him. Endor Luke pointed at both of them. "You're the youngest from right after the first Death Star blew up."

"First Death Star?" both Lukes exclaimed. Endor Luke ignored them.

"And you are from Bespin. Right after the duel with Darth Vader," Endor Luke continued.

"And who are you?" Bespin Luke asked bitterly.

"I am you, but in the future. Only a few months though. I was on the second Death Star that was above Endor."

"So there is another one?" Yavin Luke asked. His eyes big and round. They were still filled with naive wonder. They were unjaded and not haunted by the horrors of the war yet. Endor Luke only sighed. He could feel a headache coming on.


Darth Vader walked through the foggy landscape. He had been on Cloud City returning to his shuttle. His attempts at securing his son and luring him to the Dark Side . . . had . . . not gone according to plan. The boy had . . . let go . . . Had decided it would be better to die than to face his destiny. To face him, his father.

The boy should have been angry! Angry that the truth had been kept from him! That he had been denied his rightful spot in the galaxy! Instead, Luke had reacted in shock and horror. And now . . . Vader had yet to feel Luke die. He didn't dwell on that thought. Instead he focused on this place. This odd place he found himself in.

It was quiet. He had reached into the Force, and found almost a void there. How was it possible that the Force was so quiet? Only in the depths of space when he was alone in his ship did he ever feel this emptiness. He had been in a whole city of bustling with life mere moments ago. How did he get here?

But there was something out there. A small flick of life ahead that Vader was moving toward. He strode purposefully forward. His gait unwavering. Hopefully this life form would be sentient and could provide Vader the answers he sought. He couldn't be wasting time here. As he approached, he saw the lifeform was small and mostly white.

Vader stepped through a cloud of fog and stopped dead. A child turned and looked up at him. For a moment, just a moment, Vader thought it was himself. It wasn't, though it looked eerily enough like him. Bright blond hair, sun tanned skin, bright blue eyes, and white tunics. No, it wasn't Vader, but he did recognize the the mark on the cheek.

"Luke?" he said. He hadn't meant to speak, but the words had come out anyways.

The child jumped and took a step back.

"Who- who are you?" he asked. "Have you seen my aunt or uncle? I was just playing in a cave . . ." The boy looked around as if he would spot his lost relatives.

The relatives that had stolen him! Kept him away from his father!

Was this the Force answering Vader's desires? That Vader wanted his son? Vader had failed with Luke . . . but now here was Luke. A different Luke. A young Luke. An ignorant Luke. One that had yet to have the poison of the Rebellion and Jedi infect his mind. A perfect Luke for Vader to mold into a perfect and loyal apprentice.

"Come here child," Vader said.

The boy jumped and again took a step away. Vader summoned the Force to wrap around the child. The boy let out a small gasp. The Dark Side hungrily ate the boy's fear. Vader approached. The boy squirmed in the Force hold. Vader grabbed him and picked him up. He looped his arm under the boy's knees and the other arm around his shoulders. The boy trembled in Vader's arms. He took a long look at the child. His child.

Then Darth Vader headed back into the fog ready to find a way out of this.


A headache had formed between Luke's eyes. The three Lukes had all accepted the weird situation they found themselves. They were all Luke, the same Luke, but from different points in time. Yavin Luke was bright-eyed and constantly asking questions. His first focus had been on Bespin Luke.

"What happened to you? Is your arm gone? How did that happen? Is that going to happen to me?" Yavin Luke had rambled on.

Endor Luke knew that Bespin Luke was in no mood to answer questions. Everything was still raw. He had just let go of the gantry over the reactor shaft. He had expected to die. He was supposed to find himself hanging on to an antenna, but instead had found himself here. So now Yavin Luke was questioning Endor Luke.

"So do you have a prosthetic hand? Is that why you have it in a glove? And what happened to your face? Did it happen then?" Yavin Luke nodded at Bespin Luke. Bespin Luke only glowered.

"Uh no," Endor Luke said. "That happened at Hoth."

"Hoth? What happened at Hoth?"

Before a Luke could respond, a cold chill swept through them. They all quieted. They all heard it. The steady noise of breathing through a respirator. Endor Luke was instantly on alert. Bespin Luke flinched and pulled his injured arm tighter to him. Yavin Luke only looked around confused.

A tall dark shadow moved towards them. It soon stepped up to the three Lukes. There was no denying the figure before them was Darth Vader. Endor Luke moved so he stood in front of the other two Lukes. As he reached for his belt he realized he didn't have his lightsaber. He had tossed it aside back on the Death Star when he refused to kill his father.

"Who's that?" Yavin Luke asked.

Endor Luke had been so focused on Vader, that he only just now noticed he was carrying someone. Not someone. A child. A . . . another Luke? A child Luke? How many Lukes were there?

Clearly Vader was thinking the same thing. His mask moved as he took in each Luke.

"What . . . What is going here?" he asked in his deep voice.

Endor Luke took a deep breath. "I suppose before I answer that question, I need to ask. Where were you right before you found yourself in this place?"

"I was playing in a cave!" young Luke shouted. "Have you seen my aunt and uncle?"

All three adult Lukes tensed. Yavin Luke visibly flinched.

"Don't worry," Endor Luke said. "We'll help you find them."

Vader's grip on young Luke tightened. His stance shifted to be more defensive. As if he wasn't going to let little Luke go.

"Well?" Endor Luke asked. "Where were you?" Vader's mask seemed to look at Bespin Luke. "Were you on Bespin? At Cloud City?"

One. Two. Three cycles through Vader's respirator passed. Finally he said, "Yes." His mask swung back to Endor Luke. "What is going on? Who are you?"

Luke sighed. "We're Luke. All of us are Luke. Just from different points of time. As you can see, that Luke," he waved at Bespin Luke, "is the one you just dueled. This Luke is fresh off the destruction of the first Death Star."

Vader's helmet snapped back to Endor Luke. "First Death Star?" he said.

"And I'm from the oldest Luke," Endor Luke said. "I was on the second Death Star, which you know good and well exists, over Endor."


It had taken quite a bit of convincing to get Vader to let go of little Luke. At once the boy ran over to the other Lukes. He hugged Yavin Luke's leg and hid behind him. What would happen when Endor Luke went back? Would he recall this event happening from three different points in his life? Would he have memories of each of the other Luke's experiences here? Or would it be something else?

Endor Luke and Vader walked through the fog side by side. Vader was clearly slowing his pace to match that of Luke. His mask kept turning to look at Luke.

"So you have accepted the truth," Vader said slowly.

"Yes, father," Luke said, fighting back the deja vu. He had just had this conversation with Vader. With his Vader.

Which was why Endor Luke and Vader found themselves leaving the group. If Bespin Vader was here, was Yavin Vader and Endor Vader here as well? Was there a young Vader to match little Luke? Or was there only the one Vader?

"At what point did you know who I was?" Luke asked. "Did you know I was your son?"

"A bit after Cymoon 1. I wanted to know about the pilot who had shot down the Death Star."

"So if there is a Yavin Vader or younger, they won't know," Luke said thoughtfully.

"No."

They walked through the fog. Both lost in their own thoughts. But then a large gloved hand gripped Luke's shoulder. Luke snapped his head up towards the mask, ready to bark at Vader, but the helmet was focused away. Luke followed the gaze. He didn't see anything, but he heard it. The humming and hissing of lightsabers clashing.

Both Luke and Vader made there way towards it. They first saw the two glowing red blades clashing against each other. Then the two large shadowy forms emerged in the fog.

"Imposter," came baritone voice of one Vader.

"You are the imposter," came the second. "A trick."

"I am no trick!" replied the other.

Luke took a deep breath and rushed forward. "Stop!" he shouted. "Neither one of you is an imposter!'

Two identical Vaders stopped their duel and looked at Luke.

"Who are you?" one asked.

"I am-"

"A Jedi," hissed one of the Vaders. Luke couldn't tell which one was talking.

Both Vaders turned towards Luke. This wasn't good, Luke thought. They're going to kill him! A snap hiss was heard. A red beam of light slowly came in front of Luke. Bespin Vader held his own red lightsaber.

"You will not touch him," Bespin Vader growled.

The two other Vaders stopped. One Vader looked at Bespin Vader and then at the other. Luke understood that confusion all too well.

"If you are here to claim you are Darth Vader," said one of the other Vaders, "Then prove you are him. Strike that Jedi down!"

"Wait! Stop!" Luke shouted. "I can explain all of this!"

"Very well," said one of the other Vaders. "I shall let you live long enough to explain this Jedi trick. Your death shall be quick as my thanks."

"You will not touch him," Bespin Vader growled again. A tense stretch of silence fell between them.

"I am," Luke said. He paused. He took a deep breath and continued. "I am Luke Skywalker. I am your son."

One of the red lightsabers fell a bit in shock. The other one raised higher.

"Impossible!' he shouted.

"My father is Anakin Skywalker," Luke said standing up straight.

"Anakin Skywalker is dead," one Vader said.

"Yes, yes. I know. I've heard this before. You destroyed him," Luke said annoyed.

Bespin Vader spoke, "Listen to the Force. You know the boy speaks the truth."

An odd silence fell. It was filled with the sound of three respirators filling the quiet. Luke guessed that these other two Vaders were young Vader and Yavin Vader. Neither one recognized Luke or knew who he was. Plus they both still had their hands. Endor Vader had just lost his hand to Luke on the Death Star.

So that meant there was still one more Vader out there. Bespin Vader had started talking. He was explaining that Luke was their son. That they were all the same person just from different points in time. Luke wasn't paying attention. Something was bothering him. Something was pulling on his mind. He looked away from the Vaders into the fog.

There was something out there . . . Something . . .

"Father!" he shouted.

He ran into the swirling grey clouds. He heard a shout of his name, but he ignored it. He followed the pull of the Force. The moment he saw the dark shape on the floor, he knew who it was. He knew which Vader it was. It was his Vader. Endor Vader.

There was no right hand. Vader's breathing was uneven and pained. His body visibly rose and fell which each labored breath.

"Father!" Luke said as he knelt down next to Vader. "What happened?"

Last he had seen Vader was between the bright lights of the lightning.

"I . . . I stopped him," Vader said. "I could not . . . I could not let you die." He paused as he took a few more breaths. "I killed . . . killed him, but his lightning-ning struck me."

Luke grabbed Vader's remaining hand.

"Luke, help me take this mask off," Vader said.

"But you'll die," Luke said.

"Nothing can stop- stop that now. Just for once . . . let me look on you with my own eyes.

Slowly, hesitantly, Luke reached for the helmet. He lifted the helmet off and lowered it to the ground. Then his fingers gripped the side of the mask. He pulled it off. For the first time, he saw his father's face. It was a man with pale white skin completely covered with scars. His face is etched in pain, but despite that he smiled.

At once a lump formed in Luke's throat and his eyes started to burn and water.

"My . . . son," Vader said softly. But that didn't seem right. He was no longer Vader. No longer any of the Vaders Luke had left behind. This Vader was different. This man was Anakin, Luke's father.

"I'm going to save you," Luke said. He squeezed Anakin's hand tighter.

"You already have," Anakin said. "You were right . . . about me. Tell your sister . . . you were right."

"Father," Luke pleaded. He opened his mouth to say more, but nothing came out. Anakin Skywalker, Luke's father, was dead. Tears ran down Luke's face. He lowered his head and placed it against Anakin's gloved hand.

He wasn't sure how long he had stayed like that, but he heard the familiar hiss of a respirator. He wiped his tears on his sleeve and turned around. Three Vaders stood only a short distance away. All three identical. All three unmoving.

In another time and place, it might look comical or perhaps nightmarish to see the three of them. But it only made Luke's heart ache.


Endor Luke walked back to the group of other Lukes. The two older Lukes had been sitting, but upon seeing Endor Luke, they jumped up.

"What happened?" Bespin Luke asked.

"Did you find any other Vaders?" Yavin Luke asked.

"What happened to the other Vader?" Bespin Luke asked.

Endor Luke half-heartedly waved behind him. Both other Lukes gasped. Endor Luke didn't turn around, but he knew what the others were seeing. Four Vaders. Three of which were all carrying the fourth one. The dead one. Endor Luke had refused to simply leave his dead father in this cloudy nightmarish place. Whenever he finds a way out, he will bring his father with him. The other three Vaders, prompted by Bespin Vader, had agreed to carry the body.

Slowly, the three Vaders lowered the body to the ground. The helmet and mask were back on the dead Endor Vader. Endor Luke didn't need to see the lifeless face. The two new Vaders looked at the Lukes. The other Lukes did the same. Endor Luke glanced around.

"Where is . . . Where is little Luke?" he asked. The other two Lukes looked around. "I told you two to watch him!"

"We were!" Yavin Luke snapped.

"You know how he is!" Endor Luke snapped back. "He's us!"

At once Endor Luke was back in the fog. Part of him was glad to get away from the body. "Luke!" he shouted. "Little Luke!"

"Here! I'm over here!" came a child's voice.

"Oh thank the Force," Endor Luke mumbled to himself as he jogged over to where he heard the voice. As soon as he saw little Luke he stopped. "What is that?" Endor Luke asked.

"I found him," little Luke said. "He's really cold. I think he's hurt."

Little Luke was holding the snow crusted boots of yet another Luke. A Luke from Hoth from the looks of it. The wounds on his face were still fresh. Endor Luke sighed and then let out a small groan.

"Let's get him back," Endor Luke said.

Of course seeing yet another Luke caused a small uproar amongst the group.

"Give me your cloak," Endor Luke snapped at one of the Vaders. One of them unhooked their cloak and handed it over. Luke was sure it was Bespin Vader. It was Bespin Luke that came over and helped wrapped the thick cloak around Hoth Luke. Hoth would still be quite fresh in Bespin Luke's mind.

"So now what?" Yavin Luke asked. "We find another Vader?"

Endor Luke's headache was getting worse. Yavin Luke was right. If there was a Hoth Luke, that meant there should be a Hoth Vader. When would this madness stop?

"Yes, we find another Vader," Endor Luke said as he stood up and looked into the fog.

"Are you going out again?" Bespin Luke asked.

Endor Luke looked at the corpse laying over a few yards away. "Yeah," he said slowly. "I'm the best choice."

"I will accompany you," Bespin Vader said.

"No. You need to stay here."

"I-"

Endor Luke cut him off. "I don't trust those two to stay here with them."

Bespin Vader looked over at Yavin and young Vader. Both of whom were still standing next to Endor Vader's body. They were both quiet. Bespin Vader looked back over and nodded.

"Then I will go," said one of the other two Vaders.

"Fine, whatever," Luke said no longer in a mood to argue. "Let's go."

Endor Luke headed off into the fog. One of the younger Vaders followed him. Neither one said anything for which Luke was glad. They walked through the dark gray land that was filled with thick fog. Luke looked up to the sky, but it was just a darker gray. Was there a sun? A moon? Stars? Were they even on a planet? He got the idea that they were somewhere else. A place within the Force.

Vader grabbed Luke's shoulder stopping him. Vader pointed and Luke looked. In the fog there was a glow of light. It was a distinctive beam of light. Not just a beam, but beams. Luke didn't stop his very loud exasperated sigh. They were only looking for one Vader. It was clear there were more visitors in this strange place. And what was annoying, was only one of the lightsabers was red. Hopefully that was the missing Hoth Vader, but who were the others?

Two other beams shone in the fog. The one clashing against the red was a blue lightsaber. Another Luke? Standing a bit away from the fight was a green lightsaber. Luke's current lightsaber was green. Perhaps it was an older Luke?

Vader and Luke approached the group. No one noticed the two new arrivals as everyone was watching the fight. The one wielding the red lightsaber was Vader. The one holding the green lightsaber was an old man. He was dressed in a Jedi tunic and robe. He had long gray hair and a short beard. He reminded Luke of a bit of Ben, but this man was not Ben. Luke already knew it was him. An older him. The lightsaber hilt was the same as his and the hand that held it was a metal prosthetic.

Was this really what Luke looked like when he got older? A shaggy Jedi?

However, this old Luke wasn't alone. Standing behind was a child. For a brief moment Luke thought it was another young Luke. They looked the same. Blond hair, blue eyes, tan skin, and clothes like those worn on Tatooine. But as Endor Luke looked closer, he noticed this was not him. The hair wasn't as bright as his had been. The style was off too. And if the child wasn't Luke . . . was he a young Anakin Skywalker?

Finally Endor Luke looked at the man dueling the Vader. He was not a Luke. He wasn't a Vader. So if wasn't a Luke nor a Vader, was he an Anakin? The man was tall, though not as tall as Vader. He wore black and dark leather tunics like that of a Jedi. He had long curling dark blond hair. But Luke couldn't make out much beyond that.

"Is that you?" Luke asked with a wave at the man fighting Vader.

"Yes," the young Vader standing next to him answered.

"Is that you as well?" Luke said as he pointed to the kid.

"Yes. Is that you?" Vader asked of the old man.

"I think so. Looks a bit like me. Plus . . . it can't be you . . ." Luke thought of the body back with the rest of the group. He sighed. "Shall we stop this?"


Hoth Luke was still unconscious by the time Endor Luke returned with the four newcomers. The two (living) Vaders both stiffened at the sight of the two young Anakin Skywalkers. Little Luke was perhaps the only one excited as he ran up to the little Anakin.

"Hi," little Luke said. "Are you a Luke too?"

"No," said little Anakin, "I'm Anakin."

"Oh," little Luke said clearly confused. "Well I'm Luke. And that's Luke too! He's me when I'm older! And that's an older me too!" Little Luke pointed at the different Lukes.

"And who are they?" Bespin Luke asked nodding at old Luke and old Anakin. Bespin Luke and Yavin Luke were seated on the ground next to Hoth Luke. The two Vaders were standing by themselves.

"This is little Anakin as you know," Endor Luke explained. "This is an older Anakin, who isn't quite yet Darth Vader. That is Hoth Vader, and lastly this is Luke. Old Luke. Who has yet to say much about how far into the future he is from."

Old Luke frowned as he took in the sight before him. He then marched pass the whole group and stood over the corpse of Endor Vader. He knelt on the ground and placed his flesh hand against the helmet.

"This is kriffin' impossible," the older Anakin blurted out. "How can these all be me? The kid I understand, but these guys?" He waved at the herd of Vaders. "You expect me to believe this is what I turn into when I'm older? A karkin' Sith?"

"It is your destiny," said one of the Vaders.

"My destiny is to become half droid? And what even happened to that one?" Anakin asked as he pointed to Endor Vader. "That one is dead!"

Bored with the grown-up talk, little Luke and little Anakin had taken up a game of tag. At first they just zigzagged amongst the group, but now they had ventured out into the fog. Two of the Vaders, Endor Luke was sure it was Bespin and Hoth Vader, were watching them. It looked like one of them was about to go get them, but it was old Luke who jumped up.

"I'll go get them," he grumbled as he walked off into the fog.

"And what happened to them?" Anakin continued as he looked at three Lukes on the ground.

"Perhaps instead of focusing on that," Endor Luke said. "We should focus on leaving. I know I for one would like to get back to my own time and place." He eyed the corpse of his father.

"Agreed," Anakin said as he crossed his arms. "That way I can go back and make sure this," He looked directly at the Vaders, "never happens."

One of the Vaders made an odd sound through their vocoder. A laugh?

"Shall we focus on how we each got here?" Endor Luke said. "I was . . . being electrocuted by the Emperor and passed out. I woke up here."

"I fell down a reactor shaft and woke up here," Bespin Luke said. He shot a nasty look at the Vaders. He was clearly not over the duel, losing his hand, and finding out the truth about his father.

"I walked outside to get some fresh air. It turned all foggy, then I was here," Yavin Luke said with a shrug.

"It was the same for me," Bespin Vader said. "I was walking through the service levels of Cloud City when it became dark and foggy."

"Young Luke was in a cave hiding from a sandstorm," Yavin Luke added in.

One by one they shared how they got here. It seemed they were each going about their lives, when suddenly they all found themselves here. Some of them just walked here, some of them awoke here, or in the case of Bespin Luke, landed here. Now the real question was how to get back? Should they try to repeat what had gotten them there in the first place? A Vader suggested meditating. Anakin grumbled at that. Yavin Luke just looked at everyone with large round eyes. Bespin Luke kept casting a concerned look at Hoth Luke and then dirty looks at the Vaders. Who knew what any of the Vaders were feeling.


Old Luke Skywalker saw the two kids dashing through the fog. "Hey, get back here!" he shouted at them. The two boys giggled as they ran up to him. Luke Skywalker had seen some weird things in his life. Though this, this was the strangest. It was odd, no beyond odd, to see his younger self playing with a young version of his father.

"I won!" little Luke said happily.

"No you didn't!" little Anakin said.

"You both lost," old Luke snapped.

Two little heads looked up at him with large round blue eyes. Eyes that were eerily the same. Seeing them side by side, old Luke easily saw the resemblance.

"Let's go back," old Luke grumbled.

The boys pouted and frowned, but followed along. Until little Anakin stopped.

"There is someone out there," he said as he looked into the fog.

"Oh great," old Luke said under his breath. Who else could it be? His brows furrowed as a shape started to form in the fog. Humanoid. Small. Another Luke? The figure became clearer. The two boys gasped, and so did old Luke. At once old Luke was running through the fog, pulling off his brown cloak, so he could wrap it around the shivering figure.


The discussion about how to return had gotten nowhere. In fact it had gotten off track. They were currently pairing up each Luke with a Vader. There were obvious connections. Yavin Luke and Yavin Vader. Hoth Luke and Hoth Vader. Bespin and Endor. Then there was little Luke tied to young Vader. But what of the rest?

There was little Anakin, the older Anakin, and the older Luke. None of them had a pair. It looked like if the son or the father wasn't even alive at the time, they didn't have a match. But that begged the question, were there going to any more time travelers? Where would it stop? When would they go back? Was there a reason to all of this?

Endor Luke didn't have the answers. None of the Lukes did. Neither did any of the Vaders nor Anakin.

Little Luke and little Anakin ran out of the fog.

"We're back!" little Luke said. "We found someone new!"

Of course they did, Endor Luke thought. The endless parades of Lukes, Vaders and Anakins had yet to end.

"Well at least we know it won't be a Luke to match me," the older Anakin said.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that," came the voice of old Luke.

The crowd turned to see him walking out of the fog. His arm was wrapped around . . . around a woman? She was small. Her hair hung in brown curls. She was dressed in a thin satin dress with white beaded straps. Her feet were bare. Old Luke's Jedi cloak was wrapped around her.

"Anakin?" she asked as she saw the group.

"Padme!" the older Anakin shouted as he ran over to her.

Endor Luke noticed all of the Vaders stiffened. Padme? Endor Luke looked closer. Anakin had reached her and pulled her into a hug.

"What's going on?" Padme asked.

"Why are you here?" Anakin whispered. "Wait . . . it can't be."

Anakin looked down. His hand came to rest on her stomach, Padme's round extended stomach. She was pregnant. Little Luke and little Anakin started to run around again. Old Luke's hand snatched out, grabbed Anakin, and pulled him close.

"Stay still," old Luke hissed at him.

"Anakin?" Padme asked again. She placed a hand on his face.

"I uh . . ." Anakin said fumbling to find words.

Endor Luke sighed. He might as well explain. He had gotten quite used to it having to explain to everyone else. He walked over to the couple.

"Uh hi," Luke said. He couldn't help but stare at Padme. He had never known his mother. Never knew what she looked like. Didn't even know her name. "I'm Luke, and this is going to sound a bit crazy."

Padme gave Anakin a look, but he nodded and smiled. She turned her attention back to Endor Luke. Luke gave a weak smile, but he never got a chance to continue his speech. Instead a wave of dizziness and nausea hit him.

"Ugh," he said as he wavered on his feet. He stumbled forward, and ended up grabbing onto Padme's arm for support. Anakin grabbed Luke's other arm.

"Are you ok?" Anakin asked.

"I . . .uh . . ." he said. His tongue felt heavy. His eyelids were dropping. "I . . . can't . . ." And then he fell. Blackness met him before his body hit the ground.


Luke woke to a white room. It took a few moments to comprehend why this was odd to him. Then he realized. He wasn't in the foggy place anymore. He glanced around. It appeared he was in a medbay. A normal looking medbay. One with Alliance medics and officers. Was he back? The doctors and nurses saw to him. They said he was fine, and went about their other duties. Luke had yet to say a word. His mind still reeling from everything.

It wasn't long before he had his first visitor. Han Solo marched over to Luke's bed with a huge goofy smile.

"There you are!" he said. "How are you feelin'?"

"Confused," Luke answered honestly.

"Well you missed the big celebration," Han said. "It was one big party with those Ewoks."

So the Alliance had won? How? How had they broken the Emperor's trap? Had Han and Leia managed to get the shield down?

"Though I am curious," Han said as he sat down on the edge of Luke's bed. "How did you get off the Death Star in time? What even happened up there?"

"I don't . . . I don't know. I don't remember."

Han's face had fallen into a serious expression. "You really have no idea?"

"The last thing I remember was the Emperor . . . and then . . . fog. Then I woke up here."

That was close enough to the truth for now.

"Well some ground troops doing a routine sweep for any Imperials found you," Han explained. "Found you in a crashed Imperial shuttle."

Luke nodded though he had no memory of ever being on a shuttle.

"You weren't alone, Luke," Han said.

There was tightness in Luke's throat and cold shiver that ran down his spine. "I wasn't?" he squeezed out.

"There was also . . . Also the dead body of Darth Vader," Han said.

Luke looked down at his lap. "What . . . what happened to the body?" he asked in a whisper.

"It's currently in the morgue," Han said. "They aren't completely sure what to do with it. Only High Command knows about it. Leia reported that a few want to flaunt it all over the holonet to showcase the Alliance victory."

"No!" Luke said.

Han leaned over and placed a hand on Luke's shoulder and squeezed.

"Don't worry, kid," he said. "Leia would never let that happen."

Luke nodded.

"Though who were the other two?" Han asked.

"Other two . . . other two what?"

"The other two people on the shuttle with you. Some guy and some lady. He had your old lightsaber on him."

Luke's mouth fell open. "What?" he asked. "Where . . . where are they?"

"Actually I think they're in the next room," Han said. "What! Hold on!"

Luke ignored him as he threw aside his covers and ripped off the tubes and senors. Barefooted and wearing his white medical tunic, he ran from his room and into the next. Laying in the bed on the left was Padme. She was still asleep, but Luke could see her round stomach. In the bed next to her, sitting up with his arms crossed, was a very angry looking older Anakin Skywalker.

"Hey there you are!" Anakin said as he saw Luke. "What is going on? Where are we?"

That was a very good question, and Luke didn't quite have the answer to it.


Luke Skywalker had seen some interesting things already in his life. One instance included meeting several different versions of himself and his father. Though this seemed to be even odder than that. He was watching his mother give birth to him and his twin sister.

Luke and Anakin had eventually settled on one conclusion. Since Luke was touching Padme and Anakin when he came back to his time, he had taken them with him. Endor Vader had returned to his proper time of his own accord.

Luke couldn't help but wonder if Anakin, Padme, and now the newborn Luke and Leia were stuck in this time. What happened to their original time? Had Anakin and Padme simply disappeared? Had time continued on without them there? What would that timeline be like now?

And what of the other Lukes and Vaders? Luke had no new memories. He didn't recall meeting himself from three different perspectives. Had they returned back to their own times? Were they now new and different timelines? Alternate ones? How would their lives continue?


After recovering from Bespin, Luke returned to Tatooine to find Ben's journals. He built his new lightsaber. Then he set out to confront his father, Vader. It wasn't hard to find him. Vader was waiting for him. He seemed calmer and also more in the light than he had been at Cloud City.

Together they created a plan. A plan to save Han Solo from Jabba. A plan to kill the Emperor. A plan to end the Empire. A plan they would do together.


Luke woke up in the Hoth medbay right on time. The Imperials were starting their attack. It was hard to get his mind into the battle. He had the weirdest dream. After the battle, he went in search of Master Yoda on Dagobah. He didn't listen to Yoda or Ben's warnings when he left to go to Bespin to save his friends.

When he saw Darth Vader standing on the steps, Luke ignited his blue lightsaber. He would defeat Darth Vader! He would kill his father's murderer! He would save his friends! But Vader didn't ignite his own lightsaber. Instead he waved his hand slightly. Green stun bolts came from all directions. Luke was unconscious before he reached the ground. His lightsaber clattered and rolled away.

The stormtroopers came out of hiding. Their blasters still aimed at the prone Rebel, but Vader ordered them out of the room. Once alone, Vader slowly knelt in front of Luke. He wasn't sure what had happened at Bespin before, but he recalled that Luke. The one bruised and battered who hugged his arm to his body. The arm that was missing a hand.

He also recalled the other Vader. The one that had died. The one that Luke had saved. This time it would be different. Vader would see to it.


The next time Luke saw Vader was on Cymoon 1. Luke had just freed the slaves when he felt a familiar presence. So he left the group and soon ran into his father.

"Put that weapon down," Vader said in his deep voice. "You hold that weapon like an untrained child. Did Kenobi really teach you so little?"

Luke huffed. "I'll show you," he mumbled as he ran forward. He could take Vader on! He could do this! He now knew who Vader was. He wasn't going to be caught off guard. However, Vader quickly knocked his blow to the side.

"Give up, Luke," Vader said. "You cannot defeat me."

Luke only snarled and brought his lightsaber up again.

It wasn't long before Vader was on a shuttle leaving the moon. The factory had been destroyed. The Rebels had escaped along with a few slaves. But Vader had his prize. Luke glared at him. His arms were bound in binders. His lightsaber now hung on Vader's belt.


Luke was finishing up his chores in the kitchen. The sand had been swept out and the counters cleaned. He stretched as he walked into the courtyard. Aunt Beru had gone into town to buy supplies while Uncle Owen was out tending to the farm.

Luke was still grounded after his cave adventure. When he awoke in the cave, he found his way back to the homestead. He told his aunt and uncle all about the strange foggy place. How he had met different versions of himself. How he had met his father including one that was his age!

Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had Luke brought to the doctor in Anchorhead, thinking he had lasting effects from heat stroke. But he was fine. Just a crazy dream. But Luke knew the truth! It wasn't a dream!

A shadow crossed over the courtyard. Luke glanced up to see a large triangular ship hanging low in the sky. How cool! He had never seen a ship that big! At once he was running up the steps and out into the sands of Tatooine. Small TIE fighters zoomed around the desert. A few seemed to be escorting a shuttle. Luke watched as it came closer and closer and eventually landed nearby.

The loading ramp lowered and down walked a tall man dressed in black. Luke instantly recognized him. He was Vader. One of them at least. Luke wondered which one he was. He didn't think it was the one he first met. The one that had picked him up. He felt like a different one.

Vader came to a stop right in front of boy.

"It's you!" Luke said as he pointed up at Vader. "I knew it wasn't just a dream!"

"Luke," Vader said slowly.

The two just looked at each other. Then Vader brought his hand out.

"Come," Vader said.

Luke looked at the hand. He turned and looked back at the homestead. He couldn't leave! Even if this man was his father. He needed to at least say goodbye to his aunt and uncle.

"Luke," came Vader's voice again. This time harsher. "Come now . . . my son."

"Uh . . . but . . . Aunt Beru and Uncle Owen . . ."

Vader growled. He stepped forward and grabbed Luke's arm.

"Those two are kidnappers," Vader said.

What was with adults and saying such odd things? Luke missed the older Lukes. They were the first adults that seemed to make sense. Vader pulled on Luke's arm. He stumbled forward and tripped. But Vader caught him. Then Luke was picked up. He found himself being carried by Vader back to the shuttle. Little Luke knew that this time no older Luke would save him. He was going to have to save himself.


Luke Skywalker sat in his hut trying to meditate. However the sound of feet slapping against the rocks disrupted him. The door to his hut slammed open.

"Luke!"

Luke moaned as he looked at the doorway. The young Anakin Skywalker stood with a huge grin on his face. When Luke had found himself back on Ahch-To, he wasn't alone. The little Anakin was with him. Why had Anakin come back with him? He wasn't sure, but Anakin was here now. Little Anakin was unphased.

"Are you going to train me to be a Jedi?" little Anakin had asked.

"No."

"You can call me father."

"No."

"Can I call you son?"

"No."

"We can switch it! I can be the son and you can be the father!"

"No!"

Luke honestly had no clue what to do with a nine-year-old Anakin Skywalker, who now stood in Luke's doorway.

"Luke!" Anakin said again. "I saw a ship fly by!"

"There are no ships," Luke mumbled.

"Yes there was! I saw it! A freighter of some sort."

Luke's first thought was of the Falcon.

"Come see! I can prove it to you." When Luke didn't budge, Anakin continued to pester him. "Please! Please Luke!"

"Fine," he said as he stood up and followed Luke along the steep narrow stone paths.

Luke stopped in his tracks when he saw a young woman approaching.

"Who's that?" Anakin whispered.

"I don't know," Luke said.

She walked up to them, stopped, and dug into her bag. She pulled out a lightsaber. Not just any lightsaber, but Luke's lightsaber. Anakin's lightsaber. She held it out to him. Anakin looked from Luke to the girl. How had this girl gotten this lightsaber? He had lost it at Bespin . . . Bespin . . . Luke recalled seeing all of his younger selves . . .

"Just tell me one thing," Luke said as he eyed the lightsaber. "You didn't get this from some blonde kid did you?"

Chapter Text

Chewie was finishing loading up the last of the cargo. Han was walking across the open spaceport towards his ship after arguing with the dockmaster. He eyed the other ships. Many were worn down freighters or shoddy passenger ships. Droids rolled and walked around. Many pushed cargo crates. Spacers shouted and barked at each other. Customers seeking rides or shipment for goods milled about.

Han ignored it all. He had his job. It was time to go. He could see the Falcon down the line of ships. His mind was already going over his pre-flight checklist, when he caught a flash of gold in his peripheral vision. He stopped and looked between the ships. Had it been nothing?

Then a small figure slid around some metal crates and walked over. Han's hand slid behind his neck. The kid looked nervous. He glanced around as if he was afraid to be out in the open.

"Luke," Han said. "Long time no see, kid."

Luke smiled. He was a scrawny teen. His blond hair was worn long and shaggy and was a greasy mess. He was dressed in a mishmash of clothes. He had a leather jacket on that was about two sizes too big. Soft pants, but the ends had been wrapped up to below his knees. Boots that were heavily scuffed and stained with oil. He had on two layers of shirts and fingerless gloves. A bag was slung around his shoulder.

"Looking for a ride?" Han asked.

Luke smiled. "If you need the help," he said softly.

There was a tightness in Han's chest. He met the kid two years ago when he had stowed away in some cargo Han was pushing. He quickly found out that the kid was a pretty skilled mechanic, gunner, and a decent pilot. He was useful. Han had offered Luke a spot on his ship, but the kid had declined. He was always skittish. Always looking over his shoulder when they were in port. He grew anxious if they ever stayed in one place for too long. It was he was running from something. Something he was afraid would catch up to him.

Han felt the raised scar on the back of his neck.

"Of- of course I do," he said.

Luke smile grew. Han let his hand drop from his neck and patted Luke on the back. The kid followed him back to the ship. Chewie has happy to see the kid and pulled him into a big hug. It didn't take long for them to leave the port and jump to hyperspace. The stars stretched and the blue whorls of hyperspace filled the viewport.

A sigh came out of Luke. Han turned around to face him. He noticed the heavy bags under his eyes and how thin he was. Chewie also seemed to notice. He let out a concerned growl.

"Chewie is right," Han said. "You like shavit. When was the last time you had a good bath and a place to sleep?"

Luke guilty smiled. "It's been some time," he said.

"Go use the Falcon's sonic and get some sleep," Han said.

"You sure?" Luke asked.

"Not much to do," Han said leaning back and crossing his behind his head. "We've got to make to another jump here in a moment, but beyond that . . . not much going on."

"You sure? I could go look at the engine or even the-"

Chewie growled. He stood up and grabbed Luke by the arm. The kid shot Han a look that asked for help.

"Hey kid, no one stands in the way of the Wookie," Han said as Chewie dragged him out of the cockpit towards the crew quarters.

One of Han's hands fell down to his side. The other reached under the collar for the scar. It was healed over, but he imagined it was still red. The ship shook as it reverted to real space. Han closed the door to the cockpit as he pulled out a small comlink from his pocket. There was only one frequency on it. He dialed it and waited.

"Solo," came a smooth dark voice.

"I got the kid," Han grumbled.

There was a slight pause. "I told you, didn't I? He would eventually come back," said the voice. It was smug and pleased.

Han rolled his eyes. "Just give me the coordinates," Han hissed softly.

"Sending them to you now. Good job, Solo."

"You just keep up your end of the bargain," Han growled as he leaned over and entered the coordinates into the ship's computer.

"As long as you keep up your end," the voice said. The call disconnected.

Han's hand sat on the hyperspace lever. He thought about Luke. His bright blue eyes. His shy smile. Then he recalled the scar on his neck. He gritted his teeth as he pushed the lever up. What choice did he have? None.

Han recalled running into the man some months back.

"Han Solo?" the man asked.

Han looked at him. He was pale skinned human. Middle-aged. His dark hair was short and neatly styled. He wore a long black overcoat and shiny black boots. Two guards in plastoid armor hovered behind him.

"Who's askin'? Han said as he looked the man over.

"Mercel Veno," the man said. It sounded like a fake name.

"What you want?"

"Have you seen this child?" Mercel asked as he held up a small holodisk.

The holograph jump up showing a face. A face Han recognized. Luke looked younger and neatier. His hair was shorter and nicely comb. He wore what looked to be some sort of uniform. But Han said nothing to the man. Mercel clicked the holograph off and tucked the disk into his pocket.

"Come now, Solo," Mercel said. "I know Luke has been on your ship four times over the past year and a half."

"What's it to you?" Han asked. "You don't look like his father."

Mercel smiled and shook his head. "That I do not, but I work for his father. Luke ran away from home. I am just trying to bring him home."

"And what if Luke doesn't want that?"

"Luke is a child. He hasn't reached the age of majority. His father holds all custody rights."

Han narrowed his eyes. He knew Luke. He was a good kid, and knew Luke was running away from some demons. Han had never asked, it wasn't his business.

"Sorry, pal," Han said. "Can't help you. He's not on my ship right now. Haven't seen him in three months."

"That I'm aware of," Mercel said unphased. "But I have a feeling that sooner or later your paths will cross with young Luke again. All you have to do is contact me, deliver Luke to me, and you leave with a hefty payment."

"I'm not in the slave business," Han growled as he turned to walk away.

"Tsk, tsk," Mercel said softly. "I had hoped you would have taken the money."

Han didn't look back. He should have. He would have seen Mercel's guards raise their guns. He might have been able to get a shot or two off. Instead he was hit straight in the back with the stun bolt. He remembered waking up in a strange dark room tied to a chair. His neck was in pain. Mercel walked over and grabbed his hair and pulled his head back.

"You feel that, Solo?" Mercel hissed. Whatever kindly businessman act he had been putting up had faded away. "That is a slave chip inserted into the base of your skull. One touch of a button from me, and you explode into a million tiny pieces."

"You're crazy," Han said. His voice was weak and unsteady.

"You see, Solo, you work for me now. You are my slave," Mercel said.

"I ain't doing nothing for ya," Han said.

"Then it shall be your funeral," Mercel growled. "But don't worry. You can keep up on doing whatever it is you do. All I want is for you to bring me Luke. Once you do that, I will take that slave chip out of your neck. You'll be free to go."

"And what about Luke?" Han asked bitterly.

"He'll go home to his father," Mercel said.

Han felt the scar on the back of his neck where the slave chip had been inserted. He couldn't stop the guilt creeping up in him. He pushed himself out of the pilot's chair and walked to the crew quarters. Luke sat on one of the bunks. His skin a fresh pink from the sonic shower. Chewie must have left to give the kid some time alone. That or find something for the kid to eat. Force, he was thin.

"Feel better?" Han asked. "More human perhaps?"

Luke smiled. "I suppose," he said.

"You know, after I finish with this job, I was thinking about going to Corellia," Han said. "I'm from there, you know."

"I didn't know that," Luke said.

"It's home, but it's also . . . not," Han said with a sigh as he sat next to Luke. "Was an orphan. Grew up on the streets. Had to join a gang just to survive."

Luke was quiet. He brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs.

"You ever think about . . . going home?" Han asked.

"Nothing there," Luke said softly.

"Let me guess, got no family either?"

Luke squeezed himself tighter. "There's my father . . ." he said softly. He looked so young. Han wondered how old Luke really was. Fifteen? Sixteen?

"He hit you?"

Luke's had snapped up. His eyes big.

"He hit you?" Han asked again. "Abuse you?"

"No- no!" Luke said. Then he looked down. "No," he said sadly this time. "He just . . . did something unforgivable."

"So you ran away?"

Luke only nodded. Han sighed and placed a hand on Luke's hair. He ruffled the now soft and clean hair. Luke knocked his hand away.

"Some family is just shavit," Han said. Luke smiled. "Now get some rest," Han said. He got up and left the kid alone.

 


 

Han had left leaving Luke alone. He buried his head into his knees. He didn't like thinking about his home or his father. He leaned over and fell against the bunk. The ship had come out of hyperspace, but had quickly jumped again. Luke closed his eyes and sleep quickly took him.

He wasn't surprised that he dreamed. It was odd that the dream was taking place in the bunkroom of the Millennium Falcon. The very place Luke was sleeping in. However, it was not odd when a shadow fell across the door and the sound of a respirator filled the room.

Luke curled up on the bed and rolled over to face the wall ignoring the sound of heavy boots walking into the room and stopping next to the bunk.

"Luke," came a deep voice. Luke just curled up tighter. "Luke, do not ignore me."

A large gloved hand touched his shoulder. Luke spun around and smacked the hand away. He glared up at his father. Darth Vader straightened up and looked down at his son.

"Go away," Luke barked. "Leave my dreams in peace. I just want to sleep."

Then he turned back around and curled up.

"You haven't been sleeping," Vader said. His voice soft for as soft as his modulated voice could get.

"Tch. Maybe it's because each time I do, you're almost always there."

Because it was the only time Luke relaxed. The only time his shields fell. The only time Vader was able to connect to his son via their Force bond. And if Luke didn't catch it fast enough, Vader would figure out his location.

"Luke, stop this foolishness," Vader said. Luke rolled his eyes. He had heard this speech a hundred times now. "Come home."

"You burned my home down, remember?" Luke said bitterly.

If Vader reacted, if he flinched, Luke didn't see it.

"That . . . that was not your home," Vader said slowly.

"Yes, it was my home."

Vader let out an annoyed sigh. This conversation was running on the same tracks their conversations had run on for two years now. There wasn't anything Vader could say that he hadn't already, because deep down Vader wasn't sorry for what he had done. For killing Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Which he did because he was jealous. Jealous that Luke had picked them over Vader. Something Vader couldn't stand.

Vader first came into Luke's life when Luke was eight years old. Luke was starry eyed to see his father alive even if he was a large cyborg who always wore a mask. Of course he had no hesitations about leaving the moisture farm behind to go to the stars. It was just like he had always dreamed of. His uncle and aunt were against this, but Luke insisted. And since Luke had insisted, they let him go. Perhaps that was what had saved them from Vader's wrath at the time.

At first Luke enjoyed living with his father. He loved learning about the Force. He loved traveling on the warships. He loved seeing all the different planets. But slowly Luke started to like it less and less. The more he saw of how the Empire did things . . . of how his father did things . . . And those same things were expected of Luke to do as well.

So when Luke was thirteen he ran away. He went back to Tatooine, because he'd rather be a moisture farmer than a Sith. And for a short while, everything was good. His aunt and uncle welcomed him back with open arms and smiles. Luke had even started building his own skyhopper to race with his friends through the canyons.

But the happiness wasn't to last. Because Vader returned for his son. He did ask first. He asked for Luke to come back with him. It was this moment Luke went back to. What if he had said yes? Would his aunt and uncle have been spared? Like they had the first time? Or would Vader still have killed them? Luke didn't know. He didn't ask. Because the moment he could, he ran away again.

He couldn't be around his father. His father who had killed his aunt and uncle. Who had relished in their pain and deaths. Luke had been on the run with his father hunting him down ever since. It had now been two years. Two very long years. Two years of meeting with his father like this in his dreams. Two years of the same conversation. The same argument.

Vader could say he was sorry, but he wasn't. At least not for the deaths of Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru. Not for torching their homestead. Even if Vader apologized, they both knew the truth. He wasn't sorry. He was only sorry that it had caused Luke to run away. Thus creating the standoff between them.

Vader sighed, or at least sighed as well as he could with his respirator. A large hand gently slid into Luke's hair. Luke didn't smack it away. Vader gently started stroked Luke's hair. It was odd how gentle Vader could be. How loving he was in this moment, when Luke had seen the man murder so easily and gleefully before.

"You are worn out, little one," Vader said with his soft voice. "You are far too thin. You haven't been sleeping or eating well."

"Well perhaps you should stop sending all those bounty hunters after me," Luke said. But his voice had lost its bitter edge. Now he just sounded tired and sad. Pressure and heat were building up in his cheeks below his eyes. He rolled his head so he was face down in the pillow. `

Vader didn't say anything more. It was only the sound of his respirator evenly breathing and his hand softly stroking Luke's head. Despite doing his best to fight it off, the tears still bubbled up. They burned his eyes and cheeks. He did his best to hide his sobs from his father.

"Rest, Luke," Vader said,"You are safe here."

That was true. In hyperspace Vader couldn't discern his location. There were no bounty hunters lurking in the shadows.

"I'm so tired," Luke said. His voice muffled from the pillow. Hopefully it hid his crying as well.

A second hand came to rest against his back and rubbed it in soothing circles. Despite how much bitterness he had towards his father, Luke couldn't help but relax some. He was tired. So tired. His eyelids felt so heavy. He closed them and relished in how good it felt. He could feel himself drifting away. But as he did, he heard his father. The voice sounded distant and far away.

"Sleep, my son," Vader said. "Soon this will all be over."

It was the last thing Luke was aware of as he drifted off to sleep.

 


 

Darth Vader stood on the bridge of his flagship. The rest of his fleet were nearby. They were in the middle of nowhere as their commander, their supreme commander, had ordered them out of hyperspace early. They all knew they were waiting for something, but none dare questioned it.

Vader knew the ship bringing him his son should arrive soon. Then finally after two long years, Vader could set things right with his son. Repair the damage that had been done. Even if he wasn't completely sure how to do that. Well the first step was for them to be together. No more of this running around the galaxy. Vader had become increasingly concerned with his son's physical state over the years. Luke would need some intensive care when Vader finally had his child back.

Something bright flashed in the emptiness of space in front of the fleet. Vader froze. He wouldn't have been breathed if his respirator didn't do it for him. He couldn't sense Luke. He was here! Vader watched as the run-down freighter approached. It was escorted by two TIE fighters straight to his ship. He turned sharply away from the viewport and made his out of the bridge to his private hangar.

Lieutenant Vemenos stood calmly in the hangar as the ship landed. He wore the uniform of the ISB. He had been tasked with finding Luke.

"Lieutenant," Vader said as he approached.

"Lord Vader," Vemenos said with a smile. "Hopefully this scoundrel has kept his word and your son is aboard."

"He is," Vader said looking at the ship.

The loading ramp lowered and a man walked down with his hands up. He was looking straight at Vemenos.

"Ah, Solo," Vemenos said. "Good to see you have followed orders."

"What choice did I have?" Solo growled.

Vader wasn't paying attention. He walked passed them.

"Hey!" Solo shouted at Vader.

He was a brave and foolish man, but Vader didn't have time to deal with him. He would let Vemenos and the troopers do their job. For now his mind was set on one thing. He walked up the ramp and followed the pull of his son's presence into a small bunkroom. Just like in the Force dream, Luke was curled up tightly on the bunk. For a second Vader stood there frozen.

Luke was here. He was here! Finally, he had his son again.

Cautiously, slowly, he crossed the room. He slowly lowered his hand into Luke's hair, and just like in the dream stroked it. After a minute he had finally collected himself enough. He slipped his arms under his son and hoisted him up into his arms. Luke shifted into his sleep and naturally curled up against Vader's chest. But he didn't wake up and for that Vader was grateful. He didn't want to drag a screaming crying child off the ship. But he would, if he had to.

He exited the ship. Solo watched on with a clenched jaw and his arms across his chest. A Wookie stood next to the man and let out a sad howl. Vemenos nodded seeing father and son finally together. He turned and starting talking to Solo. Most likely discussing payment.

Vader brought his son up to his personal quarters and into Luke's old room. He gently laid his son down on his bed. He pulled the covers around Luke. Then he just watched his son sleep. Because he knew he had to enjoy this peaceful moment while it lasted. His little boy was back where Vader could take care of him. But he knew once that little boy woke up, the arguments would start.

But hopefully instead of running away, the two could sit down and work this out. The two could return to some semblance of a family again. Vader was willing to be patient. He hoped Luke would be too. Then again, not like Luke would have much choice as Vader had made very, very sure his son would not be able to run away a third time.

Chapter Text

Tumblr Quote Prompts

Summary: Six unconnected ficlets that I wrote based on prompts people gave me over on my tumblr from a list of quotes.

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"She's hiding behind the sofa."
AN: This is set the universe of my multi-chapter fic Runaway. You do not have to have read it to understand this fic. But some background information: suitless Vader rules the galaxy as Emperor and raises his son Luke.


"Luke," came his father's deep voice. It bordered on the Emperor voice. Which meant Emperor Darth Vader's patience was running out.

"Yeah, dad?" Luke called from his room. His door open. The fourteen year old hurried around his room pulling on the formal outfit that had been laid out for him for the dinner tonight.

"We will be late," Vader said as he stepped into the room. He glanced around at the mess. The bed sheets had been thrown to the side. Most of them were falling off the bed. The pillows were on the floor. Drawers had been opened with their contents flung out. Much of the carpet couldn't be seen. "What happened here?" Vader growled. "Is this why you are running behind?"

Luke didn't bother pausing. He rushed into his bedroom's refresher. He grabbed a comb and started to attempt to tame his hair.

"I uh . . . was looking for something," Luke said.

"And did you find it?" Vader said.

"No," Luke said.

"What is it that you have lost?"

Luke put the comb down on the sink and stepped back into the bedroom. Vader had his arms folded across his chest as he glared at the messy room.

"Uh just a thing," Luke said. He stepped over some clothing as headed towards the door, but he was stopped by his father. Vader grabbed Luke's shoulder. His grip was tight.

"What thing?" Vader demanded. Silence. Luke looked down on the floor. "Luke," Vader growled.

Luke's hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He meekly looked up. His father's eyes were still blue.

"Uh . . . It's just . . . a baby . . ."

Vader took in a sharp breath. "A baby what?"

"I found her at the Garden Palace! She's just a baby! She fell out of her tree. The other kids were poking her with sticks! So I uh . . . pick her up and stuffed her in pocket."

Vader just stared at his son for a moment. Then he closed his eyes. Luke could sense his father opening himself up to the Force.

"A baby mirromette," Vader said slowly. "She's hiding behind the sofa in the sitting room."

Luke ran out of the room, down the hall, and into the sitting room. He slowed down as he approached the sofa. He got down on his knees and lowered his head to the floor. And indeed there was a small fuzzy little creature with a big fluffy tail huddling under the couch.

Suddenly, it let out a terrified squeak. It started to slide forward, and Luke could feel his father's cold presence in the Force wrapped around the poor creature. It slid out from under the couch and floated into the air into Vader's opened gloved hand. Luke quickly go to his feet. The little mirromette was trembling in Vader's grasp.

"Don't hurt her," Luke said softly. He looked up at his father.

Vader looked down at his son. His son with his big blue eyes that pleaded mercy for a small helpless animal. Vader wanted to simply snap his fist closed and be done with this nonsense, but Luke . . . Luke would not take that well. So Vader marched out of the royal quarters. He turned to the first royal guard and handed them the creature.

"Have that taken to a rehabilitation facility," Vader grumbled.

Father and son watched the confused guard walk down the hall. Vader turned to look back at his son, who was smiling back up at him. Yes, not killing that animal was the better choice.

"No more animals," Vader said as he led Luke down the hall to the dinner. Though the Emperor wondered how well his son would listen to that direction. This incident marked the sixteenth time Luke had brought an animal into his quarters.

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"That's starting to get annoying."


Luke pressed the switch. Nothing. He moaned and let the lightsaber hilt clatter down onto the small wooden table. He propped his elbows on the table and buried his head into his hands. One flesh hand and one gloved hand.

This was hard. Even though he had Ben's instructions, he still felt like there was something missing. That there was more to building a lightsaber that Luke wasn't grasping. It didn't help when he heard a small laugh come from behind him.

"Can you stop that?" Luke grumbled as he turned around. "That's starting to get annoying."

Hunched over in the corner of Ben's basement was the huge lurking figure of Darth Vader. He sat on the floor. His black cape spread out around him. His legs stretched out. His hands were in front of him bound in a pair of thick metal binders. Force suppressant binders.

"Young one," Vader said. His voice loud in the small confined space. "You merely have to ask, and I will instruct you on how to build a lightsaber."

"No," Luke said at once as he turned back around and looked at Ben's journal. "I don't need your help."

"This marks your what? Fifth failed attempt? Aren't you tired of trying?"

"Do or do not. There is no try," Luke barked.

"Hmmm. So Yoda is still alive. He has been the one progressing your training. Where has that little goblin been hiding?"

"He's dead," Luke said bitterly.

"Did you kill him?"

"What?" Luke spun around. "No!"

"Shame," Vader said casually.

Luke glared at Vader then spun back around and looked pointedly at the journal. His thoughts were definitely not on his cyborg murder machine of a father. He started to take apart the lightsaber until all its parts were laid out on the table. He picked up the green crystal, the kyber crystal as Ben's journal called it. Supposedly the color of the crystal also marked the color of the blade. If Vader's lightsaber was red, was his crystal as well?

He resisted the urge to turn around and look at Vader. When Luke had landed at Ben's hut in his X-Wing, he had been surprised to find Vader waiting for him in the hut. His lightsaber was on the ground in front of him. His hands bound in the binders.

"What kind of trick is this?" Luke had demanded once he had assessed the situation.

"It is no trick, my son," Vader said calmly. "I am now your prisoner."

Luke huffed. He knew no binders could hold Vader.

"These are Force suppressant binders. I cannot access the Force while these are on me."

"You expect me to believe that?" Luke asked.

"Use the Force," Vader said. "What do you sense?"

Luke stood there for a moment before he finally closed his eyes and opened himself up to the Force. He reached out for Vader. He expected to find the harsh cold supernova that usually marked Vader's presence but there was . . . nothing. Luke gasped as he opened his eyes.

"As you can see, I am powerless," Vader said.

Luke unclipped Vader's lightsaber from his belt. He twisted it this way and that. He found it similar to his old one. The one that had been his father's . . . Anakin Skywalker . . . who was . . . Darth Vader. Had that man built both of the sabers? Luke placed it on the table. Maybe he could figure out how to build his own by taking apart Vader's. It was how he had learned to build other machines as a child.

But he quickly realized there weren't any tool marks. No screws. Nothing. He threw the saber onto to the table with a frustrated sigh. He paused as he waited for the next quip from Vader. Nothing. He turned around. Vader sat there unmoving. The only thing to mark he was alive was the sound of his breathing and the blinking lights on his chest plate.

Luke picked up Vader's saber and walked over. He sat down on the floor in front of him. He held out the saber in his gloved hand. He realized this was the weapon that had sliced off that very hand.

"Why?" Luke asked softly.

A mechanical breath. Silence. Another breath.

"Why?" Vader asked.

Luke looked up into the dark lenses. "Why did you fight me? Why did you . . ." He trailed off not wanting to finish that thought.

"Hurt you?" Vader finished.

"You knew," Luke said bitterly. "You knew I was your son and you still did it. How could you?"

"Because you are my son," Vader said. "My son who had been lied to. Who thought I was responsible for Anakin Skywalker's death. You weren't ready for the truth, which became clear when you let yourself drop into that reactor shaft. I wanted to end the duel. You were leaving me with little choices."

"Tch," Luke muttered sharply as he stared at the saber.

Suddenly, it rose out of his hand. Then it started to twist. Slowly, it came apart. It floated there in a neat line with all its parts spread out and the red crystal in the middle.

"What . . . how?" Luke asked as he looked beyond the saber to Vader. The binders were on the floor.

"You never did ask for the key," Vader said.

The lightsaber snapped back together. It floated back down into Luke's hand. Mechanical breathing filled the silence. Luke wasn't sure how long this silence had lasted when he finally looked up. His heart was pounding in his chest.

"Can you show me . . . how you did that?" Luke asked. His voice soft. He had barely heard his own words over the pounding in his ears.

There was a slight tilt in Vader's helmet. "Of course . . . my son," Vader said.

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"Welcome to fatherhood."


Darth Vader's hands were clasped tightly behind his back. He stood in front of large floor-to-ceiling windows that overlooked the cityscape of Coruscant. His large chair he usually meditated in was cold and unused. But it was his meditations that provided him his current unease. What he had discovered in the depths of the Force-

There was movement in the feed he projected in small screen in his helmet. He paused. He stilled, though his automated breathing continued. His hands tightened. He clenched his teeth. Had it been nothing? His eyes watched the screen intently. The seconds ticked by. A full minute. Nothing. He started to relax. It was nothing.

Then the feed picked up a sound. He instantly tensed up again. With a flick of the Force he turned off his respirator. Silence. His lungs started to burn and ache. He kept the respirator off. He tried to breathe on his own, but it was hard. He wasn't getting enough air. He was about to turn the switch, but then he heard it. A whimper.

He flicked the switch on. He didn't even pause to relish the forced oxygen. He had turned sharply on his heel and marched out of the room. His long steps quickly brought him down the hallway. He paused before he entered his destination. The door slid open and by then the whimper was now crying.

He wasted no time in walking over to the crib. He looked down to see a crying baby. The little hands were curled into fists. The limbs waved about. Vader leaned over and quickly scooped the baby out. He had yet to stop marveling at how small his son was. He could rest the whole baby in the crook of one arm. He walked over to the changing table and gently placed his son down.

He undid the snaps of the onsie and took off the soiled diaper. While he cleaned the little bottom, he still couldn't help but marvel at this child. This absolute miracle. One he had only known existed for a mere week. It was in his meditations that he had discovered this child had lived. His rage as he tore from Coruscant could not be sated until he had slaughtered and burned all who had held his child and had kept his baby away from him.

Sidious had understood the rage, had forgiven it, but wanted Vader to hand over the child. Vader couldn't care for a baby. He had far more important things to do. He was needed for the Empire. He was needed to hunt down the remaining Jedi. Vader agreed, but he would not compromise. Not on this. Sidious had reluctantly agreed. For now.

A stream of urine splashed against his mask and along his eye lenses. He looked down. The baby grabbed his foot and stuck his toes in his mouth. Vader slipped the baby out of the rest of his now ruined onesie. He put a fresh diaper and onesie on. He wiped down his mask. Then he picked the baby up and tucked him into the crook of his arm.

"Luke," he said. "What you have done . . . I have killed men, little one . . ."

The baby yawned and blinked his eyes a few times. Vader rocked the baby. This was what he was supposed to do, right? What she would have done, right? Luke's eyes soon fought to stay open. Vader slowly walked back to the crib and lowered the baby into it. His son was asleep the moment his head touched the mattress. Vader watched him for a moment. He looked at the fluffy blonde hair. The round chubby cheeks. The chest rising and falling.

He should go. He had reports of the Inquisitors to look over. Files to look over regarding where he thought fugitive Jedi might be hiding. Things he had been ignoring and were starting to pile up. He started to turn, but then he heard a whimper. He looked back at his son. Sound asleep. So he took a step over and looked down into the second crib. The second little baby's brown eyes were open. Her face was all twisted.

Vader didn't even wait for the crying to start. He scooped his daughter up and brought her to the changing table.

"At least you waited until I was done with your brother," Vader said softly. He started to change her. "And at least you won't urinate all over me."

He finished changing her, and like her brother, he tucked her into his arm and started to rock her. But she squirmed and whimpered. He repositioned her so she was upright against his chest. Her head rested on his shoulder. He gently patted her back. She let out a few burps. She must have been gassy. She burped again. This time she threw up all over his shoulder armor and cape. He would have sighed if he could.

He placed her back on the changing table and got out a new onesie on her. By then the baby was nodding off. He placed her in her crib. He watched her as he had her brother until finally he turned away from the cribs and the babies they held. He made his way back to his own personal rooms. It was cold and sterile. More of a mechanic shop mixed with a hospital. He undid his cloak and handed it to one of the droids that attended to him. He took off his armor and handed to another droid.

"Sir," said the droid. "We have not finished cleaning the other cape and armor yet."

Vader eyed a set of droids cleaning off more baby puke from the cape he had been wearing earlier today.

"Then get another droid," Vader growled. "Work faster."

"Yes, sir," the droid said.

He walked to his hyperbolic chamber and sat in it. The machine closed and his mask and helmet were removed. He became aware of the smell. The smell of babies. Of milk and powder. Of puke and urine and poop.

"Welcome to fatherhood," he muttered to himself in a raspy voice. His cracked lips slowly curved into a smile.

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"I feel like I can't breathe."


"Are you sure about this Skywalker?" asked Antilles over the com.

"I have to do something," the other responded.

"This is a trap," Antiless responded.

Skywalker gripped the steering yoke of his X-Wing tighter. "I know," he said. "But I can't let the Empire have its way with Han and Leia."

Especially Leia, but he didn't voice that. Their connection was a secret.

"No one else is near Bespin," Antilles said slowly.

Skywalker knew that. Especially after the disaster at Hoth. The Alliance fleet had scattered and put as much distance between them and the Empire. And that meant no one was close enough for backup. Alliance command had suggested he wait. But the visions he had on Dagobah . . . of Han and Leia in pain . . . He couldn't wait.

He had no trouble landing at Cloud City. R2, ever faithful, was there by his side. He stripped off his flight suit and walked into the city wearing his Alliance grey jumpsuit. His lightsaber was clipped to his belt, but he held a blaster at the ready.

Skywalker could sense him. Darth Vader. He was here. Skywalker gripped his blaster tighter. He knew he was walking into a trap, but it was one he was all too willing to walk in to. It was finally time to rid the galaxy of this Sith, this Vader. Oh, he had tried to kill Vader before. On Cymoon 1 and Vrogas Vas. But so far he had been unsuccessful.

But not this time, Skywalker said to himself as he followed the troopers that had taken Leia. Even she had warned him it was a trap.

He smiled when he was face to face with Vader. As the Sith walked down the stairs and ignited his red saber. Finally, the two fought. Skywalker was impressed with Vader's skill. Yet, the Sith didn't seem quite as grand as before. The way Imperial propaganda projected him, the way the Alliance whispered about him, even the few run-in's Skywalker had with him, he always seemed so much bigger. Larger than life.

But he was just a man, Skywalker realized. Not some monster. He was in fact smaller than Skywalker had thought he was. Vader was just a normal man. Just another Sith.

A man who could fight. Kriff. Perhaps Skywalker should have practiced his lightsaber with Yoda on Dagobah. The fight continued. He was flung out the window into the reactor shaft. The duel continued along the gantry, and Skywalker made a mistake which Vader took full advantage of. He stared in horror at his right arm which now ended in a stump.

Vader stood over him. His lightsaber pointed down at the Jedi.

"There is no escape," Vader said in his deep rumbling voice. "Don't make me destroy you." He deactivated his lightsaber and clipped it to his belt. "Join me and with our combined strength can end this destructive conflict and bring peace to the galaxy."

"I'll never join you!" Skywalker said as he pressed his back against the broken railing.

"If only you knew the power of the Dark Side," Vader rumbled.

"Heh. I know enough," Skywalker said in a low voice.

Vader paused. There was a slight tilt in his helmet. Then his black gloved hands came up to the helmet. He slowly took it off and placed it on the ground. What game was this Sith playing at?

"Obi-Wan never told you what happened to your son," Vader said as his hands grabbed the mask and slowly it took it off.

"He told me enough," Skywalker hissed. "Sidious killed him."

Vader looked straight at Skywalker, who was surprised at how young he was. He was nothing more than a boy.

"No," came a wheezy voice. "I am your son."

Skywalker's mouth fell open. He stared at the pale face covered with faint scars. The short shorn dark blonde hair. The dark grey skin around the yellow eyes that were the same shape . . . And the mark on the cheek.

"No," Skywalker whispered. "No." It came out louder this time. "No! It can't be! That's impossible!"

His son . . . His little Luke had died . . . Oh Force . . . Everything spun and twisted and turned.

"Search your feelings," Vader said. Vader? Was he Vader? Or was he . . . "You know it to be true."

"No! No!" Anakin said as he leaned over. The wind snapped all around him. It was sucking the air right out of him. "I feel like . . . I can't breathe," he said to himself.

"Anakin. You can destroy the Emperor. You are the Chosen One," Vader- no Luke! said. "He has foreseen this. It is your destiny to bring balance to the Force. Join me. Together we can rule this galaxy as father and son!"

Anakin looked up at the boy. His boy. The one he thought had been buried with Padme.

"Join me," Luke said in a soft voice. A pleading voice. "It is the only way."

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"Don't give me that look."
AN: This is set in my dragon AU.


Vader, the Sith dragon, looked down at his small golden scaled son.

"Bbbbbrrrreeeeeppppp," Luke squeaked out.

Vader sighed. Luke was five years old and still very small, especially in his dragon form. In another five years, Luke would hit his first big growth spurt. It was then that a dragon's internal flame was strong enough to start providing enough heat for themselves. Vader remember hitting his. By that time he had already joined the Jedi Order. He wasn't sure how his poor mother would have handled his ravenous hunger the growth spurt caused.

Luke squeaked again in an attempt to get his father's attention. The little dragon was laying on his back, though a bit off to the side as his back spines didn't allow for him to lay flat. Why Luke liked laying on his back so much, Vader did not know. But Luke's little tummy was up in the air. His tummy scales were a pale yellow compared to the vibrant gold of the rest of his scales. Luke was pawing gently at the air. The black of his eyes were big and round.

Do not give me that look, Vader said through the Force.

"Bereep!" Luke squeaked back.

The child hadn't taken to using human words very well though he did understand them. Why should he use hard human words when he could communicate telepathically through the Force? It was so much more intrinsic and easier. Instead of words, dragons communicated with mental images and colors. Along their shared bond, Luke was sending warm pinks and yellows along with an image of Vader himself. A large black dragon with golden eyes.

Luke was asking for attention. He wanted some loving. But if that was what he really wanted, Vader would have been happy to give it. But Luke wasn't as sneaky as he thought himself to be. In between the loving pinks and yellows were flashes of yellow-green with images of claws and teeth. What Luke really wanted was to play. He was trying to lure his father in under false pretenses and then attack.

Where had this little one learned to be so sneaky? It was not something Vader had ever taught him.

Luke squeaked again. He rocked over to his other side. His little feet still pawing at the air in front of him. He was putting on quite a good show of being cute. And Vader couldn't resist his cute son for too long. Luke was indeed quite devious for a five-year old.

He lowered head, and as he did so, he noticed Luke's eyes flash into slits. But then they rounded back out as Vader brought up one of his large feet and gently rub against Luke's belly with one of his knuckles. Luke closed his eyes contendely and let out a soft squeak. Pinks exploded along their bond as Luke enjoyed the attention.

But then the pinks faded away into yellow then into yellow-green. Luke opened his eyes. The blacks were slits. His little claws were out and all four of his feet grabbed on to Vader's foot and leg. At once Luke started chomping on Vader's toes and claws. Luckily he wasn't biting too hard. He was just playing. But it was uncomfortable. Dragon scales were very hard. Very few human weapons could penetrate the scales. Kyber crystal weapons were one of the few that could and so could dragon teeth and claws.

Vader wiggled his toes and tried to pull his foot free. Luke let out a loud squeak and clung on tightly to his father's leg. Vader brought his head down and gently pushed against Luke's head. Luke continued to chomp on one of Vader's toes. Vader started to lick his son's face. Luke stopped chewing on the toe and started to nip at Vader. His yellow-green emotions were peppered with red-oranges.

Luke did not want kisses or a bath right now. He wanted to play. And he went back to clawing and chewing on his father's foot. Vader used his snout to pin Luke down while he pulled his foot free. Luke's little feet tried to cling on, but couldn't. He pawed after the foot. Vader lifted his snout. At once Luke rolled over and jumped to his feet. He crouched as he looked at his father's leg.

Vader supposed his leg made a much easier target. It was something more Luke's size. Luke squeaked, lunged forward, and jumped on Vader's leg. Perhaps it was time to start teaching Luke to hunt. Vader had learned to hunt by himself while running around the Tatooine deserts and canyons. But there wasn't anything living in Mustafar. The fumes from the lava kept such things away. But it was perfect for dragons who were not affected by such things. The lava that heated tunnels and caverns made a perfect place to keep a little baby dragon warm and safe.

Sadly, it didn't do much in entertainment. Which meant Luke's only form of entertainment and play was his father. And thus the attack on Vader's leg. Vader let himself connect to the Force, the life magic of the earth, and pulled on Luke's little stubby tail. At once Luke let out a startled squeak. He jumped and spun around as if there was something else in this canvern to pull on his tail. He looked around and then up at his father. He stomped his little feet and let out an angry squeak while he sent dark oranges up at his father.

Vader pulled on the tail again.

Luke squeaked, jumped, and spun around. Then he glared up at Vader. The dark-oranges were now reds. Luke let out a few dissafied squeaks. He sent a few mental images of a golden tail. He didn't like his tail being pulled. But Vader pulled it again while he sent pale yellow-green emotions to Luke communicating to his child he was playing.

Luke growled. He curled up and caught his tail in his mouth. Then he looked back up at his father. Luke had grabbed his tail in an effort to keep it from being pulled. A deep rumbling laugh came out of Vader. Luke let out a long squeak as he was not pleased with being laughed at. That meant he let go of his tail, so Vader used the Force to pull on it again.

Bright reds were blasted at Vader. Luke huffed and growled at his father. Then he turned and jumped at Vader's tail. The little dragon tried to grab the tail with his small claws and legs and mouth, but Vader's tail was bigger than Luke. Despite that Luke managed to get ahold of one of the spine spikes that ran down Vader's spine and onto the tail. Luke was tugging on it, trying to get the entire tail to tug.

Vader smiled to himself. Perhaps he should start teaching Luke to use the Force soon now that he could understand human words. Vader still didn't know how dragons of old used to teach their young without human language. Perhaps the dragons had a language beyond colors and pictures.

Vader wrapped the Force around his own tail and pulled. He let out a large deep yelp. Luke jumped. His little wings flapped. He let go of Vader's tail. He looked up at his father. His eyes big and round. The illusion had paid off. Luke thought he had pulled his father's tail. He also thought he had hurt his father.

Luke bounded up to Vader's head. He rubbed against Vader's neck and then licked Vader's face. He sent dark blue-greens to him. He was sorry for hurting his father. Vader licked Luke back. Eventually the little dragon sat down and let himself be cleaned and loved on. His blue-greens eased into blues and then into content sleepy purples. Luke yawned and curled up against his father. Soon the little dragon was asleep while his father sent him dark pinks of love down to him.

.

.

.


"Oh god, you're just like your dad."


Blaster bolts were being fired across the spaceport. Luke Skywalker jumped down from the upper walkway. He landed with a solid thud. His lightsaber was out as he deflected the blaster bolts. A stormtrooper ran at him. Luke ducked under the red bolts and slashed through the trooper with ease. He backed up and ducked behind a pile of metal crates.

"Come on," Leia said. "We've got the back exit secured."

Luke nodded and then ran to the back door, out the back of the spaceport, and on to the waiting Falcon. Once in hyperspace, Luke relaxed on the gravity couch in the hold. Leia sat on the other end.

"You know," she said, "when I saw you pull off that stunt I thought, 'Oh Force, he's just like his dad.'"

Luke sat up a little straighter.

"What . . . How . . . What does that mean?" Luke asked.

"I researched your father a bit," Leia said. "There isn't much. The Empire tried to erase everything about the Jedi. But there are a few things in the Alliance's records. Old recordings people kept in their personal collections. There's not much about your father. Mostly just the mention of the name Anakin Skywalker. But I did find one holonet broadcast. And showed Anakin Skywalker-"

"It showed him?" Luke asked as jumped to the edge of his seat. "You saw him?"

He couldn't help the pounding in his chest. There was a recording out there of his father? A million questions ran through his mind, but the one Luke kept coming back to was 'What did he look like?" Leia described the recording once then twice then a third time. The moment they were back on Home One, Leia pulled up the file from the archives.

"We have an update from the war," a human woman newscaster said.

The holograph shifted to a scene of a city that was clearly under attack. Large scorch marks littered the area. Droids marched by the camera. White troopers, they must be clone troopers, rushed by. Then a man jumped down into the middle street. He was dressed in dark tunic with armor shoulder. He held a lightsaber with a blue beam.

Luke leaned forward. He watched as the Jedi deflected bolts from the droids. He was tall and had long dark blonde hair. But Luke couldn't see his face too well. He was too far away from the camera. Plus the blue blade kept blocking the face. But it was him.

It was him!

It was his father! This was Anakin Skywalker!

After a few seconds of deflecting bolts, Anakin rushed off screen.

"As you can see," the newscaster said. "General and Jedi Knight, Anakin Skywalker, known as the Hero with No Fear, came to the aid with his troops in the city of . . ."

Luke leaned back and smiled. He rewound the recording and watched it again. And again. Leia eventually gave him a copy, and he brought it back to his bunk. He would pause and try to examine everything he could about the man in the recording. Was that really the same lightsaber Luke had now? That grey blur mostly hidden by Anakin's glove could be it.

He couldn't help but wish for a better picture. For a closer shot. For a snippet of his voice. This was his father. The man Luke had always wanted to know. Had dreamed and fantasized about and . . . and he was real. He knew his father was real. He had heard stories from other people about his father. But this . . . this was proof.

It was more than he had ever hoped for. Yet, it also left him hungering for more.

He watched the recording a lot. He had each second memorized. And beside his lightsaber, it was probably one of the best gifts he had ever been given.

But the galaxy was still at war. Luke couldn't spend all of his time watching the same thirty second clip over and over. He was sent on a mission out to the Wyl Sector at the end of the Hydian Way hyperspace lane. The Alliance was there to raid a few Imperial warehouses. Everything was going smoothly until Darth Vader arrived.

The dark lord plowed through the rebels. His red blade slashing through bolts and bodies. Nothing seemed to stop him. And he seemed to be coming straight towards Luke. The commanding Alliance officer called the retreat the moment Vader had stepped on the field. Luke was protecting the retreating rebel's flank as they ran through the warehouses and back to their ships.

Luke found an exterior door that opened up to a second floor balcony. He ran down a set of stairs that took him to the ground level. Luke rushed across the grass towards the ships. However, Vader burst through the door. His black cloak snapping in the wind. Luke could feel eyes on him. He stopped and turned around. Vader jumped over the balcony railing and landed on the ground without a flinch. The Rebels behind Luke had opened fire. Vader easily deflected them, and-

Luke's heart jumped to his throat.

The two memories overlapped each other. Anakin Skywalker jumping down from the building. Darth Vader jumping down from the balcony. Anakin's blue lightsaber deflecting the bolts. Vader deflecting the bolts.

"Oh Force," Luke whispered to himself. "He's just like my dad."

Chapter Text

Luke stared up at the night sky while he laid on his back. The stars heavily dotted the sky. He could even make out the bright glow and cluster of the galaxy center. He sighed. He always had a longing for the stars. For the sky.

"Luke!" a gruff voice shouted. "Food is ready!"

Luke slowly pushed himself up. He looked out across the desolate salt plains of Seelos. There was nothing out here. He sighed as he stood up and made his way down the ladder of the old Republic tank he called home. He entered to find Rex, Wolffe, and Gregor had all started to eat.

"Here you go," Gregor said happily as he handed Luke a bowl of joopas stew.

All three were clones, so all three looked similar. They had the same body build. The same shape to their face. But they were also very different. Rex was bald with a white beard. His old armor had blue markings on it. Wolffe had lost his right eye during the war and now had a cybernetic one. A mean scar ran through his eye and along the right side of his face. He kept his white hair and beard short and neat. His armor had grey markings. Gregor liked to go hairless. No hair. No beard. He was also a bit more carefree than the other two.

"Lookin' at the stars again?" Rex asked.

Luke shrugged.

"No point in keeping your head up in the clouds," Wolffe said. "Need to focus on the ground. Down here on the here and now."

"This isn't a battlefield," Rex said giving a pointed look at Wolffe.

"Never know when it could become one," Wolffe muttered.

Gregor caught Luke's eye and gave him a wink. Luke loved the clones. They were the only family he had ever known. He didn't remember what his life was like before they had adopted him. He remembered fragments of living a few other places with the clones during his childhood, but most of his memories were of living here on Seelos.

The clones were good men. Good caretakers. They had seen to Luke's education. They downloaded educational materials off the holonet. Luke had often spent many long afternoons sitting at the terminal inside the tank. His favorite lessons were from the clones themselves. They taught him everything they knew. How to shoot a blaster, how to fight, how to track, battle strategies, and of course Luke's favorite was their history. History of the Clone Wars. Of the Jedi. Of General Anakin Skywalker. And Luke loved those ones the best, because Anakin Skywalker was his father.

But he was now fifteen and he couldn't help but wonder what his future was going to be. Was this it? Was he going to be on Seelos forever slinging for joopas? Surely not. There had to be more. He didn't expect for 'more' to come the next day in a small ship.


"You know the drill," Rex said as the clones all grabbed their weapons.

Luke nodded. He hid in a small compartment in the floor. This was always the case whenever there were outsiders. When asked why he had to hide, he was told because clones weren't supposed to have kids. And they take Luke away to some orphanage. Luke didn't want that. So he hid.

He became very quiet as he listened. He could hear voices. He tensed when he heard two shots of a blaster go off. But that was the only shots he heard. There were more voices and eventually Luke heard the tank door open and two of his clone guardians , they had yet to give the all-clear signal.

It wasn't long until he felt something bump against the tank. Then Rex returned, but he wasn't alone. There were more footsteps. More people.

"Hey! You're a big one aren't you?" Gregor said.

"Bigger than you," a masculine voice growled.

"Woah!" another voice said.

"Hey! Hey! Easy with those son," Rex said.

"Ohhh yeah, yeah," the other voice said. "I might ruin the dust."

"How is Commander Tano?" Rex asked.

Luke straightened up. Commander Tano? He recognized that name! That was one of the Jedi Rex served under. He pressed his ear to the roof of his compartment.

"Well, uh," said the voice from before, but they were cut off.

"You need to be honest with us," a new voice said. "Who else is here?"

Silence. Luke heard shuffling and the familiar sound of weapons being grabbed.

"Hold on!" Rex shouted. Silence. What was going on? "It's all right, Luke," Rex said. "You can come out."

Luke hesitated for a moment, but then pushed the panel open. He slowly crawled out and stood up. He looked around the small main room of the tank. Gregor was sitting while Rex stood nearby. Wolffe was leaning against the consol with a look of disapproval across his face. But there were four others. Three humans and a large purple furry alien. One human was an adult man, the other a young teen, and the last human was a young woman with short brightly colored hair and armor.

"Who is this?" the man asked waving his hand at Luke.

"This is Luke," Rex said as he put his hand on Luke's shoulder and squeezed it. "He's our charge."

The man's eyes narrowed. "Your charge?" he asked slowly.

"He's an orphan," Gregor said in his usual cheery voice. "We've adopted him. Raised him since he was a baby."

"Orphaned? How? Who were his parents? How did they die? Did you have anything to do with this, clones?" the man said growing angrier.

"Luke," Rex said. "Why don't you take young Ezra out and show him how we sling for joopas?"

Luke frowned. He didn't really want to go out, but he knew what Rex was really asking. He wanted to talk with this man without Luke present. Luke nodded and headed towards the door. The other kid followed him out. They climbed up the ladder to the top of the tank.

"So uhh what is slinging for joopas?" the kid asked.

"Shhh," Luke said as lowered himself to the ground and started to pry up one of the floor panels.

The kid kneeled beside him.

"What are you doing?" the kid asked.

"I want to know what they're talking about," Luke said.

He looked at the kid. He had dark blue hair. He wore it long down his chin. He had two scars that slashed across the left side of his face. Luke lowered himself down so he could hear better. The kid did the same.

"That kid is a strong Force sensitive," the man was saying. "It's beyond just being a Jedi. He would be a strong Jedi."

"Not surprising," Rex said. "His father was a Jedi."

Luke wasn't sure what being a Force sensitive was, but he did know about his father.

"A father you killed?" the man asked bitterly.

There was silence and Luke wished he could see what was happening.

"No," Rex finally said. "No clones were involved in Luke's father's death. I served under his father. The very least I could do was see that his son was raised safe and away from the Empire. I know what they do to Jedi and any other Force sensitives."

"Is that why you live out here?" the woman asked.

"Ain't no one out here," Gregor said. "Just us and the joopas."

"And now you," Wolffe growled.

"So you're a Jedi, too?" the kid asked Luke in a hushed voice.

"No," Luke said. "My dad was a Jedi . . . Wait. Too? Are you one?"

Luke and the kid sat up straight. The kid unhooked his blaster from his belt. He pushed a button and instead of a bolt coming out, a beam shot out of the top of the blaster. Luke gaped up at it.

"What is that?" Luke asked.

"A lightsaber," the kid said. "It's the weapon of the Jedi."

He waved it around. It made a humming sound as it did. He clicked the button and the blade snapped back into the blaster.

"I'm Ezra by the way," the kid said.

"Luke," Luke replied with a smile.


Luke learned that the others were part of the same crew as Ezra. They had come here hoping to recruit Rex to join their fight against the Empire, but Rex had turned them down. He said he was done fighting, but he would help them out by giving them some information. Luke was inside the tank while the four members of Ezra's crew were outside with Gregor.

"I don't like this," Wolffe said. "They're Jedi. And they're in some kind of trouble. What if they attract the attention of the Empire?"

"What's bad about the Empire?" Luke asked.

Ezra and his friends were fighting against it. Rex and the clones were hiding from it. Wolffe and Rex shared a look.

"It's not the Republic . . ." Rex said slowly. "And well . . . Listen, Luke, I haven't been exactly honest with you. You have the ability to be a Jedi, like your father before you. You can use the Force. And the Empire . . . doesn't like that. They killed all the Jedi. And well, when I saw you and realized who you were, I couldn't watch and let you be killed. So I took you and ran and never looked back."

"Is that why you make me hide in the floor whenever there are other people around?" Luke asked.

Rex smiled. "I'm trying to keep you safe, son," he said softly.

"Would the Empire really kill me?" Luke asked.

Rex looked at Wolffe. There was something unsaid between them.

"That or worse," Rex said.

"But what about Kanan and Ezra?" Luke asked. "They're Jedi. They're not dead."

"Yet," Wolffe mumbled. Rex shot him a look.

"They're outlaws, Luke," Rex said. "Rebels. Wanted men by the Empire. Go out and talk to them and see what they have to say about how they live their life."

Luke nodded and decided to do just that. He headed outside to the back of the tank and found Ezra and the other man, Kanan.

Ezra had talked about the Rebellion and the crew of The Ghost. He had such a passion about it. How they were fighting against the Empire and trying to help others. He explained all the evils the Empire did. He also mentioned a few close calls he had with the Empire. Including the most recent adventure where Ezra's crew had returned to Lothal, but had to escape in an Imperial shuttle which was then tracked. Their fleet was attacked by the Imperials.

Rex was right. The life these Rebels led was dangerous, but Luke . . . Luke wasn't afraid of that life. He found it fascinating.

"You know," Ezra said. "You could come with us. We could teach you how to be a Jedi. Maybe Ahsoka would take you up as an apprentice."

"There's nothing out here for you, kid," Kanan said. The man approached the two teens. His long brown hair was pulled back into a ponytail. "Plus, being a Jedi being raised by clones . . ."

"You don't like them," Luke said.

"You weren't there," Kanan said. "At the end of the war. They turned on their Jedi. I watched as they gunned my master down. The very men she had fought beside for years. Then they turned their blasters on me. Later they said it was these chips in their head that made them do it."

"I didn't betray my Jedi."

All three turned to see Rex standing in the doorway of the tank.

"Wolffe, Gregor, and I removed our chips," Rex said as he tapped the side of his head where a small scar was. "We all had a choice."


Gregor had convinced Ezra's crew to help them hunt for joopas. Using Zeb as bait, they were able to catch the Big Bongo. Gregor was excited over their catch. Luke knew he was already thinking of a hundred different recipes to cook with the joopas meat. Luke stood on the back railing of the tank. Ezra, Kanan, and Sabine were also nearby. All looked silently at the salt falts.

"You know," Ezra said, "even though Rex said he didn't want to come doesn't mean you don't have to."

Luke said nothing, but there was a tightness in his chest as he thought about it. Thought about leaving this place. Going up in the stars. Living his life like his father had, as a Jedi. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to take Ezra up on his offer, but then he thought about Rex and Gregor and Wolffe. And could he just abandoned them? No, he couldn't. They were his family. And they had decided they wouldn't be joining Ezra or the rebels.

Rex came out of the back door of the tank. "I've assembled a list of potential bases and clearance codes and a few protocols the Imperials still use," he said.

"Should be of some use," Kanan said.

"Thanks, Rex," Ezra said.

"They're on our main computer," Rex said. "You're gonna need- "

"Data tapes?" Sabine interrupted. "I got this." She rushed inside.

Rex walked over to Ezra. "You were brave today, kid," he said. Ezra had helped capture the joopas by stabbing the sling line with the electro-poles. It was a demanding job. One the clones hadn't even let Luke do until about two years ago. "You jumped right in there to help. A great Jedi once told me that the best leaders lead by example. You do that well."

Ezra smiled. "Thanks," he said. He looked over at Kanan. "I've learned from a great Jedi, too." Kanan glared at Rex, huffed, and looked away.

Rex leaned in towards Luke. "You know, I don't think he likes me," he muttered. "Or ever will." Rex was silent for a moment before adding, "The war left its scars on all of us."

"Won't you reconsider joining us?" Ezra asked. His eyes still hopeful.

"You know, I've out served my purpose for that kind of fighting, I'm afraid," Rex said.

Ezra frowned but nodded. The door slid open and Sabine rushed out.

"The clones gave us up! They warned the Empire we're here."

"Wait, what?" Ezra asked.

Everyone had straightened up. Kanan's face darkened, while Rex was clearly shocked.

"You're mistaken," Rex said. "We would never do that."

"Oh," Sabine said staring Rex down. "I found the binary transmission to the Empire. And there are messages from Ahsoka sent to Rex, and he never answered her!"

"What?" Rex said. "I never got any messages from Commander Tano!"

"I knew it!" Kanan shouted. "I told you! They can't be trusted!"

"Kanan, wait," Ezra said.

But Rex ignored them and pushed past Sabine into the tank. Luke looked at the others before following Rex in. The others were right behind him.

"Is this true? Wolffe?" Rex asked. Wolffe just looked at Rex. There was something off in his expression. A slight tightness to his mouth.

"What did you do?" Luke asked.

"I contacted the Empire," Wolffe said. "If they found out that we were helping Jedi, they'd wipe us out!"

"Sabine," Kanan growled, "go warn Hera. Tell her to scan for incoming ships." He looked at Wolffe. "And what do you think they were going to do once they discovered Luke here?"

"I just wanted to protect you guys," Wolffe said. "I wanted to protect our squad."

Protect our family, Luke realized.

"The war is over," Rex said. "We are free men. But if the Empire finds us . . . we won't be."

"You're right," Wolffe said slowly. "They're . . . not our enemy. I was just afraid . . ." He paused and looked at Luke.

Rex put a hand on Wolffe's shoulder. "I know," he said softly.

"A probe?" Sabine shouted from outside. "Kanan!"

There more shouts from Gregor and Zeb. The sound of blaster shots. Everyone ran outside to see a round droid with spindly arms hanging off of it was zooming off into the plains.

"Rex," Ezra said. "You gotta make this right." He tossed Rex a large blaster. Rex caught it and nodded. He quickly hoisted it up on his shoulder. He wasted no time in leveling it off and taking the shot. The droid exploded into a cloud.

"Nice shot," Sabine said.

"Woo-hoo-hoo!" Gregor shouted from down below the tank. "Rex got him!"

"Heh heh probe deserved it," Zeb said.

The Ghost crew climbed down and headed into the salt flats as the sun started to dip below the horizon. The cool night air started to whip across the featureless plain. Luke followed Rex as he joined the crew circling around the smoking wreckage of the droid.

"How long has this thing been watching us?" Ezra asked.

"Long enough," Kanan said. He looked over at Sabine. "How's The Phantom?"

"Well engine took a direct hit from the probe," Sabine said. "We're not going anywhere until I can fix it."

"Wait, you mean we're stranded?" Zeb asked.

"And the Empire is on its way," Rex added. He looked over at Luke. His face fell into a worried look.


The night was tense. Luke curled up in his usual spot. His blankets tight around him. He tried closing his eyes to sleep, but there was a tightness in his chest. He had a bad feeling. He normally had such feelings as sand storms approached, but this was something else. Something more that he couldn't quite put a name to. He barely slept through the night. He was tired and sore as the sun rose across the white landscape. Wolffe had kept the tank moving all night to avoid being in the last known spot the droid reported them in to the Empire.

Sabine was working on fixing The Phantom but had reported it would take a bit more time. The rest of The Ghost crew were on edge, but they weren't the only one. The clones were as well. Everyone jumped when Kanan's com beeped.

"Spectre-1 to Spectre-2," said a femine voice. "I'm busy finishing up repairs on The Ghost, and . . ."

"Give me some good news, Hera," Kanan said.

"Three star destroyers just came out of hyperspace," she said. "I'm going to power down so they can't scan me. Good luck down there."

Silence filled the tank.

"If they follow procedure," Rex said slowly. "They'll fly search patterns based on our last confirmed position."

"Or they'll call," Gregor said. "Incoming Imperial transmission."

Everyone looked at the wall where the computer was. The terminal screen was filled with the Imperial logo. There was a soft beeping sound noting the incoming call.

"It's for you Wolffe," Gregor said. Despite the situation, he could always stay positive and joke.

Wolffe turned to look at the terminal. "They- they called back?"

"This is why I don't trust clones," Kanan muttered.

"Just get rid of 'em, Wolffe," Ezra said as everyone moved to the side so the camera wouldn't pick them up.

Wolffe rubbed his head. "Yeah, it was my mistake," he admitted. "And I'll fix it." He turned to the terminal and accepted the call.

The screen changed to a young, at least younger than the clones, human man in a uniform. He had blonde hair and large thick sideburns.

"CC-3636," he said in a voice filled with disdain. "Commander Wolffe, is it?" His face twisted slightly. He was unimpressed.

Wolffe snapped his fingers. "Yes, that's me," he said. He was clearly uncomfortable. He couldn't keep still. "What can I do for you, sir?"

"Please transmit your coordinates so I can investigate the Jedi sightings you reported."

"What?" Wolffe said looking around. "Uh, Je- Jedi? Uh, no. No. No. Th- There's no Jedi. Here. My, my old, uh, cybernetic eye must be acting up again."

Rex stepped up next to Wolffe and wrapped his arm around the other. "Sorry, for wasting your time," Rex said.

"This image was taken by one of our probe droids," the man said. His voice sharp and low. The image changed to show an image of the tank with Ezra's small ship docked on top. "It clearly shows you harboring known rebels. Now surrender them or be destroyed."

"If it's a fight you want," Rex said smugly, "I hope you brought a better class of soldier than those stormtroopers."

The Imperial was unphased. "They serve the Empire well," he said with a smile tugging on his lips. "And I have a great many of them."

"You're gonna need all of 'em," Rex said. He leaned over to press the button to end the transmission, but then a new voice spoke up.

"Move aside Agent Kallus," a deep voice said. It sent a shiver up Luke's neck. Rex froze. His face fell. A man, or at least Luke thought it was, stepped into the screen. His was big, bigger than the previous Imperial, and dressed all in black. A black suit and a black mask and a black helmet. "CC-7567, Captain Rex," the man said.

Rex straightened up. "Darth Vader," he said slowly.

"I have been searching for you for the past thirteen years. I believe you have something of mine," Vader said.

"I have nothing of yours," Rex said.

The image flicked again. This time it showed Luke and The Ghost crew standing on the back of the tank talking. That tight feeling was getting worse inside of Luke. The image changed back to Vader.

"You will hand the boy over," Vader growled.

"Like I said," Rex said leaning over the terminal console. "I have nothing that is yours." Then he slammed his fist down cutting off the transmission.

"That was the sith lord!" Ezra said. "The same one we ran into on Lothal!"

"What was that about?" Kanan asked.

The three clones were all looking at Luke. Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb looked at Luke.

 

"I mentioned I was of the 501st," Rex said. "After the end of the war . . . after . . ." He paused as he looked at Kanan, who only glared back. "I returned to my post. The 501st became Vader's personal battalion. It was the same battalion he used on the . . . on the Jedi Temple . . ."

There was a thick and heavy tension in the air.

"We became known as Vader's Fist as he went out and hunted down Jedi. As the captain, I saw a lot of it first hand. But I never shot at Jedi. I never could . . . And then we went to Tatooine, and that's when Vader found you, Luke."

Everyone looked at him.

"Vader knew you who were the moment he saw and who your parents were, so he took you. I had seen him take other children. Rip babies away from their mothers. Hand them over to something called Project Harvester. So when I got the chance, I stole you and ran and never looked back," Rex said.

Gregor nodded along with Rex's words. A slight smile on his lips.

"And now Darth Vader is here to get him back," Ezra said. "If you stay here . . . You can't stay here! They'll kill you!"

"If we can make it to the mountains," Rex said, "We can hide in there. Got a whole cave stocked piled for such an occasion. Plus there's a storm coming up behind us. It'll scramble their scanners. They won't find us."


"We have their location," someone in the bridge pit announced.

Darth Vader stood at the viewport. He's hands clasped behind his back as he looked down at the planet. The planet where his son was at. Finally, after thirteen years of searching, they would be reunited.

"Shall we commence orbital bombardment?" the captain asked.

"No," Vader growled. He turned sharply on his heel. His cape snapping behind him. "Prepare for a ground assault."


Everyone was huddled inside the tank. The Empire was here. They had come with three large tanks Ezra called walkers. They weren't going to make it to the mountains, so Rex had ordered them into the storm. It was quiet. They could hear the sand hitting the tank's sides and the distant thud of the walkers coming after them.

Luke's heart was pounding in his chest. Something was wrong. Something was really wrong. He felt like he could barely breathe. He felt cold. He was sure his fingertips and toes were frozen. Then he felt the cold press against his mind. It was cold, so cold.

Then suddenly the sensation changed. It was still cold, but no longer did it bite at him. Instead it was oddly soothing like a cold drink of water after hours running around in the salt flats. It was comforting. It wrapped around Luke like a blanket. There was a touch. Not against his skin, but against his mind.

Someone was there.

Then he saw him. The large dark figure in the black mask and helmet, Darth Vader.

Luke, he said.

The voice was in his mind.

Luke, Vader said into Luke's mind again.

I . . . I . . . know you . . . Luke said softly.

There was a tilt of Vader's helmet. And then the tank faded away and Luke was floating.

"Good job, Luke," he heard a voice say. A deep baritone voice. Vader's voice.

Slowly things became in focus. Two large hands gloved in black came out. A small toddler took a few uneasy steps. It wobbled with each one.

"You can do it, Luke," Vader said.

The baby took a few more steps before it tipped over. The large hands at once caught him. Vader picked the baby up.

"You did it!" Vader said. His voice laced with pride. "You walked! All by yourself!"

That's me, Luke said as he realized that baby was him.

Yes, Vader replied back as the scene faded away and Luke found himself back in the tank.

But . . . I don't understand . . . Rex said . . .

Do not listen to that traitor's lies, Vader hissed. He stole you from me!

To protect me! From Project Harvester!

I never would have turned you over to them. You would never have left my side!

I . . . But . . . Why? Luke finally managed to ask.

There was a pause and an immense sense of grief and anger washed over Luke.

You do not know, Vader said slowly. Sadly?

Know what?

Who I am. What our relationship is. There was a pause. Then Vader spoke again. Luke, I am your father.

But . . . Wait! No! That can't be! My father was Anakin Skywalker! The Jedi general!

There was a flash of anger and hate from Vader, but it wasn't directed at Luke.

I once went by that name, Vader said. His voice strained. But that name no longer has any meaning to me. Anakin Skywalker is dead.

Was that true? There was something inside of him that said yes, yes it was true. He didn't understand. Why? How? Tears bubbled in his eyes.

I am here now, Vader said. His words softer than they were moments before. Soon we will be reunited.

"They're trying to pinch us in!" Wolffe growled. "We're surrounded."

Suddenly, Luke was aware he was back in the tank filled with the clones and The Ghost crew. They were in the sandstorm with the walkers chasing after them.

"If we make an opening, we can get out," Rex said.

"They'll see us the moment we fire," Ezra said. "What if we miss? We can't see in this storm!"

"But a Jedi can see," Rex said. "You can take the shot Ezra. Aim at their neck."

"Me, but I . . ." He looked at Kanan, who nodded at him. "Ok. I'll do it."

Luke stumbled backwards to the corner and fell down onto a seat. No was paying him any attention. He wasn't paying attention to them either. His ears were ringing. His thoughts were tumbling over and over and over. All the while the cold presence continued to stay wrapped around him. He only became aware that Ezra managed to get the shot and take down one of the walkers, when the coldness flaired in anger and worry. With the walker down, Wolffe piloted the tank away from the other walkers.

"We're almost out of the storm," Rex said. "When we do, you all get in your ship and go. We'll distract them." He turned to Luke. "And Luke, you'll go with them."

"Wh- what?" Luke said. His voice barely a whisper.

"You go with them, Luke," Rex said again. "They'll take you to Commander Tano. She'll take care of you."

"Wait!" Luke shouted as jumped up. "You can't stay here! They'll shoot you down!"

"It's a how a clone should go down," Rex said solemnly.

"No! You can't! I won't go!"

Luke marched over to Rex and planted himself in front of him. Rex placed a hand on Luke's shoulder.

"Luke," he said softly. "I have many regrets, but you are not one of them. It has been an honor serving you."

Tears spilled down Luke's cheek.

"You can- can't!" he sobbed.

Rex looked behind Luke and nodded. Large purple furry arms wrapped around Luke and hoisted him up. Zeb placed Luke on his shoulder.

"No!" Luke shouted as he kicked and tried to free himself. "No! Put me down! Rex! Wolffe! Gregor!"

Gregor and Rex snapped to attention and saluted Luke as Zeb stepped out of the tank and into the storm. The door slid shut. Luke screamed to be put down. He tried his best to get free, but Zeb held on tight as he climbed up to the top of the tank and entered the small ship. He put Luke down in a seat. Luke tried to jump up, but Zeb pushed him back down.

"You can't go back out there, kid," Zeb said sadly. "They've made up their mind."

"No!" Luke screamed. "We can't just leave them! We have to save them! Please! They're my family!"

Suddenly, everything grew quiet. Too quiet. The storm had stopped. Bright light came through the viewport. They were through the storm.

"This is our window," Sabine said. "Get us out of here Kanan, before those walkers get out!"

The ship vibrated as it took off. Luke continued to sob and plead. The coldness was wrapping around him tighter, but he ignored it.

"Kanan," Ezra said. "This fight is going to be their last fight. They're good men, even though they're clones."

Kanan groaned. "I hate it when he's right," he muttered. He steered the ship back around. "Everyone get ready," he said.

The rest of the crew nodded. Luke wiped his tears with his sleeve as Kanan and Sabine switched places.

"Come up from behind them," Kanan ordered Sabine, who was now piloting the ship.

"Copy that!" Sabine replied cheerfully.

Kanan looked down at Luke. "Don't worry, kid," he said. "We'll save them."

The back door opened and Kanan, Ezra, and Zeb jumped out. Luke went to jump up, to see where they had gone, to see what was happening, but the coldness tightened around him. It was so tight he could barely move. Barely breath. It had returned to being sharp instead of soothing. He struggled to break free, but he couldn't move. Sabine was too busy piloting the ship to look back at Luke.

Then there was a sudden burst of coldness. It was so sharp. So angry. The back door opened and Kanan, Zeb, and Ezra came back in. A short while later, the three clones climbed in as well. Yet Luke still couldn't move. Rex smiled at Luke and patted him on the shoulder. The others congratulated each other. No one noticed Luke. No one noticed the cold.

It was desperately grabbing on to him, but the ship was going higher and higher. The hold was getting weaker, but also more desperate. It didn't want to let go, but as more and more space grew between Luke and Vader, the grip slowly came undone. Luke was slipping away.

Rage and hatred burned the air. Fear froze it. And the grief, oh the grief, drowned Luke. It was dragging him down into the dark waters. The waters that were so desperate to keep him. To never let him go. Because . . .

Images flashed before Luke's eyes. He saw golden sand dunes and a small hut. His saw a small toddler standing in a crib. His blue eyes opened wide as he stared up at the large man in the black suit. He saw the baby being carried to a shuttle outside the hut. The baby was on the floor in a spaceship in front a large viewport. A few toys were scattered about. The baby laughed as it was bounced on a large leg. The baby was wrapped up in a blanket, sucking its thumb, in the arms of the large masked man.

Then the memories slipped away as the last of the coldness lost its grasp. And Luke fell into the empty darkness.


Space was cold. The ship was cold. Luke was huddled under two blankets on his bed in the room the rebels had given him on their ship. He had been asleep when they had arrived. Wolffe and Gregor had been there when Luke woke up.

"Lots happened yesterday," Gregor said. "You're just tired, boyo. Get some more sleep."

Luke nodded, but sat curled up in his blankets. His mind thought of what he had learned. That his father, Anakin Skywalker, was alive. That he was now Darth Vader, who had once upon a time found Luke. And for a brief moment they had lived together. And Vader had been happy. Luke had felt it from the memories. It was absolutely nothing like the coldness Luke had felt from Vader. It was soft and warm. It was full of love and pride and joy.

Vader had loved little Luke. He was so happy to have his son. So happy for them to be together.

No wonder he was so cold now. He had lost his warmth when his son was stolen. But why had Rex stole him? Did he assume wrong about Project Harvester? Was it something else?

And what was he going to do now?

The door slid open and Rex stepped in. Luke unraveled himself and walked over to the clone. He paused as he stood in front of him. Despite it all, Luke still cared for Rex. Loved him. He was still his family. Tears started to fall down his cheeks. He stepped forward and wrapped his arms around the large man. Rex slowly wrapped his owns around Luke.

"I'm so glad you're alive," Luke whispered.

He leaned back and looked up at his foster father, who had a large smile on his face. A large hand came up and wiped away Luke's tears.

"I've faced worse," Rex joked. Gregor and Wolffe chuckled behind Luke. "There's someone I want you to meet, Luke."

Rex stepped aside to reveal a Togruta woman with orange skin dressed in brown leather.

"Luke this is Commander Ahsoka Tano," Rex said proudly. "I served under her during the war. She was the padawan of Anakin Skywalker."

Ahsoka nodded and smiled. Luke nodded back.

Rex said, "Commander Tano, may I introduce Luke Skywalker."

Chapter Text

The sound of diesel engines filled the quiet woods. Three jeeps jumped over a ridge and rode out onto a thin sandy beach besides a lake. The engines stopped, but their sound was replaced with shouting and laughing as a group of college students poured out of the vehicles. They rushed over to the lake. The lake was beautiful with clear blue water.

"Oh my god," said one of the girls as she brought up her smartphone to take photos. "This is so amazing! How did you know about this place?"

One of the young men who had been driving the lead Jeep walked over. "Saw it during one of my flying lessons," he said confidently and with a bit of swagger. "I was just making some circles. I saw a flash of blue and had to double back to check it out. It was super easy to miss."

"I can't wait to share these pics on my Instagram," the girl said. "God, there is no service out here."

The kids started unpacking the Jeeps. They had brought coolers and bags of snacks as well as chairs and towels to relax on. A few of the boys collected sticks and logs and started up a small bonfire on the beach. The girls stripped off their clothes to reveal sexy bikinis underneath. Some of the boys stripped off their shirts and rushed into the lake. While others sat down at the fire and drank beer.

The day wore on as the youths enjoyed their time at the lake. In the afternoon, they all sat together on the beach.

"Yo bro," one of the boys said. "I saw a house on the other side of the lake. You sure this ain't private property?"

"What? Naw man. This is all like national forest or preservation land or some shit. Ain't nobody livin' out here. 'Cept maybe some logging camps."

"This wasn't some logging camp," the first boy said. "It was this huge house tucked in over there."

He pointed to the hillside on the other side of the lake. The other youths all peered at it. There didn't appear to be anything over there. Just more of the same thick forest that surrounded the lake.

"Reese, you're so full of shit," one of the girls teased.

"Probably just drunk," one of the boys joked.

"I'll fucking prove it!" Reese marched back to the lake. A few others followed him while the rest continued to relax on the shore. A short while later the group returned and Reese looked smug.

"Well, was there a house?" one of the boys asked.

"Yeah, there was. A huge house, just like Reese said."

"I wonder who built it all the way out here."

"Maybe it's like one of those old abandoned hospitals. Like a place they sent the insane."

"Oh god, can you not, Jayden?" one of the girls complained.

"Let's go check it out!"

"I don't want to go hiking into some rotten down house," a girl said.

"I think it sounds cool. I'm in," said a different girl.

"Sweet. Mia's in. Anyone else?"

Ten minutes later, one of the Jeeps, loaded up with four of the youths, drove back up over the small ridge into the forest. The group on the beach heard the Jeep power through the forest around the lake. The engine sound grew distant as the forest and distance muted the sound. The other youths continued their afternoon until a scream coming from across the lake silenced them all.

They were all quiet as they looked at each other.

"Probably Aiden pulling some stupid shit," one of the girls muttered.

But then the scream came again. And again. And then it was joined by a second scream.

These weren't the fake screams one might make for a joke. These screams sent hair standing on end and goosebumps running down arms. The youths on the beach were quiet and still. They exchanged glances with one another as the screams continued. Blood curdling screams.

Desperate screams.

And then there was a new noise. A loud distinctive growl. The screams were suddenly cut short, and silence stretched across the lake.

"What the fuck was that?" someone asked.

"That didn't sound like a joke to me, man."

"What if they ran into some cougar?"

Suddenly they were all talking at once.

"We've got to go over there," one of the boys suggested.

"And do what? What if it is a cougar? We don't have no guns!" another boy shouted.

"And just leave Aiden and them over there? What if they're hurt? Or worse!"

It was soon agreed upon that one of the Jeeps would go to the other side of the lake.

"Oh no," one of the girls said. "You're not leaving us here with some deranged cougar on the loose. What if the rest of their pack shows up?"

"Cougars don't hunt in packs, Sophia," another girl said.

"Aren't they also known as mountain lions?" Sophia argued.

"Which is not the same as real lions!"

So it was decided they would all go together. The Jeeps were loaded back up with the coolers and towels. The youths climbed in and they set off into the forest. It was easy to get around the lake. The path the previous Jeep had made was clear. However, they were soon surprised to find themselves turning onto a well kept gravel road. They followed it as it wound through the hillside.

Blue flashed through the trees as the lake came in and out of view. The bright sun was blocked by the tall leafy trees, and the further along they went, the darker it seemed to get. That was when they noticed the clouds coming in. The warm sun was gone. So when they pulled up to a large house tucked amongst the tall trees, everything was washed in a gray light.

They found the other Jeep parked near the house. All the boys got out of the vehicles and examined it.

"Nothing here," one said. "No claw marks."

"Guess we go look in the house," another suggested.

"You sure?" asked one of the girls from the Jeep. "Those screams . . . They didn't sound like they were coming from inside. We heard it so clearly."

They all looked into the dark forest surrounding them.

"What is that?" one of the girls gasped. She pointed into the forest; everyone followed her gaze. She jumped out of the Jeep and ran towards the spot with the boys following behind her. They stopped right as the trees grew thick.

"What the fuck is that?" one of the boys said.

"Is that a hand? A fucking hand?"

It was. It was clearly a severed human hand. It ended in shredded skin and muscle and blood. The girl put her hands up to her mouth. She started to sob. One of the boys wrapped his arms around her.

"Let's go back to the Jeep," he whispered to her and started to lead her away.

"Fuckin' cougars," one of the other boys said.

"Who do you think that belongs to?" another one asked. "I don't think that's Mia's. Doesn't look like a girl hand."

"Not dark enough for Malik. Either Aiden's or Tyler's, I'd guess."

"Should we grab it?"

"What? Ew, bro! No! Leave it there."

A strong wind blew through the trees. The group grew quiet as the trees around them shook. Leaves rained down on them. Twigs snapped from the force of the wind. It grew suddenly colder. The girl being escorted by the boy back to the Jeep had only made it halfway back. They stopped as they looked up at the trees.

They were all quiet, so they all heard it. The growling and hissing. It started off low. Perhaps it was just part of the wind and the trees. But then it was too low, too wet, too guttural for the wind. And as the wind died down, the growling became more apparent. Everyone looked around wildly to locate the source. They all eyed the dark shadows of the woods.

"Let's get out of here," one girl in the Jeep cried. "Go get the police or something."

And then the shadows in the woods moved. Just beyond the first row of trees, the darkness was moving. Whatever it was, it was huge, and the shape was hard to distinguish. It was larger than the Jeeps- no, wait, much larger. Was it one-story high? Two-stories?

Then it faded away into the trees. When the group heard the sounds of snapping twigs and movement behind them, some of the girls in the Jeep screamed. They all turned around. Stumbling out of the trees from the opposite direction was Mia.

Beautiful Mia with the perfect curls she had painstakingly done that morning. Beautiful Mia who was limping out of the trees. Her arm hung loosely by her side. Her skin now far too pale and littered with cuts. A large gash ran across her throat and chest. Skin hung loosely off her body.

The girls in the Jeep screamed her name and jumped out to rush to her aid. Mia's mouth moved. She waved her good arm at them. But no sound came out except for a horrid wet wheezy sound. The girls from the Jeep came to a halt as the shadows behind Mia quickly grew.

The screams and shouts of the group were too late. Mia never even had a chance to turn around before some kind of dark tentacle wrapped around her. She was pulled back into the woods with only the sound of snapping branches and the shouts and screams of the others. What they saw next varied between them. Some saw a dark beast with fur and fangs and long claws. Others saw a large serpent with glistening black scales and leathery wings. A few saw a feathery creature with multiple heads and many burning eyes. Whatever they saw, it only lasted a moment before it and Mia were gone.

Fear swept through the group. The girls jumped out of the Jeep and rushed to the boys who were running towards the girls.

"What the fuck was that? What the fuck was that?" someone was saying over and over again.

"We've got to go," someone else was saying through their sharp breaths.

Branches snapping over head silenced them. Most of them saw the shadow above them and ducked, but one girl did not. It was Sophia. Large talons grabbed her and dragged her up into the large branches. Her screams were loud and clear, but they were suddenly cut short. The group stood in shock. They heard something falling through the branches followed by the sound of something solid hitting the ground.

They watched as it rolled towards them and screams erupted as they saw Sophia's head. Her eyes and mouth still wide, frozen forever in the terror of her last moments. The group went to move back to the Jeeps but the monster was that way. Eyes of all sizes and numbers seemed to be watching them. There was hissing and growling just inside the trees. It was waiting for them to come closer. To go to the Jeeps. So they turned and ran the other way. Towards the house.

They ran up the steps of the porch and found the door thankfully unlocked. They piled in and slammed the door shut. There were mutters of curses, people taking deep breaths, and if one listened carefully you could hear the sound of pounding hearts.

"What was that thing?" someone hissed. Their voice on edge as if at any moment they would break into sobs.

"A monster."

"A monster? Monsters aren't real!"

"Well that thing was real!"

"They're dead! Oh god! They're dead!"

"What are we going to do?"

"We need to find a weapon," one of the boys said. "Something to defend ourselves with. Then run for the Jeeps and get the hell out of here."

No one said anything, but there were nods. They ventured through the small foyer and came into a large sitting room. Floor-to-ceiling windows covered two of the four walls, giving a large and impressive view of the forest and the lake beyond.

"What is this place?" someone asked, their voice cracking.

"What the fuck?"

The room was torn apart. What must have been nice comfortable furniture at some point was tipped over and ripped apart. Stuffing was coming out. The wood was splintered. Some of the windows had been cracked while two were broken. There were scuff and claw marks littering the floor and walls. Debris was thrown about from the torn up furniture and cloth. Glass was strewn beneath the windows.

And everywhere there was blood. Blood was sprayed and dripped. There were drag marks of blood. And amongst that blood were bloody body parts. There were bloody entrails and chunks of muscles and bones.

"We have to get out of here," one of the girls whispered.

One of the boys walked over to a turned over table. He pressed his foot against it and started to pull on the leg.

"Dude, that is not going to help," one of the boys said to him.

"I'm not going out there with nothing," the boy said as he finally pulled the leg free of the table.

"I want to go home," another boy whined.

The floor creaked and everyone quieted and tensed up. They huddled together as they listened to something moving in the room next to them. The soft sounds were growing closer. Someone pushed the boy holding the table leg in front of the group. He held the leg up ready to smash whatever was coming.

A baby toddled into the room. He wore a light blue onesie with white polka dots on it. He had blond fluffy hair and big bright blue eyes. His feet were bare but were stained with blood. He looked at the youths. His eyes lingered on them for only a short moment before he looked around at the room.

"Dada?" he asked. "Dada?"

Someone took in a sharp breath. The boy with the leg lowered it. One of the girls walked forward.

"What are you doing?" someone asked her.

"Hey there," the girl said as she slowly walked up to the baby and kneeled down in front of him. The baby looked up at the girl. She bent over and picked the baby up. The baby wrapped it's knees and arms around her and calmly sat in her arms.

"What are you doing, Kara?" another girl asked. "You can't just pick up some random baby!"

"I'm not just going to leave this baby here!" Kara softly hissed back as she walked back over to the group. The rest looked skeptically at the baby.

"Why is there a baby here?"

"What if his parents were eaten by that monster?" Kara argued. The baby looked at her. "Don't worry, little guy. We'll get you to safety."

"Dada!" the baby said loudly. He wiggled in Kara's grasp as he tried to turn around. The room suddenly grew colder. The youths started to shiver. They wouldn't have been surprised if they started to see their breath.

Suddenly there was a low growling sound along with the sound of something hissing - or perhaps it was a clicking noise. They heard the sound of something moving. Something with scales? No, was it something wet and slimy? Perhaps furry?

Something slowly slithered out from the same door the baby had come from. A snake? No, a tentacle. It was black and oozing, and it was soon joined by another, then another. The tip of the tentacle raised up. The boy with the leg raised it up. The baby twisted in Kara's hold.

"Dada!" the baby called out.

The tentacles seemed to zero in on the baby. They all became alert. The tip of the tentacles opened up to reveal mouths filled with sharp teeth that dripped with black ooze that pooled on the floor. They hissed as they started to slither forward.

"Carson!" someone shouted as the boy with the table leg stepped forward. He swung the leg at the closest tentacle. It landed with a solid and wet sounding thunk. All the tentacles hissed in pain as the one hit was sent flying back a few feet.

"Yeah!" Carson yelled.

Slits opened up in the tentacles to reveal eyes. Yellow eyes with blood red rings around the outside. The black slits narrowed on Carson. A tentacle rushed at him, and he bashed it to the side with his makeshift bat. But the movement left him open. A tentacle dashed forward. Its mouth open. Its teeth sank into Carson's leg. He shouted. He almost dropped the bat, but managed to swing it around at the tentacle biting his leg.

But the hit was too weak. He wasn't able to knock the tentacle off. A second tentacle attacked and then a third. A fourth. They started to tear him apart. The rest of the youths didn't stay to see what happened. They turned and ran back to the small foyer towards the door. There was the sound of claws scraping against the wooden floor behind. A deep growl. The baby in Kara's arms whimpered.

"Dada," he muttered softly. His hands reaching around Kara's neck and grabbing at the air.

A high pitched scream tore through the room. It was cut off by the sound of teeth and a crunching noise. The others didn't even pause as they stumbled through the door on to the porch. There was only six of them now plus the baby. They all ran across the porch and down the steps. Their course set for the Jeeps. They could make it. The monster was behind them. In the house.

So they thought.

They were not expecting a large beast with three sets of black wings to descend upon them from the trees above. For it to grab a girl in each of its large talons. One girl was killed instantly as the talon pierced her chest. She was quickly tossed aside. The now free talon pierced into the other girl. She was ripped in two. Her body falling to pieces on the ground.

The other four had made it to the Jeeps. Kara had gotten into the passenger side with the baby. One of the boys had jumped into the driver's seat and was turning the engine on. A girl and a boy were climbing into the back seat, but the girl never made it. They never really saw it. She never even managed to get a sound out except for a startled gasp. She was simply gone in a second. Only a dark blur to mark the passage of the monster.

The driver yanked the gear shift into drive and slammed his foot down on the gas pedal. The car sped forward. He turned the car around and zoomed down the gravel road. Away from the house. Away from the monster. Away from their friends. Their dead friends. What had been a day of fun and swimming and beers was now a day of blood and tears and horror.

The baby squirmed in Kara's lap. He was getting restless.

"Dada," the baby whined. He continued to babble. "Dada go go! Dada. Mama. Go go. Rara bahbah. Dada! Dada! Go go! Dada!"

"Can't you shut him up?" the driver hissed.

"Shhh. Shhh," Kara said as she bounced the baby on her knee. "It's going to be ok, baby."

The baby's face was starting to twist and turn red. "Dada! Dada!" the baby cried.

"Shut him up!" the driver barked.

"I'm trying!" Kara said.

The baby did not stop. In fact he was getting more and more upset. He was now screaming. "Dada! Dada! Dada!"

Kara turned in her seat to look at the boy in the back. "Davis, help me," she pleaded.

"I, uh . . ." Davis muttered. Perhaps there was a blanket to wrap the baby in? Perhaps there was a beach towel to use? He bent over to rifle through the floor of the vehicle.

Kara turned back around. The baby was wailing now.

"Shut him the fuck up!" the driver shouted.

"He's just a baby!" Kara shouted back. "A scared little baby!"

"Which we should have left back at that house to let that monster eat!"

Whatever retort Kara had died on her lips. Her attention drawn to the baby in her lap. The baby was growing hotter. His eyes were starting to glow a bright white. The same bright light was pouring out of his mouth.

"Dada! Dada!" the baby screamed, but the voice was no longer that of a baby. It sounded distorted, as if there were ten babies screaming at the same time.

The light grew brighter and brighter. Small little light tentacles started to grow out of the baby's back. Then they would shift and be wings and then back to tentacles. Eyes had opened on the baby's cheeks and the side of his head. Glowing white eyes that were too painful to look at.

Kara went still as blood started to pour out of her nose and ears. Then out of her mouth and eyes. The driver had been watching this all in silent horror. He pulled the Jeep over to the side of the forested road. The baby continued to scream, but no longer was it human. The sound clawed into the brain and dragged across it like nails on a chalkboard. The skin on Kara's face had started to melt off as if it were wax and the baby a flame.

"Fuck. Fuck. Fuck," the driver muttered. He was trying to find the door handle to get out, but he couldn't look away from the glowing monstrosity next to him.

The Jeep violently shook as something large and heavy landed on top of it. There was a loud and angry roar. The air around them seemed to cool considerably. Large claws jabbed through the canvas roof and ripped it open. A huge black monster with rows and rows of teeth and several sets of eyes and black oozing tentacles and three large sets of wings and scales and fur stared into the opened vehicle.

It looked first at Kara, or what was once Kara. The front of her had melted away. Leaving only half of her head and backside of her body a dripping bloody mess in the seat. The driver had looked too long at the baby. His face was dripping in blood that was coming out of his eye sockets, nose, and mouth. His eyes had popped out of his head and rested against his cheeks.

The glowing baby raised its human looking little arms up to the black monster. "Dada! Dada!"

Black tentacles reached down into the Jeep and wrapped around the baby and gently pulled it out. The monster cradled the child to its chest. The crying and wailing was calming down as the monster rocked the baby in its arms. A small white glowing tentacle wrapped around a large black one.

It was the last thing Davis saw before the monster took off into the sky. Davis crawled out of the Jeep and stumbled into the woods. He tripped and fell into the damp dirt. He looked behind him at the Jeep. From this angle he couldn't see Kara and could only see the back of the driver. He crept back to the Jeep and peered at the two passengers. He could barely stand looking at their remains as he threw up all over the side of the Jeep and road.

And then he ran.

What else was he going to do? Stay with the Jeep? There was no way he was going to be able to move the other two. They had melted into the Jeep itself. He wasn't going back the way they came. That was the direction the monster had gone. So the only way to go was down the gravel road.

Dusk was settling in and the forest was growing dark quick. Fatigue was starting to plague him, but his fear and adrenaline pushed him on. Through the dark woods he saw lights flickering up on a small hill. He paused. His body heaved from the deep breaths he was taking. It took him a minute just to realize the lights were from a small house.

Without a second thought, he was scrambling up the hill through the bushes. He suffered lots of small cuts and bruises, but he felt none of the pain. He kept going until he was at the wooden door of the cabin. He banged against the door.

"Help!" he shouted, but his voice was so weak. His throat dry. "Help! Help me!"

Davis heard the sound of the lock being undone. He took a step back as the door swung open. A man stood on the other side. A normal looking man with a beard and brown jacket. He was holding a rifle loosely in his hands. The two stood there for a long moment, before the man placed the rifle down.

"Come in," the man said.

Davis meekly nodded his head and stumbled into the cabin. He heard the door shut. Heard the lock. He collapsed onto the floor. The man was soon there. He helped Davis into a chair at a small wooden table. He got Davis a cup of water, which Davis sloppily and hastily drank. It was a long time before Davis finally got his breathing under control, but he was still on edge. His eyes kept darting to the window and the dark beyond them. Night had fallen, and he could see nothing outside the windows.

"Now then," the man said calmly. "Care to tell me what has happened?"

Davis started out slow, but soon the words were almost tripping over each other to get out of him. He told this stranger everything. About the lake and the house and the monster and the baby and his friends and their deaths. And once everything was said, he cried. His body shook with sobs. The man got a blanket and draped it across Davis' shoulders. Then he brought out a bottle of whiskey and two glasses.

"Here, son, drink up," the man said as he pushed a whiskey glass across the table to Davis. Davis grabbed it and drank the entire glass in one go.

"How can you be so calm?" Davis asked. "There's a fucking monster out there!"

"Yes, I know," the man said as he refilled Davis' glass.

"You know- know?"

"What you ran into was Vader. Darth Vader. An unholy horror. Some call it a demon. Others might call it a wonderterror. But monster also works." Davis noticed the smooth accent coming from the man. It sounded European.

"I . . . don't . . . what? You know about this thing?"

The man took a long sip of his glass.

"There once was an order of men," the man said slowly as he stroked his auburn beard. "It was rumored they had been around since the dawn of civilization. Their current organization was hundreds of years old. Dating back to medieval times. They had been established by the church. A holy order of knights known as the Jedi. Their purpose was to protect humanity from evil."

The man paused as he took another sip of his whiskey.

"This order continued into the modern age. It was a secret order, and their numbers were a few hundred strong all across the globe. Fourteen years ago one of the senior knights discovered a boy. He had a human mother. He himself looked human, but he was not. He was a son of Satan. But that may not be the right description. He was something else. Something more. Something from beyond. A child of the Great Old Ones. Wherever this child originated from, it is beyond our mortal comprehension.

"And the order knew this. They took the child in. They should have killed him, but they were too curious. They wanted to know more of what lay beyond their reality. The order had been able to tap into the small rifts of this world and draw power from the beyond. They called it the Force. Magic. And this boy seemed to be made from it.

"And he was just a boy. A boy who they could raise as one of them. To think like them. To dress like them. To do what they wanted him to do. A weapon. A tool. However, there were other organizations who knew of this truth of the world. One of them was the Sith. And unlike the Jedi Order who sought to protect humanity, the Sith sought to dominate it. They also used the Force, but for their own selfish means. And they wanted the boy.

"This demonic order tried to tempt the boy. They sent many dark servants to tempt him. Darth Maul. Darth Tyrannus. Ventress. Savage. They all failed. The order's training had prevailed. The boy couldn't be swayed away from the ones who had raised him. At least that's what the order thought. But it was not the darkness that won the boy over. It wasn't the holy order either. In the end, it was love."

The man sighed. He looked off into the distance. Then he took another deep sip of his whiskey, finishing the glass off. Davis finished his off as well. He was feeling the buzz of the alcohol.

The man continued his story, "It was the love of a human woman that caused the boy to abandon the order he had called home. The order had forbidden the boy from attachments. From things like marriage, but it had happened behind their backs anyway. The boy married in secret. His human wife got pregnant, and then she grew sick. She was a human carrying the spawn of the devil. Carrying reality made flesh. Fearing for his wife and unborn child, the boy revealed his secret to his family. The order was horrified and angry. They decided the wife and the child needed to die.

"Of course the boy did not take this well. He turned to the Sith for help instead. And they gave sweet promises they could cure the wife and baby. All for the price of killing everyone in the Jedi Order. And the boy agreed. He slayed them all including the women and children. But the Sith had lied. They had no idea on how to save the wife and baby, so the boy killed almost all the Sith too in his rage. In the end, it was all for nothing. The wife survived and gave birth."

"The baby!" Davis shouted. "That was the monster's baby!"

All that time the baby had been crying for its dada, it had been crying for the monster. He recalled the small little tentacle wrapping around a large black one. Like a baby's hand wrapping around a single finger of their parent.

The man nodded. "Yes. The boy, long since a man, moved out to these woods with his family. To be left alone. To live away from everyone else."

"Wait but . . . but how do you know all of this? Why are you . . . Why are you living out here too?" Davis asked.

The man smiled sadly. "I am almost all that remains of the Jedi Order. I am a Jedi Knight. I live out here to watch Vader."

"And he lets you? Live out here? So close to him? Why hasn't he killed you yet?"

The man pulled out a necklace that had been tucked into his shirt. A light blue crystal hung on a silver chain.

"This is a kyber crystal," the man said. "With the right spells using the Force, it creates a protective ward. As long as I wear this, Vader cannot harm me."

Davis gaped and eyed the crystal.

The man chuckled. "I know what you are thinking," he said as he tucked the necklace back into his shirt. "And luckily for you, I have an extra one to spare."

The man stood up and walked over to a small chest on the floor. He pulled out a small cloth pouch. He carried it over and placed it on the table in front of Davis. Davis quickly snatched it up and opened it. A necklace fell into his hands. It was a crystal, the same as the man's, but this one was green. He quickly pulled the leather cord over his head and let the crystal sit on his chest.

The man clapped Davis on the back. "You should sleep," he said. "In the morning I'll drive you back to town."

"But . . . wait I should . . ."

"Trust me, you don't want to be out in these woods after dark. Even with that crystal."


Obi-Wan Kenobi returned to his cabin home in the early afternoon. He had left at dawn to take the young man back into town. Despite the alcohol and sleep, Davis had remembered his encounter with Vader. The youth was Force sensitive. Two years ago, Obi-Wan would have put his name forward to the Order as a possible recruit. But the Order was gone.

Obi-Wan placed his shopping bags on the counter of his small kitchen. He pulled a brown package out from under his elbow and used a knife to open it up. He took out a small canister of tea. He opened it up and took a deep whiff of it. He smiled as he placed the tea down and filled his tea pot with water.

"Care for a cup?" Obi-Wan asked.

"No," hissed the deep dark shadows that had collected in a corner of the cabin. Obi-Wan set the kettle on the stove. "Why did you give that fool a warded crystal?" the shadows hissed again.

"Why did you attack his friends?" Obi-Wan said as he started to unpack the groceries he had picked up while in town.

"You know why! I am protecting my family."

"Was there really no other way to do that besides killing them, Anakin?" Obi-Wan asked. For the first time he turned and fully looked at the shadowy mass. It looked more man-shaped now. "Or was there another reason?"

The shadows stirred. Shadow tentacles grew from the man-shaped shadow and started to crawl along the walls, floor, and ceiling towards Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan was unphased.

"What other reason would there be?" Anakin asked.

"You were hungry?" Obi-Wan said nonchalantly. He kept his tone even and normal. Conversational. "Ever since that incident with the Tusken gang and you tasted human blood for the first time, I know you crave it."

The shadows stirred angrily, but did nothing else.

"The first group to show up at my house was taking pictures. They had connected to my wifi and had posted them up on Instagram. I couldn't let those pictures be seen. Palpatine is still out there."

"And in a seat of power," Obi-Wan said a bit bitterly. "And whose fault is that?"

He gave a pointed look at the shadows. The tentacles were gone. Though Obi-Wan knew the reason Anakin hadn't killed Palpatine was because he wore a protective warded kyber crystal.

"And really, Anakin, you don't have a password for your wifi?" Obi-Wan asked as he walked over to the stove and picked up the boiling kettle.

"I do now," Anakin said clearly sulking. "Didn't see much need of it before."

"And murder was your best option? You didn't think of just taking their phones and deleting the pictures?"

"I was angry."

Obi-Wan paused and looked directly at the shadows. He raised a single eyebrow.

"And hungry," Anakin admitted.

"A dangerous combination for you," Obi-Wan said as he poured the hot tea into a mug. "At least tell me you didn't introduce the twins to human blood."

"No."

Obi-Wan sighed. At least there was that.

"You know," the shadows said. The voice was right next Obi-Wan's ear. "Eventually that boy will slip up. He'll take that necklace off. It was a fool's errand giving it to him, Obi-Wan."

Obi-Wan took a sip of his hot tea. He didn't want to admit to Vader that he hadn't known the boy was Force Sensitive. He had assumed the boy would forget about what had happened. His memory would be foggy or perhaps he would start to go insane. But he hadn't. Davis had remembered. He wanted to go to the police, but Obi-Wan had convinced him to go home first. Collect his thoughts before doing anything.

"I couldn't ignore him," Obi-Wan said.

Anakin huffed. "Always on that blasted high horse of yours," he muttered. "You haven't saved him. You've just delayed the inevitable. For when he does take that necklace off, I'll be there."

Obi-Wan took another sip of his tea. "Just like you wait for me to take mine off?" Obi-Wan whispered. He knew Anakin had heard him, but the other didn't respond. After a long moment, Obi-Wan glanced around his cabin. The shadows were gone.


The doorbell rang, and Davis Newberg jumped. He checked through the peephole of his apartment door. Two people stood on the other side. A man and a woman. Davis unlocked the three locks on his door and opened it a crack.

"Davis Newberg?" the woman asked. She smiled as she looked at him.

"Who are you?" he asked.

The woman fished into her dripping wet jacket. It was raining outside. She pulled out a badge.

"I'm Sarah Coleman from KWOX News, Channel 9," she said. "We talked on the phone earlier today?"

The man next to her also pulled out his press badge.

"Yes- yes," Davis stuttered. "Come in."

He opened the door just enough to let them in. The man had step in sideways. His black case bumping against the door and wall. He cursed softly.

"Where can we set up?" Sarah asked as she started unbuttoning her jacket. She looked around Davis' small studio apartment.

"Anywhere you can find room is fine," Davis said softly.

The man didn't get out of his wet jacket like his coworker. He just set his case down and opened it up to reveal a camera and tripod. At once he started to set it up. He was quiet and kept his head down. He wore a soaked baseball cap pulled low over his face.

Sarah had draped her wet jacket on the back of the chair. She was now walking around the studio looking at the walls. Posted all over the walls were hand written notes, pictures, texts printed from the internet, photocopies from books, and magazine clippings.

"This is quite extensive," Sarah said slowly.

"Yes well, I had to prove it's all real, ya know?" Davis said.

Sarah nodded. She pulled out a makeup compact from her purse. She dabbed on some fresh foundation and then pulled out some lip gloss. She eyed the cameraman who was just finishing setting up the camera. Then he started to pull out another tripod for the light. Lastly, Sarah pulled a small comb through her brown curly hair.

"Alright let's start from the beginning," Sarah said placing her purse down. "We'll start with each of the missing college students. Mia Nguyen, Malik Jackson, Reese Nelthorpe, Sophia-"

"I know their names," Davis snapped.

Sarah smiled sadly and nodded. "So let's start with them," she said.

Davis eyed the camera. "Are we recording this yet?"

"No, not yet. Think of this as a warm up or a preliminary interview," Sarah said warmly. "They were college classmates of yours, and now they haven't been seen now in almost six weeks. Yet-"

"No one fucking cares," Davis shouted. "Not their families. Their friends. The school. The police. Fuck. I've been to them all. They're dead! They're not missing! Not on some backpack trip to Europe finding themselves. Not off spending time with their crazy aunt in Florida or got offered an internship or teaching English in Taiwan. They're dead. There are no records of them after the fifteenth. No more posts on social media. No texts. No calls. Nothin'. 'Cause they're dead. Murdered by a monster! And no one fuckin' believes me!"

Davis walked over to the wall and pointed at the papers posted up there.

"I've looked into every excuse I've been given for each of them," Davis said. "There is no record of them ever going to these places and doing these things. Of course there isn't. They never did these things. But I just don't understand. There is this conspiracy out there. I don't know if it's the monster or some mystical religious cult or the fuckin' government. But someone is covering this up. Eleven people are dead! And no one cares or even seems to have noticed!"

"Religious cult?" the cameraman asked.

"Yeah!" Davis said running to a different spot on his wall near a window. "They were called the Jedi Order. You can find traces of them dating back to the twelfth century. But it's so hard to find stuff about them because you can't find records that talk about them directly. Only indirect sources like sales records or personal journals of people meeting with the knights of the Order."

"So you think this was like a cult thing?" the man asked folding his arms across his chest.

"No! Maybe!" Davis said. "This man I met in the woods said the cult was destroyed by the monster! But I don't know if I can trust what he said."

"Ok," Sarah said. "Let's have a seat. You sit there where the light can hit you."

Davis sat down, but he was on edge. Sarah nodded to the cameraman who took his spot behind the camera. Sarah sat down next to Davis. "Ok," she said. "Let's start from the beginning."

Davis told her what had happened. What he had seen. Every now and then Sarah would glance over at the camera. She would look . . . annoyed. There was a tightness growing inside of Davis. Did she think he was crazy? Like everyone else thought he was?

"So this man in the woods gave you some sort of crystal?" Sarah asked as Davis finished up retelling the events.

"Yeah, said it was some protective charm or something," Davis said.

"Can I see it?"

Davis hesitated. Then slowly pulled out the crystal on the leather cord.

"Oh wow," Sarah said as she leaned over to get a better look. "I've never seen anything like that. What kind of crystal is that?"

"I've taken it to jewelers. Posted about it online. No one seems to know what it is," Davis said.

"It seems to be glowing faintly," Sarah said softly. "Can I touch it?"

She looked up at him with her brown eyes. Davis blushed as he realized how pretty she was. She was the perfect type to be a reporter.

"Sure- sure," he muttered. "Just be careful."

Sarah smiled. She gently placed her well manicured fingertips against the crystal. Then she sighed.

"I'm sorry," she said softly.

"What?" Davis asked.

Sarah grabbed the crystal and yanked on the cord. Her other hand flashed out. Davis saw a flash of a small knife and felt the cord break.

"What! Stop!" Davis jumped up, but so did Sarah. She quickly backed away from Davis holding the necklace. "The fuck?" Davis shouted. "Give that back!"

"She won't," came a deep, dark voice that instantly chilled Davis to his core. He looked beyond Sarah. His apartment had disappeared. All there was were shadows. Deep dark shadows that slithered and stirred. Shadows that had golden eyes opening up from them. Shadows that wrapped around Sarah.

"Fu- fuck," Davis said as he started to back away. His eyes wide.

The cameraman materialized out of the shadows. Sarah handed him the necklace. The man took it and closed his fist around it. Light flooded out between his fingers. First it was green, then white and lastly it faded to red.

"Better," the man said as he opened his hand to reveal the red crystal. His voice pleased. Sarah took the the crystal back.

"I'll be waiting outside. Don't take too long," she said as she kissed the man's cheek. She grabbed her purse and her jacket and paused. She gave Davis one last look. A very sad look. A sorry look. Then she turned and walked out the door shutting it behind her.

"Finally alone," the cameraman said.

Davis became very aware of the man's eyes. The were yellow with a red bleeding rim around them. The monster smiled showing off pointed teeth. Davis screamed as the monster lurched forward.


The sky had turned completely black and the rain had stopped. A group of people had gathered behind a police barricade as they watched the small three-story apartment building burn up in flames. Emergency vehicle lights flashed all around as firefighters worked to get the blaze under control.

Amidst the group was a couple. A tall man and a small woman. He wore a baseball cap and had his arms wrapped around the woman as they watched the blaze. No one noticed when suddenly they simply weren't there any more. Everyone was too focused on the fire ahead of them.

The next day the investigation would begin into what had caused the fire as well as to find any bodies. As firefighters carefully walked through the blackened building, they came to what seemed to be the point of origin of the fire. The fire seemed to have started in one of the small studio apartments.

Inside they found a blackened and charred body sitting in a chair. All signs pointed to that this body was the start of the fire. Yet, despite how long and how hot the fire had gotten, the body was still relatively whole. It should have burnt up and crumbled into ash. It was impossible for it to be in this state. A fireman leaned in close to get a better look.

And that was when the eyes of the body opened. Bloodshot eyes. Then the body shuddered as it took in a breath. That was when the screaming started. A horrible wheezy scream that would haunt the firemen and first responders for the rest of their lives. They were all completely baffled how this person had survived the fire. The smoke inhalation alone should have killed them. If not, then the fourth degree burns covering his entire body should have.

He didn't live long. Davis Newberg died in the ambulance on the way to the hospital. He continued screaming until finally his body gave out.

 

Chapter Text

 

Anakin Skywalker wrapped his arms around his wife; she leaned her back into him. They looked down into the two cribs that stood next to each other. A baby lay in each. The twins had woken up at around two in the morning and had been up ever since. The sun was just coming up and warm light came in through the windows. And finally they were asleep.

"Did I ever mention," Anakin said, tightening his hold on his wife, "that we made some beautiful babies?"

Padmé turned her head to look up at him. "We?" she asked. "The only thing you did was give me the down payment then skipped out on the nine months of construction."

Anakin smiled as he kissed the top of his wife's head. "Forgive me," he said. "Beautiful babies that you made."

"Mmmhmmm." Padmé turned her head to look back at her children.

Anakin could feel the relief in her body at finally having them asleep. Smiling, he gently pressed his face against her hair. He loved the feeling of her silky curls and took in a deep breath. He held it as he savored her smell. Oh god, her smell. A smell that drove him crazy. All of him. Human and inhuman. It always made him want more of her. To touch her more and feel her heat. To taste her lips and to hear her voice. To dig his teeth into her skin and suck her blood-

He pushed that thought aside. It was hard at times to keep those beastly thoughts at bay. Because he hungered after Padmé. No other human had ever caused him to react this way, but he wanted to consume her. There was no other meal he wanted more than he wanted her. There would always be this unsated gnawing inside of him until he had her. If he ate her, then he would be full. Truly full.

But he never acted on these thoughts. He couldn't eat her, because he loved her. He knew his heartache from losing her would be far worse than the hunger. So for now, he just consumed and savored the parts he could. Her smell and touch. The taste of her skin and lips. It was enough just to push his hunger aside. Just to get it to stop pestering him.

"Speaking of making babies, when was the last time we tried that?" Anakin murmured in a husky voice into her hair.

"I don't know about making any more babies," Padmé said.

He understood. The twins were . . . Well, parenthood was hard. Especially with twins. Especially with little Wonderterrors that could change shape and bend the rules of reality.

Padmé turned around to face him. She wrapped her arms around his neck.

"But," she said smiling. Oh that beautiful smile that dug past his flesh shell and into the bottomless abyss of his core. "I wouldn't mind some mommy-daddy alone time."

She pulled his head down to her and their lips pressed together.

"Say no more," Anakin said. She giggled as he swept her up into his arms. He carried her out of the nursery and into the bedroom next door.

Oh, he loved her. He loved Padmé. Every part of her. Every particle. Perhaps that was why he hungered after her so. She was one of the few humans to truly accept him for what he was. What he fully was, and even if he himself didn't understand what that was. He was something else. Something more. Something beyond the comprehension of humanity. A bit beyond even his own knowledge.

The Jedi Order had called him the son of Satan. Qui-Gon Jinn had called him a child of the Old Ones. A chosen one. There were other names. Monster. Demon. Wonderterror. Eldritch horror. But none of those were able to completely capture the enormity of what he was, and Padmé didn't grasp it either, but she was ok with that. The Jedi Order had not been. They wanted to understand Anakin. They wanted to use him. He was always seen as a tool or a weapon.

Padmé did not. She loved him, and she didn't deny or reject that other part of him. They both knew she was scared of the non-human part at times. He understood. If he truly reflected on it, he could scare himself sometimes. But she was willing to work past the fear. She was willing to stay with him.

A memory came to him uninvited. He recalled walking down a hallway with a large and heavy hand on his shoulder. He wore a light tan tunic, which was the same as what everyone wore in this place. They stopped at a door. A heavy and thick metal door that had several locks on it.

The memory flashed and he was sitting on a cold hard floor staring up at a door. A door that had several looks on it, but this time on the inside. He eyed the padlocks and deadbolts. Why did his mother use all those locks? She said it was because of all the crime in the neighborhood. She didn't want anyone breaking into their home. It was the truth, but not completely.

He pushed those unwanted memories away. He didn't want to ruin his time with Padmé, because it was a wonderful time. It had indeed been a good while since the two had been this passionately intimate with each other. Anakin had to be careful. Despite what he wanted, he had to stay completely in his human form. Allowing his human form to break even just a little, made sex more pleasurable for him. However, it was that thinking that got them into their current trouble. They had been very proactive in using protection; however, it looked like no human inventions could protect against Eldritch horror sperm. So ever since Padmé became pregnant, there was a strict completely-human-only love making rule.

Once they finished, the two cuddled up together and fell asleep. Anakin awoke first a few hours later. He checked the clock to see it was near noon. His stirring woke up Padmé. She smiled up at him, and he couldn't help but lean in and kiss her.

"How about a shower?" he asked softly.

"Check on the babies first," she muttered.

He pushed himself up to his elbows to get a good look at the baby monitor. He paused as the screen showed two empty cribs.

"Ah shit."

At once he was rolling out of bed while Padmé looked at the monitor. He pulled on his discarded pants and walked next door to the nursery. He looked around the room. It was painted a light yellow and was decorated with round edged stars and moons. However, there were no babies.

He ran a hand through his hair as he stepped back into the hallway. Padmé was waiting in her light gray robe. She looked at him expectantly.

"Not there," he muttered. At once her face creased in worry. He rushed to assure her. "I'll find them."

He closed his eyes and quickly found the invisible breaks in reality. The small tears that allowed him to delve into the beyond. The Force, as the Jedi had called it.

It was there his other half lived. A large creature that constantly changed shape based on his will. He slid into the inky cold folds of the Force and reached out. It wasn't hard to locate his children; like him, part of them also lived in this place.

Anakin opened his eyes. "They're down in the living room," he said as he walked past her to the stairs.

As he walked down the steps, he recalled the memories he had of the locks on his doors when he was a child. There had always been locks to keep him in. His mother put the locks on the inside, so she could lock herself up with her son. So he wouldn't sneak out at night and eat stray dogs and rats.

Should he do that with his children? Could he do that? Lock them in their room? It was clear their cribs couldn't contain them. Especially when they suddenly changed shape to something that could fly or slither.

Anakin paused as he stepped into the living room. Padmé stopped beside him. They both stood there quietly as they took in the sight.

"Mama. Mama. Mama," Luke said as he noticed his parents.

"Mama. Dada," Leia said.

Neither parent moved. They were in shock. The living room was completely destroyed. The furniture had all been knocked over and torn apart. There were deep gashes in the wall and floor. Stuffing from the cushions was thrown about. There were strips of shredded fabric everywhere. A few of the large windows were shattered.

And everywhere was blood and carnage.

"Anakin . . ." Padmé said softly. "What . . . "

She didn't need to finish. He knew. Where had the blood come from? He stepped forward into the mess. The twins sat in a bloody pool. Bits of blood guts were strewn about. Both twins had handfuls of innards. They were covered in blood, especially around their mouth.

"Dada. Dada," Leia said smiling as her father knelt down beside them.

"Dada eat!" Luke said holding up his chunk of intestines to Anakin.

Anakin had to fight back a smile. He knew Luke was just trying to be a good boy and share his food with his father, but the babies were in trouble. He placed a hand on both of the twins heads and opened himself up to the Force. It didn't take much to reach into their minds. He saw flashes of their memories. The crib. The nursery. The smell of blood. The window. A large deer in their yard. Anakin sighed as he recollected himself. He stood up and looked at Padmé who had yet to move.

"It's a deer," he said. "It had cut itself and they smelled the blood."

"A deer?" Padmé asked, glancing about the room. There was nothing large enough left to indicate it had been a deer.

"Yes. And from what I saw, they decided it would be fun to play with the deer. In our living room. Then they got hungry and well . . . " Anakin waved at the room and the two messy babies.

"But . . . how . . . How did we not hear any of this?" Padmé said.

That was a good question.

He looked down at the babies. Luke had shoved the intestines into his mouth. Anakin could just make out small sharp pointed teeth.

"Surely we weren't . . . that distracted," Padmé continued. Her face was turning red. He couldn't help but blush as well.

"No," he said. "I believe it was them."

Padmé frowned.

"I don't think they completely realized what they were doing, but they messed with the flow of sound waves." Anakin rubbed the back as his head as he looked down at his children. "They wanted to play with the deer. They knew they weren't allowed to leave the house without us, so they brought the deer inside. They also didn't want to bother us. Either because they knew we were sleeping or because they knew they were being naughty."

At that last word, both twins looked up at their father.

"That's right," Anakin said. "Naughty. Naughty babies. Bad babies."

"Bahd?" Luke asked.

Leia frowned. Her eyes were big and wide.

"Yes, bad," Anakin said. "Look at this mess. You two were very bad bringing a deer inside."

Luke's lip was starting to tremble as the guilt settled in. He looked over at Padmé.

"Mama," he said.

Padmé sighed and shook her head. "Daddy is right," she said. "You were bad babies."

"I'll take them outside and hose them off," Anakin said. His voice tired.

Padmé nodded. "I'll go get a hot bath ready," she said as she turned to go back upstairs.

Anakin wasted no time in unleashing a small part of his other self. At once black tentacles grew out of his back. They slithered down and wrapped around the two babies. He picked them both up and walked across the living room through a small foyer and outside. Once outside, a tentacle pulled down a metal horse trough that was leaning against the wall of the house. Another tentacle grabbed the nearby garden hose while a second turned on the faucet.

He grabbed Luke with both of his human hands and took off the baby's bloodied outfit and diaper. He placed Luke into the trough then repeated it with Leia. It didn't take long for the twins to start splashing and stomping in the water. As the water got deeper the twins started to change, because their wants had changed. They wanted to enjoy the water. So they unconsciously accessed the Force and changed their physical form. Soon two white little scaly sea creatures were swimming around.

Anakin could only smile as he watched them. He couldn't help but imagine what his family life must look like to the outsider. He could imagine being at some backyard barbeque as other parents talked about their children. They would share their troubles while other parents would give out advice. What would the other parents say when Anakin said he put his babies in a horse trough to hose down all the deer blood they had gotten all over themselves?

He couldn't help but smile as he imagined their horrified looks.

Though sometimes he wanted to be able to talk to other parents. He wanted advice. Like what was he going to do with his adventurous twins? Somehow they had gotten out of their cribs, down the stairs, gotten a whole large deer into the living room, and then ate it. Had they left the house to get the deer? Or had they simply stretched themselves to grab it?

He thought of the locks on his doors as a child. Should he put a lock on the twins door? He frowned. He didn't like that thought. He suddenly thought of putting plexiglass atop the cribs. He had an imagine of the two babies pressing their hands against the glass as they looked up at him with big round eyes. Again, Anakin thought of his imaginary parent group.

"Should I try locking them in? Or put plexiglass on top of their cribs?"

"They're getting big, Anakin," one parent would say. "They'll soon outgrow those cribs."

"But surely by then I'll be able to explain to them why they can't do certain things."

A few of the imaginary parents shared knowing looks with each other.

Cold water snapped Anakin out of his daydream as it splashed in his face. He looked down at his two giggling serpent shaped children. The water was stained red. It looked like they were relatively blood-free.

"Come here," he said as his tentacles reached into the water and grabbed at the babies. Both tried to wiggle away from him thinking it was some fun game. But the trough was only so big and Anakin was faster and smarter. Soon he had two wiggling dripping little monsters tucked to his side as he walked back inside.

By the time he made it upstairs to the bathroom, he held two wet and naked completely human babies in either arm.

"Mama!" the twins cried happily.

Padmé smiled as she walked over and took Luke from Anakin. "Did you have fun swimming?" she asked him as she lowered him into a waiting warm bath.

Luke giggled as he started to splash and reach for a plastic toy whale. Anakin placed Leia in the bath, who also started to play with one of the bath toys. Both parents started to wash the babies with Padmé working on Luke while Anakin washed Leia. Not once did either baby slip from their human form despite wanting to enjoy the water like they had outside.

That was because Padmé was here, and she was their mother. A mother they loved dearly. And somehow they just seemed to know she was human. She was different. So when she was around, they were almost always human. Padmé reported she never saw the twins transform directly in front of her. She might surprise them by walking in on them, but they would change back into humans immediately.

Daddy was a different story.

Bathtime was over and each parent wrapped a warm and clean child in a soft towel. They carried the twins into the nursery. The babies were put into fresh diapers and clean onesies: Luke a light blue one with white polka dots, Leia a light brown one with a white teddy bear head on her chest. Instead of laying the twins in their cribs, Anakin picked them both up and brought them into his room. He set them down on the bed.

"You two don't get to go back to the cribs," he said as he crawled into bed with them.

Padmé joined them. Soon all four of the Skywalker family were under the covers. The twins were nestled between their parents. It didn't take long for them to fall asleep.

"Do you think they'll stay asleep this time?" Padmé whispered. Her head resting against her pillow as she gently stroked Leia's hair.

"Hopefully," Anakin said. "At least they won't go slither off as long as you're with them."

Padmé smiled. He could see the dark circles under her eyes.

"Go to sleep," Anakin said. "I'll go clean up downstairs."

"Are you sure? You don't have to clean up by yourself."

Suddenly, he was no longer in the bed. He now stood beside the bed next to Padmé. He leaned over and kissed her cheek.

"You're tired," he said softly. "Just rest. Let me handle the mess."

She rolled over and the two shared a quick kiss on the lips. Then she looked back at her babies and smiled. He watched as she closed her eyes and fell asleep. He stood there for a little while longer watching his three loved ones sleep peacefully. He was tired. He wanted to join them, but he knew the mess downstairs shouldn't be ignored for long.

Plus there was the scent. The scent of blood. Anakin walked downstairs and looked at his torn up living room. He eyed all the blood. It was making him hungry. The easiest way for him to clean this all up would be to simply eat it, but it wouldn't sustain him. It wouldn't stop the hunger pain the bloody scent had brought on. Perhaps he should go out hunting before he settled down in bed.

He ran a hand through his hair. They would have to get new furniture. Possibly look into replacing the flooring. Maybe he should just cover it up with a rug for now. He would have to replace the broken windows. The list of repairs was adding up and there was a sinking feeling in his chest.

Personally he didn't really care about the mess. It was a bit annoying to clean up when he was tired and hungry, but manageable. No, his thoughts were weighed down thinking about Padmé, his wonderful wife. She had given up everything to be with him and the twins. Everything. Her career, her family, and her friends. They all thought she was dead.

He was so happy she had chosen to stay with him, and he wanted to give her the world. He could, couldn't he? That's what Palpatine had whispered to him. Anakin was powerful enough. He could simply unleash himself. This world would be his. But those were Palpatine's words and his desires. All Anakin wanted was to be with Padmé and his children. He wanted them all to be healthy and happy.

And he knew it was hard for Padmé. She tried to make the best of it. To make their home nice, but the two little devils easily made a mess of things. The family photographs had been put into plastic storage containers in the attic. Padmé was tired of cleaning up the broken picture frames.

"We can put them back up when the twins are older," she said sadly.

She wanted a nice house. A nice home. And Anakin wanted to give that to her. And right now that meant cleaning up the mess he had been staring at. He sighed and took a step forward but then froze. His head tilted to the side as he listened, because there was a sound. A sound that didn't belong. A sound that was growing louder.

He soon recognized it was the sound of an engine. A car engine running on diesel. It was approaching the house. Anakin let out a mix of a growl and hiss. Black fur had grown out of his forearms while his hands had morphed into long claws. He made his way to the dining room where the windows faced the road.

He reached out into the Force. He extended himself up into the bedroom and created a bubble around the room. A sound bubble that would block incoming noise. It was similar to what the twins had probably used earlier when playing with the deer. Anakin would deal with whatever this was himself. He didn't want to wake his family. They were all finally resting.

Plus who knew what this threat was. Had Palpatine finally found them? But if so why would he only send in one car? It was sloppy. Yellow eyes with thin black slits watched as a Jeep with four people came down the road and stopped in front of the house. Four youths jumped out of the Jeep. Three boys and one girl. They gaped up at the house and took pictures of it with their phones.

The fur on Anakin's arm was shrinking. He didn't know how these young idiots had gotten on his property, but he would have to go out there and yell at them. Possibly have to follow them back out. There were three locked gates between this house and any major road. How had these kids gotten through all of those? Anakin would have to find out if anything needed to be replaced.

"Oh my god!" the girl shouted. "This place has wifi!"

"Fuck yeah," one of the boys said as he looked at his phone. "Lora messaged me back! She wants to meet up tonight."

"Nice," another boy responded. "Think you'll finally get her back to your place tonight?"

Anakin rolled his eyes as he made his way to the door.

The girl laughed. "Michael already responded to my post!" she shouted. "He says this house is haunted and we're all going to get ourselves killed."

The others laughed as well.

Anakin was frozen. His hand was right above the door knob. A cold wave washed through him as he thought on the girl's words. She had taken pictures of his house. She had posted them on social media. And now others had seen it. Were commenting on it. He was changing. He wasn't even sure to what, because he wasn't paying attention to his physical form as his body flicked between shapes, as it tried to match his desire.

His mind instead was spinning around and around. He had to stop this. It was possible the pictures could make it to Palpatine. That his family would be targeted . . .

No.

He was not going to allow this. He was going to stop this. The door opened silently. He slithered out. The youths didn't notice him as he slid quietly through the leaves into the shadows of the woods. How should he handle this? Electronics were hard to deal with. Organic things were easy. Everything organic was connected to the Force and thus he could connect to it. He could change or attack it. But for electronics he would have to get his hands on the phone and erase the photos and the post the normal way.

With several sets of eyes, he watched the kids as they started to walk around his house. He located where each of their phones were. He would extend a tentacle out and simply snatch them away. Then he could scare the idiots back into their Jeep.

But before he could start his plan, the wind shifted and he smelled the blood still lingering in his living room. His hunger multiplied. His mouth salvated with black drool over rows of sharp teeth. His hunger, his true hunger, was hard to explain. It was nothing like what a human experienced. His hunger was almost like a beast of its own. It clawed and gnashed its teeth against Anakin again and again. It could be very painful.

He took a long sniff of the air. This time he was smelling the humans. A long black tongue licked his jowls. His hunger dug a hundred sharp pins into him. It wasn't to be ignored or brushed aside. It wanted to be fed. It wanted the humans.

For there was nothing better than eating a human. It was the finest meal Anakin could eat. And it had been a long while since he had enjoyed human blood and meat. Yes, the hunger whispered to him. These four fools had trespassed onto his home. Were endangering his family. His precious family. They deserved to be eaten.

There was a small part that pleaded against this. Four missing youths would cause a headache. But that part was quickly silenced by the much stronger voice of the hunger. One of the kids had left the others. He was wandering away from the house. Most likely he was looking at the view of the lake.

Anakin didn't waste any more time. He quickly and silently slithered out of the woods. He wrapped his serpent like body around the kid, who started to scream. His screams intensified as he finally got a good look at the monster that was wrapped around him. Anakin savored the fear and screams for a moment, before his mouth opened into five parts. Each part had three rows of teeth. Then he took the kid's entire head and shoulders into his mouth and snapped it shut.

There was a satisfying crunch that came with the abrupt end of the screams. Anakin savored the taste of human blood. But the moment was soon ruined by the shouts of the other kids as they came to investigate. Anakin quickly finished eating the first kid. He still had three more to eat.


How many times had Anakin chastised his own children for playing with their food? Hadn't he done that a mere hour or two ago over the deer? And yet, he had been playing with his food. He had been enjoying seeing them run and scream around. He had saved the girl for last, but had slashed her throat to keep her quiet. The screaming was starting to get on his nerves.

That was when the situation got worse. Two more Jeeps showed up filled with more blasted kids. How many stupid college students were lurking in the woods today? What was he going to do now? Eating four kids was pushing it, but a dozen? The hunger inside of him of course wanted him to eat them. Oh how delicious they would be. Weren't the other three amazing? Not just their bodies, but also their very essence? Their soul?

Then the foolish girl stumbled out of the woods. The others had seen her, and Anakin realized their fates were sealed. He couldn't simply let them go. Something had to be done. Force them to look at his true form? Those who weren't Force sensitive would either go insane or their brain would distort their memories.

Just eat them. Eat them all.

He snatched up the girl from earlier. The taste of her moan and blood and muscles and bones was intoxicating. Delicious. How could he stop? So he picked off another girl by turning into a winged creature. The group ran inside the house.

Shit.

He couldn't have them waking up his family. The babies . . . what if they tasted human blood? They would forever crave it. Nothing else would ever satisfy them. No, he couldn't let that happen to them. And what if Padmé saw . . . He had to stop this. Play time was over. He followed them into the house.

And that's when noticed there was something off. The Force stirred. What was wrong? Were one of these youths Force sensitive? That would be annoying, but easily solved by eating them. But then he heard it.

"Dada? Dada?"

Luke!

Anakin's heart slammed inside of his chest. His baby! How . . . What . . . Had Luke left the bedroom? Where? Anakin dashed upstairs. Leia and Padmé still slept peacefully, but Luke was missing.

Fuck. Fuck, Anakin cursed to himself. Where was his baby? Where was Luke? Had he gone downstairs . . . Anakin was back down there in an instant. There was a coldness growing in him.

"Dada!" Luke cried out.

It came from the living room, which was where the youths were huddled up. Was Luke in there with the kids? Anakin decided to go in cautiously to assess the situation. Black tentacles slithered around the corner into the living room.

"Dada!" Luke called out seeing the tentacles.

Every part of Anakin's attention snapped onto Luke. One of the girls was holding the baby. He hissed as his tentacles opened up to reveal a mouth filled with teeth. He was going to have to be very careful. He didn't want to hurt Luke, and he also wanted to prevent Luke from tasting human blood.

Anakin hissed in pain as one of the kids slammed a broken chair leg into one of his tentacles. That idiot was the next to go. The rest of the kids ran, and Anakin ran after them on large muscular legs and paws with long claws that scraped against the wood floor. He let out a low growl of annoyance. He managed to pounce on the last kid in the group but the rest, including Luke, had made it outside.

Anakin didn't even pause to eat the last kid he had killed. He was outside. His form that of a large black bird creature with three sets of wings. He swooped down at the group snatching up two girls. He quickly killed them and threw them aside. He managed to get another girl as she was trying to get into a Jeep with the rest of them.

The Jeep took off with Luke in it. Anakin growled. He needed to get his son back, but he eyed the bodies. He needed to eat them, now. What if Leia woke up and came downstairs? So he quickly ate all the dead kids, and then took to the sky.

He found the Jeep pulled over on the side of the road. He could hear Luke's crying. He was scared and wanted his daddy. Luckily, his daddy was now here.

Anakin landed on the roof and ripped apart the fabric roof. He paused for a moment as he looked around. Luke was no longer in a human form. His anxiety and fear had grown too much. He wanted his daddy. He wanted to go home. So his form had changed to reflect that. The girl holding him and the driver couldn't withstand looking at such a creature. Their minds and bodies couldn't handle it.

They were both dead with the girl half melted into the seat and the boy dripping blood out of all of his orifices. It was a shame, because Luke was beautiful. His other form was always white, a beautiful glowing white. Perhaps it was creatures like Luke that had created myths of angels. Anakin reached down with black tentacles and carefully picked Luke up. Once the baby was in his arms, he started to gently rock and soothe him.

It's ok, Luke, he cooed through the Force. You're safe now. I've got you.

Luke started to calm down as his crying stopped. Luke's little white tentacles wrapped around his father's large black ones. Anakin took to the sky again and flew back home. He brought the baby into the upstairs bathroom. The two were now human. Anakin peeled off the dirty onesie. He had to eat it for he didn't dare leave it in the trash. It looked like Luke hadn't tasted any of the blood. That was a relief.

He placed Luke in the sink and washed him off with warm water. Unlike his previous bath, Luke was very quiet and still. His big blue eyes were red and puffy. His lips were pulled into a frown. He still wasn't over his ordeal. Anakin wrapped him up in a towel and kissed the soft downy hair as he brought Luke into the nursery. Once in clean clothes, Anakin brought Luke back to the bedroom.

"Mama! Mama!" Luke cried. He leaned away from Anakin as his hands grabbed at the air towards Padmé.

Padmé woke up. She smiled up at Anakin and Luke. Anakin lowered Luke into her arms. Mother and son were soon in a tight embrace. Padmé kissed his forehead as Luke snuggled against her. Leia was still sound asleep.

"Come to bed," Padmé said softly. "You look so tired."

He was. Especially after that large meal. But now he had even more of a mess to deal with. He had three Jeeps to dispose of. He also needed to clean up any of the human blood. There was also the matter of the phones and the social media posts.

He leaned down and kissed Padmé on the cheek. "I will soon," he said softly.


He eventually had to tell Padmé what had happened. He had gotten away with it for about a week. But Davis Newberg, the annoying kid who had survived, was proving to be a nuisance.

For one, he had survived. Anakin had been so preoccupied with Luke he hadn't fully searched the Jeep. Two, Davis had stumbled across Obi-Wan's cabin, and the fool Jedi had given him a blasted warded kyber crystal that prevented Anakin from harming him. Three, Davis was Force sensitive, which meant he remembered his encounter. Which led to number four.

Davis was determined to reveal the truth of what had happened to his friends. And that, Anakin couldn't let happen.

Anakin had worked hard to cover up what had happened. The night of the event, he had stayed up all night hacking into the kids' social media and email accounts. He ripped apart their personal lives. Then he created a story for each he could implant into their families' minds as to why they had simply disappeared. It would have worked. This all would have faded away as a bad memory, if only Davis Newberg wasn't working against Anakin.

Anakin couldn't let any news of him slip to where Palpatine might hear about him. And since, Palpatine was president, he had a lot of resources and men on alert for news about the Skywalkers. Luckily, Anakin spent a lot of time in his basement, at his computer, hacking into intelligence databases and making sure there were no reports about him that made it back to Palpatine.

Which is why Davis had to go. His crazy conspiracy theories about some monster in the woods eating a bunch of college students could instantly get the attention of Palpatine's people, that is if Anakin wasn't so on top of it and making sure nothing Davis said or wrote about made it beyond his sleepy little town. But all it would take was one small slip-up to change that.

Padmé was of course furious when Anakin revealed what happened.

"You ate them?" she asked. Her eyes aflame. Anakin was an unholy creature that could consume the entire earth if he chose to, but in that moment he was afraid of his own human wife. "You ate them all, Anakin? Why didn't you just alter their memories? Create some car crash? You had to eat them!"

Padmé had banned him from their bed, so he slept in the basement on the couch he kept down there. He sulked around the house for days.

"Dada sad?" Luke asked at dinner one night. His face was completely covered in tomato sauce and small pieces of noodles.

"Daddy has been naughty," Padmé said glaring at Anakin from across the table. "Very bad."

The twins looked at their father.

"Dada bahd?" Leia asked.

"Bahd? Bahd Dada?" Luke asked.

Then they both smiled and started to laugh. "Dada bahd! Bahd!" They found it incredibly funny that their father was capable of being in trouble. Anakin only slid down into his chair more while Padmé smiled at him.

It was Padmé who thought of the plan to deal with Davis. Anakin was quiet for a while after she finished her explanation.

"Ani?" she asked softly. "What are you thinking?"

They were in the basement. The twins were on the floor playing with their toys. Anakin was sitting on the couch while Padmé stood in front of him. His pillow and blankets that he had been sleeping with were in a pile next to him.

"Your plan," he said. His voice distant at first, but then his eyes focused on her. "It's a good plan. Genius. But it's a bit . . ."

"A bit?"

"Cruel?" She tilted her head. Anakin continued, "Dastardly? Dark?"

She sighed and she sat down in his lap. She wrapped her arms around his neck while he wrapped his around her waist.

"Anakin," she said softly. "I know why you did what you did. I know you would do anything to protect us, but I want you to know I will do anything too. You're not alone. We're a team."

"I know. I just . . . didn't want to worry you. You've given up so much, and I know it's so hard to raise the twins. I just want to make everything as easy as I can for you."

I would give you this entire world if you asked, he told himself. He would make the human race all bow to their knees for her. He would lasso the moon and pull it to earth for her.

She leaned in and pressed her lips against his. He sighed. It had been far too long since he felt her. Tasted her.

"I would rather be cranky and tired and yell at some punk kids to get off my lawn then have to deal with this mess," she said. Her lips brushing against his. Her hands slid into his hair. "But whatever problems there are, we can face them together."

He smiled and kissed her again. This time it was a longer more passionate kiss. He squeezed her sides. She giggled as she pulled away.

"How about you come sleep in the bed with me tonight?" she said in a low lusty voice.

Anakin's cheeks were turning red. "Oh? Is my ban lifted?"

"Just do a round around the house and make sure there are no injured deer this time."

"And no punk college kids," Anakin added as he kissed her again.

They both stopped and looked down as they felt little hands press against them. Luke was standing there looking up at them.

"Mama," he pleaded.

Padmé bent over, picked him up, and placed him on her lap. Then she peppered the baby with kisses. Luke giggled. Leia walked over and also demanded to be picked up. Soon all three were on Anakin's lap. He wrapped his arms as best he could around them. The babies giggled as their parents kissed them and they gave kisses back.

Two weeks later Anakin and Padmé stood outside Davis Newberg's apartment door.

Soon they were inside. Padmé's plan of having them pose as members of a news station was working. She, of course, was amazing as she pulled off her role as a news reporter and put Davis at ease.

When Davis was retelling what had happened, Padmé kept giving Anakin dirty looks. He knew what she was saying. 'Really, Anakin? Really?' When he had told her what had happened, he hadn't gone into too much detail about what had happened to the kids. Hadn't included how he had played with them a bit. He definitely had not included the part about Luke.

It wasn't much longer until Padmé had expertly cut the cord of the necklace freeing Davis of the crystal. Anakin may not be able to take the necklace off, but there were no rules about other humans taking it off. Freed from the protective spell the crystal casted, Anakin could do as he liked with Davis. He waited until Padmé left. He wanted to eat him. Oh, how he wanted to eat this pathetic fool and savor his flesh and soul.

But he would stick to Padmé's plan. Though originally her plan called for Davis' body to burn up in the apartment, Anakin might have added a bit of a creative twist to it. Later, the two stood outside the apartment building as they watched it go up in flames. He stood behind her with his arms wrapped around her.

"Did everything go well?" she whispered.

"Yes," he said.

She sighed. Despite this being her plan, he knew it bothered her. He had killed Davis, and that life weighed on her. But it was more than that. In the basement were eleven bodies that had been made to perfectly match the eleven other college kids. It had taken a lot of work to remake hunks of flesh and bone to the right sizes as well as to make sure he had the right DNA. If Padmé's plan played out, which it should, Davis Newberg would be seen as a mass murderer who had some mental breakdown and killed his college friends. Then he committed suicide by setting his apartment on fire.

"Let's go home," Padmé whispered.

It didn't take them long for Anakin to bring them back to their house in the dark woods. He gently set her down on the porch. She had gone quiet and distant. Was she angry with him again? Due to what she had heard from Davis? The two entered the house and shed their wet jackets. Anakin took off his baseball cap. Padmé headed upstairs first.

Anakin looked up the stairs and could see that the light from the nursery was still on. Had Obi-Wan not put the twins to bed?

"Luke and Leia Skywalker! You know better! Anakin!" Padmé said in a stern voice. Her the-babies-are-in-trouble voice.

Anakin hurried up the stairs and into the room. Padmé stood in the middle of the room with her hands on her hips. Her jaw set. She was glaring at Luke, Leia, and Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan sat in the corner of the room. His back resting where the two walls met. The twins were sitting on his lap with a storybook open. The only problem was they were all upside down and on the ceiling.

"You know no going on the ceiling," Padmé said. "Come down at once!" She pointed to the ground.

Luke and Leia exchanged a look. Then slowly they started to drift down to the floor. They landed softly and looked up at their parents with large sorry eyes.

"Anakin, please get Obi-Wan down," Padmé said as she looked at her children.

Anakin scowled and rolled his eyes. He could have floated Obi-Wan down, like the children had done, but instead he let his tentacles grow and reach up. They wrapped around Obi-Wan. He could feel Obi-Wan's displeasure, and Anakin could only smile. He slowly brought the man down to the floor.

"Thank you, Anakin," Obi-Wan said dusting himself off.

"Obi-Wan, let me fix you a cup a tea," Padmé said.

"That would be lovely," he said as he followed her out.

Anakin heard Padmé as she walked down the stairs. "I hope you weren't up there too long. Please tell me they altered gravity for you so your blood didn't rush to your head."

Anakin looked down at the babies. They toddled over to him and grabbed onto his pant legs. Tentacles came out and circled around them. He hoisted them up. Human arms and legs wrapped around him.

"Did you two put Uncle Ben up on the ceiling?" Anakin asked smiling. "Yes, you did. You did put Uncle Ben up on the ceiling."

He walked over to the large rocking chair and sat down in it. The babies cuddled against his chest as Anakin rocked them. Luke grabbed a fist full of Anakin's shirt. They were tired; they were up past their bedtime. Anakin smiled as he watched them start to nod off. As he was rocking, something on the floor in the corner of the room caught his eye. He sent out a tentacle and picked it up.

Padmé returned a while later. She gently picked up Leia and placed her in her crib. Anakin slowly stood up and put Luke in the other one. The two were sound asleep. The parents watched their babies for a moment before they stepped out in the hallway and gently closed the door behind them.

"Obi-Wan is still here," Anakin muttered.

"He's enjoying his tea," Padmé said as she walked to their bedroom. "I offered that he could stay the night."

"Did he lace his tea with whiskey?" Anakin asked as he started to pull his shirt off. "Here," he said as he tossed her the thing he had found on the ground in the nursery.

Padmé caught it and looked at it. She gave him a pointed look, but he looked away. He heard her chuckle softly.

"I'll go give it back to him," she said as she left the room.

He paused as he considered what he had done. Obi-Wan's green kyber crystal had fallen off. Anakin should kill him, eat him, as he had all the other Jedi Knights and yet . . . he had given the necklace to Padmé to return it to Obi-Wan. Another time, Anakin told himself. He would eat Obi-Wan another time. He had just done the Skywalkers a favor by babysitting the twins.

He sighed as he walked to the window and looked at the dark trees. His hands twitched by his side. He recalled the smell of Davis' blood and burning body. It was like charred meat on a barbeque. Anakin licked his lips. The large meal of those kids was starting to wear off. The hunger was starting to claw at him again, and this time it wasn't going to be sated with a deer or a bear. No, it had been reminded of the taste of humans and now greedily yearned for more.

Anakin agreed. Yes, he wanted to eat, and he wanted to eat humans. For a moment he was reminded there were two humans in the house. But he shook his head. No. Not them. Not Padmé or Obi-Wan. Not when there were so many others out there. He would just have to be careful. Really careful.

He smiled and saw his reflection in the glass. He could easily make out his yellow eyes rimmed in red with black slits and his mouth filled with sharp pointed teeth.

Chapter Text

Luke couldn't help but gape as the Millennium Falcon lowered into Imperial Center's atmosphere and the small lights of the city-planet grew into towering skyscrapers and never-ending traffic lanes. There was nothing but buildings as far as the eye could see.

"That's the palace," Han said.

He hadn't pointed anything out, but Luke could tell which building it was. It wasn't as tall like many of the other impressive buildings, but it was large; a massive ziggurat that sat by itself. There were no lanes of traffic or other buildings crowding around it. The negative space around it pulled all attention to the building, and Luke couldn't look away.

He could also feel it. There was a coldness radiating from it. Even from this distance, it caused a shiver to run up Luke's spine.

"Alright," Han said. "Leia's contact will be meeting us in three hours. We've got to get you cleaned up and in some better clothes."

"I'm still uncertain about this," Luke said. "What if they recognize me? Or- "

"Kid," Han said, turning around in his seat to look at him. "They don't have a picture of your face, yet. They don't even have a name attached to that bounty of yours. The Empire has no idea who shot down the Death Star."

"Yeah, but this just feels wrong."

Han huffed. "Don't tell me you feel bad for Darth Vader? Have you forgotten everything he's done?"

Luke became very aware of his father's lightsaber hanging on his hip. "No, but pretending to be his lost son . . . Isn't that cruel? Even for him?"

Luke thought about what it'd feel like if the situation was reversed. How would he react if someone came in claiming to be his father? It would be heartbreaking. Plus, what would happen once Vader realized this was all a ruse?

"That may be so," Han said slowly and thoughtfully. "But this is a chance the Alliance can't pass up. All we need to do is plant one of these-" Han held up the small cylindrical device, "- to slice into the Imperial Palace's systems. Just think of what kind of intel we could get. Even if we only secure a link for ten minutes, that data would be invaluable."

"You're just repeating Leia's words," Luke grumbled. "What you're interested in is the reward."

Han smiled slyly and shrugged. "Credits never hurt, Luke."

Luke rolled his eyes. Rumor had it that Vader had a reward of millions of credits for the one who could find his son. It had created a lot of rumors and plenty of people claiming they were the fake Prince Vader. So far, none of them had succeeded.

Three hours later, Luke was pulling at the collar of his new stiff black suit. It was tight and very Imperial looking.

"Stop fidgeting," Han hissed as they rode the lift up to the apartment they were meeting Leia's contact at.

Han was also dressed in a suit. Luke was sure he felt as uncomfortable as he did, but neither one could dwell on it anymore as the lift stopped and the doors slid open. A sleek feminine humanoid droid met them.

"Hello," the droid said. "You must be Princess Leia's friends."

"Yes, we are," Han said smiling.

"Excellent, please come this way," the droid said as it turned and led them down a hallway.

The apartment was on top of a tall skyscraper and its large windows offered an impressive view of the city. In the distance, Luke could see the palace looming.

"Mistress Sabé," the droid said. "Your guests have arrived."

"Thank you, HP3-R," a woman said. She sat on a couch drinking from a teacup, which she sat down on a low table in front of the couch, and stood up. "Let me get a good look at you."

Sabé, Leia's contact, was a lovely middle-aged human woman with brown, curly hair. Her face was relatively wrinkle-free, but there was still the unmistakable weight of age and knowledge in her brown eyes. She wore a purple dress with silver beading that looked like branches or vines crawling down the dress and a matching cape that hung down to her knees in three cascading layers of see-through purple silk. The top had the same silver beading on it.

She walked around Luke inspecting him. Her eyes traveled up and down his figure. She stopped in front of him and leaned in, and tilted her head this way and that. Then she gently brought a finger under his chin and lifted it, then pushed it from side to side. Finally, she stepped back.

"I'll admit," she said, "you do at least look the part."

"He does?" Han said relieved.

She smiled and took a seat back on the sofa. She waved for them to sit as well in armchairs opposite her.

"You look a lot like him," she said.

"Never would have imagined Vader havin' any sort of face like Luke's," Han said. "No offense, kid. I just always imagined there was like a skull under that mask."

"He was quite handsome in his youth," Sabé said. "Blond hair, tan skin, and blue eyes. The same shade you have."

Luke couldn't help but blush. Han noticed, wagged his eyebrows and smiled.

"But you also you look like her," Sabé continued. Luke's heart skipped a beat. "The nose and the mark on your cheek. Not to mention your stature."

Luke's cheeks burned now.

"So you think this will work?" Han asked. "You can get us into the Imperial Palace?"

"Getting you into the palace is the easy part. Tomorrow night there will a large party at the palace." Sabé said. "However, getting you a personal meeting with Vader is another matter."

"That's fine," Han quickly added. "I'm sure we will think of something-"

"Luckily," Sabé interrupted him, "I can do that for you as well."

"You- you can?" Luke asked.

He exchanged a look with Han. Sabé didn't know the real reason for them wanting to get into the palace. She thought they believed Luke really was the lost son of Vader, but Luke would rather avoid the man if he could. Avoid the man who had killed his father. Eventually, he would face him, but not yet. He wasn't ready.

"Have . . . have there been others?" Luke asked with a lump in his throat. "Other people who have tried to pose as his son that actually met with him?"

"A few," Sabé sighed.

"What happened?"

"Vader quickly realized they weren't," she said with a shrug.

"Yeah, but what happened to them? What did Vader do to them?"

"Getting cold feet?" Sabé asked.

"No," Han said quickly. He gave Luke a hard glare.

"Well, then I think we should get going," Sabé said standing up. Han and Luke both looked up at her confused. "We're going shopping," she said. "You can't go to the palace wearing that. Much too scruffy looking."

"Hey!" Han shouted as he stood up.

"Oh," Sabé said. "I believe I have been rather impolite. What are your names?"

"Luke Skywalker," Luke said.

Han hissed. It was only then Luke realized what he had done; he had used his real name. Han glared at him with a clenched jaw. 'Sorry,' Luke mouthed silently.

"Luke . . . Skywalker . . ." Sabé said. She rolled the words around on her tongue as if she was tasting them. There was a twinkle in her eye. "Bold choice."

"What is that supposed to mean?" Luke asked. "That's my name!"

"I know," Sabé said smiling.


Han grumbled as the store clerks ushered him back to the dressing room. Luke smiled. He was alone with Sabé in the upscale clothing store. Finely tailored suits hung on the racks and were displayed on mannequins around them.

"So tell me about yourself, Luke Skywalker," Sabé said.

"I uh," Luke stuttered.

"Where did you grow up?"

"Oh, nowhere really," Luke said. Sabé gave him a look, so he quickly added. "Tatooine."

Sabé's eyebrows rose. "Tatooine?"

"Is there something amusing about that?"

"Your father was from Tatooine," she said.

Luke asked, "How did you know that?" Then he remembered he was supposed to be posing as Darth Vader's long lost son. They weren't talking about his real father, about Anakin Skywalker. "I mean . . . Darth Vader is from Tatooine?"

Sabé was quiet for a long moment as she stared intently at Luke. "Yes," she finally said. "He is. Though he hates the place."

"I can understand," Luke said under his breath.

"So can I."

"You've been there?"

"I spent some time there. Originally, I had gone there to find a slave woman who had let go of her son so he could be free and have a better life. I wasn't able to."

Luke smiled sadly. "Makes me think of my grandmother," he said softly.

"Oh?"

"She was a slave. My grandfather bought her, fell in love with her, freed her and married her."

"Was she the one to raise you?"

"Oh, no. She died before I was born. My aunt and uncle raised me."

"And what did they say about your parents?"

Luke shrugged. "Not much. My father was a navigator on a spice freighter. They didn't know anything about my mother."

Sabé laughed. "A navigator? On a spice freighter? Oh, that's a good one! But I don't know if I would tell Vader that to his face. He may get offended."

Luke nodded. He realized that once again he forgot they weren't actually talking about his father. They were talking about Vader. Yet it had been so easy to mix it up. Was it that much of a coincidence that Vader was born on Tatooine? Had he lived a similar life to Anakin Skywalker?

"Thank you for everything you're doing," Luke said. "For the clothes and the party and everything, but . . . I don't know . . ."

"If you can go through with this?" Sabé finished for him.

Luke nodded. He wanted to tell her the truth. That this was all some ruse so they could get into the Imperial Palace. Sabé grabbed his arm and led him over to the large floor-to-ceiling windows that looked out over the city. Far off in the distance, he could just make out the palace.

"This planet used to be called Coruscant," she said. "There is an old song about Coruscant. It goes: Welcome, my friends, to Coruscant. It has everything you could want. Forget where you're from. You're in the Core. Children, come! Coruscant holds the key to your heart. Come dance through the night, On the planet of light, Where one never knows what will start . . ."

She paused.

"I think," she said after a moment of silence, "that Coruscant holds the key to your heart. Your past and future."

"That's . . . a little corny," Luke said.

Sabé laughed. "It is. A little. But that song reminds me of your father. Before he became Darth Vader. When he was the man your mother fell in love with. Because that song . . . that song is what happened to him."

Luke blushed and looked back at the city. It was odd to think that Vader could have once been a normal person. Possibly more like Luke than Luke had ever imagined. What had happened to him? That had made him into Vader?


"Invitation and identification please," a stormtrooper asked at the steps of the palace.

This was the third time they had been asked that, and each time Sabé fished out a small code cylinder.

"You are clear. Keep moving," the trooper said, handing back the cylinder and waving them up the steps. Not once had they asked for Luke or Han's ID, though they both had a counterfeit one stuffed in their pockets.

Sabé had her arm looped through Luke's as they walked up the grand stairs. She was dressed in a long royal blue dress that trailed a bit behind her. There was a thick silver belt on her waist that was encrusted with white and silver beads. The dress was sleeveless but had a small capelet that hung down to her wrist. The material was see-through with silver leaves sewn on it, and had a thick silver hem to match the belt.

Luke was dressed in a dark navy outfit. He wore two layers of sleeveless leather tunics that crossed over his chest and were held together by a thick black belt with a small cord running through the middle. The tunics draped down to his legs. Luke had wanted something more like what Han wore, a simple but classic black suit in an Imperial cut. However, Sabé had insisted on this outfit.

"Trust me," she said as she smoothed the fabric on his shoulder. "It brings out your eyes. Plus, it's a style very similar to what your father used to wear."

"Did you know him?" Luke asked. "Vader? Before he was Vader?"

"I knew of him," she said. She walked away before Luke could ask any more.

But clearly, Sabé had some connection to Vader. When they had arrived in their speeder, they were ushered into an express VIP lane. They hadn't checked Luke and Han's IDs. Luke wished Leia had told them more about Sabé. She had only said that she was an old contact of her father's who could possibly get them into the palace.

After walking through a grand hallway lined with troopers, they entered a huge hall. There were long red banners with the Imperial cog symbol on them on the walls and large windows that stretched several stories up and gave an impressive view of the city. In a corner near the windows sat a podium with a band playing music as people danced. On the opposite wall was a large table filled with food. In the back corner was a bar.

"Now then, we need to find where Vader is hiding," Sabé said as she glanced around. "He actually hates being at festivities like these, and is most likely lurking out of sight."

She pulled Luke into the large room. Luke shot Han a glance, who smiled, gave him a nod, and then fell back into the crowd. He was going to carry out the mission. He would find a terminal or two to stick in the spy devices. Luke had three of the devices in his pocket as well as his father's lightsaber hidden in his jacket.

Sabé led Luke to one of the walls. Luke noticed there was a door here guarded by troopers. There was a small line to get through and they joined the others in the queue. As they waited, Luke felt eyes on him. He turned and saw a young woman nearby glaring at him. She was stunning with red hair and green eyes and wore a beautiful sleek black dress. But was she looking at him? With such anger? Why?

As they got to the front of the line, Sabé produced her invitation code cylinder. The troopers let her through. Luke glanced over his shoulder, and the woman was still glaring at him. Luke didn't have time to dwell on that as they walked up a staircase. They entered a tall but narrow hallway. There was nothing but a wall to their right, but large open doorways to their left. Each room had floor-to-ceiling windows, that were shaded grey, and Luke realized they looked out on the party hall below. They must be one-way, allowing the people upstairs to look down on those at the party below.

As they walked down the hall and Luke looked into each room, he examined the people inside. If they wore Imperial military uniforms, they were all high ranking. Captains. Admirals. Moffs. Grand moffs. Luke had no doubt those who weren't in uniforms were equally important. Perhaps senators, governors, or royalty. This must be a private VIP area.

They came to the last doorway. Two stormtroopers stood on either side. Sabé only nodded at them. They stayed at attention and let her pass. Luke's heart was pounding in his chest. He had meant to back out of this by now. He couldn't go through with this. He wasn't Vader's lost son. In fact, the reason why Luke was fatherless was because of Vader. He had practiced a short speech in his head to give to Sabé, but he had failed to stop and give it to her. And now they were here.

A cold sweat was forming on his neck and brow. There was a lump in his throat as they stepped into the dark room. The only light in the room came in through the wall of shaded windows. There were dark couches and low tables, but it was mostly empty. Four guards in red capes and red helmets stood at attention by the wall next to the door. There was only one person sitting on a couch near a window.

And it wasn't Vader.

"Your highness," Sabé said as she gave a deep bow. She pulled Luke down with her.

"Sabé," came a feminine voice. "I'm glad you're here."

Sabé straightened up and finally let go of Luke's arm.

"It is good to see you as well, Padmé," Sabé said as she walked over to the lady.

Padmé? Who was Padmé?

Luke hadn't followed Sabé, but instead stood quietly by himself. Sabé had taken a seat and was talking softly with Padmé. Luke tried to get a good look at Padmé, but the dark room and the angle prevented him from seeing much. He could tell she was a human female that looked similar to Sabé, but that was about it.

Luke glanced around for any terminals. If he could get one of the spy devices connected to one of these rooms, the Alliance might be able to obtain some really valuable information. The security clearance in these rooms had to be impressive. These were the people leading the Empire. The people-

"Who is this?" Padmé asked.

Both women were staring at him.

"Padmé, this is . . ." but Sabé's words trailed off as Padmé stood.

For the first time, Luke got a good look at her. She did look a lot like Sabé. Perhaps a sister? She wore an impressive red satin gown with gold beads and designs embroidered on the chest, waist, and hems. Her brown curly hair hung mostly loose, though the hair around her face had been pulled back. On her head sat a small crown of gold and rubies with a long red veil flowing down her back.

Her brown eyes were wide. Her pink lips partially parted as she stood staring at Luke. They stood like that for a moment, before Padmé came straight at him with Sabé on her heels. Padmé stopped right in front of Luke. She was a bit shorter than him, so her head angled up to look at him. Her eyes had yet to leave him.

"You . . . " she said softly. It was barely more than a whisper. "You . . ."

"Padmé," Sabé said gently placing her hand on Padmé's arm. "I want you to meet Luke Skywalker."

"Oh!" Padmé said as she put a hand up to her mouth. "Oh! It is you!" Her eyes started to get watery. She slowly reached out and placed her hand on Luke's arm. "It's you."

Large big tears rolled down Padmé's face. Luke desperately looked at Sabé for some sort of clarification as to what was going on. But Sabé was only smiling warmly.

"Look at you," Padmé said between soft sobs. "Look at you. All grown-up."

"I, uh, I'm sorry. I . . ." he said, trying to comfort her, but not even knowing where to begin. "Sabé?"

"Luke," Sabé said. "This is your mother. Padmé."

A sad smile spread across Padmé's face. Tears streamed gently down her cheeks. There was a lump building in his throat and his cheeks were starting to burn. She wasn't . . . She wasn't his mother. He wasn't her son. He opened his mouth, but his tongue felt like lead. He had to say something. Anything! This was going too far! He squeezed his eyes shut, took a sharp breath, and renewed his courage. He opened his eyes, ready to reveal the truth, but that was when a sharp cold pierced him.

Time slowed to a crawl. The door slowly slid open. Luke watched as a large black boot stepped into the room. It was connected to a large dark grey leg. Then in came an arm, clad in a leather glove. Luke's heart pounded in his chest. The lump in his throat grew larger. He watched as the rest of Darth Vader stepped into the room. He was tall. Taller than Luke had imagined. He towered over everyone else. The helmet instantly looked in his direction. Luke started to break out in a cold sweat.

Vader marched over to the group with swift long strides. It took only a matter of seconds for him to stop before them, but it felt so much longer to Luke. Each step vibrated in his body and rattled his very bones. The breathing of the respirator grew louder and seemed to hiss promises of death.

There was a man under there? A man that Sabé thought Luke resembled? This was madness. Vader wasn't human. He was some dark death god that could smite the unworthy where they stood with a flick of his wrist or a slash of his lightsaber.

Lightsaber!

Luke recalled his own lightsaber hidden in his jacket. It suddenly felt warm and heavy, as if it was pulling him down. Was it obvious? Could Vader tell? Luke's hands twitched as he thought about ripping it out, igniting it, and stabbing it into his father's murderer's chest. He was so close. All it would take was a few steps.

"What is going on here?" Vader asked. His voice was deep and rumbling. It hummed with power and instantly demanded attention. That's when Luke realized Vader wasn't looking at him. The helmet was titled down towards Padmé. Slowly, a black leather hand rose up towards her. "Padmé?" Vader's voice was different than it had been a moment ago. It was . . . tender. Concerned.

"I'm- I'm fine," she said as she wiped her tears with her hands.

"You are not," Vader said. He looked at Sabé and raised a hand. He pointed his finger at her. "What have you done?"

Sabé didn't cower. She raised her head higher, even stuck her chin out at him. She was glaring down Vader. Darth Vader! But before Sabé could say anything, Vader's mask turned to Luke. Luke couldn't see the eyes behind the black lenses. Were there eyes behind them? A face? A face like Luke's?

"Who is this?" Vader growled. His finger was now pointing at Luke. He looked back to Sabé. "What have you done?"

"Please," Padmé said. Her voice was soft and trembling.

"I've reunited a lost son with his mother," Sabé said. She crossed her arms across her chest and raised an eyebrow as if daring Vader to argue or act against her.

She was insane.

That was the only reason Luke could think of for Sabé's behavior. She was insane to think Luke was Vader's son. She had no sense of self-preservation. She was going to die here. Luke, too. Both of them were going to be killed by Vader in a matter of minutes.

Vader's mask snapped back to Luke, who could feel Vader's gaze on him. The room seemed to be getting colder. Luke shivered.

"Please," Padmé said softly. She had stepped forward and placed a hand on Vader's extended arm. The one that was still pointing at Luke.

"I will not listen to these lies," Vader said. His voice was softer. He was clearly addressing Padmé. His mask had tilted down to look at her.

"They're not lies!" Padmé cried. "This is our son!"

"He is not!" Vader roared. Padmé flinched, but she didn't step back. Sabé's smug expression fell. Luke had taken a step back. "This boy is not our son!"

"He is!" Padmé pleaded. "Please, just calm down. Let me explain-"

"There is nothing to explain," Vader said. He took a step back and sharply withdrew his hand away from Padmé. "I have seen plenty of boys who claim to be my son. Enough to last me a lifetime. However, I never expected you to attempt this scam, Sabé."

"It isn't a scam," she said.

"She's right," Padmé said taking a step closer to Vader.

"You think I do not know who this boy is? You think I wouldn't recognize his presence? He's a rebel. The very same rebel who shot down the Death Star," Vader snarled.

The room was growing colder. Luke started to back away. This was going bad. Really bad. He had to get out of here.

"Please, stop," Padmé said. Fresh tears were falling down her face. "Just listen to me, please!"

"I will admit the Rebellion has done an impressive job this time," Vader continued. "But my men have already located your smuggler friend. A con artist by the name of Han Solo. He ran auditions for a Prince Vader lookalike on Nar Shaddaa. Then sold the boy off to some moffs using an elaborate story that this was the real prince, and that I would be very grateful to have my son returned to me."

Vader's hand slowly curled, his fingers like claws reaching out and grasping the air. There was a tightness growing around Luke's throat. He tried to step away from that invisible grasp, but only hit a wall. The sensation around his throat was getting worse. It was getting tighter and tighter.

"No!" Padmé shouted. She grabbed Vader's arm with both of her hands. "Stop! Please! He's our son! Your son!"

"He is not," Vader said. His voice was low and dripping with venom. "I will not have any more pain inflicted on us." He added in a gentler voice, "On you." But then his voice turned sharp and cold again. "I am done with these imposters. No more!"

"No!" Padmé screamed.

The coldness around Luke's throat tightened even more. He couldn't breathe. His hands grabbed at his throat, but there was nothing there. His mouth opened and closed as he desperately tried to breathe. Everything in his body was screaming for air. He was going to die!

No!

He wasn't. It was a true test of will to lower his arms away from his throat and dig into his coat. He found the lightsaber. His hands were slick with sweat and growing weak, but this was his only chance. He pulled out the silver hilt. He was sluggish and clumsy as his finger slid over the igniter, but eventually he pushed the button.

The beam sprang forth with a loud snap-hiss. It was the only thing Luke could see. He focused on its steady hum and soothing blue light. He realized the cold tightness was gone. He could breathe! He was going to live! He took in several deep breaths unaware of the shouts around him. It wasn't until he heard another snap-hiss that he finally lowered his blade.

Two of the red guards held Padmé by the arms. She was straining against their hold and screaming at Vader, who held his red lightsaber and pointed it at Luke.

"You hold that weapon like an untrained child," Vader said as he slowly started to approach Luke. "You have no right to it. You, boy, are no Jedi. Who are you? You are not my son."

"You killed my father!" Luke said as his strength returned. He gripped the hilt with both hands and held it up, ready to strike.

"I've killed very many fathers," Vader said. His lightsaber actually lowered. The message was clear. He didn't think Luke was a threat. Padmé was still screaming at Vader to stop. "You'll have to be more specific."

Luke screamed and lunged forward. But a simple swipe of Vader's blade sent Luke tumbling to the ground. Force! He was strong. Luke scrambled to his knees.

"This is most pathetic," Vader said. "You are not worth the second it would take to finish you. Who sent you here to die like this? That smuggler? The Rebellion?"

"I was there, on the Death Star," Luke spat. "I saw what you did to him. You killed Master Kenobi! And now I'm here to make sure you-"

Luke's lightsaber, his father's lightsaber, was ripped out of his hands. It flew through the air directly into Vader's hand.

"No!" Luke shouted.

"So Obi-Wan Kenobi gave you this lightsaber," Vader said slowly. "A shame he did not teach you how to wield it. He never did make for much of a master."

"How did you . . ."

"The Force will never be with you, boy. Your master has fallen. Your smuggler friend is imprisoned. What hope have you?"

"Please! Stop! Don't!" Padmé screamed. Her voice was shrill and heartbreaking.

"None," Vader said as he raised both lightsabers up.

Luke could only look up at the two beams. So this was it. This was truly it. This was how he was going to die. At the same hands who killed his father. By the same weapon, along with his father's. Tears were starting to build up in his eyes. He took a deep shuddering breath as he waited for the killing blow to come, but Vader had paused. His hands had lowered. He was looking intently at Luke's lightsaber.

"Wait . . . this lightsaber . . . " Vader said. His voice was distant as if he was lost in thought.

"It was my father's!" Luke shouted.

Vader's attention was instantly back on him. He could feel the sharp cold swirling around him.

"What?" Vader asked.

"That was my father's lightsaber," Luke said as he slowly stood up. If he was going to die, then he was going to face it head on.

"Stop!" Padmé continued to plead.

"What is your name, boy?" Vader asked.

"Luke Skywalker," Luke said. "My father was Anakin Skywalker. Do you recall murdering him?"

Both sabers fell as Vader's arms went slack.

"He's your son!" Padmé shouted. "He's your son!"

Vader deactivated both lightsabers and looked back down at Luke's saber. Then he slowly looked back at Luke. Luke was confused. What was going on? What was Vader doing? Again, Luke could feel Vader's intense gaze on him but this time it felt different. It wasn't sharp and indifferent, but curious. Luke felt like he was being analyzed.

"Anakin," Padmé said. Her voice was growing hoarse. "Anakin, please. He's your son!"

Vader looked over his shoulder at her. Then back at Luke.

"Ana . . . Anakin?" Luke asked. His eyes darted from Vader to Padmé to Sabé to the guards and back to Vader. Had Padmé just called Vader Anakin?

Vader clipped both lightsabers to his belt. Then in three large steps, he stood directly in front of Luke. Before Luke could act, Vader's hand reached out and grabbed Luke's arm. Vader's grip was tight and cold. Luke tried to pull away, but Vader was unflinching. He pulled Luke closer and his other hand grabbed Luke's chin.

"It seems, child," Vader said in a lower voice. It was that voice he had used on Padmé earlier. The softer voice. Luke also noted he had called him child instead of boy. "I was too hasty in my judgment, and I should have listened to my wife."

Luke's eyes darted to Padmé. The guards had let her go and she was running over to them.

"Luke!" she cried as she reached them. She placed her hands on Vader's arm. "Are you alright?"

"What . . . what is going on?" he asked. His voice cracked.

Padmé smiled. "We're your parents," she said. "You're our son."

"But . . . but . . . how . . . my parents are dead!"

"You've been lied to," Sabé said. She shook her head. "I realized you didn't know the whole truth, but I thought you at least knew something about who they really were, and that was why you were sent to me. Why you wanted to meet them."

"Who they really are?" Luke asked.

Sabé waved at Vader and Padmé and said, "Darth Vader, formerly known as Anakin Skywalker, and his wife, Padmé Amidala Skywalker."

Luke let out a small sob as he looked at his parents.

Chapter Text

Luke followed the two handmaidens down the hall. Two royal guards walked behind him wearing their bright red armor and cloaks. He still wasn't used to this. To any of this. He wasn't used to the Imperial Palace and its grand hallways. The wall was decorated with marble and real wooden columns inlaid with gold detail. Rich rugs with intricate details ran the length of the hall. Small fancy tables were placed every couple of feet, and on each was placed a fresh flower arrangement or a decorative statue.

They came to a set of large double doors, that slid open as they approached. The two guards followed Luke in but then stationed themselves against the wall near the door. They weren't the only red guards here. Another set stood by the door as well. Luke ignored them as he walked through the grand rooms of the personal suite. He walked past a sitting room, down a hallway, and to another room. The handmaidens stepped aside and nodded to indicate Luke could enter. He entered by himself as the handmaidens stayed behind to give him privacy.

The bedroom matched the rest of the suite. It was large and beautifully decorated with fine furniture and fresh plants and flowers. There was a large bed in the center of the wall to the left where a small woman sat. She was leaning against the large plush cushions. There was a smile on her lips as she watched Luke approach.

"Luke," she said, and she held out her hand.

Luke took it and smiled back at her. "Hello. Moth-mother," he said. He still wasn't used to saying it. It felt so odd on his tongue. So was the idea of having a mother. He had gone all of his life without parents, and now he had both of them. "How are you feeling?" Luke asked.

"I am feeling pretty good right now," she replied. The Empress was not healthy. An illness had been plaguing her for two decades, or ever since he was born. She spent a lot of time confined to her bed and rarely made public appearances. Even when she did, it was always with her husband lurking right at her side.

She tilted her head as she looked at her son. "How are you feeling?"

"I uh . . ."

Why was it so hard to talk to his mother? Because she wasn't just his long-lost mother he never knew he had? She was also the empress of the galaxy? Wife to Emperor Darth Vader, who was also Luke's father. Who Luke had thought died before he was born. And now they were on separate sides of war with Vader ruling the Empire Luke was fighting to destroy as a Rebel.

His mother squeezed his hand. "I'm sorry I haven't been there for you during this period of transition," she said. "I hope your father hasn't been too overbearing."

"Heh."

"That bad?"

"He is . . . overwhelming at times." As well as overwhelming and terrifying.

"He has a good heart," she said.

Luke made sure his face didn't twist as he wondered if Vader really did have a good heart. He often wondered what his mother saw in him. A man who ruled and controlled such a cold and evil Empire. A man who had allowed the Death Star to be built.

"It's there," she said as if sensing Luke's thoughts. He wondered if perhaps she was Force sensitive. "You just have to look."

Luke gave her a smile, but it felt weak and unconvincing. But she smiled back and nodded.

"So I hear you are preparing for the announcement ball," Padme said and leaned back against the nest of pillows resting against the headboard.

Luke groaned and rolled his eyes. Finally, now he'd been here a month, Vader was going to publicly announce Luke as his long-lost son and heir. There would be a grand ball to go with the announcement. Luke was not looking forward to it. He had been forced to take etiquette lessons and dancing classes. He'd been poked and prodded with needles far too many times as the tailor prepared a whole new wardrobe for him. He told his mother all of his royal misadventures.

"Does it really matter how to sip wine?" Luke asked.

Padme smiled and was about to answer when the door slid open. Luke shivered as he felt the now familiar cold presence of Emperor Vader. The even sound of his respirator filled the room. His helmet tilted down to look at his family as he came to a stop at Padme's bedside.

Vader and Padme didn't share a room. Luke wasn't completely sure if it was because of his mother's illness or because of what hid behind Vader's suit. His mother had only mentioned it once. It was a life-support suit. Vader couldn't live without it. His black-gloved hand slowly moved and took Padme's. She smiled warmly up at him and squeezed his hand. The sharp coldness that generally rolled off Vader had disappeared.

If it wasn't for the black suit, this could look normal, touching moment between husband and wife. Vader's helmet turned to look at Luke.

"I would like to speak with you," he said in his deep booming voice.

Luke nodded. He gave his mother a small smile before he turned and walked to the door. However, as he reached it, he realized his father wasn't following. He turned around. Vader was holding Padme's hand in both of his. He was bent over. His mask lingering right by her face. Padme was looking up at him lovingly.

Luke's cheeks burned. He quickly turned around and left the room. He didn't have to wait long before Vader caught up to him. The sharp, clawing coldness had returned as well.

"I was told your lessons are progressing," Vader said as he looped his thumbs into his belt. Luke had come to recognize this as Vader's "relaxed" stance.

Luke didn't respond. He took a sharp breath instead. Was he becoming more of a prince? They had entered a luxurious sitting room. Floor-to-ceiling windows lined the back wall. Luke looked out at the sprawling cityscape and lines of traffic beyond.

"Can I ask you a question?" Luke said. He looked up at the fearsome mask. His father was silent for a short moment before he inclined his mask ever so slightly. "I asked P- Mother. She said that your suit is a life-support suit."

There was a slight pause before Vader answered. "It is," he rumbled.

"So you can't leave it?"

"Not unless I have suitable life-support equipment."

"So you . . . and mother . . . you don't actually touch . . ."

Luke heard the hitch in Vader's breathing. Clearly, this statement had caught Vader off guard.

"Sorry," Luke said looking away as his cheeks flushed with a fresh wave of heat. "I saw you two earlier and how you held hands . . . I just thought it would be better if you didn't have that suit on . . ."

A long awkward silence stretched out. Only Vader's even mechanical breathing broke it up.

"It would be better," Vader said at last. His voice felt softer. Sadder?

"Haven't you looked into . . . I don't . . . something else? Organ transplants? Cybernetics? Cloning? You're the Emperor. Surely there are medical advancements out there that can help you."

"There are not," Vader growled. The sudden change in tone felt like a mental whiplash. "I assure you, my son, I have looked into if not tried every procedure and surgery available. You think I wish to live like this?" Luke could hear the disgust dripping from Vader's voice. "Yet no matter what, it always fails and I am forced to continue living like this."

Luke didn't know what to say, so he looked away at the window. What had Vader looked like before? He had to be human. Luke was human, and he had been told he looked like his father. What had happened to put Vader in the suit?

"The preparations for the ball are continuing smoothly," Vader announced. He put a large, heavy hand on Luke's shoulder. "Soon the galaxy will bend its knee to you and recognize you as the prince you have always been."

Luke's lips formed a tight line. He wanted to frown. He didn't want to be the prince of the Empire. He knew he should smile, but couldn't bring himself to do it.

"Is that what you wanted to talk to me about?" Luke was ready for this father-son bonding to be over.

"No," Vader said. "Come. Follow me."

Luke followed Vader out of Padme's apartment. His guards returned to their post and followed him. Luke wondered why Vader didn't have guards following him. Then again,he probably didn't need any? They didn't have to go far, before they entered a new set of doors. Another apartment? The guards didn't follow.

The contrast in decoration between this apartment and the rest of the Imperial Palace was stark. Everything was in monochrome greys, blacks, and whites. Every now and then Luke would see a small bit of red. There were no decorations, it was all sharp and hard angles. It matched Vader perfectly. These must be his personal apartments.

Vader didn't pause as he moved past the entryway, through a large and rather empty sitting room, and down a hall. Luke quietly followed him. He glanced through any open doors they passed. He saw an office, what looked to be a mechanical workshop, a rather large empty room with a strange large sphere in it, and then there were a few closed doors until they came to the door at the end of the hall.

Luke followed Vader into a large, empty room that extended at least two stories up. The floor and walls were made out of metal paneling. Luke looked up at his father expectantly, but Vader wasn't looking at Luke. Instead, he marched over the wall to the right, which was just as bare and nondescript as the rest of the room. As Vader waved his hand, the panel slid open. Behind it were racks of lightsabers.

Vader reached in and pulled one out. Luke instantly recognized it.

"That's mine!" he said as he stepped forward, his hand out to grab it.

"It is mine," Vader corrected.

Luke's face twisted, but he relaxed as Vader held out the lightsaber to his son.

"It was mine," Vader said. "It now belongs to you." Luke eyed the weapon. "Take it," his father ordered.

Luke slowly took it out of Vader's hand, grabbing it with both hands. The metal felt good. He ignited the blue blade and waved it around.

"This is a training room," Vader said.

He used the Force to casually close the panel with a wave of his hand. With another wave, two panels on the other wall slid open to reveal military-grade droids. They turned on, their eyes glowing, and marched into the room.

"I . . ." Vader started, but then stopped. Luke looked up at him. Vader's mask faced Luke. He could his father's eyes on him. "Did you wish to train?" Vader asked. "In how to use your lightsaber properly?"

Luke blinked. Had he heard Vader correctly? Had it even been Vader that had asked that question? His voice had sounded off. But there was no one else here. Unless one of the droids had said it. Luke looked back down at his still-lit lightsaber.

"Sure," he said.


"Listen, Kid," Han said, pulling at the tight Imperial-styled collar of his all-black suit. "I tried being an Imperial once before. It didn't work out for me well that time, and I don't see it workin' out for me this time either."

"It was either this or prison," Luke said as he pulled at his own outfit. It was the fanciest thing he had ever worn. It was made of fine materials in black, silver, and with a few accents of bright red. Han had said he now looked like a real prince.

"Isn't this just a fancy prison?" Han muttered.

"I am sure Emperor Vader could easily arrange for you to go to the not-fancy prison."

Han paused for a moment. Vader had allowed him freedom if the smuggler swore his allegiance to the Empire. "Nah," he said. "And miss this party? No way."

"You actually want to go?" Luke asked. Han shot him a sly devilish smile. "Han," Luke said.

"Listen, my intuition says this party might get real excitin'. That's all."

Luke frowned. "Exciting how?"

"I don't know," Han said with a shrug. "Maybe a certain Alderaan princess might be in attendance." Han wagged his eyebrows at Luke, who rolled his eyes. "Chewie would just stick out too much, but I know that big oaf is on this planet, plotting a dozen different ways to break us out of here."

Luke looked down at his hands. Isn't that what he wanted? He didn't want to be a prince or heir to the empire. He felt so awkward and out of place already and the only person here was Han. Didn't he want to go back to the Alliance?

He recalled his mother's warm smile. His father's awkward attempts at bonding, usually through lightsaber training. His mother had been right. There was still some good left in the man who was once Anakin Skywalker, but it took a lot of work to dig past Vader's shields. Luke didn't know what he wanted anymore.

"Well, I'm going to go out there and check who's here," Han said as he smoothed out his suit. He nodded, gave Luke a big smile, and walked out the door.

Luke went over to one of the large sofas and sat down. This was the same room where he'd met his parents for the first time; the dark large room at the end of the VIP hallway that secretly looked out at the ballroom below. The ballroom was filled with people, and Luke wondered if perhaps Leia really was in attendance down there.

He heard the door behind him slide open. and the all too familiar clacking of the guards' boots as they walked to their position by the back walk. Once they stopped, he heard soft steps and the rustling of fabric slowly approach him. He turned and smiled weakly as his mother rounded the coach. She smiled back and took a seat next to him.

She was dressed in a beautiful white and gold gown. There was a cream-colored cape with a high collar that sat on her shoulders. Gold details in swirling patterns were sewn onto it. The dress was white with matching gold designs from the cape. As the dress flowed to the floor, Luke noticed there was some subtle design in the fabric in slight matte white.

Her hair was curled up into an elaborate braided bun. White crystals sparkled in a gold headpiece that stood out against her brown hair. It wrapped around her head with pieces that looked think of feathers that dropped down by her ears. She looked every bit an empress, and he realized she would stand out against Vader; she dressed in white and gold, and him in his harsh suit.

"Nervous?" Padme asked.

Luke nodded. Padme reached over and grabbed his head.

"I did try to talk him out of it," she said. "I said it was too soon. You still needed to adjust, but . . . he's stubborn and determined. He's waited a long time for this. For you. His son." She squeezed his hand. "He's loved you ever since there was a you to love. I hope you know that. He just wants to make up for all the lost time he never had with you. And he wants the galaxy to know you're his son. He's very proud of that. Proud of you."

Luke felt his cheeks burning and looked away.

"I'm very proud of you," she added, giving his hand another squeeze. "And if you wish to step back, you still can. It isn't too late. I'll support whatever decision you make. I'll help you tell him if need to."

His head snapped back to her. His mouth was slightly open. She knew. She knew how he felt.

"I . . ." He took a steadying breath. "I don't know. I don't know what I want anymore. I don't think I could make a good prince, but . . . I still . . . I still want to be your son. And I don't know how to balance that out."

Her smile grew. "Luke, you will always be our son. That will never change."

He smiled back at her and tried to collect his thoughts, just when the door opened again. Luke tensed up, ready for Vader to stroll in, but it wasn't him. He smiled as he recognized Sabe. She was wearing a navy blue gown with silvery-blue lace on top. The shoulders and short sleeves were nothing but lace and a lace cape flowed all the down to the floor. Her hair was swirled up and pinned with a few blue lace flowers and silver pins. She walked around the couch and bowed deeply.

"Your majesty," she said to Padme. Then she bowed to Luke. "Your highness."

"Oh, please, don't call me that," Luke stuttered.

"Yet," Sabe said, smiling as she straightened up. "I suppose it is a bit premature, but you best get used to it. You'll be hearing it all night after the proclamation."

Padme squeezed his hand again. He looked at her and could see her offer still lingered in her eyes. Luke nodded at her and squeezed her hand back.

It was then that Vader arrived. A coldness seeped into the air the moment the door slid open. His steps were large and heavy as he made his way over. Luke was surprised to see Vader had dressed up, at least as much as he could. He still wore his suit, but the shoulder armor had gold detailing. His tabards, which were usually black and blended in with the suit, were of a much finer fabric with gold trim. His cape was heavier and looked nicer. A thick gold border rimmed the bottom with a few gold designs, accented with red gems.

"So you do have something else besides plain black in your closet," Sabe said waving her hand at Vader. "Black with a bit of gold."

Vader's helmet had first looked at Padme then to Luke, then it snapped to Sabe. Luke noticed the tension within Vader had sharpened as he focused in on her. Only then Sabe bowed, but not as low or genuine as she had for Luke and Padme.

"Your majesty," she said.

There was an awkward static noise from Vader. A grunt? A huff? It was hard to tell. "Sabe," Vader greeted.

She straightened back up and stood fearlessly looking at the Emperor. Luke was always impressed with how bold she was around him.

"My Emperor," she said in a light voice. "I am glad you're here."

"What is it you want?" Vader barked, his deep voice booming.

"I was hoping to borrow your son," Sabe said, nodding at Luke.

Vader's helmet turned to look down at him. "No," he said.

She rolled her eyes. "I just wanted to take him down to the ballroom. It would be good for him to see this world before everyone knows his face and name. To see who changes their behavior toward him most once they know his importance."

There was a pause as Vader considered her words.

"If Luke doesn't object," Padme said, her voice so quiet and soft compared to the other two, "I think that would be good for him. Of course, you can stay here if you want."

You could stay and talk to your father, were the words that went unsaid.

Everyone was looking at him, waiting for his response.

"I think I would like to go with Sabe," he said looking up at his father.

Sabe smiled with approval. "That would mean without the guards," she added.

"Absolutely not," Vader growled, turning his attention back onto her.

"The point is to go in unnoticed. He can't do that with guards in bright red armor trailing him. You can stay up here and watch him. Have the guards behind the door."

A tense and cold silence fell between them. He felt his mother shiver beside him. Vader's helmet slowly turned to look down at Luke. He looked into his father's black lenses knowing he was looking into his eyes. Luke nodded. He wanted to do this. He needed to know he could do this. He still had some control over his life.

There was the slightest tilt of Vader's helmet before he looked back at Sabe. "You will be at his side the entire time," he said as he pointed a gloved finger at her. "I will be watching from here. The guards will be on alert. If anything happens to him-"

"Yes, yes," Sabe interrupted. "It'll finally give you an excuse to slice my head off."

Padme stiffened and a frown instantly formed on her face.

"Go," Vader said, waving his hand in the air.

Luke got up and followed Sabe out. When he reached the door, he turned to look back. Vader had knelt down to one knee and had grabbed Padme's hands. A soft pain blossomed in Luke's heart. He turned away letting his parents have their moment and followed Sabe down the hall, past the other VIP rooms, and down the long staircase.

They entered the crowded ballroom. Instantly, Luke felt eyes on him. No doubt it was his father watching from behind the hidden windows. Luke glanced up to the wall where he knew the windows were, but was amazed at how well they were camouflaged. Sabe looped her arm through Luke's. She pointed out people of importance, speaking quietly:. "That's General Tagge," she said, nodding to an Imperial officer. "He was on the Death Star, but had the sense to leave before you shot it down."

"Wait, how did you know it was me?" Luke said.

"Of course it was you. Who else could it have been? That smuggler friend of yours, who's lingering by the bar?"

Luke craned his neck to try and look at the bar, but it was blocked by people.

"That's Admiral Ozzel. He originally gained his position through Palpatine. I'm surprised he's lasted as long as he has under Vader. We both know Vader does not like incompetent and weak leaders. General Veers is the one over there, talking to Captain Piett. Unlike Ozzel, who comes from a well-known family, these two have earned their positions through their own merits."

There was a flash of red. Luke tilted his head and saw her. He instantly recognized her. The red-head he had seen when he was waiting in line with Sabe at the previous ball. The one who had looked at him with such hate. She took a sip from a martini glass when she turned her head and looked directly at Luke. She smiled at him, and Luke couldn't help but smile back.

But then he lost her as Sabe pulled him onward, and the crowd thickened again. He had stopped paying attention to Sabe, as he tried to catch a glimpse at the red-head.

"And that horrible creature is Doctor Cylo," Sabe muttered. "Your mother tells me he is the one behind your father's suit. She obviously doesn't think highly of him."

Luke looked at the man with the cybernetic eye who was chatting to a woman.

"Standing next to him is Moff Tarkin," she continued. "The daughter of the late Grand Moff who was in control of the Death Star. He was the one who ordered it to blow up Alderaan without your father's approval. Honestly, I think Vader had returned to the Death Star to kill Tarkin, but then he got distracted with some rebels showing up."

She smiled and winked at him. Luke couldn't help but wonder how much Sabe knew. How well connected was she to the Rebellion?

"Excuse me," a voice said.

The breath was stolen right out of Luke as he looked up into a pair of brilliant green eyes. It was her. The red-headed girl. She wore her hair long and loose. She had a long black dress that was tight at the top and then flowed out into a large skirt. It was a simple gown, but she made the outfit.

"I couldn't help but notice all those stares you've been shooting my way," she said. "Care for a dance?"

Luke could feel the tips of his ears burning. He wasn't sure how long he stood there looking like a fish out of water before Sabe spoke up.

"He would love to," she said as she gave him a small push.

He stumbled forward. The girl was holding out her hand expectantly, and he took it. She smiled as her hand tightened around his. They moved through the crowd to the dance floor in the corner by the band. She moved with grace as she assumed an opening position with her hand on his hip.

"I only just learned how to dance," he admitted as he took the lead. He knew his footwork was sloppy.

"You're not too bad," she said. "I've danced with worse."

"I, uh, didn't catch your name."

"Mara. Mara Jade."

"Luke," he said.

"And what brings you here to this ball, farmboy?"

Luke misstepped. "Farm- farmboy? How did you know?"

Mara laughed. "Oh, that was just a guess! But are you really?"

His cheeks burned red. They continued to dance until the song ended, and then . They traded small talk while they did, and Luke's smile grew and grew. His eyes couldn't stop looking at her dazzling green eyes. As the second dance ended, she leaned forward and kissed his cheek. Heat exploded on his cheek and rushed through the rest of his body.

"Looks like you could use some fresh air," Mara said with a twinkle in her eye.

Luke nodded as he let himself be led off the dance floor to the back wall, where the large multi-story windows were. The lower windows also functioned as doors, that opened onto a balcony overlooking a garden. They weren't alone. Other guests were out there also enjoying the fresh air.

"You never did tell me what you were doing here? You were at the last ball, too. Got to skip in line."

"I recall you glaring at me," Luke said.

"I had been standing there for an hour and you waltz up and walked right past the line," she said. "So how does a farmboy get direct access into the exclusive royal area of the ballroom?"

"It wasn't me," he said. "It was . . . my . . . the lady I was with. It was all her."

"Mmhmm," she said. She looked over her shoulder. "Speaking of which, she is coming right at us."

Luke looked over his shoulder. He could see through the windows Sabe was indeed making her way through the crowd directly for them. Behind her, he could see the crowd parting for two red royal guards. Luke moaned. Mara grabbed his hand and the two were suddenly running across the balcony, down the steps, and into the gardens. They ducked into the hedges as Sabe and the guards rushed onto the balcony.

"Luke!" Sabe shouted as she looked this way and that. The guards marched down the balcony and the guests scattered.

"Come on," Mara whispered as she pulled Luke along the path. They were both hunched over, to avoid being seen.

"Mara, I don't think-"

She spun around, grabbed his face, and kissed him. His eyes widened and he froze. But it didn't last long, until he melted into her and enjoyed the feel of her lips on his. She pulled away with a wicked smile.

"Want more of that? Then let's go."

They snuck deeper and deeper into the garden, far away from the ball, until they came across a small artificial lake. They crossed a bridge to the small island that sat in the middle. There wasn't much to it. A few trees, flower bushes, and a single bench. Luke tried to relax, but the hairs on the back of his neck were standing on end. There was a coldness growing behind him. Somehow his father was angry.

"So . . ." Luke said awkwardly, not even able to look at Mara. The cold was growing worse. He sighed. "Listen, Mara. I need to go back."

He finally looked up at her and paused. The warm smiling face he had seen all night was completely gone. Her face was hard and sharp with a fierce scowl. He could feel the anger rolling off of her.

"What's wrong?" he asked.

She let out a sharp hiss. The hairs on the back of Luke's neck stood on end. Something heavy was pulling at his heart.

"You have absolutely no idea, do you?" she growled.

"Did I . . . Do something . . . Wrong?" His mind was racing over everything they had done tonight. Had he stepped on her toes? Maybe his hand brushed alongside a more sensitive area? He had no idea why she was so angry at him.

She straightened up and held her chin up high. Her green eyes glared down at him.

"Luke Skywalker." The last word dripped with disgust. Even her face twisted while saying it. A fresh chill ran through Luke.

"How do you know my name?" he asked.

"I've known your name since the moment you blew up the Death Star."

There was a ringing noise in his ears. Everything in him had gone tense.

"How- how do you know that?" Was she a member of the Alliance? Was Han right? Was Leia or the Alliance planning on breaking Luke and Han out?

"My master does thank you for destroying it so it was no longer in the hands of that traitor. Vader never supported or wanted the Death Star. He stole it like he stole everything else! He only used it to keep certain officers in line. It was my master who whispered to Erso and that rebel pilot about the plans. He would not have his masterpiece fall in the hands of Vader. And who would have guessed Vader's long lost brat would have been the one to deliver the lucky shot?"

Luke was silent. His hands ached for a blaster or his lightsaber. He had neither. This wasn't about some social faux paus. She'd hated him all along. That was why she had glared at him at the first ball. She knew. She knew who he was.

"Who are you?" Luke asked. "Who is your master?"

"My name is Mara Jade," she said. He couldn't explain it, but there was a note of truth in her words. "My master is Darth Sidious, though you might know him better as Emperor Sheev Palpatine."

She bent over, reached into her skirt and pulled out a lightsaber. Luke did not know where or how she was keeping it under her skirt. The lightsaber hilt was smaller than his or his father's. It was made from a light-colored silver with gold swirls on it. It looked fancier. More elegant. She activated it, and the red blade snapped out. It hummed as she slightly waved it back and forth as she looked up at it.

"Your father killed him," she said. "He finally decided to be a real Sith. My master can't fault him for that. It is the apprentice's fate to eventually kill the master, but my master had never planned on dying." She lowered the blade and looked at Luke. "He planned on living forever. He would be the ultimate power in this galaxy, this universe. His plans on achieving such immortality were not yet completed when Vader struck. But my master did not go easily or quickly.

"My master threw himself into the Force. He summoned the power and the Dark Side to him. He formed a pact with his very soul. He would not rest until he had his revenge against the one who had killed him. Vader would die a slow and painful death. His body would constantly fail him until he was nothing but a mind in a broken husk."

Was that . . . was that why nothing had worked in healing Vader? There was some . . . curse?

"But," Mara sighed, "there is always a catch to these things. The Dark Side agreed to this curse only if it consumed all of the Chosen One's bloodline. And with it, it would grant my master his life again. However, my master didn't know at the time that you had lived."

"Wait, but what-"

"Ugh! Your ignorance is aggravating! Your father, Anakin Skywalker, is the Chosen One! And with you alive the curse couldn't be completed. Vader still lives in somewhat decent health."

"And my blood must be consumed for Vader to die," Luke said slowly.

"Glad you caught on quickly," she purred.

"You're here to kill me."

She smiled. "If I had wanted to kill you, farmboy, you would be dead by now. Alas, my master wanted to save such a task for himself."

"Your master . . . but Palpatine is dead! You said so yourself."

"I also said he would not rest until he's had his revenge. He's been living in limbo all these years, eagerly waiting for when the curse could be completed."

"What are you even talking about?"

The lightsaber snapped off. Mara let out a scream as she held out both hands. The lightsaber hilt floated right in front of them. Slowly, piece by piece, the lightsaber rotated and separated into floating pieces. In the middle was a glowing red crystal. There was something wrong about that crystal. There was a coldness coming from it, sharp and oily. A nasty feeling seemed to ooze from it.

Suddenly, it began to glow brighter and brighter. Luke had to shut his eyes. The bright red light only lasted a moment, before it died down. Luke opened his eyes and a hunched over man stood between him and Mara. He wore black robes with a hood pulled over his face. Luke could just make out white skin that seemed off and disfigured as if it hung in clumps of the man's skull. Gold eyes glowed in the depths of the hood.

"We meet at last," the man said in a rasping voice. "Luke Skywalker, your Imperial highness. Look at what the years have done to us. You are a vibrant youth, and me . . ." The old man waved at himself. "A rotting corpse!"

Was this . . .

"Sheev Palpatine?" Luke asked.

"Sheev Palpatine," the man responded in a mocking tone, but it quickly turned into a hiss. "You shall call me Emperor, boy! Destroyed by your despicable family! But . . . what goes around comes around, and around and around . . ."

The former Emperor raised his hands and bright blue lightning zapped out of it. It struck Luke, and he immediately fell to the ground screaming in pain. He could hear the Emperor laughing through it all. The lightning stopped. Luke heaved in deep breaths of air. His body screamed in pain. There was a burnt smell in the air. He grit his teeth and glared up at Palpatine. He slowly pushed himself to his feet.

"I am not afraid of you," Luke grunted.

"I can fix that!" Palpatine said with a twisted smile. Lightning shot out of his hands again. Though he had tried to prepare himself for the onslaught, he still fell to his knees screaming. "Say your prayers, young Skywalker! No one can save you!"

"Want to bet?" a deep voice boomed.

The lightning stopped and Luke recovered just in time to see Palpatine thrown to the ground. He hissed as he pushed himself up. There was the snap-hiss of a lightsaber igniting, and Luke looked up to see his father marching towards him, his free hand raised in a curled fist at the Emperor. Vader stopped as he took a protective stance in front of his son.

"How endearing," Sidious rasped. "Together again for the last time!"

The lightning came again, but this time Vader blocked it with his lightsaber. The blue bolts crashed against the blade.

"Luke," Vader said, his voice strained. "Go!"

Luke crawled backwards. He didn't want to leave. He had to help. But he . . . He had no weapon. What was he going to do?

"Go!" Vader bellowed.

Luke climbed to his feet. He glanced at the small bridge and the palace beyond the garden. The windows still shone with golden lights. There was a sharp pressure. A warning. Luke jumped just as a red light flashed at him. Mara screamed. The silver and gold lightsaber was one piece again and she was stabbing it at him.

"Luke!" Vader shouted.

It was the distraction Palpatine needed. A single bolt of lightning slipped past Vader's saber and struck him. He let out a pained shout and his saber lowered. The lightning now freely hit Vader all over.

"Long live the Emperor," Palpatine laughed. "Love live the Skywalkers!"

Luke dodged another blow, but he wasn't going to be able to keep this up. Not without . . . He saw his father's lightsaber laying on the ground right next to his hand. Please, Luke whispered to the Force. He reached out for it. Not just with his hand, but with the Force. Please, he repeated. Come to me!

The saber rattled. He wasn't looking at Mara, but knew she was coming. He could feel her determination. Her hatred. Her bloodlust. It was all aimed at him.

"Farewell, farmboy!" she shouted as she swung her blade down.

Please!

The saber shot across the grass and into Luke's hand. He managed to catch Mara's blade just in time.

"That won't save you," she growled as she put her weight behind her blade pushing the two lightsabers closer to Luke.

"Maybe not in the end," Luke growled back. "But it might help."

A surge of adrenaline pulsed through him. He threw himself forward and pushed Mara off of him. He briefly looked over his shoulder to see Palpatine still shooting lightning at Vader. This wasn't good. Luke needed to go to his father's aid, but Mara was coming at him again. He blocked her blow and pushed her blade aside. He swung his blade at her, she parried, he dodged, and just like that they were dancing again. This, however, wasn't the joyful dance of two blushing partygoers. No, this was a much deadlier dance. It was one Luke didn't want to be a part of. He could feel his father's pain. He let out a frustrated shout as he ducked under Mara's arm and slashed up. When his saber slashed through her hand and the hilt of her lightsaber, she screamed. The lightsaber hit the ground with a loud thud.

That was when Luke noticed the silence. There was no lightning. No cruel laughing. No screaming. He looked up. Palpatine was glaring at him . . . No, not at him. He was glaring at the lightsaber that was now missing a small chunk on the end. Luke bent down and picked it up before Mara or Palpatine could grab it.

"No!" Palpatine hissed. He rushed over, toward Luke. It was almost comical looking.

The other lightsaber felt so cold in Luke's hand. He wanted to drop it. It felt so twisted.

"I will rip you apart, boy!" Palpatine shouted as he quickly approached.

Luke looked at the lightsaber in his hand, then at Palpatine, then at his father, and eventually at Mara who was cradling her injured hand to her chest.

"Skywalker!" Palpatine screamed. His steps away. His hands were out ready to grab the lightsaber. Why hadn't he just zapped him? Why . . .

He wasn't sure if it was the Force, but suddenly it clicked; he knew what he had to do. Without hesitation, he tossed the lightsaber in the air. Then with a swift and smooth slash, he cut it in half with his father's red lightsaber. His aim was true. He cut right through the middle of the red crystal in the center.

Palpatine screamed as he fell to his knees. Red glowing lines started to crawl all over his body as if he was cracking. Then suddenly the red light consumed him, but the screaming didn't stop. As the light died down, all that was left was a skeleton that soon faded away into dust. All that was left was a black robe.

Mara let out a pained and angry sob. Luke ignored her.

"Father!" he shouted as he ran over to Vader's side.

Vader's breathing wasn't its normal strong repetitive rasp. It was uneven.

"Luke," Vader said softly. "You . . . You are . . . fine . . ."

"Yes," Luke said. He grabbed his father's large hand and held it in both of his. The lightsaber lay forgotten next to him, in the grass. "Don't worry. I'm going to go get help. You'll be ok."

"Luke . . ."

"Just wait here," Luke said as he stood up. He let Vader's hand slip through his. "I'll be right back."

"Luke!"

Time slowed to a crawl as he watched Mara run at him. Her hand held Vader's saber she had used the Force to summon. It was lit and aimed right at Luke and Vader. They were both going to die . . . Luke ran forward and leapt. The red blade sliced easily into him. The last thing he saw was an explosion of red and the last thing he heard was his name being screamed across the stars.


Luke followed the two handmaidens down the hall. His royal guards followed quietly behind. He had made this trek so many times now, it felt like he had worn a path into the fine rugs and tiles. He could walk this route in his sleep. He soon entered his mother's apartment. His guards and even the handmaidens fell away as he approached his mother's bedroom. He paused in the doorway.

Padme was in bed, which was now surrounded by various medical machines. Tubes and wires came out of the machines and were attached to his mother. Standing next to the bed holding her hand was Darth Vader. But no longer did he wear the dreaded mask. His head was completely visible. It was pale and scared. A clear breathing mask sat over his mouth and nose.

Palpatine's curse had been lifted. Vader was finally able to heal, but sadly Padme's health had taken a turn for the worse over the past few weeks. Was she also affected by the curse? If so, why was she weakening?

Vader stiffened as he straightened up. He looked over his shoulder at Luke, who smiled shyly as he walked over.

"Luke," his mother said in a soft voice, barely more than a whisper.

She pulled her hand out of Vader's and Luke took it. It was soft, but also cold. Padme looked up at Vader and gave him a slight nod. He frowned, but then bowed his head. He gave Luke's shoulder a quick squeeze before he left without saying a word.

"I wanted to talk to you," Padme said.

"Are you feeling up to it?" Luke asked.

She closed her eyes. Luke watched her chest rising and falling. He thought she'd fallen asleep, but then her eyes opened again.

"It doesn't matter," she said. "There are some things that must be said. Things you must know, Luke."

He couldn't help but frown as something cold wrapped around his heart. He didn't like hearing her talk like this.

"I'm afraid," she continued, "I haven't been very truthful with your father. Even now . . . Even now I cannot bring myself to reveal what I have done. I do not think he would forgive me."

Luke shuffled closer to the bed. Padme paused as she looked up at her son.

"Luke . . . I . . . I lied to your father, or from a certain point of view, I simply did not tell him the truth. The whole truth about you and your birth." He squeezed her hand tighter. "Your father he . . . he had fallen to the Dark Side. Betrayed the Republic by joining with Palpatine. He had . . . done . . . so many unforgivable things . . . But at the time, please know this Luke, at the time I could not believe it. The Anakin Skywalker I knew would have never done those things. So when I learned the Jedi were hunting him . . . were going to kill him . . . I went to him to warn him. I did not know that the Jedi had stolen aboard my ship. When Va- when your father saw, he was overcome with a vicious rage like I have never seen. He . . . attacked me . . . thinking I had betrayed him . . ."

"He did what?" Luke asked.

She took a deep breath. "It's in the past."

"It is not in the past! He attacked you!"

"And he has regretted it ever since and has apologized a thousand times over. Yes, he attacked me, while I was pregnant. I could have held on to that bitterly, to my hatred of what he had done, but I chose to let it go. I didn't want to become what your father has become."

Luke nodded slowly. He understood and was amazed at his mother, at how she could continue to love and stand by this man.

"The Jedi and Vader dueled, and Vader lost and was gravely injured. The Jedi returned to me and brought me to a nearby med center. They induced labor fearing for my health and that of my unborn child. It was . . . So hard . . . I fought to hang on. But I could not. I died on that table moments after you were born. And yet, somehow . . . I survived. I was in and out of consciousness for five years.

"Meanwhile your father thought I had died by his hand . . . And somehow he discovered I still lived . . . there was nothing in this galaxy that was going to stop him from finding me . . . And he did . . . He brought me here. Placed me with the best doctors this galaxy could find. For a long time, he didn't speak to me. The only sound I heard of him was his breathing. Until one day, months, perhaps years later, he finally asked what had happened . . . what had happened to our baby. I could feel his guilt. He knew the reason for my current state was from what he had done, and he also thought our baby's life was gone due to him."

She leaned back and closed her eyes. "I couldn't lie to him. He would know. Somehow he would know . . ." She opened her eyes and looked up at her son. "I had to tell him, Luke. Please forgive me. I had to tell him I gave birth and that our child lived. We had a son. And of course, he wanted to know where our son was. I told him you were taken . . . by the Jedi who attacked him and had taken me to the med center . . . "

"Ben . . . " Luke whispered.

"Vader was determined to find you. I think that learning you were alive was the push he needed to finally get rid of Palpatine. Once he assumed the throne, he started his search in earnest. And well . . . then you came to us."

Luke smiled.

"I knew," she said. "I knew the moment I saw you. Hearing your name only confirmed what I already knew in my heart. I am so glad you found us. I am so proud of you Luke. You have become such an extraordinary young man."

Pressure was building behind Luke's eyes. He blinked, trying to avoid crying, but his eyes were getting watery.

"But I lied," Padme said. "I didn't tell him, Luke . . . Forgive me. Please, forgive me."

He shook his head. He didn't understand.

"I had to choose," she said. Tears were now running down her face. "I had to pick which child to tell him about, knowing I could keep the other a secret. Keep them safe."

Luke furrowed his brow. What was she talking about?

"I feared . . . I feared the worst if either of you were found, especially from Palpatine. And even after he died, I could have told your father . . . but he was still the same . . . still so cold . . . Until you came . . . oh if I had known what change you would have brought!"

"What do you mean either of us? Is there . . . another . . .?"

She nodded her head. "Yes, Luke. You are a twin. You have a sister. A twin sister."

"A twin sister . . ."

"Please, forgive me . . . That I revealed you instead of her . . . but . . . I knew you were well hidden . . . You had a chance to stay that way. I feared what would happen if Vader or Palpatine discovered your sister . . ."

"You know where she is?" Luke asked. Hope filled his heart.

"Yes," Padme said with a smile. "I knew it the moment I first heard her name. And I had to make the painful decision to keep her hidden. I never revealed myself to her, nor did I ever tell your father of her existence. I thought it was for the best. She . . . she was happy and well cared for."

"That's good," Luke said softly.

"She is Princess Leia Organa of Alderaan."

For a second, everything stopped. Even time seemed to freeze around those words. Then it all slammed into him. The lights, no, the stars, no, the galaxy itself spun around him. Leia . . . Leia! Leia was his sister! The galaxy stopped as things fell into their rightful place including the fact that he and Leia were twins.

"Bail Organa was a close friend of mine," Padme said. "He and his wife wanted a baby, but couldn't conceive. I am glad he took Leia in and cared for her. But you see now, why I did not reveal her. If your father found her on Alderaan . . . Bail . . . Breha . . . possibly even the whole planet would have felt his wrath. And she was so close. Bail was still a senator of a core world, and later Leia took up that role as well." Padme paused as she smiled. "I am surprised your father never realized who she was."

A small silence fell between them.

"Luke," Padme said. "I am a horrible mother."

"No! No, you're not a horrible mother! You did what you thought was right. I don't hate you for that."

She smiled weakly at him.

"You do not need to defend me," she said. "I know what I have done, but I am glad to have your forgiveness. But, Luke . . . Leia . . . She is here. She needs your help."

"What do you mean?"

"She showed up at the ball. Tried to get your friend out, and got captured by the guards."

Han had been right. Luke could see it now. Leia sliding up to him in a fancy ball gown. Slipping him a small blaster she had strapped to her leg. The two tried to walk out, but the guards stopped them. They both pulled out their blasters and started to fire, only to be overwhelmed and stunned.

"Where is she?"

His mother smiled and this time it was wide and strong.


Leia and Han still wore their ball outfits, though they were now wrinkled. Perhaps they should find a change of clothes. The outfits stood out too much. However, it didn't matter. They had taken the lift out of the detention center, but when the doors opened up, Emperor Darth Vader met them with a squad of stormtroopers.

"Darth Vader," Leia growled.

"Who helped you slip your guards?" Vader asked Luke, completely ignoring Leia.

Luke didn't want to tell his father that his mother's handmaidens had helped him.

"Take them," Vader barked, waving at Leia and Han.

Luke threw himself in between Leia and the troopers. "No!" he shouted.

"Stand down," Vader said. A sharp cold was spreading through the hall. "Leia Organa is a wanted fugitive, traitor, and known rebel."

"And?" Luke asked. "So am I!"

"You were."

He could feel Leia behind him. Unlike Vader, who was nothing but an inky coldness, Leia was a burning fire of determination and fearlessness.

"What do you plan to do with her?" Luke asked.

"Execute me?" Leia demanded. Luke wasn't looking, but knew she was giving Vader a death glare.

"It is befitting of your crime," Vader said. "Now step aside, Luke."

Luke took a deep breath. "No," he said. The coldness spiked and worsened all around him. He took a deep breath. "Father," he said. Leia flinched behind him. "If you can pardon my crimes, you can pardon Leia's."

"I will not."

"Why?"

Leia said, "Luke, you do not need to defend me from him. I am a rebel and a traitor."

"She admits it herself," Vader said satisfied. "She will be dealt like the pathetic scum she is."

Luke rushed forward and grabbed Vader's arm. The cold suddenly seemed to ease away. Vader looked down at Luke's hand.

"Father," Luke said softly. "You can't do this."

There was a slight pause before Vader answered. "I can," he said.

"Father . . . Please . . . for me."

"I spared your smuggler friend, and look how he has repaid your kindness. He attempted to run back to the rebels."

Luke took a deep breath. "Father," he said. His voice was calm and even. "Leia is my sister."

Chapter Text

1.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke felt the color drain from his face as he was introduced to the other Jedi.

"Luke," Leia began. "This is Galen Marek."

There were . . . There were others?

"This is Ezra Bridger," Leia said as she casually waved at the second young man.

Pressure was building up behind his eyes. He blinked a few times to chase the tears away. He wouldn't get emotional.

"Then this is Kal Kestis and Cere Junda," Leia continued. This time she waved at the older man with the red hair and scars on his face and a small droid hanging on his back. A dark skin woman stood next to him.

"Of course you know Ahsoka," Leia said.

"Not officially a Jedi," Ahsoka said.

"You're not fooling anyone by saying that," Galen muttered.

"I . . . uh . . ." Luke said. "I don't . . ."

It was Ezra who walked up to him and placed a hand on Luke's shoulder. "You don't have to say anything," he said softly. "We understand. It's going to be fine. You're not alone."

Luke swallowed, smiled, and nodded. "Can you excuse me? For a moment?"

Ezra smiled and nodded and Luke quietly ducked out of the room. He dashed down the hall and into a quiet closet.

Father, Luke said as he reached out into the Force far more cautiously than he had ever before. Father?

Yes, Luke? came his father's response. Slowly the blue ghost of Anakin Skywalker appeared.

I met the Jedi. There are five of them.

Good. They will guide and train you well. More so than I can. With them, you can finally kill the Emperor.


2.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke grit his teeth. "Rumor has it," he said, "you killed my mother too."

"That is an interesting rumor," Darth Vader said. His voice was deep and penetrating. He clasped his hand behind his back and turned towards the large circular window that stood behind the throne. "Especially since it was never a rumor to begin with."

"What are you even talking about?" Luke snapped. He rubbed his hands where the binders had bitten into his skin. He briefly glanced down at them still laying open on the floor at his feet.

Vader had been quiet as he looked out the window. It was night outside and Luke could make out the twinkling lights of the skyscrapers of Imperial Center over Vader's shoulder.

"The number of people who actually know who your mother was is very limited," Vader said. "I don't even think your guardians on Tatooine knew who she was. And I was sure all who knew that secret," Vader turned around and faced Luke. His blue eyes piercing into him like shards of ice, "were dead. I am interested to know where you heard it from."

Luke swallowed and tried to get rid of the lump in his throat. Another long thick silence stretched across the throne room. Vader slowly walked down the steps and stopped directly in front of Luke. He towered over Luke and made him feel small and exposed.

"And you know the most interesting part?" Vader said. His voice was lower. Closer to a whisper. "Is that rumor is completely wrong." Luke glared up at Vader. "Isn't that right, my love?" Vader asked as he looked over his shoulder to look at his wife, Empress Amidala, who sat quiet and still on the throne.


3.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Finally, Darth Vader, Emperor of the Galaxy, walked into his home.
(This ficlet is set in my Runaway ficverse. Just know that Vader is the suitless Emperor and he is raising Luke.)

He was finally back home after his mission to Giltamor. Despite arriving at Coruscant hours ago, Vader had several pressing matters to attend to before he finally made it to his palace. To his son. Now it was well into the night. Vader's little toddler had long since been put to bed.

However, he still entered the nursery next to his bedroom. He looked down into the crib to see his baby fast asleep. He sighed. A smile tugged on his lips. He was tempted to scoop the baby into his arms but knew dealing with a cranky toddler was not for the best. So he left the nursery empty-handed and went into his own room. He showered and dressed for bed.

He had just started to doze off when he became aware of something off. There was a pressure. As he became more awake, he realized it was something in the Force. Like something tapping against a window. Then he heard the sounds. Soft sounds. Vader rolled over and could just see the blond hair poking out over the edge of the bed and small hands trying to grab at the bedsheets.

"Luke?" Vader called as he sat up.

"Dada! Dada!"

Vader leaned over. Indeed, his son was standing next to the bed trying to climb up. But he was too little to do so. His face was pulled into a pout as he kept trying to climb the bed.

"Dada! Dada up! Up! Dada!" Luke cried.

Vader raised his hand, and with it summoned the Force. He wrapped it gently around his son and raised the baby into the air. Luke wiggled. The moment he touched the bed, he crawled right over to his father. He wrapped his small arms around Vader's neck and buried his face into his shoulder. Vader couldn't help but smile as he wrapped his arms around his son. He kissed Luke's forehead. Luke quickly settled down and it wasn't long before the little boy was fast asleep.

Vader gently stroked the soft downy hair. A small smile was on his lips as he started to drift back to sleep. But then he suddenly snapped awake as a thought came to him. How did Luke get into my room? Vader thought. Luke had been in the nursery in his crib. A nanny droid stood active in the corner in case anything was needed during the night. He would have to ask the droid in the morning. For now, he let himself drift to sleep.

He awoke in the morning to a pool of drool on his bare chest. He regretted not sleeping in a nightshirt last night, but hadn't planned on Luke sleeping with him. There was also the smell. He had not missed that smell. Luke stirred. He slowly sat up and rubbed his eyes.

"Good morning, Luke," Vader said gently brushing the baby's hair from his face.

Luke blinked as he woke up.

"Smells like I have a poopy baby," Vader said as he sat up and got out of bed. Luke stood up and waddled to the side of the bed. His hands up in the familiar gesture of wanting to be held. Vader picked him up.

"No poopy," Luke said as Vader started to walk across the room to the door.

"Mmm, yes poopy. You are a poopy baby. I can smell it," Vader said.

"No poopy baby," Luke said. "Dada poopy."

"Dada knows how to use the potty. He is not poopy. Luke is poopy."

"No poopy!" Luke said as Vader entered the nursery.

He placed the toddler on the changing table. He opened up the diaper.

"Look at that," Vader said. "Poop! You are a poopy baby!"

Luke laughed. Vader finished changing him. Then he scooped his baby into his arms. He lightly tossed Luke into the air. Luke squealed in delight. Vader held Luke up so his tummy was against his mouth. He blew raspberries into Luke's stomach. The baby shrieked with laughter.

"Again! Again!" Luke cried.

Vader tossed him a few more times before bringing his son close to him and kissing him on the cheek.

"Ahh. There is my clean baby," he said. "No more poopy baby."

"All clean!" Luke said.

Vader held his son in his arms.

"Is it greedy of me to say I never want you to leave my arms?" he whispered.

He felt so whole holding his son. He felt . . . human. He had to take matters on Giltamor into his own hands. He brought his finest troops to the surface. Then he had proceeded to hunt down the rebels defying his Empire. There was something satisfying in the darkness that had consumed him as he devoured the death and fear. As he personally slayed an entire base of rebels. He had ordered his men to stay back. His frustrations of the incompetence of the Gilatmore government and being kept away from his son had only angered the beast.

But now that dark beast was completely tamed. Tamed by a small blue-eyed child who squirmed in his father's grasp. He was getting hungry and was tired of cuddling. Vader enjoyed the morning with his son. Every moment he wore a smile. He loved watching Luke. He loved Luke.

But eventually, he could no longer ignore the rest of the galaxy. There were pressing matters to attend to. There were those who had tried to use the Emperor's absence from Coruscant as a way to try and speak out against the Empire. Speak out against Vader. They needed to be dealt with. Vader got dressed. By then the human nanny had arrived. She smiled as she approached to come to take Luke, but Luke was having none of it.

His eyes went wide. He looked up at his father, and at once started to cry and scream. He waddled up to Vader and tightly clung to his leg.

"Dada! Dada! Dada! No! Dada!" Luke cried. "No go! Dada stay! Stay! Stay Dada! No! No! No!"

Vader sighed as he picked Luke up. Luke tightly clung to him.

"It's ok, Luke," Vader said softly. "I'll only be gone for a little bit this time."

That didn't soothe Luke at all. He still continued to cry and scream. Vader had to pry him off of him and pass the baby to the nanny. Luke wiggled in her grasp, trying to lean towards his father, his hands reached out for Vader and still begged his father to stay. It was with an aching heart Vader had to leave his son. He could feel Luke's unhappiness in the Force.

Of course, the day grew long. The more time Vader had to deal with the Senate, the more irritable he got. It was of no surprise that he had strangled two senators to death by the end of it. Once again he returned home well into the night. He found himself standing in the dark nursery staring down at the crib and his sleeping son. He was about to go back to his room when he recalled the incident from the night before.

He walked over to the nanny droid. He made sure it was in working order. He even checked the crib. Everything was sound. Vader made his way to his room, undressed, and climbed into bed. He hadn't been asleep for long when he heard the soft pleas.

"Dada! Dada up! Up! Up!"

Vader moaned as he sat up. Luke again was at the edge of his bed trying to climb up. Vader rolled out of bed and picked his son up. Luke happily cuddled against his father.

"Now how did you get here?" Vader muttered as he walked back to the nursery. "Droid," he barked.

"Yes, your majesty?" the nanny droid said in a feminine voice.

"Where is the baby?" Vader asked.

"The baby is in your arms, sir."

Vader sighed. "Where was the baby a minute ago?"

"The baby was with you," the droid said.

"And how did it get with me?" Vader growled. "How did Luke get out of his crib into my room?"

The droid said nothing. Only stared ahead unmoving. Vader growled. He ordered the droid off. In the morning he would have it sent to be looked at. Perhaps the thing had malfunctioned. He carried Luke back to his bed. The two settled down and Luke happily fell asleep on his father's chest again. However, sleep did not come as easily to Vader. His mind was turning over and over.

How did Luke get out? There was no way he could have climbed out. Surely the droid would have stopped him. Was it . . . was it the Force? Had Luke used the Force somehow?

A cold fear washed through him. If it was the Force . . . If Luke was using the Force . . . All the gods in the galaxy help him. How in the Force was he going to manage his son if that was true?


4.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"So, are you guys, like, literal telepathic twins?"

The girl, Leia, laughed. A full hearty laugh where she threw her head back and her body shook. "Something like that," she said when the laughter died down. Her gold eyes sparkled. "You going to play?"

Han looked down at his cards. They were facing down, but he knew what he held. He glanced over at Leia and then at her twin brother, a kid named Luke. These two kids with their fresh faces were playing him. They were playing him good. Han had tried to look for their tells. Tried to see how they were communicating with each other, because it was obvious they knew when to fold or push their bet. Because Han was losing, and losing hard. And after his last losing hand, he knew these two were somehow talking to each other.

"Going to fold, Solo?" Luke asked. His gold eyes flicked down to Han's cards. Could the kid . . . know what Han's cards were? If he could read his sister's thoughts, could he read Han's?

"No," Han grumbled. He avoided the smile on the kid's face after that last thought as if it was confirming Han's own fears. Han flipped over his cards showing his good play, but it still wasn't good enough to beat these two demon siblings. Leia flipped hers over revealing a winning hand.

"I believe that makes me the winner, Solo," she said. "Now then will you please go set our course?"

Han slammed his hands down on the table and pushed himself up. "Fine!" he grumbled. "We're going to die. I hope you two know that. That planet is way too close to that black hole. It's unstable." The twins only smiled up at him as he stomped off to the cockpit.

As the quiet settled around them, Leia grabbed her brother's hand. "Don't worry," she said. "We'll find him. Wherever Sidious imprisoned our father, we'll find him."

"And then we finally kill Sidious," Luke said squeezing his sister's hand. "All of us. Together."


5.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke had never imagined he would be purposely trying to get caught by Darth Vader.

But here he was on Toprawa trying to get the attention of the Imperials. Toprawa had a heavy presence of Imperial military, which hopefully meant word would quickly reach Vader of a young man wielding a blue lightsaber freeing Toprawan citizens from labor camps. For once, Luke hoped Vader would quickly arrive as he oftentimes did of late the moment he knew of Luke's location.

For now, Luke was huddled in a thick grove of trees. A light rain had come through the area earlier. Heavy drops fell to the ground and splashed against Luke. He huddled in his rain poncho. Through the leaves, he could see the city. It stretched along a large river. Large landing pads were built over the water. He watched as an Imperial shuttle came through the grey clouds and landed on one such landing pad.

Finally, Luke thought to himself.

He could feel Vader. A cold supernova in the Force. Icy tendrils lashed out from the center searching for Luke. Luke sighed as he stood up. His body was a bit stiff from being crouched for so long. He stretched. His heart was tight in his chest. He could feel it beating. There was a lump in his throat. A sinking feeling in his gut. Then for just a brief moment, he let his shields slip.

The darkness flared. At once it's attention was on Luke, who slammed his shields up tight. Luke moved out of the trees and along the outskirts of the city. He made his way to a building he had found the first day he was on Toprawa. It was an old abandoned store. The windows were shut with metal sheets, and the inside was mostly barren. A perfect place to lure Vader.

It didn't take long for Vader to sniff him out. The metal screeched as Vader used the Force to pry open a metal sheet. The glass of the window had long since been shattered. Vader stepped through; his heavy boots crunched against the glass that littered the floor. He was thankfully alone. Or at the very least, had entered the store alone. Luke wondered how many stormtroopers were circling the building with their blasters up, ready and set to stun.

Vader walked halfway across the empty store before stopping. Luke sat on a counter on the far wall. A silence fell between that was filled with the even breathing from Vader's respirator.

"What is the meaning of this, young one?" Vader asked.

Luke tried to swallow, but the lump in his throat made it painful.

"Mean- meaning?" Luke said. His words coming out uneven.

Vader took a step forward. "You are not attempting to run away," he pointed out. "In fact, it appears as if you are purposely luring me here."

Luke smiled. "Heh, good guess," he said.

There was a slight tilt in Vader's helmet. "So you have accepted the truth," he said slowly in his deep voice.

"That you're my father?" Luke asked quickly. "That you're Anakin Skywalker?"

"That name no longer has any meaning to me," Vader said pointing a finger at Luke.

"Yes it does," Luke said. "Or else Luke Skywalker wouldn't mean anything to you."

Vader took another two steps forward. The gap between them was gradually closing. The hairs on the back of Luke's neck stood on end. Everything in him was telling him to run, but he stayed.

"It's the name of your true self," Luke continued. "You've only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn't driven it from you fully. That is why you couldn't destroy me."

Vader took another two steps closer to Luke. "Is this why you have revealed yourself?" he asked.

"I . . . I wanted to talk to you," Luke said. "I want you to come with me."

Luke held his hand out. Vader looked at it.

"You do not know the power of the Dark Side, Luke. I must obey my master," Vader said.

"I will not turn," Luke said defiantly as he lowered his hand. "And you'll be forced to kill me."

"If that is your destiny."

"Search your feelings, Father. You can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate," Luke pleaded.

"It is too late for me, son," Vader said. "The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force."

"Ugh, yeah I know," Luke muttered.

Vader stilled. His helmet ever so slightly tilted. It was not the response he had been expecting.

Luke took a deep breath. "You're going to take me the Emperor," Luke said slowly and as calmly as he could. "And then . . . he's going to kill you . . ."

Silence. Stillness. Even Vader's breathing seemed to have stopped. Had he heard him?

"You're . . . you're going to die," Luke said.

Vader suddenly straightened up. He stepped forward and closed the gap between them. He now stood only an arm's length away. He was close enough to grab Luke.

"What makes you say that?" Vader said. His voice was loud. Luke flinched at the sound.

"I saw it," Luke said in a soft voice. "In a dream . . ."

"A dream?"

"Listen, I swear I'm not crazy! But I keep having this same dream over and over again. We're in this dark throne room and I stand next to the Emperor as he shoots lightning out of his hand and kills you. He said it's because you're not needed any more since he has me . . ."

Again there was the silence. Luke looked down. This was stupid. Foolish. Why had he done this? Vader was . . . Vader. Any moment now he was going to reach out and grab Luke and drag him back to his shuttle and take him to the Emperor and the dream was going to play out in real life.

"A dream?" Vader said. "A dream you keep having over and over?"

"You don't believe me," Luke said avoiding looking at his father.

A large leather-gloved hand grabbed his chin. It was firm. It moved Luke's head so Luke had to look into the black mask of Vader.

"It is not just a dream, my son," Vader said.

"You . . . you believe me?"

"Yes. I do."

The large hand slowly fell from Luke's face. Luke just stared at the dark lenses, but he knew he was making eye contact with his father. The way Vader had spoken those last words . . . They were heavy. There was something in them. A weight Luke didn't know of. A past experience? The Force?

"Now what?" Luke whispered as he hoped they were going to avoid the events of that dream.


6.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke woke up to another day of fixing vaporators, oh joy.

Not like there was anything else to do on this blasted planet anyway. Plus they needed the water to, you know, survive. At least, he did. Luke walked through the sandy homestead. Most of it was underground to escape the heat of the horrible two suns that were already starting to bake the desert above. He stomped into the garage not hiding his discontent or annoyance.

He quickly spotted his father. The large black and armor-clad cyborg sat on the ground leaning against the sandstone wall. The only indication he was alive was the steady hiss of the respirator and the blinking lights on the control panel on his life support suit. Luke wasn't even sure if he had moved since he had last seen him some hours ago.

"Father," Luke said as he marched over and stopped right next to the black leather boots. "Father."

Luke kicked the boot. It was hard and heavy and barely moved. But it did cause Luke's father to ever so slightly tilt his helmet up so the black lenses in his mask were pointed at Luke.

"When will you be done sulking?"

Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh.

"Ugh!" Luke shouted. He was about to turn around and march out into the desert and take out his anger on a vaporator. Preferably with a lightsaber instead of hydrospanner.

"I am not sulking," came the deep rumble of his father's voice. It caused Luke to freeze. After the shock of hearing his father's voice receded, Luke slowly turned to face him. The helmet was titled up a bit higher. He was clearly looking at Luke.

"If you're not sulking," Luke said slowly, "then get up and we can return to Imperial Center."

Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh. Kish-kosh.

"Father!" Luke said. "I didn't kill Sidious for you to hide out on some backwater Force forsaken planet! You have to claim the throne before the opposition does!'

"I am aware. That was the plan all along."

"Wait," Luke said. "You want a Republic Loyalist to get the throne?"

"I want your mother or sister to get it," Vader said.

Luke's entire body went slack. His bulged out and his mouth fell open. "Wh- what?! My . . . my mother? My sister? When were you going to tell me this?"

"I suppose now would be a good time."


7.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Anakin Skywalker, bloodied and sprawled on the floor, watched the black-clad Sith take his children back through the strange portal while he screamed his throat raw at the creature to give them back.

The screams didn't phase Darth Vader. What had this Anakin Skywalker done to deserve this life? Even if Padme was dead in this alternate universe, Skywalker still had his health and his children. He hadn't fallen to the Dark Side. He still had so much, and it angered Vader. Vader had given everything, every part of him away and he got nothing.

No more.

He would get what was rightfully his even if he had to bend time and space to steal it from those less deserving.

The two small children in his arms were thrashing and screaming for their daddy. Vader only tightened his hold on them. They were soon back in the basement of Vader's castle on Mustafar. The children grew quiet as the portal closed. Vader only lingered a small moment to make sure it was fully gone before he walked down the long hallway to the turbolift. By now the children were still and quietly sobbing.

He brought them to the room he had prepared for them and placed them down on a small sofa. It was the girl, with some much fire in her, fire just like his, who jumped right back up.

"Take us back!" she demanded. "Take us back to our daddy!"

"I am your father," Vader said.

"No you're not!" the girl said placing her hands on her hips. Leia. Her name was Leia.

"In time you will come to accept the truth, young one," Vader said as he turned sharply on his heels leaving the children alone.

As soon as the door closed he heard banging and shouting behind it. He returned several hours later and found the twins curled up in the same small bed tightly hugging each other. Tears stained their puffy cheeks. They were still young. They would learn. Learn their place in this time. Learn to accept him as their father. (Learn to possibly love him.) Despite the lava boiling outside, Vader placed an extra blanket over them.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Five years later Vader stood over the cooling corpse of Emperor Palpatine. The fool hadn't seen the attack coming. He didn't think the children were powerful enough to bring him down. He was wrong. The twins were strong. Stronger than Vader when they worked together. They stood side by side at the dead Sith's feet. Their gold eyes watching their father intently.

"You two have done well," Vader said.

But then their eyes were drawn away from him. Vader turned and watched as something seemed to tear through time and space. Slowly a glowing circle appeared. It was a portal. A doorway to another dimension. A man stepped out with long hair tied back in a loose ponytail. His gold eyes flicked to Luke and Leia and then settled on Vader. He pulled out an all-too-familiar lightsaber hilt and ignited it. Instead of a blue blade, a red blade hissed out.

"I'm here for my children," Anakin Skywalker said as he pointed his lightsaber at Darth Vader.


8.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

He thought the Death Star plans were the only thing the droid was hiding. He was wrong.

Vader looked at the blue and white astrodroid very carefully. He knew this droid. He knew this droid very well. He was surprised it was still functioning and hadn't been melted down for scrap over the years. How had this droid found its way into the hands of Princess Leia and the Rebellion? And then ended up being the one to have the Death Star plans? R2-D2 certainly knew how to get himself into trouble.

And the trouble went deeper than that. R2 wasn't the only droid still functioning. Vader watched the holographic memories and saw a gold protocol droid. C-3PO. He had given C-3PO to her just as she had given R2 to him. He had them on . . . Mustafar. Thinking of that specific place at that specific time only brought up a wave of hot rage and grief. Why wasn't he surprised? Obi-Wan had stolen everything from him that day. Why not his droids?

Vader watched as that very man showed up in the memory holograms. Obi-Wan had just saved the foolish farm boy who had bought the droids. They had just made it back to some dirty hovel.

"You fought in the Clone Wars?" the boy Luke asked.

"Yes, I was once a Jedi Knight the same as your father," old Obi-Wan replied.

That was interesting. This boy was the son of a Jedi Knight? Which one? Jedi knights weren't supposed to have children. Was it one that had escaped like Obi-Wan and had tried to make a new life?

"I wish I'd known him," the boy said wistfully.

Obi-Wan continued to ramble on and produced a lightsaber hilt from a trunk. Vader leaned closer towards the hologram. Was that . . . It couldn't be . . . Was that his lightsaber? The one Obi-Wan had taken on the black rocky shores of the lava river while he watched Vader burn? And he had given it to this child? Black and fierce rage was thrashing inside of him and it sang to the Dark Side. The Dark Side was calling back to it. It wanted that rage. Rage that would make it stronger. Rage and power that Vader wanted to release, but he held it in as he watched the memory continue.

"What is it?" the boy asked.

"Your father's lightsaber. This is the weapon . . ."

The words rang in Vader's mind over and over and over again.

Your father's lightsaber. Your father's lightsaber. Your father. Father. Father. Father.

The Force swirled around him. It hummed and danced around that word. That one singular word. Father.

If that was the lightsaber of Anakin Skywalker, who was the father of that boy . . . He paused the holographic memory and took a close look at this Luke. At his small form (hers), the shape of his chin (his), his round eyes (hers), the shade of blue (his), the small marks on the cheek (hers) and the golden hair (his). Vader leaned back and looked down at the droid. It appeared it held a secret much more valuable than the Death Star, and Vader was going to find every single byte of information this droid had about it.


9.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Ahsoka and Vader looked between each other, separated only by the thick glass of the bacta tank.

Vader clasped his hands behind his back as he started a slow circle around the tank. He could feel her eyes watching him as well as her anger. He smiled behind his mask.

"You are cut off from the Force," he explained.

Not that she could have done much with her body in that state. He had made it back to the front of the tank. He stood directly in front of her again. Why had he spared her? He should have cut her down, but he had hesitated. Her eyes had lost their anger. Instead, they seemed softer as if she was pleading . . . Pleading what? He was not weak. He would not fall for whatever trick she was trying to pull.

"We have a lot to discuss," Vader said slowly. "Where are the remaining Jedi hiding? Where is Obi-Wan Kenobi?"

She flinched at the mention of that name. Perhaps she did know where that old coward was. But even that wasn't the information Vader really wanted to know. He stepped closer so his face hovered right above the glass. They were now staring at each other eye to eye.

"I am most interested in hearing about your new padawan," he said slowly. "Tell me, how is my son doing?"

(I think this ficlet would tie in well to my one-shot where Luke is raised by the three clone commanders and then joins the crew of the Ghost.)


10.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke looked up with fear etched into his face as the red lightsaber drew closer.

He was still drenched in sweat. His hand . . . his only hand gripped the edge of the bunk tight. His body was tired and sore from the duel. He was trembling not just in fear but in exhaustion. He wasn't winning this fight and there was no way out this time.

Luke looked beyond the tip of the saber to the man who held the blade steady. Darth Vader stood in the Falcon's crew quarters. The sound of his respirator filled up the small space. The red beam suddenly disappeared with the sound of a hiss. Vader clipped his saber to his belt then took two steps forward. He now stood next to the bunk and towered above Luke.

"You have nowhere else to go . . . my son," Vader said.

A short silence passed between them but it was heavy with tension. It felt longer than it actually was.

"It is your destiny," Vader continued.

"And this was your destiny?" Luke barked back. He wasn't sure when the bitterness and courage had risen in him. "To live in that suit? To destroy the Republic? The Jedi? To-"

Vader cut him off. "My destiny was to bring balance to the Force," he snapped. His voice was loud and harsh.

"And have you?"

Luke could show how much of his father he had in him. He was equally stubborn. Silence stretched between them again. This time it was thicker and filled an uncomfortable cold tension as if at any moment the sound of thunder would be heard and lightning would spark. Vader's hand rose up and he pointed a finger at his son.

"With you at my side, I finally can," he declared.

Vader's hand lashed out and grabbed Luke's arm. Luke yelped in pain.

"The galaxy can be made right," Vader said as he pulled Luke off the bed and started to drag him through the ship towards the loading ramp.

Luke's thoughts were tumbling one over another. Was there a way out of this? A way to make things right? Luke looked up at his . . . his father . . . Was it possible? To bring balance to the Force? To make the galaxy right? What if that was Anakin Skywalker's purpose? And he had just lost his way?

What had Vader just said? It was Luke's destiny to be by Vader's side? To right the galaxy? Could he do that?


11.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"They're not your kids!" the deep voice bellowed. "Back off!"

The crowd started to part as a large black . . . droid? Man? Stormed towards the two crying children. Six stormtroopers were trailing behind him at a brisk pace as if trying to keep up with the man. The man finally reached the children. He stood right next to them. Towering over them. Their faces were red and covered in tears and snot.

"Da- daddy!" the little blond hair boy cried.

Whispers started to circle around the group of onlookers and the name Vader was repeated. One or two, perhaps the smartest out of the bunch, had instantly turned their backs and scurried away from the scene. But the majority still watched, even if they took a few steps back.

Slowly, Darth Vader lowered himself down to one knee. What was he going to do to these poor children?

"Luke," Vader said. His voice deep and distinctive. Though it wasn't as loud as earlier, it still carried across the crowd. Perhaps because everyone had gone still and quiet. "Leia."

The little girl crawled over to Vader. She wrapped her arms around his neck and cried into his shoulder. The little boy soon joined the girl and hugged . . . hugged Vader. Darth Vader. Who surprisingly wrapped his large arms around both children.

"What happened?" Vader asked. His voice soft. If such a thing was possible.

The children pulled away. The little boy wiped his snotty face with his sleeve. The little girl's hand snapped out and pointed. Everyone's head in the crowd, including the troopers and Vader, all followed the hand.

"They said we were too little to race!" the girl said. Her hand pointed at a group of youths several yards down the road, who were completely absorbed in themselves to notice the scene with the children. "When I said we would beat them, they pushed me!"

"Then I pushed them!" the boy said. "But they pushed back . . . I've got an owie, Daddy. It hurts."

Vader stood up. His hands balled into fists. The leather of his gloves creaked.

"I see," he said. His voice no longer soft, but sharp and steely. Without another word or glance at the children, he marched towards the youths.


12.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke stared with wide eyes at the rising smoke coming from the crash near Beggar's Canyon.

He steered his speeder towards it. He had seen the small ship streak across the sky. No doubt any sand people in the area had also seen it. Luke hoped he got there first. Luckily, he knew this canyon. He knew each curve and branch. Even as he turned down a branch of tunnels and rocky walls he had never been down, he still seemed to know it. As if he had flown through here a hundred times. He knew when to slow down as a sharp curve approached. He knew when to speed up.

The canyon grew wide and Luke saw the crashed ship. Black smoke billowed from it. Before the speeder was off, Luke was jumping out and running across the cold sand to the crash.

"Hello?" he shouted.

There was the sound of frantic beeping. A droid? Luke cautiously approached the crash. A sheet of metal was suddenly knocked over and a black and orange droid with two arm-like extensions coming out of its top rolled out of the wreckage. It either ignored Luke or hadn't seen him. The droid was too focused on the ship. It was trying to get a door open.

"Let me help," Luke said as he ran over and grabbed the hot metal. He bit back a yelp of pain as he grabbed and yanked.

The door slid open with a loud screech. A person stumbled out coughing and hacking. Luke grabbed and dragged them away from the smoke with the droid beeping angrily behind them.

"I'm alright, Chop," the person said.

Luke let them go and finally got a good look at who he had saved. It was a human kid about his age. He had tan skin and short dark blue hair. He had two scars on his cheek that looked like slash or claw marks.

"We shouldn't linger here," Luke said looking up at the canyon walls. "Your crash probably caught a lot of attention. And not the good type."

"Heh, probably," the kid said.

Luke offered him his hand, the kid took it, and Luke yanked him up. Once all three were loaded up into the speeder, Luke asked, "What happened?"

"Ran into some trouble," the kid mumbled. The droid angrily beeped. "I had it under control, Chopper," The droid let out some angry warbles. "I did until we crashed!" The kid sighed. "I'm Ezra. Thanks for saving me."

"I'm Luke. Is there anywhere I can take you? It's getting dark soon. Perhaps you could spend the night at my uncle's farm."

"I'm actually here to look for someone by the name of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Ever heard of him?"

"Obi-Wan? No. But I do know of an old man Ben Kenobi. He doesn't live far from here actually."

"Think we could go visit him? Maybe he's a relative of Obi-Wan."

Luke nodded and steered his speeder towards the Jungland Wastes.


13.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Vader watched as the young Skywalker was crouched near Kenobi's body. Kenobi's life force was fading from the fatal blow struck to him. The small boy was sobbing and begging for his father to not leave him just yet.

"This is most pathetic," Vader grumbled.

And infuriating. When had Kenobi forsaken the Code and sired a child? Why did he have a child when Vader's child was dead? Why did Kenobi have what Vader should have had? Especially when it was Kenobi's fault that Vader had lost his wife, lost his child, and lost his health! It was his fault he had lost everything!

Perhaps if he was fast enough, he could kill this child before Kenobi died. At least in his last moments alive, the foolish Jedi would finally feel a fraction of Vader's grief and anguish. Vader marched forward while he tightened his grip on his saber. He raised it up, ready to swing down at the blubbering child. Vader would relish in the silence the boy's death brought.

But just at the moment that Vader was to swing down his blade, there was a shift in the Force. One he had never felt before. He watched as Kenobi's body . . . faded away. His robes simply sagged to the ground. The body was gone. The boy let out a wail and grabbed at the clothes and hugged them to his chest.

"Fath- father!" he cried out.

What had happened? Where had Kenobi gone? How had he just vanished? There was a slight tilt to Vader's helmet as he considered the child. Did this boy know? Should he keep him alive a little bit longer to get his answers? Or did it matter? Kenobi was dead. Vader could sense that. He should just kill the child and be done with this. Again his muscles tensed as he readied to deliver the killing blow.

Anakin.

Vader growled in frustration. It was Kenobi's voice. He spun sharply. Had he pulled some vanishing and reappearing trick? Like some common street magician?

Anakin.

"Show yourself!" Vader bellowed.

There was nothing. No Kenobi where ever he looked. It was just him and the crying child tightly holding empty robes. Vader spun. He was ready to be done. To return back to his ship. Return to his own grief.

Anakin! Do not kill him! Kenobi's voice pleaded.

"He will die!" Vader growled. "Just like my child did. You did not deserve to be a father."

He is your son!

Vader stilled.

He is not my son! He is yours! He is the child of Anakin Skywalker and Padme Amidala!

"What?" Vader asked. "You . . . My child . . . is alive?"

Vader's arm lowered. His lightsaber pointed at the ground. He took a step toward the child. With a flick of his finger and the use of the Force, the boy's head was forced to look up at Vader. The boy was trembling in tears and sobs. Something sharp tightened around Vader's cold heart. It could not be. It was impossible.

"You . . . stole my child?" Vader asked the ghost not knowing if it was still there. He didn't care if it was. Something new was rushing through his veins. He took the last few steps towards the child. He clipped his lightsaber to his belt then grabbed the child by the arm. The boy let out a small yelp of pain. He tried to pull his arm free, but it was a weak attempt against Vader's durasteel grip.

"Let me go!" the boy, his son!, cried. "You murderer!"

"No," Vader said. "The murderer was Kenobi."

"Liar!"

"I do not lie," Vader said. "Kenobi was the liar. The thief. The murderer. He turned my wife against me, stole my child, and then lied to him. He was not your father, son. I am. I am your father."

The boy stilled as he finally looked up at Vader with his large watery blue eyes.


14.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

The hanger of the Rebel base was ablaze, his aerial bombardment from the Devastator taking out much of the Rebels' makeshift structures.

Luke had his hands clasped behind his back. His face was neutral as he watched the destruction from the bridge. Luke's next exhale was a fraction longer than the one before, and with it, the tension in his shoulder eased a tiny bit. It wasn't noticeable to the crew who kept eyeing the mysterious young man, one of the rumored candidates.

The Emperor was aging. He had no heir to the throne. So he collected a small collection of youths, the candidates as they were called, who were now competing to be the future Emperor or Empress. Luke could sense the apprehension of the crew. It was a mix of awe and disappointment. Some couldn't believe this kid could be their future emperor. Some were clearly not impressed. Others were.

Luke's hands behind his back tightened into fists. He was going to win. He had to win. He wouldn't let anyone else take the Empire. The Empire that his father had helped build. The father that had been looked over to inherit the throne. It was a disgrace! An insult! And Luke would earn it back! He would restore his father's honor!

And he would do whatever he had to do to win.

He would prove to the Emperor he could bring peace and prosperity to the Empire.

He turned sharply on his heels and marched out of the bridge. He returned to his private room. His com was already beeping with an awaiting call. Luke answered and was met with the holographic mask of Darth Vader.

"Father," Luke said. A smile tempted to pull at his lips. "I have successfully destroyed the rebel base here on Colla IV."

"Good," Vader said. There was a small note of pride in his voice. Luke felt his heart swell a bit. But then the silence dragged on too long. Something heavy pulled on Luke's heart. "Your competition has also done well. Jade has rooted out a moff from Velusia who was a rebel sympathizer." Luke's face fell into a frown. "Marek recently discovered two Jedi padawans who were hiding on Zeltros. Thrawn has publicly announced Bridger as the candidate he's going to endorse."

Luke couldn't stop the groan that escaped his lips. Though there was no change in the hologram, Luke knew his father was giving him the look. "Sorry, father," Luke said. "Continue."

"And there is Organa," Vader said. Though they were lightyears away, Luke swore he could feel the air around him chill. Vader was not hiding his distaste towards the candidate who was considered Luke's biggest competition.

"What has she done?" Luke asked.

"She revealed her own parents were leaders of the rebellion."

Luke was quiet for a long moment before he finally said, "Kriff." How was he going to top that?


~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Chapter Text

15.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"Was it your men?" Luke asked, voice shaking, "Was it your men who killed my aunt and uncle?"

Tears were blurring his vision, but he looked up at Darth Vader anyways. All he could see was a black blob standing next to him, but he could clearly hear the even sound of the respirator.

"Was it?" Luke asked again. His throat was tight. The sobs were threatening to spill out of him at any moment.

"Yes," came Vader's deep voice.

He couldn't hold it back anymore. All it took was one small hiccup and Luke started to cry. He fell to his knees onto the hot sand. His hand, his flesh hand, came and rested on the pile of rocks that made for the makeshift gravestone of his aunt and uncle. Tears ran down his face. His body shook. It hurt. Oh Force, it hurt.

When had he properly grieved for them? He had been so numb that day he had found them. He had cried that night in the cave with Old Ben, but he had buried his grief down. He had done the same with Biggs. The same with the Death Star. The same with so many Rebels. And now his hold had cracked and it was all spilling out.

He was sorry. He was so sorry. And he missed his aunt and uncle so much. He had so much to tell them. But he couldn't. And of course, it was Vader's men, his own father's men, who had killed them. Luke couldn't stop the image of the two skeletons crawling on the ground from coming to his mind.

A large hand gently pressed against his back and started to rub circles. It only caused him to cry harder. He was a mess. Snot was running out of his nose. He couldn't see. His cheeks were red. Sand was everywhere, but he didn't care.

"Did- Did you know- ow?" Luke asked between his sobs. "Who- hoo they were?"

"That they were Owen and Beru Lars? The son and daughter-in-law of Cliegg Lars? Husband of Shmi Skywalker?" Vader asked. There was a small pause. "Yes."

"They were your- ur family!" Luke said twisting to look up at his father who was kneeling next to him.

"They were the family of Anakin Skywalker," Vader said. His voice flat and emotionless.

Luke turned back to the rock piles and cried. He let it out all. He held nothing back. All of his sadness and grief rolled out of him. And Vader sat beside him the entire time rubbing his back.

"I am sorry," Vader said once Luke's sobs had tapered down.

"I know," Luke said. That was why they were here.

Luke slowly stood up. He grabbed his father's large leathered hand and Vader stood up as well.

"You'll help?" Luke said already knowing the answer, but Vader still nodded his head.

The two Skywalkers worked side by side as they removed the pile of stones and erected two proper headstones. Luke was surprised to see Vader clear out a small sand hill to recover to flat grave markers. They bore the names of Cliegg and Shmi. They had been there all this time and Luke never knew. Then, also with the Force, Vader dug a third grave next to Shmi. Once it was dug, he started to strip off his suit. First, his gloves then his boots and cape. Luke took a step forward to help, but Vader put a hand up to stop him. This was something he had to do by himself.

Finally, all the pieces were in the grave. Luke and Vader stood beside it. Luke had grabbed the bag they had brought and handed his father the portable respirator. Vader looked so odd without the menacing black shell on. His skin was pale, white, and horribly scarred. They couldn't stay out in the sun much longer or he would burn. But they did stay long enough for Vader to push the sand over his suit.

Luke helped his father back to their ship. He glanced back once at the five gravestones. Four with names neatly carved into them; the fifth empty. It was for Darth Vader. A man who had died on the Death Star above Endor. Because the man Luke helped onto the ship was Anakin Skywalker, who had returned to Tatooine to honor his family.


16.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke slowly came to.

As he did he realized his neck was quite sore. So were his shoulders and back. As he became more awake, he realized he wasn't lying down, but sitting and restrained to a chair. He groaned to himself as he realized this did not bode well. What had been the last thing he remembered before he blacked out?

He had been at a bar with Mara. He had too much to drink. There had been laughing and kissing. His cheeks burned red as he remembered that part. And then . . . he just didn't remember. He did his best to stretch while also taking in the room. It was sleek, grey, but also a bit featureless. Imperial, he realized. He sighed. His head hurt. Most likely he was suffering from a hangover. He just hoped Mara was all right.

The door to the small room slid open and Mara walked in. He had to do a double-take as he looked at her. She was dressed as an Imperial in a black sleek uniform. Her red hair tied back in a tight ponytail.

"Mara?" he asked.

She flashed a smile at him. "Hey, there farmboy. Sleep well?" she said as she walked behind his chair. He felt her small hands brush against him as she undid the locks on his binders. But before she could slip away, he grabbed her fingers in his hands. She stilled and for a small moment, they just were. Then the fingers slipped away and she walked back around the chair. Luke stretched and attempted to get the kinks out of his muscles.

"What happened?" he asked. "I don't remember anything. Is this an Imper- "

His words stopped as he sensed the coldness. It wasn't a feeling on the outside, but something on the inside. Something dark and dangerous. Luke clenched down on his jaw as Darth Vader walked into the room. Mara only casually looked at him. She didn't straighten up. Didn't salute. She was going to blow her cover unless . . .

Had she reverted back to the Empire? He had thought . . . That she had changed . . . That she cared . . . That . . .

Vader's mask titled down. There was a lump in Luke's throat.

"Did you bind him to the chair?" Vader asked as his masked turned to face Mara.

"Kidnapping him was the only way I was going to get him here," she said.

"Wait," Luke said as he looked at Mara. His heart fell into his stomach. "Kidnapped me? You did this?"

"Like you were going to agree to come to Imperial Center," Mara said as she folded her arms across her chest.

"Coruscant?" Luke said as he jumped out of his seat. "We're on Imperial Center?" He looked between Mara and Vader. "What is going on?" he demanded. He looked up at Vader and into the dark lenses. He was sure he was meeting his father's gaze. "Was this your doing?" Luke hissed. "Another ploy to get me to join you and the Dark Side? To throw me at your master's feet? The Emperor- "

"Is dead," Mara interrupted.

Luke froze. His eyes wide. His mouth was still open but the words were forgotten.

"Wh- what?" he stammered.

"The Emperor is dead," Mara said again with a slight shrug of his shoulders.

"Dead? How?"

"We have killed him," Vader rumbled.

Luke looked up at his father.

"No," Mara growled. "I killed him."

"Which you would not have been able to do without me distracting him," Vader said as he pointed a black-gloved finger at her.

Mara let out a small chuckle. "It was entertaining to watch you get electrified," she said with a smile.

"Wait. Wait!" Luke shouted. "The Emperor is dead? And you two killed him? Together?"

Silence fell between them except for Vader's breathing.

"What is going on?" Luke demanded. "I don't understand."

"It's really quite simple," Mara said. "The Emperor decided you were too great of a threat and ordered you to be killed. I wasn't going to let that happen. He wasn't going to let that happen." She jerked her head at Vader. "And so we teamed up and killed him instead."

Again there was silence. Again Luke was wide-eyed in shock.

"And you couldn't just . . . tell me this normally? You had to kidnap me?" Luke said.

Mara rolled her eyes, but it was Vader who answered. "It was so you could stand beside me as we announce the death of the Emperor together, and I assume the throne to the Empire. I shall announce you as my son and heir, and then I plan on abdicating the throne to you."

Silence. Again. Wide-eyed. Again. Mouth open. Again.

"Oh don't give us that look," Mara said. "I'm sure you'll make a good Emperor. For a farm boy that is."


17.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"You don't know the power of the Dark Side," Vader rumbled as his lightsaber locked with Luke's.

Luke, who was utterly tired of hearing that phrase, snapped, "Then explain it to me then!"

Vader took a step back. His blade lowered a small bit. Luke still kept his up. His eyes quickly scanned the forest. It was quiet and still. It appeared they were alone.

"The Dark Side is power," Vader rumbled. "You are the master. You bend the Force to your will. It is unlimited. With it, you will be unstoppable. All will bow before you."

"Even you?" Luke asked.

There was only a small flinch from the large cyborg.

"Why would I need such power?" Luke asked after Vader's silence. "Kill the Emperor? Rule the galaxy?"

"Yes."

"Is that what you wanted?"

"What?"

"I asked, is that what you wanted? Why you chose the Dark Side? Because you wanted to rule the galaxy?"

There was a tense second of silence, before Vader said, "Yes."

"You're lying," Luke said slowly. His saber dropped lower.

"I wanted to remake the galaxy to how I saw fit," Vader growled raising up his free hand. He curled it into a fist.

Luke deactivated his lightsaber and clipped it to his belt. "Why?" he asked again. "Why did you choose power? You were already a Jedi. You already had the Force. Why did you want more power? Tell me the truth this time."

Vader's helmet pointed down at the ground for a long moment. Then finally it lifted up slowly. Luke could feel Vader's eyes on him.

"I needed power to save your mother. To save her from death."

That . . . That had not been what Luke was expecting.

"My mother?" he asked softly.

"Yes. I had visions she was going to die in childbirth. I could not lose her or . . . or you."

"But you did," Luke said. "She . . . she died . . . didn't she? You couldn't stop it even with all that power the Dark Side gave you."

There was a blast of cold that shot out of Vader. Clearly, Luke had hit a nerve. He took a step forward. When Vader didn't raise his saber, he took another then another until finally, he stood right in front of his father. He eyed the still glowing lightsaber. He slowly reached out and put a hand on Vader's arm. Vader's helmet slowly tilted to look down at Luke. Luke was sure he could see eyes behind the black lenses.

"Father, you don't need unlimited power. Just look at the Death Star. It had enough power to destroy a planet with a single blast, and yet, an X-wing with a torpedo was able to take it down. It isn't more power that is the answer. It's what you do with the power you already have. Even a small amount can be sharpened and made strong. I already have everything I need."

Luke heard the lightsaber hiss off. Vader slowly clipped it on to his belt. His hand came up and rested on top of Luke's. The father and son stood there in the quiet woods with everything they both needed.


18.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke searched the Jedi Temple for the man who, if the rumors were true, was his father.

Luke pulled the borrowed, not stolen, Jedi robes tighter. He wasn't sure how long he had until his dad realized he hadn't returned home from the Senate. The Alderaan delegation was in a joint-committee meeting, and those things usually took hours. Luke was hoping this one did too. He had been planning to come here for months. Three years ago he had heard that his biological father was a Jedi. After a lot of discreet questioning and digging, Luke was certain his biological father was Anakin Skywalker, the infamous Hero With No Fear.

Luke had collected a lot of evidence, but it was all circumstantial. There was no solid proof he could get his hands out without outright asking his parents. The Organas always seemed to get tight-lipped when the topic of Luke's birth father came up. And they seemed the same whenever the name Anakin Skywalker popped up. There were other things. He knew his biological mother was Padme Amidala, former senator of Naboo and a friend of his dad. And there was a lot of evidence out there that Padme and Anakin were quite close. Perhaps too close?

Plus, Luke looked a lot like Anakin and a bit like Padme. At least, he thought so. Would Anakin Skywalker, famed general of the Clone Wars also think that?

There was also the fear this would go horribly bad. What if it had just been a simple fling between Anakin and Padme? What if Anakin knew about Luke, and just hadn't wanted him? Thus why Luke was given up for adoption? Or what if he didn't know? And got angry at the idea that Luke could ruin his image? Jedi weren't supposed to have families or romantic relationships (that Luke knew of). Such a thing could be scandalous, especially if Luke wasn't really Anakin's son.

But . . . but there was always this nagging feeling about Anakin that had never left Luke the moment he realized they might be related. A feeling that had only grown stronger the more Luke looked into the Jedi. And now he was here. In their temple. In a set of brown robes, he had, uh, taken. He kept the robes tight as not to reveal his Alderaanian garb under it. A few Jedi gave him a friendly nod or a curious look, but none of them approached him.

Luke walked aimlessly around the Temple. He had not expected it to be such a maze. It was huge and there were no maps or signs or . . . anything. How was he going to find Anakin in here? Luke sighed as he stopped at a large window. This was stupid and impossible and he should just head back to his dad's apartment before he got caught-

Something bumped into him. He turned and looked down to see a blue and white astrodroid. The droid beeped at him.

"Uh, sorry," Luke said. "I uh . . . I didn't see you." Luke stepped to the side, but the droid didn't roll on. Its photoreceptor was looking at him, and perhaps Luke was imagining it, looking at him rather intently. It beeped and whistled at him. "I uh, sorry," Luke said. "I don't speak binary."

The droid bumped into him again clearly on purpose.

"Hey!" Luke said. "Stop that!'

A small hatch on the droid opened up and a small claw came out. It grabbed Luke's robe and pulled.

"No! Don't! It'll come off!" Luke hissed softly at it.

The droid did not release the robe. He started to roll down the hall with Luke stumbling behind it trying to keep the robe on him. This continued down several hallways, through a turbolift ride, and down more hallways. Luke's face was flushed red. He hid his face each time they passed curious Jedi. The droid dragged him into some sort of work room. It was lined with workbenches that were littered with various parts, screws, wires, and bolts. He couldn't tell if this room was for repairing droids or ships as there seemed to be parts for both.

The annoying droid let out a few loud beeps and whistles. They seemed happy. Why? For taking Luke captive?

"What's that Artoo?" a voice called. The droid beeped again. "A guest?"

A man's head popped out from under a bench. He was wearing work googles. He stood up, wiped his greasy hands, one of which was gloved, on a rag, and walked over.

"Who's this?" the Jedi asked. Luke had noted the man was wearing Jedi robes and had a lightsaber. The droid beeped. "What do you mean you don't know?"

The Jedi sighed. The droid finally let go of Luke's robes and rolled away. The beeps the droid let out seemed to be that of laughter. The Jedi watched the droid go with a shake of his head.

"Now then," he said, turning back to Luke. "Who are you? Why are you wearing a Jedi robe?"

Luke's cheeks turned bright red. "Oh. Uh . . ."

"You're not a Jedi."

"Is it that obvious?"

A hand landed on his head and the man ruffled his hair. "You don't have a padawan haircut or braid."

"Oh. I uh . . . sorry. I was looking for someone. Or was. Or. I don't know. It was stupid. I was going to go home and forget about this whole thing until that droid basically kidnapped me."

The man laughed. "I don't know if it was stupid. You stole a set of Jedi robes and snuck into our Temple for a reason. Hopefully for a good reason."

"I didn't steal them!" Luke snapped. "I'm just . . . borrowing them."

"Uh-huh." The man slid his goggles back revealing two bright blue eyes. "Let's hear your story kid."

Luke's mouth fell open as he instantly recognized the face. "Are . . . are you Anakin Skywalker?"

The man titled his head and smiled. "Yes."

"I'm your son."

The words had come out without Luke thinking. Instantly he regretted it. Why had he said that? This was going so bad! Anakin's face at first scrunched up in amused confusion. But he continued to look at Luke. First, the amusement fell away. Then, his brows scrunched up as he leaned forward to look closely at Luke. Finally, his dirty hand came up and rested gently under Luke's chin.

"What . . . what makes you think that?" Anakin asked. His voice a whisper.

"My mom, my biological mom, was Padme Amidala and my dad a Jedi . . . and . . . I . . ." Luke's words fell away as Anakin leaned away. Shock clearly on his face.

"You are my son," Anakin whispered more to himself than to Luke. "But how . . . I thought . . . The baby died with her . . . I . . . never knew . . . How . . . Who? Who took you!"

"Took- took me?" Luke squeaked.

"Sorry," Anakin muttered looking away embarrassed. "It's just . . . If I had known . . ." He looked back at Luke with the eyes the same color as his own. He placed a hand on Luke's shoulder. "If I had known, I would have left this all behind for you. I would have raised you."

"And my sister?" Luke asked.

Anakin's eyes blew wide again. He let out a small strangled noise. "Sis- sister?" he finally muttered.

"Yeah. My twin sister."

Anakin was quiet for a long moment before he finally said, "Twins?"


19.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Darth Vader's cold heart warmed when he looked down to see his small son tugging on his hand.

Vader's large gloved prosthetic hand curled around his son's small one. Luke smiled and Vader's heart warmed up some more. This was a hand he had used to slay dozens of Jedi. He used it to command the entire military of the Empire. It had been used to help him channel the Force so it could circle around the throats of incompetent officers. It had gripped the yoke of his fighter as it rained down bolts on the ships of traitors. There was a lot of blood on his hands, and yet this little boy knew nothing of that. He gripped the hand tighter.

Vader's other hand came up and gently came to rest on top of his son's head. He started to stroke the little boy's hair. Oh, how he wished he could feel it. Luke let out a small giggle.

"Daddy?" he asked.

"Yes?" Vader asked.

"How can I make a baby?"

Vader froze. The hand on Luke's head stopped. His breathing. His thoughts. Everything. His was Darth Vader. Supreme Commander. In another life, he was a general. A hero. Yet no amount of military experience and knowledge of the Force had prepared him for this question.

"What?" Vader finally asked.

"I want to know how to make a baby. You know how we made a droid together? I thought I could make a baby brother or sister! But Artoo said that's not how you make orgmamics babies."

"Organics," Vader corrected without thought.

"So, how can I make a baby?"

"You can not." At once Luke's smile fell. It pained Vader's heart to see it. "Only adults can make babies," he quickly added. "You see you need a mommy and daddy, who love each other very much." Luke's smile returned. His eyes widened. "Then, they go to bed, hold hands and . . . kiss. While they do that they make a wish to the Force. Sometimes, the Force will grant their wish and a small baby seed is put in the mommy. Then over nine months, the baby grows until it is big enough to come out."

Luke was smiling from ear to ear. "Thank you, Daddy!"

With that, the little boy ran off. Vader quickly made a mental note to check his parenting holos about when was the appropriate time to bring up sex education. Surely it was too early. Luckily, his impromptu explanation had seemed to sate Luke's curiosity for now. Vader picked up a datapad to look over a few files for work. He was on the second file when he heard a voice he had not heard in years.

"Anakin?"

For the second time that day, everything in him froze. His head snapped up. Had that been Padme's voice? He put the datapad down.

"Padme!" He recognized his voice. No. Not, his voice. The voice of Anakin Skywalker. "I missed you so much."

He walked into Luke's room. Luke sat on the floor right in front of R2-D2 who was projecting a blue holo of Anakin Skywalker wrapping his arms around Padme Amidala. Vader stood there transfixed by the scene. His eyes were on her. When was the last time he had seen any images of her? He had forgotten how beautiful she was. How lovely and soothing her voice was. He watched as Padme and Anakin started to passionately kiss. He forgot how in love he had been. How wonderful it was. Fresh grief stabbed into his heart.

But it was short lived as he watched Padme's leg rise up and wrap around Anakin, whose hand had slipped down and was tightly grabbing her rear end. His other hand was undoing the buttons of her dress.

"What are you showing him?!" Vader bellowed.

The holo blinked off. R2 let out a screech and zoomed out of the room.

"Daddy!" Luke had a bit pout on his face again. "Artoo was showing me how you and Mommy made me!"

Wh- WHAT?!

Luke stood up and walked over to his father. "But you were doing it all wrong! You were supposed to lie down in bed first! Then, hold hands and then kiss. But you were doing all the kissing first!"

Vader didn't say anything. He simply turned and marched out of the room. He would deal with Luke later. He had an astrodroid to find. Yes. He was Darth Vader. Feared. Respected. He knew how to hunt down pathetic scum. He knew how to interrogate. And if none of that worked, he was also really handy with a hydrospanner.


20.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke pulled hard on the control column of his X-Wing, bringing it up and over in a loop as he frantically tried to shake off the pursuing TIE-Advance.

But something had gone wrong. He didn't know what or how. But what he had predicted, what should have happened, was not happening. He had never been this wrong before. What was going on? The steering yolk suddenly seemed to have ripped out of Luke's hands. His ship was spinning wildly out of control. Alarms were blaring. Lights were flashing. R2 was screaming at him.

He tried to pull on the yoke to stabilize himself, but it was stuck. There was a sinking feeling in his heart and a growing lump in his throat as the ground kept getting closer and closer. He wasn't going to get out of this . . . He braced himself as the X-Wing skidded along the rocky ground. Perhaps it wasn't going to go as bad as Luke fear . . . His thoughts were cut short as the fighter crashed into the ground. Luke was thrown forward but his crash webbing held tight. The straps dug into his chest.

A great blinding light overtook everything, and then his world faded into blackness as he lost consciousness. He woke up screaming in pain. He was surprised he had woken up; surprised he was alive. He was also surprised that he couldn't hear his scream. He could feel it. The vibrations in his throat hummed. It screamed buzzed inside his ears. He knew he was screaming, could feel the air passing through his mouth, but he could not hear it.

He also couldn't see. Everything was a blinding grey color. He couldn't even sense light and shadow. It was just all the same endless grey that hurt to look at. The only relief he got was from closing his eyes which brought blessed darkness.

His screaming had stopped. As his panic faded, he became aware of the pain shooting up his legs and on his side. He was also aware of the large hands. They had grabbed him and were pulling him. It was what had caused him to shout in pain. He was being moved? And now the large hands were pulling him. One hand slid under his knees while the other grabbed his shoulders. He was hoisted up. He was being carried. His body was pressed against a large figure.

His head rested against the shoulders. They were hard and solid. The person was wearing some type of plastoid armor? His heart skipped a beat. Was this a stormtrooper? But he felt the softer material of the arms and chest as well as a life-support box on the chest. A pilot then? But why the shoulder armor? Not even Imperial pilots wore that. Right?

He was suddenly placed down on the ground. If the person was Imperial this is where they would cuff him or beat him or stun him or something. His body had tensed up. Without sight or hearing, he didn't know when whatever was coming was coming. He was not expecting the glove hand to gently brush his sweaty hair from his face. The fingers moved cautiously. Gently? They disappeared and soon he felt a hand slide around the back of his head and something metal pressed against his lips. A water ration can, he realized.

He eagerly accepted the water. His rescuer held his head and gently poured the water down his throat. Too soon the can was pulled away. The hands returned again. Gently prodding at his body then slowly taking off his damaged flight suit. There was pain, and each time Luke winced, his rescuer would pause before continuing on.

Luke was growing more relaxed. This couldn't have been an Imperial. No way would they be this kind. They gained nothing from treating Luke like this in an almost . . . loving manner. Luke sighed. He did feel safe. If only his hearing and sight would return. For now, he would try to express his gratitude. He knew how to move his tongue and form his lips. He knew he had said the words, but how well they sounded he didn't know. Hopefully, it was good enough.

"Thank you," he said.

He could sense his rescuer tense up as they paused in taking his boots off. Finally after a long pause, Luke heard, "You are welcome."

Luke gasped. But he couldn't even hear that. How had he heard that voice then? Had he imagined it?

Everything is all right, the voice said again. It was a deep resonating voice. You are safe, young one.

The voice was so clear, but it seemed to lack the vibration of sound. How bad had Luke hit his head? The voice seemed to be coming from inside of him. Despite this weirdness, Luke trusted the voice. He nodded and leaned his head back as he let this kind stranger help him. When he healed up he would make sure to thank them properly. He just didn't know at the time how hard that would be when his senses finally did return to him and his starring into a black death mask.


21.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"Where is the prince?" Darth Vader asked.

No one in the command center seemed to have heard him. Alarms were blaring. People were shouting. They were trying to recover from the rebel attack and felt pressured to do so fast with Vader here.

"Where is my son?" Vader asked. This time his deep voice carried across the room.

Everyone stopped and fell silent. Even the alarms seemed to have gotten quieter. All eyes were on the large black cyborg. His breathing loud and harsh.

Vader asked again, "Where is my son?"

Finally, an officer approached him. "Ah, he was, my lord, that is, he was at the base prior to the attack. At least, I uh, he was last seen, uh, two days ago?" the man stumbled.

"I do not care where he was prior to the attack. I want to know where he is now."

They didn't understand how important Luke was. There was nothing that took precedence over Vader's son. The galaxy could boil over and explode, but Vader did not care as long as Luke was alive and well. As such he did not care about the damage done to the city on this planet nor the Imperial base. He didn't care about the death toll or filling in the chain of command. He didn't care about what the rebels had stolen or who they had freed from the detention center.

He only cared about his son.

His son who he was having a hard time locating in the Force. Vader would not admit he was panicking, because he wasn't. Most certainly not.

"We will locate him right away, my lord," an officer said.

Vader gave a small nod of his head as he poured himself into the Force along his shared bond with his son. There was a sag to his shoulders as he finally located the boy. He was still on the planet, though a good distance away. Had the rebels captured him and taken his precious boy to their base? No matter. Vader would secure Luke.

Without a word, Vader swept out of the command center and made his way directly to the hangar. He debated briefly on what would be the best ship to take. He would have preferred to take his fighter he had arrived in. He could take out any rebel fighters or ground defenses with ease, but he didn't know what state Luke was in. He was getting no response from his son. Therefore, he would take a shuttle. He ordered the hangar crew to make sure it was stocked with two first aid kits.

Then he boarded the ship and took off alone with no backup. He would personally deal with those who had taken his son. It was an hour's flight to reach the secluded spot. It was . . . picturesque. It was perfect for a rebel hideout. The area seemed to be some sort of area locals went on vacation. It bordered a crystal blue ocean with white sandy beaches, and green palm trees littered the hills and small cliffs above the water. There was a large white house on a cliff above the beach where Vader landed the shuttle. His son was inside. He could feel him.

The first thing Vader noticed was that there were no guards. No canons. No blaster bolts reining in at him. In fact, when he reached out into the Force, there were very little life forces here at all. Perhaps four or five total. Vader marched across the yard to the house. There was a small pain in his heart. It made him think of a lovely house on Naboo next to a lake. His hands clenched into fists. He could not get distracted. He had to get his son. That was what was most important. He had reached the large porch when he heard laughing. It caused Vader to freeze in his tracks.

Had that been Luke's laughter?

He slowly walked down the porch. His hand hovered above his lightsaber. He almost grabbed it when he heard footsteps, but the hand quickly fell away as he saw his son round the corner. His skin was honeyed tan. His hair a bright blond. It was clear he had been spending time out in the sun. Vader was also able to note the color of his son's skin due to how much of it was showing. Luke only wore a sheer white robe that was wide open.

Luke stopped dead as his eyes went wide when he saw Vader.

"F- Father?" Luke said in a strangled voice. "What are you doing here?"

"Aletheron City and the base suffered an attack by rebels. You were not to be found. I tracked you here and was prepared to deal with any kidnappers who had taken you," Vader said as he looped his thumbs on his belt. "But it appears you are not in need of saving, young one."

Luke's cheeks burned red. He pulled the robe closed and tied the sash though it did little to hide anything.

"You have left your post without permission," Vader said as he raised one hand and pointed it at his son.

"I know," Luke said. "But you wouldn't have given me permission if I asked."

"You do not know that."

Luke rolled his eyes and then gave his father a look. "I just needed some time away from the city. A vacation."

"Luke, you are the Imperial prince. You-"

"Must understand your importance to the Empire," Luke rambled on in a monotone voice. "Yes. I know, Father."

There was an awkward silence that fell between them. Vader was about to tell his son to get dressed so they could return when laughter and running steps were heard.

"Luke?" a masculine voice called.

Luke's eyes went wide a second time. He ran over to his father and pushed him through an open door. "Hide," Luke hissed. "And turn off your breathing!"

Luke pushed Vader behind a wall, but Vader could still see out a window. Vader did as Luke asked and turned off his respirator. Only as his lungs started to burn did he realize what a foolish and demeaning request it had been. He would need to have a talk with his son- His thoughts were cut short as he spotted a young man coming around the corner. He was completely naked and equally sun tanned as Luke.

"Hey, babe," the young man said as he wrapped Luke up in a hug and placed a passionate kiss on his lips. The young man's hand slid down to Luke's rear. "What is taking so long?"

"I uh . . . got a thing I need to do real quick. Just give me a minute," he said.

The hand squeezed Luke's rear and Luke smiled.

"Don't take too long," the man said in a low sultry voice. "I'm going to get a bath ready."

They kissed again before the man skipped away. Once the man was out of earshot, Vader turned his respirator on and stalked over to his son.

"Luke," he said. Luke flinched at how weak his voice sounded. "What is this about? Who was that man?"

"Uh. The Prince of Aletheron?"

"Why did you not inform me of this relationship?"

Luke's cheeks turned bright red. "I thought you would strangle me if you found out I was gay."

Vader missed a desperately needed breath. Strangle Luke? His son? He would never! Especially . . . after Luke's mother . . . No. He would never do that!

"Luke, I am aware of your preference in partners," Vader said. "Though I was under the impression you were involved with that smuggler Solo."

Luke's face fell into shock. "What . . . You knew? How? Are you spying on me?"

Vader was smart enough not to answer that because he was.

"I approve of the prince over that dirty smuggler or that weasel baron of Bespin," Vader said with a wave of his hand.

"You knew about Lando too?"

"Yes, my son, I did. As well as that despicable rebel pilot. Though I feel the need to ask, is that who the other life forms are at this house? Are they all here?"

Luke's burning red cheeks were the only answer Vader needed.


22.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

(This story is from my Born a Sith AU, which is a vampire AU. In it, Sith is a word for vampires. Vader discovers Luke when he is seven years old living in Tatooine, turns him into a Sith, and takes him to his palace.)

"Well, what do we have here? A pint-sized monster."

Luke froze. The hair on the back of his neck stood on end. It felt like a hundred pins were stabbing into his body. He slowly looked up to see two guards marching towards them. They wore the white bone armor. Luke fought back a frustrated sigh as once again he had been caught trying to escape.

"Far from your lair, little Sith," the one in front said.

"The or-orders are that if we see the boy, to bring him back at once," the other said.

"I know the orders," the first barked.

He took a step towards Luke, who gasped and ran. But he wasn't fast enough. He never was. The guard grabbed his leg and slammed him down on to the ground. His chin scraped against the cold stones. He knew he was bleeding. He could smell it, smell the blood. The guard laughed as he threw Luke against the wall. Luke let out a small yelp.

"I don't see why everyone fears such creatures," the guard said. "You look just as pathetic as we do. In fact, you seem more pathetic. You can't even go out in the sunlight." The guard knelt down to one knee and hovered right above Luke. "Were you trying to run away, little monster? Can't stand being a hellspawn, can you? How old do you think he is? Eight? And already feasting on blood."

Luke swallowed, but it didn't get rid of the lump in his throat. He didn't like this guard.

"Tell me, what does it taste like? The blood you drink every day. Is it good? Is it like a good wine?" The guard's voice was getting lower and slowly morphing into a growl. "How many have you killed, bastard? How many lives have you sucked dry?"

Luke let out a whimper as he tried to back away, but the guard's arm snatched out. His hand grabbed Luke's throat and squeezed.

The other guard started to shout. "What are you doing?"

"Showing him what it is like," the first said. He ripped off his helmet with his free hand. He was a plain-looking man with tan skin and brown hair and eyes. "Look into my eyes," he barked. His hand started to tighten around Luke's throat.

Luke's vision was growing blurry as tears built up in his eyes. His mouth was open and he tried to talk, to explain, but nothing but wheezing was coming out. This guard knew nothing! Luke never wanted to be a Sith! He still didn't want to be one. He would give almost anything to be human again. He hated having to drink blood to live. He hated craving it. He hated killing for it. It was the thing he hated the most.

The hand was growing tighter and tighter. Luke's small hands grabbed at the guard's arm and hand and tried to pry them off. But the guard only laughed.

"Is that what they do?" he asked. "Do they squirm like this as they die?"

He laughed again, but it was cut short as a blade of red light shot out of his chest. At once he let go of Luke, who sucked in deep frantic breaths of air. The guard looked down at the beam, which suddenly disappeared. His head jerked back and his eyes grew wide. His hands clawed at his throat as he slowly rose to his feet.

"You dare touch my son?"

A chill instantly washed over Luke as he recognized the voice of his father. The man was slowly getting higher and higher. First, he was on his tiptoes, and now his feet weren't even touching the ground. He was . . . floating? The guard was grabbing his neck. His face had turned pale and his eyes were bulging out of his head.

Luke heard a loud crack and then man dropped to the floor. He laid still and stiff, and Luke knew he was dead. He had seen enough dead humans to know when one was alive or dead. He slowly looked up to see his father standing over the figure. His gold eyes glared down at him. A sound caught both father and son's attention. It was the other guard.

"You!" Vader barked as he pointed his finger at the other guard.

"I- It wasn't me! Please! Don't kill me, my lord!" the guard said as he fell to his knees.

Vader marched over to him holding a bladeless hilt in his hand.

"No! No! Please, no!" the guard said raising his hands up.

"You have failed me," Vader growled as a red beam erupted from the hilt.

"No-" The man's cry was cut off as Vader's red sword slashed the man completely in two.

Vader didn't spare the man any more time. The red blade disappeared, he tucked the hilt into his belt, and in four large steps, he was at Luke's side. He knelt down and scooped Luke into his arms. Luke looked at his father's face. It wasn't its usual stern or angry face. It was . . . soft. His brows drooped in concern. A frown pulled on his lips.

"Luke," he said softly. "Are you ok?"

Luke said nothing. He just looked at his father. Vader adjusted his grip and pulled his son to his chest. Luke rested his head against his father.

"You're trembling," Vader whispered as he tightened his hold.

Luke only turned his head into his father's shirt to hide the tears that were about to roll out of him. He was tempted to look up when he felt a small kiss on the top of his head. A kiss? Vader had kissed him? It had been so tender and gentle. So unlike the man Luke had come to know as his father. Darth Vader, dark lord of the Sith, was a cruel, cold and very strict man. And yet . . . and yet . . . the thumb on Luke's shoulder gently rubbed soothing circles as Vader carried his son through his massive, cold and dark palace. Vader must know Luke was crying. His tears were soaking his father's shirt.

After a long walk, Vader sat down. Both of his arms wrapped around his son.

"It's ok," Vader whispered. "You're safe."

Was he? The guard was right. He was a monster. A monster that had lost count of all the lives he had taken. A blood-sucking monster. And . . . he would always be one. Luke rested his head against his father's chest as a heavy hand rubbed circles down his back. He just wanted his father to hold him, and for the first time, he didn't protest as he was fed warm, silky blood.


23.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Mrs. Weaventop pulled her shawl tighter across her shoulders.

There was a cold wind whipping down the road. Perhaps there was a storm coming in or the winter chill would be setting in early this year. She sighed as she continued her trek down the muddy road. She walked to the side as she avoided the deep ruts wagon wheels had worn into the road and the muddy mush between them created by the horses. She was making good time back to her home. She had gone to the next village over to visit her sister. Her sister was a better seamstress than her, and she had sewn a lovely piece of fabric for her niece's upcoming wedding.

Mrs. Weaventop slowed as the road started to curve around a thick thicket of trees. The road ran along the woods on the left with fields off to the right. She noticed a child sitting alone on the edge of the wood. His head was down and he appeared to be digging in the dirt with a finger. She glanced around. There was no one else on the road. No stopped wagons or carriages. No horses grazing. Not even the sound of talking or the smell of woodsmoke. Just the boy.

She hadn't passed any other travelers in some time. Perhaps he belonged to a group that was traveling ahead of her? Had he wandered off? He was too far from any of the farmhouses. Had someone left him here? The poor thing.

As she approached she got a better look. The little boy was fresh out of babyhood. He was at the stage where his baby fat had finally fallen away but was still small. He was cared for. His blonde hair was kept neatly trimmed and looked fresh. His skin was pink and healthy. He was plump and clearly hadn't been lacking for meals. His clothes were of a nice fabric and weren't torn or dirty. This child was cared for.

She stepped off the road and slowly approached him. The boy looked up at her with big round blue eyes.

"Hello," she said smiling. "What are you doing out here little one? Where is your mama or papa?"

The little boy looked over his shoulder into the woods. Then he looked back at her. Had his family gone into the woods? Perhaps they were relieving themselves.

"Can I sit with you?" she asked. The boy nodded, so she sat on the cool grass beside him. She dug out an apple from her bag along with a small knife. She cut off a sliver and handed it to the boy. He eyed the fruit. "Go ahead," she said. "Take it."

He slowly took it from her. He nibbled on the fruit.

"What's your name?" she asked.

"Luke," the boy said softly.

"Luke? That is a good name," she said.

"Pretty," Luke said. He was looking into her open bag. The beautiful piece of fabric for her daughter's wedding dress could be seen.

"Ah, yes. That is for my lovely Elizabeth. She is getting married to the smith's boy," she said.

She looked at the small child. It had been a long time since her children had been small like him. Perhaps soon she would be blessed with grandchildren. She realized some time had passed and no one else had been seen or heard. She glanced back into the woods and saw nothing moving back there.

"Where are your parents?" Mrs. Weaventop asked. "Surely you aren't here all alone."

"No," Luke said in a small voice. "Papa is in the woods."

Again she looked into the trees. Again, she saw nothing. "Are you sure? How long has he been in there?"

The little boy shrugged.

"Hello?" she called out as she stood up. "Hello? Good sir? I found your son sitting on the side of the road? Hello?"

She heard some rustling of leaves, but it shortly stopped. She saw nothing. The boy stood up and also looked in the leaves.

"Are you sure your papa is in there?" she asked.

"Yeah," Luke said. He stood up in his tiptoes as he peered through the trees. "He's right over there!" He pointed into the woods. She tried to follow his finger, but still saw nothing.

"I do not see him," she said.

Luke's small hand wrapped hers. "I'll show you," he said. He smiled and gently pulled on her hand. She followed him into the woods. They moved carefully as they stepped over roots and walked around bushes. "This way!" he said cheerfully. It was the most animated she had seen him. She was so caught up in his excitement, she hadn't noticed how far from the road they had gone.

They came to a small clearing. Warm sun shone down on them casting the trees in a dark shadow.

"Papa! Papa!" Luke cried happily.

There was only the rustling of leaves in the wind. Mrs. Weaventop looked around. It was then she noticed she could not spot the road. A sense of caution started to pool up inside of her.

"We should head back to the road," she whispered. "Your papa can meet us there."

Luke looked up at her and frowned. "But Papa is already here!"

She quickly looked around and still saw no one else. "Boy, there is no one here." Had the poor thing bumped his head? Was he daft?

"You are mistaken," came a deep voice.

It instantly sent a chill up her spine and caused her heart to skip a beat. She spun around. She wildly looked around, but still saw nothing but the dark trees.

"Papa!" Luke cried as he rushed towards the trees.

"Luke! Wait!" she called, but the boy ignored her as he disappeared into the shadows. She went to the edge of the clearing where Luke had disappeared. "Luke?" she called out. "Luke?"

"Right here!"

She screamed as she jumped and spun around. The boy was right behind her. He smiled up at her. His mouth was filled with sharp pointed teeth. There was a glimmer behind him. As if there were small wings fluttering behind him. She gasped and started to back away. She screamed again as large hands grabbed her. She twisted and tried to pull away, but the hands held her tight. She managed to turn her head around to see what had her. She stilled in fright as she looked up at a tall shadowed man with golden eyes that were rimmed in red and a mouth filled with sharp teeth.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Vader picked up his son. Luke wrapped his arms and legs around his father and rested his cheek on his shoulder. The little boy was tired after their meal. Vader eyed the woman's corpse. Her soul had provided a tasty meal for him and Luke. Now, Vader would bring Luke home and put him to bed. Then he would come back and collect the body. No point in wasting good bones.

He carried his son through the darkness and into the land of the Fae to their home.


24.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke tightened his fist on the hilt of his lightsaber and stared down at the man who had killed his father.

He clenched his jaw as he fought back a scream.

"Why," he said through his teeth. "Why did you kill him?"

The old man looked up at Luke. He had the audacity to look sad. To look sorry. It only made Luke's anger boil.

"Luke-"

"Don't say my name!" Luke shouted.

The man winced. "Luke. I had to. Your father had fallen to the Dark Side. He was a Sith-"

"He had turned back Ben!" Luke cried. His voice cracked.

"That's impossible," Ben Kenobi said. "You cannot return once you fall to the Dark Side."

"He had! He turned back! For me!" The tears were building up in his eyes.

"That didn't erase everything he's done, Luke. All the innocents he killed. Your mother-"

Luke screamed. He didn't want to hear any more. His father was dead. Killed by one of the people Luke respected the most in this entire galaxy. His mentor. His teacher. But maybe his father had been right about Kenobi. His father had said Kenobi was a thief who had stolen baby Luke. A liar who had never told Luke the truth about Vader. A coward for leaving Luke behind on the Death Star.

"Luke . . ." Ben said. His voice soft. Pleading.

Tears were rolling down Luke's face. The boiling anger was now a sharp ice cold that was slowly freezing his heart. He gripped his lightsaber tighter and slammed it down into Ben's chest.


25.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

He laid a hand on the boy's sweaty forehead, sending him calming, healing waves through the Force. Luke was convulsing, shivering and sweating. He was spiking a high fever and he had already thrown up twice.

Vader could not recall the last time he had cared for someone, especially someone ill. Even the past two decades he had not even taken care of himself. If he was honest, he had sought death. Jumped head first into bolts, into danger, into anything that might give him a worthy end. He was not going to go peacefully. That wasn't him. He was going to fight to live. The problem was he always ended up winning. He always ended up proving he was stronger.

But this wasn't about him, and even if it was, he was no longer the same creature flirting with death. Everything had changed the moment that Fett had told him the name Skywalker. Everything. His entire existence had shifted. His sole goal was to get the boy and bring him to his side without alerting his master.

Except even that detail wasn't pressing. Right now, Darth Vader was focused on his son's very survival. His hand was still on his son's forehead, but his eyes were looking at Luke's leg. The wound was large with blood and pus weeping out. The skin around it was a dark purple while the rest was a sickly white. Whatever had bitten Luke was large and venomous, and Vader had no idea what it had been. He had come across Luke's X-Wing still in space at a Rebel rendezvous point. Vader had already chased off the Rebels waiting there and had retreated to wait for Luke's hopeful arrival. The plan had worked, but he had not expected Luke to be in the state he was.

The medical team on the Executor was hard at work stabilizing the famed Rebel. They kept side-eyeing Vader nervously. Even if they were ordered to take care of prisoners, never had Vader stayed in there. Not only that, but Vader was not acting like Vader. His hand on the Rebel's forehead, the obvious shifts of his helmet as he kept checking on the progress. No one wanted to ask much less tell Lord Vader he should leave. Every sentient here had treated bruised necks of their fellow shipmates before.

In the corner a second team was working to analyze the Rebel's blood, trying to isolate the venom, and quickly get a cure before the poison won. A notice popped up on the internal screen inside of Vader's helmet. His heart rate was rising and his suit was struggling to get it back down. He could feel the drugs pumping through his system trying to calm him. Sedate him. No. He had to be alert. He had to-

Alarms started beeping. Luke's eyes rolled back into his head. He started to convulse again. The medics swarmed around.

No.

Luke was so white. So pale.

No. No!

He couldn't lose him. He couldn't lose him, too! He had lost everything else! But he was losing him. And he was powerless to do anything about it. Why had he done any of this then? He had done to keep Padme from dying, and now her son was dying.

NO!

He wasn't going to let Luke die. There had to be a way! His master had promised him! He reached out to the Force.

Tell me! he shouted. Tell me how to save him!

Surprisingly, the Force whispered. To save a life you must give a life.

What does that mean?

To save a life you must give a life, the Force repeated. You must give.

He had to give? Give what? He would bring this galaxy to its knees! He would pay the price! He would- Give his own life? Was that the price the Force wanted? Vader reached out and placed his hand on Luke's forehead. He just had to reach out to Luke. Reach out and give himself over. This would all end. Luke would live . . . He just needed to . . .

Vader snatched his hand away. He was a coward. He never could take his own life. He stood there as the medics scrambled to save Luke. Or maybe he was just greedy. He wanted it all. Why couldn't he and his son live?

Live, Luke, Vader said. The boy had to live. They would be together. Vader would bend the Force to his will. Bend the galaxy. They would side by side as father and son.

Live.

But Luke wasn't stabilizing. He was dying. Vader could his life force slipping away. Vader's hand found itself back on Luke's forehead.

You must give.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Luke suddenly gasped and his eyes opened wide. The medics were shouting and they were bending over. Luke rolled his head over to see the large form of Darth Vader still on the floor next to him.


26.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

"Luke", Vader rumbled, "you know you're not allowed in there by yourself."

Luke's chubby little face scrunched up clearly in thought as he processed his father's words.

"Yes!" As in yes he was allowed in there. He declared it so full of himself.

Vader was in the process of raising his hand so he could point a finger at the toddler but Luke was faster. He waved his hand and used the Force to press the door panel button. The door slid close in Vader's face.

Well that answered how Luke had gotten inside.

With a hand wave and the Force, Vader opened the door.

"Luke," he rumbled.

Big blue eyes looked up at him. Vader stepped into the room. Luke shrieked and took off running. Vader sighed and summoned the Force. He wrapped it around the fugitive baby and gently lifted him off the floor. Luke's chubby legs kept kicking though he was in mid air.

"No! No! No!" Luke screamed. His face was turning red.

Vader walked up and collected his screaming son.

"Down! Down!" Luke cried as he wiggled this way and that in his father's arms.

"Luke," Vader said. "Luke. Stop this."

The child was not listening. Vader turned and headed back to the door.

"Dada! No!" Luke cried.

"Luke you can not play in the hangar. These are real starships. Not toys."

Luke whined. His hands grabbing over Vader's shoulders at the many ships in Vader's personal collection.

"Ship!" Luke said. "Ship! Dada!"

Vader used the Force to close the door. Luke threw his head back and let out a loud cry. This little one was certainly his son with stars in his eyes and the song of flight humming through his veins.


27.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

(This is set in my Blood Red Love AU. Yes, I have two different vampire AU's. In this one, both Vaderkin and Padme are alive and are vampires. Their four children are born half vampires- dhampirs.)

Luke was on the ground. It was cold and wet.

He could hear his heart pounding in his chest. And it hurt. It hurt to breathe. He glanced down and the knife was sticking out of him. His hand, growing cold and weak, slowly rose up and touched the handle.

Mara … She had … They had … He thought that … but then she had slammed the dagger into him.

"Darth Sidious is the true Emperor of the vampires!" she had growled at him. Her eyes were watery. Tears threaten to come at any moment. "Blame your parents," she said. Her voice had lost some of its bite. "This is … all their fault …"

Why … was it their fault? He didn't understand …

His hand lay limp on his stomach. He felt so heavy. So cold. He just wanted to sleep.

But the ground was rumbling. There was a lot of noise. Shouting. Hands. Grabbing him. Faces. They were blurry. He wanted them to go away. To leave him alone. He was tired and hurt.

"Luke!"

He blinked.

"Luke! Please! Luke!"

It was his father?

"Luke!"

Luke blinked again. It was his father. He was kneeling over him. How? When?

"Luke, stay awake," his father said.

Luke had never seen his father like this. His voice was unsteady and wavering.

"Luke … It'll be ok … You just … Oh God … Luke, baby, you just … –Heal–! Please, just –heal–! Why won't it heal! –Heal! HEAL!–"

Anakin was shouting. His voice was raw. Luke's eyes were getting so heavy. His body was limp and cold. He just wanted to sleep.

"No. No no no no. Luke, please, stay awake. –Stay awake! Heal!– Please … –heal … –"

Tears were running down Anakin's face. When had Luke ever actually seen his father cry? He was usually so in control of his emotions. But at this moment … Luke barely recognized the man leaning over him. Tears were running down his scrunched up face. His hair was hanging in loose clumps. His eyes were gold and wildly darting to Luke's face to the wound … Gold eyes? … That … was odd …

"Luke," Anakin said. Luke blinked slowly at him. "I am so sorry. This is not how I wanted this to happen. I wanted to give you a choice. But … I can't … I'm sorry. I won't let you die like this."

Luke blinked as he tried to clear his vision. Everything was so blurry. He watched as his father's mouth opened, almost like a dark hole with the teeth shining white. Especially the two canine teeth. They appeared to be growing longer and longer …


28.

~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

(This is a sequel to the one above.)

Vader slowly opened the door and stepped in carefully.

The basement room had no windows and no lights had been lit. But Vader could see perfectly in the dark if he opened himself up to his vampiric abilities. He knew his eyes had gone from blue to gold. He closed the door as quietly as he could. He eyed the empty bed. The blankets were all missing. He cautiously walked around the bed and saw a dark shadowed form curled up tightly in the corner of the room with the missing blankets curled tightly around them.

"Luke?" Vader asked softly.

There was a slight flinch of the bundle of blankets. Vader sighed as he sat down next to his son. He placed his normal hand against the bundle and gently rubbed circles with his hand.

"Luke," Vader asked again. "Son. You need to eat."

Luke trembled; Vader sighed.

"Luke, I know this is not easy … I … "

Suddenly, Luke threw off the blankets. "You're what?" he snapped. His voice cracked. Vader could see the stains of tears on his son's face. "Sorry? Sorry for turning me into this … monster?"

"You are not a monster," Vader said trying to keep his voice calm and even.

"Yes, I am! I have to drink blood to live! I have to kill them! I can't do that!"

Vader sighed. Then he leaned forward and gently took his son's face in both of his hands.

"Luke, look at me." Blood-shot watery gold eyes looked at him. "Am I a monster?"

"Uh …"

"All your life, young one. All your life, I have been this. So has your mother. Are we monsters?"

Luke's face crumpled and fresh tears started rolling down his face.

"No– no," he sobbed.

Vader leaned forward and pressed a gentle kiss on his son's forehead. "I know this isn't easy," Vader whispered as he wrapped his arms around Luke and pulled his son to him. Luke fell against his father's body. He buried his head into Vader's shoulder. His body trembled with sobs. Vader gently rubbed his son's back. He continued to try and comfort his son. "It isn't that bad. Very little will change. You will see."

Luke only sobbed, and Vader continued to rub his back. It was a lie, and most likely Luke knew it as well. Everything would change now. Luke was nineteen now. It wasn't just that he was now entering the adult world, he was also entering the vampire world. A world Vader and Padme had hidden from him to make sure he had a normal childhood. Something they had both been robbed of. How was Luke going to look at his parents now? How was this going to change Vader's sweet boy? For soon he would learn how much of a monster Vader really was.

Vader didn't know. So he held his son tighter wondering if this would be the last time he would be able to do so.


~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~-o-~

Chapter Text

Vader waited in the hallway to the throne room. He wasn't alone. There were stormtroopers, royal red guards, staff, aids, and a small handful of others such as senators and moffs waiting to speak with the Emperor. To those individuals, Darth Vader may appear as if he had perfect patience to wait his turn, but inside he was annoyed he had to wait. He was above them all. He was a Sith Lord. He was the Emperor's trusted apprentice. His right-hand man. He should not have to wait.

And yet he did in this hallway with everyone else.

There was some sort of commotion happening behind him, but he didn't care to look. Whatever it was, it was insignificant to him. Instead, his thoughts continued to spiral on about how he needed to speak with his master immediately. There were Jedi to hunt down. There was an Empire to secure. There was . . .

There was a small boy stepping on his boots and hugging his legs.

The little child looked up at him with chubby cheeks and big round eyes Vader was certain were blue. It was hard to tell as he saw everything in shades of red through his helmet. He knew this child. It was the prince, Emperor Palpatine's . . . son. Luke. The story went that Palpatine was unaware he had even fathered a child until the boy was born. But it was clandestine for this child to be the heir to the Empire. He had been born on the very same day as the Empire.

"Hi," the small child said with a giggle as he looked up at Vader.

"Pr-prince Luke!" a woman stuttered as she approached. Most likely she was the nanny. Her face had gone white as she saw her delicate charge hugging Vader's legs.

"Up!" the child said. One of the arms finally unwrapping itself as the hand raised and grabbed at the air. Grabbed at Vader.

Up? Up where?

"Come here, Prince Luke," the nanny said as she slowly approached. She had the correct reaction to Vader. One drenched in fear.

"Up! Up!" Luke said again, completely fearless.

Vader raised his hand and the nanny squawked and quickly took several steps away. Everyone in the hallway had gone silent and was watching. Slowly, the child floated into the air. He wiggled around and giggled loudly. Vader marched towards the nanny; the prince wiggling himself around in circles in the air. Then using the Force he tossed the child at the nanny, who caught him. The child let out a delighted squeal.

"Again! Again! Up! Up!"

Vader turned sharply on his heels, marched to the door, and entered without being summoned. His patience had finally run out.


Vader ran into Luke Palpatine again a day later. He sat in his large room in front of the window meditating. His red lightsaber glowed and floated in front of him. He was pulled out of his meditation by a small body climbing into his lap. Vader looked down at the child who was wiggling on Vader's legs as if to make himself comfortable. Vader reached out into the Force with a soft growl but didn't sense anyone else nearby.

Where were the child's caretakers?

Luke giggled as he reached out with a chubby little hand towards the control panel on Vader's chest.

"No," Vader boomed as his hand snapped up and grabbed the small hand.

The boy made a small noise of disappointment. Vader let go of his hand, but at once the child's hand went straight for the buttons again.

"No!" Vader grabbed the boy's hand again.

This time the boy let out a wail. "Push!" he cried.

Vader's lightsaber beam went back into the hilt. With his free hand, he snatched it out of the air and attached it back to his belt. Then he grabbed the boy under his arms, held him as far from his control panel as possible, as far from him as possible, and walked into the hallway. He glanced around in hopes of finding someone looking for the missing prince. There was no one. Was the staff that negligible? He walked for a short bit until he came across a stormtrooper.

"Take him," Vader said, passing the child off.

The clueless trooper took the child, who squirmed wildly and reached out for Vader.

"No!" the prince cried. "No!"

Again, Vader turned sharply away from the child and his useless cries and marched away.


Slowly the hyperbaric chamber opened. Vader's helmet was already on and sealed. The room beyond was empty and quiet. He stood up and took a step out. A loud snap and crunch was heard. Vader stepped back and looked down. A red crayon has been crushed and smeared on the floor. Vader stepped forward and swung around to look at his hyperbaric chamber pod. Several bright crayons laid on the floor and the outer walls of his chamber . . . were covered in scribbles.

These drawings had not been present when he had entered the pod. That meant that that little prince had snuck in here while he was meditating and had drawn all over his pod without being detected. His leather gloves creaked as his fists tightened into fists.

No more.

He had thought the prince's caretakers would have learned a lesson from the other day. Clearly, they were useless and incapable of watching a little boy. He would take this up with the Emperor himself, so he marched through the halls. His anger boiled.

Why? Why did this child keep haunting him?

A small little boy . . . The same age his child should have been. He did not wish to be reminded of what he had lost. Not just the child, but her as well. Fresh grief and pain stabbed into him. He clenched down on his ruined teeth. He should have been strong enough to save her. Save her and the child. Save all of them. It should be his son who was prince.

No one dared stop him as he walked directly into Palpatine's office. Today they were being wise. He knelt down to one knee.

"My master," Vader said.

"I sense your anger, my apprentice. Rise," Palpatine rasped.

Vader rose with his hands still clenched to his side.

"My master, I must speak with you about the child."

Palpatine leaned forward in his seat. A slow smile spread across his face. "The child? You refer to the prince?"

"Yes."

"What of the boy?"

"His caretakers are incompetent. The boy has been in my personal chambers and has defiled it. I suggest new staff-"

Vader was cut off as Palpatine raised a single white gnarled hand. He nodded at a guard nearby, who left the office.

"This matter will be dealt with at once," Palpatine said.

Vader bowed his head. "Thank you, my master."

They waited in silence until the guard returned with the prince being carried by the nanny. The nanny gave Vader a cautious look as she approached the desk. She slowly lowered the prince to the floor.

"You are excused," Palpatine said with a wave of his hand.

The nanny's eyes went wide as she looked down at her charge and back at Vader. She opened her mouth, but Palpatine was glaring at her. She closed her mouth, swallowed hard, and nodded.

"Of- of course, your majesty," she said bowing and then scurrying away.

The boy let out a whine seeing the nanny go. He looked up Palpatine and then at Vader.

"Go ahead, Lord Vader," Palpatine said.

Go ahead . . . and do what? He had dismissed the nanny. She was the one he wanted to talk to.

Sensing Vader's confusion, Palpatine elaborated. "Go ahead and discipline the boy."

The boy was toddling over to Vader. He walked behind him and hugged his legs. Was the boy hiding? From Palpatine? His father? Vader looked back up at his master.

"Discipline the boy?" he asked.

"Yes. It is clear he needs a strong hand. I have no doubt you can provide one," he said with a smile.

There was a whimper behind him. He could feel the child trembling. He was scared. It flooded the Force around him.

His master wanted him to discipline the child? With a strong hand? Something tight was pulling at his heart. He couldn't stop the flood of memories of beatings and whippings he had received as a child from his owners' hands. Surely that wasn't what Palpatine was expecting.

He looked at his master who had a large smile and glowing yellow eyes. The Dark Side was thick around him and curled in anticipation. The prince squeezed Vader's legs tighter.

Vader stepped to the side, the boy let out a squeal of protest, and Vader reached down with one arm and wrapped it around the boy's waist. He picked up the boy and tucked him to his side. The boy's arms and legs hung loose.

"I understand, my master," Vader said in an even voice. "I shall deal with his discipline."

Without another word, he turned around and marched out of the room. There was a sharp coldness on his back, but he ignored it. Just as he ignored the pained gasp from the nanny as she saw Vader leave the office with the prince. No one followed them back to his quarters. He snapped some orders at a droid and brought the boy to his hyperbaric chamber pod.

Once on the ground, the boy looked at his drawings. He pointed at them and looked up at Vader.

"You have created a mess, child," Vader grumbled. "Now you will clean it up."

The droid returned with a bucket of warm soapy water and some sponges. They were placed down next to the child. Vader waited expectantly, but the boy didn't move. Perhaps he did not know how to clean. Vader lowered himself down to one knee. He handed a sponge to the boy and took one himself.

"Watch," Vader ordered.

He shoved his sponge into the water and then wrung it out. Then he scrubbed the side of his pod. The boy smiled and slammed his sponge into the water. Water and soap splashed everywhere. He took the sponge out and without ringing it out, slapped it on to the wall of the pod. He started scrubbing, though it was clear he wasn't getting much cleaned.

"You are doing it wrong, young one," Vader said. "Watch me."

He demonstrated the steps again and this time he emphasized the scrubbing. The boy giggled as he splashed his sponge into the water and started to scrub the wall again. Vader ended up doing most of the actual cleaning. The small boy next to him laughed and giggled the whole time clearly enjoying himself. He was completely drenched and covered in suds. Vader wasn't much different.

Hopefully, this had been educational to the boy. Next time, he would be able to clean by himself.


"Hi," said a small voice.

Vader sighed. It came out as an odd static. He had been back on the planet for two hours. Two hours! That was as long as it took for the royal menace to find him. The boy had aged some. He had lost his baby fat and was now just thin, but still small. Still young and little.

"Where is your nanny, child?" Vader asked.

The boy glanced behind him, but there was no one there. Of course, there was no one there. He looked back at Vader and smiled.

"What 'cha doin'?" he asked.

"I am preparing a part," Vader said.

"Why?"

The boy had come to stand next to him at the workbench. It was littered with parts.

Vader ground his teeth together. "It is for my leg."

"Why?" the boy asked immediately.

"Because my leg is prosthetic," Vader said between his teeth.

He glared down at the boy. The boy looked up at him with those big large eyes. He looked back at the part on the table then back at Vader.

"Why?"

"Out!" Vader roared. His hand snapped out as he pointed at the door.

The prince smiled. "Bye!" he said as he ran out.


Vader stood tall and proud behind his master. They sat in his new throne room in the remodeled Jedi Temple which was now the Imperial Palace. The little prince stood off to the side mostly in shadows.

Before the throne was a group of pathetic officers groveling on their knees as they babbled on a string of excuses about their failures.

"Lord Vader," Palpatine said in a dark voice.

Vader took a step forward. All the officers stopped squawking. Their eyes were filled with fear. Through the Force, there was a small nudge from his master. Vader knew what to do. He raised his hand and it curled into an open fist. The officers rose with it. They all grabbed for their throats as their feet left the ground. Then Vader snapped his hand closed; the officers' necks snapped. They all fell limp to the ground.

There was a small terrified gasp from the prince. He had gone pale and wide-eyed.

Good, Vader thought. Perhaps now that child would know to avoid Vader.


The child did not avoid him.

Vader was in his office at the Imperial Palace. He hated it here. Despite the remodel, the place was still what was once the Jedi Temple. There were too many memories here. Too many ghosts. Perhaps he should look into acquiring his own residence?

He would put that idea to the side. He had paperwork to sort through. His master had ended the Jedi hunts as Vader had successfully hunted almost all of the known survivors. Almost. There was still Kenobi lurking around out there, but his master did not want him wasting his talents on scouring the galaxy for a single Jedi.

Instead, Vader was to help with military matters. He was to help the Empire stabilize and grow. He was to eliminate any threats. He was currently looking over data about the Kwynar Sector. The planets there were starting to rebel. That could not be allowed. Vader was planning a full-out military assault to bring the sector back into line. He would be swift and show off the full might of the Imperial Navy. The sector would serve as an example to all who thought to-

He looked up from his datapad into large blue eyes. He cursed internally to himself.

"What are you doing here, boy?" Vader demanded.

The child was sitting in a chair on the other side of the large desk. Why did he even have such chairs? He did not entertain guests. He would need to get rid of them. The boy pulled his knees to his chest and hugged his legs. He set his head on top of his knees.

"Mr. Vader," the boy said.

"Lord Vader," Vader corrected.

"Lord Vader. I made you something!"

He had . . . what?

The child rummaged his pocket and pulled out a piece of flimsi. He unfolded it and smoothed it on his knees. Then he unfolded himself so he could stand up and pass it to Vader. Vader took the crumpled paper and looked down at it. It was a drawing done in sloppy colors. But it clearly showed him, large and black, and with the little prince with blonde hair and blue eyes next to each other standing on green grass with a sun in the corner with a smiley face. Vader had learned to discern colors through his red lenses.

"Do you like it?" the boy asked. A small hopeful smile on his face.

"Why did you draw us together?" Vader asked. Not like they had ever spent time outside in the sun before.

"Because you're my friend."

"I am not your friend, child." He slammed the paper down onto his desk. "I am a Sith Lord. You will do your best to remember that. Now begone."

The boy pursed his lips as he looked at the drawing under Vader's hand. Was he going to cry? Finally, the boy slowly walked out of his office while constantly looking over his shoulder at Vader.


That had been the first of many drawings. Not all of them had been delivered in person. Some of them he found when he returned to Coruscant. He found them hidden all over his quarters: in a drawer in his desk, in his hyperbaric chamber pod, slipped under a tool in his workshop, taped to the steering yolk of his ship.

He considered speaking to the Emperor about this behavior. The boy was the heir and prince of the galaxy. Such actions were weak and pathetic. Yet, Vader didn't throw any of the drawings away. He simply stuffed them into an unused drawer in his office.

He saw less and less of the little prince as the years went on and the boy started schooling. Even if he did cross paths with the boy, it was usually at official functions. They two would stand awkwardly by the Emperor. They would say nothing more than a few pleasantries.

And so the years went on. Vader avoided Coruscant if he could. He preferred to be out in the field. He dedicated himself to the pursuit of rebels and conquering new systems. He thought very little the prince until he was called back to Coruscant for Empire Day. The Empire was celebrating its tenth year and this year's celebration would be large.

It was the day before the holiday when he saw the prince. He had grown but was still small. But that wasn't the change that startled Vader the most. As Vader came to stand beside the boy, the prince looked up at him. His skin was pale and there were dark circles under his eyes. His face was expressionless. He wore sharp clothes befitting the Imperial Prince and he stood straight and proud. He gave Vader barely a glance before he looked away.

What had happened to the fearless child that had tried to befriend him?

He soon found out when his master arrived.

"It has been some time since you were last on Coruscant, my old friend," Palpatine said. Vader walked beside him with Luke and the royal guards behind them.

"Yes, my master," Vader answered. "I have been busy."

"You have done a good job securing our Empire," Palpatine said. "Tell me have you kept up with your skill with a lightsaber?"

"Yes, my master."

Of course he had. He trained often to keep his skills sharp. Kenobi was still out there.

"Good. Good. Perhaps you shall test the young prince's skill. He has quickly mastered the basics, much like his father."

Palpatine chuckled. Vader felt like he was missing the joke.

"If that is your wish," Vader said slowly.

That evening Vader entered a private training room. The Emperor and his son were waiting for him. The boy had changed into athletic clothing with a lightsaber hanging on his belt. Vader and Luke took up starting positions as Palpatine positioned himself off to the side.

"Begin!" he ordered.

The prince dashed forward. He was aggressive and fast, but nowhere good enough for Vader. It took a minute to disarm the boy. His lightsaber clattered to the ground. Vader pointed his saber at the boy's throat who glared at him.

"Again," Palpatine said.

The boy's small lightsaber fell into his hand. Vader took a step back and nodded. They fought again. And again. And again. The boy quickly lost each time.

"Lord Vader," Palpatine called. "I do believe you are going easy on the boy."

It was true. He was. "I do not wish to injure the prince," Vader said.

"How else will he learn if not through pain?" Palpatine hissed.

Luke flinched. For a second dread flashed across his face, but it was soon replaced. The boy nodded as he moved into a ready stance. This time Vader moved first. He struck fast and hard. The boy struggled to keep up. He screamed in pain as Vader's saber raked across his leg. The duel ended with Vader pointing his saber at the boy's throat. The child was covered in sweat and was taking deep breaths.

"Again," Palpatine said in a dark voice. Both Vader and Luke looked over. "Again," Palpatine growled. "Get up, boy. Prove to me you're not a worthless waste of time."

Trembling, the boy grabbed his lightsaber and stood up. The beam of his lightsaber wavered in his unsteady hands. Vader deactivated his lightsaber.

"You will fight him!" Palpatine snapped.

"No," Vader said. "It would not be a fight. It won't even last more than a second."

Palpatine's hands rose up and lightning poured out of them. It hit Vader all over. He fell to his knees as he bit back his screams. The lightning went away as quickly as he came.

"You disappoint me, Lord Vader," his master hissed. "And you!" His gaze turned to the prince. "Such a disgrace!"

Lightning zapped out of the Emperor's hands and directly into the boy. Unlike Vader, the prince screamed, but like Vader, the electrocution did not last long.

"Clean yourselves up," Palpatine said as he walked by.

Luke and Vader sat on their knees breathing hard as they watched the Emperor leave. Vader slowly pushed himself to his legs. He gave one last look at the injured prince before he limped out of the training room to his personal quarters in the palace.

While his med droids looked him over, his thoughts went to the prince. Is that why he had changed so much? Is that how his father treated him? Like he treated Vader? But Vader was a Sith. He fueled himself off anger and pain. Luke was . . . was just a boy. Vader pushed those thoughts aside. He didn't need to have them. Those were weak and pathetic thoughts, and he was not either of those things.

Once the med droids finished, he decided he would meditate in his hyperbaric pod. He walked slowly to the private room. With a wave of his hand, the pod opened and Vader paused. He had expected the blinding bright wide interior, but it was no longer there. Every inch of the inside was covered in paintings and drawings. There wasn't a white space to be seen. Vader slowly entered and sat down on the chair.

The chamber still worked. It closed and filled with medicated oxygen and removed his helmet. With his mask gone, Vader stared open-mouthed at the art. When had he last seen such colors with his own eyes? It had to have been before . . . before the suit and mask. It almost hurt to look at it, but he couldn't look away. He rotated his chair around to look at each drawing.

There were drawings of trees and waterfalls. Paintings of clouds and skies. Brushstrokes and splatters of colorful abstract patterns. Dainty flowers done in painstaking realism. Sketches of stormtroopers done in a humorous cartoon style. His meditation was completely forgotten as he looked at the entire sphere of art.


The parade continued on. Vader had long since grown tired of it. The Emperor sat on his throne on the viewing balcony completely absorbed in the festivities. He was soaking up all the attention and celebration. Vader noticed the little prince had slipped away some time ago and had yet to return. Perhaps Vader should do the same.

He waited until there was a flyover of TIE fighters to leave. The Emperor didn't seem to notice or care Vader had left. He entered the quiet palace, but didn't go far. He noticed a small form standing in a room by himself. The prince stood in front of a large series of windows. It gave a good view of the parade, but without all the sound.

Vader walked up and stood beside Luke.

"I discovered your additions to my quarters," Vader said. His voice even.

Luke let out a small laugh that was more of a pleased huff than a chuckle. He said nothing else. A silence fell between them, but it was a comfortable one. They stood there side by side watching the parade progress.

"Why?" Vader asked a while.

"Why? Why what?"

"Why the art?"

The prince looked over here and smiled. "I thought you liked it."

"What gave you that idea?"

"You kept all my other drawings."

"Wha- what?"

"In a drawer in your desk."

What was he talking about? He had . . . He had kept the boy's drawings in the drawer. He never used that office anymore and had forgotten about what he had stashed there. Why? Why hadn't he destroyed them? He looked at the boy from the corner of his eye. The prince was smiling.

"You are always like this," Vader grumbled. Luke raised a questioning eyebrow. "You are so carefree around me. Unafraid. Ever since you were a baby."

Luke shrugged. It wasn't a very princely move. A bit too casual for the heir of the Empire. "I've just . . . always liked you."

"Liked me?" Vader blurted out.

Why would a child like him? Especially now that the child was older. At least as a small youngling Vader could theorize the prince simply did not know any better. But now he did, and he claimed it was because he liked Vader. Darth Vader?

The Palpatine genes had twisted this child's brain. That was the only reasonable explanation.

Luke sighed. "I think part of me just always knew as well."

Silence except the even mechanical breathing from Vader. Knew? Knew what? There was a weight behind those words. It meant something. Vader's brain twisted this way and that. He did not know what the prince was referring to.

"Knew what?" Vader finally asked.

Luke smiled sheepishly. "I . . . I get it. You never wanted children." What was the prince talking about? "And probably never wanted the truth to be known, but I accidentally found out. There was an assassination attempt. Fute-Rook Poison. I was barely conscious, but I was conscious enough to overhear Father arguing with the medical staff. They needed to know my family's medical history and well that's when Father let it slip not realizing I was awake."

Vader was confused. It was not an expression he normally had. Let what slip? Clearly the prince thought it was something Vader should know about.

"You . . . you do know what I'm talking about, right?" Luke asked.

Vader was still. How had the child picked up he didn't know? Vader's shields were tight. Nothing should be leaking through.

Luke took a step closer to Vader. "You know right? You do know?" The prince's eyes were large and pleading. They were almost desperate and they . . . they reminded him of someone's else's pleading eyes. Her eyes as she had asked him to come away with her.

Vader scowled and turned sharply away. He couldn't bear to look at the child anymore. An old pain flared up inside of him. One he had thought had mastered and beaten down. Grief. Loss. His own child . . . his own child would be the same age as the prince. His own child should be the heir. Should be a prince or princess.

A small hand grabbed Vader's arm and tugged. Vader's helmeted head snapped down.

"You know, right?" Luke whispered. His voice was shaky. His hand trembled. "That I'm your son."

. . . What? Luke was . . . whatNo. That was impossible. His child had died! Died with Padme! When he had- In his rage- That- That what? That was what Palpatine had told him. He had said Padme and the child had died. It had been Palpatine . . . It had been Palpatine who had lied. Vader could see it now. No, he had always seen it, but always pushed aside such notions. The thought was too painful, but now he embraced it.

Of course the prince reminded him of Padme and of his own lost child. He was that child! He was his son!

Rage flared up and burned through him. It roared out of him. Luke flinched and withdrew his hand.

"I- I'm sorry," Luke said as he backed away. "I thought you knew."

"I did not," Vader said, quickly closing the gap between them. "But I am not angry at you, little one."

Never at you. You didn't do anything wrong. But you knew, didn't you? Even as a child, you knew. That's why he climbed into my lap and wanted to be held by me. He knew . . . And I . . . did not.

"Discipline the boy," Palpatine had said with a twisted smile. Vader recalled how his master always wanted him to take a hard hand with the boy like the fight the day before when the two had dueled. Palpatine wanted Vader to hurt the prince. His son!

Vader's rage doubled. Tripled. The room around him shook. The ceilings, walls, and windows cracked. The lights sputtered and sparked. Luke tried to back away, but Vader grabbed his arm. The boy flinched in pain, and instantly, Vader loosened the grip. He pulled the boy close. The two stood there awkwardly. Should he . . . wrap his arm around him? Put a hand on his head?

He didn't . . . He didn't know how to be a father . . .

"Well isn't this a touching moment?"

Luke jumped away. Vader turned around. Palpatine stood at the doorway leaning on his cane. His gold eyes glowed under the dark of his hood.

"You!" Vader growled between his broken teeth. His hand snapped up as he pointed a finger at his master.

"Me?" Palpatine said. "You direct your anger at me, Lord Vader? Have you forgotten your place?"

"You lied to me. My child lived! And you stole him! Paraded him right under my nose!" Vader shouted.

Palpatine laughed. "And you just now noticed? It took you ten years? You were never fit to be a father, Anakin. You should be thanking me for taking such good care of your son. Look at what he has become! A prince!"

"He would have been a prince even without you."

"So now you know the truth, what will you do? Hmm, Lord Vader? Steal him and run away? The entire galaxy knows him as my son. Or perhaps youwill just continue as you always have, apathetic and distant."

"No."

"No?"

Vader's lightsaber jumped off his belt and into his hand. It came out with a sharp snap-hiss.

"You fool," Palpatine hissed.

That was all the warning Vader got as Palpatine raised both hands, his cane falling to the floor, lightning zapped across the room and hit Vader's blade. Vader grabbed his hilt with both hands. The lightning continued to slam into his blade. It was too much. He had to push all his weight, all of his power in the Force to keep the lightning on his blade. A single bolt could hit Vader's suit and fry his circuits. If he fell here . . . If he died here . . . What would become of Luke?

He saw it.

A young man, standing straight and proud. His blonde hair swept back. His eyes a striking gold. His skin pale and around his eyes, it was a dark grey. He wore all black clothing with a lightsaber on his hip. A black metal circlet curled around his head, and a long cape hung behind him. Before him stood endless rows of stormtroopers.

"Loyal stormtroopers," he said. His voice calm, but still carried over the crowd. "You loyally served my father for the past two decades. Without you, this Empire would not be as glorious as it is." He smiled, but it did not reach his eyes. "However," he said. His voice had lowered. "Those who still cling to the dead Emperor are no longer needed."

He raised his hands and lightning shot out of them. It streaked into the cloud-covered sky. The clouds started to rumble and bright flashes could be seen within. Then lightning poured down as rain would. It struck the thousands of troopers. Many fell dead with the first bolt, but there were plenty who weren't as fortunate. Luke laughed.

Luke would be . . . would be glorious. Powerful. The galaxy would bow before him. And Luke . . . would be so twisted . . . Just like Palpatine. No, worse than Palpatine. Vader didn't want that. He didn't want that for his son!

But he was weakening. He fell to one knee. He could feel sweat dripping down the side of his face. Alarms were going off inside his helmet as his suit overextended himself. He could not keep this up for much longer, but he had to! He couldn't fail here. He had failed . . . so much . . . This time . . . This time he had to succeed! He had to!

There was a blinding flash of light and the lightning quit. Silence hung heavy in the air. Vader's breathing was deep and ragged. His arms fell down limp. His lightsaber, unlit, clattered to the floor. He blinked to clear his vision, and even once it was clear, it took him a few seconds to process what he was seeing.

Palpatine laid on the floor. Still. Dead. Luke, young little Luke, held Palpatine's lightsaber in his hand staring wide eyed at the corpse.

"L- Luke," Vader said.

It was as if Luke had been in a trance, and hearing Vader's voice snapped him out of it. He jumped; the lightsaber fell from his hand.

"I'm sorry!" he shouted. "I . . . I . . ."

"It is alright, young one," Vader said as he pushed himself to his feet. Force, he felt so heavy. "He would have killed me if you had not intervened."

Luke's eyes went back to the dead Emperor. He didn't blink as he looked at it. Vader slowly walked over and placed a hand on his son's shoulder.

"What happens now?" Luke whispered.

Slowly, Vader lowered himself to one knee. He bowed his head. "You are Emperor now, your majesty," he said.

"I . . . I . . . Me?"

"You were his prince and heir," Vader said. His legs hurt as he stood back up. "The throne is rightfully yours. What is your first order?"

Luke looked away from the corpse and out the window. The parade was still going on outside. The Empire unaware of what had just happened.

"Well," Luke said. He looked up at Vader. A shy smile gracing his lips. "I always wanted to redo the throne room."

And Vader saw it.

The once dark and gloomy throne room was completely redone. It was bright and full of light. A young man stood by the throne dressed in white. His eyes were blue. A soft smile on his lips. A golden circlet with white stones sat on his head. And above him . . . The entire ceiling was painted.

It was a rainbow of imagery of the galaxy. Majestic mountains, vast oceans, sweeping fields of grass, golden desert dunes, proud cities, and stretches of stars in between.

It was beautiful as the Empire and the young Emperor.

"It shall be done," Vader said.

Chapter Text

Luke flipped the switch to turn off the engine of his X-Wing. He pulled his helmet off and looked at the landing pad and the city beyond. Somewhere in this floating city was Han and Leia as well as Darth Vader. There was a tightness in his chest at the thought of that man. The man who had killed his father and had hunted the Rebellion down ruthlessly since the destruction of the Death Star two years ago.

"Artoo," Luke said. The droid beeped. "Remember, you find Han and Leia and help them get out of here." An inquisitive beep. "I've got to face him. I've got to defeat him."

There was a sad whine from the droid. Luke ignored it. He had to.

He couldn't dwell too much on what could go wrong. He had to focus on what could go right.

On winning.

The halls and walkways of the city were empty and quiet. It seemed odd. There was tension in the air, as if a storm was rolling in and lightning would strike at any moment. The hair on the back of his neck and on his arms stood on end. A lump formed in his throat. He became so acutely aware of the weight on his belt sitting on his hips. Of his lightsaber.

He kept moving through the city towards the eye of the storm where the cold and darkness grew thick and heavy.

Every now and then he'd stop. His hand would go to his belt and to the wall. Sometimes, he would have to pause and take a moment. He would close his eyes, gather his strength, and move on. It felt like hours later but it had only been about twenty minutes that he found himself in a room filled with steam. Darth Vader stood at the top of a set of stairs.

"The Force is with you, young Skywalker," Vader rumbled. "But you are not a Jedi yet."

He could do this. He could stop Vader here. And if he couldn't . . . He would. He would kill Vader. He pulled his lightsaber off his belt and ignited it. He walked cautiously up the steps with his blade always facing lit his red lightsaber in response, and they both paused to consider each other.

What was under that mask? In that cave on Dagobah, he had seen his own face under it. What did Vader look like? Was he once a bright-eyed youth hoping to be a Jedi? Like Luke was? Like his father had been?

His father . . . had been killed by Vader.

Regardless of whoever Vader had been, it didn't matter. Vader had chosen his side. He had betrayed and murdered Anakin Skywalker. He was a threat and a menace. He needed to be stopped, and Luke was going to be the one to do that.

The blades hummed and hissed as they struck each other. Luke pushed the offensive; Vader was forced to move backward on the defense.

"You have learned much, young one," Vader noted.

"You'll find I'm full of surprises," Luke said.

He smiled internally to himself. Maybe he could beat Vader in combat- Vader swooped in fast. Luke could barely track him. The Sith was nothing more than a blur. The saber hissed as it slipped under Luke's blue saber, knocked it up, and sent it flying out of Luke's hand. He barely had time to register the loss as Vader's saber slashed at his feet. Luke jumped back and lost his balance. He rolled down the small set of stairs and landed hard on the floor.

His heart drummed loud in his ears. He snapped his head up to see Vader in the air coming right at him. Luke rolled away just in time to avoid him as he landed.

"Your destiny lies with me, Skywalker," Vader said. "Obi-Wan knew this to be true."

"No!" Luke shouted.

He cautiously stepped away from Vader, never taking his eyes off of the dark Sith. Was it time? Had he lost? No. Not yet. He hadn't lost yet. He could still get out of this-

Vader dashed forward. His sword swung fast; Luke dodged but lost his balance unaware that he was at the edge of the walkway. He fell into a small dark hole. Machinery all around him started to hum. Freezing steam hissed out of tubes. This place wasn't safe, so he jumped straight out of the hole as liquid metal poured in. The Force helped him soar out of the hole and directly into the hoses in the ceiling. He clung tightly to one afraid to fall back into the pit.

Vader was looking directly at him.

"Impressive," the deep voice rumbled. Vader slashed out with saber and cut a hose. Steam poured out, and Luke scrambled away. "Most impressive." It almost sounded like he was impressed. Was Vader praising him?

No matter. Luke jumped down and grabbed the cut hose. He pushed it at Vader, who let out a grunt as the hot steam hit him. Luke raised his hand and his lightsaber hilt flew into his outstretched hand. He instantly ignited it.

Vader raised his own blade.

"Obi-Wan has taught you well. You have controlled your fear. Now release your anger," Vader said.

Luke dashed forward and their fight continued. He had to end this. The alternative . . .

He didn't let his mind go there. He instead focused on the fight. He could do this! Vader stepped away from Luke's most recent onslaught. Feeling more confident, Luke charged forward and managed to knock Vader off the platform. Energy buzzed through Luke's veins, but it was starting to burn out. He was tired and sweaty, but it wasn't over yet.

He stood at the edge of the platform and looked down into the darkness, but there was no sign of Vader. Deactivating his sword, he jumped into the shadows.

Had R2 found Leia and Han? Had they escaped? Would he see them soon? He hoped so, but he still had unfinished business. His hand slipped into his pocket, grabbed a small device, and placed it against a wall. There was a soft beep as it activated. He continued on and entered a tunnel-like hallway. There was a growing coldness - it was sharp and seemed to snap at him hungrily. He pulled out his lightsaber and ignited it as he stepped into the next room, moving toward a large window that looked out at a large shaft. Possibly the main reactor shaft of the floating city.

He wasn't able to look long. He could feel the sharp cold at his back. He turned around and ignited his lightsaber. He stood ready as Vader approached, lightsaber lit. He slowly positioned his hands on the hilt.

They both stood ready to fight.

Luke shifted. He was ready to move at the first moment Vader moved. But he hadn't expected a large piece of machinery to come off the wall and fly at him from behind. He slashed it in half while Vader used the opportunity to approach from behind. Luke spun.

They were back to trading blows. The lightsabers hummed and hissed as they clashed. Luke stared into Vader's mask. Was he even a man? Who was he? Had he known Anakin Skywalker well before he betrayed him? How had it happened? Luke had been too focused. A new piece of machinery slammed into his shoulder and the back of his head. He grunted as one of his hands let go of the saber and came up to his head.

He took only a second to collect himself. He gripped his saber in both hands and brought it up. He was hunched over. His body was soaked with sweat, sore and bruised, but he gripped his saber tightly.

Vader didn't approach. Instead another piece of machinery broke off the wall and flew at Luke. He swung at it, but the move went wild. The blade never touched it; instead the machinery hit his arm. He staggered back a few steps and before he could get his sword back up another chuck hit him. He swung, trying to stop the barrage, but he couldn't even tell which direction they were coming from. Another piece hit his back. He rose his saber up hoping to catch the next piece. It zoomed by him and crashed into the window.

Instantly the air was sucked from the room. The wind was too strong. Luke tried to keep his footing, he leaned over and grabbed a nearby console, but his hold was weak with his other hand still holding his lit saber. His hand slipped and suddenly his feet left the ground.

He was yanked backward out the window and into the large shaft.

For a moment, his heart was nothing but ice. He was going to die. But somehow he was able to grab onto a walkway jutting out into the large reactor shaft.

He barely managed to grab it and hung there freely for a second before he started to pull himself up. Once safely on the walkway, he rolled over to look down at the endless shaft.

Was it time? Had he lost? His hand slipped into his pocket and pulled out another small device. He placed it on the walkway before he stood up. He limped forward. He was sore and battered. Could he still win? Or . . .

The walkway looped around a large control room that hung in the middle of the reactor shaft. It was windy in the shaft. It snapped and bit at Luke and only made his many small cuts sting. He leaned against the side, his eyes always on the railing, and the long fall beyond it. He stopped twice, again to pull something out of his pocket and attach it to the wall, then rounded the corner and slipped into the open doorway.

His eyes darted around the room looking for strategic spots to stick a small round device to. His lightsaber was in his hand as the hair on the back of his neck stood on end. He barely managed to duck as Vader stepped out and slashed at Luke with his red saber. Luke's saber was up instantly to block the oncoming blows, which are hard and heavy. Something had changed. Luke realized Vader had been only toying with him earlier. Now these blows spoke of desperation and conclusion. Of ending this.

No!

Luke has been pushed ba