Author Note: This was originally a one shot but I'm going to expand it to a four chapter mini-fic.
The Star Destroyer Devastator
In his hyperbaric chamber, Darth Vader felt the hyperdrive engines go silent as his capital ship dropped out of hyperspace.
He groaned softly and, using the Force, guided his fearsome and necessary black helmet over his head.
It settled with a click, and he heard the steady rhythmic whoosh of his respirator begin, forcing air into his lungs, forcing air into his lungs, forcing air into his lungs.
He opened the chamber, rose carefully to his feet and moved into his main quarters. Outside the transparisteel window was Imperial Center, full of its teeming billions.
Darth Vader was fairly certain that the most wretched, dissolute, ill, poverty stricken beggar on Imperial Center was, at this point, a happier individual than he was.
How he hated this day. Hated it hated it hated it. Loathed it. Despised it. Wished that he could time warp through this day, and every anniversary of this day until his life finally, mercifully ended.
He feared it.
He, Darth Vader, destroyer of worlds, the second most powerful man in the galaxy, was terrified of this day.
Because this day, more than all the other days, he couldn't forget about her.
About Padme, his wife.
On this day, 17 years ago, he had…
But no, he would not think about it. He would not. He had tortured himself and berated himself and hated himself for 17 years now. He had wept dry tears from ducts destroyed in the fires of Mustafar.
There was no point in thinking about it.
But no, it was happening again. Again, her lovely face swam in his vision, lit golden in the flames of Mustafar, her hands at her throat, her mouth moving in desperate fear.
How he had loved her. How she had loved him. He knew, he knew, that until that terrible, final moment, she had never feared him.
To think that the last thing she saw…
But no, he would not think about it.
With a vicious stab of his finger, Vader physically pushed the button which opened his door. He stormed out of his chambers, heading for the main landing bay. He noted, peripherally, the Stormtroopers stiffening to attention, and sensed the officers near him deliberately finding sudden reasons to vacate the corridors where he was walking.
That was all for the better. He hated humanity this day, and every alien race as well. His temper was never completely dormant, and today of all days…
His TIE Advanced was waiting for him.
With quick and fluid moves, he opened the cockpit and slid in. Ordinarily, he would be flown to Imperial City in a shuttle, but today he would allow himself the minor pleasure of flying his own craft onto the roof of the Senate Building.
The Sith Lord's hands moved automatically as he lifted off the Devastator into space. As usual, the expanse around Imperial Center was a maelstrom of shipping, of every description and purpose. His high level codes, however, provided an open channel into Imperial City. He was slightly annoyed by the honor guard of TIE's flying behind him, but he knew that Imperial Navy protocol required it.
Vader smoothly landed the TIE on a prime spot on the roof, and leaped rapidly to the ground. A few Imperial officers lined up by his ship and stood at attention but he ignored them, moving quickly to an elevator and descending to the15th floor, where his work offices were.
The Senate Building was teeming with life as well. For all that Palpatine had worked hard, and succeeded, in reducing the power of the Senate to nearly nothing, there were still crowds of people everywhere – politicians, diplomats, aides, guards.
Again, he ignored everyone, and the crowds parted to allow him passage.
Outside his quarters were two sentries, who saluted but did not speak.
Inside, finally, he was alone. And it was quiet, save for the wretched sound of his respirator.
He wanted to be alone, but he feared it as well. Because of her, because of the memories…
Hastily, he strode to his workstation and opened a message from His Master, Emperor Palpatine.
His eyes widened slightly. There was enough work assigned to him that it would be nearly impossible for him to finish it all before the Emperor returned in 8 days. But that was not unexpected.
For he was in disgrace, and this work, most of it dull and mind numbing, was just the first part of his punishment.
In spite of himself, the Sith Lord shuddered. It was quite likely that he would be disciplined with Force Lightening when Sidious returned, and that, too, was one of the few things that Darth Vader feared.
He sighed softly. He should be in Naboo right now, 'celebrating' Empire Day at the side of his master. Palpatine traveled to his planet of origin every few years and this year had gone during the week long celebration in memory of the Sith Master's ascension to Emperor 17 years ago.
17 years ago today, when Padme…
And Vader couldn't do it. He had traveled with his Master to Naboo more than a week ago, intending to close off every memory of her at Varykino, every memory of their marriage ceremony on a glorious evening, with the sun's rays shining off the pure blue of the waters off Varykino's precious shores.
But he could not control his own mind and his own memories. Every day on Naboo had proven harder, and the Force had trembled and roiled around him, and he had killed 14 men in a rage, and finally his Master had ordered him back to Imperial Center.
With cold, and dark, warnings of punishment.
Vader closed his eyes, then opened them. Work was a distraction, and he couldn't sleep today of all days anyway, so…
He opened the first document and perused it, considering ore mining in the Outer Rim and Hutt attacks on transports.
And then he felt it.
A tremor in the Force. A tremor of power. Nearby.
Darth Vader frowned and turned his head slightly. What was that? Who was that?
He reached out his Force sense, seeking. Yes, there was someone, apparently in the Senate building. There was no hint of training and no response to his own Force touch but someone strong in the Force was here!
Vader shook his head irritably. It could be one of the new Hands, minor Force sensitives trained by Sidious himself.
It didn't feel like one of them though. There was a certain tainted sense to those whom the Emperor trained personally. And this individual seemed especially strong for a Hand.
He should investigate. He needed to investigate. If there was a significant, previously unknown, Force sensitive here in the Senate, he needed to find out about it and deal with him or her, probably in a permanent fashion.
With an irritable sigh, Vader rose to his feet and strode out of his door, down a corridor, and into an elevator, which was hastily emptied by its passengers when they realized Lord Vader wanted it.
His hand hovered on the control panel and he stretched out, waited, sensed, until he pressed the button for Level 7.
Senatorial offices. Interesting.
Again, he allowed his Force sense to guide him, and it led him unerringly to the Senate office of Leia Organa of Alderaan. Outside the door stood two armed guards, dressed in the livery of Alderaan.
"Open the door," Vader ordered.
The first guard blinked in astonishment, then said cautiously, "My Lord, Queen Leia is unavailable for an audience at this…"
Vader reached out his hand and the man started to choke. The other apparently hit an alarm as the door opened 20 seconds later to reveal the Queen of Alderaan, Leia Organa.
"Lord Vader, would you kindly release my guard," she demanded imperiously.
Vader turned to her and let go of his Force grip, "Certainly, your Highness. I merely wished to see you and your guard was proving a hindrance."
He looked at her curiously. She was not the Force presence he was sensing, though there was something about her…
Truthfully, there had always been something about Princess Leia, now Queen Leia, of Alderaan. She was strong, smart, feisty and bold, much like another young Senator. She even looked quite a bit like Pad…
No, he would not think of her.
"Won't you come in?" the Queen inquired in a slightly sarcastic tone, even as she swept away from the door and into the medium sized reception room which had been set aside for her during her days as a Senator. Two doors led into inner rooms, and he sensed the strong Force presence a short distance away.
Two men were carefully packing up everything in the office and placing the items in transparisteel boxes, which were then being laid on hoverboards for easy transport.
"You are leaving?" Vader inquired carefully.
Part of him wanted to tear through the door and find the individual generating that remarkable Force signal, but with Leia Organa, it would be wise to move cautiously.
Quickly, Vader pulled the relevant information from his memory. About 2 months ago, Bail and Breha Organa and their daughter Leia had been on a mercy mission to Shili after a Geonosian flu outbreak, brought by immigrants, had caused great devastation among the Togruta inhabitants. Their ship had experienced a malfunction, dropped out of hyperspace, and crash landed on one of the outer planets of the Kiros system. While the ship had maintained structural integrity, the planet was so highly radioactive that all the ship's members had been seriously affected. By the time they were rescued by Togrutas from the main planet of Kiros, the damage had been done.
The Organas and their accompanying retinue had fallen ill and, after several weeks of deterioration, all but one had died. Leia Organa had survived, to the surprise of many, though the marks of her ordeal were upon her face and body.
Her glorious hair had fallen out, and she wore a scarf over her head. Her face was pale and thin. And while her spirit clearly remained strong, her voice was weak.
Vader knew what most did not, that the 'accident' was no accident. Palpatine was concerned about the Organas, and Alderaan – he knew that Bail in particular was drifting towards rebellion against the Empire. Palpatine also believed that the Organas were too popular and well connected, and that moving openly against them would cause more turmoil than necessary.
Thus the sabotage, and the 'accident' which was meant to result in a fatal crash. The successful landing of the ship on the radioactive planet had been a surprise, mitigated by the poisoning from radioactivity which resulted in the death of the Queen and her consort.
Leia Organa had, a few weeks ago, been crowned Queen.
"I am queen of Alderaan now, Lord Vader," Organa said, breaking into his thoughts, "And as such I have a responsibility to live on Alderaan for the needs of my subjects."
She nodded at the two men, who had finished loading everything on the hovercarts and now left the room, leaving her alone with the Dark Lord of the Sith.
Darth Vader nodded at her words, and turned toward the door of interest just as it slid open. A young man strode in and Vader took a breath out of sync with his respirator.
Yes! This young man was the source of the remarkable Force signal! A young man, probably in his late teens, with bleached blond hair, blue eyes, and heavily tanned skin. Not tall, thin, quite unremarkable to look at. But… this close Vader could feel the youth in the Force like a supernova. Who was this young man? And how had he been missed for so many years?
The young man lifted his chin and looked straight into Vader's eyes, which in itself was remarkable. It wasn't like anyone could see his eyes through the mask.
The young man wasn't afraid either. Nor was he hostile. He was, obviously, curious, but there was no hint of terror.
After a long, measuring moment, he looked at the Queen, "Everything is all set in there, Leia. Are you about ready to go?"
Leia? That was not the normal address of an Alderaanian to his liege. And the accent was Outer Rim. A boyfriend, perhaps?
"Thanks, Luke. Yes, I think we're ready to go. Should I signal for the ship?"
"I've already done it. It'll take about 30 minutes to load everything on and do preflight checks, and then we'll go. In the meantime, you should sit down. You look exhausted. Once we're on board, I'll fly us out of here and you should just go to bed."
There was a hesitant pause, and then Queen Leia looked at Lord Vader, "Is there anything else, Lord Vader?"
Vader looked at the boy, "You are the Queen's pilot, then?"
The young man responded carefully, "Well, yes, I'm her pilot but I'm also…"
He looked at the Queen, who finished, "my brother."
Vader froze in disbelief. What?
His first instinct was anger, that they would lie to him so openly. But then he realized that the Force was singing the truth. If this… Luke… was Leia Organa's brother…
"I wasn't aware, your Highness, that you had a brother," he said after a moment.
The two young people exchanged looks, and then the boy, Luke, said quietly, "We didn't know either, sir. Leia and I were both adopted as infants by different families and didn't know until… until 6 weeks ago that we are twins."
Vader turned back to the Queen, "That seems quite extraordinary, your Highness."
The Queen lowered herself onto a chair. She did look pale.
"I agree, Lord Vader," she said wearily, "We don't know why… why we were separated, why Luke was sent to live in comparative poverty in the Outer Rim, when I grew up in luxury…"
"Leia, I already told you. Your father Bail took one look at me and thought, 'This boy doesn't have a diplomatic bone in his body. I'm taking the girl.'"
This was said with a warm smile, and Vader sensed a massive Force surge between the two young people. He focused, with a sense of disbelief, on the woman. He had never noticed any Force sensitivity in the young Organa, but now, as he probed her delicately, he realized she had remarkable shields. There was no definite rule that said siblings would both be Force sensitives, but based on the fluctuations of the Force around the twins, it was likely they both were.
He shook his head slightly, "How did you meet, then?"
Organa shot him a narrowed look. Vader was well known for his indifference to the lives of others, so this interrogation was no doubt puzzling to her. But the young man, Luke , responded politely, "When Leia's father lay dying, he was able to tell her that she had a twin and where I was living. They were able to contact me and I rushed to Alderaan. The hope, which was realized, was that I could donate some genetic material to help her survive the radioactive damage. Leia's youth meant that she could recover more readily than her parents."
He looked at the woman and suddenly dropped down next to her, putting an obviously loving arm around her narrow waist, "I'm so sorry, Leia."
Organa was clearly debilitated by her illness, or she would never have broken down in front of the Dark Lord of the Sith, whom he knew she despised. But the loss of family, of health, the sudden changes of circumstances, had clearly worn her out. For a long minute, Organa tucked her head into her brother's chest, her shoulders shaking slightly, while the youth hugged her tightly.
This gave Vader time to think. The boy was a powerhouse in the Force, far stronger than the average Force user.
He could, potentially, be the apprentice Vader had long been looking for, a servant whom he could train in secret to overthrow the Emperor.
But, and this was a serious issue, there was the problem of Organa. Twins were… complicated. There had been very few known pairs of Force sensitive twins in the Order, but the bond was extremely strong. It was unlikely that the boy could be successfully turned, and trained, in secret if his sister was alive. His attachment to her, his love for her, would pull his loyalty away from Vader and the Dark Side.
The Queen sat up suddenly and quickly wiped her face off her with her sleeve. She stood up, and her brother with her.
"I really must apologize for that display, Lord Vader," she said shakily, "I'm afraid I'm still physically debilitated. I hope you'll excuse us now as the sooner I get to my ship, the better."
Vader hesitated. He could just arrest them both, but Palpatine would be enraged. The Princess's beauty, her youth, her passionate speeches, and her status as regal orphan made her a very sympathetic figure in the Holopress. To suddenly move against her would be most unwise.
And his Master was already angry with him.
"Certainly, your Highness," Vader improvised, "I am sure your brother will get you back to Alderaan safely and will be a great source of comfort to you in the coming months."
"Actually," the boy responded calmly, "I'm heading back home after I drop Leia off on Alderaan. The Lars need my help with the harvest."
"I really wish you'd stay on Alderaan, Luke, you know I …"
Again, the loving smile.
"It's bad enough the Alderaanian press found out you've got an Outer Rim farmboy for a brother. I'm not much of a politician, but even I know that while the political situation settles, you don't need me hanging out flying your boring little shuttles around. And my aunt and uncle need my help. I'll come and visit when I can, in a few months."
Good. The boy would be traveling back home and he would ensure that some… accident would befall him.
Again, Darth Vader stared at the boy, and considered. He would try to take him secretly, alive, but if that proved impossible he would destroy the boy en route to wherever his home was.
Whatever else happened, he would make sure Palpatine never found this young man. As for the Princess, it was best that either she or her brother die soon. Together, they might prove difficult to control. But if she was a Force sensitive, she might be a more appropriate servant given that her shielding was so remarkably strong.
That decided, Vader bowed slightly to the Queen, turned to her brother, and said, "I trust, young Lars, that your trip home will be uneventful."
He knew, from long experience, that the vocoder would not transmit the ironic inflection of this statement, as he had no intention of it being an uneventful journey.
"Thank you, sir," the boy responded, "And it's Skywalker."
Darth Vader had already taken a step toward the door when that name stopped him like a pole-axed shaak.
He swung around, "What did you say?"
The boy's eyebrows raised just slightly, "My name is Luke Skywalker, my Lord. Leia of course carries the last name of the royal house of Alderaan, but I'm named after my father."
Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, formerly Anakin Skywalker, stared in shocked incredulity at the young man before him.
Blazing Force sensitivity…
And then he looked at the twin.
Political ability and power and courage and….
He felt suddenly weak. It could not be. It could not.
"What," he managed to force out, "was your father's name?"
"Anakin Skywalker," the youth responded calmly. Vader sensed rising concern in the girl, however. She knew, as her brother clearly did not, that Vader's interest was unusual.
The room spun. She had died at his hand. He had killed her, and the child. He had…
"When were you born?" he demanded suddenly, harshly.
Skywalker looked concerned now, and glanced at his sister. There was a hesitant pause and then the Queen stated, "Actually, our Life Day is today, Lord Vader. We are 17 years old today."
Vader staggered back.
Sidious had said, that in his anger… he had killed her. All these long years, he had thought, he had known, that he had destroyed his angel, and the child…
The room trembled and shook. Cracks appeared in the transparisteel window which overlooked the main square of Imperial City.
He had twins. He and Padme had twins. And he had not killed his Angel. She had lived at least long enough to give birth to… his twins.
The girl's voice broke him out of his internal turmoil. He looked up. She was even paler, but her voice was calm.
"If you are going to kill us, which seems likely, just do so. There is no reason to take down the building in the process."
He stilled himself, aghast.
"Forgive me," he said humbly, noting the surprised look on both young faces at this response.
How close he had come, how close, to killing his own son casually. How indifferent he had been to the sabotage of the Organas' ship which had very nearly killed his daughter, which had killed her adopted parents.
Darth Vader drew himself up to his full height. 17 years ago, he had promised Padme that he would save her through his power in the Dark Side.
Today, faced with his children, her children, he promised he would save them with his own life, if necessary. No more devotion to Sidious. He would die for these two young ones in front of him.
He spoke again, and the vocoder did record the emotion in his voice this time, "Forgive me for alarming you. I am overwhelmed with shock and yes, joy. My dear children, I was once Anakin Skywalker. I am your father."