Descent into Darkness
by Valerie Vancollie
valeriev84 at hotmail dot com
Notes: 1) Leia is not Luke's sister in this fan fic, she really is the daughter of Bail Organa.
2) While this fic has never appeared online before, it is not a new fic, it was written in the late 90s and so has my writing style from back then, not now. It was written by a teenager, so take it or leave it knowing that. I also hadn't bothered with all the details like checking on Admiral Piett's name, so he is just a generic admiral here. It was also written before the Prequel Trilogy came out, so references to the past don't align with those events.
3) This probably has appeared in a Star Wars fanzine somewhere, so if you ever read those, you may already have seen this fic before.
Luke was lifting C-3PO into the air, chair and all, when he suddenly became aware of the presence. He was so startled by it that he lost his grip on the chair and C-3PO fell to the ground with a yell.
"Luke! What's wrong?" Han asked knowing that Luke had been lifting 3PO. "Why did you drop him?"
But before Luke could answer storm troopers appeared all around them and opened fire on the Ewoks. Chewie roared in surprise and tried for the hundredth time to free himself, but to no avail, the knots were too tight and the rope too strong. Leia screamed in pain as a blaster bolt caught her on the shoulder and spun her around.
"Leia!" Han and Luke yelled simultaneously.
But Leia didn't hear them. Then, as fast as it had begun, it was over. Dead Ewok bodies littered the ground and storm troopers blocked every exit. Not that it mattered, Luke, Han and Chewie were still bound hand and foot to the poles the Ewoks had tied them to, and Leia sat on the ground holding her left shoulder and looking around in surprise. Artoo had taken a blaster bolt and 3PO was pinned to the ground by the chair he had been sitting in earlier.
Then some of the storm troopers parted and Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, appeared. He took a few moments to study the damage and then his eyes fell on his son. Luke was still tied up, but Vader knew that the boy could free himself if he tried to. Then he saw the lightsaber, it was held in the hands of the former Chief of the Ewoks, who had been one of the first to die. Vader held out his hand and the lightsaber flew into it. He looked at it for a second and then turned to the commander.
"Good work, Commander," he stated. "Put the prisoners in binders and then take them up to the Death Star for interrogation. But leave the one clad in black with me."
Immediately some storm troopers stepped forward and hauled Leia to her feet. Then, ignoring her scream of pain, they viciously pulled her arms forward and put binders on her.
"Leave her alone!" Han demanded angrily. "Can't you see she's hurt?"
Vader was about to tell Solo to shut up when the sudden anger in Luke made him stop. He turned around to study Luke and saw the anger in his son's eyes.
'Good,' he thought to himself. 'He has a weakness for his friends, this could be... useful.'
Luke suddenly realized that his anger was too high and he started to calm himself when he noticed that his father was watching him. He stared back defiantly when he suddenly felt Vader's touch in his mind.
'No!' he thought as he shielded his mind from his father's touch.
'Good,' Vader thought. 'His skills are complete. Once he learns to use the Dark Side he will be very powerful indeed.'
Vader watched silently as the storm troopers put Han, Chewie and finally Luke in binders. They then freed C-3PO and put a restraining bolt on him.
"What do we do with the R2 unit, my Lord?" the commander then asked.
"Take him with you," Vader replied. "He may be carrying valuable information."
A couple of storm troopers stepped forward and took hold of the frame Artoo was still tied up to. They then pushed Han, Leia and Chewbacca into the center of their group and were about to leave when Han spoke:
"Vader, leave Luke alone. Haven't you done enough to him already?"
Han was about to say more, but suddenly an invisible hand took hold of his throat and started to squeeze. Han's eyes bulged as he gasped for breath.
"Han, no!" Leia exclaimed as she tried to get to him, but the storm troopers held her back.
Just as Han thought he was going to pass out from lack of breath some air found its way past the invisible hand. Not a lot of air, but just enough to keep him from passing out. Han didn't know how the air got through Vader's grip, and he didn't really care. All he cared about was that the air was there.
Leia looked on helplessly as Han choked. 'He can't go without air much longer without passing out,' she thought, but miraculously Han didn't pass out. 'What the blazes?!' Leia thought, but realization dawned when she saw Luke.
Luke was standing silently in place, his face a mask of concentration, and his eyes shut. Leia could also see beads of sweat on his forehead. Leia had known that Luke was powerful, but she hadn't thought that he was this powerful. Here he was, interfering with Darth Vader's power!
Vader had noticed Luke's interference straight away, but he had just gone on tightening his grip on Solo's throat, challenging his son to try to stop him. And Luke had accepted the challenge, knowing that his father would kill Han if he didn't. Vader was both pleased and surprised when Luke succeeded in getting a little air through his grip. And although he wanted to challenge his son further, to see how strong the boy really was, he knew that Solo was too valuable to waste, no he could not afford to kill Solo before he was interrogated. Afterwards though, well that was another matter altogether.
As soon as the invisible hand released him, Han dropped to his knees, gasping.
"Take them away, Commander," Vader ordered with an edge to his voice.
The storm troopers yanked Han to his feet and marched him and the others away. Soon father and son were left alone, both dressed in black, and both determined to make the other see things his way. The only other living beings in the area were a small squad of storm troopers waiting just out of hearing range.
Vader looked at his son, then down at the lightsaber in his own black gloved hand and then back up at his son.
"I see you've constructed a new lightsaber," Vader said as he suddenly ignited the emerald-green blade.
Luke stiffened as Vader ignited his lightsaber, but he didn't move. His father wouldn't kill him, or would he?
Vader saw Luke stiffen.
"Your skills are complete. Indeed you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen."
Vader watched as Luke stiffened even more, but then the boy seemed to regain control and he calmed down.
"I will not turn... Father," Luke choked out the word.
"So you've accepted the truth," Vader gloated.
"I've accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father," Luke replied.
"That name no longer has any meaning for me," Vader said as he stepped closer to Luke, bringing the tip of the lightsaber under Luke's chin.
Luke swallowed involuntarily as he could feel he lightsaber's heat and smell its electric tang.
Vader eyed Luke and saw him swallow. Behind the mask that separated him from the rest of the galaxy Vader smiled. His boy was strong, had a weakness for his friends, and he didn't want to die. Vader knew that his master would be able to turn his son, especially now that they had Luke's friends. Luke must have caught the change in his mood, for his son suddenly looked up straight into his eyes, even though the mask made that physically impossible.
"The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force, he is your master now," Vader stated as he signaled to the storm troopers, but he kept the tip of the lightsaber near the tender skin under Luke's chin.
"Then my father is truly dead," Luke replied just before the storm troopers arrived.
"Take him to the shuttle," Vader ordered as he shut off the lightsaber.
"As you wish, my Lord," the commander replied as the storm troopers took their places around Luke. They then marched him away.
"Leia are you all right?" Han asked as soon as the door closed behind the storm troopers leaving him, Leia and Chewie in the detention cell on board the shuttle.
"I'll survive, what about you?" she replied.
"I'm fine now," Han stated, and looked up as Chewie grumbled something.
"I don't know," he replied. "One minute I thought Vader was going to strangle me, and then suddenly I could breath again."
"Luke," Leia informed them. "Luke did it. As soon as you didn't pass out I knew something wasn't right. So I looked around and saw Luke standing still with sweat on his forehead and his eyes shut in concentration."
"Luke?" Han asked incredulous. "B... but... how?"
"I'm not sure, but it must have something to do with that Force thing of his. There's no other explanation," Leia reasoned. "I mean he interfered with Vader's power!"
"Yeah, I guess," Han replied absently.
"What is it?"
"I'm worried about him. You know what happened last time he was with Vader. I just hope he's all right."
"Yes, I know," Leia replied and looked up as Chewie grumbled something.
"He wants to know what's in store for us," Han translated.
Leia just looked at him for a moment, remembering her last Imperial interrogation.
"He doesn't want to know," she whispered quietly. "He doesn't want to know."
Han was moving to embrace her when the sudden lift off knocked them all off their feet.
Luke Skywalker sat looking out of the window of the shuttle, still a little surprised that they hadn't locked him up in the detention cell. But then, he figured that was where Han, Leia and Chewie would be. Luke looked up sharply as the door opened, causing his guards to raise their blasters. Luke just ignored them looking up at Vader as he entered the room.
"Stun him if he tries anything," Vader ordered the guards, who immediately turned their blasters from kill to stun.
"Yes, my Lord," one of them replied.
Vader looked once more at Luke, who looked straight back at him, then he turned and left the room, leaving the guards to wonder who this prisoner of theirs was. Luke looked at the closed door for another moment, then he turned to look back out the window, feeling fingers of ice grip his heart.
"Well, looks like we're here," Han said as they felt the jolt of the landing.
As if to confirm what he had just said the door opened and two armed storm troopers stepped in. They were followed by the commander, who looked at them for a second.
"Out," he finally ordered as he pointed to the door. "And don't try anything, we will kill you three if you make any trouble."
"Us three?" Han asked as he moved towards the door. "What about Luke?"
"Lord Vader seems to want your friend alive. If he tries anything he'll get stunned," the commander replied as he marched them down the hall to the ramp. Here more storm troopers took up positions around the three of them before they descended the ramp.
Once in the docking bay Chewie, who was taller than his storm trooper escorts, caught sight of Luke. Chewie roared in surprise. 'What was Luke doing here?' There was only one detention cell on Imperial shuttles and he, Han and Leia had been in it. 'How had Luke gotten here?'
Leia looked up at Chewie's roar, and she too saw Luke.
"Luke!" she called out before she could stop herself.
She received a hit, with the butt of a blaster, in her stomach for her effort.
"Leia!" Han cried out as he saw the storm troopers hit her.
But when he tried to reach her he felt a blaster mussel in his back. He stopped knowing that getting himself killed wouldn't help Leia. Instead he looked up at Luke, but he didn't recognize the Luke that looked back at him. There was a certain hardness in his face that he hadn't seen before, and his eyes! Luke normally didn't show his fear, but now, now his ice blue eyes were full of fear and a certainty of something terrible to come. Han wanted to kill Vader for whatever he had done to Luke, for Han knew that Luke wasn't the kind to be scared easily. Han's eyes then scanned the room for Vader, and it didn't take long to find him. From what he could see Vader was talking to a senior officer.
Just as Han was about to look back to Luke, Vader ended his conversation and headed in Luke's direction. Luke seemed to know Vader was approaching for he turned around suddenly, startling his guards. One of them raised his blaster, to hit Luke as a warning, but Vader made a motion with his hand and the guard lowered his blaster.
Han was so involved in watching Luke and Vader that he didn't hear the storm trooper at first. It wasn't until the man pushed his blaster into Han's ribs that Han realized that Leia was back on her feet and that they were going to be taken away. Han shot one more look in Luke's direction before they left, and he saw that Vader had once again left Luke.
As they were led through the halls of the Death Star Han was trying to piece together what he had just seen, but by the time they had reached their destination Han still hadn't figured it out. It was only then that he realized that the storm troopers hadn't taken them to the detention cells. As the commander opened the door Han realized that they were in an Imperial interrogation chamber.
Chewie must have realized the same thing for he roared and tried to attack the guards. One of the guards seemed to be expecting the attack for he fired his blaster before Chewie even managed to reach the guard closest to him. Chewie took the blaster bolt in the stomach and went down with a roar.
"Chewie!" Han cried out as he shook his co-pilot, desperate for any sign of life, but found none. He was still shaking Chewie when the storm troopers hauled him to his feet and dragged him into the interrogation chamber away from Chewie's still form.
After Han, Leia and Chewie were taken away Luke just stood where he was, his mind racing. Things did not look good, not at all. Here he was, his father's prisoner, about to be taken to the Emperor and his friends were probably being taken to an interrogation chamber. At least the rest of the band was still on Endor, with some luck they might be able to bring down the shield.
Luke stopped thinking as Vader once again approached, only this time he signaled for Luke to follow him. Luke, seeing no point in resisting, followed his father down a corridor, his guards followed close behind. Vader led them to an elevator with two red robed guards on either side.
Royal Guards Luke realized instantly. One of the guards opened the elevator door and Vader and Luke stepped in. The door had just closed when Luke felt a great disturbance in the Force.
"Chewie!" he cried out as he fell to the floor.
The pain of Chewbacca's sudden death combined with Han and Leia's grief was so much that it took him a moment to regain his bearings. Vader turned and looked down at his son on the floor while reaching out with the Force at the same time to find Luke's friends. And indeed the Wookiee was dead, killed by a blaster bolt when he had tried to escape.
By the time Luke started to get over the shock of Chewbacca's sudden death they had reached their destination and the elevator door had opened.
"Come on," Vader said as he hauled Luke to his feet and pushed him out of the elevator.
Luke stumbled and nearly fell, but he managed to regain his balance. Then Vader was pushing him forward again. As they ascended the stairs Luke got over the shock and it was replaced by anger and hate. Vader felt the change in Luke and smiled.
Then they were at the top of the stairs. Luke saw the throne in front of him, but it was turned away so that the Emperor was looking out of the window and into space. Then the throne slowly started to turn around. Luke stared at the Emperor, trying to see the face of the man beneath the black hood, but failing to do so. All he could see were the Emperor's piercing yellow eyes looking back at him.
The Emperor watched Luke both seeing and feeling the struggle Luke was going through in order to control his temper.
"Welcome, young Skywalker," he said smiling. "I've been expecting you."
He looked Luke straight in the eyes and kept his gaze until Luke looked away. Smiling he then turned his attention to Luke's binders.
"You'll no longer need those," he said as he motioned ever so slightly with his finger.
Luke's binders opened and clattered noisily to the floor.
"Guards, leave us," the Emperor ordered.
The four Royal Guards turned around and left the room. Luke, meanwhile, was looking down at the binders on the floor and his free hands in front of him. His hands were free! He could now do anything he wanted, he could now avenge Chewie's death!
"Good, good," the Emperor laughed watching Luke intently. "Release your anger."
Luke just looked up at the Emperor as he tried to bring his anger under control. He couldn't afford to lose his temper, for if he did he would become a slave to the Dark Side of the Force.
"His lightsaber," Vader said, walking over to the Emperor and handing him Luke's weapon.
"Ah yes, a Jedi's weapon," the Emperor stated, then he put Luke's lightsaber on the arm of his throne, well within Luke's reach through the Force.
Just then a beeping came from the comlink built into the throne.
"Yes," the Emperor said looking up at Luke.
"The prisoners are ready for interrogation, your Majesty. Except for the Wookiee that is, he tried to escape and we had to kill him," came the reply from the comlink.
"I know," the Emperor informed his officer, while seeing Luke flinch visibly. "You may start interrogating the prisoners."
"No!" Luke said as he took a step forward.
At this the Emperor just smiled and turned a knob so that the comlink would only receive.
"Luke?" Han asked Leia looking confused. "Was that my imagination or did I just hear Luke?"
"No, I heard it to. But what is he doing with the Emperor?"
"He knew," Han suddenly realized.
"What?" Leia asked confused.
"In the docking bay he looked into my eyes, and all I could see was fear and a certainty that something terrible was going to happen," Han explained. "He knew Vader was going to take him to the Emperor. But why?"
"It must be because he's Jedi," Leia reasoned. "The Emperor hated the Jedi, I think he is afraid of Luke."
"Afraid of Luke?" Han asked astonished. "But..."
"Begin the interrogation," the commander interrupted. "And make it good, the Emperor is listening."
"What?!" Han exclaimed incredulous. "He's listening? Why that..."
But then the first needle was injected in him and Han felt like his veins were on fire. He screamed before he could stop himself. Leia heard him scream and then she too felt the prick of a needle in her arm, which was followed by the same burning in her veins as on the first Death Star. Only this time it was worse, much worse, and she too screamed.
"No!" Luke said again as he heard his friends scream.
Vader watched Luke from his place beside the Emperor. His son's face was a mask of pain and agony, pain from hearing and feeling his friends being tortured and agony from knowing that he could stop their pain by attacking the Emperor, but knowing that it would led him to ruin.
"Good, good," the Emperor laughed. "I can feel your anger. I am defenseless, take your Jedi weapon, use it. Strike me down with it."
Luke's eyes darted from the Emperor, to Vader, to his lightsaber, and then back to Vader.
"Your father won't help you, my young apprentice," Palpatine stated as he saw Luke look at Vader for help.
Vader saw Luke's face twitch slightly at the Emperor's new name for him.
Luke's thoughts were in turmoil, if he did anything it would be out of anger and hate, but his friends! Their combined pain was starting to overwhelm him. 'Han! Leia!' his mind screamed.
"They will die," the Emperor replied picking up on Luke's thoughts. "As will your Rebel fleet."
Startled, Luke looked up sharply.
"Oh yes, I know," the Emperor laughed, then suddenly his voice grew angry. "Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. It was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator, it is quite safe from your pitiful little band, an entire legion of my best troops awaits them," suddenly the Emperor's voice grew soft, almost sympathetic. "Oh, I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive."
Upon hearing this Luke lost any control he had over his temper. His lightsaber flew into his hand and he ignited it as he took the last few steps towards the Emperor. With pure hatred he raised his lightsaber and brought it down towards the Emperor. However his emerald green blade was blocked by his father's ruby red only inches from the Emperor's face. The two lightsabers sparked upon contact bathing the Emperor's face in an eerie ruby-emerald glow.
Meanwhile on the Endor moon the Rebel team had indeed failed its mission. Left without any leaders they had still attempted to capture the bunker, only to find an entire legion of storm troopers waiting for them. The storm troopers had relieved them of their weapons and had taken them to the vacant shuttle pad. There they had waited until the shuttle had returned from the Death Star and the Rebels were locked in the detention cell.
The shuttle had just docked in the main docking bay on board the Death Star when the Rebel fleet came out of hyperspace.
"All wings report in," General Lando Calrissian ordered.
Then he waited for them to reply before reporting to Admiral Ackbar:
"All wings accounted for, Admiral."
"Good," the Mon Calamari replied. "Commence attack on the Death Star."
But on board the Death Star Moff Jerjerrod had known about the attack and he also had his orders, orders which he now planned to carry out.
"Charge up the main laser and fire upon the Rebel fleet at will."
He then stood back and watched with pleasure as the first Rebel craft disappeared into a cloud of fire. This was going to be quite a show.
"That blast came from the Death Star!" Lando exclaimed in surprise, but then he was distracted by what Nien Nunb.
"What?!" he exclaimed. "Are you sure the shield's still up?"
"Dghge bdif jsudgt dh," Nien replied anxiously.
"Admiral, we have a problem," Lando spoke into the comlink.
"Yes, it's a trap," Admiral Ackbar replied. "Prepare to retreat."
"We're not going to get another shot at this," Lando pointed out.
"We have no choice, General Calrissian. Our fighters can't repel fire power of that magnitude."
"Han will have that shield down, we've got to give him more time."
"Admiral!" one of Ackbar's aides called out. "The homing beacon that was planted on Captain Merrick is transmitting from the Death Star!"
"What?!" Admiral Ackbar exclaimed. "General Calrissian prepare to retreat, our team is on board the Death Star."
"What?!" Lando exclaimed just as another Rebel ship went up in flames. "All wings this is Gold Leader, retreat, I repeat, retreat."
"But Sir, what about our team?" Wedge asked, not wanting to leave Luke behind.
"They've been captured," Lando responded his voice cracking. "All wings retreat."
But just as the Rebel fleet started to retreat the Imperial fleet attacked. The Rebel fleet scattered each trying to escape.
"I'm sorry Han, Chewie, Leia, Luke," Lando said softly as he managed to get the Falcon out of firing range of a Star Destroyer and pulled the hyperspace levers.
Lightsabers clashed as Luke and Vader fought; watching Emperor Palpatine laughed with evil pleasure. Luke's anger and hatred were alive in him and he was using the Dark Side. The Emperor than spoke into his comlink, but he kept his eyes on his servant and young apprentice.
"That is enough for now, Commander."
The Emperor knew that all Luke needed now was one more good shove and the boy would be completely his. And that blow would come in the form of pain, the pain of the deaths of his friends in the Rebel fleet as their ships were destroyed. He had noticed the Rebel fleet come out of hyperspace and knew that in just a few minutes the Death Star would start disintegrating it.
"Luke," Vader said as he blocked another of Luke's blows. "Accept the hate, use it."
Vader then took a step back so as to better block another of Luke's blows. He was both impressed and pleased with Luke's progress since Bespin. But he was still the stronger.
"Give in to the Dark Side and join us," he added.
Suddenly Luke stepped back, uncertain. He closed his eyes trying to organize his thoughts, but they were all clouded and unclear.
"Join you..." he muttered shaking his head to clear it.
Luke was falling rapidly into inky blackness, but some part of him held back. 'No, no,' it seemed to call out. 'No, your friends! Think about your friends!' it called to him. Midway into his headlong plunge into the darkness Luke froze, 'my friends!' his mind screamed.
"M... my... my friends," he muttered out loud.
Vader froze, it had seemed to be going so well: Luke had given into temptation and he had attacked the Emperor. Then the boy had fought him and Luke had just about given himself to the Dark Side when Vader had felt a change in his son.
'No!' he thought 'Is he going to get himself killed over a couple of Rebels?'
He looked up as the Emperor silently approached. At a signal form his master Vader relaxed, the Emperor obviously had a plan. He was wondering what his master had up his sleeve when he suddenly felt it: the screaming of terror and pain and then silence as a Rebel craft was destroyed. Then there came a second wave of pain and terror as another Rebel craft was destroyed.
"No!" Luke cried out as he too felt the pain and terror.
Desperately he searched for a way to shield himself from it, but his thoughts were still too clouded and he kept being distracted by an almost uncontrollable urge to give into the Darkness.
"The pain will go away in time," came Vader's voice. "Use your anger and hate to shield yourself from it."
Luke hesitated for just a second, but then he did as Vader instructed, giving into the Darkness. And he found that what his father had said was true, using his anger and hate he managed to put up a shield that kept out most of the pain and terror.
"Good, good," came the Emperor's voice, and somehow the Emperor's evil pleasure seemed to wash over him.
It was a sensation Luke had never felt before, but it was a sensation he liked very much.
"Now come, kneel before me and pledge your loyalty," the Emperor ordered.
When Luke opened his eyes Vader could see the anger and hate glowing there. For the third time that day Vader smiled.
Luke looked first at Vader and then he turned to face the Emperor. His lightsaber fell from his hand, forgotten. Luke looked at the Emperor for a moment and then he knelt before his new master. All he said was:
"Master," but that one word carried with it the ultimate surrender.
The Emperor looked down at his new young apprentice kneeling before him and smiled, letting his evil pleasure wash over Luke. Vader looked at his son and nodded, now, with Luke at his side, they he would be able to take care of the Rebellion once and for all. Or whatever was left of the Rebellion after today.
"Another group of Rebel scum, Sir," the storm trooper informed his superior officer who was on duty in the detention cell area.
"Another group? All right, you two," he ordered indicating two storm trooper guards standing next to the second door. "Search them."
The two guards put down their blasters and moved forward to search Captain Merrick and the rest of the shield generator team, when the second door suddenly opened and Han and Leia were half carried, half dragged into the room.
"General Solo, Princess Organa!" Captain Merrick exclaimed seeing the pain on their faces.
But Han didn't hear him. As soon as he saw the guards' blasters lying on the floor he wrenched himself free from his guard and, ignoring the pain, dove for the blasters. Captain Merrick saw what Han intended to do, so he threw himself onto the nearest guard and brought his bonded hands down on the guard's head. As he did so he saw Lieutenant Jenkins launch himself onto the other guard. Han grabbed the blaster and fired off three shots before the astonished troops could react, and by that time only two storm troopers were left. One of the two raised his blaster, aimed at Han, and screamed once as Leia hit him over the head with an empty storm trooper helmet. The last storm trooper was quickly taken out by two other members of the team. Han then turned to the astonished officer:
"Who's in the other cells?" he demanded.
"J... just a Sullustian and two Mon Calamari," the officer replied raising his hands.
"Unbind them," Han then ordered indicating the team.
The officer complied immediately, but he never took his eyes off the blaster.
"Are you going to kill me?" the officer asked almost hopefully.
"No," Leia replied before Han could answer. "No, we are going to leave you here in one of the detention cells. There you can sit and think about what Lord Vader will do to you for your failure."
The officer paled visibly, "No, please, please... kill me."
Captain Merrick stepped forward and picked up one of the blasters, looked at it then looked back to Leia who was now leaning against the wall for support.
"Where are Commander Skywalker and Chewbacca?" he inquired.
"Chewie is dead," Leia said quietly after a moment. "As for Luke, well Vader took him away. We think he is with the Emperor right now."
"The Emperor?!" Lieutenant Jenkins exclaimed. "Why? Why is he with the Emperor?"
"We're not sure," Han replied. "All we know is that the Emperor ordered our interrogation to begin, and then we clearly heard Luke yell 'No!'."
"Oh boy, first Vader and now the Emperor. What is it about him? Is this all revenge for the destruction of the first Death Star?" Lieutenant Jenkins inquired.
"I'm not sure," Leia answered honestly. "But I think it has something to do with the fact that he's a Jedi."
"Maybe, but I..."
"Later," Han interrupted. "Captain Merrick, you go let out the other prisoners and put our Imperial friend here in a cell."
"No, please!" the officer pleaded.
At this Han lost his patience, he changed the blaster from kill to stun and fired. Captain Merrick and another Rebel stepped forward and picked up the Imperial. They carried him to the nearest cell and threw him in. Then they went to free the other prisoners.
"All right, how many blasters do we have?" Leia asked taking charge of the situation.
"Seven," replied Lieutenant Jenkins. "One for everyone but the prisoners and you Princess."
"Just as well," Han replied, and after receiving a look from Leia, he added: "We don't know why they're here."
Leia glared at him, but she didn't have the strength to start a useless fight.
"All right, let's go," she said as soon as Captain Merrick came back with the other prisoners.
"Excuse me, your highness," Captain Merrick asked. "But what is our plan?"
"To get to the shuttle and blast out of here," Han replied.
"What about Luke?" Leia asked already knowing the answer, but needing to hear it from someone else.
"He could be anywhere if he isn't with the Emperor anymore. It would be stupid and foolish of us to go looking for him," Han replied with grief in his voice. "Now come on, lets go."
"Leaders of the Alliance," Mon Mothma said addressing the surviving leaders.
As she looked around she saw that everyone felt as angry and sad as she did. Angry at the Empire and sad for the loss of friends. Everyone in the room had lost at least one good friend. She saw Commander Wedge Antilles, now leader of Rogue Squadron, who had lost his good friend and superior Luke Skywalker. There was Admiral Ackbar who had been a good friend of Princess Leia Organa. There was General Madine who had lost two close friends on board the first ship that had been disintegrated by the Death Star. And then there was General Calrissian who had lost all four of his friends. She herself had lost her good friend and colleague Princess Leia Organa.
"I'm sure that you all know that our failure at Endor has cost us greatly. I have just received word that less then one fourth of our fleet has survived the Emperor's death trap."
A murmur of astonishment briefly filled the room.
"Less then one fourth?" Wedge asked.
"Yes, Commander," Mon Mothma replied and noticed that Wedge flinched at the title. He obviously didn't like replacing Commander Skywalker she noted.
"Do we have any information on what happened with General Solo, Princess Organa, Commander Skywalker and the rest of our shield generator team?" General Madine asked.
"All that we know is that at least one member of the team was on board the Death Star at the time of our attack."
"Might we know what the source of this information is?" Lando inquired.
"Of course General. Admiral Ackbar?" Mon Mothma said as she turned to the Mon Calamari.
"From the beginning we knew that there was a chance of our team being discovered, so we decided to put a homing beacon on one of the team members. This way we would be able to tell if the team had been captured or not, as it was the beacon was transmitting from the Death Star."
"Does this mean that the team members are still alive?" Lando asked, his voice suddenly hopeful.
"It means that at least Captain Merrick was alive at the time of our attack," Admiral Ackbar replied not wanting Lando, or Wedge for that matter, to get their hopes up only to be disappointed later. "You all know that General Solo, Princess Organa, Chewbacca and Commander Skywalker all have prices on their heads, and only Commander Skywalker's warrant states strictly that he is to be taken alive. So if it was at all possible the Empire would have taken Commander Skywalker alive. This means that, at the very least, there were probably two members of our team alive on board the Death Star. As for now... who knows? They could all be dead."
At this a heavy silence fell over the room. After a minute or two General Madine asked the question on everyone's mind:
"How did our spies get the false information? How did they learn that the Death Star's superlaser was un-operational, when it was actually operational?"
"We're not entirely sure, but we believe the whole thing was an elaborate trap set up by the Emperor himself," Mon Mothma replied. "For the information was on its way to a secret Imperial base from the Emperor's personal landing pad on Coruscant."
"How, then, did we get hold of the information?" Wedge asked.
"A group of Bothans along with Dash Rendar and Commander Skywalker intercepted the ship that was transporting the information. Now the information was being transported in a normal stock freighter in order to keep the whole operation quiet. But the freighter was none the less heavily armed, and if it weren't for Commander Skywalker's quick reactions and good piloting skills, we would have lost much more then just half the team."
"So the whole thing was made to look real?" Lando asked quietly.
"That's right," Admiral Ackbar replied. "The information was hard to get and once we got it, it was hard to decode."
"But why?" Lando inquired. "Sure, it did great damage to our fleet, and the Empire has been hunting us for a while, but the Empire has never before set a trap for us. Especially not the Emperor. Heck, last I heard the Emperor wasn't even concerned about us, he was..."
Lando was then interrupted by the beeping of the comlink next to Mon Mothma.
"Yes?" she said.
"Madam, we have picked up an Imperial shuttle on our radar."
A hush fell over the room as everyone heard this.
"We have confirmed that the survivors of the Endor shield team are on board."
"Okay, send them up here the moment they dock," Mon Mothma ordered as she turned off the comlink. "Well, looks like we'll find out what happened after all."
Everyone sat silently looking at each other, each hoping that their friend was among the survivors. Lando let his eyes wander over the group of leaders and stopped when he made eye contact with Wedge. For Wedge, like him, his only real friends in the Alliance had been part of the team. Now the survivors were coming back, would his friends have survived? Wedge nodded to Lando and then he looked away. A couple of minutes later Han, Leia and the others entered the room.
"General Solo, Princess Organa," Mon Mothma said as she scanned the survivors. "Where are Commander Skywalker and Chewbacca?"
"Chewie's dead," Leia replied as Han looked down at his feet.
"And Luke?" Wedge asked anxiously.
"Vader took Luke away as soon as we boarded the Death Star," Leia responded.
"Darth Vader again?" Mon Mothma exclaimed. "What did Commander Skywalker ever do to get Vader's attention like this? And don't tell me this is all revenge for the destruction of the first Death Star."
"No, it probably isn't that," Leia agreed. "I think it has to do with Luke being a Jedi."
"Yeah," Han said quietly. "And Vader is just the beginning."
"What?!" General Madine exclaimed as he looked up sharply. "The Emperor?!"
"Yes, just as the Emperor ordered our interrogation we heard Luke call out 'No!'" Han explained.
"Interrogation?" Mon Mothma asked suddenly seeing the tried and pained look on Han and Leia's faces.
"General Solo and Princess Organa were interrogated before we managed to escape," Captain Merrick replied.
Mon Mothma sighed heavily before asking:
"Are you two all right?"
"Yes," Han replied. "The faster you know what happened the faster we can strike back at the Empire, and the faster we might be able to rescue Luke," he said this last with hope in his voice.
"Well we'll first have to find out where he's being held first," Admiral Ackbar stated. "If he's still alive."
"If Vader wanted Luke dead he would have killed him at Cloud City," Leia pointed out. "No, there is more to this then meets the eye, and only Vader and Luke know what."
"If Commander Skywalker knew what Vader wanted with him, then why didn't he tell us?" General Madine asked.
"I'm not sure," Leia replied honestly. "But I do know that ever since Bespin Luke's been distant, almost like there's a barrier between him and the rest of us. And every time I tried to ask him what was wrong he'd say he was fine or he'd change the topic."
"Strange, strange indeed," Mon Mothma replied absently.
If Commander Skywalker hadn't saved the Alliance by destroying the first Death Star she would say that he was working for the Empire. But no, even the Empire wouldn't go that far.
"And that's not all of it," Han said. "On Endor Luke kind of interfered with Vader's power."
"What?!" Lando exclaimed incredulous.
Having been at the wrong end of one of Vader's little power demonstrations he found it hard to believe that Luke could do anything against it.
"Yeah," Han replied looking up at Lando. "Vader was strangling me, without laying a hand on me, and according to Leia it was Luke who gave me the little air that kept me from passing out."
"Okay," Mon Mothma ordered now thoroughly confused. "Start from the beginning and work your way through what happened."
"Well it all started on the way to Endor, Luke suddenly claimed that Vader was on the command ship we passed and that he was endangering the mission. However we were allowed to pass and they deactivated the shield for us. We landed on Endor and everything went fine until we ran into some storm troopers..." Leia began.
Sitting in his throne on board the Death Star the Emperor smiled. He was all alone except for the four Royal Guards by the elevator door. He remembered feeling their surprise when they had come back in and found that Vader's former prisoner was free and standing next to Vader, with a weapon at his belt. He had felt their hesitancy and uncertainty, but they had not said nor done anything; not planning on getting involved unless the boy did something which would suggest an attack on their Emperor.
The Emperor's evil smile grew broader at this and he turned his throne around so that he was overlooking the Endor moon. But the spectacular view wasn't what he liked best, no all the pieces of floating debris was what he liked to watch. Debris from destroyed Rebel ships. His experts had estimated that less then one fourth of the Rebel fleet had escaped. Not that it mattered, no, now that he had young Skywalker there was nothing left that could be a threat to his Empire, not even the remnants of the Rebel Alliance.
As for young Skywalker, well there was something worth his attention. He would have to keep a constant pressure on him through the Force for a couple of days, just to make sure he didn't turn back. Not that he expected him to, not with Vader at his side or with the anger and hate he had felt in the boy, but there was no use in taking chances. He had almost lost Vader, Anakin, back to the Light at first. But then there had been other Jedi to tempt Anakin to turn back, other Jedi and his wife.
He had often wondered what had happened to Anakin Skywalker's wife after Anakin had become Vader and before his spies had caught and killed her. Now he knew, she had been off somewhere being pregnant and giving birth to Luke. She and Obi-Wan had obviously planned to raise Luke and train him to kill him and Vader. But young Skywalker's compassion for his father combined with his weakness for his friends had been his downfall, and now he would use Luke to rid himself of the Rebellion once and for all. At this thought the Emperor laughed out loud, how ironic that the galaxy's last hope for freedom would end up exterminating it.
The Emperor sat back in his throne and sighed with pleasure. Now there was nothing between him and ultimate power over the whole galaxy but a few individuals. A few individuals that his two faithful servants would take care of. And not only would he be rid of those individuals, but in the process of destroying them Luke would forever seal his fate on the Dark Side of the Force.
He then thought about the training that Luke still needed before he could take his place as Lord Skywalker, third in command of the Empire. He would begin the boy's training and Vader would continue it on board the Executor while they hunted down the Rebellion. Earlier he had asked Luke where the Rebels would re-group, but Luke had honestly answered that he didn't know. The Emperor knew that Luke hadn't lied to him, because he could now read Luke's thoughts and because there was no more reason for him to lie. He was no longer interested in the Rebellion, no he was now interested only in power and in serving his master.
His master, he remembered the defiant look Luke had given him when he first entered the room, but now, now the boy would obey his every command. Not only that, but Luke would endure any punishment his master saw fit for anything he saw as failure. At this thought his mind went back to the moment the beeping of the comlink had interrupted his questioning of his young apprentice. He had been demanding information about the Rebellion when Moff Jerjerrod had reported that the other prisoners had escaped. He had caught a flicker of emotion in young Skywalker, hope?, relief?, he didn't know, but it had been so brief and so small that he had dismissed it. Those feelings would go away as he traveled further and further down the Dark path.
But for now he had sent Vader and young Skywalker to investigate how the prisoners had managed to escape and to punish those responsible.
Luke followed Vader into the detention area from which his former friends had escaped. The room was a mess, dead storm trooper bodies lay on the floor along with empty binders and there were blaster marks on the walls. But Luke noticed straight away that the only blasters in the room were those held by storm troopers that had been cleaning up.
"Lord Vader!" one of the two green clad officers in the room said as soon as Vader and Luke entered.
He along with everyone else snapped to attention. The officer immediately noticed Luke and began to wonder who he was. The boy was young, he couldn't be older than twenty-six, but there was nothing even remotely boyish about his face. In fact his face was cold and hard, the ice blue eyes were the coldest he had ever seen. Then his eyes fell on Luke's lightsaber, as soon as he saw it he looked at the similar device hanging from Vader's belt.
'Could this boy be some kind of personal servant?' he wondered silently. 'If so he probably won't last more than a day. I'm glad I'm not him.'
The officer then turned his attention back to the Dark Lord as soon as he started speaking:
"How did this happen?" Vader demanded not liking the officer's thoughts, but knowing that if he killed everyone who was going to think like that he'd be left without a crew for the Death Star.
"Well, the Rebels blasted the camera, but from what we do have it seems that the storm troopers," he said indicating the bodies, "had just brought in the members of a Rebel band caught on Endor and the lieutenant on duty had the two guards put down their weapons in order to search them. Then just as the guards were about to search them some more storm troopers brought in the two prisoners that had been interrogated," the officer noticed the boy's face twitch ever so slightly at this, "and one of them managed to free himself and reached the guards' blasters before anyone could react. Then a blaster bolt caught the camera and we have nothing else."
There was a heavy silence in the room for everyone knew that the Dark Lord didn't accept failure, and even though they hadn't caused this failure they were still afraid that he might punish them nonetheless.
"And the other prisoners?" Vader asked a few moments later.
"The other prisoners are gone," the officer replied and watched in astonishment as the boy looked in the direction of the detention cells and then, without receiving an order from the Lord Vader, he just walked towards the cells.
The officer expected the Dark Lord to kill the boy on the spot, but Vader just seemed to ignore him as he looked around at the bodies of the dead storm troopers and guards.
"Where is the body of the officer on duty?" he demanded after failing to find it among the other bodies.
"His body wasn't here when we arrived, so we think he was a Rebel," the officer replied growing nervous.
"No, he's right here," Luke called out from beside the first detention cell.
He had been listening to the officer when he had picked up on a strong sense of fear and dread. At first he had thought it was from one of the other prisoners, but when the officer had said that the other prisoners were gone he had known something wasn't right. As soon as he'd opened the detention cell he knew that it had been Leia's idea to leave the officer alive.
The officer had been sitting on the metal bed, wondering how long it would take for him to be discovered. He had hoped that he would die of hunger and thirst first, but then he had heard the code being punched in, and he had wondered who would be opening the cell. But seeing a boy clad in black, including a black glove, wasn't what he'd expected.
"What?!" he heard someone exclaim.
Then he could hear approaching footsteps and suddenly he heard the rhythmic sound of a breathing apparatus and he knew that it was none other then Lord Vader himself. He felt his heart skip a beat, 'What is going to happen to me now?' he wondered with dread, not really wanting to know the answer. Then he saw the boy step aside and Lord Vader stepped into the cell, he was followed by the boy and two officers.
"What are you doing here?" Vader demanded.
"The Rebels put me in here before they left," the officer replied now very nervous.
"What did they talk about?"
"Well... first they wanted to know about any other prisoners and then one of the big group asked the princess where a certain Chewbacca and Commander Skywalker were," the officer replied, unsure of how Vader would react when he mentioned this name.
It had been known that there was a big price on Skywalker, plus rumor also had it that he had faced Vader and survived.
"And what was their response?"
"They said that Chewbacca was dead and that you had taken Skywalker away," he replied truthfully, for he knew full and well that it was useless to lie to the Dark Lord. He picked out lies as if they had a bright red light attached to them.
"They also said you had taken him to the Emperor. They debated a bit about the reason, but they couldn't agree. Then they stunned me and put me in here."
There was a moment of silence and then suddenly the officer started gasping for breath as his hands reached up and tried to find the invisible hand that was squeezing his throat. But it was Luke and not Vader who was slowly choking the officer. He had been standing to his father's right and slightly behind him, listening to what the officer was saying. He had then been waiting for his father to choke the officer when Vader had given him a go ahead signal with his hand. As soon as he saw the signal he knew what to do.
Vader looked on as Luke choked the officer, it wasn't as fast as he did it, but he was pleased that Luke had already picked up the technique. He also noticed, from the growing fear of the officers behind him, that they too realized that it was Luke and not him who was choking the failed officer.
The officer Vader had spoken to earlier felt the hair on the back of his neck rise as he realized that it was the boy and not Vader who was choking the other officer. He had seen Vader give a go ahead signal to the boy and then the boy had raised his hand and closed it slowly, and as he closed his hand the officer had started choking. Now he realized why Vader had let the boy wander around, the boy was some sort of apprentice, a future Sith Lord perhaps. He hoped not, one was enough, but then that was the Emperor's decision to make, and not his.
After the officer was dead Vader turned around and left, Luke followed him, but not before looking at the faces of the two remaining officers. And he liked what he saw there, fear and awe. They feared him! The more he tasted power, the better he liked it and the more he wanted.
Vader was pleased to find that his idea had had its desired effect. He found that Luke was both a fast and observant student. Not only that, but he had noticed that Luke had stood to his right and a little behind him, which was where he belonged. His boy was clever, clever and curious, a perfect combination for the Dark Side.
"Father?" Luke asked coming up next to Vader as they walked through the halls of the Death Star.
"What am I to call you in front of the crew and troops?"
His son had a point there, he hadn't thought about that. The crew and troops wouldn't react too well if Luke called him father, but he still wanted them to know that Luke was above them.
"Just Vader," he replied knowing that the absence of 'Lord' would raise brows and earn respect without shocking them too much.
"Okay," Luke replied knowing the reasons for his father's decision.
He then tried to figure out where they were, but the Death Star in real life was much more complicated then the plans he had seen and studied.
"We're just above the main docking bay," Vader replied his unspoken question.
Luke nodded his reply and turned his attention to the officers and troops who stopped to look at them. As soon as he looked them in the face they looked away, not sure who he was, but knowing that he must be important to be able to get away with dressing out of uniform and to be with Darth Vader. Now that he knew where they were he realized that they were heading towards the residential area.
"You will occupy the quarters next to mine," Vader informed him. "You'll find everything you need there."
Luke nodded and continued to observe the different hallways leading away from the one they were walking through. He needed to learn his way around and fast, he made a mental note to study the blueprints again as soon as possible.
Meanwhile on board the Rebel Star Cruiser, Leia sat in her bed against the wall. 2-1B had said that she had suffered no permanent damage during the interrogation, but that the blaster wound and the pain would go away faster if she slept. But she couldn't sleep. Every time she finally managed to sleep she was awakened by nightmares. Nightmares of Vader and of her interrogation. Even now she could still hear the interrogator demanding to know where the Rebels where, but she hadn't said a word, nor had Han for that matter. But both of them had screamed, she could still hear Han screaming. She could hear Han, the interrogator and Luke. Luke kept calling out 'No!' over and over in her mind.
'Oh, Luke,' she thought. 'Where are you now? Are you still alive? You must be alive.'
Leia leaned back and pulled the sheets around her. Her mind racing: Had the Emperor forced Luke to listen to their interrogation? And if so what information did he want out of Luke? Or had he just made Luke listen because he wanted to punish Luke for the destruction of the first Death Star? Or did he just want the satisfaction of having Luke beg him for mercy? And what about the abrupt way the interrogation had ended?
She had told this to the others and they thought that the Emperor had probably gotten whatever he wanted out of Luke. But the big question remained: What did he want from Luke?
Leia felt the way she had felt when Vader had encased Han in carbonite, only this time was worse, much worse. It wasn't that she liked Luke better then Han, it was just that with Han she had known he was alive, now Luke could be dead! Also Leia knew that if Luke had been forced to listen to her and Han's screams he would probably go mad, she knew she would.
"Luke," she said softly as she started to cry.
The Empire had either destroyed or taken away almost everything she had. All she had now was Han, and she wasn't even sure where she stood with him. Leia let herself cry for a little, she cried for Alderaan, for her father, for her people, for Chewbacca and for Luke. Once she had finished crying Leia felt better, she also decided that if she couldn't sleep that she could see if there was anything she could do to help.
The fleet had moved into orbit around Mantooine where it could rest and repair damage on the remaining ships.
Admiral Ackbar looked up as she entered the command center.
"Princess you should be in bed," he scolded as she approached him.
"I can't, every time I fall asleep I'm back on the Death Star."
"We'll get Commander Skywalker back, if at all possible," the Mon Calamari said knowing that he wouldn't get Leia back to bed. "Now if you really insist I can give you something to do."
"Please, it will give me something to take my mind of what might be happening to Luke."
"Well, right now we are trying to get exact numbers on how many troops, pilots, techs, crew... we have left. If you could take over that whole operation, then I could turn all my attention to seeing how the repairs are going, along with getting a list of our supplies."
"All right," Leia replied, this would require her attention without using too much energy.
'Chewie is dead! Chewie is dead!' the thought ran over and over in Han's mind.
Han still couldn't believe it. He just sat in the pilot's seat in the Falcon looking out the window without seeing. He remembered the time he had met Chewie and then he remembered the good times they'd had.
'Oh stop it!' he thought to himself. 'Chewie wouldn't want you to sit here and sulk. No, he'd want you to go on, to get revenge, to rescue Luke.'
He suddenly sat straight up in his chair.
'Luke!' his mind almost screamed. 'Here you are sitting and sulking about something that can't be changed, while Luke's Darth Vader's prisoner. Chewie would kill me!'
Han could have kicked himself for forgetting about Luke. Luke had after all spent all his time searching for him after Boba Fett had taken him away. And he had almost gotten himself killed, if it wasn't for his cool head he would have been killed. Leia had told him about how Luke had fought and killed the rancor. His admiration of Luke had risen another notch. He had learned since the years they had met that there was much more to Luke then met the eye. He only wished that Luke had told him why Vader wanted him so bad. Admiral Ackbar had told him that he had never seen Vader so determined to get someone. Han decided that he would need more information about Vader before he could even begin to guess as to why Vader was so obsessed with getting Luke. This decided Han got up and headed for the nearest information access station.
Half an hour later,
"Well that didn't help very much," Han mumbled to himself.
He had found an information access station and asked for all the information on Vader. He'd needed to enter his new rank password before he could get the information he wanted. But all the Alliance files had on Darth Vader was that he had come to power around the time of Palpatine's rise to power and that he had been the main figure in the great Jedi purge. But his life before that was a big blank.
Han closed the files and started walking about.
'What could Vader possibly want with Luke?' he wondered silently. 'It can't be to kill him, because he's had that chance several times and yet he hasn't done it. Why? Why? Why? Why didn't you tell me Luke? Is it something that bad, or did the Emperor just want you to suffer as revenge for the destruction of the first Death Star?'
Han hated to think of the fact that Luke had probably been forced to listen to their screams during the interrogation.
"When I get my hands on that Sith mongrel I swear I'll kill him!" Han declared to no one.
"Mind if I give you a hand when you do that?" came a voice from behind Han, making him realize that he'd spoken out loud.
Han turned around to find Lando standing there.
"Sure," Han said. "The more the merrier."
"Well in that case I think Luke and Leia wouldn't mind helping us as well," Lando replied glad to see that Han wasn't sulking over Chewbacca's death.
Naturally he knew Han was sad, so was he, but sulking wouldn't help anyone.
"Yeah, Luke," Han said his face turning into a mask of concern.
Luke was like the younger brother he'd never had.
"Don't worry," Lando said realizing his mistake. "Luke's tough, he'll stand fast. And as soon as we find out where he is we'll go bust him out. Just like we did with you."
"You can't compare the Empire with Jabba the Hutt's palace," Han pointed out. "I just did a background check on Vader, hoping that it might reveal something, but I didn't find anything new. Hell, it seems like he just materialized out of thin air."
"Nobody just appears," Lando argued. "Maybe he changed his name somewhere along the line."
"Could be. But that doesn't help us any," Han replied getting frustrated.
If Vader had changed his name then he wouldn't find anything else on him, which was probably the way Vader wanted it. Vader might not even be human for all he knew; he could be some kind of humanoid alien.
"Let's go find Leia," Han suggested. "Maybe she has some bright ideas."
Luke found that his quarters consisted of two rooms. There was a medium sized bedroom with a bed, a night stand and a shelf. The second room consisted of a table, two chairs, a communications station, a food terminal and a holo player. On the table he found several holo tapes, one with the blueprints of the Death Star, another with the blueprints of the Executor and one with all the information he would need on Coruscant. Luke sat down and started studying the Death Star blueprints. After a while he found that, using the Dark Side, he could memorize all the different hallways in just fifteen minutes. He then did the same for the Executor and Coruscant information. On all three holos he found red dots indicating where his quarters were. On board the Executor he would have the rooms on the other side of the sparring room of his father's quarters and on Coruscant he would live in his father's castle. He'd heard of the castle, a big castle on a cliff overlooking the sea on one side and the city on the other.
In his quarters Vader sat in a pod-like structure. At the moment the pod was closed, sealing Vader off from the rest of the universe. Inside the pod the air was specially regulated so that Vader could sit with his mask off, as he was now.
He sat there thinking. His boy was stronger than he had expected, it had also been harder to turn him then he had expected, especially considering the circumstances. But now Luke was on the Dark Side and soon the Rebellion would be exterminated.
He remembered the day when he had first learned about the existence of his son. He had been interrogating a Rebel spy, determined to learn the name of the Rebel who had destroyed the Death Star. The spy had finally given him the name: Skywalker, Luke Skywalker. He had stood rooted to the spot for a moment, not believing his ears, but he could feel, through the Force, that the spy was speaking the truth. Eventually he'd been able to get holos of Skywalker and then he'd confirmed that Luke was actually his son. At that moment he had decided to turn Luke, no matter the price. And now he had Luke, his son, at his side.
As he sat there thinking he could feel Luke use the Dark Side, a little at first, and then more. He was probably memorizing the holos, smart boy. Having to stop a trooper to ask directions would be a sign of weakness, and neither he nor the Emperor would permit any such thing.
Vader knew that sooner or later Luke would do something wrong and then he would receive the Emperor's punishment. Vader shuddered just at the thought of his master's punishments, sometimes he used Force lightening, but sometimes he did more permanent, physical damage. The last time he had really angered his master was when he had failed to prevent the destruction of the first Death Star. He had lost his right hand for that, which was one of the reasons he had cut off Luke's right hand on Bespin, for it had been Luke who had been responsible for his failure.
He then wondered what would happen next. The fleet was doing some minor repairs and the Emperor hadn't given any further orders. He had noticed the pressure his master was keeping on Luke, so he figured that once Palpatine was completely satisfied with Luke's abilities that he and Luke would be sent to finish off the Rebellion.
Han and Lando found Leia as she was walking out of the command center, her assignment finished. She was surprised at how many people they still had, especially tech crews.
"Leia," Han called out.
"Hello, Han, Lando," Leia replied as she saw them approaching. "What is it?"
"We were wondering if you have any ideas on how to free Luke, if he's still..." Lando replied, leaving the sentence unfinished.
"He's still alive," Leia responded firmly. "If Vader wanted him dead, then he would have killed Luke on Bespin, it's not like he didn't get the chance to do it. No, there's something Vader either needs or wants from Luke, the big question is what?"
"Yeah. I did a background check on Vader, hoping to find something, but his whole life is a big blank until he joined the Empire," Han informed her. "Lando thinks he might have changed his name. If so we'll never find out what his background is. I'd say the best thing for us to do is to find out where Luke is being held and bust him out."
"I'm with you if you try anything," came a voice from behind them.
"Wedge!" Leia exclaimed when she saw the commander. "How are you?"
"As good as one can be with all of your friends either dead or captured."
"I'm sorry," Leia replied knowing that Luke was one of Wedge's best friends. "So you're with us when we try to bust Luke out?"
"You bet. And maybe if we get lucky we can take a potshot at Vader in the process."
"Don't count on it," Lando cut in. "Besides I hope Vader isn't there when we try to get Luke out, because you don't want to mess with him."
"Lando's right there Wedge," Han agreed. "We now know that the rumors about Vader being able to strangle people without touching them is true, so I don't want to find out how many of the other rumors are true."
"Anyway," Leia interrupted trying to get their attention. "I think that we should get all the information we can get on Vader and I think that we should take a look at Luke's file and see if maybe we can find any hint as to why Vader wanted him so bad."
"Okay, lets do that right now," Wedge replied as Han mumbled something about wasting time.
"Do you have any better ideas?" Leia asked. "Or perhaps you think we should just go and attack the Death Star? We all know how that attempt failed."
"No, no," Han replied. "Your plan's fine. But could I just know who planned my escape?"
"Luke," Leia said as she headed for the nearest information access station.
"Figures," Han mumbled to Lando and Wedge as they followed Leia. "Only Luke could come up with such a crazy plan and pull it off. I'm surprised Leia ever agreed to it."
"She did, but only because Luke never told us his whole plan," Lando informed Han. "Otherwise we'd never have gone along with it."
"What exactly happened?" Wedge asked. "I heard rumors about Leia being Jabba's slave girl and about Luke doing some impossible stunts, but that's it."
"Well it all started simple enough..." Lando began.
As he made his way through the halls of the Death Star Luke thought about what was in store for him. He had been eating breakfast when he'd gotten a message from the admiral saying that the Emperor demanded his presence. He smiled as he remembered the admiral's surprise when he had seen him. He had also caught the admiral's thought: 'What? What could the Emperor possibly want with this... this boy?'
Luke loved the feeling of power and he blindly lusted for more. Last night, before he had gone to bed, he had sat and meditated. He had stretched out with the Force, with the Dark Side, and he had found that he could reach out much further then he had been able to before. Once fully open to the Dark Side he had been assaulted by the powerful presences of both the Emperor and his father. He had reached out to his father and he had been acknowledged, but he had known better then to reach out towards the Emperor. Instead he had reached out and touched the minds of various other Imperials, acutely aware that his father was monitoring him.
Now as he entered the elevator to the Emperor's throne room he wondered what his master wanted. Perhaps he was going to continue his training, or perhaps it was something else. Then the elevator door opened and he stepped out into the throne room. He remembered the last time he had been in here, it had been yesterday and yet it seemed so far away. It had been the time when he had finally seen the truth, when he had finally been freed from the clutches of the sickeningly weak Light Side of the Force. He was disgusted by the fact that he had followed its path for so long, so blindly.
Luke was then distracted from his thoughts as he reached the top of the stairs and was assaulted by the Dark power that was virtually radiating from the occupant sitting in the throne that was now facing away from him. Luke could barely control his racing emotions as he walked up the last three stairs and knelt before the throne. The Darkness beckoned to him, called out to him, it wanted him to lose himself further its ice-warm embrace. And Luke accepted, drinking in the Darkness, the power, drinking it into his very soul. Fueling his anger and hate with it.
Luke didn't mind waiting, it seemed only right that he wait until his master was ready. So he stayed absolutely still, kneeling there before the throne and his master, waiting to be acknowledged and trained.
The Emperor sat in his throne listening to Luke's thoughts as he entered the room. He had felt Luke use his new found powers last night, but the boy had smartly stayed away from him. The Emperor was pleased with both Luke's abilities and judgment. Once fully trained the boy would be a valuable asset indeed. He was also pleased with Luke's opinion of the so-called Light Side of the Force. He eased a little of the pressure he was keeping on young Skywalker as he felt the boy take in more Darkness.
He smiled as he briefly thought about Obi-Wan Kenobi, the Jedi had always opposed him and his ideas. Kenobi had never liked him, even when he had been a Senator; it was almost as if he and Kenobi had been two magnets repelling each other. And he had won, he now possessed both of Kenobi's pupils and he had even managed to twist one of them so far that he had killed his former teacher. The Emperor also knew that young Skywalker would instantly kill Kenobi if he were still alive.
With this thought in his head he turned his throne around to face his young apprentice.
"What is thy bidding... my Master?" Luke asked, hesitating slightly before saying the last.
The Emperor noticed this hesitation but let it slide, Vader'd had the same hesitation at first but it had gone away quickly, as it would with young Skywalker.
"We will now commence the completion of your training," he stated.
Then he looked up at the Royal Guards; it wouldn't do to have them in the room. No, they might take certain aspects of the training in the wrong way.
"Guards, leave us," he ordered.
The four red robed guards turned around and disappeared. The Emperor then turned his attention back to the boy kneeling before him.
"Rise my young apprentice, rise."
Luke obediently rose and stood listening as his master explained how to use the Dark Side.
Vader stood in the command center of the Death Star. He was overseeing the repairs, waiting for a damage report and making sure that everyone did his job.
He had overheard the admiral's message to Luke and so when he felt Luke reaching out he knew what to do. He had been expecting his master to start Luke's training with this. Through the Force he put up a barrier around the command center, he didn't reinforce the barrier, but just left it there waiting for Luke to puncture it. He didn't have to wait very long, for a couple of seconds later Luke found the weak point and punctured the barrier. Vader smiled as he pushed Luke back and created a stronger barrier around the command center. It would go on like this until the Emperor was pleased with Luke's ability or until Luke failed to puncture one of his barriers.
"There really isn't much here that we didn't already know about," Han said triumphantly as they reached the end of Luke's file.
"Except that there's no mention of his mother, not even a name," Leia pointed out.
"Oh, very helpful," Han retorted, his voice full of sarcasm.
"Will you two stop it?" Lando sighed rubbing his forehead. "This isn't going to help Luke."
"Lando's right," Wedge added, knowing from what Luke had told him that once Han and Leia started fighting it was almost impossible to stop them. "I suggest we take a look at his father's file. Anakin Skywalker rings a bell, but I can't place the name."
"Okay," Leia agreed, a little embarrassed, Han always managed to bring out the worst in her.
She went back to the top of Luke's file and asked for the link to Anakin Skywalker's file.
"That's weird," she said as she started reading. "They mention his wife, but there's no mention of Luke."
"What?" Han asked suddenly interested.
"Here," Leia replied pointing to the spot where the children were normally mentioned. "All it says is that he was born about forty-five years ago, he married in his early twenties and that he died about twenty years ago."
"How did he die?" Wedge asked from Leia's right.
"Lets see, here it is, it says he died..."
"What?" Lando asked trying to see. "How did he die?"
"Vader," Leia muttered. "Vader killed him in a lightsaber duel."
"What?!" Han exclaimed, suddenly really worried. "Vader killed Luke's father?! Why?"
"It says here that Anakin Skywalker was both a pilot and a Jedi-in-training, but it doesn't give any more information about his death."
"Pilot! That's it," Wedge suddenly exclaimed.
"What?" Lando asked, now completely confused.
"Remember I said I recognized the name?" Wedge asked.
When everyone nodded he continued:
"Well he was a great pilot and he made quite a name for himself during the Clone Wars."
"That would check out," Leia said as she scrolled further down Anakin's file. "Look," she said pointing to all the battles he had fought in and survived.
"Geez," Lando exclaimed looking at the names. "Like father like son, look he survived the Battle of Tankerine. That was the worst defeat for the Old Republic, less then half of the fleet that was there at first survived."
"Looks like we just broke the record of the worst defeat," Leia mumbled. "We managed to lose over three quarters of our fleet."
"It was a trap," Han replied. "Besides the record was broken at the Battle of Yavin, only Vader survived thanks to Luke."
"Yeah," Wedge agreed. "If it hadn't been for Luke all of us, including Yavin 4, would have been space dust."
"Which is why we're going to get him out," Lando said. "Now, is there anything else in those files?"
"No," Leia said as she closed the files. "But I still think that it's weird that there's no mention of Luke's mother in his file and that there's no mention of Luke in his father's file."
"Well I think I know why Luke isn't mentioned in his father's file," Wedge replied. "If Anakin Skywalker was indeed a Jedi or a Jedi-in-training then any children he had would probably also be able to become a Jedi. So the Empire would have to kill them, so Luke's name was either erased from Skywalker's file, or it was never added."
"So does this mean that the Emperor will have Luke killed?" Han asked the question that was on everyone's mind.
"No," Leia suddenly stated. "No, if they wanted Luke dead Vader would have killed him at Cloud City."
"Unless the Emperor wanted to have some fun," Lando suggested.
At this everyone just stood in silence for a moment.
"Lets not think about that now," Wedge said, desperate to break the silence. "Lets just concentrate on what we'll do if Luke is still alive."
"I agree," Leia added. "Mon Mothma told me earlier that we have a spy on board the Death Star somewhere near the other detention block. So as soon as possible we're going to contact him and see what he knows or can find out."
"Good," Han said. "What do we do until then?"
"Get some sleep," Lando replied.
"Sleep? Sleep! How do you expect me to sleep with Chewie dead and Luke in Imperial hands?"
"Han, calm down," Leia responded. "Lando's right. If we're even going to attempt to free Luke then we'll have to be rested. I know it might sound weird, but Luke stressed the same thing before we rescued you from Jabba's palace."
"Well I guess Luke knew what he was doing then, he did get me out in one piece."
"He got all of us out in one piece," Lando added. "And he took care of all of Jabba's guards by himself while we were playing footsies with the Sarlacc."
By this time they were walking through the halls of the Rebel Star Cruiser.
"What time is it anyway?" Wedge asked.
"It's..." Leis started and stopped when she saw what time it was. "It's nine o'clock in the morning."
"What?!" Han exclaimed. "Geez, we must have spent quite some time looking at those files."
"Now get some sleep," Lando ordered.
"Yes, Sir," Wedge replied, suddenly realizing that the three of them all outranked him.
The admiral turned around to look at Luke as he entered the command center. He instantly recognized the boy as the one the Emperor had wanted to see earlier. As he looked Luke over he immediately noticed the cylinder-like object hanging from the boy's belt. Lord Vader had a similar device hanging from his belt. The admiral remembered hearing rumors that the device was called a lightsaber and that it generated a three foot blade of pure energy, but he wasn't sure if it was true or just a rumor.
He watched as the boy looked around, and then their eyes met. Luke's ice blue eyes burned into the admiral's hazel brown. The admiral quickly looked away for the boy's eyes were cold, hard and anything but boyish, they didn't even seem human. They were the kind of eyes that the admiral would expect Lord Vader to have. Lord Vader, why did the boy make him think of the Dark Lord?
He looked up again to see the boy walk towards Vader and stop beside him. The Dark Lord half turned towards the boy and nodded, then the boy said something, or did he reply? The admiral couldn't be sure with Vader's mask. The admiral noticed that the other crew members were also watching the boy. After all, who else just went up to Lord Vader like that? The admiral wondered about the boy, who was he and why was he so important? He didn't remember ever hearing of the boy before; all he knew was that the boy's last name was Skywalker. For that was the name of the person the Emperor had demanded to see, and that was the name that was listed with his quarters. But there hadn't been a first name, not even an initial, and that only occurred with the really important people.
He was then distracted from his thoughts as an aide came up to him with a datapad.
"The damage reports, Sir," the aide said as he handed the admiral the datapad.
The admiral nodded, dismissing the aide. He then looked over the report, the damage was a little worse then he had expected. He hoped that the report didn't anger Lord Vader, for if it did he would probably be killed. He gathered together his courage and headed towards Lord Vader and Skywalker.
"Lord Vader," he said as he stopped behind the black clad duo.
Vader and Luke turned around to face the admiral.
"The damage report, my Lord," he said handing the datapad over to the Dark Lord.
Luke watched silently as his father looked over the report. He knew, from the admiral's fear, that the report was bad.
"How much of the Rebel fleet escaped?" Vader asked handing the datapad to Luke.
"Less then one fourth, my Lord," the admiral replied nervously.
"Speed up the repairs so that the fleet is ready in six days," Vader ordered, noticing that the admiral was studying Luke.
"Six days?" the admiral exclaimed. "But the damage, it can't all be repaired in six days!"
Luke looked up at the admiral as he handed the datapad back to his father.
"You have six days," Vader stated with a finality that the admiral felt with a slight tightening of his neck.
"As you wish, my Lord," the admiral replied stiffening at the warning.
"Good," Vader said simply as he handed the datapad back to the admiral and turned around, dismissing the man.
"You'll be going after the Alliance?" Luke asked after a few moments.
"No, we shall be going after the Alliance," he said as he looked for signs of dread in Luke, signs that would show that he didn't want to help destroy his former friends, but he found none.
Instead Luke looked up at him in surprise.
"In six days?"
"Yes," Vader replied nodding. "I'll continue your training on board the Executor after that."
"Okay," Luke replied.
"Have you ever flown a TIE Advance?" Vader suddenly asked remembering Luke's piloting skills.
"No," Luke replied honestly, wondering if Vader was going to bring up the destruction of the first Death Star.
"The controls are similar to a T-16, and, I believe, an X-wing," he said the last with an edge, just to remind his son that he hadn't forgotten what had happened.
He noticed Luke flinch slightly and decided to leave it at that.
"A T-16?" Luke asked after a few moments of tense silence.
"You've flown one?" It was more of a statement then a question.
"Yes," Luke replied with more then a touch of indignity and anger.
Vader smiled at this, and Luke, sensing this, grew even angrier. He had hated living on Tatooine and now his father was making fun of it! As his anger grew he felt himself grow more powerful. He focused this new anger, as the Emperor had taught him, and he felt his father's approval.
"You've learned well, young one," Vader commented, pleased.
Luke was just as fast a student as he had been. As he thought about this he realized that Luke took much more after him then his mother. Luke looked the way he once had, had his lightsaber and piloting skills, and he also had his temper, impatience and curiosity. The only trait that Vader recognized as one of his late wife's was Luke's fiery defiance, but that trait had now been eliminated. For Luke no longer defied the Emperor or the Dark Side, he was truly his father's son.
Two days later,
"Please have a seat," Mon Mothma urged as Leia, Han, Lando and Wedge entered the meeting room on board the Rebel Star Cruiser.
As Leia sat down she looked around and realized that they were the last ones, all the others were already there.
"Now everyone's here we can begin," Mon Mothma said as she looked around. "As you all know Commander Skywalker was taken prisoner by the Empire during the Battle of Endor. Now normally we don't go after captured comrades, unless they're in large groups or unless the rescue mission would be easy. This situation is different, it seems the Emperor has personally taken an interest in Commander Skywalker. Since he is worth the Emperor's personal interest there must be something he knows other than just Alliance information. And if it is worth the Emperor's attention then it is definitely worth our investigating."
Han listened to Mon Mothma's speech and wasn't sure whether to be angry or to agree. He was angry, because she was talking like Luke himself didn't matter. But he also saw Mon Mothma's point, one man's life wasn't worth the lives of other Rebels. All Rebels knew when they joined the Alliance that they might one day be captured by the Empire, and that the Alliance couldn't afford to rescue them unless they were really important or in a big group.
"Princess Organa, General Solo, do you have any idea as to what Commander Skywalker might have that would be worth Palpatine's attention?" Mon Mothma asked turning her attention to Han and Leia.
"Luke... eh Commander Skywalker never mentioned anything that would be worth Palpatine's attention," Leia began. "However, it is our belief that the Emperor might want Luke, Commander Skywalker, because he's a Jedi."
"Yes," Wedge added. "Also when we checked the personal files we learned that Vader murdered Luke's father in a lightsaber duel."
"His father was murdered by Darth Vader?" General Madine exclaimed.
"Yes," Han replied.
"Well this is something we didn't know," Admiral Ackbar said from his seat.
"Neither did we until we checked the files," Lando replied.
"That's right," Leia added. "All Luke ever told us was that his father was killed by the Empire."
"Well it seems Commander Skywalker has some secrets in his past," Mon Mothma said checking her chronometer.
"Why should Luke tell us everything about his past?" Han exclaimed, suddenly angry. "It's his life! There are things about my past that you don't know about."
"Mon Mothma didn't mean it that way, General Solo," General Madine replied. "What she means is that if Commander Skywalker had valuable information he should have come forward with it."
"What makes you think he had any information at all?" Lando asked.
"Do you have any other explanation for the Emperor's interest in Commander Skywalker?" Mon Mothma asked. "You say it's because he's Jedi, but if it were that Vader would have taken care of him. I know from experience that Vader just murdered the Jedi without bringing them before Palpatine."
There was a moment of silence during which Leia wasn't sure whether to be relieved or worried with this new information. She was a little relieved because this meant that Luke wouldn't be killed straight away, but she was also worried for Luke because she had been through two Imperial interrogations and was afraid of what the Emperor might do to Luke to get the information he wanted. She knew that Luke wouldn't break under the normal interrogation methods the Empire used. She had, however, heard stories of people leaving the Emperor's personal chambers and having to go straight to the medical center to receive bone transplants. She shuddered at the thought.
"Anyway," Mon Mothma said loud enough to get everyone's attention. "In a few moments we will be able to speak directly with our contact on board the Death Star. His name is Lieutenant Micheal."
As Mon Mothma said this, Admiral Ackbar got up and went to the front of the table where he typed in a security code in order to get access to Lieutenant Micheal's com. After a few minutes a holo of a middle-aged man dressed in an Imperial officer's uniform appeared in front of the table.
"Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar," Lieutenant Micheal said as his eyes scanned the people sitting at the table.
He opened his mouth again to greet the others, but Mon Mothma cut him off:
"Lieutenant Micheal, as you can see this is an important matter. During our failed attempt to destroy the Death Star one of our commanders was captured by the Empire. Now, we have reason to believe that he was brought before the Emperor himself, if this is so we must get him back to find out what the Emperor wanted with him."
Lieutenant Micheal nodded silently as he listened, then when Mon Mothma finished he said:
"Three days ago some prisoners managed to escape from the Death Star. Have those managed to get back to the Alliance?"
"Yes," Admiral Ackbar replied nodding his head towards Han and Leia. "Those prisoners were Princess Organa and General Solo along with the rest of their team. The commander we are talking about wasn't with them, he boarded the Death Star with them, but Darth Vader then brought him before the Emperor."
"What is the name of this commander, Sir?"
"Skywalker, Commander Luke Skywalker," Mon Mothma informed him and immediately stopped as the color drained from the lieutenant's face.
Leia stiffened as she too saw Lieutenant Micheal's face turn pale. 'What has happened to Luke?' she wondered silently as she felt a great wave of fear wash over her.
"C... c... Commander Skywalker?!" Lieutenant Micheal finally managed to stutter.
"Yes," Leia replied, her voice cracking. "Is he all right?"
"Did he have access to high level information?"
"Yes," General Madine replied with a worried look on his face.
"What's happened to Luke?" Han demanded. "Was he put through some kind of extensive interrogation?"
"No," Lieutenant Micheal replied as some color started to come back into his cheeks. "But you've been duped big time."
"Duped?!" Wedge exclaimed confused.
"Yes duped. Skywalker didn't need to be put through an interrogation to give the Emperor the information he wanted. He was a spy!"
"What?!" Lando exclaimed loud enough to make everyone jump.
"A spy?!" Han boomed as Leia struggled to find her voice.
"Yes," Lieutenant Micheal replied a little shocked by their reactions.
Skywalker must have played his part well, it seemed that he had even earned the trust of Princess Organa since she just sat there, stunned.
"You'd better have some good reasons to accuse Commander Skywalker of treason," Mon Mothma stated.
"How about the fact that he's free to roam about as he wishes, or the fact that he's often seen in the command center talking with Lord Vader, or that his quarters are those in the high command area next to Lord Vader's chambers?" Lieutenant Micheal replied rattling off what he knew.
"What?!" Leia exclaimed stunned. 'Luke was free and in the Imperial high command? No, Luke wasn't an Imperial, he was too kind and gentle. Besides he had destroyed the first Death Star, killing over a million Imperials!'
"Have you seen Luke free, or are those just rumors?" Wedge asked unable to believe Luke could be a traitor.
"Yes," Lieutenant Micheal replied. "I've seen him with Lord Vader and I've checked the room listings. I thought that it might be important later, because there's been a rumor circulating that Skywalker is being trained as another lord, another Vader if you will."
"What makes you think this rumor is true?" Admiral Ackbar asked now completely confused. Could Skywalker be an Imperial? From the information Lieutenant Micheal was giving it definitely seemed so, but what of the first Death Star? And hadn't Vader cut off Skywalker's hand on Bespin? No wait, they only had his word on that.
"Normally a rumor doesn't last more than a day," Lieutenant Micheal explained.
He was very worried, for if an Imperial could infiltrate the Alliance and get the rank of commander, than who else might be a spy?
"Besides at breakfast this morning I talked with one of the officers that was assigned to oversee the clean up of the damage Princess Organa and General Solo caused with their escape. And he was there when Skywalker, Skywalker not Vader, killed the officer you left behind in the cell. But he didn't kill the officer with a blaster, he choked him while standing several feet away from him, just the way Lord Vader kills officers who fail him."
"Can Commander Skywalker do this?" Mon Mothma asked turning to Han and Leia.
"I don't know if he can choke people," Leia replied. "But he can lift objects without touching them."
"Yes," Han agreed. "But even if Luke has the power to choke people like that he wouldn't do it, it's not like him."
"Maybe and maybe not," Lieutenant Micheal said. "I've also heard, from another reliable source, that Skywalker has been to see the Emperor several times a day since he arrived. He also said that the first time Skywalker entered the throne room he was wearing binders and that Lord Vader had his lightsaber. Then a few minutes later the Royal Guards came out of the throne room, something which almost never happens. Half an hour later the guards were called back in and a couple of minutes after that Lord Vader and Skywalker exited the throne room. He said that Skywalker was then free and carrying his lightsaber. He also said that Skywalker's face seemed different, colder and harder."
"How reliable is this source?" Wedge asked after a few moments of tense silence during which everyone processed this new, stunning information.
"Very, I've never known him to lie. Plus I've heard from others that Skywalker's been seeing the Emperor about twice a day."
"I don't believe it," Leia said firmly. "Luke would never work for the Empire, he hated it. He destroyed the Death Star with over a million Imperials on board!"
"He destroyed the Death Star?" Lieutenant Micheal exclaimed astonished.
"Yes," Mon Mothma confirmed. "Is there any way to find out what happened in the throne room?"
"No, the only entrance into the throne room is constantly guarded by four Royal Guards. And the only people in the room were the Emperor, Lord Vader and Skywalker."
Suddenly there came a beeping from the control panel, Admiral Ackbar looked down and then he turned back to Lieutenant Micheal and said:
"Thank you, Lieutenant. Keep your eyes and ears open and we'll contact you in four days."
After this he cut the com connection.
"Why couldn't we talk to him any longer?" Wedge asked, still not believing that Luke was an Imperial.
"The only way we can even have com contact without being detected is through a new device that hides the signal from Imperial scanners. The device can not, however, work for more then ten minutes at a time," Admiral Ackbar explained as his eyes traveled to everyone sitting at the table.
"I still don't believe Luke's an Imperial," Leia said.
"Neither do I," Han agreed. "Especially considering that Vader murdered his father, cut off his right hand and the fact that Luke destroyed the Death Star."
"It doesn't seem to make much sense, but Lieutenant Micheal is a reliable source. It was he who first informed us of the existence of the first Death Star," Mon Mothma replied puzzled.
"How do we know that who he saw was Luke?" Lando asked.
"What do you mean?" General Madine asked.
"What if it is just someone pretending to be Luke?"
"Why would the Empire do that?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"I don't know," Lando admitted. "But I do know Luke, and I know that he's no traitor. I even doubt that the Imperials could break him, much less make him change sides."
"I agree," Wedge added. "Besides Luke destroyed the first Death Star. The Imperials wouldn't go that far to get a spy into the Rebellion. Heck, if Luke hadn't been there we would have been destroyed and then the Empire wouldn't have to worry about us anymore."
"You've got a point there, Commander," Mon Mothma replied. "I think that we need more information before we can even attempt to find out what's going on here. Until then there will be no rescue attempt. If anyone finds any new information you're to contact me straight away. I'll also alert our intelligence and see what they can find. And unless otherwise informed, we will meet again in four days. Dismissed."
Two days later,
Luke stood frozen in place as the Emperor's anger washed over him. He didn't like the sensation, but made no move to block it out. He had stepped out of line and he knew it. He also knew that he was about to punished for it by his master. He looked at his master, but respectfully avoided eye contact.
The Emperor slowly got out of his throne and walked to the small flight of stairs. He looked down at Luke. The boy knew he'd stepped out of line and Palpatine knew he wouldn't do it again, but he decided to give his young apprentice a short burst of Force lightening anyway. Just to show Luke the price of failure. He raised his hands and sent the Force lightening straight at Luke.
Luke hadn't been sure what to expect from his master, but the Force lightening came as a complete surprise. It sent him back against the wall and he then slid to the floor crying out in pain.
Palpatine noticed that his new apprentice took the punishment without questioning, he didn't even try to shield himself from the Force lightening.
'Good,' Palpatine thought as he stopped the Force lightening. 'He will soon be ready to take his place at his father's side and as my servant.'
Luke lay on the floor for a moment, breathing hard, before he slowly got to his feet and walked towards the Emperor, who was now once again sitting in his throne. He walked up to his master and knelt at his feet.
Palpatine looked down at him and nodded, this was exactly what Vader did after he was punished; come back and show that he was the loyal servant who accepted his master's punishments.
Vader was sitting in his pod, meditating, when he suddenly felt Luke's pain. Curious he reached out and touched his son's mind. As soon as he did he knew that Luke had finally angered the Emperor. It had taken five days, but he had finally done it. Vader retreated from Luke's mind and let the Emperor punish his son.
He sat back and wondered if the Emperor would give Luke his title before they left or if he would wait until some other time. Vader knew that Luke would become third in line in the command structure, just under him. He was sure of this because Luke, with the Dark Side, was much more powerful and capable then Grand Moff Hardy, the present third in command of the Empire.
Vader smiled at the thought of the Grand Moff being bumped down the power list. He had never liked Hardy, and besides, his reaction would be worth watching. He wondered what Hardy's reaction would be, anger or astonishment, maybe both and maybe neither. Vader decided to just wait and see, it would all turn out right with time. Luke was living proof of that, the boy had first flat out refused to even think of joining him, but over time he had seen the truth and joined him and his master. Vader thought briefly of Luke's former friends, thought of what their reactions would be when they found out that Luke had left them.
Vader laughed softly at the thought and then his amusement turned to anger as he thought of Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan had not only taken his son away from him, but he had also tried to turn Luke against him. He had filled his son's head with foolish ideas and he had almost succeeded in totally ruining Luke.
The only vent Vader found for his anger was the fact that he had killed Obi-Wan several years ago. He closed his eyes as he saw the duel before him again. He saw Obi-Wan look aside and then he saw him lift his blade, at this he hadn't hesitated, he had just brought down his lightsaber, sending Obi-Wan back into the Force where he belonged.
As he thought of Obi-Wan he wondered if Luke would kill him if he were still alive. Probably, he had felt Luke's anger at growing up on Tatooine, and he was sure that his son knew that Obi-Wan had been responsible for it.
Leia sat in the cafeteria with Han, Lando and Wedge.
"I don't believe Luke's a traitor," Wedge stated firmly.
"None of us do," Leia replied.
"I was wondering," Han began. "Maybe Lieutenant Micheal is working for the Empire, maybe he's the traitor."
"Yes," Lando agreed. "He could just be lying to us to throw the Alliance command into chaos."
"That's just like saying Luke's an Imperial," Leia replied. "I checked out his records and he's had more then one opportunity to sell us out, but he never has. Besides he was the one who first informed us about the existence of the first Death Star."
"This is all too confusing," Wedge stated shaking his head. "Something is definitely wrong, but with who?"
"I was wondering..." Lando began hesitantly.
"What?" Han asked curiously.
"Well we know that Vader was after Luke because he's a Jedi, right?"
"Yes," Leia replied wondering where this was going.
"Well, I've heard rumors that Vader used to be a Jedi."
"What?" Wedge exclaimed astonished.
"Yes," Lando replied. "Now I was wondering, maybe Palpatine has some kind of brainwashing technique. That would explain Lieutenant Micheal's observations and Luke's apparent behavior."
There was a moment of silence as everyone considered this.
"If Palpatine has such a device, then why hasn't he used it more often?" Wedge asked.
"Maybe it takes a lot of work to do," Lando responded. "Lieutenant Micheal did say that Luke goes in to see the Emperor several times a day."
"Do you all know how far fetched this is?" Leia asked.
"Yes," Lando replied. "But do you have any other explanation for what we've been told?"
"Other then some elaborate trap being set by the Emperor, no," Leia agreed.
"I guess only time will tell," Wedge reasoned.
Two days later,
Luke walked through the halls of the Death Star towards the Emperor's throne room. He was wearing the new clothes he had just found in his room. They were similar to what his father wore, and he found that the black cape attracted a lot of attention. He could sense the fear of the officers as he passed them, but he focused his attention towards the throne room.
He could clearly sense that his father was with the Emperor and he wondered whether he would have to fight him again. Yesterday he had fought his father and he had sensed that he had been more of a challenge than before. However he had lost when he had momentarily lost his balance on the stairs, which had been all his father had needed to rip his lightsaber from his grasp.
One of the Royal Guards opened the elevator as he approached and Luke could feel his surprise at what he was wearing. Luke then entered the elevator and as it ascended he could feel that there was another individual in the throne room besides the Emperor, his father and the Royal Guards.
Then the elevator door opened and he stepped out into the throne room. As he ascended the stairs, with his cape flowing behind him, he recognized the officer standing before his master to be Grand Moff Hardy, third in command of the Empire. Then he was at the top of the stairs and he walked over towards his master to stop several feet to the Grand Moff's right.
"Ah, Lord Skywalker," the Emperor said as Luke approached.
Standing to the Emperor's right Vader saw Luke lift his head slightly at the new title, but other then that and the lust in his son's eyes Vader could detect no physical signs of Luke's emotions, which pleased him.
The Grand Moff however was another matter altogether, his surprise and astonishment showed clearly on his face. The surprise was soon replaced by anger, anger at being bumped down the power list, for he knew that a lord outranked him. However he knew better than to protest openly, that would be most deadly. Instead he wondered silently why the Emperor put this boy ahead of him.
Little did the Grand Moff know that the Emperor, Vader and Luke were all listening in on his thoughts. And what Luke heard made him angry, but he obediently refrained from doing anything.
The Emperor waited until the Grand Moff had his emotions under control before continuing:
"Lord Vader, you and Lord Skywalker will now go and hunt down the Alliance. Grand Moff Hardy, you will remain here and oversee the rest of the construction. I want the Death Star completed by the time Lords Vader and Skywalker have eliminated the Rebellion."
"As you wish, your Majesty," Grand Moff Hardy replied.
"Good," Palpatine stated. "I'll be returning to Coruscant tomorrow and I shall await your reports."
After this he turned his throne around indicating that they were to leave.
"Well," Leia said as she headed towards the conference room with Han. "Lets hope we can clarify this whole mess."
Han looked at her and noticed the dark smudges under her eyes and knew that she, like him, hadn't slept well. How could they? Luke was in Imperial hands and who knows what they'd do or had already done to him. He put his arm around Leia and pulled her close for a hug.
"Oh, Han," she said as she felt tears welling up in her eyes. "I'm so worried about Luke."
"We all are," Han replied quietly. "We all are."
They just stood there for a moment, holding onto each other for comfort.
"Come," Leia finally said getting out of Han's embrace. "Lets go find out what Lieutenant Micheal has to report."
"Okay," Han agreed as they walked towards the conference room.
As the admiral made his way towards the docking bay on board the Executor his mind raced. The communications officer had told him that Lord Vader's shuttle was arriving with Lords Vader and Skywalker.
'Lord Skywalker? Who is he?' the admiral wondered silently.
His first thought had been that the officer had misheard, but he had dismissed the thought knowing that only the best worked on Lord Vader's flag ship. But if there was indeed another lord, then it meant that the whole power structure had changed somewhere high up. This Lord Skywalker was probably above Grand Moff Hardy, but below Lord Vader, unless of course he had overtaken even Lord Vader, which was most unlikely. Whoever he was he was probably very dangerous, to suddenly appear out of thin air and to be given the same title as the most feared man in the galaxy was no small feat.
The admiral entered the docking bay just as Lord Vader's shuttle landed. He hurried forward and reached his normal place just as the shuttle ramp lowered. Lord Vader came down the ramp and was followed closely by a... a boy dressed in similar black robes. The admiral immediately knew that this boy was Lord Skywalker.
"Lord Vader... Lord Skywalker," he said as they approached him.
"Is the fleet ready to depart?" Vader demanded as they stopped before the admiral.
"Yes, my Lord," the admiral replied as he looked up into Luke's eyes, he instantly knew that it was a mistake, for the moment their eyes locked he felt a shiver run down his spine and a slight tightening at his throat. But even before the admiral could bring his hand to his throat the tightening had disappeared, but the admiral knew that there would be no second chances.
"Good," Vader responded, pleased with Luke's actions. "Set course for Mon Calamari."
"As you wish, my Lord."
At this Vader and Luke walked past the admiral, heading towards their quarters.
"Hit Mon Calamari for Ackbar's involvement in the Alliance?" Luke asked ignoring the stares he was receiving.
"Exactly," Vader replied, then he looked at his son. "Any idea how he'll react?"
Luke thought for a moment before replying:
"He'll want revenge, but I'd expect him to try to get to Mon Calamari to help out. If Mothma and Organa don't persuade him to stay."
Vader smiled at Luke's casual uninterested mention of his former friend.
"Well we'll put up a warrant for his capture. Meet me in the sparring room in half an hour," Vader ordered as he entered his quarters.
"As you wish," Luke replied before he walked to his own quarters.
He found that his quarters were identical to these on the Death Star. He also found a datapad with the names and records of the momentary command crew. He smiled to himself as he wondered how long those people would remain alive.
"I'm sure you all know why we're here," Mon Mothma said as General Madine entered the room.
"Sorry that I'm late," he said taking his seat. "But I just had to double check something with the repairs."
"That's all right," Mon Mothma replied. "I'm sorry to report that our intelligence hasn't been able to get any information concerning anything with the Death Star. So we'll have to make do with the information Lieutenant Micheal is able to provide us with. Admiral Ackbar?"
Admiral Ackbar got up from his chair and punched the security code into the monitor. Seconds later the life-size image of Lieutenant Micheal appeared in front of the table.
"Good day, Lieutenant," Admiral Ackbar said. "I hope you have some good information for us, as our intelligence hasn't been able to penetrate Imperial security."
"Well I have information, but it's not good news," Lieutenant Micheal replied, his eyes nervously darting to Han, Lando, Wedge and finally Leia. "Commander Skywalker was just promoted to Lord Skywalker, third in command of the Empire, three hours ago."
Leia gasped in astonishment, but other then that there was only stunned silence in the room.
"Excuse me, Lieutenant," General Madine finally managed to say. "But did you just say that Commander Skywalker is now third in command of the Empire?"
"Yes, General, the news spread through the Death Star like wild fire."
"What of Grand Moff Hardy?" Mon Mothma asked.
"He's been moved down, and he's not happy about it. I happened to be on duty within sight of the elevator to the Emperor's throne room when he, Lord Vader and Lord Skywalker exited. I didn't know at the time what had just happened, but I did notice that Skywalker was dressed like Lord Vader," Lieutenant Micheal informed them.
"What do you mean dressed like Vader?" Leia asked as she finally got over the shock.
"He was dressed all in black, wearing knee high boots, leather gloves and a long, flowing cape. But I've got it on tape."
"On tape?" Han asked needing to see this for himself.
"Yes," Lieutenant Micheal nodded before he stepped out of the view to get the tape. When he returned he was holding a datachip which he inserted into his holoreceiver.
Seconds later, the image changed and suddenly the Rebel leaders could see the elevator leading to the Emperor's throne room. On either side of the elevator stood two red robed Royal Guards. As they watched they got a view of the surrounding area before the holo zoomed in on the elevator door. At the same time the elevator opened and out stepped an angry looking Grand Moff Hardy, Lord Vader and Lord Skywalker.
"I don't believe it," Wedge said softly as he instantly recognized his friend.
"Me neither," Lando mumbled. "Me neither."
Just then the holo showed a close up of Luke's face, but although it was Luke's face it was a Luke nobody recognized. Instead of the easy smile and laughing eyes they saw a cold, hard face with even colder eyes. Leia shivered as she examined Luke's face, it was the kind of face she'd expect Darth Vader to have. She had seen killers with kinder eyes. Whatever Vader and the Emperor had done to Luke she was determined to do everything she could to bring him back.
Then the holo went gray before the image of Lieutenant Micheal appeared before them once more.
"I'm sorry I couldn't get more, but my superior was just about ready to call Lord Vader over and tell him of my constant lack of work," Lieutenant Micheal apologized.
"You've given us all the information we need to decide on what course of action to take," Admiral Ackbar said looking at Han and Leia. 'This must be really hard on them,' he thought to himself. Out loud he said: "Is there anything else we need to know about?"
"Yes, the fleet has just departed with Lords Vader and Skywalker in charge," Lieutenant Micheal replied nervously eyeing the admiral. "And it's only a rumor, but I've heard that they're heading for Mon Calamari."
"Why Mon Calamari?" Lando asked not really wanting to know the answer.
"Rumor says the Emperor wants the Alliance destroyed at all costs, even if it means punishing a whole planet for a single person's involvement in the Alliance, thus Mon Calamari," Lieutenant Micheal replied avoiding Admiral Ackbar's gaze.
Just as Admiral Ackbar was about to reply the timer beeped its warning.
"Thank you for your help, Lieutenant, we'll contact you later," Mon Mothma said before she cut the connection.
For a moment nobody moved or spoke, they just sat there thinking about everything they had just learned.
"I don't believe it," Leia said very quietly. "What have they done to him?"
"I think that we now have to consider the fact that Skywalker might have been working for the Empire all along," Mon Mothma stated.
"What?!" Han exclaimed getting out of his chair. "Luke risked his life to destroy the Death Star, he also risked his life to cover the evacuation of Hoth, not to mention what happened to him on Bespin at the hands of Darth Vader!"
"We only have his word for what actually happened to him on Bespin," Admiral Ackbar pointed out.
"He lost his right hand!" Wedge exclaimed.
"Yes, besides Vader was planning on putting him in carbonite for transportation to the Emperor," Lando added. "'The Emperor's prize' he called him."
"The Emperor's prize?" General Madine asked.
"Yes, those were his exact words. It must be that they had something on Luke, or that they have some kind of brainwashing technique that they knew would work on him."
"Or maybe that was just to mislead you," Mon Mothma argued, not really wanting to believe Skywalker was a traitor, but having to look at all the possibilities. "Was there anyone else in the room when Vader actually met with Skywalker?"
"No," Lando replied honestly.
"I agree that you have a point Mon Mothma, but Luke seemed about ready to drop from exhaustion when we found him hanging from the weather vane," Leia added.
"This doesn't make any sense," Wedge declared. "Luke's done lots against the Empire, and he has reason to hate it. And yet we all just saw him wearing the clothes of an Imperial lord. There is definitely something more going on here then meets the eye."
"There definitely is something going on that we don't know about," Admiral Ackbar stated. "Something so big that Skywalker decided to join his father's killer."
"I'm going to send a notice to our intelligence asking them to get any background information on both Skywalkers and Vader," Mon Mothma said.
"Both Skywalkers?" Lando asked.
"Yes, whatever is going on it runs deep, and we'll be better off getting as much information as we can."
"Mon Mothma?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Is it possible for us to do anything to prevent the Imperial attack on Mon Calamari?"
There was a short silence as everyone knew the answer, but nobody wanted to voice it.
"Admiral, we couldn't take the Imperial fleet at Endor, there is no chance of us doing so now at Mon Calamari," Leia finally said.
"Then I'd like to resign my commission."
"Admiral, you can't do that," Mon Mothma said as she got to her feet. "We need you now more then ever."
"I have to go and help my people. They will be attacked because of me, so I have to help undo the damage caused by the Imperials," Admiral Ackbar replied.
"Admiral, the best way to help your people and the whole galaxy is to stay and help the Alliance survive. For if the Alliance dies then there will be no one to stop the Emperor from doing this sort of thing anywhere he chooses to do it," Leia argued knowing full and well how close the Alliance was to being destroyed. If they now lost Admiral Ackbar that would only make the situation worse, for Admiral Ackbar was their best fleet commander, plus he knew Imperial tactics from when he had been Grand Moff Tarkin's slave.
Admiral Ackbar looked at Leia for a moment thinking of what she had said before he sighed and said:
"You're right, Princess. It is just knowing that my people are in danger because of me and not being able to do anything about it."
"I know exactly how you feel, Admiral," Leia replied quietly, thinking of Alderaan. "I know exactly how you feel."
Han reached out and squeezed Leia's hand.
Lightsabers clashed as Luke and Vader fought. Vader was pleased to find that Luke had gotten even better since when they had last practiced. Before their first meeting on Bespin he hadn't had any real competition in years. He had practiced against droids, but it wasn't the same as fighting against a human. He was also pleased that the one person who was a challenge to him was none other than his own son.
He was then distracted from his thoughts as Luke noticed his preoccupation and took full advantage of it. Vader was forced to retreat several steps before he could switch back to an offensive position.
Watching from beside the door an officer stood in stunned disbelief. He had often watched Lord Vader practice against a droid, and even then it had been amazing to watch, but now he was fighting another human. The officer had heard rumors that this boy was another lord and as he watched him fight Lord Vader he knew it must be true. Not only was he lasting longer than any of the droids, but Lord Vader had called him by his first name, Luke.
Suddenly the doors opened and the officer snapped to attention as the admiral entered. The admiral entered and froze as he saw Lords Vader and Skywalker fight. Then he stepped forward and away from the door and waited. It was always bad to interrupt Lord Vader, but to do so when he had his lightsaber activated was suicide.
Luke completely ignored the admiral as he entered, concentrating instead on his father. He had almost managed to get through his father's defenses when Vader hadn't been paying attention, but he had failed.
Suddenly Vader saw the opportunity he had been waiting for, Luke momentarily favored his right side, which was all he needed to rip Luke's lightsaber from his hands. Vader then deactivated his own lightsaber and said: "Good," before turning to the admiral.
Luke stretched out his arm and his lightsaber jumped back into his hand. He then hooked it to his belt and listened to what the admiral had to say.
"We have just reached Mon Calamari and are standing ready."
"Prepare for planetary bombardment," Vader ordered. "I'll be on the bridge in a few moments."
"As you wish, my Lord," the admiral replied as he wondered about what he had just seen.
Lord Skywalker was indeed as dangerous as he had at first thought. The fact that he was a match for Lord Vader proved that, for although he had lost he had held his ground for a while. The admiral then turned around and left the room.
"Looks like your information source was correct, Admiral," Commander Henks stated to the Rebel leaders over the holo com. "The Imperial fleet has just arrived out of hyperspace and is moving into formation to bombard the planet."
There was a silence in the room as everyone remembered the results of the last Imperial attack on Mon Calamari.
"Have you warned the people?" Leia asked.
"Yes," Commander Henks replied. "A preliminary evacuation of the major cities has begun, but there will still be heavy casualties if the Imperials attack."
"Thank you, Commander," Mon Mothma replied. "Now go and take cover. We'll contact you later."
"Straight away, Ma'am," Commander Henks replied before he turned of his holo com.
"What now?" Wedge asked.
"We finish our repairs and strike back at the Empire," General Madine responded.
"How long before the repairs are finished?" Han asked.
"Another two weeks," Admiral Ackbar replied miserably.
"Two weeks?!" Leia exclaimed surprised.
"Yes," Mon Mothma confirmed. "We have some pretty extensive damage. Plus we still need some materials to finish the repairs."
"Which could turn ugly if the Imperials intercept our materials," Lando replied not wanting to state out loud that Luke knew the Alliance's suppliers.
"Point taken," General Madine replied worried. "We'll have to get the materials through different suppliers."
Mon Mothma sighed before she said:
"We really need to know what is up with Commander Skywalker. He knows so much Alliance information and until we know for sure what's up we'll have to change all that he knows."
"Which is impossible to do if he really does want to hurt us," Han said quietly.
Leia just looked at Han silently and wondered when they would find out what had happened to Luke.
"Fire at will," Luke ordered just as Vader entered the Command Bridge.
"Right away, my Lord," the admiral replied going to the communications officer.
"They were informed about the attack," Luke said as Vader reached him. "They had started an evacuation before we even arrived."
"Looks like we have a spy on board the Death Star," Vader replied. "Any idea who it might be?"
"No," Luke responded shaking his head. "I wasn't even aware that there was a spy, but they must have a new way of sending com messages without being detected."
"I'll inform Hardy and have him do some security sweeps."
Luke just nodded and then they both felt a disturbance in the Force as the Star Destroyers opened fire on Mon Calamari's cities. Luke stood still as he watched the green beams of energy bombard the planet. He could feel the fear and terror of the people in the cities as the bombarding continued. And as Luke watched he felt a new sense of power he liked, it was all in his power to stop what was happening to those people, just like he had started it.
Vader watched his son closely and was pleased to see that Luke showed no signs of pity or horror at what he had just ordered. Luke suddenly became aware that his father was observing him and turned around and looked up straight into Vader's eyes, although the mask made that physically impossible. They stood there for a moment, eyes locked, until Luke finally looked away. Vader smiled and turned to the admiral:
"Stop the bombardment."
"As you wish, my Lord," the admiral replied and left to carry out his orders.
"Now to find the Rebel fleet," Vader stated turning back to Luke.
Luke nodded then said:
"If there is indeed a spy on board the Death Star then the Alliance probably knows I'm not with them anymore. Which means they'll try to avoid using any suppliers or cells I know about, but they can't change everything I know."
"Not fast enough anyway," Vader replied. "Tell me, what cells do you know about, and who's been supplying the Alliance?"
Leia sat frozen in horror as she looked at the holos of Mon Calamari's cities. They were almost completely devastated.
"We already know that the damage is twice as bad as that caused last time the Empire attacked Mon Calamari," Admiral Ackbar said quietly, his voice tight.
"How long did the Empire fire?" Lando asked horrified at the rubble of the buildings.
"The Empire fired non-stop with turbolasers for an entire ten minutes," Mon Mothma informed him.
"Ten minutes?!" Leia exclaimed. "That's the longest planetary bombardment ever!"
"That's right," General Madine replied. "Which is why we'll have to watch our steps from here on. We have already lost contact with one of our Rebel cells on Ackjarbal Tarik."
"A cell which Luke knew about," Leia whispered silently.
"Exactly," Mon Mothma replied. "Which is why I'm forced to issue a warrant for Commander Skywalker's arrest."
"What?" Wedge exclaimed.
"I'm sorry, Commander Antilles, but all the evidence points to the fact that Skywalker has joined the Empire. Until we learn more I just can't allow him to run free in the Alliance should he return."
"That would only give him a reason to stay with the Empire," Lando argued.
"He obviously already had a reason," General Madine pointed out.
There was a momentary silence as nobody could argue with that.
"Can we send any help to Mon Calamari?" Leia finally asked.
"No," Admiral Ackbar stated quietly. "The Imperials have left two of their Star Destroyers in orbit."
"Besides we have to think of ourselves first," Mon Mothma said. "We can't help anyone if we're destroyed.
"That's true," Han agreed.
"Mon Mothma! Admiral Ackbar!" an aide exclaimed as she burst into the room.
"You'd better have a good reason to interrupt a closed meeting like this," Admiral Ackbar stated firmly as he got up.
The aide just nodded and handed over a datapad.
"We just received this startling information from one of our spies on Coruscant."
"Startling information?" Wedge asked looking over at Admiral Ackbar.
As Leia watched Admiral Ackbar she thought that she actually saw the Admiral's face pale, a thing she had never yet seen before.
"Thank you," Admiral Ackbar whispered, dismissing the aide.
"What is it?" Mon Mothma asked.
"Skywalker won't be coming back to the Alliance."
"What? Why not? How can you be certain?" Leia asked not wanting to believe it.
"We seem to have been misinformed," Admiral Ackbar stated quietly. "Darth Vader didn't murder Skywalker's father, he is Skywalker's father."
"What?" Han and Lando exclaimed.
"You heard me, Darth Vader is none other then Anakin Skywalker, Luke Skywalker's father."
There was a moment of silence before Leia spoke:
"Excuse me?" Mon Mothma asked, still shocked.
"When we rescued Luke on Bespin, I could tell by the look in his eyes that Vader had hurt him much deeper then the physical wounds he had received. Vader must have told him then that he was his father."
"How do we know that Skywalker wasn't aware of his heritage from the beginning?" General Madine asked.
"He wouldn't have been so mad at Vader for killing Obi-Wan Kenobi if he knew the truth," Leia reasoned.
"Yeah," Han added. "I agree with Leia, before Bespin Luke always talked about his father being Anakin and after he rescued me he didn't mention his father again."
"Still..." Mon Mothma began before Wedge gasped. "What is it, Commander?"
"I don't think that Vader knew he had a son until after the destruction of the first Death Star."
"What?" Lando asked.
"Remember Luke wasn't mentioned in Anakin Skywalker's file?"
"Yes," Leia replied nodding as understanding dawned. "That would explain why Vader didn't capture Luke when he rescued me, plus it explains the Empire's sudden interest in him as well."
"But that still doesn't explain Luke's apparent betrayal," Han said.
"Of course it does," Admiral Ackbar said. "Remember the trap at Endor? The Empire couldn't just have guessed that we would attack when we did."
"Luke would never do that!" Leia stated firmly.
"I thought you just agreed to Skywalker being Vader's son," Mon Mothma said.
"There's a difference," Leia argued. "Besides what difference does it make whose son he is? Luke is Luke."
"Well it looks like it made a difference to Skywalker whose son he is," General Madine pointed out. "For he left us to stand by his father's side."
Luke Skywalker sat on his bed meditating. He was totally open to the Dark Side, letting its evil, seductive power flow through him. His mind was linked to that of his father, for although he was strong they both knew that he would fail if he tried this alone. And even with their combined strength there was a chance of failure.
For Luke was looking for one mind, one mind among the uncountable number of minds in the galaxy. One mind that was no different from the others in any significant way. He was looking for the mind of Princess Leia Organa. He knew that he would recognize her mind if he touched it, for he had done it before on Bespin, but he would need to touch her mind in order to locate her. Thus the high odds of failure.
He was concentrating on sweeping the Outer Rim Territories when he finally brushed against her mind.
"Bingo," he said softly.
'You've found her?' his father's voice spoke into his mind as Vader was sitting in his pod in his own quarters.
"Yes," Luke replied guiding his father to Leia's mind.
'Mantooine,' Vader stated softly as he pinpointed Organa's mind. 'Good.'
Now that Luke was no longer concentrating on finding Leia he could concentrate on the link he had with his father. He wondered just how much of the power he had used had been his own and how much had been his father's. He was also aware of a small but constant undercurrent of pain. The mind link was so strong that it took him a moment to realize that it was his father's pain that he was feeling and not his own.
'Come,' Vader's voice drifted into his thoughts once again. 'Time to eliminate the Rebellion.'
"Yes, Father," with this Luke broke the mind link and sat on his bed for another moment wondering at his father's pain. It probably had something to do with the breathing mask and body armor, but he couldn't be sure.
"I still can't believe Luke didn't tell us," Leia said as she, Han and Wedge walked from the meeting room.
"Well Leia what would you do? 'Hey guys my father is Darth Vader, but you don't mind right?'" Wedge asked.
"Yes, I would," Leia replied. "Besides I wouldn't care who his father is, all I'd care about would be who he is."
"Leia," Han said. "It might seem easy for you, but now place yourself in Luke's shoes: You've never known your father, but people you trust have told you only good things about him. You've spent your life wishing you'd known him and wham- suddenly you learn that not only did the people you trust lie to you, but your father is still alive. And not only that, but he's one of your worst enemies."
"Plus he's also done lots of stuff to hurt you and your friends," Wedge added. "Maybe he didn't want to admit the truth, maybe he thought that you'd treat him differently knowing that he is Darth Vader's son."
"Yeah, but still..." Leia started but was cut off as the attack sirens went off.
"What the blazes?" Han said surprised.
"Alert, alert. Imperial Star Destroyers attacking, repeat Imperial Star Destroyers attacking," Mon Mothma said over the com system.
"Perfect," Wedge said running towards the docking bay.
"See you later, Leia," Han said as he headed after Wedge.
"Be careful, Han."
"You know me," Han replied as he rounded the corner and disappeared.
"That's what I'm talking about," Leia whispered softly before she headed for the command center wondering if Luke was on board one of the attacking Star Destroyers.
"Hey, Han," Lando called out as he entered the docking bay. "Can I be your co-pilot?"
"Sure, come on," Han replied as he boarded the Falcon.
Lando hurried towards the Falcon and up the ramp. Once inside he closed the hatch and headed towards the cockpit.
"This is the Millennium Falcon with Generals Solo and Calrissian waiting for clearance to lift of," Han spoke into the comlink as Lando sat in Chewie's former chair. "What happened?" he asked turning to face his friend. "How did they find us so fast?"
"I don't know. I was with Admiral Ackbar in the command center when the Imperial fleet suddenly jumped out of hyperspace all around us."
"All around us?"
"Yes," Lando replied as he nodded. "They knew we were here and they've made sure we can't jump into hyperspace without going straight through a Star Destroyer."
"Damn Imps!" Han cursed.
"Millennium Falcon you may take off."
"Thanks," Han replied as he ignited the Falcon's engines.
The first thing Leia saw as she entered the command center was chaos. There were frantic aides running everywhere trying to get information to those who needed it. Up front, near the big view port Leia saw Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma trying to lead the Alliance ships.
As she looked out the view port Leia saw that the Imperial Star Destroyers had created a perimeter around the remains of the Rebel fleet, blocking them off from hyperspace. She also saw hundreds of TIEs and X-wings among the remaining Alliance Star Cruisers. Her hopes sank as she saw at least ten times as many TIEs as X-wings.
As she walked towards Admiral Ackbar and Mon Mothma she heard a report that made her heart skip a beat:
"Gold Leader we've lost Rogue Leader, I repeat we've lost Rogue Leader."
'Wedge!' Leia's mind screamed.
"What?!" came Han's voice over the com.
"He's dead," the pilot repeated. "Ten TIEs attacked him at once."
"They certainly know who to take out first," Mon Mothma remarked as Leia reached her.
"Luke," Leia stated quietly knowing that she could no longer deny the obvious.
"Yes, but that doesn't explain how they found us," Admiral Ackbar said. "Skywalker didn't know where we'd regroup."
"We'll discuss that later," Mon Mothma replied.
On board the Executor Luke stood next to his father as they looked at the on-going battle from the command center. Luke had felt Wedge's death and he had simply smiled at it. If Wedge chose to fight for the Alliance then he was a traitor and needed to be eliminated.
"There," Luke suddenly said pointing to one of several identical Mon Calamari Star Cruisers. "That's their command ship. Mon Mothma, Admiral Ackbar, General Madine and Princess Organa should all be on board."
"Good," Vader said before he turned around and ordered: "Admiral, destroy the middle Star Cruiser."
"At once, Lord Vader," the admiral replied as he turned to give further orders.
Luke kept his eyes on the Star Cruiser as his father ordered its destruction.
'Goodbye, Princess Organa,' he sent with another smile on his face.
Leia felt helpless as she watched the on-going battle and listened to Admiral Ackbar give orders. She knew that she would only be in the way if she tried to do anything, but it was hard for her to just stand by and watch. Suddenly she caught sight of the Executor. She was about to say something when she suddenly heard a voice in her head:
'Goodbye, Princess Organa.'
"Luke," she whispered remembering the time he had called to her on Bespin.
Seconds later the Star Cruiser shuddered before disappearing in an explosion as it received direct fire from the Executor's turbolasers.
"Leia, nooooooooo!" Han exclaimed as he saw the Star Cruiser being destroyed.
Lando just sat in his chair, stunned.
"Look out, Gold Leader!" came the voice of a Rebel pilot over the comlink.
Han snapped back to the present and tried to avoid the fire of the incoming TIE, but he was too slow. The TIE fighter's fire hit its target and the Falcon's already weak shields gave out and the Falcon too disappeared in a ball of fire.
Luke felt Han and Lando's deaths a few seconds after Leia's death. He also felt himself grow stronger as his former friends died, so he closed his eyes and drank in as much of the power as he could.
Vader turned his eyes from the view port to regard his son standing beside him. This was as it was meant to be. He had known that it was Luke's destiny to stand at his side under the Emperor from the moment he had learned of his son's existence. And now, as he stood there watching his son and knowing that in a few moments the Rebellion would be completely destroyed, he knew that all the years of hunting down Luke had been worth it.
Feedback is always greatly appreciated, even for a fic like this which I wrote nearly two decades ago!