Author Note: I don't own Star Wars!
The Alliance capital ship Resolve
In deep space between Ploo and Cathar
Commander Luke Skywalker, hero of the battle of Yavin and Jedi Knight hopeful, more stumbled than walked into his rather spartan quarters on the Rebel Ship Resolve and collapsed on his bunk with a moan.
Wedge Antilles was sitting on the other bunk and looked up with a smile, "Tired, Boss?"
Luke groaned again and kicked his boots off even as he buried his head into his pillow.
"Well, I'm flying sentry duty in 10 minutes and I'll leave the 'do not disturb' sign on the door so you can sleep. Are you physically Ok? Your face is pretty bruised up."
Luke sighed, flopped himself sideways, and began complaining, "Yeah, I'm fine but really, this price on my head is getting to be a total pain. How am I supposed to fulfill missions with my name and face on the top of every Imperial Most Wanted chart? I was recognized on Taris, got ambushed by a couple of thugs and had to fight them off, and then spent two days being chased around the tenements and breathing in yellow smog. I didn't execute the mission directives completely, and Solo had to save my skin again. It's embarrassing and ridiculous. I'm a 20 year old farmboy from Tatooine. What's Vader's deal?"
"Well, you did blow up the Death Star," Wedge pointed out politely, "That might possibly irritate the Dark Lord just a tad."
Luke rolled over on his back and stared at the ceiling, "Yeah, I know. I get that. It stinks that they figured out my name, probably from that bounty hunter I ran into on Tatooine. But why the Alive Only bounty? Why not just put a blaster bolt through my head? What does he want?"
Wedge looked solemnly at his friend and said softly, "I don't know, but for your sake I don't think you really want to find out."
Luke nodded half-heartedly. Antilles was right, but he was a curious soul and this obsessive interest of Vader's was truly strange.
"Hey, don't overdo it during sentry duty," he added, "I'm going to keep you dancing in the skies tomorrow once I'm more awake."
"You got it, Boss," Wedge said, and slipped out the door, locking it behind him.
Luke flopped back down and thought about getting changed into something more appropriate for bed.
Never mind. He was too tired.
He opened his eyes to find himself standing at the mouth of a cave, with its opening hanging at least 50 meters above the waters below. Outside was an ocean, spreading in azure glory into the horizon. The sky was blue, the sun (there only seemed to be one), shown brilliantly. He felt the heat of its rays against his skin, saw the reflected light off the water. It was unlike anything he had ever dreamed of while living on Tatooine, and far more beautiful than anything he'd seen in the more than a dozen missions he'd participated in for the Rebellion.
He turned around and observed the cave more closely. It was roughly circular in shape and quite large, 6 meters across at least. There were 2 exits to the cave, both shrouded in darkness. The floor was a dull brown, but the walls, while largely of the same material, were shot through with bands of tiny crystals, which caught the light and reflected it into subtle rainbows.
It was beautiful and glorious and weird…what was he doing here?
Luke turned back toward the ocean even as he clapped his hands together experimentally. He felt his hands hit one another, but the fact that he had just been on the Resolve in a state of total exhaustion indicated that he must be dreaming.
He must be.
The next instant he was sure. The peaceful vista and calm atmosphere were suddenly disturbed by the harsh sound of heavy, rhythmic breathing.
Luke spun around, his hand reaching for his lightsaber which was, to his relief, hanging at his waist. The blue laser sword leaped to life. He sucked in a deep breath even as his nemesis, Lord Darth Vader, stepped through the left entrance into the cave.
For a long moment, they regarded each other. Luke was filled with righteous indignation and hatred, which slowly bled away into bewilderment. Why was Darth Vader here? In his dream?
He decided to ask, "Why are you here?"
The Dark Lord regarded him gravely, then spoke in the iconic deep bass, "A most interesting question, young one, but not one I am able to answer."
Luke frowned as his anger flared at the condescending term. Young one.
He lunged forward suddenly, his lightsaber buzzing passionately. He knew this was a dream, and thus there seemed no harm in indulging his fantasy of cutting Darth Vader in half.
There was a sudden hum to his right, and another blade, a green one, crashed against his blue blade and knocked the lightsaber out of his hand. He turned in amazement and anger, which quickly vanished into disbelief.
He was looking at himself.
Yes, another Luke Skywalker though…he looked a bit dissimilar.
His face was slightly different, and his body more muscular. He was dressed in unremitting black from head to toe, with an unfamiliar lightsaber hanging at his waist. He looked…older.
"Huh?" Luke demanded incoherently.
"Don't," the Other Luke said firmly, even as he turned off his lightsaber and returned it to his belt. The Other Luke proceeded to reach out a hand, calling the blue saber to his hand.
"Try to kill Darth Vader."
Luke sighed, "Look, this started weird and is getting weirder, but I know this is just a dream. It isn't real. There's no harm in killing an enemy in a dream, is there?"
Older Luke shook his head slightly even as he handed Luke's lightsaber back to him, "It's the motivation behind it that's wrong. A Jedi does not lash out in anger or to take vengeance."
Luke wilted slightly. Older Luke was right…
"Which is why the Jedi were weak, why they fell," Vader intoned suddenly. He had not moved from his position near one entrance into the cave, nor, Luke noticed belatedly, had he made any attempt to defend himself against Luke's initial attack.
Other Luke's eyes narrowed as he took a few steps toward Vader, though he didn't draw his lightsaber, "Why are you here?"
"Your younger self asked the same thing, and as I told him, I do not know. I was meditating…"
"As was I," said Other Luke, "So do you think this is actually real in some way?"
"A shared vision?" Vader asked, "Yes, I think it is possible."
There was a slight head shake from Other Luke.
"I wasn't able to meditate deeply at that age," he inclined his head toward Luke.
Vader now moved a few careful steps to the left. He kept his distance from both Lukes, but Luke still felt nervous.
"It is possible…" the bass voice sounded more curious than threatening, "It is possible that in times of deep sleep, an individual may achieve a state of deep meditation without trying."
Other Luke stared thoughtfully at Luke, "Well, based on the facial bruising I think I know the mission, and I was totally exhausted. Not that this happened."
"Perhaps it did, and you forgot," Vader suggested.
Other Luke sighed, "Perhaps."
Luke's brow furrowed in bewilderment and anger. Why was his other self, his older self, talking to Vader reasonably courteously? The man was a murderer – not just of nameless millions, but of his (their?) own father Anakin Skywalker!
His older self looked at him, and Luke wondered if his thoughts had been picked up. If so, it wasn't too surprising. He didn't have training in thought shielding and this was his other self, albeit an older one.
"Much has happened in the years since I was your age," Other Luke said gently.
"Including making peace with our father's murderer?" Luke demanded bitterly.
There was a deep sigh, surprisingly from both Vader and Other Luke.
"We are certainly not at peace, younger one," Vader said. Was that … disappointment in his voice?
What was going on?
"Darth Vader did not kill our father," Other Luke said solemnly.
Vader spoke now, "By changing the past, you may change the future, Luke."
Luke's older self turned suddenly and took several impassioned steps toward the Dark Lord, the calm in his face shifting to an expression of unrestrained, raw grief, "It is hard to imagine a scenario that could be worse than Bespin, Lord Vader."
There was a silence, and Luke's underdeveloped Force sense prickled. Vader was not angry, he was…
"I did not realize…" Vader began finally, then seemed to stumble in his words, "I failed to anticipate your very negative reaction to the truth, Luke."
Other Luke stepped closer still to the Dark Lord, his face contorted, "What did you think would happen? You captured my friends and tortured them to lure me to Cloud City, you tried to encase me in carbon freeze, you beat me black and blue and threw me out of a window, you cut off my hand!"
Luke flinched in horror, even as he darted a shocked glance at his older self's right hand. It was encased in a black glove and he caught a glimpse of wiring. What in all the star clusters had happened?
Vader actually retreated a step, "I … regret the damage I inflicted, young one. I lost control of the situation."
"Don't tell me that," Other Luke hissed, "Don't lie to me. You could have killed me at any moment and you know it. You were toying with me from the beginning."
"I did not want to kill you!" the Dark Lord roared, "I did not wish to harm you! Once you escaped the carbon freeze I was forced to take more violent measures to capture you. I certainly did not … I did not fathom that you would choose suicide over accepting our relationship."
Other Luke was dead? What?
His older version looked briefly over to Luke, "I jumped into a deep chasm and miraculously survived the fall. So no, I'm not dead."
Luke shook his head to clear it, and honed in on the big mystery here, "What did he tell you? That someone else killed our father? What relationship is he talking about? It was probably a lie, whatever he said."
There was a hesitant pause, and Other Luke stepped close and put a gentle hand on his shoulder, "This will be a shock, I know. Darth Vader didn't kill our father. Darth Vader is our father."
Luke looked at Vader, then at his older self, then back at the Dark Lord. He shook his head violently, "No, that's not true! That's impossible!"
Other Luke sighed, "Well, at least my response is consistent regardless of age. I said exactly the same thing at Bespin. But it's true."
Luke knew he was pale. A small part of his brain realized this was just a dream, but the words issuing from his older self's lips were so horrible that his entire mind seized up.
"No, he killed our father. He betrayed and murdered Anakin Skywalker. It's not true."
Other Luke groaned softly and turned away to look out the cave entrance at the ocean.
"It is true," he said, keeping his back to both Luke and Vader, "I could sense the truth at Bespin, and I've received positive confirmation since then."
His head bowed, and he turned back to Luke, "I'm sorry. With a galactic population in the trillions, we drew the Evil One in the sabacc deck for a father."
Luke looked at Vader, who had been standing like a silent monolith. His Force senses were poorly trained, but he didn't sense anger. Again, it was more like…grief?
"I wished us to be together," the deep voice rumbled, "Is that so terrible?"
Other Luke looked at him curiously, "You said you wanted to defeat the Emperor and rule the galaxy together, Father. It sounded like you were focused on adding my power to your own. Does the fact that I'm your son really matter so long as I am powerful in the Force?"
Luke looked between the two other men standing there. There was a strange ripple in Other Luke's tone. It was almost a … challenge?
Vader hesitated, then slowly moved over to the outer entrance of the cave, next to the older version of Luke. He too looked out over the ocean.
"Of course it matters," he said so softly that Luke had to strain to hear, "You are all that is left of…of her. And you are my son. I …"
"You what, Father?" Other Luke demanded, turning to face his supposed sire directly.
"I am concerned about your well-being, Luke," Vader said, the discomfort obvious even through the vocoder.
Older Luke's eyes narrowed as he peered into the black mask, then he nodded slightly.
He looked over to Luke, who was still standing in disbelief at this thoroughly insane conversation.
"I think you'd better wake up now," he said.
"Believe me, I'm ready," Luke said firmly. Yes, this was just a dream. Just a dream. He tried pinching himself experimentally.
He didn't wake up.
"But this dream seems to be rather firmly entrenched," he said with a groan.
Older Luke smiled a little, gazing intently at his face. It occurred to Luke that while he was bruised up, he didn't have the scars of his older self.
"So the scars?" he asked in curiosity and worry, "Did you get them while fighting him?"
Other Luke shook his head, "No, I ran into a hungry carnivore and was injured. But I survived."
"On Hoth," Vader intoned, "Do not imagine that I am unaware of how seriously that Wampa damaged you, Son. At the very least, I wish you to be with me to keep you safe. The Alliance has been too careless with your welfare."
Both Lukes turned to him incredulously.
"You beat the living daylights out of him and cut off his hand, and you are berating the Alliance for putting us in danger?" Luke demanded indignantly.
Other Luke smiled a little, "What he said."
Vader's frame slumped just slightly, but surprisingly he did not respond.
Luke felt a tug at his arm.
"Come this way," his Other said, "I think we'll find a way to wake you up, but I'd like to talk to you away from Him."
He glanced at Vader, who had turned around and was now staring silently out at the ocean. Silent save for the harsh, mechanized breathing, that is.
Luke twisted his lips thoughtfully but obediently walked through the right entrance, followed by his other self.
Through the entrance was a smaller cave, which led into another, darker tunnel. The light here was dim, so Luke was just able to make out the features of the Other.
"First," Other Luke said, "Did you just finish the Taris mission?"
Luke nodded silently.
"Worst thing about that was that Han and Leia left on a mission to the Core before I woke up the next day, and they ran into trouble. I about drove myself insane worrying about them until they turned up 4 weeks later, no worse for wear. So if you can, try not to worry."
"Ok," Luke croaked.
The Other now leaned close to him and dropped his voice to a whisper into his ear, "You probably won't remember this, but it turns out Leia Organa is our very secret twin sister. So don't kiss her. That's just weird on so many levels."
Luke jolted in shock.
"She's what?" he hissed in disbelief.
Older Luke straightened again and smiled sympathetically, even as he stretched out his right hand (the mechanical one) to gently touch Luke's head.
His alter said, "And now, wake up!"
In deep space between Ploo and Cathar
Luke woke up.