DARK LABYRINTH by Shayne and Carolyn

Part 1 - The Anvil

With all that had happened to him since he'd left, Luke had expected it to look different. But it was the same, the same big red and brown ball below his wings, hot and dry under its twin suns. Tatooine. Home.

It had been a long journey in more ways than distance. He'd sworn, on that angry, bitter day with the loss of the two people who'd raised him that he'd never return. There were too many ghosts here...the ghosts of Owen and Beru, of Ben, of his lost childhood. He'd been so young on Tatooine.

It wasn't just the search for Han that had brought him here. Something else had pulled him back, the need to find the truths amongst all the lies. To find himself, he had to go home.

"Search your feelings".... he'd stretched out his hand, his gloved artificial hand and Luke had searched and found -

Questions. Fear. And a soul-shaking doubt. He believed him. He didn't believe him. Or maybe he just wanted to believe him.

My father. My enemy, who wants to find me not because I'm his son but because he can use me. I'm another weapon to him. That's all. You're fooling yourself if you believe there can ever be anything else.

Luke sent the X-Wing into a downward banking turn, slipping through the upper atmosphere and the scant cloudlayer the dry planet possessed. Rain hardly ever fell on Tatooine; it had been a revelation to walk thought Degobah's dripping forests. He'd never known the touch of rain on his face till then.

He realised he was wallowing in memory, a dangerous thing for a rebel warrior to do at any time, but especially here in enemy territory. And as he thought that there was a flicker, a brief dark shaft of awareness at the edge of his senses.


Luke sensed the fighter's approach before it was detected on his instruments. Cursing himself for his stupidity he sent the X-Wing into a tight climbing turn, clawing for space and the safe emptiness. Too late.

The TIE fighter swept across his path in a perfect arc, crowding him into a screaming turn. Luke sent a flick of fire at Vader's ship as he turned but the Dark Lord was very quick, very good .. a great pilot Ben had called him. Still sharp at dodging the fire, his own Force heightened senses better than any ship's system.

He secured the high point in spite of every manoeuvre Luke made - and then he dove and fired - and one of Luke's engines spun away, trailing sparks. The three undamaged engines worked to keep the ship stable but it was never designed for atmospheric fine flight, especially with its power unbalanced. Luke fought the ship's need to spin into a corkscrew dive, adjusting the power between the three engines in a blur of movement, wishing he hadn't left R2 behind with Leia. He sensed Vader close behind him watching his efforts and, in a burst of dark anger, allowed the X-Wing to pivot on its nose with the throttle wide open.

Vader had no time to pull aside and the X-Wing ploughed into his sidepanel. Locked together, the two crippled fighters dropped towards the ground, trailing dirty smoke.

* * *

For most pilots it would probably have been a fatal crash. Even Vader was shaken by the impact and sat for a time in the wrecked cabin, breathing in heavy, painful breaths. The fighter was a shambles but his Sith armour had cushioned him and the belts around him had kept him in place. Undoing then, he climbed thought the broken fuselage and stumbled down onto the sandy soil.

Wreckage was scattered over a considerable distance, some burning. Luke's X-Wing was close by, its nose buried in the ground and Vader hurried across to it, flinging aside twisted metal sheeting like paper. The X-Wing was a mess; its four engine struts had been torn off on impact and the force of the crash had crushed the front section almost flat. Luke, unconscious, was trapped by the collapsed cockpit panelling.

Reaching inside, Vader grabbed hold of the metal and began to pull. It took all of his strength and not a little Force manipulation to pull the pieces of cockpit up without goring Luke in the process. When enough room had been made, Vader undid the strap buckles and lifted Luke from the cockpit.

It was hot under the afternoon suns and Vader carried Luke across to the TIE fighter, laying him down in a patch of shade beside the upright side panel. Luke's legs were badly mauled and Vader confirmed with a touch what his Force sense had told him; one leg was fractured below the knee. The other injuries - internal but not life-threatening - he could not heal but bone damage was something with which he was intimately familiar. He tied pieces of webbing and strut around the leg to form a splint. It wouldn't be very comfortable but it would hold the bone straight and help stop the fracture from splitting further. After confirming the total destruction of both communications systems there was nothing to do but watch and wait.
* * *

Luke woke as the larger of Tatooine's twin suns was setting. With awareness came pain; he hurt in more places than he'd thought he had nerve ends. A headache was thumping behind his eyes, there was some sort of dull pain beneath his stomach and a hot ache from his left leg. Those were the big pains, but even they didn't blot out the glowing presence of his father.

Some of the hurt was drawn away, swallowed by a remorseless will and a familiar voice seemed to vibrate through his bones.

"Calm, be calm. Relax and drift, drive out the pain. I am helping you. Use the Force..."

For a moment the voice changed, was younger, the voice of a teacher. A human voice that touched a part of him no-one else had or could. A father reaching out to his son. He wanted to know that voice more. He should be afraid of it, of what it could do to him but another voice told him to listen, just this once. To trust, just this once. He let himself drift, felt the Force flow into him, giving him strength to fight. He became calm, rose above the physical, and opened his eyes.

In the twilight Vader's body was a large black mass beside him, casting a shadow across the sand. Legs folded in a comfortable crouch, he sat cloaked by the spreading darkness. He was still, gathered, the essence of calm and patience. Luke wondered how long it had been since Vader had been shaken by anything.

One black hand rested under Luke's head, holding it, the other was on his heart. They shared a moment of perfect stillness and harmony.

It was too good, much too good to last. He moved a little to break the link, knowing he had to, wishing otherwise and knowing, as well, how dangerous that wanting was. The hand holding his head quivered and the moment was gone. Sitting back, Vader lowered Luke's head gently to the sand. "Good," he said, the voice once more almost mechanical, "you can control the pain yourself, when it becomes necessary. I have healed what I could, strengthened you where it was needed. The rest will need proper medical attention."

Luke's situation hit home suddenly. He was lost in the Tatooine wastes, alone with his most dangerous enemy - his father. Impossible not to recognise the truth when they were so close. He blinked up at the shining mask and sensed the bond between them, the impossible relationship. And he couldn't escape as things were; his injuries would make it hard to even walk without help. Not good. He'd known some nasty spots in his life but this one was near to the top of the list.

He had to say something but it took a while to calm himself and push the rising concerns away. "What are you going to do with me?"

Vader stood, dusting the sand from his suit. "I intend to get you to medical care and then take you back home with me. You have a great deal to learn and I am anxious to start teaching you."

Luke edged himself upright gingerly, wincing at the pain, and rested his back against the TIE's crumpled panel. "What makes you think I'm interested in learning what you have to teach?"

"Ignorance, my son, is one of the few true evils." Vader began collecting water bottles and ration packs from both ships. "And only a fool refuses to investigate all alternatives. Good or evil are a matter of viewpoint; you will find there is no such thing as Universal Truth."

Obi-Wan's words came out of Vader like an echo of thought; Luke wondered how much of Ben's teachings had survived at the bottom of his father's spirit. Ben had been capable of lying - was Vader capable of truth? "That's convenient. And I'm not fool enough to think you don't have your own plans for me that have nothing to do with *my* personal betterment."

"We can discuss philosophies and plans later. Right now we have to get out of here." Vader, Luke suddenly realised, was gathering the survival equipment together for travelling.

"You mean...haven't you contacted someone, told someone where we are?"

"As you see," Vader said, indicating both wrecks, "your somewhat rash action destroyed both our ships. Neither has functional power and my own signalling systems have a very limited range. No-one knows exactly where we are. But search parties will be out shortly, I suspect; we will be located eventually."

Definitely not good. Luke looked about and realised, suddenly, just where they were...

"Eventually had better be before tomorrow noon." Vader turned at the sudden ice in Luke's voice. "This place is known as the Anvil. It's a thousand span wide flat saltpan. When both suns are overhead the temperature will rise high enough to boil water. Even your suit won't protect you." He looked around, trying to judge their location, seeing nothing but the gathering night. "If we don't get to cover before the two suns are directly overhead, we'll die."

The lesser of Tatooine's suns was slipping below the horizon but the land still shimmered and nothing lived as far as he could see or sense. It was dry and very still.

"Then we will start at once." Vader pointed off to the horizon where the orb of the sun highlighted a broken patch of land. "Those hills may offer some protection. Do you have any idea of habitation in that direction?"

"There's no settlement but there should be a Survival Hut somewhere. The Survey Office leaves small survival domes dotted around and I seem to remember seeing one on the Training List at school." He recalled tedious lessons, lists of locations and wished he'd been more attentive. "If there is one there it will have cover, water and a small supply of survival rations, along with a basic locater broadcaster." He hitched himself up and pushed the torn leggings down under the irritating edge of the splints. "Assuming the Sandpeople haven't looted it, that is."

"A sensible precaution." Vader packed both survival kits into tied pieces of torn padding. "I should be able to make those hills before the suns are very high and even if one of your domes cannot be found, there may be some cave or other place to wait out the hottest part of the day..."

"If you plan to leave me here," Luke said quietly, "I'd prefer it if I wasn't alive at noon tomorrow. I wouldn't enjoy feeling my blood boil."

"I did not save you," Vader answered, somewhat tartly, "to kill you. I will carry you."

"Carry me." He nodded towards the now invisible hills. "It must be twenty spans. You can't possibly expect to carry me AND the water that far before noon. Even you're not that good!"

"I appreciate your confidence in me, my son. But I WILL carry you AND the water. And I WILL reach it before noon. Because I wish to."

"You're insane." Luke's head was swimming as the shock and weakness of bloodloss finally hit him. "On your own...hard enough...can't carry me too...and water, have to take the water..."

"Credit me with a little sense," he heard Vader answer. "I understand dehydration. I also know something of the Force, you may recall." Luke watched hazily as Vader slung the containers into a makeshift pack and pulled it around to sit over his chest. He turned then and knelt in front of Luke. "I have to carry you and I have to make good time. I cannot do that if you are fighting me. Call truce, son, until we're on safer ground."

Luke looked up into the featureless mask, saw the good commonsense of the words, and lifted his arms. Vader swung around on his heels to present his back; Luke linked his arms around Vader's neck and grabbed his true wrist with his artificial hand. Vader slid his arms under Luke's legs as he pushed himself upright. Shifting the weight to balance himself, he began walking briskly towards the distant hills.

The night passed slowly and Luke, against all good sense, fell asleep. He woke the first time to find that Vader had tied his wrists together to prevent him from slipping off. He was too tired and sore to protest it. Later, but not then.

Finally, the dark began to give way to dim grey at Luke's right. Tatoo One, the larger red sun, was starting to cast its pre-dawn light on the world. TTwo, Luke knew, wouldn't be far behind. The Jawas called them Lar and Pen, Little and Big Brother, and respected their heat. The desert wanderers knew better than to be caught on the Anvil unprotected. From that first dim greyness they had four hours before the heat became terrible, and a further two hours before it killed them.

He leant over Vader's shoulder and saw that the hills seemed a little closer but there was still many spans to be covered. And Vader was slowing. Even his great strength was starting to falter after hours of steady travelling carrying a double load. The dark Force was strong but no-one could concentrate for hours on end and it took concentration to travel at Vader's Force-assisted pace. His breathing was becoming more laboured and as the false dawn gave way to true double dawn he stopped and leant forward, resting his hands on his knees.

"Put me down" Luke said quietly. "Rest."

For a moment Luke thought he'd refuse, but sense overcame pride and he slid Luke to the ground, slipping down beside him. He dragged out one of the water bottles and passed it across and Luke took a few mouthfulls before handing it back. Luke watched, fascinated, as Vader unclipped a small tube from inside his suit and inserted it into the bottle. Within seconds the bottle was empty and Vader tossed it aside, stretching back and raising both arms in a weary stretch. "I am not," he said in a dry rasp, "as young as I once was."

Luke wiped his face with a dampened piece of cloth as Vader set about rearranging the pack. The question he'd wanted answering for a long time popped out before he could stop it. "What was she like...my mother?"

Vader froze in mid-movement, then continued, a little slower. "Like you. Your colouring, your nature. Your idealistic outlook on existence."

"Did you love her?"

The Dark Lord turned his head towards the sunrise and Luke watched the play of light on the black mask. "More, it seemed, than she did me. I assume you did not know her?"

Luke shook his head, wistful. "No. I have no memory of her."

"Then you are more fortunate than I." Vader closed the discussion by turning to check Luke's splints, handling the bruised legs with a feather-light touch. "You are controlling the pain well. Save your strength for more important matters. The past is dead - it is the future that is of immediate concern to us both." With that he swung about and Luke lifted his arms over the helmeted head. Some questions answered, more left unspoken. For another time, perhaps.

* * *

Full dawn came a short time later and soon the air was heating up around them. The splints on his leg was partly metal and it grew increasingly uncomfortable under the suns, adding more misery. Even Vader's suit grew hot; the black absorbed the heat and Luke could hear the suit's support units labouring at each step. Vader's breathing became heavier and his stride was not as long as it had been during the night. He was getting very tired.

Luke reached deep and found his strength in the Force. He let a wave of power flow from him and spread out like a cloak that enveloped them both. Vader sagged abruptly and staggered. "I should...prefer it...if you didn't...do...that.."

"Oh." Luke let the Force drift away. "Sorry. Just trying to help."

Vader took a few deep breaths before straightening and starting forward. "You should, perhaps, be aware that our ways to power are currently different. They do not interact happily."

That was a new thought for Luke. "But...the Force is the Force, isn't it? The power itself is surely separate from the influence of its user, whether for Dark or Light?"

"A very scientific appraisal, young one. But the Force isn't so easily quantifiable. The power IS pure, yes, and Dark or Light are terms we use to discriminate between approaches. But the form that power takes is grounded in either Dark or Light. Ben and the old Jedi masters had one way. I have another. My way tames the Force and bends it to my will. Ben's way would have a Jedi become like froth on a current. I, for one, have always preferred to be the master of my own fate. I control the Force, it does not control me."

That certainly didn't tie in with what Yoda and Ben had said, something about one's destiny being dominated by the Dark Side. Either they'd been right and Vader was deceiving himself, or ...He realised he was trying to justify Vader's words. A bad course to chart.

* * *

He was very tired but the will that had enabled him to survive the many trials of a tempestuous lifetime kept him walking, putting one foot in front of the other, refusing to admit to weakness. And the burden he bore was, oddly, no burden at all.

The presence of his son was enervating. Their situation couldn't be stranger but at that moment he wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else but where he was. Luke was very close to him; normally such proximity would have meant battle, a struggle for domination. But the need simply to survive had made his son dependant on him. It was a unique experience that circumstances allowed him to savour.

He had known of his son's existence for a relatively short time. The memory of the shocking moment when Palpatine had told him still echoed. And confirming, very shortly thereafter, that his son was not only Force-sensitive but potentially even stronger than his father, had been almost as....disruptive. Pride battled with fear - he had a son. And his son had inherited his power, and perhaps more.

Palpatine had read the possibilities and seen danger surrounding the name of Skywalker. Luke was a wild card, an unpredictable agent. A Jedi. There had been no Jedi for a long time. Now there was one again and a more disruptive one Vader couldn't imagine. His son, hidden from him by Kenobi. A final, bitter victory for the old man.

I wondered for a long time. Wondered why Kenobi let me kill him so easily. And when I put the facts together I remembered the young man in white, unrecognised in the midst of the rage I felt at Kenobi. And the old man stood there and let me take his life because he knew that Luke was watching. With one blow I would alienate my only son forever. But Ben, perhaps you were wrong. Perhaps I can still take back what you stole from me.

* * *

The journey continued over increasingly rugged terrain. Tattooine must once have had water flowing over its surface; channels that had the look of riverbeds crossed the land. There was still substantial subsurface water and a number of underground rivers that supplied the planet with its moisture.

One of those, the Blymar, ran beneath the Anvil. In places it came quite close to the surface, and in one such place it had hollowed out a series of thin-roofed caves. Every now and then one of the big Sandcrawlers would fall through such a pocket and break a track - some had even been swallowed up by the Blymar, its occupants dragged down into the dark caverns of the river's heart. Since he generally flew or floated over the surface, Luke gave little thought to such geological features. He was reminded of them when Vader stumbled and fell, caught as much by surprise as Luke by the abrupt collapse of the ground beneath his feet.

They fell from the white heat of day into darkness. It seemed a long time before they slammed onto the damp sand at the bottom of the cave. Luke dragged himself upright, aware of new pains and the increased throbbing of his abused leg. Through the buzzing ache in his head and the sound of the nearby river he could hear Vader sliding across the dirt in his direction and caught the sense of something wrong. He looked towards his father, catching a flicker of light from the Dark Lord's suit systems.

"What's wrong?"

"The fall appears to have damaged the electronic systems of my right arm." As he sat Luke could see how the lower arm hung limply at the elbow, a dead weight. "Ridiculous to be endangered in this fashion by a river on a desert world." Luke managed to smile; it was the first time he'd heard his dangerous, mysterious father sounding....miffed.

"At least we're out of the sun."

Vader growled. "I am trapped in a hole in the ground with an optimist.

In spite of the pain in his head and ache in his leg and the general state of his life, Luke couldn't help laughing aloud. It was the most human thing he'd ever heard Vader say. "Afraid so. We'll both have to be, to get out of here. That hole," his said, waving one hand up at the distant patch of light, "has to be three times your height. And neither of us is into rock climbing."

Vader looked up, studying the rock ceiling. "Yes. We will have to Force-project. When the suns set we will pull ourselves up out of this hole. For now, rest."

The voice of command. As Luke lay back he wondered if his father even knew he was using it. It was probably second nature to him. But arguing was tiring and a waste of time. With a sigh he closed his eyes and let the exhaustion drag him down into sleep.

* * *

He woke to total darkness. He blinked but the darkness remained absolute. I'm blind! Panic grabbed at him and all control vanished as the various pains flared up in a rush like stampeding animals. He might have screamed if a calming voice hadn't spoken inside his mind even as strength flooded into him. A hand touched his arm and he sensed his father beside him in the darkness.

And that was all it was, just darkness. Not blindness but the lack of light. They were in a hole and it was night and there was no light.

The words made sense, finally. "Luke, be calm. I am here, you are not blind. It is simply night. Do you understand me?'

He swallowed, licked cracked lips. His voice was croaky. "Yes...yes, I understand. I just...." He shook his head to shake off the last traces of fright, and embarrassment. "I'm alright."

He heard Vader shift till he was sitting very close, but it felt oddly comforting to have the large bulk beside him. A greater demon the keep the lesser demons away. He sighed and tried to focus on controlling the pain, but it was becoming harder as his strength diminished. Use of the Force - his kind of Force - required calm concentration, and there wasn't much of that to be had.

"I can help you lighten the dark. You can use the Force to see. Darkness is only the absence of light - another kind of energy. You are blind only if you let yourself be blind."

He was intrigued in spite of himself. "How?"

"Focus on me; watch how I do it."

Luke reached out to sense the energy around his father; as usual, it glowed darkly, stirred by the emotions that surged beneath that featureless mask. A probing wave of power touched him briefly as it spread to encompass the cave: his Force sensitivity felt it as heat flushing over his nerve ends. Then it was gone, but in that moment he saw himself outlined in the light of Vader's power.

He shook his head, knowing Vader could see him, his body aglow in the eerie Force light. "I can't do that. I can't produce that kind of power!"

Sensitised, he felt his father's annoyance. "So you prefer to be blind?"

He was tired, but a challenge was difficult to resist. Finding his centre he established a point of calm and opened himself to the purity of the Force. Yoda had never shown him how to do what Vader had done, but he had shown Luke how the Force linked everything together, the animate and the inanimate. Instead of projecting he was receptive, soaking in the reflected energy of the cave. When he opened his eyes he could see everything. Including the star-spotted sky through the hole in the ground above his head. He pointed up at it.

"How do we get up there?"

"Simple." Vader stood, pulling his cloak up around him. "Use the Force to lift yourself up and out."

Yes, simple. Except I just used up a whole bunch of strength doing that Force-sight trick. And levitating takes a lot of concentration.... But hard or not, it had to be done. Concentrate, Luke. It's not that far.

Light-headed from having to hold back the pain and lift himself, he rose slowly into the air. But the level of control required was too great to sustain. He made it about a bodyheight before the cave tilted and he fell, hitting the ground with an agonised yelp.

Humiliated, angry and hurting, he pulled himself away from Vader's attempt to check him. "Just...leave me alone. Damn it!" His father shrugged, straightened and began to rise into the air. Luke watched, his anger growing, as Vader disappeared through the broken hole. He waited a few seconds before yelling.

"Are you just going to leave me here!"

Vader's helmet appeared over the lip of the hole. "You did tell me to leave you alone."

Luke snarled in frustration. He tried to pull himself upright and gasped at the shaft of agony from his leg. Angrier than ever, he glared up towards Vader. He knew what his father was waiting for and he refused to do it. Some things went beyond principle.

Vader made an odd grating noise that sounded a little like laughter. "You are producing enough emotive energy to lift a small town. Use it to get yourself out of there. I will wait for you, or help you, but I will not patronise your childish loyalty to outmoded beliefs."

Even though he knew he was being very stupid, Luke grabbed hold of his anger, shaped it and thrust himself upwards. In seconds he was outside the cave and resting on solid ground.

Outlined by starlight and an energy Luke was becoming very familiar with, Vader sat watching and waiting. His voice was calm and satisfied. "And that, my son, is how you use the Dark Force. You will find it a great deal easier to do from now on."

As the warm rush of darkness sang in his blood, Luke was more than a little worried that Vader might just be right.

Somehow, they made it to the hills before noon. The great red sun was just reaching its highest point when Vader limped into the first tumbled pile of rocks. The earth shimmered around them and the rocks were as hot to the touch as cooking grills but they also carried the emergency symbol and arrows pointing the way to safety.

A little while longer and Vader pushed his way through a dirt-littered doorway and into the relative cool of the dome.

* * *

He couldn't recall loosing consciousness but there must have been some sort period of unawareness; Vader had rarely slept since taking on the Sith armour, so it felt decidedly odd to find himself in a different position from the one he could last remember.

He'd stumbled through the door carrying Luke and then... and then he couldn't remember. But he was on the ground, his back against the wall and Luke was next to him, still unconscious or asleep. And he was tired, more tired than he could recall since that awful day a lifetime before when Anarkin Skywalker had been burned away in the fires of Obi-Wan Kenobi's vengeance.

Luke's head was pillowed on his leg but the boy looked uncomfortable and would probably be stiff and sore when he woke. The warmth and sense of life from his son was penetrating, touching him in ways he'd never known, never expected. He'd thought his future mapped and certain, but this he hadn't planned for. There was so much power lodged in that slight, sturdy young body. The greatest of all, perhaps. The future was here, a fascinating potential, ready to be shaped.

He lifted Luke's head gently to the ground so that he could stand. There was a basic signal transmitter fixed to the wall and he limped to it, thumping the send button on and seeing the transmitter lights blink on and off with a relieved grunt. Outside a sound was building, like small rocks being thrown against tin. The light had dimmed and he suspected a sandstorm was building; it would keep aircraft on the ground and slow rescue. But at least they were out of the sun and, for the moment, safe.

He slid back down beside Luke, hissing in annoyance at the useless arm, the sore and weary body. Luke muttered in his sleep and rolled against him and he absently stroked his son's dusty sun-streaked hair, recognising the feeling that rose as affection. Not something he'd known for quite some time.

He had time to think, while the sandstorm battered the dome and the hot wind howled around them. Love was such a destructive emotion. Nothing he had loved had caused him anything but pain. It was a weapon no armour could protect against, if a man were foolish enough to let it into his heart. His son was young and naive, full of ideals, perfect pictures of how the universe should be. As if the universe cared. In the end, it was up to each individual to make their own universe.

Luke wanted to find the father he'd thought dead - not for power or gain, but for love. He sensed that need in his son as a void wanting to be filled. It occurred to him, suddenly, that perhaps the best way of ensnaring Luke was to become what he wanted. A father who loved him.

It would be so easy. Manipulation of the Force was often complex. Manipulation of the heart and spirit was far simpler. One only had to let the other see what they wanted to see, and the rest followed naturally. Luke would do anything, he suspected, for the ones he cared for. For love he might continue to follow his father into the Darkness.

* * *

He woke to the sense of being lifted. Blinking in the dim light he thought he was dreaming for a moment, it was so odd. He was being carried, his head resting on a hard shoulder. He knew he should be hurting but everything was fuzzy and warm. The Force surrounded him; a penetrating aura that was nothing like the power that Ben and Yoda had shown him. This one throbbed behind his eyes and sang in his mind. It smelled of Vader.

With eyes that were gritty from the dirt and tiredness he looked up at the black mask and licked cracked lips with a swollen tongue. "What's...happening?"

"The storm has decreased and Rescue craft are on the way from Mos Eisley. You will be in medical care very soon. Try to relax and stay calm."

Easier said than done. "You shouldn't...be carrying me like this...your arm..."

"I have made temporary repairs to my arm. And I have carried you for many hours. A little further will do no harm."

The voice of common sense was telling Luke that such close contact with Vader was anything but harmless. It was frighteningly easy to ignore that little voice. That sense of oneness might never come again on the breathing side of death. Rationale was drowned out by the sound of his father's heart. Later there would be time enough for regret.

End Part 1