Where Am I Going To?
The small, cramped transport had taken off from Alderaan toward Tatooine without a hitch. At first, the smuggled passengers had remained safe, until the Imperial vessel had stumbled upon them. The co-pilot was more than a little trigger happy, and, out of nerves, had accidentally begun firing on the enormous ship. The Imperials, more than a little enraged, had started firing back, demanding identification. The small ship had begun trying to make a run for it, but that was about as successful as trying to cheat death. Most of the passengers were in a panic, except one.
The man, just around middle aged, wore a long, brown cassock. As many passengers had, he'd attempted to flee via an escape pod, but they'd all been jettisoned by the time he and his small bundle reached one. Instead, he'd settled into the back, keeping his head, and remaining calm, while he hummed to and rocked the small thing in his arms.
The child, who was approaching his first birthday, had been woken up by the barrage of firing, and was growing more than a little fussy. The man knew all too well how deadly his temper tantrums were, and he was doing his best to sooth the child. Reaching out through the Force, he touched the little boy's mind, which surprised the child as he stared up, wide eyed. He cooed slightly at the sensation, and had stopped his crying.
It's okay. I won't let anything happen to you, the man told the boy via the Force, and whilst the child might not understand the words, the sound of the man's voice comforted him, and he blinked his eyes in a sleepy manner.
I won't let anything happen to you…..I promised your mother that.
However, the man was getting increasingly more worried on how well he could keep that promise, as a grating noise alerted him to the fact they were being boarded. Storm Troopers he could fight and distract easily enough, but to what end? How on earth would he find a vessel to Tatooine? And with a baby?
The man silently crept through the fear inspired crowd and as far back into the ship as he could go. A few moments later, blaster fire enlightened to him the presence of Imperial troops. The boy began to cry, and the man's grip on him tightened, humming soft, sweet words to try and calm him. He had begun trying to figure out ways he could possibly rescue them from this situation, when the remarkable occurred.
At once, the man sensed one specific being from across the ship, could feel the signature mark of power as it entered the captured vessel. And, in turn, this second party sensed him as well.
Anxiously, the man hushed the child, rocking him, before standing up, and carefully tucking the child where he had been sitting. His arms now free, the man unclipped a lightsaber from his belt, wrapping his hands around it with a firm grip, nervousness and adrenalin coursing through his veins. The door to the room he'd hidden in opened, and Darth Vader appeared as a silhouette, his own lightsaber already in his hands, but not ignited.
"Kenobi," came the deep, soft snarl.
The man, Obi-Wan Kenobi, said nothing, merely inclined is head slightly in a sort of affirmative gesture.
"I've been waiting for this day for a long time," continued Vader. "The day you die."
"You'll have to wait a little longer," replied the Jedi, his voice firm, not in the least bit afraid.
Wordlessly, the Lord of the Sith ignited his bloody red blade, and Kenobi followed suit with his darker blue.
The two opponents were locked in combat, swift strokes adding intense hums to the air. Block, step, dodge, strike. They repeated the pattern several times, like an intricate dance. In the midst of the fighting, the little child had begun to cry, distracting the Jedi, who looked sharply in the boy's direction.
"Luke!" The cry was soft, and yet more than audible enough for the Jedi's opponent to hear. Vader seized the opportunity while his enemy was distracted to make a strike. Obi-Wan only just had time to duck and return the blow, only he didn't miss. The Dark Lord snarled as Kenobi's lightsaber managed to score against his arm, and while he was slightly weakened by the pain, the Jedi used the moment to knock the Sith Lord aside, slamming him into the wall as he raced to the boy – Luke – and quickly scooped him up, protecting him determinedly.
Vader, hissing at the pain in his arm, clutched at it with one hand as he regained his balance, watching Obi-Wan, astounded.
"I ought to of known….You, of all people…Of course you'd be the hypocrite out of all the Jedi."
Kenobi glared at his adversary but did not respond, holding the baby even closer to him, rocking back and forth on his heels. Using the Force, he tried to sooth him again, and that only slightly slowed the boy's tears. The Jedi stroked back the soft, blond hair, looking pleadingly into the ice blue eyes to stop crying. Obi-Wan wanted to put him back down, afraid that Darth Vader might try and strike at him while he held Luke in his arms, but Vader seemed to be in enough pain that he could only goad Kenobi on for a moment.
"Funny, he doesn't look like you," continued the Lord of the Sith, watching the Jedi slowly lower the bundle again. "So, tell me, Obi-Wan: Who was the little bastard's mother?"
Kenobi did not rise to the bait, which only strengthened the Dark Lord's anger. He recovered from the wound enough to begin striking back at his adversary again. All the while, the Dark Lord of the Sith tried to invade the Jedi's mind, partially to prove to him he was stronger, and then so he could flaunt the stolen information in Obi-Wan's face.
"You suffer from the mistaken impression," huffed Darth Vader as he blocked another attack, "that you can keep things hidden from me." He managed to knock down the mental wall in Kenobi's mind, forcing the Jedi to his knees with a cry. However, the information he found sent him reeling back in shock, hurt, surprise.
Padmè Amidala Skywalker.
For close to a minute he could not recover as Obi-Wan managed to struggle back up to his feet. Hateful anger rushed through him as he charged Kenobi again. The fighting more fierce than ever, Vader shouted questions at the Jedi, and when no reply was given, managed to force his way back into his mind.
"So!" he demanded. "How long were you both betraying me? How long did you sleep with her behind my back?"
He found what he wanted inside the mind once more, but it wasn't as he'd expected: Obi-Wan was not the boy's – this Luke's – father. More could not be revealed, as Storm Troopers had rushed down the hall way, about ready to fire.
"Stun! Stun!" the Lord of the Sith shouted. "I want him alive!"
Kenobi hesitated for a crucial second. If he turned his back on the Dark Lord, he was vulnerable. But if he didn't turn to try and block the attacks from the Storm Troopers, he would be anyway. In the end he chose neither option, and managed to barrel past the Dark Lord of the Sith and back to the baby, as though he could somehow protect and escape with him, despite the present situation. He had just picked the boy up when the stun blast hit him, and he fell to the floor, Luke still clutched in his arms.
The baby was screaming now, not liking the noise, not liking the fact that the person holding him had fallen, and missing his voice both vocally and through the Force. Awkwardly, Darth Vader had pried the boy from the stiff, frozen fingers; Even when stunned the Jedi attempted to fulfill his promise to Padmè. Vader instructed the Storm Troopers to take Obi-Wan back to the ship. The looming, black figure that now held him frightened Luke all the more, and the screaming continued, irking the Lord of the Sith. When verbal commands and slightly more gentle hushes failed in silencing the baby, the Dark Lord did as Kenobi had done, and reached out with the Force to calm the boy.
Confused, the tears ceased instantaneously, making the Dark Lord of the Sith wonder if Luke were merely crying because he could, not because the fighting had upset him. The baby had stopped because he noted instantaneously the vast difference between when the soft man spoke in his head and when the black man spoke in his head: Light, sweet, comforting. Dark, heavy, intoxicating. In his confusion, the boy began to whimper again, as though having to decide which he liked better. In the end, Luke seemed to have chosen the former, because he was crying once more. However, when Darth Vader entered his thoughts a second time, the baby stopped crying instantaneously, as though he now had to decide all over again, and the Dark was becoming increasingly more attractive. Finally, the boy gave up, and snuggled slightly against the black man. He wasn't as warm as the soft man, but Luke was tired, hiccupping absently, and he was quite willing to make due with whatever resource was handed to him.
The captain of the Star Destroyer couldn't help but give Vader a bit of an odd look as he walked onto the deck with a baby in his arms. However, he was more than smart enough to know better than to question whatever it was that the Lord of the Sith was doing, and instead began making arrangements for the imprisonment of the Jedi, who was still unconscious. The Dark Lord ordered that he was not to be disturbed, and disappeared into his room silently, the boy still clinging to him.
It was the most awkward sight in at least three systems: the Dark Lord of the Sith was tenderly – if awkwardly – balancing Luke on one leg while softly humming to him, trying to draw a little blood with a small needle. Anyone would have gawked at the astounding sight of Darth Vader – second most feared creature in the galaxy – and the little baby, who looked entirely pure and innocent.
Vader had managed to catch the wiggling boy's hand, and pierced the tip of one finger with the needle, gently pressing a few drops onto a glass slide. Luke's face scrunched up, and he began to whimper, which the Lord of the Sith knew was followed only by tears. He began to sweat a little as he desperately tried to stop the process before it began. Uncomfortably, he bounced the little bundle on his knee, and any tears on the verge of coming free instantly stopped as the baby giggled.
The Dark Lord pressed the slide into the computer, initiating the DNA sequencing program as he bandaged the small cut on the boy's finger. "Well, young – What did Obi-Wan call you? Luke? Yes, that sounds about right. Well, young Luke, let's see who my treacherous bitch of a wife slept with behind my back to produce you, hm?"
Luke cooed slightly, and took a great interest in trying to catch hold of the Dark Lord of the Sith's cape. Darth Vader held it out of reach until he pushed the baby to the brink of frustration, and the boy began to cry again. He handed the boy the cloth, so long as it would shut him up. A mother, of course, would know better than to indulge the child's whims; Vader would only spoil him that way. But the Lord of the Sith knew next to nothing on how to raise a child, and had very few parental instincts, if any at all.
The computer beeped that it was done with the scan, and the Dark Lord tore his eyes from the sight of Luke entertaining himself with the cape and back to the computer screen. It was the first time he had smiled beneath that mask – a real smile, not corrupted by black triumph – in a long time.
The day's surprises were clearly not over yet, and the Dark Lord of the Sith stopped breathing temporarily at what the computer had to tell him. Oh, yes, he was the son of Padmè Amidala, alright. But he was also the son of Anakin Skywalker. Darth Vader scooped the laughing boy up in his gloved hands and held him so their eyes were level, and just stared at him. Luke, more confused than ever, began to squirm a little; he wanted down.
"So….." breathed Vader, settling the baby into his lap. "You're my…..I'm your….."
The boy didn't have the slightest idea what the black man was talking about, and really didn't care, because he yawned and blinked sleepily. Well, he had had a rather large day, after all.
Why didn't Padmè tell me? Thought the Lord of the Sith, staring at the boy. No wonder he didn't look like Kenobi, then! He had his father's hair, his father's eyes, his father's nose. His mother's more delicate frame – had he been that small as a baby? – but he was absolutely entirely his father's little boy. The Dark Lord brushed against Luke's mind, startling him. Yes, his father's power with the Force, that was there, too. He was strong, very strong indeed.
"The Emperor's not going to like you…." he hummed, stroking back the soft, gold hair with a gloved hand. A surge of parental love threatened to overpower the Dark Lord of the Sith, a completely unknown feeling up until that moment. He had to protect his boy, his Luke….
Luke Skywalker….Force, who would have ever guessed?
Maybe, just maybe, he could convince his master to let him raise and train the boy. He was powerful, that was easy to ascertain. A new Lord of the Sith, what an idea! Well, he was born to it after all.
He was his father's son.
The day had started off badly. Well, more of an understatement, really. Not having the faintest idea on how to care for a baby, he'd put Luke in the charge of a few officers. Upon awakening in the morning, he was told by these same officers that somehow the Jedi had escaped in the night. The guards didn't have a single memory of it. This was enough to send Darth Vader into a rage. Should have killed Obi-Wan then and there, gotten it over with, none of this waiting business! The idea of torture had been an alluring one, but he shouldn't have given in to it, even if he did have quite a score to settle with Kenobi. He would have Force chocked the officers, but he needed them to help him with his son.
Now there was an odd thought: His son.
Their purpose for living only barely established, they guarded young Luke with their lives. If they let one tear fall from his little blue eyes, they were terrified it would be their necks. Thusly, little Luke was more than happy, spoiled every single day of his journey toward Coruscant. Vader noted with surprise, and not a little relish, that he was always happiest when it was his father holding him, or paying him attention, and the Lord of the Sith made sure to do so often.
The nearer they got to Coruscant, the more nervous the Dark Lord became. If Palpatine simply didn't want that child in the scheme of things, he'd kill him. Luke was a baby, it would be easy. Privately, the thought of his son dying became more horrifying to Lord Vader every day. Not just because he was Force sensitive. Well, he was far more than sensitive, that was becoming increasingly obvious. But, well, he was starting to get rather attached to the little child, who had long since ceased to be afraid of him. That was more than he could say for most, since, generally, people trembled when he was near. But not Luke. Luke very happily laughed and cooed around the black man, liked to be bounced on his knee – which the Dark Lord of the Sith made sure to do only rarely. The closer a bond he forged with his son, the more terrified he became at the prospect of having to give him up.
But he had to bow to the inevitable, and when they landed on Coruscant, he could only put off seeing the Emperor for a day.
"Well, what do you think?" he'd asked the boy, who had found the most fascinating pen lying on the floor. Darth Vader gently pried it from his fingers when Luke began to chew on it. He couldn't possibly have started teething already, could he? When did babies start teething anyway? "Do you think this is our last day together?" Luke wasn't listening, as he had started to cry. He was quick to learn that this usually got him what he wanted, but not so with Vader, who simply watched the sobbing form resolutely. "I'm not giving it back. Get over it," he instructed. The wailing continued, and the Lord of the Sith finally picked his son up off the floor and cradled him in his arms. This hushed the boy a little, but he still really wanted that pen.
Hey, it was shiny, after all.
"I'm trying to talk to you about your possible death and all you can think about is a writing utensil?" The response was a sad look with Luke's big, blue eyes, wet with tears. "That isn't going to work. You don't know where that thing's been." Frankly, Luke really didn't care where it had been. He was more interested in where it was now. The Dark Lord chuckled, and would have given his son a kiss on the forehead, were it not for the mask.
Which was Kenobi's fault. Just like it was Kenobi's fault he hadn't even known he'd had a son.
The Dark Lord of the Sith settled for petting the baby's hair with affection, before bedding the boy down for the night.
Lord Vader's master did not fail to notice the possessiveness with which his Right Hand held the little boy. That alone was not a good sign. But Darth Vader was not exactly known for his tender behavior, so Palpatine endeavored to keep a somewhat objective eye over the situation. He was told what had happened with the Jedi, told that Luke showed a gift for the Force, and it was subtly hinted that he would make a powerful Sith Lord when he grew up.
The Emperor liked keeping people on a leash. It was entertaining to watch them squirm. That was why he refrained from telling Vader the baby's fate long after he'd already decided it.
"It appears, Lord Vader, that you have a new apprentice. I will expect you to train him well, and bring him before me every so often so I might test and examine him."
The Lord of the Sith bowed low, very low. Far more near to the ground than he usually did, and replied with "Yes, my Master," before stalking out of the room, the boy still clutched in his black arms.
You can't really be four years old already, can you? No, I only just fought Obi-Wan yesterday. Maybe the day before at the most. How is it that you're walking and talking already?
And how can a four year old be so powerful with the Force?
Well, that one is easy enough to explain: You're my boy, that's why. It's as simple as that. You were born to it. And you like that, I can tell. You like seeing things fly off the walls when you have a temper tantrum. You like being able to manipulate things with the Force. You even succeeded in confusing a Storm Trooper the other day using a mind trick.
Not that it's really difficult to confuse a Storm Trooper.
Yes, the Dark Side flows through you, and you use every single opportunity you get to show that off. Soon, you'll be old enough to start lightsaber training.
How did you grow up so fast? Wasn't I just trying to keep you from chewing on everything you got your little hands on? When did you change?
I know it's not easy for you, growing up destined to be a Sith Lord. I think you try and hide your occasional disappointment, and you do a good job, but you're forgetting something: I'm your father, I can tell.
I can't bounce you on my knee, I'll look weak. I can't tell you bed time stories, that's showing too much affection. That's dangerous. Remaining safely objective is easier, because neither of us will be as hurt in the end. So, instead, we're hurting now.
You asked me about your mother again today. You're getting steadily more persistent about asking that. Ask away, I still won't tell you. That's something we're better off not talking about.
Before that you asked why I needed a respirator, and I told you the truth. The lava, the fight, Kenobi. You reacted darkly to that, declared you now hated all Jedi, and especially Obi-Wan Kenobi, and would someday get revenge for me. You made me very proud, just then. The Jedi would have killed to have you on their side, the weaker side. Now they ought to shiver, because they've made an enemy out of you. Not that there are any Jedi left anyway. Obi-Wan's probably dead by now. Too bad. I would have liked to have seen you kill him.
You're constantly looking for my approval, making sure you did everything just so. I can tell you hang on the words "That was very good." They're the highest form of praise I can give you. Can you sense the emotion that's boiling beneath them? I'd pet and coddle and praise you if I could, Force knows I would.
But do you know? That's the million credit question.
I can't tell you I love you, that's hardest of all. I can't show you, I can't tell you. You're supposed to pick up on it by some divine influence of your own. Whether you do or not is entirely subject to debate.
But I do love you. Do you know that?
To Be Continued…..