By Kenya Starflight
DISCLAIMER: I don't own Star Wars, I don't own the characters, I don't own the planets, etc. Would I be working at a bookstore for six bucks an hour if I did?
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This story was written in response to a challenge in the Luke/Vader Writers Yahoo! Group. The terms of the challenge are to write a story in which both Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader receive word that someone calling himself Anakin Skywalker exists, and both men act accordingly.Chapter I
Tatooine – the very name seemed harsh on one's lips, as if simply repeating those syllables sucked the moisture from the speaker's mouth. Double suns pounded the dun-and-gray landscapes, leeching everything of both color and moisture. Dry winds scoured the rock formations and scattered settlements, leaving some surfaces smooth, pitting others. Even the inhabitants of this world, be they immigrants or natives, were sand-worn, work-worn, heat-faded to various shades of tan, and hardened to the harshness of life on the desert world.
The small farm community of Anchorhead was no exception. A cluster of moisture farms that had banded together against the elements and desert raiders, with a small supply store, garage, and medical center at its hub, it looked like the dry, scavenger-cleaned bones of some monster that had succumbed to the heat long ago. The farm youth played up this similarity, calling the town dead and retreating to the sanctuary of such civilized meccas as Toschee Station and Mos Eisley.
But today the town had come alive with adventure for two nine-year-old boys as they slipped from shadow to shadow, engrossed in their usual spy fantasy.
"Do you still see him?" the first one asked, a gangly boy with dark hair and eyes.
"I think he went into the store," replied his friend, an equally scrawny boy with sandy hair and startlingly blue eyes. "He could have gone… wait, there he is!"
"Be quiet, Luke! You'll blow our cover!"
"I am being quiet, Biggs!"
"You make a lousy spy."
The man who was the object of their pursuit exited the store, carrying a bag of foodstuffs in one arm and a box of computer components in the other. He wore one of those ghastly hooded robes that seemed to be the fashion in Anchorhead, hood up to obscure his face. Luke and Biggs waited a minute to give the man a good lead, then emerged from behind the broken-down swoop bike and darted after him.
Luke knew he shouldn't be doing this. Uncle Owen had told him off again and again for playing spy games on their neighbors, even grounding him from driving the family speeder for two weeks. But the thrill of pretending to be gathering information on the activities of the enemy thrilled Luke, even if he learned nothing more shocking than that the Darklighter's elderly Ithorian farmhand liked to hold conversations with a picture of his dead wife or that Biggs' older sister kept a slinky gold dress in her closet (she'd nearly given Luke a black eye with a thrown boot when she'd discovered the boys in her room, but hey, a spy took risks).
This time, however, it was more than just a game. The man they were pursuing through Anchorhead wasn't just anyone. He was a relative stranger, having just arrived in town last week looking for work as a droid technician. According to those who'd seen him, he was a loner and intensely shy, with eyes that were described as "remarkable" or "haunted" or "eerie."
And his name was Skywalker. Anakin Skywalker.
Owen had cautioned Luke to leave this man alone, that Skywalker really wasn't that rare of a surname and that just because he happened to share that name didn't make him related to Luke. His father had died years ago, and Luke should accept that and move on with his life. And if he got word that Luke was doing anything to harass this gentleman, so help him he'd keep Luke grounded for the rest of his life!
Such a threat did nothing to deter Luke. If anything, it fueled his desire to seek this man out. Especially after Aunt Beru's conversation with his uncle last night, a conversation he hadn't meant to overhear but really could help overhearing, seeing as he'd had his ear pressed to their bedroom door:
"Owen, you have to tell that boy the truth about his father sooner or later."
"He's too young, Beru. Maybe when he's older…"
"Very well then, name a date. His twelfth birthday? His fourteenth?"
"Beru, I'll tell him when he's ready. That may be a ways off, but…"
"Owen, look at him! Luke's not a farmer! He's got too much of Anakin Skywalker in him, you know that…"
"I know that. Sometimes… sometimes I look in that boy's eyes and see Anakin looking back at me. It… it chills me sometimes. And that's what scares me. If he learns the truth, what if he goes out to chase his father down, to follow in his footsteps? You saw what happened to Anakin. We can't let that happen to his son as well! We've been trusted to keep him safe…"
"We've been trusted to prepare him for the future. And how can we do that unless he knows about his past as well?"
"He needs the truth, Owen. And he needs it soon."
Luke wondered why his uncle was so adamant about not telling him about his father. Every time Luke broached the subject with him, he gruffly changed the subject. And when he'd practically burst with excitement hearing about the mysterious Skywalker that had just moved to Anchorhead, Owen had quickly quashed his enthusiasm by forbidding him from having any contact with the man.
Could he be my father? The evidence certainly supported that. How many Anakin Skywalkers could there be in the galaxy? And if Anakin had come to Anchorhead… maybe he'd come back to find Luke and take him home, wherever home was.
Maybe I'll see Mom too, whoever she is.
"Luke, wait up for me!"
He stopped to let Biggs catch up. "Sorry. I'm just excited."
Biggs leaned over with his hands on his knees, panting for breath. "So he's your dad. Big whoop. What kind of dad leaves his kid on this overheated rock?"
"I dunno. I'll ask him once we meet him."
"What's this 'we' stuff? Got a rock lizard in your pocket? Once we find out where he lives, I'm out of here."
"C'mon, Biggs! I want you to meet my dad!"
"Hey, you made me go over to your house when your annoying fat uncle from Alderaan came to visit. The least you can do to pay me back is come with me to meet my father."
He straightened and wiped his unruly bangs out of his eyes. "All right, deal. I owe you for that anyhow."
"C'mon, he's getting away!"
They bolted after the man, who seemed not to notice that he had attracted two miniature stalkers.Break…
From the bridge of the Stardestroyer Apocalypse, Darth Vader brooded over the red-gold sphere of his old homeworld, silent and moody. The light the planet reflected cast strange patterns over his mask, highlighting every groove and angle. His subordinates wisely gave him a wide berth – the Dark Lord was in a decidedly foul mood and had already throttled two officers, albeit not fatally.
Why did it have to be here? he thought irritably. Why does this imposter insist on here, of all the planets in the galaxy?
If it had been his decision, he would never have come back to Tatooine. There were so many memories here, so many tangled emotions… And for a time, it had seemed that his vow would be kept. Tatooine was in no way vital to the Empire, either by a strategic or an economic standpoint. As a lord of the Sith, he was needed elsewhere in the galaxy, not on this world that the Empire seemed to have claimed just to have one more world in its clutches, however desolate.
But when word had reached Imperial Center that one calling himself Anakin Skywalker had surfaced on this world, that had changed matters drastically.
The Emperor had dismissed the matter. As long as this imitation Skywalker posed no threat to the Empire, it was beneath his notice. But Vader thought otherwise. He had spent nine years trying to bury his past. He would have no fraud trying to resurrect it. So, with the reluctant permission of the Emperor, he had come to Tatooine to locate and destroy this pretender.
"Prepare a shuttle," he ordered. "I will go alone."
"Yes sir," the bridge officer replied, bowing and striding away.
"My lord," a second officer said warily, "this planet is crawling with criminals and hostile aliens. Perhaps it would be best if you took an escort…"
"Are you implying, Lieutenant, that I am incapable of looking after myself?" Vader inquired threateningly, turning to cast a sinister glare at the man.
"Uh… no… I was just… my apologies, my Lord," he stammered, bowing hastily and wisely making himself scarce.
Vader turned back to the planet's surface, questing with the Force, seeking out the false Skywalker. Perhaps he was a Jedi, trying to use his defunct name to establish himself as the new Chosen One and attempt to resurrect the Order…
What he discovered surprised him. There were not one, not two, but three Force-strong presences on this world! The first seemed familiar, but he couldn't place it; the second was largely unformed and untrained, but powerful nonetheless. The third…
Obi-wan. He curled his lip in an invisible snarl. We meet again, as I knew we would.
So Obi-wan was on this world. His Master was not dead, as he'd assumed, but alive and well, seeking refuge on this bleak planet. This complicated matters… but it did wonders to improve Vader's mood. At last he would face Obi-wan Kenobi again… and he would have his sweet revenge against the traitorous Jedi and against the Order, once and for all.
He turned and stalked toward his quarters. This latest development would have to be brought before the Emperor. His Highness would be pleased that Vader's mission would serve a productive purpose for the Empire.