Masquerade

Part Four

Ash trotted to keep up with Ellifrit's longer strides. "He's following," she said, glancing back over her shoulder.

"Good." Ellifrit headed for the abandoned hanger that they'd scouted out earlier. They walked inside the dark building, taking their places. The Jedi followed.

"That's far enough." Ellifrit's voice rang out. Skywalker's head snapped up, taking in Ellifrit standing on the catwalk above him. Ask stepped out from behind the door, her blaster pointed at the Jedi. He paid her no mind, his whole attention focused on the man above.

"Skywalker." Ellifrit's voice was triumphant. "I've waited a long time for this." He nodded at Ash and she took the cube out of the pouch at her side and switched it on, throwing it on the ground near the Jedi's feet. Nothing happened for a moment, then the cube began to glow a deep red. The Jedi's face twisted into a grimace as the dampener's light began to pulse. Luke felt the moment it began to work. He could feel the Force slipping away and for the first time in years he felt cut off, adrift without that reassuring power at his command.

Father! Luke Sent one last desperatecall through before the dampener cut him off completely from the Force.

Ellifrit grinned, jumping down from the catwalk and strolling up to the Jedi.

"What is this? Who are you?"

"My name is Sellin Ellifrit. I'm the man who's going to kill you."

"Kill?" Ash repeated, her brow furrowing. "But you said that we had to take him in alive to get the reward. That was our deal."

"I'm changing the deal."

"The hell you are!" Ash countered. "Give me my money now."

"Very well." Ellifrit's hand drifted to his blaster. With a lightning fast motion he drew it and shot Ash through the chest. She fell slowly, her blaster clattering out of her lifeless hand.

Luke stared from the dead woman to the man standing over her, now pointed his blaster at the Jedi.

"You don't want to do this," Luke said. He reached out for the Force, tried to gather it, to influence the man's mind but it was no good. Whatever that cube was, it was dulling his Force-sense, making it impossible for him to access his power.

"Missing something?" Ellifrit sneered.

"Why are you doing this?" Luke struggled to keep his voice under control, to keep his fear in check.

Ellifrit's eyes took on a crazed look. "Four years ago you blew up the Death Star. I was the captain of one of the command carriers that was destroyed in the blast. It cost me my hand." He held up his gloved right hand, clenching it into a fist. "I rotted in an Alliance prison for four years. The Emperor didn't want me back. I was considered a traitor."

Luke stared at the man. "I'm- I'm sorry."

Ellifrit glared at him, his rage breaking over. "You will be sorry! My son was on the Death Star. You murdered him! You ruined my life!"

His anger was the distraction Luke needed. He stepped forward, angling his body away from the blaster as he punched Ellifrit hard in the gut. Ellifrit grunted but the blow did not have a Jedi's strength behind it. He straightened, bringing his arm around to shoot but Skywalker dodged, grabbing his left arm with both hands and bringing his knee up. With a sickening crunch the bones broke and the blaster fell out of his nerveless grip. Ellifrit screamed in rage, kicking out and catching the Jedi in the stomach.

Luke staggered back a few steps, the wind knocked out of him. Ellifrit dived for the blaster and Luke rushed forward, kicking it away. Ellifrit's face twisted in hatred and he jumped on Luke, his greater weight bearing him to the floor. Luke took a hard left to the face before he managed to roll away, regaining his feet.

He had to destroy that dampening device! But Ellifrit was charging him again. Luke jumped out of the way but without his Jedi-senses he was slower and the larger man's shoulder clipped him in the chest, sending his staggering backward.

Luke twisted away from Ellifrit, plunging across the room and scooping up the glowing red cube. He threw it onto the floor and brought his heel down on it. With a pulse of red light the device was smashed into pieces.

Suddenly the door burst open. Ellifrit whirled, his eyes widening unpleasantly as he saw the dark-clad figure standing silhouetted in the moonlight.

"Vader." Ellifrit choked out. Then he turned and ran.

"After him. Leave Skywalker to me." The stormtroopers rushed to obey, pelting after Ellifrit.

The Dark Lord stepped into the empty hanger, his eyes on Luke.

"Father."

"Son."

A small smile lifted the corners of Luke's mouth. It vanished as he saw the unlit lightsaber in Vader's hand. His eyes flicked to his father's masked face.

"Did you believe that manto beyour father?" Vader asked.

Luke shook his head. "No. Not really. I just hoped..." He shrugged. "It would be nice to have a father that didn't try to kill me whenever I met him," he said ruefully.

Vader said nothing to this, but Luke felt his focus shift to the destroyed dampener at Luke's feet.

"A lock box," Vader identified it.

"You know what it is?"

Vader inclined his head. "It is a Sith device, used for training."

"Nice."

Luke's eyes fell on his father's unlit lightsaber again.

I do not wish to fight you, he Sent.

And, fantastically, he felt his father's agreement, his reluctance. Luke stepped forward, his heart beating like a trip-hammer as he walked past Vader and out into the cool night.


"Oh Luke, I'm so sorry." Leia's hand was warm and soothing on his arm.

"It's all right. I just-" Luke shook his head. "I just can't help feeling that Ellifrit was my victim. I created him."

"He created himself." Leia said. Luke wasn't so sure. He turned to the viewport and stared out into space.

Is that how my father turned? Luke thought. Did grief and betrayal twist a good man into Darth Vader? And yet he had not killed Luke when he'd had the chance. Luke had felt the conflict within him, the good struggling to overcome the hatred and darkness.

There is still hope for him, Luke realized. He reached out with his mind, felt that dark presence immediately there. Luke withdrew slowly, not wanting to alert his father to his presence just yet.

I cannot do it. I can't kill my own father.

But perhaps there was another way. And in Luke's mind a plan formed.

I will not abandon you, Father. I will come for you, he promised into the starry night.


The man woke, the nightmare receding as the lights sprang up. His mechanically regulated breathing came in quick gasps, tearing out of his chest.

Not Luke! his mind screamed. He was still half in the nightmare, still seeing his son's body racked with pain, his Force-presence bleeding away as he died. Vader shook his head, forcing the dream from his mind. It would not happen that way. His son would live. His son would turn. He would train the boy himself and the two of them would kill the Emperor and rule the Galaxy together.

But a still small voice in his mind told him that it was not so, that his son would never turn to the dark side, and that he would have to be destroyed.

I don't even know you anymore, Anakin. Padme's words echoed over and over in Darth Vader's brain.

He pushed her voice away, getting up. He struggled back into the suit and made his way to the lower deck of the outpost, gripping the railing and looking out at the lush vegetation of Endor. The sun was just breaking the horizon and Vader stared out at the forest, considering the dream.

"Sir?" A stormtrooper captain broke into his musing. "This morning's patrol came across a Rebel who surrendered to us. What shall I do with him, sir?"

Vader regarded the captain for a moment, expanding his senses, drawing in his son's presence.

"Bring the Rebel to me," he said finally.

THE END-------------------------------------------------------------------------

Author's Notes: This fic was too long to post as one chapterand so I decided to break it into four parts.

Nal Pelidin, Ash and Sellin Ellifrit are my own creations. A "tri'vek" is a word that means "off-worlder". I have not read any of the books (except the novelizations of the movies), so forgive me if I break with canon.

Please review and let me know what you all think. This fic is posted on Fanfiction .net and is my very first crack at Star Wars. Hope you all enjoy it.