Another Route

Part One

Disclaimer: Hey, all! This is George Lucas writing an alternate reality to Star Wars. Enjoy!

Summary: Word of a supposed Jedi calling himself Anakin Skywalker travels to the ears of Darth Vader, the most feared being in the Galaxy. He races to Tatooine, where the Jedi was last rumored, and finds much more than he expected.

Warnings: SPOILERS FOR ROTS! SPOILERS FOR ROTS! SPOILERS FOR ROTS! The main one is a dream sequence concerning the happenings on Mustafar. To those of you who know what I'm talking about… Yes, THAT scene. Also, my Vader is a fairly angry fellow so he will probably vent several times in the foreseeable future. Especially considering what he went through I would think that he'd be pretty pissed. I would! Bitter is like an understatement. If you don't like reading about that side of our beloved (hero? I like to think he is…) then you can just skip over those parts.


Um… I'll just say that Owen and Beru get out of the picture pretty quickly.

Author's Note: While reading through some of the stuff at I was intrigued by the responses to the challenge that had a man calling himself Anakin Skywalker, and Vader finding out about it. So, this is my take!

Hopefully this little note that says I was joking is unnecessary. If not, then… you've got some serious issues. ;)

"Luke, stop messing around with the droids and come here," Owen Lars snapped at his adopted son, who was peering into the casing of their latest purchase.

"Uncle Owen—I'm pretty sure this circuitry can be altered to program it how to fix the vaporators"—said Luke, oblivious to his uncle.

"Sith, Luke! I said to get over here!" Owen said more harshly, causing the thirteen-year-old's blond head to whip around. He got up reluctantly.

"What?" he asked, his excited mood vanishing.

Owen sighed. "Go into Anchorhead. We need a new hydrospanner."

"But can't you send"—

"No. Go," said Owen tersely. "And don't crash the speeder. And don't dawdle! I need your help and I can't have you getting abducted by Jawas once dark falls." He glanced up at Tatooine's twin suns. "You've not got much time."

"Fine," Luke grumbled, his youthful face clearly expressing that he'd rather be trying to rewire the droid. "I'll need credits."

"I gave you one hundred last week, didn't I?" Owen said.

"Those are for school datapads, Uncle Owen!" Luke protested.

Owen waved his hand. "Use them for the hydrospanner. You can get datapads any time."

"If I put it off any more I won't get to go to school," Luke persisted.

"I don't want to hear anything else about it," said Owen.

Luke stared at him for a few moments until he finally growled darkly, "Fine. Just keep doing your absolute best to make me miserable. Forget that I don't want to waste my life on this stupid rock like you."

Owen's expression clouded over. "Shut your mouth, boy," he said coldly. "Go and do as I say."

"If my father was here, he'd let me train as a pilot," Luke continued, more loudly. "He wouldn't be selfish and force me to stay on Tatooine to be a farmer"—

"Then we had better be glad he isn't!" Owen shouted back. "GO!"

Luke finally obeyed and walked out into the sunlight towards the beat-up speeder. Owen watched his retreat—pained and fearful at the same time. Could a simple upbringing not prevent that boy's genes from manifesting themselves? Was he to be a replica of his father? Owen shivered in fear despite the overwhelming heat. He hoped not. For all their sakes, he hoped not.

Luke parked the speeder angrily and jumped out at Anchorhead's leading tool shop. He walked in, expecting the shop to be vacant as it would normally be at this hour, but to his surprise he saw a man in a dark brown robe conversing animatedly with Mawin, the shop's slightly disreputable owner.

"Look, I know you have the parts, but I need somebody to repair it! It's only a rental, for Sith's sake, how am I expected to know what to do?"

"Shouldna flown it den," said Mawin, scratching his three days' growth of beard.

"Surely you know someone who knows how to repair ships?" the man asked exasperated.

"'pends on how much incentive I got," said Mawin, giving the man a snaggle-toothed grin.

"I'm a Jedi!" The man suddenly said quietly. "Don't force me to do anything."

Luke, unnoticed, continued listening intently. This man was a Jedi? The Empire was supposed to have killed them all. If he had survived, he must truly be powerful…"

"No you ain't," said Mawin. "Them Jedis been all done rid of."

Suddenly, the man whipped out a cylindrical tube of metal and pressed a button. A green, flickering laser suddenly appeared and Mawin went pale. "'mpossible," he said.

"Get me some help," the man threatened.

Luke was entranced. He'd heard the stories of the laser swords that Jedis had supposedly carried, but he had never seen one before…

Mawin finally noticed him and raised a shaking finger to point at him. "That one," he said quickly. "He got a goo' 'ead for them ships."

The man turned around. "You, boy?" he said roughly. "Come with me, then."

Luke felt a strange misgiving. "Sorry, I'm a customer," he said uneasily.

"Don't you see this?" the man said, indicating the green laser sword.

Luke had never stepped on a spaceship before, much less seen the intricate innerworkings of it. It would be interesting… But weren't the Jedis supposed to have been protectors? This man was threatening!

Suddenly, Luke realized that maybe if he figured out some way to help the man, he would let him go with him! This was his chance to finally get off Tatooine, to finally become a pilot! "I'll do it," he said suddenly. "I'll help you."

The man grinned. "Good. Come with me," he said, the laser sword disappearing. He turned to Mawin. "And next time you hear the name of Anakin Skywalker, do as he says. I won't give you a warning next time," he said warningly to Mawin, who nodded hastily.

Luke stopped dead in his tracks. "What?"

"Come on, kid, it's not like I've got much time"—said the man—Anakin Skywalker—impatiently.

Luke just stared at the man. "You're Skywalker? That's your last name?"

"Yes," said the man suspiciously.

Luke couldn't trust his voice. "I'm Luke Skywalker," he mumbled as the older man dragged in into the street.

"You are?" he seemed surprised. "I came here to look for you!" he said. "Luke, I'm your father!"

Luke could hardly believe his ears. Was this true? Had all his childhood dreams finally come to pass? If so—his aunt and uncle had lied to him! His father had been no mere navigator, but a Jedi! Did that mean that he could be a Jedi too? "You mean it?" he asked weakly. "I really am?"

Anakin beamed. "Yes, I would never lie to you, son. You were hidden from me for so long… It's only now that I finally found you."

Luke allowed the man to embrace him. His father.

In Mos Eisley, the Imperial Base received a strange call. "You got t'come, quick!" said the raspy whisper of Mawin. As soon as the Jedi and the boy had left, Mawin had decided that he needed to Comm the Imps as soon as possible—they would take care of this Jedi and he would be left in peace.

"Sir, state your name and emergency, please," said the bored, mechanical voice of a receptionist droid.

"My name is Mawin—I own a store in Anchorhead, and a Jedi just came in!"

"There are no Jedi left, sir," replied the droid.

"He 'ad a laser sword, though! An' he called 'imself a Jedi!" said Mawin desperately. "Lemme talk to somebody there, droid!"

"Did he give you his name, sir?" the droid responded emotionlessly.

"Yeh, yeh—'e said 'is name was Anakin Skywalker!" said Mawin. "He was wearin' a brown robe-type thing."

There was silence while the droid looked up the name. Finally, it replied, "Sir, Imperial Stormtroopers will be arriving at your store as soon as possible. I advise you remain within your store."

Mawin breathed a sigh of relief.

"Who do you live with, son?" asked Anakin as he and Luke walked together.

"Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru," said Luke eagerly. "Come on, you should meet them—if you were there, then Uncle Owen would have no choice but to let me go! We can fix your ship, and then get off this planet!"

Anakin seemed to hesitate. "Are you sure?"

"Yes, absolutely! They always told me you were dead—I can't believe they lied! And you're a Jedi!"

Anakin relented. "Very well. Let us go, then."

He mostly just listened as Luke talked excitedly as they drove to a seemingly deserted farmhouse, wondering if this Owen had ever met the REAL Anakin Skywalker…

Darth Vader was mediating in his hyperbolic chamber when he sensed the presence of a nervous captain on the other side of his door. His temper rising at being interrupted, he had the droids replace the mask and helmet and he walked towards the door, using the Force to open it. As he expected, it was the newest, youngest captain. When there was important news to deliver, the other ranking officials sent the newest one. Vader's notoriously short temper was infamous for being the cause of the high fatality rate under his command.

The captain was sweating and he attempted a salute, terrified at the sight of the imposing man far taller than himself. "My lord," he mumbled.

Vader remained silent for a few excruciating moments. "Why is it that you have interrupted me, Captain Santen?"

The man winced. "Sir, we've received a message from our base on Tatooine—you know, the desert planet on the outer rim"—

"I believe I know Tatooine," said Vader softly, dangerously.

"Yes, well, they reported a Jedi sighting. Supposedly a man named Anakin Skywalker threatened a storeowner with a—erm—" the man glanced down at the cylindrical metal tube that hung at Vader's waist. "One of those laser swords. Like yours, my lord," said the captain.

Vader said nothing. Why would this so-called Jedi dare to reveal himself, even on a planet on the Outer Rim? Why that name? His presence on Tatooine indicated that he knew something of Vader's past, but if he was truly a Jedi, how could he have escaped the Purge? If he was not a Jedi, how could he know Vader's old identity? Making his mind up quickly, Vader focused his attention of the man practically enveloped by fear. "Set a course for Tatooine immediately. I want to be on that planet with that Jedi's body at my feet in less than five hours."

The man saluted again. "Yes, my lord," he stammered, backing out of the way. "Immediately, sir."

He practically ran away from Vader's presence. Smiling behind his mask, the one in question retreated to his room. Why that name? Why Tatooine?

The man was suspicious, Anakin realized. Did he know who the true Anakin Skywalker was? And this boy—he was so trusting. Could he possibly be Skywalker's son? He sat silent as the short teenager outlined plans to his aunt and uncle how he and Anakin were going to travel the galaxy, making up for lost time. Naïve boy.

He was grateful that he hadn't completely blown his cover when the boy had first told him his name. This guise was dangerous enough without blowing it right away. Maybe he could even use the boy. Maybe he could be trained. If he truly was his father's son, he'd have to be fairly powerful, wouldn't he? Maybe he'd be powerful enough to even defeat them.

Anakin suddenly recognized that all three members were staring at him expectantly. "Sorry," he apologized. "Could you repeat yourself?"

"I would like to know just how you came to be here," said the man—Owen—stiffly. "It seems very unlikely, considering what we thought we knew of Luke's father."

Anakin was getting tired of answering this man's questions—they had been there nearly four hours, and his patience was wearing thin. "I've been hiding from the Empire on Outer Rim planets for the past thirteen years," he said, which was the truth, at least. He was grateful he wasn't powerful enough to cause much of a disturbance in the Force. If he hadn't been as weak, he wouldn't have survived. He had been in the temple that night, when the true Anakin Skywalker had entered, and murdered the younglings. He'd only been eight at the time, and had hidden deep within the chambers, uncomprehending why the great Jedi Knight was there. "The Imperials had almost caught on to me the planet I was at last," he explained. "I came here. Of course, I would have come here much sooner had I known Luke was here."

"You look a little young," said Beru finally.

"And you don't look like you did when we last saw you," said Owen.

"The Force keeps me young," said Anakin quickly. "And I had my appearance changed so that I would not stand out as much."

The whole family went silent, and Anakin could tell that Owen did not believe him.

"We've got to close down the farm for the night, Beru," he said to his wife as clearly an invitation to speak privately.

She nodded and stood, casting a wary glance at Anakin. No, she did not trust him either.

"He isn't Anakin," said Owen immediately, his eyes worried and tense.

"I know," said Beru. "He cannot be. Obi-Wan would not have lied to us over such a matter."

"What can we do?" Owen said. "We cannot tell Luke who his true father is, and not this imposter either," he said, touching his forehead with a callused hand.

"Owen… If—if—he finds out…"Beru began slowly, trailing off.

Owen needed no explanation to know of whom his wife spoke in such terrified tones.

"If the stories are true, he will kill us. And the imposter," said Owen. He paused. "And Luke."

"He wouldn't," said Beru, horrified. "How could he kill us, when we've known him? And surely he would not kill his own flesh and blood, Owen, that's unthinkable!"

"Obi-Wan says that not much is left of his own flesh," said Owen. "He told me once, that he left him barely alive, and had no idea how he lived except for mechanics."

"But his heart, Owen!" Beru persisted. "You remember his love for his mother… Surely he cannot have completely lost that passionate heart?"

"You know what he has become, Beru," said Owen. "I think that we must fear the worst, if Obi-Wan is to be believed."

"What can we do?" Beru moaned. "The boy clearly believes this imposter, there is nothing you can say—other than the truth, of course, that will convince him otherwise"—

"He must not leave Tatooine," said Owen firmly. "Obi-Wan says that—he—keeps well enough away not to sense Luke's presence, whatever way he would be able to. But if Luke enters some of the more well-known worlds, the core worlds—his father will find him."

Both their gazes turned to the two figures approaching them. Luke was clutching a small bag and Anakin's expression was unreadable.

"I thought we should leave as soon as possible, so I get out of your hair," said Luke excitedly. "You don't have to worry about me, my father will protect me."

"Of course, Luke will have to fix the ship first," said Anakin, looking towards the boy's adoptive parents for approval.

"Luke? Luke has never even seen a ship before," said Beru, forgetting the boy's words in favor of surprise.

"What?" Anakin was unpleasantly surprised. So he was stranded on this forsaken planet? He turned to Luke. "You mean you can't even fix it?"

"I didn't say I could!" Luke protested, seeming hurt. "It was the storeowner that did!"

Anakin swore. "Well, what can you do?" He seemed oblivious to Luke's injured feelings.

"I don't think I appreciate you talking to him that way," said Owen, stepping him, his eyes narrowed.

"Are you his father?" Anakin returned nastily.

"More than you," said Owen tersely. He turned to Luke. "This—man—is not your father, Luke. He is some imposter, trying to gain your trust for a twisted reason I don't care to understand."

"Shut up!" Luke said angrily. "You're lying!"

"I would never lie about something like this to you, Luke," said Owen wearily.

"If he isn't my father, then who is, Uncle Owen?" Luke demanded, trying to mask his wounded heart with bravado. "A spice smuggler?"

Owen didn't reply. "Luke…"

"I don't want to hear it!" Luke suddenly screamed. "You've been lying to me my entire life!"

"Luke, you don't understand"—Owen began desperately, sensing that he was losing the boy.

"No, I think I do! You just need the help on this Sith-forsaken farm, so you made up some lie about my father being a good-for-nothing, dead smuggler! Well, he's a Jedi Knight, and I'll be one too! And I'll come back here and prove it to you!" Luke cried out.

Beru let out a pained cry. "Luke, please listen to us!" she pleaded.

"Maybe you should stay, Luke," Anakin interjected, hoping to lose the responsibility of the supposed son now that he was of no use to him.

"What?" Luke turned on him, aghast. "What do you mean?"

"Well, I live a dangerous life, Luke," Anakin said uncomfortably. "Maybe I should return when you're older, and then we can travel together"—

"How could you say that? We've been apart for thirteen years, and you want to wait some more?" Luke was clearly hurt.

Anakin fell silent as Owen and Beru looked on.

As his shuttle set down in the sands that he had hoped never to see again, Vader steeled himself. The memories—of his childhood, and his mother—rushed back, but he beat them down, as he always did. Those memories had no place in him, except for the anger he felt at his mother's death. The Stormtroopers looked at him expectantly. "I will go alone," he told him. "Stay until I return."

The captain saluted and Vader stood as the harsh winds of the desert made his cloak billow out. He stepped down into the sand as the twin suns disappeared beyond the horizon. He could feel the Force-sensitive person—he was strong, that much Vader could tell. There seemed another, smaller presence—perhaps another—

No, Vader said. If there was any remnant of the Force here, then it was as a result of his own actions that night, when he had slaughtered the camp.

They had not set down far from the supposed Jedi, but far enough so that he would not be immediately alerted to their presence, and have the opportunity to run. Though, Vader admitted, hiding in a farm such a distance from Anchorhead was bizarre in and of itself. There was danger in Mos Eisley, to be sure, and Anchorhead was most likely crawling with Stormtroopers, but the Jedi's chance of escape was greater in a place with a ship, at least.

He came upon the farm sooner than expected, and shielded the people's minds from his telltale breathing mask. He wished to observe his prey for a few moments before the strike. It was strange to him why the Jedi was speaking to the two older people—and the boy too, he realized. Surely the Jedi realized the dangers of associating with people? It would be far more intelligent to simply hide from them and use their facility as a brief harbor.

The people were on good enough terms, it seemed—they would have to be killed, of course, for harboring Imperial enemies. They would have most like heard their local report of a reported Jedi.

Unless, of course, Vader thought, Tatooine had remained as unbelievably primitive as it had been during his own youth. He enhanced his hearing just enough to hear the Jedi say, "Maybe I should return when you're older, and then we can travel together"—

Vader felt a surprisingly strong wave of pain from the boy, who replied, in anguish, "How could you say that? We've been apart for thirteen years, and you want to wait some more?" Vader sensed ripples in the Force, and suddenly realized that it was not the Jedi who was powerful, it was the boy. Did that mean that the imposter was attempting to recruit the boy for training? In that case, or in any case, they would both be killed. But how had he come upon the Force-sensitive boy to begin with? If he were as unremarkable as he seemed, he would not have been able to sense the boy, even from a nearby planet.

The four people remained in awkward silence until Owen opened his mouth to say something, but words were robbed from his mouth and they all froze.

Quite suddenly, they all heard the terrifying hiss of a respirator and saw the enormously tall figure clothed completely in black walk to them from the darkness.

Beru let out a shrill scream and clutched her husband in terror. Owen gasped and reached out for Luke's arm, but the boy jerked it away. Anakin's face was pale. He was dead—Vader would kill him, not only for being a Jedi, but for using his name—there was no hope for survival—he turned around, preparing to run, however futile.

"I would think that the true Anakin Skywalker would stand and fight," said Vader, his voice amplified and aided by the apparatus of the mask. Anakin stopped dead—Vader had used the Force to stop him in his tracks. Slowly, he turned to face the dreaded figure.

Other than the woman's scream, there was only silence and the sound of his cursed respirator. The imposter was clearly terrified out of his wits, Vader could easily tell. He looked no more than twenty-five—he would have been a Padawan at the time of the Purge. How had he missed him? Vader remembered clearly the night he had led the Stormtroopers through the Jedi Temple, and did not recall the Force-pulse of another alive.

The Jedi fumbled and turned on his lightsaber, the laser humming to life, but the bright green light flickered slightly.

Realizing why, Vader let out a slow, ominous laugh completely devoid of mirth. "You think to duel me with the practice lightsaber of a Padawan, Jedi? I had hoped for the semblance of a contest when I felt the presence of someone strong in the force here."

'Anakin' was visibly trembling and sweaty, and did not seem to be able to find any words to say, when Luke tugged on his robe. "Do something!" Luke cried. "You're a Jedi, you're the only one of us that can defeat him!"

"Listen to the child, Jedi," said Vader, calling his own lightsaber to his hand and allowing the scarlet light to come into being. He held it, poised. "Do something. Will you not seek to destroy me, as all of your precious Masters have died doing so?"

"You—you're evil!" 'Anakin' gasped, his fear consuming him.

The woman let out another cry and rushed towards the boy, who was staring with disappointment towards the Jedi. "Luke, please, get away from him! Please, child! Run!"

"He's my father," said the boy quietly, though he sounded less than convinced. "I can't abandon him…"

Vader admitted confusion. This boy thought that the Jedi was his father? A horrible thought crept into his mind, as he recalled that the Jedi had called himself Anakin Skywalker. No… Impossible…

He was forced to react as the Jedi suddenly found strength enough to swing his lightsaber around in a rudimentary move that Vader blocked easily. He flicked his own lightsaber and the Jedi's weapon flew out of his grasp, landing in the sand. He held his own blade in front of the Jedi's neck. "At least die with an attempt of honor," he spat, as the imposter didn't move.

When he did nothing except surrender to fear, Vader sighed mentally and brought his lightsaber around in a vicious chop, decapitating the weak imposter.

The boy let out a cry and stared at Vader. "You killed him!" he shouted. "You killed my father!"

With almost inhuman speed, he rushed to the dropped lightsaber and ignited it, running towards Vader with blind fury. Vader acted on instinct. He stepped aside and brought his weapon down, shearing through the boy's wrist on the arm that held the weapon.

He let out a scream of pain, as did the woman, who rushed to him. She collapsed by the boy and looked up at Vader as she cradled the child, tears in her eyes. "How could you, Anakin?" she whispered, her face a mask of pain. "He's your"—

Vader's rage at his being called by his former—weak—name caused him to raise his blade and bring it down harshly upon the woman, killing her as easily as he had the imposter. Who was that woman to know his former identity? More, how dare she call him by that name—that hated name? Vader's wrath did not diminish as he turned his attention to the man, who had collapsed to his knees, staring in disbelief at the scene before him.

"What is your name?" he growled, advancing upon him. "Who are you?"

The man showed no signs of acknowledgement as he looked unblinkingly at his fallen wife and at the Jedi who was supposed to have protected them. He suddenly seemed to shake himself out of his reverie. He looked at Vader. "She did nothing," he mumbled uncomprehendingly. "She did nothing wrong. She was innocent."

"She was going to take in a Jedi," Vader growled. "And has harbored a Force-sensitive child in her home. Those were her crimes. And yours are the same, and you will receive the same punishment."

"Anakin, please"—the man begged him. "Please do not harm Luke. I met you once! Do you not remember? I am Owen Lars."

Vader registered mild surprise despite the fury that encompassed him once more. He raised his lightsaber as if to strike him down. "I am Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith! Anakin Skywalker is dead, and his name shall never be uttered again!" he thundered, but the man—Owen Lars, the child of his mother's union with the older Lars—did not falter. He seemed resigned to his imminent death.

"Do not harm Luke, Anakin. He is your son," said Owen, just as Vader's blade whipped down to kill him like it had all the rest.

It couldn't be. Padmé had died, and the child within her must have as well. Vader looked down at the scene before him—the teenager cradling the stump of his hand, tears wetting his cheeks. She had died, his Master had told him so—he had killed her—the child could not have survived—it was impossible.

And yet the child's strength of the Force… He was untrained, but Vader could still feel the potential power that lurked there…

No, he rushed to counter. This boy—this Luke—he was not his son. It was not possible. He was Darth Vader, and Padmé was dead, and so was the child—they were both dead, just like Anakin Skywalker—

The boy stared up at him, fear and hatred and pain evident both on his face and through his presence in the Force.

Padmé's eyes.

No, no, he told himself. It couldn't be. But this time the words were hollow. His son.

Their son.

The Stormtroopers all stared at Vader as he carried the boy to the shuttle and laid him down in one of the empty seats. Vader sensed their surprise and bewilderment—and also their burning desire to ask—but he was in no mood to assuage them. He did not know why he took the boy—he told himself that it was because his Master would want to know of the boy, but Vader knew that the reason was shallow.

"My lord?" the captain asked tentatively. Vader did not respond. "The boy…"

"Upon our return to the Executor you are to see personally that this boy is placed in the Medical Wing and given the proper treatment," said Vader. "He is to be secured with binders and placed under a forced sleep. No word of his existence is to be mentioned to anyone on board the ship. If this order is breached, I will see to it that each of you receives a very public, very painful death. Am I understood?"

All the clones immediately replied, "Yes, my lord."

Vader said nothing for the remainder of the journey back to the super star destroyer. Luke was his name, he remembered. Was that the name that Padmé had chosen? He remembered that he had wanted to name the child Qui-Gon, after the Jedi that had saved him from enslavement. Vader glanced at the boy. She had been right, he thought. Luke was a better name.

Author's Note: What did you think? The faux Anakin was really just a plot device to put Vader and Luke together, so if you're looking to see more of him, you won't. Please excuse any typos! UP NEXT: Obi-Wan and Yoda have a talk; Luke has a dream that makes some things a bit clearer; Vader decides that Luke can learn to be a TIE fighter pilot and a Sith on the side.