Response to the "Inversion Challenge" on the Luke/Vader Writers group.

Requirements are as follow:

Luke and Vader trade bodies. This can be at any time in the trilogy or before and can be because of an alien artifact/weird occurrence/the Force, whatever. The two characters have to learn to live each others lives plausibly until they can switch back.

Requirements
1. Must be L/V
2. Must contain the line, "Just remember, I can do just as much damage here as you can do there."
3. Must contain the line, "Give me one good reason not to kill you where you stand".
4. Must have at least one scene where Luke has to get used to walking with a cape.

A/N: To fill up any holes for anal-retentive readers out there: this is an AU story that is set after Han's rescue from Jabba. It's an AU. Back off. Besides, it's a challenge fic in which Luke and Vader switch bodies, I think Han's presence is the least of our worries.


CHAPTER ONE

The strike team crouched amid the foliage surrounding the small Imperial installation. The air was thick with humidity, the leaves dripped with condensation. The aroma of the flora was so potent the air seemed to taste sweet and sticky. With every breath, Luke felt like he was drawing viscous syrup into his lungs.

"That's it." Han hissed near Luke's elbow. "What's supposed to be in there again?"

Luke leaned down so Han could hear him and whispered, "Our scanners are picking up a huge amount of energy from this bunker. Whatever's in there, it's got a lot of juice."

Luke saw a small wave from a member of their team ahead. He motioned silently to the three others with him that it was clear, and to follow him towards the complex. Silently, the squad moved towards the small durasteel door built into the rock face of a cliff, concealed by the thick forest.

"You think they've got central air in there?" Han whispered, wiping the sweat dripping into his eyes onto the sleeve of his shirt.

Luke shot him an annoyed look that was returned with a lop-sided smile.

The team's hacker silently moved up to the computer terminal at the door and began working on the security system. After several moments the man turned and looked in Luke's direction, he shook his head.

"The system must not be accessible from out here," Luke muttered.

Han shrugged, "No problem, kid, I can hotwire it."

Han crawled through the tangled plants that were covering their position and joined the hacker at the door. A minute and a half later, the door slid open without protest.

Luke rolled his eyes as he waved the team into the complex.

They proceeded cautiously, sweeping the corridors to ensure that there were no guards or surveillance cams. There was nothing. It was quiet, dark, and deserted.

"I've got a bad feeling about this..." Han muttered, just as the last strike team member crossed the threshold—

—and the outer door slid shut.

The team turned in unison and stared at the closed door. Luke called to the last member softly, "Rahyan, will it open from the inside?"

The young man pulled off his helmet and took out a glowrod; he inspected the door thoroughly before looking up, saying, "The controls have been completely melted, Commander Skywalker."

Several soft curses were heard in the dark from various directions. Luke pressed his lips together and moved forward. "Keep your eyes open," he ordered, "Looks like they might be expecting us."

"We should get the hell outta here then!" hissed someone close to him.

Luke glanced into the dark to his left, "I don't feel a threat," he whispered, and continued to move forward.

The man snapped on a glowrod and turned to Han, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Han shrugged, "Jedi mumbo-jumbo. But he's usually right."

"Usually?"

Han shrugged again, and followed Luke.

Luke moved silently, but swiftly, through the corridors of the complex. The Force was buzzing at him; but, of course, he couldn't decipher what it was trying to tell him. He could sense that the team was close behind him, feeling apprehensive, but energized by Luke's certainty.

Luke could make out a faint glow coming from ahead. He slowed down and waited for the team to catch up.

"There's light ahead," he whispered. "Stay tight and alert."

They moved as a group, coming closer and closer...

Luke stepped out of the corridor into what looked like a control room. The overheard lights of the room were off. Luke looked ahead and saw where the dim glow was coming from; a pulsing ball beyond a railing at the opposite end of the control room.

It glowed faint white, and pulsated like a star; hovering over a catwalk; its dim light saturated the room. The light seemed like a tangible thing, wrapping its fingers over them, caressing the metal, the control panels, and their skin.

"What is it?" someone behind Luke whispered in awe.

And suddenly, there was a click. The click of a weapon being snapped from safety to kill.

The team turned, and found their exit completely blocked by a squadron of stormtroopers. No one moved. They were too shocked, and when their senses returned to them, they knew they were surrounded and outgunned. There was no way out of that room.

A panel on the side wall of the control room suddenly slid open, for a moment, the hearts of the rebels pounded. They steeled themselves to fight their way out if there was only an officer coming out to gloat...

Their hopes were crushed as a deep hiss filled the room.

Luke's eyes widened and he turned to Han, then back to the door, to watch as the ominous black form of his nightmares stepped from the shadows into the cool glow of the room. He almost looked like a twisted inverse of an angel, a black form cloaked in a soft white light.

Luke was silent, cursing his stupidity. Of course he hadn't felt anything as they stormed into the complex valiantly. Vader was blocking him.

He stood and stared numbly at the Dark Lord as his team members were bound and lined against the wall. The troopers never went near him. They left him in the center of the room, staring at the floor; even when he'd unclipped his lightsaber and held it loosely in his hand, like he might drop it at any moment, he stood untouched.

Vader remained in front of the door, watching him, waiting for him.

Finally, Luke looked up and said softly, "It won't be like this." His voice gathered strength as he declared, "It can't be!" He ignited his lightsaber. A hum, and the green of his new weapon mingled with the soft whiteness of the orb just beyond the thin, metal railing.

Vader drew his own weapon, but did not activate it; instead he advanced towards his son. "Come with me."

Luke shook his head, and brought his blade up between them.

Vader continued to move forward. Luke's fellow Rebels and friends were pressed against the wall and made to watch helplessly.

Luke sidestepped and began to back away as Vader moved between him and his companions and began forcing him back. Luke's back finally hit the metal railing.

Vader ignited his lightsaber. "It is the only way, Luke," Vader said, making his first slice at the youth.

Luke blocked it, but he could feel the power behind the strike and knew that Vader had been toying with him at Bespin. If Vader wanted to, he could take Luke apart, piece by piece. The young man began to tremble as he fought to push back Vader's saber, but the Dark Lord was leaning into him, bringing Luke's own blade close to his face. Luke's arms began to shake from the strain; he could almost feel the sting of the blade against the soft flesh of his neck.

This isn't going to work, he realized, and drew upon the Force the best he could, he pushed himself to the floor, disengaged the lightsaber and slid underneath the Dark Lord.

Vader lurched forward from the sudden loss of resistance. His blade sliced through the slim railing and sent him tumbling out onto the catwalk. Luke scrambled back onto his feet and launched himself over the remains of the railing, igniting his weapon in midair. As his feet hit the catwalk, he brought his weapon down upon the hunched figure of the Sith Lord. His father.

Vader dodged the attack and struck at his son to throw the hit off. Luke's blade was deflected and he stumbled off balance. The young man stumbled back and felt his weight shift too far to the right. He glanced down. The catwalk leading to the strange glowing orb stretched over an abyss. Luke gasped and felt himself slip towards it.

Suddenly, he felt himself jolted back towards the catwalk, and looked up to find that his father had dragged him to safety. Glowering, Luke yelled, "I don't need you! I don't need you for anything!"

Vader brought his weapon back up. "I'd rather not see a repeat of our last meeting, young one."

Luke flinched and snarled at the painful reminder of his failure. He charged and slammed his blade against his father's, his frustration fueling his attack. He brought his lightsaber down against his father again and again, forcing his father to take the defensive.

"I will not join you!" Luke screamed, bringing down his lightsaber once more. Just as the blades were about to connect, they both extinguished, neither Luke nor Vader had time to react. Luke fell into Vader and threw them both into the silky white sphere that their battle had brought them close to.

Father and son vanished.