Shooting Stars - Chapter 16

Disclaimer – All characters are property of Lucasfilm.

An AU story, at the time of ANH - what would have happened if Biggs hadn't jumped ship and had mouthed off at the wrong moment
about Luke's piloting skills?

It's my birthday; have a present on me. Mina.

His soul was the price and it just… wasn't for sale.

Shooting Stars

Chapter Eighteen

Time stretched like hot plastic.

"No further." Biggs repeated, then adjusted his stance so his legs were a little further apart, his weight resting on the balls of his feet, clearly ready to carry through his unspoken threat.

"You throw your life away." Vader said, gauging the distance. The stormtrooper fire had died, out of confusion probably, and left only the sound of his respirator, two lightsabers, melting metal dripping and Biggs Darklighter's nervous breathing. Vader waited a precious second for him to reply.

"My life was forfeit the minute I answered your questions." He shook his head and a streak of sweaty dark hair fell over his forehead, plastered there jagged like a frozen lightning strike. "If I have to die to make up for that mistake, that's okay by me. What about you?"

Vader eyed him carefully. "Step aside and I might spare you."

Biggs snorted contemptuously, "The only reason you didn't kill me after Tatooine was you forgot about me." He said, "No further." He added as Vader took a step closer.

"You are armed with a blaster, against two troops of stormtroopers and a Dark Lord of the Sith. Why shouldn't I just cut you down?" He asked.

"You kill me and you'll loose Luke. Whether you recapture him or not, there's no way he'll ever listen to you again."

He tensed, "He doesn't necessarily have to come willingly."

Biggs slowly wiped a hand over his brow, scattering the lock of hair over his forehead, "From what I heard, you have to willingly turn to the dark side. Kill me, and you loose him." He stated firmly. The blaster remained pointed at him, nonchalant in the face of an entire space station of enemies.

After a pregnant silence, finally he spoke. "There are ways to remove you other than killing you." He swept out a hand, but as he did he heard a call from behind him.

Whirling, his cape spinning madly, he saw Obi-Wan Kenobi stop just metres away from him, the saber blade lit in his left hand. "Go to Luke, Biggs." He said, his gaze never leaving Vader.

"No. I-"

"Go!" Obi-Wan's voice had lost some of it's culture to two decades on Tatooine and two weeks on the Death Star, but it still managed to send a quicksilver shiver down his spine. Biggs, though, remained unmoved.

"You're both very willing to lay down your life for him." Vader commented. Obi-Wan made no move to attack. Yet. He circled slowly, aiming to stand between Vader and the shuttle.

"Innocence inspires sacrifice." Obi-Wan said, still moving, blade held in a ready position in his remaining left hand.

"Then I hope he appreciates yours!" He hissed, and lunged.

Kenobi's blade came up for the parry and whipped around hard right as Vader attacked. The old Jedi was slower on his feet, but singularly determined to get between Vader and Luke. Vader lashed out, but Obi-Wan ducked and struck forward shouting, "Run!"

Biggs didn't move. He lifted the weapon on Vader and took aim. Obi-Wan took a deep, frustrated breath and then launched at Vader in a final, desperate attempt. It was meant to distract him from Biggs, give him a shot right between the shoulder blades hidden by cape and armour. But the shot never came, and Vader twisted aside and pushed Obi-Wan back towards the shuttle.

They whipped around in a fast reversal of positions, and he saw Biggs staring numbly at his fingers where they clenched around the trigger of the blaster. He blinked sweat from his eyes and looked back up, unable to pull the trigger. Unable to murder his best friend's father, despite everything. The blaster shook, and as Obi-Wan came on again and wove the blue blade towards Vader's head. He saw from the corner of his eye the flash of reflected light off a blaster barrel; heard the rasping click of the rifle being cocked.

Biggs might not be able to shoot, but the troopers had no such qualms.

Obi-Wan tensed suddenly and turned. As he did, from nowhere Luke cried out a warning even as Biggs was spinning towards the danger he saw reflected from Kenobi's eyes.

It happened too fast to do anything. Biggs turned, Luke ran, the trooper fired. Somehow in the confusion, Luke knocked Biggs aside, causing his blaster to shoot off with a stray shot that was suddenly deafening as it went wide and hit the hull of the ship. The lethal red blaster fire from the trooper was on target though, and would have neatly pierced Biggs through the eye if Luke hadn't jumped in front of him.


Time slowed painfully, stretching as pain blossomed behind Vader's eyes. There was a flash of blue light and then Luke and Biggs went down to the deck in a tangle of limbs as Luke's tackle threw them both off the floor and then back down to it with a bone crunching smack. A Force-enhanced throw, Vader realised, but he was already moving. The room erupted into chaos as the troopers, stupid to the last, took that first shot as a signal to start firing. The deck exploded into molten metal and Vader howled, "NO!" as the shots tracked towards the huddled bodies on the deck. "STOP FIRING!"

Mass confusion spread and still stray bolts came in. He leapt straight over Obi-Wan to land in front of Luke and Biggs. It was easy to deflect the fire, waiting for the slower troopers to realise that they were disobeying orders. Even the quickest to respond would die anyway later.

He felt rather than heard another figure join him, saw the blue glow of another saber snap across and intercepts the thinning shots.

He turned. "Obi-Wan, you-"

Not Obi-Wan. Luke stood beside him, a fierce look of concentration and dedication on his youthful face, hardening the aristocratic features and making his blue eyes spark. The saber in his hand - Anakin's saber - fit perfectly in his grip and he could have been any senior initiate at the Temple from the way he wielded it. He glanced fractionally at Vader but his face was expressionless as he stumbled backwards from another shot.

How… how was he deflecting them? Vader had never taught him that and certainly Obi-Wan never had. He shook his head. That wasn't important, it only solidified his confidence in Luke's potential. What mattered was that he was doing it, stood beside his father and deflecting enemy fire.

He wanted to laugh but he never would.

Abruptly, like waking from a surreal dream, the scene shattered and Luke lunged out of the way of too many shots, falling down to his knees with a curse as one grazed his shoulder and sent a burst of pain along their shaky bond. Vader reached out and with a Force push threw the remaining attackers to a painful unconsciousness with no remorse. He reached down a hand to Luke, wrapping a black fist around his bicep. At that moment, Biggs appeared and wrapped his own hand under Luke's and pulled. The boy was momentarily dazed as he was pulled on both sides by his best friend and his father. Vader locked gazes with Biggs over the tousled blonde head.

Then, Biggs pulled a blaster from somewhere and pointed it at Vader's chest, his gaze steady.

"You couldn't pull the trigger before. Can you now?" He asked, not yielding as Luke's head lolled forward slightly and he tried to shake free of both their grips, saber still in his right hand.

Biggs looked uncertain and glanced down at Luke. Vader meant to use that opportunity to push Biggs away, but he felt the press of a hard object in his back. "Let them go, or I'll light it." Obi-Wan said, pressing the heel of the saber into his back.

He paused, considering, but alive you can still fight. Dead… well, you're just dead.

He let Luke's arm go and Biggs quickly yanked him to his feet and began to drag Luke towards the shuttle, with the landing ramp down and the Princess at the top, a blaster pointed squarely at Vader. There was a dangerous gleam in her eye and he knew that, unlike Biggs, she would not hesitate to fire. But… if she did, there was no reason for the troopers not to start firing again, and they were out in the open.


* * * *

"Luke!" Someone called his name and he struggled to lift his head. "Luke, Obi-Wan has not told you the truth."

Vader. The voice was Darth Vader, calling to him. He forced his head up and winced at the movement of his neck, felt the sticky heat of blood on his skin where the blaster shot had burned through.

"Don't listen, Luke. Help me get you onboard."

Luke turned sharply at Biggs' voice in his right ear, turned to see his friend trying to get him to stand, and dragging him from the
looming figure of Darth Vader.

But the man was like a siren call. Like an itch in the back of his mind demanding his attention and although he struggled to his feet, he refused to be moved by Biggs. "What? The truth?"

"Luke, you can leave now. I can't stop you without killing you. But you'll never know the truth if you leave."

Like someone had struck a tuning fork in his heart, his nerves flailed and his stomach tried to perform gymnastic miracles. "T-truth?" He asked "What truth?"

The black mask shook and inclined towards him, "About who you are. About your heritage."

Biggs swore viciously and tried to haul him up the ramp and Luke stumbled, trying to follow, enticed. In one direction, freedom called, along with Biggs, Ben, Leia… and yet more ignorance, more lies to blind him. And on the other side… the man who killed his father, the second most loathed person in the galaxy. Asking him to stay.

"I know about my father." He said, but he knew from the look on Ben's face that it was a lie as soon as he spoke, "I know you killed him." He rasped.

His arms trembled but Biggs squeezed harder around his forearms, preventing him from moving… protecting him. From himself. He was almost glad for it.

"No, Luke. He lied. Your father is not dead." Luke closed his eyes, "Luke, I am your father. I used to be Anakin Skywalker, and you are my son. If you search your feelings you-"

He stumbled forwards somehow, and Biggs wrapped an arm around his waist, trying to pull him backwards. "Ben lied." Luke hissed.

No one answered him, but Vader gave him an almost patient look. Ben lied. And if Ben had lied about this… was everything else he'd been told a lie? Could this man, this father, want him as something more than a pet project, but as a son? Could he actually be a son to someone, and not just a nuisance orphan?

The thought made him heady with hope, blistering across his perceptions and colouring them all hopeful for a future with a father. Vader, yes, a man capable of horrible evils, but not towards his son. His son.

"My father?"

No one spoke and he managed to open his eyes to see the scene almost comically frozen about him. Obi-Wan was looking at him in shock, and deep regret. Vader was unreadable, Biggs was still as a sentry and radiating anxiety.

Obi-Wan tried to meet his eyes but Luke realised they were blurred with tears he couldn't bear to shed. He felt a sudden, undeniable surge of anger at the man who had tried to keep him from his father, had entreated him to trust him.

His father. The man he had worshipped for so long, reached out for in pain and loss and grief, was standing in front of him, one gloved hand outstretched in offerance whilst a saber hilt lay against the small of his back. He'd waited his whole life, longed for him his whole life, and here he was; his father - Vader.

He should have been reeling with shock, screaming denial maybe. Strangely, he wasn't.

"What do you want from me?" He asked, quietly enough that nearly all the occupants of the bay leaned in closer to him.

Vader's respirator hiss-clicked and he said, "Nothing more than just you," He said, easily picking up on Luke's thoughts. Or,
perhaps, father and son just thought alike. The thought made him dizzy. But then, Vader shattered the illusion. "Come with me. You have so much potential. We can rule the galaxy, together."

He felt reality give him a hard slap in the face. Black spots appeared in front of his eyes at the offer, possible futures turning
cartwheels in his mind. Power, strength, death, blood. The darkness Vader subscribed to. He didn't want any of it. He just wanted… a father.

But a father that would stand by an watch a planet destroyed? A father that would torture a girl?

What would the cost be? He wasn't a fool; an idealist, maybe, but no fool.

It pained him, but his own ingrained sense of right and wrong forced him to say it, "No. I can't join you." Not like this. Never like this.

The room gave a collective gasp that surely had to have sucked all the oxygen out of the air.

"I can show you power. I can teach you."

He felt the conviction of the words hammer at him, tugging him forwards.

"You don't understand. I don't want what you want to teach me. I never have and I never will. I know I dreamt of being a hero, but it wasn't so I had power. I just… I just wanted to be like you," he paused sadly, "Or who I thought you were." The words trailed off as they threatened to break his voice.

Luke breathed heavily, waiting for Vader's reaction, praying he would offer a solution because Luke could think of none. He felt the bond between them calling, but it wasn't enough, his soul was the price and it just… wasn't for sale.

The room cooled tangibly.

"You won't come willingly?"

Willingly? Panic numbed his mouth and he just shook his head. He heard the angry tenor of the voice, no longer asking but
demanding. The whole room was tense with expectation but for Luke it had condensed down to himself, his father, and the nasty, creeping realisation that he was a Dark Lord's heir. He hadn't found a father, but a nightmare.

"Come." He ordered him now, and Luke's mind rebelled instinctively.


In that moment, Vader struck. He whirled fast, turning away from Obi-Wan, and ducking even as the old Jedi lit the blade, startled. The saber point missed him and suddenly Vader's ruby blade was lit again and he was bearing down on the shorter man, one vicious slash, then another, the sheer power behind the strikes bending Ben's wrist backwards. His anger was a tangible thing, making the atmosphere noxious.

Biggs swore aptly, "Sithspawn!" And yanked him off his feet even as Luke called out and tried to charge forwards, not really sure whose aid he was running to. He was slung unceremoniously over Biggs' shoulder as the troopers took the hint to start firing again - stun blasts this time. He struggled, feeling his heart drop into his throat as he saw Vader lash out again and again and –

The last strike made it through. Obi-Wan's wrist gave a wicked snap as the power finally broke it, unused as he was to fighting with his left hand. The saber dropped from his limp grip, and Vader's blade didn't stop as it cut through the man's robes and torso like a hot knife through butter.

"Noooooo!" He beat his hands against Biggs' back but the older man didn't stop running. Luke didn't know whether he cried out in anguish or because of the betrayal he saw, from the perceived shift in Vader's motives.

Had he played him from the beginning. Did he ever care about Luke? Was he a wayward son, or a possession to be reclaimed?

"Use the dark side and you will poison your heart and watch your identity metastasize and crumble."

He choked on a sob and as he watched, Obi-Wan clutched the deep wound in his side, knowing he was dying, and locked gazes with Luke before turning to Vader, "Anakin…" He whispered. It was the most miserable sound Luke had ever heard. And then he simply…. vanished.

"Leia! The cockpit, get in the cockpit! Get the shields up and take off!" Biggs' called.

Luke started to struggle in earnest; not to go to Vader, this time, but to strike him down. To scream at him for trying to trick him, for leading him with emotions he had locked away for a long time, for making him think he was ever anything more than a pawn. His heart was breaking and he would happily shatter Vader's if he could. "No! No!"

Biggs gained the ramp as Vader turned back, stunned perhaps by the sudden use of the name 'Anakin', and suddenly started
forward, his presence in Luke's mind leaping forwards after him.

Luke screamed something unintelligible but it was clearly a denial. He was so lost.

Then the landing ramp began to rise and swiped away the view of a black masked monster parading around as his father. Biggs
slammed down on the locking mechanism and slumped into the shock-absorbent walls. Repulsors whined underneath them, making metal deck plates shake, and then shudder as Leia raised the shuttle up from the docking bay floor.

Her voice sounded shrill as she yelled, "They're closing the bay doors!"

"Hit the accelerator! They won't kill us!" Biggs called, but it was all so much random noise to Luke. All he heard was the pleading in his head to turn the ship around, and the pleading of his shattered heart to exact revenge. He sobbed unbearably and Biggs lowered him against a frigid wall. He struggled to stand upright. Suddenly, the familiar face appeared through a blur of bitter tears and wiped moisture from his cheeks. "It's all right, I'm here, I'll catch you." He said. "Are you okay?"

Luke gritted his teeth and turned aside, "I'll live." Just. Somehow.

His tears felt molten against his flushed cheeks. Biggs tried to get Luke to look at him, but the shuttle jumped suddenly like a mynock with it's tail on fire. Leia was screaming and, with the scrape of metal on metal and the jolt of being coughed out through a magnetic field, the thrusters lit and acceleration plastered them both against the cargo bay door.

Luke looked up at the man he called best friend, saw something… "You knew." He accused, voice raspy with grief. Grief at
discovering the identity of his father, and a deeper ache of deceit.

"I'm sorry. I thought you knew too, and then Obi-Wan asked me to keep it to myself so I…"

Luke just stared at him, feeling double the betrayal. No; triple. Once by Ben, the kindly but mad desert wizard. Once by his father, letting him think he might be more than just a pet to train to the dark side. And finally by Biggs, the friend he'd mourned and grieved barely a fortnight ago. He couldn't say which hurt the most.

"Leave me alone." He hissed, ripping his arms free from Biggs' worried grip and wrapping them around his updrawn knees, very tempted to start rocking back and forth.

Biggs looked wounded - Ha! He looked hurt! - and implored, "Luke… I know it's hard but-"

"You know nothing." He shook off the tentative touch on his shoulder and rested his forehead on his folded arms. He acknowledged vacantly that there was no tractor beam hauling them back in, that Ben's plan had worked. And there was no thud of blaster fire on the hull. So, Vader didn't want him dead. It must have been the first time someone had told him the truth in a long time. It wasn't comforting. He bit down on his forearm to stop from shouting something at Biggs he might regret later, although at the minute he didn't much care to be a part of any 'later'.

"Please Luke…"

"Go away." He repeated. Biggs' hand tried to brush teary bangs from his eyes but Luke buried his head further into his arms. "Just… leave me alone. Please."

Biggs hesitated, but finally stood looking down on his friend and said, one last time, "Believe me, I'm sorry." Then he turned and Luke heard his footsteps echoing as he went to the cockpit.

He felt emotions crash over his with the force of a tidal storm, and almost wished he was still ignorant. The speed at which he'd
latched onto the hope of having a father almost scared him. The heat of his own anger almost petrified him. If he could, he would have curled up into a tight ball of misery and let the deck swallow him. Ignorance, he now knew, was ambrosia.

He was alone with his misery for perhaps a minute and then –


He opened his eyes wide at the voice, searching the short corridor though he knew it was empty. The bond tugged like the insistent pull on a leash and he answered,


His reaction was automatic but it tore what was left of his calm apart, shredding it into irretrievable shattered pieces.

And then the ship lurched, jumped into hyperspace, and he was alone. Utterly alone. He curled tighter on himself and cried outright. There as no comfort against a cold cargo bay door, but it was a long time before he moved.

* * * *