Change of Fate
Chapter One: Facing the Past
It was a beautiful evening. The setting sun was smiling down upon the tops of the trees. They responded to it with all the shades of dark green, yellow and gold possible. The last rays of sun found their way through the thick clouds and the sky shone with violet, golden and delicate pink fireworks, as twilight fell. It seemed that nature itself was celebrating the downfall of the Empire that held the galaxy in its evil clutches for two whole decades. But Luke Skywalker didn't notice the beauty that was surrounding him. He felt lost and lonely.
Distant noises of the feast at the Ewoks' village were muffled by the mighty trees, as Luke wandered absent-mindedly into the old forest. He liked being in nature, especially after being raised at the desert planet. Somehow this environment, full of ancient memories and undiscovered mysteries, was convenient to his state of mind and gave him a sense of security. Through the Force, Luke could feel the joy of millions of live beings all over the galaxy, as all planets welcomed back freedom and justice. Moreover, two most feared and despised villains were dead today: the Emperor and his right hand, the Sith Lord Darth Vader.
Darth Vader. Sith Lord. A monster, who was responsible for death of thousands. A soulless being, kept alive by his hatred and complex machines only. Destroyer of peaceful planet systems. Luke's father.
Luke didn't feel any joy or relief about this man's death. He was believed to be embodiment of pure evil and darkness without any trace of humanity left within his shattered body. Only Luke believed in good still residing within the black monster. And he was right. Vader redeemed himself by killing the Emperor and saving the life of his son. He died as Anakin Skywalker, a free man and loving father Luke had never known.
Luke couldn't help but feel pity towards his father. He had spent twenty very lonely years, trapped in a black suit, feared and hated by every single being in the galaxy and having no one left that loved him and cared for him. Sure, he had brought much pain and destruction to the galaxy, but at the very end he saved this world.
What was Anakin Skywalker like? As Luke took off the mask, a pale scarred face that was almost deprived of human features had looked at him. Only the eyes told him what kind of man his father had once been. Piercing and at the same time soft, of such vivid and intense blue Luke had felt himself being lost in it. Eyes that were full of shame, regret and terrible sadness. But there had also been unconditional love for his son, for the ones once close to him. Love that brought him back to the light side.
Upon returning from the destroyed Death Star, Luke was greeted by Leia, Han, and his other friends, and felt at peace. But then three Force-ghosts appeared at the celebration, looking proudly at the Skywalker twins and their friends: a smiling Obi-Wan, an always wise Yoda and… a third person Luke didn't recognize at first. It was a tall young handsome man clad in Jedi robes. He was probably in his early twenties, with wavy dark blonde hair and such vivid blue eyes Luke had seen only in one person apart from himself: his dying father at the Death Star. He was looking at the true essence of Anakin Skywalker.
After seeing his father's true appearance, him being a Jedi, loyal friend and loving boyfriend? husband? lover, Luke felt as if he had found something that was always missing from his life only to be taken from him again. I wish I knew my father. I wish I could have spoken with him. Why did he turn? What caused him to turn from everybody he loved and become a monster?
Lost deep in thought, Luke didn't notice as his feet carried him to the place he had buried Vader's remnants hours ago. He felt the Force swirling around this place. It was a strange feeling, as though…
Suddenly he heard footsteps coming from behind. Looking around, he could see his twin sister approaching him cautiously.
"Luke, how are you?" asked Leia with slight concern in her voice. "You disappeared from the feast and I was worried. What happened?"
Luke appreciated his sister's concern, but there was no way she could understand him. For her, Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker were one and the same, and she despised them both. When Luke continued to keep silent, standing at Anakin's grave, a look of comprehension dawned on Leia's face.
"It's him, isn't it?"
This question didn't need to be answered.
"Do you feel sorry about his death? That you couldn't save him?"
Luke continued staring into space. To be honest, he didn't know how he felt because there were simply too many emotions swirling in his head. Taking a step closer, Leia hugged him. It felt good and soothing.
"Oh, Luke, I wish so much I could help you. But whereas I understand what you are feeling with my mind, I can't do it with my heart. For me, our biological father will always be embodiment of pure evil," murmured Leia into his chest, her voice filled with compassion.
"You weren't there, Leia. He really changed. Darth Vader and Anakin Skywalker are two completely different persons who had misfortune to share one body. "
Leia pulled away gently, looking him in the eyes.
"But that didn't change anything he had done. Millions are dead by his hand or by his commando, Alderaan is destroyed and my true father is dead, too, " said Leia.
"You are right, Leia. He did all these terrible things and nothing can ever bring these people or Bail Organa back. But see…," Luke stopped mid-sentence, as Leia pulled back from him, with tears in her big brown eyes. She went slowly to the grave and touched the earth, where flames ate away what was left of Vader. Then she turned back to face Luke. Somehow, she looked very confused, as mixed emotions were reflecting on her face.
"You could forgive him Leia. He wanted you to," said Luke softly. Leia looked even more desperate than before.
"Luke, please, I can't. And I don't believe that our biological father was a good man, either." She took a step closer to Luke, looking him in the eye. "Please, it is simpler this way," she whispered in a barely audible voice.
"What do you mean…," Luke started perplexed, as he understood what his sister meant. Leia was used to the idea of Darth Vader being nothing more than a monster and considered Bail Organa to be her real father. If she accepted the truth and began to see the things beyond the limits she set, it would tear her world apart. She was ready to face harsh reality, as Luke did after his first battle with Darth Vader, but she was too scared to leave her cosy shell.
"Leia, I know how hard this is for you. When I learned the truth I wished I could have changed it. As a small boy, I put our father on the pedestal, he was a hero for me. The image of loyal friend and brave warrior was shattered when Vader revealed himself. I wanted to die at that moment." Luke paused briefly, his voice trailing away, as he relived the most horrible moment of his life. Or the second horrible, compared to the piece of Bantha dung he felt like now. His sister needed him now. He drew a deep breath, continuing the story.
"But after a while I realized, that our father was the kind of man I imagined him to be. Old Ben always spoke very fondly of him."
Leia listened to him very carefully, silent tears running down her cheeks. Luke could feel confusion radiating from her, but her next words stabbed him deeply.
"I appreciate your concern Luke, I really do. But I will always hate Anakin or Vader, and nothing will ever change that."
"He wanted your forgiveness," Luke said quietly, not looking at Leia.
"I can't, Luke. What he's done, cannot be forgiven" Leia retorted as quietly as Luke. Looking him directly in the eyes, she said in a resolute and firm voice, "I hate him too much."
Luke stood bewildered and hurt. How could she say that? Sadness he felt since his father's death, Leia's bitter words, the look of deep affection and nostalgia on old Ben's face, as he told young Luke stories of Anakin triggered a chain reaction within Luke. Mental shields he tried to hold were destroyed as he let his emotions overwhelm him.
"Oh, Force, I wish we had known our real father!" he cried in desperation, unconsciously putting his entire Force potential into his plea. Suddenly he felt raw waves of Force swirling even more madly around Leia and him. The Force was building some kind of vortex around them. Luke and Leia felt their bodies spinning, first mildly, but the spinning became faster and faster as colours disappeared from the world: everything became grey. Still wondering what was happening to them, Luke felt his body being pushed through some kind of hole. He heard Leia screaming beside him, only then realising that he was screaming at the top of his lungs as well. The sensation was weird and unpleasant, as they were pulled and stretched with more and more power. Luke feared that some bones and organs left his body forever. Could he survive it? Could Leia? This was the last thought that went through his head.