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IX

A New Hope

The Force could not slacken its support. Anakin somehow still breathed through burning. His arm and hand of metal felt heavy, dangerously thick with electricity, but no telltale buzz warned him of deadly malfunction. He thought that death by fire was long overdue for him. His spirit, the most grievous of all his wounded parts, tangled with that of the boy whose blonde head lay still against his shoulder, the neck of the predator bared for the hunter's killing strike.

Then Ruen regained himself in the space of heartbeats and flinched away from the touch they had. Against the railings he crouched and stared at Anakin. "I don't know you." He spoke in a soft, unused version of his disguised growling voice. "I think you're weak.

I know you anyway. I saved you. You deceived me!"

"No, Luke," said Anakin. "I'm your father." I wouldn't. I couldn't even fight to save my friends. But you fought to save your enemy because...some inkling of love is in you.

Both Skywalkers cast outward to the starships piercing into the Death Star's heart.

Luke Skywalker raged inside, and yet the power had gone out of that, because he had felt an urge and a sense with more power. Just for a moment. And this dying half-machine man in front of him, whom Master Sidious always termed the weakest of the Jedi sinecure, had inspired something new in his deep self. His words had--but more his sacrifice, and his belief that his son would save him.

Again Anakin was pulling him along in his wake, or perhaps falling and Ruen had been caught in the slipstream, because the old scarred raspy Jedi pushed himself up to a crouch and then stood with one hand desperately grasping for a support and his eyes closed. "You're...coming with me."

Ruen had killed for this man.

He knew how to follow the one he killed for. But he had just killed that one, threw him down the pit and that amount of lightning had been easy, but understanding that he had just been rescued was not.

Anakin said, "This is what the light side means, Luke. Now we're both saved. If--"

The Force, Light and alone and wondrous, supported him. Anakin said, "Please come with me."

Ruen nodded and pulled Anakin up by the neck-insulation of his flightsuit. "I want to understand this...side. Father."

Anakin managed to shake his head. "You already have, Luke. You already...have..."

Anakin Skywalker released his destiny to the Force and to his son's arcane strength and to the simple allure of sleep.

Luke Skywalker felt very clear and fightless.

As if danger had passed.

Slowly the Force came to him in a new way, so quiet as to be almost a whisper, but also not tugged or trapped but on its own. It started to tell him a quick way to the Lambda shuttle, and then it wove into the familiar the new beautiful telling of safety and reassurance.

The stars had a new partner in fusion that balmy evening on the moon of Endor. The Rebels, successful in their defiant plot, celebrated, atoned and felt mystical among the natives and the candlelight and the camaraderie.

Luke Skywalker hid himself among the folds of an enormous tree's trunk, and let the Ewoks take his battle-armor for their hollow piping music. He wore a brown-green vest and the loose, black pants. He wanted to leave the heaviness of his lightsabers somewhere behind the revelry, but Anakin had not allowed it.

Upon awakening, Anakin became a master of troops again. The Chosen One walked among the Rebels and spread his balance through them. Random acts of kindness bloomed, and Anakin smiled even though it pained so badly. Eventually they stood together.

Love nulls pain.

Try it. Think about it. Standing in the fight, surrounded by the pain, you love your sport or work or attempts, and the pain does not matter.

Anakin Skywalker now realized how important he truly was, and Luke Skywalker realized how wrong he truly had been.

Leia Skywalker raged on Coruscant and demanded retribution against the terrorists who had blown up the Death Star. But a few months later, two people would visit her.

They would be sitting in her chrome reception room with brown cloaks concealing their fine features, and she would demand explanation of them.

In tandem, as family, they would touch a hidden power within her and she would be reminded of who they said had killed her father.

A Jedi Master.

She would raise her hands against them, and then realize that the power felt more ancient than any person or any government.

The old man would reveal his face, and his powerful speech stabilized between arrogant and so gentle would explain to her her origins.

The young man, creepy Darth Ruen -- alive, traitorous, happy, human-- would retell the story of the Death Star explosion.

Both were partly motivated by a blue-shining memory of Obi-Wan Kenobi and Yoda standing on Endor, smiling at the family of Chosen Ones.

Together they would begin to remake a galaxy.