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An intense burst of light and a vicious blow to his left shoulder sent him spinning violently backward and he fell, thudding his forehead against the smooth polished floor as he landed roughly and skidded several metres across the hanger bay before coming to rest sprawled on his stomach.
For a while there was silence and darkness.
"Kid! Kid?" A man's voice.
"Luke!" A girl's voice.
Voices from the shadows; shouting in desperation. He forced his eyes open saw his blood-speckled hand lying on the floor near his face. He moved his fingers; smiled and let the shadows claim him.
"Leave him, he's dead!"
The voices again, dragging him from warm oblivion. Then other sounds crowding his hearing, clamouring to be heard and understood. Noises, all around him. The roar of an engine firing, the singing of blaster bolts, more shouts.
"We have to leave, Princess!"
"We can't abandon him!"
"We've no choice! Get up there! Chewie close the hatch!"
He heard clattering footsteps from off to the side, heard the hatch of a ship slam shut and listened as the vessel rose from its resting place and roared from the hanger. He knew he should be doing something. There was an urgency nagging at the back of his mind, but he could do nothing to counter the lethargy that shrouded his body and consciousness as darkness descended once more.
Within the gloom there was a tiny flicker of light. It grew larger, brighter. It strobed quicker with a sudden series of snap shot pictures. It was like a faulty holo projector suddenly jumping from scene to scene; the grey floor he was lying on, his hand resting nearby, the blood spots scattered on his skin now starting to run.
A white armoured boot stepping next to his twitching fingers.
Then there were feelings; a faint breeze of cycling air that ruffled his hair, the coolness of the floor against his face, a trickled of liquid that trailed across his forehead and gathered at his eye, hands grabbing him by his arms and clothes and roughly turning him over, a sudden flaring pain from his shoulder that drew a tight cry of protest from him.
And the noises, the snap shots and the feelings suddenly made terrifying sense.
"We've got a live one, sir!"
Luke blinked blood from his eyes as he looked up in horror at the stormtroopers around him and images from the last few hours swiftly returned to him; the droids, his aunt and uncles' deaths, Ben and the revelation that his father had been a Jedi Knight. He remembered the flight to Alderaan with the Corellian and the Wookiee, the battle station, the Princess and the fight to free her. He glanced to the side to where the Millennium Falcon had rested and was both relieved and dismayed to find the ship gone. The Princess was safe but he was wounded and alone.
"Bring him," a hollow voice barked. "Lord Vader will want to deal with him himself."
He was roughly hauled to his feet with no regard for his blaster or head injuries and pushed forward. He stumbled as his legs failed him and he fell to his knees. He was pulled upright once more, his arms firmly locked on either side by two troopers who half dragged, half carried him between them toward the door he had blasted shut after Ben had been killed.
His head thrummed with pain, his heart pounded with terror. He squeezed his eyes shut against it all, trying desperately to drive the pain back, to quiet his dread. His stomach rolled with nausea and he gagged, feeling faint and wretched.
The soldiers carrying him stopped and Luke put his feet down, trying to gain some control of himself, of his body and his feelings and he opened his eyes, blinked rapidly to clear away the blood that trickled from his head wound as his boots found purchase on the floor.
There as a soft rumble, a slight scrapping as the blast door opened, and Luke found himself quietly impressed that they had managed to bypass the damaged controls so quickly. He kept his gaze to floor as he was taken through the door and grimaced as he saw Ben's robes lying in a heap, his feet catching on the discarded cloth as he was dragged on.
Ben… He thought helplessly. Ben…
"My Lord Vader! The prisoner."
It was then Luke became aware of another sound; a measured, hollow mechanical resonance not unlike the noise a vaporator makes at night as it draws in the cool evening air to circulate the condenser unit before releasing it. Only this sound was quicker, this sound was more like breathing and, interested to find the source, he lifted his head to see the tall, dark bulk of the man who had killed Ben turn to regard him with empty black eye lenses. He had seen Darth Vader on the Holonet - though Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had usually found an excuse for him to leave the room, or change the channel - but seeing him stand but a metre away sent new tendrils of terror coursing through his nervous system.
"Be calm, Luke." A soft breeze whispered.
What? He turned from Vader looking for the source of the words, but saw only troopers and blank corridor walls. He rapidly blinked away more blood, tasted it on his tongue as it trickled over his lips.
Darth Vader had stooped and picked up the hilt of Kenobi's sword - much like Kenobi had done with his own so many years before on Mustafar. He turned the sword in his hand studying the hilt with cool curiosity.
This sword is your life!
Kenobi's voice mocked him. This sword he now held had helped end his life. This sword and the man who had wielded it had hacked him to pieces and left him to burn on hot black sand. But it was truly over now; he could rest his desires for retribution. Kenobi was dead and the sword would be his trophy to the final demise of the Jedi Order.
"My Lord Vader," A voice interrupted his thoughts. "The Prisoner."
He turned at the whisper, fingers unconsciously tightening on the hilt of Kenobi's sword at the murmur within the Force, a murmur that sounded very like…. and he caught sight of the small figure the troopers had dragged before him.
"What is this," he drawled, frowning behind his mask, allowing his optical sensors to adjust to the approaching group. The troopers' prisoner was small, bloodied from a gash at his hairline and trembling with fright and pain, but as he spoke the Rebel raised his head and glared at him with open defiance. He was young, merely a child, and was dressed in simple cotton garments much like the clothes worn on…
The ship had been reported as having blasted its way out of Mos Eisley and evading the pursuing cruisers. The ship had been carrying the Rebel droids and had brought Kenobi to him. It seems it had also brought this youth. This boy who looked as though he had only just been dragged off the moisture farm. He shrugged to himself; appearances could be deceptive, even at a young age this Rebel may be a seasoned traitor.
"He was shot while trying to escape with the others, my lord, we thought that you would…"
Vader waved the trooper quiet while regarding the captive. The boy's eyes never left him and naked anger played over his features, raw hatred rolled through the Force and…
There was strength there. A purity of feelings. It was a presence in the Force the like of which he had not felt for almost two decades.
This boy, this Rebel, was Jedi!
"Kill him!" He spat in horror and fury.
The boy started at the order, eyes widening in terror and he struggled as the soldiers forced him to his knees, as a blaster was raised to the back of his head.
Luke's knees stuck the floor, an armoured hand was placed on his head, forcing it down and he heard a blaster being cocked. The white noise of panic filled his mind. He was going to die now. Going to die at the orders of the man who had killed his father, Ben and whose troops had killed his guardians. Unthinking, just feeling, he heard himself speak.
"I hate you…"
The voice was quiet, the declaration a few simple words, said in simple tones. But the emotions behind it, the ripple it caused within the Force, shook Vader. "Wait!" He ordered before he even realised he had spoken again.
The boy had used the words he had uttered on Mustafar as Kenobi had turned and left him to burn. There had been no mercy from his old Master, there should be no mercy now for this rebel, this Jedi.
And yet, the youth had been with Kenobi, he may be Kenobi's pupil - although his talent felt raw, felt untapped and unused. Perhaps his greatest vengeance on the Jedi would not be to immediately kill this padawan, but to use him. Gain information on Kenobi's life, his actions. Could it be possible that the old knight been trying to rebuild the Order. Could this boy be only one of many potentials hidden away in some secret enclave?
"Remove him to detention. Have him questioned on his Jedi affiliations."
He watched as a mixture of relief and terror played over the youth's bloodied features, watched as they dragged the prisoner away, watched as they turned a corner and then he remembered the sabre he still held. He glanced at the hilt, memories racing through his mind, thoughts of camaraderie and companionship, of love and betrayal, of loss, of power and domination. Of grief…
Unexpected and unwanted, but grief nonetheless, for all that had come and gone before; for Obi-Wan, for the love of his wife and unborn child, for the boy he had been, the Jedi he had supposed to be.
A thrill of surprise rippled through him and he growled in anger at the imagined whisper, at the feelings being dragged to the surface, causing the remaining troopers around him to back away a few paces. How dare Kenobi resurface, how dare he bring a padawan with him, how dare they snatch the princess from an Imperial stronghold. The fool had gained nothing, had only given him the opportunity to track down the Rebel's hidden base and obliterate it. In a few hours the Sith rule of the Galaxy would finally be unopposed.
"Clear the docking bay, have the repair crews assess any damage," he glanced at the frayed robes on the floor as he hooked Kenobi's sabre to his belt. "And burn those." Keeping his anger close he turned away to stride down the corridor.
He paused at the feeling, at the murmur of disappointed through the Force. He had believed that the voice was merely an aberrant thought of his own, an echo from the past. But it sounded like Kenobi. It felt like Kenobi. Slowly, cautiously, he reached out and gently probed the Force searching out the source of the feelings but all he found was the boy whose thoughts and feelings were confused and convoluted, wild with fear and pain.
There was nothing else…
"There is the Force, Anakin. Listen to it…"
No! He would not do this, he would not allow this. Obi-Wan's presence had obviously shaken him, the boy's strength in the Force had disturbed him. But he would not be swayed by ancient memories, old emotions that he had long buried. He closed his eyes and drew the purity of the dark side around him, relishing the heat of it, the cold reasoning of it. It was power, and he was its Master. All other thoughts dissipated, all other emotions faded and he moved through the Death Star untroubled.