by Valerie Vancollie and Rebecca Thomson
(valeriev84 at hotmail dot com) & (zekkers at juno dot com)
Co-authored: with Rebecca Thomson (aka Zekkers). However, unlike with Runaway, our individual parts have been blended together so you can't see who wrote what.
Full Summary: Hit in the leg by a stormtrooper's
blaster bolt, Luke falls in the Death Star hanger bay and is unable
to escape on the Falcon along with Han and Leia. During the
subsequent interrogation, his true heritage is revealed and Vader
instantly takes him to Coruscant, determined to reclaim the son the
Jedi stole from him. But the glory of the Imperial capital belies its
true nature, where politics and power are everything and anything is
fair game in the never ending game to reach the top. Not lying, not
betrayal, assassination, sabotage, blackmail, nor seduction.
As he commences his Sith training, Luke must also learn the rules and etiquette of the Imperial Court if he is to survive as most of his enemies fight their battles with words and political maneuverings rather than military force. Yet, even as he struggles to gain his place within the Empire, Luke learns that his best friend has joined the Alliance...
Updating Schedule: This story is extremely long, over 600 pgs in Word! Therefore I have decided to break it into chunks of about 12 pages to make it easier to load and more manageable in general. This does not mean, however, that this fic should be regarded as a chaptered story as it is not. It was written as one, really long, fic and was not broken down into chapters. I have attempted to find good parts to break the story up while still trying to keep each section at about 12 pages but this wasn't always possible. So there will be a few cliffhangers and shorter segments. It is my intention to post a new chunk every week but this may at times be impossible due to outside factors. I will, however, do my utmost best to stick to this planned updating schedule but I apologize in advance for any lapses.
Timeline: This story starts about halfway through A New Hope and deviates from there (this is an AU). This fic was also written before Attack of the Clones and Revenge of the Sith came out and thus not all of the details match (i.e.: we have Owen be Obi-Wan's brother, we have Padmé die in a different way than she did in the movies...) but the differences are minor details in the overall story. Just know that this is why there are differences.
Pairings: This fic has numerous pairings, most of which can't be mentioned here without giving away parts of the story in advance. The pairing that can be mentioned upfront is the obvious Anakin/Padmé one though it is more of a remembrance and flashbacks than a true romantic pairing (the story is about Vader after all). Other than that, all I'm willing to divulge up front is that there will be other important pairings as well as a complicated, and dangerous, love... triangle/trapezoid (you'll see what I mean!).
Illustrations: A few artists have kindly done drawings for this story and they will be added to my website when the chunk they illustrate is posted online. At the present the cover I created for this story can be seen at my site.
Disclaimer: Rebecca and I do not own Luke Skywalker, Darth Vader or any other of the "Star Wars" character, item or situation. Rebecca and I only lay claim to the original aspects of the fic.
The blood-red blade whispered through the hated flesh of his enemy. The Dark Lord's grin was feverish behind his mask as the brown robe crumpled to the ground. He toed the rumpled, discarded fabric.
'Strange- I would not have believed the old man worthy to discorporate like a master,' he mused to himself.
A distant scream of "Nooooooo..." filtered through the audio amplifiers of his helmet and mask. He brought his head up as the blaster fire of the Imperial troops whipped the air. Did the Force just twitch again? A minor ripple? Or was it just the after-effects of Kenobi's death?
A young man stood in the hanger, shock and loss across his face. He was sandy-blond, and very tanned. There was something about him that tickled the back of Vader's mind. Something that he could not place, something familiar.
With the blaster fire sizzling through the air around his head, the young man finally came to his senses and turned back to run towards the freighter. Darth Vader had almost instantly realized that this man must have been one of the Rebels involved in the Princess's rescue. Even now, one of the Rebels on the freighter was aiming around the scampering man to provide covering fire from the Imperial troops in the corridor.
Suddenly, the young man screamed, falling to the deck, clutching one leg. Vader's enhanced senses caught the shutters that lanced through the young man's body from the blaster wound even as the Dark Lord's Force sense also caught the wild and untrained sensation of pain radiating from the fallen form.
The man was strong in the Force, very strong. And untrained, but apparently traveling with Kenobi.
'An Apprentice? Obi-Wan dared to take another Apprentice?' The Dark Lord thought, stunned. The Rebels abandoned their comrade on the deck of the hanger, the roar of the deceptively derelict-looking freighter filled the hangar as it surged into space.
The stormtroopers were quiet, watching the pain-racked form on the deck and Lord Vader. The Dark Lord suddenly realized that he had given a cease-fire command, and the Imperial soldiers were waiting for their next instructions.
"Have him taken to Detention for questioning." Vader snapped, before he turned away. The Force had moved his lips, he would find out more before having this insignificant Rebel executed.
Darth Vader watched the holo-screen of the small drama in the cell. He had chosen to let one of the regular interrogators question the prisoner- the young man did not deserve his personal attention. But something had drawn him to the viewing room.
The Rebel was lying on the bench in the small detention block cell, wound still untreated. He was obviously in pain. His face was creased into a grimace, and his voice was strained with effort to keep from crying out in agony. His dirty white outfit was a sharp contrast to the perfectly clean uniform of the interrogations officer. His browned skin and weathered look clashed with his young face.
The officer questioned him, the young man shook his head. A frown crossed the officer's face. Lord Vader cocked his head, something about the whole scene was very important, he just couldn't figure out what it was. That young man, something about him. He reminded him of someone.
"Lord Vader?" The Sith Lord turned to the officer who had just entered the viewing room. The officer was one of Vader's own, part of his retinue. "My Lord, the Rebel has continued to claim that he is not with the Rebellion. But he was armed with these-" the man placed a box on the table in the room, and then stepped back. Young, but capable, the minor officer had been helpful in the past, and Vader had grown to trust him to notice what others might miss. Darth Vader walked forward, looking into the box. A standard Imperial blaster, and a black handled metallic cylinder. The black armored arm reached into the box to retrieve the object of its own violation.
"A lightsaber." The Dark Lord whispered, silently turning the blade's handle in his hands, studying it. Inside, his mind was raging. 'This is mine! I would know it anywhere, and Obi-Wan must have given it to that man, that boy! But why?'
Darth Vader turned back to the holo-screen, listening to the questioning.
The Imperial officer was grimacing, determining if he should advance to the next level of 'treatment'. "You are not with the Rebellion?" A shake of the head. "Then what were you doing here, freeing Rebel leaders?" The young man sighed.
"Well," the dirty man said, wincing from the pain, "it seemed like a good idea at the time." He shrugged, "she was pretty."
Vader watched the Imperial officer in the cell. The man was clearly deciding what to do next. Procedure called for increasing the prisoner's discomfort until they told the truth, but Lord Vader could tell just as well as the officer that this young man did not seem to be lying. It was very strange.
"Well," the officer continued, "if you aren't with the Rebellion, then what are you?"
The young man seemed to think. "I was a farmer." Then his face fell, remembering pain. "Till your stormtroopers killed my family less than a week ago."
"Ah." The officer said, sympathetically. He felt no pity, but sometimes it helped to show empathy in order to get answers. "So. Tell me, what is your name?" The officer normally didn't even care, and most of the time didn't even need to know, but it might help. This one seemed drawn to sympathetic ears. Maybe he wouldn't even need to torture this one. He had come on duty with a raging headache today, and didn't really feel like spending the next several hours listening to screaming. Normally he enjoyed it, but today it would be tiresome.
"Luke. Luke Skywalker."
Inside the viewing room, Darth Vader started, head snapping back, black gloved fingers squeezing the hilt of his old blade. He shifted, trying to cover his discomfort. 'Skywalker?' his mind raged, 'Could it be? Could he be... mine? I know she was hiding something when we separated that last time, but...' He tried to send his Force Sense out to the young man, but the young one was too untrained. The answering call that a trained Jedi would give their parents was mute. Only a flickering in the Force answered his call, too indistinct to be of any use.
Lord Vader growled in disgust. He had to know. He had to know. But he was hemmed in by restrictions. This was Tarkin's station. He was not without privileges here, but not in absolute command. Plus, there was little love lost between himself and Tarkin. Very well, he would at least find out as privately as he could. He motioned his officer over.
"Tell the interrogation officer that I will continue for him at a later time. Then I need you to contact the medical department for me, I have some private work I need done. Be sure to use the personnel loyal to me."
The man nodded, perfectly aware of the minor feud between his lord and Tarkin.
Darth Vader stood in the viewing room, quietly waiting while he watched the screen showing the prisoner. 'His eyes, yes. The chin, no- hers. Height- hers. Hands- mine.' He sighed. The more he looked, the more he realized he almost didn't even need the test results. The young man had not reminded him of one person, but of two. The form on the bed shifted in uneasy sleep. Its wound stabbed pain, waking the prisoner and sending another Force ripple across the station. 'Force strength- mine. I remember few Jedi with that potential.' Vader started to wonder if he should order medical care for the prisoner before the doctor brought back the results, he was beginning not to want to see this one in unnecessary pain.
The door opened. His officer had returned, doctor in tow. The officer was tense, but unaware. The medical doctor on the other hand fairly glowed with anxiety and awe. The gray-haired doctor was sweating, the importance of his news nearly bursting from him. Lord Vader didn't really need to hear him say it, but motioned the doctor to speak.
"My Lord Vader, he is," the doctor swallowed, before continuing, "your son."
Ice seemed to drip down Vader's back as he turned back to the screen. The news, the finality of it, seemed to hit him harder than any blow.
"Get him out of there. Treat that leg." Vader paused, suddenly realizing his biggest problem. "Sedate him if you have to, Doctor. He may not be co-operative." Vader's mind began to race again. 'By the Force- Obi-Wan has had my son, all these years! What does he believe? What was he told about me? A farmer? Stormtroopers killed my family- what family?' Darth Vader realized that he was incredibly angry, he looked down, noticing his left hand had warped the side of the console in his grip. He brushed his fingers over the dents, as if to smooth them.
"Obi-Wan's final betrayal," he hissed, then turned back to the two men. "I will take him back to Coruscant. Destroy all records. I don't want a word of this out."
"Yes, my Lord." The officer bowed.
It was already too late. Noticing the excitement of his superior, one of the medical technicians had wandered over to the doctor's console while he was away. The technician simply typed in the doctor's password and read the file (The doctor really should have used a password other than his wife's name). Stunned, he had copied it to datadisk and was taking it straight to Tarkin.
He had been passed over for promotion when he had been transferred to the Death Star, and now he had the key. This should advance his career nicely.
The technician smiled to himself as he approached the doors to Tarkin's office. He could clearly imagine the Grand Moff's shock when he would read the information on the datadisk. Shock and pleasure. It was well known that Tarkin and Vader weren't friends and he was sure that Tarkin would have some use for the info he had. To be honest he didn't really care how the Grand Moff used the information, all he cared about was the promotion it was sure to bring. If it had been info on some secret son Tarkin had, then he would have instantly brought the info to Vader's attention.
He stopped just before the last corner in the hallway to Tarkin's office and straightened his uniform before rounding the corner and approaching the door. The two guards didn't even bother to stop him, not having gotten orders that their Grand Moff wished privacy. Stepping into the large room as the doors opened he snapped to attention.
Tarkin frowned as he looked up from his place at the large conference table in his office. He hadn't summoned anyone, and definitely not some medical technician.
"What is it Lieutenant?" he demanded icily.
"I- I have some information that I thought you should see, Sir," the Lieutenant replied trying to keep the smile off of his face.
"Why didn't you simply give it to your superior?" Tarkin questioned sharply, as he looked back down at the report he had been reading. That was the only problem with being the one who was in complete control. Everyone thought that they had things that could only be dealt with by none other than the man in charge.
"It would never have made it here," the Lieutenant responded. "On Vader's orders."
"What?" Tarkin questioned, instantly alert.
"The information would have disappeared before it reached you, Sir," the Lieutenant explained. "Lord Vader would not have wanted for you to find out, Sir. It has probably been erased from the main computer already."
"Erased?" Tarkin repeated as his mind raced.
What could Vader be up to now? He had known that things wouldn't work out right from the moment the man (if he could be called that) had first set foot on board the Death Star. Despite the fact that he was in charge of the battle station, and that Vader was underneath him as long as he was on board, he knew that Vader would use every opportunity he got to his advantage. It was all part of the struggle for power.
A struggle that was only made more violent by the fact that Palpatine had no off-spring and so far hadn't named a successor to the Imperial throne. And, despite the wildly believed rumor that Vader would take the throne upon Palpatine's death, Tarkin knew nothing was etched into stone yet. It could all change. Which was why people like himself, Vader, and all the other high ranking Imperials were always alert. The slightest details could be made to work to their advantage.
Which was why Tarkin was now listening to the Lieutenant. From what the man was saying whatever he knew was something Vader wanted kept secret. And, if so, it could only be in his best interest to learn of it and to spread it around.
"What is it?" Tarkin demanded.
"I think you should see it yourself," the Lieutenant said as he stepped up to the table, put the datadisk onto it, and pushed it over the table surface to where Tarkin sat.
Tarkin picked up the datadisk and quickly inserted it into his datapad. Looking at the information which flashed across the screen his eyes widened in shock. A son! Vader had a son! A boy by the name of Luke Skywalker. This was interesting indeed. Vader must have kept him hidden away, some place where no one would find him. Looking at the age he saw that the boy was only twenty. Just about the right age to be of some use to the Dark Lord.
However, looking over the data once more, he suddenly knew that he must be missing something. Sure, this was definitely important information, but the Lieutenant seemed a little too excited, even for this.
"You say these records would be erased," Tarkin stated. "Where have they been up till now?"
"Sir," the Lieutenant said as he realized that the Grand Moff didn't know all the details. "The results you see on the datapad before you are those of a blood sample taken from the Rebel which was captured earlier today when the Princess escaped."
"What!" Tarkin exclaimed as he got to his feet before he regained his composure and walked over to the large viewport. Over looking the rubble of what had once been Alderaan, he smiled to himself. This was better than he had dared hope. Not only had he just learned that Vader had a son, but that son seemed to be with the Alliance! This information could definitely be used to his advantage.
How unfortunate it would be should this information happen to make its way into the hands of the Emperor and into that of the press. How unfortunate indeed... for Vader. Feeling his smile grow, Tarkin allowed himself to bask in the thought of humiliating Vader before the whole Empire. He could see the headlines already: 'Supreme Commander of the Imperial Fleet unable to control own child.'
Quickly wiping any emotion from his face Tarkin turned back to the waiting Lieutenant. "Who took and analyzed the blood sample?" he demanded. This way he could quickly root out anyone loyal to Vader.
"My superior, Commander Gribley," the Lieutenant replied.
"You'll replace him as soon as Vader leaves the station," Tarkin declared knowing all too well the power of rewards. "We can't have Vader finding out we know about his little secret."
"As you wish," the Lieutenant replied, struggling to keep a straight face.
"Dismissed," Tarkin stated and watched as the Lieutenant left the room.
Tarkin walked back to his seat and quickly took the datadisk out of his datapad, pocketing it. It wouldn't do for him to get careless now and leave this information in plain view of Vader. As soon as he had destroyed the Alliance he could go about spreading word of Vader's son. That way he would not only seriously damage a rival, but he'd also be wallowing in glory for his ultimate victory over the Alliance.
He called up another program on the computer and put in his password, smiling as he saw a map of the Outer Rim Territories and a fast moving dot of light. The homing beacon placed on board the Rebel ship was working nicely. After he'd spread the news about this Luke Skywalker, he'd be able to claim credit for placing the homing beacon on the ship as well. For who would believe Vader's claims to having had it done after the Dark Lord had just been so thoroughly humiliated?
Tarkin sighed as he sat back down in his over-stuffed chair. Things couldn't have been going better if he had planned it himself.
Luke awoke to find himself lying on a bed in some room he didn't recognize. Quickly he tried to sit up, but fell back with a groan as pain shot up his left leg. However the pain wasn't as bad as it had been last time he had woken up. Now it seemed more like a dull ache until he moved it.
But where was he? The last thing Luke remembered was an older man coming into his cell with a needle in his hand. Naturally he had tried to get away, from what little the princess had told him, the Imperials used all kinds of drugs to make people talk. But what had happened after that? He didn't remember anything. Indeed, he'd barely felt the prick of the needle piercing his skin before he'd been claimed by the darkness of unconsciousness. Had it simply been a sleeping drug? But why?
Luke pulled back the sheets he now found himself under and saw that his leg was bandaged. Looking around the room he also noticed that it looked nothing like the prison cell he had been in earlier. And this bed was soft as well, unlike the hard bunk he had lain on earlier. What was going on? Why had the Imperials suddenly taken care of his wound now after having questioned him and then leaving him untreated in a cell?
Suddenly the doors opened. Looking up Luke felt his breath catch in his throat as anger and fear welled up inside of him. He instantly recognized the form standing in the doorway. Indeed who wouldn't? It was the form of the most feared man in the galaxy other than the Emperor. It was the form of Darth Vader. The form of the man who had murdered both his father and Ben.
Luke pushed himself as far away from the black-clad man as he could, the blankets and pillows falling to the floor. He was trapped, unarmed, and injured. He had sworn to himself that he would avenge his father's death and Ben's- but now he felt he would be lucky to be alive tomorrow. His wound screamed at him, agony lancing up his leg. He tried ignoring it, while the tears welled up in his eyes.
The Dark Lord paused, and then reached behind his back, taking out a lightsaber. It was his old one, the one the boy had been carrying. His mechanical voice grated across the room, "Why did you have this?" Luke just pushed himself further against the wall. "Kenobi gave it to you. Why did he give this to you?"
Darth Vader paused, waiting. He watched the young man try to push himself through the wall behind him, pain lancing up his leg. Vader knew that he looked cold, calculating, but in truth he was just shocked. His mind was a whirl, that Jedi Kenobi would have stooped to this! The child's hatred and anger, his impotent fury and lust for revenge smacked against Vader's senses. Kenobi was going to use his child, use the boy against him! What had that foul man told his son?
"This belonged to a man I knew once." The boy flinched at the words, glaring at Vader. "A man named Anakin Skywalker." Another flinch, and the glare in the young man's eyes took on an unholy light. Darth Vader took a step into the room, lowered his voice. "You're his son, aren't you?" It was a gamble, but he had the feeling Kenobi would have told him. Twisted the truth somehow, but told him.
The young man ground his teeth, hissing, "Yes." Vader was briefly alarmed that this young man might know who he was, and not care. Might want to kill him anyway. Kenobi could have been poisoning his mind for years. But Vader didn't sense a connection in the young man's mind between the name Skywalker and Vader. They were two different people. Vader decided to try the direct approach.
"What did Kenobi tell you about... him?" The voice softly hissed.
The young man shuddered, hatred thick in his helpless eyes. "You killed him. You betrayed him. You... you murdered him." He spat the words, his mind screaming at him to fight. It was hopeless, but he was a trapped animal.
Lord Vader paused. His gut was unaccountably wrenched. This was too much. Kenobi had gone too far- to poison the boy so much- it was more than even Vader would have expected of the man. Vader realized he would have to do something. He couldn't let this hate fester, it was worthless because it would become undone as soon as the boy learned the truth. A Sith Lord would need a firm foundation upon which to build. As soon as he had realized the potential and parentage of this young man, Vader had decided to take him to Coruscant and ask permission to train him. Besides, his son would have to trust him to learn from him, and the young man would never trust him with this falsehood between them.
"That," Vader said, "is a lie." Nothing would do but the truth. But it was painful to think of revealing the whole truth now- it was too soon, the situation was not controlled.
"A lie? How could I believe you?" The young man sneered. He looked confident, but Vader could feel the fear and loathing that was about to overwhelm him.
"You would believe Kenobi? That tottering old fool?" Vader watched the anger rise again in the young man's eyes. Darth Vader let a ragged growl escape his lips. "How long did he have you?"
The boy just looked at him, suddenly unsure. Darth Vader, Lord of the Sith, ran mental fingers through the young man's mind. His Force potential was so strong, it was so easy- he was practically projecting his every thought into the air. "Less than a week?" Vader asked, incredulous. "You would believe someone you've only known for a few days?"
The young man was shaken. Vader could read his mind! He drew a big breath. The pure power of this Dark Lord was beginning to overwhelm him. "If... if... if you didn't kill him, then who did?"
Vader was silent.
The young man sucked in another deep breath. "Someone did. He has to be dead."
Darth Vader cocked his head. "Why?"
"Because..." Luke paused. "Because. He would have come and got me. I... I... wouldn't have been stuck on that... farm. He would have taken me away, into space. I wouldn't have been raised by my aunt and uncle." The pain of his childhood suddenly struck him, washed over him like a sandstorm. He wanted to cry, but he didn't dare, not in front of this monster. The horrible thought began to bloom in his mind again. The one that Luke hated, and always tried to suppress. What if his father had known, but had left him anyway, had abandoned him to Owen and Beru? It would explain why Uncle Owen hated any mention of Luke's father. The sharp rasp of the respirator brought Luke back to the moment.
"He didn't know. He had absolutely no idea you even existed."
The young man swallowed, had the Dark Lord read his mind again? But this time, his words planted a seed of hope in Luke's mind. "He's alive?" Hope began to bubble up, day dreams of Luke's youth began to whisper, and the terrible need for family began to grow again. Luke had lost everything in these last few days, he would clutch to anything.
Inside his head, Lord Vader cursed. He would have to tell the whole truth, but he didn't know this man before him well enough to predict the results. Lying to the boy was tempting, but it was far more likely to backfire later on. He would have to chose his words carefully. "No." He said at last, and watched the young man's face fall. Vader's voice became uncharacteristically subdued. "No. You could say that he died a long time ago."
The boy's face was a mixture of grief and puzzlement. His lips parted to ask a question, but Darth Vader cut him off. "I stopped using that name when I became a Sith. Anakin Skywalker died, Darth Vader was born."
The cold emotionless eyes of the black mask stared at Luke, the respirator continued its hissing in the silent room. Darth Vader watched the silent comprehension dawning on the young man's face, his shock, and his horror. The boy broke eye contact, his mind a confusion of emotions. Disgust and horror, these Vader expected; but the small slivers of joy at having family were... surprising. Then shame began to trickle in, both at his parentage and at his own reaction to it.
Lord Vader turned, his cape billowing behind him through the door, as he silently exited the room. The door swished shut. It wasn't the worst reaction he could have received, nor the best. He turned to the officer waiting for him. It was the same one from earlier.
"Your shuttle is prepared, my Lord."
"Good. I leave within the hour." Lord Vader continued towards the exit, then paused. "Tell him to be silent." The black-clad warrior exited the room.
Although Vader had already left the room, Garret nodded his head, having worked with the Dark Lord long enough to know that the man didn't need to be able to see him to know what he was doing. Briefly he remained where he was. The news that his lord had a son had come as a complete surprise for him, just as much so as it had seemed it had been for Vader himself. Momentarily he wondered who the boy's mother had been and where she was now, but then he pushed those thoughts aside. They were none of his business.
He ran a hand through his short black hair before turning around and entering the room with the boy, pausing briefly in the doorway. Quickly his dark brown eyes swept the room and he took in the pillows and blankets that littered the floor and the way Darth Vader's son was at the very end of the bed.
As he studied the boy, Garret saw the shocked look on his face. It was more than clear that he hadn't known about his heritage before Vader had told him. That must have been quite a surprise.
"Who are you?" Luke finally asked, his voice shaking from the shock he still felt.
Vader, his father! Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, was none other than his father! Just the fact that his father was alive gave him a deep joy he had never felt before. The knowledge filled the hole in his heart that he had always felt. However his father's identity horrified him. His father was a man known throughout the galaxy to be extremely ruthless and cruel.
Speculation now entered his mind as to who his mother was. Had Vader ever been married? He'd never heard of it before, but that didn't make it impossible. There was a lot of things that he had never heard of before due to the lack of communication between the Outer Rim Territory planets and the rest of the galaxy. However his mind also brought forward another idea, one he that didn't like at all. But Luke did know that it wasn't entirely impossible that his mother might simply have been a concubine.
Violently he tried to suppress the thought. Instead he tried to focus on the one piece of good news he'd heard since the Falcon had been caught by the tractor beam; namely that his father was alive.
"My name is Garret Ravenell," Garret stated as he stepped away from the door so that it could close and give them some privacy. "I'm one of Lord Vader's personal officers."
"Do you know father well?" Luke asked, surprised to feel envy tinkle through his veins. This man knew his father, and not just the way most officers in the Imperial fleet did. He knew him better than most people, working with him on a regular basis.
"Yes, I do," Garret confirmed as he studied Luke closely. He had never seen his lord's face and wondered whether the boy resembled his mother or his father. He certainly didn't have his father's height or built.
"He wants you to remain quiet about your relationship with him," Garret continued and, seeing the pain that flashed across the injured man's face, added: "Grand Moff Tarkin, the man in charge of this station, doesn't like him and would use the knowledge against your father."
Luke probed the young officer with his eyes, finally nodding his head. He couldn't be sure if that was the only reason, however, if his father wanted him to remain silent then he would do so. After all, he didn't want to make his father mad at him before he even got to know him. Especially considering the fact that that father was Vader.
What did his father think of him? Was he pleased to know that he had a son? Did he resent the news? Or was he glad to learn he had a son, but then disappointed when he saw him? The way he had simply left after telling him the truth hadn't said much. However if he resented the fact or was disappointed in him, then he could simply not have told him anything at all. Besides, he was being taken care of.
"How is your leg?" Garret inquired.
"Okay, I guess," Luke replied, still feeling the dull ache from having moved it too much.
Garret tilted his head to one side. If he hadn't heard the doctor say that this was Vader's son he would never have believed it. The boy was so unlike the Dark Lord. Unconfident where Vader knew exactly what he wanted and how he wanted it done, and weak where Vader was strong. It made him wonder what the boy's rearing had been like. He'd have to find out later if he could.
"I'll have the doctor look at it again before we move you," Garret stated.
"Move me?" Luke asked. "Where to?"
"The docking bay," Garret replied as he moved towards the door again. "Lord Vader wishes to leave for Coruscant as soon as possible."
Vader thought of the boy as he made his way towards Tarkin's office. All that he knew for certain was that the boy had grown up with strangers he thought to be his family, that he had known Obi-Wan for less than a week, that his 'family' had gotten in trouble with the Empire and had been killed, and that Luke had been on Tatooine.
He wondered if the boy had simply been passing through Tatooine on his journey elsewhere, or if he had been living there. His anger rose at the latter thought, remembering his own time spent on Tatooine. It would be so like Kenobi to do that, to raise his son on the one planet he hated above all others. Now that he thought about it, it made perfect sense to assume that Luke had lived there. It would simply be another treacherous act in Kenobi's long string of betrayals as it was the one place he had sworn never to return.
The reminder of his own time spent on Tatooine brought another thought to the top of his mind; Palpatine. What would the Emperor say when he heard where the boy had been raised? He'd probably laugh, especially considering that he was the one respon--
Vader instantly clamped down on that thought. It was pointless to go down that road and he knew it. However he couldn't help but wonder what the Galactic Ruler would say when he learned about Luke's existence. It would come as a complete surprise and he knew better than anyone else that Palpatine didn't like surprises. On the contrary, he liked to be in complete control, to have everything go according to his plans. Although the appearance of his son could only further those plans and speed things up. After the training was done.
Vader quickly cleared his mind as he entered Tarkin's office.
"Vader," Tarkin said, purposefully forgetting his title.
This was one of the few times that both of them knew that he was the superior one. Normally when they met it was on Coruscant and then neither could actually claim to be above the other although Vader often acted as if he could.
"I am leaving shortly," Vader stated, wondering at the slight undercurrent he picked up in Tarkin's voice and aura.
"Indeed," Tarkin replied. "Where to?"
"Coruscant," Vader stated. "I trust you'll be able to handle the Rebels."
Tarkin narrowed his eyes at the comment. Vader made it sound like he would fail. But how could he with this station? Soon he would prove to Vader who he truly was, and that his doctrine of ruling through terror was the correct path for the Empire to thread.
"Naturally," Tarkin responded. "I'll see you later on Coruscant."
As he swept out of the room, Vader pondered the change in Tarkin's attitude. Something was up, Tarkin was acting different from usual, more confident. Shrugging the thought off, he turned around and left the room. Whatever it was he would learn of it later. At the moment, however, he had more important things to think about.
Garret walked back into the room where they were keeping Luke Skywalker with a the doctor in tow. The young man was still pushed up against the wall on the far side of the bed. The blankets and pillows were still on the floor, but the blond man looked thoughtful this time. And a little angry. Skywalker looked up as the door closed.
"I brought the doctor to look at your leg, and a change of clothes." Garret said as he wondered at the man's mood. Was he thinking about Darth Vader, or the people he had been living with? Garret had overheard very little of the man's interrogation.
"Thanks," Skywalker said.
Garret continued as the doctor walked around him and to the patient's bedside. "I need you to dress in these technician's clothes. While it is within Lord Vader's authority to transfer you to his shuttle, it would be better not to be noticed. Can you walk for a short distance? Across the hanger?"
The doctor had pushed Luke's pant leg up and cut off his old bandage, revealing a burn the size of an open hand. The flesh was blackened and cracked, oozing blood.
Skywalker looked at it dispassionately. "Yeah. It doesn't hurt too much. Just numb it with some painkiller."
The doctor looked up at the young man, wondering at the response. Most men were repulsed at the sight of a blaster burn, especially on their own body. "I can do that, but it will only last three hours. And this is going to leave a scar, you're lucky this was a glancing blow." The doctor turned to Garret, who nodded. The doctor went to work, first spraying two different compounds on the wound before wrapping it back up. "There you go, a painkiller and something to ward off infection. Just change that dressing everyday. And reapply the antibiotic. Repeated use of the painkiller could delay healing, but I can give you some oral medication for the pain."
"It isn't necessary," Luke said as he slid off the table to stand on the floor. He took a few steps. "Works great. Thank you, Doctor."
"Anytime. Anything else you need looked at? I didn't give you a complete medical last time."
Skywalker twisted right, then left, carefully arching his back. He was clearly debating with himself. He sighed, head dropping. "No, not really. I'm fine."
Garret pulsed his lips, but didn't press the issue. "Good. Well, I'll help you get dressed, that leg is bound to get in the way."
Skywalker looked at Garret, a strange look in his eye. "I can do it myself."
Skywalker paused, looking at the two men. "Uh, can you leave? I'd just like a little privacy."
Garret sighed. "We don't have time. And we won't have any privacy on the shuttle. I'm still trying to figure out how to shuffle everyone around to give you a bunk. The only one on the shuttle who gets a private room is Lord Vader."
The young man went back to staring at the floor. Then he sighed. "Uh, Garret, I'm going to need my own room."
Garret inwardly groaned, this Skywalker was going to be difficult. And he didn't have any indication of how much he was supposed to follow his directions. "Fine, we can discuss it later. Just get dressed, I have less than a half hour to get you aboard."
Skywalker glared, but reached down to pull off his boots. He managed to get the boot off his injured leg, but gasped in pain when he reached for the other. Luke pulled back into a sitting position as Garret came forward and removed his boot.
"Here, let me help you. You shouldn't be stretching that wound out anyway." Garret put on a smile as he continued. "You're probably not used to military life- I don't blame you for wanting some privacy." Skywalker eased himself out of the white medical-ward pants, and pulled on the black technician's. "But after you've been on ship for awhile you forget about worrying about it." The young man pulled off his shirt, balling it up and putting it beside him as he took the black shirt.
Garret picked up the white shirt. He turned to put it in the bag he had brought when he noticed the blood. 'Blood?' Garret thought, 'On his back?' He turned back towards the young man. Skywalker was looking at him, eyes burning with an unnamed emotion but face expressionless. "Doctor," Garret said, "take a look at his back."
"I'm fine." Skywalker growled, "I just slipped on some rocks and cut myself. It's not a big deal."
The doctor came forward, looking over Luke's shoulder at his back. Garret heard the medical man gasp.
"It isn't a big deal," Skywalker mumbled, "It just keeps breaking open."
"It's infected." The doctor said, worried. "Lie on your stomach. I'll treat it."
The blond man sighed. "Its probably from that dunking I got in the trash compactor. The water was filthy. It's no big deal- if you just give me the medication, I'll do it myself. We're going to be late anyway."
"No. Roll over." The doctor was firm. Skywalker just looked from Garret to the doctor. The doctor continued, voice booking no argument, "I will not let you leave this room until I treat your injuries. I'm responsible to Lord Vader for your health."
Skywalker paled, then shuddered. "I slipped on some rocks. I'll be fine." His voice was detached, he seemed to be convincing himself as much as the two other men in the room. Alarm bells had gone off in Garret's mind, so the dark-haired man had remained quiet.
"Rocks?" The doctor asked, unbelieving.
"I was climbing. A cliff- the bluff on the South side of town. Half way up, lucky I didn't crack a rib." Garret looked between the doctor and the young man. Skywalker was lying, but he couldn't figure out why.
The doctor sighed. "You may have." He stared at Luke. "As you say- climbing. But I have to treat you."
Skywalker gulped, face a war zone of emotions. His body mechanically turning over to lie on his stomach. Garret felt his own stomach lurch and then fill with ice. Four half-healed stripes slashed across Skywalker's back. The fifth was bleeding, red blood and thin yellowed puss seeped from the wound. The edges of the cuts were far too even to be scrapes. But the worst were the scars. Patterned over his whole back, they crisscrossed each other in layers. Some wide, some narrow, but all speaking of pain. They ran down the young man's back and continued past his waistband.
'Climbing?' Garret's mind whispered. 'Not likely. And... And the Rebels had him. The Rebels had Lord Vader's son. Maybe not the Alliance, but you can't tell me that they supported the Empire and they did that to him!' Garret felt sick.
The doctor cleaned out the wound, wiping it carefully. It must have hurt, but Skywalker just lay on the bed without a sound. The doctor sprayed a thick coating of the antibiotic over the cut, then put a bandage over the wound. "Now, I'm going to give you a shot. Plus I have some pills I want you to take. Follow the instructions on the bottle. Understand?"
"Yes." Skywalker got up, his eyes tight with pain, but face expressionless. The doctor quickly injected him with the hypospray. Skywalker put on the black tech's shirt.
The doctor pulled out a datapad and quickly made some notes on it. He then pulled out the datacard from the pad and handed it to Garret. "Give this to the medical personnel on the shuttle. I want them to know what I've treated him with."
"Of course. Thank you, Doctor. I'll take it from here."
The doctor left. Garret turned to the sullen Skywalker, who was furious about something. His face was flushed a little red, and he was refusing to meet Garret's eyes. "Just follow me to the shuttle. It isn't far. I'll get you a bunk there to lie down in till after take-off at least. Understand?"
"Yes." Skywalker whispered between clenched teeth.
Garret sighed, pity filling his mind for the blond man. "And, I'm sorry. We'll make them pay."
Garret found himself on the floor, the back of his head smarting from its contact with the deck, looking into the furious eyes of Skywalker. He gasped for the air that had been knocked out of his lungs, Skywalker's hands holding him by the collar of his uniform. Garret couldn't even remember Skywalker launching himself at him, but he must have.
"I fell. I was climbing." Skywalker whispered, voice a throaty growl. His arms shook with suppressed rage.
Garret choked, stunned and surprised. Anger began to boil up at Skywalker's denial. "How many times?" He snapped back.
"A few." Garret found himself fascinated by the sheer fury of Luke's icy blue eyes. They bored into him with a cold heat. Garret felt a little fear at the raging tower of anger in front of him. "But it is none of your business. Don't you dare tell a soul." The words seemed to slap Garret.
Garret struggled to sit up, but Skywalker somehow kept him from getting a foothold. "I may have to tell my Lord Vader." Garret replied, trying to be rational.
"No." Skywalker said.
Garret just looked back at the angry young man above him, trying to calm him down. "We need to get to the shuttle." Skywalker still held onto Garret's collar. The dark haired man sighed defeat. "Fine. Climbing."
Skywalker stepped back. Garret got up, smoothing his uniform as he rose. It was still presentable, despite the struggle. He motioned Skywalker to follow, and led the young man down the hall.
Three thoughts filled the mind of the young officer while he traveled to the shuttle. First- how to tell Lord Vader, since the man needed to know what had been done to his son. Garret did not look forward to that conversation. Second- how to get Skywalker his own room. And last- Luke Skywalker must have had something of his father in him, that fury had been thick enough to breathe.
Garret paused as they reached one of the entrances to the docking bay. He knew that, despite Skywalker's denial, his leg was bothering him. The rasping breathing had instantly alerted him to the fact that the wound was bothering Skywalker more than he let on. The young man's high level of pain tolerance made him wonder just exactly what he had endured up until now. He doubted that even repeated whip lashing, for he was now sure that that was what had left the marks he had seen, could build up such a high tolerance for pain. He winced at the thought of what else Vader's son had endured at the hands of the Rebels.
"Which one?" Luke asked as he looked around the bay from where he stood in the shadows.
Upon seeing the docking bay Luke instantly thought of all that had taken place here not too long ago. Ben's death, his injury, his abandonment. The last made him furious. Despite the fact that he knew that if Han, Leia, and Chewie hadn't left him that they would have been caught, and despite the fact that if they hadn't abandoned him he might never have learned the truth about his father, he felt betrayed.
Luke shook his head, trying to push the thought aside. He had barely known the spacepirate and his furry co-pilot. Why would they stick out their necks for him? He was, after all, only a client and, besides, they must have known that they'd probably never see the rest of their promised due. But what about the Princess? He had only just saved her; so why had she left him to an almost certain doom?
"The one on the far right," Garret replied, hoping that the medication wasn't going to the boy's head as he seemed to be staring into space.
"The big one?" Luke inquired and got a silent nod from Garret in reply. "But I thought Imperial shuttles were smaller."
"Normal shuttles yes," Garret confirmed. "However this one is Lord Vader's personal shuttle and has been modified accordingly."
Luke silently nodded his head at this. Then, on Garret's signal, he followed the man across the docking bay.
"I think I've managed to work out a sleeping arrangement," Garret whispered as they went. "If you don't mind me sleeping in the same room."
Luke looked at the young officer, uncertainty clearly visible on his tanned face.
"It's the best I can do," Garret stated.
"Okay," Luke finally agreed as they reached the shuttle.
Garret let out a soft sigh of relief as he started up the ramp. At least that was one problem solved. The others wouldn't like it when they heard that they would have to go three per bunk, but he was sure that they wouldn't dare complain. A small smile tugged at the corners of his mouth. Working this close with Vader did have its advantages.
"This way," Garret informed Skywalker as he reached the top of the ramp. Quickly he made his way to the smaller of the two bunk rooms, the one closest to Vader's room. Entering the room he smiled as he saw Burk sitting on one of the bunks. "Hey Doc," he said as the man looked up. "I've got a patient for you."
Burk quickly looked at Luke as he entered the room, a confused look on his face.
"You'll also have to triple up with the pilots this time," Garret said before Burk could speak.
Burk opened his mouth to protest this last, but closed it as Garret sent him a warning look. Nodding his head he turned his attention to Luke. "So what happened?" he asked upon seeing no visible injury.
"Blaster wound on his left leg," Garret informed him when Luke simply walked over to one of the bunks and sat down. "He also has several wounds on his back, one that's infected."
Burk looked at Luke in surprise as he heard this. Then he took the datacard Garret handed him.
"I'll see what this says and then contact you later..." Burk said as he shot Luke an inquiring glance.
"Skywalker," Luke replied as he lay on his stomach.
Burk gave a curt nod as left the room with Garret in tow.
"Who is he?" Burk asked, knowing that no injured man worked.
"Luke Skywalker," Garret replied then, seeing Burk's face, added: "I'm not sure I'm allowed to tell you more. If you really want to know, ask Lord Vader."
"No, thank you," Burk instantly responded. "I'll simply take his name as the answer to my question."
"Good," Garret stated. "Also, you'll be responsible to Vader for his health. Better make sure you do the best you can."
"I will," Burk responded before heading towards the other bunk room.
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