Come With Me
He felt the Galaxy hesitate. The feeling was familiar, because it had waited for him before, watched to see the choices he would make. It had waited outside a Tusken camp, and inside an office occupied by the last Chancellor of the Republic.It had waited on the steps of the Jedi Temple, and on the black molten sands of an inhospitable planet in the Outer Rim. It had waited onboard a Star Destroyer, held its breath as he and Palpatine had at last come to battle.When he lay sprawled on the deck in defeat, it had turned its eyes from him, and abandoned him ever since.
Dismissed by the Galaxy as no longer significant, he could only continue on in the service of the master he had tried to kill. He had become accustomed to the idea that destiny was done with him, and had almost forgotten that long ago he had been called the Chosen One.
But here on a landing platform rising through the forest that covered a moon circling a gas giant of a planet, he felt the gaze of the Galaxy swing back to him.Like him, it waited balanced on the sharp edge of his decision. A simple decision, really, requiring only a yes or a no, but the weight of it caused the Galaxy to teeter as he considered his answer. His answer to the boy, his son, who stood before him and asked,"Come with me."
He eyed his son warily, and kept his thoughts shielded. With a simple change of clothing the boy could have walked unnoticed into the Jedi Temple of old, so closely had he recreated the still, calm confidence of the Order. An accomplished transformation from the impulsive youth with plenty of heart, but little experience, the boy he had encountered at Bespin.
The horror that had radiated from Luke then, on his face and in his voice, that utter rejection of their relationship was imprinted vividly in his mind, a slap sharper than any other, even from her.And still he had tried, pursued the boy through space, and at last let down his defenses to allow their minds to touch, so that he could share his dreams for them as father and son. He had felt his son consider the offer just for a moment, and then Luke, like Obi-Wan, had turned away. He had thought that nothing could feel worse than being left to die, but in the moment that the Millennium Falcon unexpectedly fled into hyperspace, he found that he had been wrong.
Although he knew farseeing was perhaps Palpatine's greatest ability, he had felt disbelief when the Emperor began to describe visions of Luke returning to his father. As he had waited for the doors of the Imperial walker to dock with the platform, the knot in his gut grew larger and he had braced himself for a stream of condemnations from his Jedi son. But they hadn't come, and in the end, it seemed that Luke had left the safety of his compatriots simply to say the three words that still hung in the air.
Come with me.
Could that really be the only reason the boy was here ? Not because of politics, not some ploy by the Rebellion to make use of their relationship. Not to take advantage of the gifts the Force had bestowed upon him, as the Council and Palpatine had done. Not for power or position. Had the boy really come only for love, for family ?
His gaze traveled to Luke's hands, held crossed in position by the binders, the black glove of the right visible under the flesh of the left. A thin black glove that he knew covered a prosthetic because...because he'd amputated that hand himself. He felt of Luke's presence, even though he'd done so just a few moments before.
Nothing had changed. Still no anger, no resentment as he had felt towards those who had taken his limbs.Nor did he find revulsion or horror or judgement. No current of unease suggesting deception. Only a slight edge of fear that was tempered by curiosity.And mostly, a great deal of hope.
Hope. As he lain nearly senseless on the black sands of Mustafar, he had felt a hand lightly touch his forehead. He had hoped for a fleeting moment that Obi-Wan had come back for him, before he realized the hand belonged to Palpatine, before he knew that his destiny had been written.In his own mind hope was a faint memory, but that which broadcast from Luke was unmistakable.
Come with me.
An utterly absurd idea, that he would leave the position of power he had fiercely defended from the incursions of Palpatine's minions, that he would wander into the camp of an likely unreceptive Rebellion, that he would leave his crew onboard Executor to suffer Palpatine's wrath at his defection. And wrath there would be when the Emperor discovered that he had defied his master's orders. But beyond that, refusing to bring Luke before Palpatine went against the will of the Force itself. He had learned over the past twenty five years that what Palpatine forsaw virtually always came to be, as if the Force whispered directly into the Emperor's ear.
Come with me.
Didn't the boy understand ? It was impossible to go against Palpatine. He'd already tried and failed, been rendered as helpless as he had been on Mustafar, his life owed once again to a whim of the Emperor.The time for them to join together to overthrow Palpatine had come and gone, lost on a gantry in Cloud City. Then Luke had only been on the edge of Palpatine's perception, but now Palpatine was waiting for both of them, and there could be no escape from the future the Emperor had forseen.
He opened his mouth to explain it all to Luke, but the words refused to come out.How could he appear as a coward before his son ? His son who, unlike Obi-Wan, had come back, despite the fact that he'd maimed the boy, despite the fact that they seemed to stand at opposite corners of the Galaxy, the hero of the Rebellion, and the enforcer of the Emperor's will. This boy who had at least some notion of who he had been as Anakin Skywalker, and what he had done as Darth Vader, and still believed in him, enough to present this ridiculous offer, how could he disappoint this boy ?
He remembered Palpatine's words from their last exchange on board the second Death Star. He will come to you, and then you will bring him before me, his master had said, the master who had told him so many lies. The master who had ordered him to kill Dooku, and if he were true to form would look to switch apprentices yet again by pitting father against son. The master from whom he had vowed to protect Luke, the one he'd sworn Luke would never serve. If he surrendered Luke to Palpatine he would be ignoring his own heart, and betraying the only person who had ever forgiven him.
Come with me.
His son's voice echoed in his head, but this time the offer didn't sound so absurd. Instead it sounded almost exactly like another plea, made on another landing platform long ago.Come away with me, she had said. He had laughed then, certain of his own ability to overpower Palpatine, not knowing that the injuries that would rob him of that ability were only moments away. How different life would have been if he had only listened to her then. How different could it still be if he listened to Luke now ? Was the boy's offer really so different from his own at Bespin ? Did it really matter which of them said, "Come with me"?
Now he felt not only the weight of the Galaxy, but great currents in the Force beginning to churn, new storm clouds building on its horizon, a new future condensing from the mists. Even if he had forgotten that he was the Chosen One, it seemed that the Force had not. He looked into Luke's serious face, saw his son for the man he had become, a man except for the faith the boy still harbored in his heart, the undying faith that a child has in a parent .
"All right," he said to Luke. "Where are we going ?"