Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars.

Right then. This is an old story, originally published on the Jedi Council Forums. It was written over the course of more than five years and it's over 450 pages long – and it still isn't finished. I have about ten pages to go before I reach the end, and I just can't get there. That's pretty much why I chose to publish it here now. Force myself into action, rekindle that old spark, sort of.

I'm doing some re-writing as well, mostly fixing grammar and spelling – I didn't get a beat until a few chapters into the story, so be patient until then – but I have a feeling I may change more as I post more chapters here. Some of the stuff I wrote were really weird. Actually, it's still a kind of weird story, but re-reading it I find quite a lot to like. If you're into character driven epics this might be a piece for you. But beware – some of the stuff is strange indeed, as it was – like I said – written over a long period of time. I matured and changed a lot during those years, and that's reflected in the story.

Oh, and one more thing I'd like to add, about one of the plot twists in the next chapter. I know it's been done many time by now, mostly in the NJO era, but when I first wrote this story all those years ago it was considered very original. Just to let you know. :p

Anyway, enjoy. Hope you have a good time.

Prologue – Broken Destiny

-----

A universe in turmoil.

Imbalance in the Force.

Chaos. Darkness.

But yet, there would be balance. The galaxy and the Force itself had waited for this day when the ultimate battle would be fought.

The time had come.


-----

Darth Vader pondered the Emperor's words as he headed for his meditation chamber abord the Executor. So. Luke would come to him?

Well. Perhaps. The boy had a... potential for compassion. Something he must have inherited from his mother. Padme -

No. Vader pushed away the thought. She was the past. Gone, a long time ago. He'd carefully banned her from his mind. And that ban had worked for years, for decades - why would he think of her now?

Vader sighed. Somewhere deep inside he almost knew the answer, even though it wasn't a truth he could ever admit to. The boy, who stirred so much emotions within him -

The Dark Lord waved his hand and the upper half of the domeshaped meditation pod lifted. He entered the small cabin and sat down. He didn't turn on the lights.

Darkness. He needed it more than ever now.

To convert the boy. To sway him.

As another young Jedi had once been swayed, all those years ago.

He shook his head. Ever since Bespin, all his memories seemed to return to haunt him. It had been that way in the beginning, before he learned how to control the Dark Side and its power. Was the control now slipping? The thought was disturbing.

A loud beep cut through the silence. He turned his heard sharply, a slight frown on his face. Why would anyone be calling him now?

Well. He guessed he had better find out.

The Dark Lord leaned forward and turned on the holoscreen. The Emperor's face was gigantic, so that every wrinkle, every trace of the Dark Side, was clearly visible. Vader could hardly remember what he had looked like before the fight with Mace Windu forever corrupted his features, corrupted them to match the wrecked soul hidden for so long behind Palpatine's benign face.

"My master. What is it?"

The Emperor was angry. His every feature told him that a thousands times, even before the Sith spoke and his voice revealed the rage lingering under the thin layer of smoothness.

"There has been a... development. I would have you return to the Death Star immediately."

A development? He had a bad feeling about this... "I shall be there at once, my master."

The screen went black as the image of Darth Sidious disappeared. Vader sat unmoving for a moment. Something was very, very wrong. He could feel the currents in the Force shifting, the shape of the galaxy changing. Something big was happening, and was happening fast.

He rose, and left the protective stillness of his meditation chamber, heading for the hangar where his shuttle would be ready to bring him back to his master's presence.

-----

The Emperor was alone when Darth Vader entered his throne room. It was big and only dimly lit. Two Royal Guards dressed in crimson stood at each side of the turbolift, and they did not move as the Sith swept past them. Vader walked up the stairs and knelt before his master, who sat with his back turned towards his apprentice, staring out through the big panorma window, watching the endless stars' slow dance.

Only for a moment, though. Then the throne turned and Darth Vader was facing the ruler of the known galaxy, Darth Sidious. Or, as he was known to the public, Emperor Palpatine, the former Supreme Chancellor of the Republic.

"Get up", the Emperor said shortly. The lack of "Lord Vader" or "my friend" was clear indications of his foul mood. However, Vader could feel that that anger wasn't directed at him. And under the anger he felt something else... almost like... fear? What could a man such a Sidious possibly fear?

"Why have you summoned me here, master?"

The yellow eyes seemed to burn like the deep fires of hell. "Minutes ago, I received a technical report from one of my aides." He paused. "Apparently, there is a flaw in Death Star's construction."

"A flaw?"

"The deflector shield does not function properly, or so I am told. Nor does the laser. It will take days, perhaps weeks, to repair that."

So. He could understand the Emperor's concern. This might turn into a total disaster -

"What about the Rebel's attack?"

"Yes, what about it? The technician responsible for this had no answer. Not in life, though."

Vader could imagine that the man's death had been something truly spectacular. And messy. The Emperor had a way of expressing his displeasure...

"Master, from the very beginning I was against the idea of a second Death Star. To be frank, I think that Xizor's plan to conquer the Rebels was a foolish one. Perhaps we ought to re-consider the idea itself..."

"No!" the Emperor snapped, and his eyes glowed dangerously. "I'm growing tired of hearing you repeat your objections over and over again, Lord Vader. For now, we'll have to delay it, but the battle shall be fought."

Ah. Better not push it, then. Even though he still considered a stupid idea. But once Palpatine had made up his mind there was no reasoning with him. So instead, Vader only said.

"And how do you plan do delay the attack, master?"

A smug grin touched the Emperor's pale lips.

"I've made contact with the Rebels, and suggested we meet to negotiate a truce."

What? Did he said that - ?

"A truce?" Vader couldn't hide his surprise.

"To buy time. We will meet with them, spend some time arguing and when the Death Star is ready we end the negotiations and they attack as planned."

That sounded far too simple. Far too desperate. But if the Emperor was right - and he usually was - this was a time for desperate measures. Still -

"The Rebels are not stupid enough to fall for it."

Now the smile was clearly visible. "Ah, Lord Vader, but they already have. You must remember that they consider themselves to be agents of peace. They will not use force if they believe reason will serve. That is the way of the weak." The voice was filled with the uttermost contempt. "However, this time we will use their delusions to our advantage."

Vader nodded silently to himself. What his master said was true. Still, he felt uneasy. He could sense danger, danger and a future so clouded that he could not even begin to make out the shape of it. Then again, he had vowed not to try and see what might be. Not after Padme...

"We shall meet their delegation on Jord four standard days from now. Prepare to leave at once, Lord Vader. We will head for the Imperial Center to collect our aides, and then we'll continue to Jord."

We. As in, you too, Lord Vader. He had feared as much. Days and days of pointless political banter... What a treat. On the other hand, Luke was bound to be there. Vader immediately cheered up. Perhaps this would not be such a disaster after all...

"That was all, Lord Vader. We'll be leaving in one hour."

"Yes, my master." Vader turned on his heel and marched back to the turbolift, still feeling slightly dazed by this unexpected turn of events.

---

A battle a thousand years in the making.

Fate had moved steadily towards that battle, and now it was suddenly not to be.

For a moment the Force was turned inside out as it supplied the galaxy with tools to repair the course of destiny the Emperor so swiftly had destroyed.