Author's Note: This story is inspired by a single moment in ROTJ, which is retold in the opening. Luke surrenders and has the "talk" with Vader before he is taken to the Death Star, and two stormtroopers witness part of the discussion; mainly the line "Then my father is truly dead." When Luke delivers this line and steps into the lift with them, one stormtrooper glances at the other. That glance always made me think— what was that stormie thinking? So, years ago, I started writing this story to answer that question, and (of course) I abandoned it. Well, I found it a few weeks ago and decided to finish it. I couldn't remember where I was going with it, so I just took off in a direction that I know I hadn't planned before. You might even be able to tell where I picked it up from the dramatic shift.
The first section is a retelling of a scene from ROTJ with dialogue from the film.
SUPER SPECIAL THANK YOU to DEJA, KITT, and RYAN. You guys saved this fic from a dismal fate.
The durasteel doors slid silently open to reveal a narrow corridor. Two stormtroopers stepped forward, wordlessly moving to flank the prisoner.
"The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your master now," Lord Vader told the other man, almost regretfully.
The young Rebel nodded slightly, and sadly it seemed. "Then my father is truly dead."
With that, he turned and walked into the lift of his own accord, turning to stare Lord Vader down as the doors slid shut again. The stormtroopers flanked him, one threw a look at the other; this was no ordinary rebel.
Xelar Cometfaller leaned forward and rubbed his eyes as he recalled, once again, the brief interaction that had him so perplexed. His partner had thought nothing of it, but he knew there was something important about the young man they had escorted to Lord Vader's shuttle.
He remembered the words clearly... Then my father is truly dead.
Was... was that boy Vader's son?
If that were so... Xelar shook his head slowly... he couldn't even think it.
He stared at the steel floor of his cell and groaned at his current condition: prisoner of war.
He had no idea how the battle had fared. He sighed just as the cell door slid open.
A rebel guard stepped forward. "Come on," he said gently.
Xelar frowned, why were the Rebels so... nice?
"Where are you taking me?" Xelar bit back. This is where he would knock the prisoner over the head with his blaster.
"The Council would like to speak with you."
Xelar blinked in shock as he stood. Maybe he could find out which side won from this "Council."
Xelar walked side-by-side with the guard until they reached an unmarked door, the rebel pressed a button and it slid open. Xelar took a deep breath and stepped through without prompting.
Before him was a round table around which several individuals were seated, looking at him. This was nothing like an Imperial interrogation. He took an additional step forward, studying his audience more closely; many of them were recognizable from bounties. Princess Leia Organa, Han Solo, Lando Calrissian, Borsk Fey'lya, a few men whose faces were familiar but their names escaped him... except— his eyes landed on one young man and he paused. The man looked tired, sad... yet content, at peace.
Xelar pressed his lips together, his eyes still locked on the blue orbs of the young man.
The princess, at his right, stood to welcome him, "Trooper Cometfaller..." She cut herself off, looking back and forth between the Imperial and the young man.
"I know you..." Xelar said softly, stepping around the table, slowly moving around the group of Rebels until he came to stand directly in front of the young man.
The two stood nose-to-nose for several silent moments, seeming to envelope the other's soul with their eyes.
"You're him..." Xelar breathed.
Another Rebel stood. "Yes, Commander Skywalker is..."
Xelar raised an eyebrow and quirked the corner of his lip. "Yeah. Of course he is."
Skywalker's cheek twitched fractionally as he stepped away from the man whose eyes bore into him. He blinked, and seemed to put together just who this stormtrooper was. His eyes then took on a note of pleading that Xelar had never before seen.
Xelar smirked, he WAS Vader's son... and his Rebel friends had yet to know.
Xelar looked down at the young commander's vacated seat, and smugly seated himself in the vacant place next to it. As Skywalker clumsily retook his seat, Xelar restrained a smile from blossoming on his face; the Son of Vader was putty in his hands— and they both knew it.
Skywalker nearly had his lip chewed off by the time Xelar had finished describing his duties in service of the Empire to the small council. Xelar smiled as Borsk Fey'lya leaned forward. "Xelar, you have been incredibly helpful, and I thank you; is there any additional information you would like to add?"
Xelar leaned forward to match the Bothan's stance. "My freedom?"
Fey'lya gave the stormtrooper a greasy smile. "We do not wish to enslave; you will be released."
Xelar nodded, glancing to his left at Skywalker who was beginning to pale.
"My last assignment was to escort a Rebel who had surrendered himself to us..."
Gasps sounded throughout the room.
A general unknown to Xelar stood. "Surrendered?"
"Impossible!" another weathered soldier stood.
Xelar smirked and threw a look at the man next to him. "What do you think, Skywalker? Impossible?"
The young man rubbed the bridge of his nose nervously.
The former smuggler, Solo, frowned. "What is he talking about, Luke?"
Luke shook his head and replied a bit too quickly. "I donno."
The princess looked down at the table, guiltily, while General Solo stared at his young friend in confusion.
"Where were you after you left the furry guy village?"
Leia struggled not to roll her eyes at Han's oh-so-diplomatic terminology.
The others sat up straight. "You left the strike team, Commander?" Borsk Fey'lya demanded.
Xelar cleared his throat. "I believe I was retelling my last assignment."
The group settled back into their seats uncomfortably as Xelar resumed.
"When my partner and I came to escort, we found the prisoner at the end of a discussion with Lord Vader. Lord Vader told the prisoner that—"
"I think that's enough, Xelar."
Xelar looked at Luke, who had somehow been able to murmur the comment beneath the notice of the rest of the room. The stormtrooper raised an eyebrow discreetly, a silent question in his eyes. A slight nod from Luke changed his expression from smugness to thoughtfulness.
"Trooper Cometfaller... What did Lord Vader tell the prisoner?" Fey'lya prompted.
Xelar shook his head slowly. "I donno, couldn't hear."
Several faces twisted in confusion, half questions emerged, sighs cast. At Xelar's sudden derailment, Borsk Fey'lya's attention turned back to Luke; he repeated his earlier interrupted question. "Commander Skywalker, you left the strike team?"
Luke pressed his lips together into a thin line; he'd stopped one dam, and by doing so, opened another.
"I..." he swallowed, glancing around the room. His eyes fell onto his sister, who seemed to be a pale shade of blue.
He smiled to himself as she exhaled.
"I was endangering the mission," he stated with as much conviction he could gather.
General Madine leaned forward, raising an eyebrow. "How so?"
"During my absence after the Hoth evacuation—"
"Which has yet to be explained."
Luke ignored the comment, knowing he was about to answer part of the inquiry.
"I received some... Jedi training."
Shocked exclamations, denials, and curses followed this revelation.
"So that is why Vader was after you on Bespin."
Luke flinched slightly at the conclusion prematurely grasped by one of the council members.
"Ah... yeah," he lamely lied.
"That still doesn't explain why you felt you were endangering the mission," Fey'lya pressed.
"One Force-sensitive can feel the presence of another," Luke explained, his voice low.
The Bothan's eyes widened. "I understand your reasoning, Commander Skywalker. I cannot say I agree with your methods, but I understand."
Luke nodded; a single nod of acceptance.
"Where did you go?"
Luke frowned. "Pardon me?"
"Where did you go after you left the strike team?"
Luke swallowed, struggling not to look at Xelar.
"I... I surrendered," he whispered.
Luke flinched as Han's fist slammed onto the table. "You WHAT?" the growl cut through Luke, horrors of rejection smoldered in his mind.
Borsk Fey'lya coiled his fingers around his hands, maintaining his calm before he spoke. "You are the one Trooper Cometfaller witnessed speaking to Lord Vader?"
Luke nodded slowly, his heart sinking with every moment.
"What happened when you surrendered?"
Luke's face twisted slightly at the question. "I was taken to the Death Star... to Palpatine."
Luke lowered his head as the murmuring once again ensued.
"What of the Emperor and Lord Vader? Did they escape the destruction of the Death Star?" Fey'lya asked evenly, despite the iciness that was building in his eyes.
"Both were dead before I escaped."
After a short silence came the inevitable question: "How?"
Luke folded his hands together on the table, staring at his thumbs. "I'm not yet ready to talk about that."
Borsk Fey'lya nodded, seemingly content to leave the briefing at that: for now.
It was over then.
When the meeting finally adjourned, Xelar was free; and when it was beneath the notice of others, he slipped away with Luke Skywalker.
"This is your room, huh?" Xelar spun around dramatically admiring Luke's cramped quarters.
"I would'a thought Vader's son would have better accommodations than this."
Luke answered him with a glare.
Xelar smiled; he watched as Luke packed a few meager possessions.
"Where're we going?"
"WE?" Luke roughly shoved a shirt into his half full bag. "I don't recall inviting you along."
Xelar shrugged, moving towards the door.
The stormtrooper smiled and turned to face the young man, he held out his hand. "I keep silent— and you and I are... partners."
Luke frowned. "'Partners' is an interesting word for it." He reached out and grasped the other's hand.
Xelar broke out into a leering grin as he flopped onto Luke's small bunk, stretching his legs. "Now, Skywalker, tell me what really happened on the Death Star."
Luke raised an eyebrow. "Shall I tuck you in as well?"
Xelar rolled his eyes, propping his head up by cradling his chin on his hands. "Out with it, Skywalker."
Luke looked over Xelar's shoulder, his eyes glazed over in remembrance, after a few moments, he spoke softly. "He... took me to the Emperor."
Xelar smiled lopsidedly at the young Jedi. "Really?"
Luke nodded. "Yeah."
"What happened BEFORE your audience with the Emperor?"
And there it was; Xelar saw a smile creep into Luke's features. A knowing smile.
"We talked a bit more."
"You finished the conversation I overheard in the corridor." Xelar smiled as he reiterated Luke's understatement.
Luke nodded. "You could say that."
Luke's features darkened. "Not exactly."
Xelar shifted to a more comfortable position, throwing a quizzical look at Luke.
"We... struck a compromise, you might say."
Xelar's eyebrows rose in interest. "Vader? Compromise? Are you serious?"
Luke smiled weakly.
"We destroyed him..." Luke recalled with hushed tones. "We played a masquerade, and then we struck. When Palpatine was sure that Vader would defend him... he did not. I made the first blow, Va— my father, the second."
Xelar's face had hardened; his dark eyes watched Luke closely.
"So... in that little meeting back there... when you told the council that you came back from the Death Star alone..."
Luke was silent, no longer looking at Xelar, but at the wall.
"You... lied..." Xelar rolled the words over his tongue, as if tasting them... savoring them. And then he laughed, his voice shattering the silence.
Just as abruptly as it started, the laughter stopped. "Where is he?"
Luke glanced at the other young man, an inquisitive eyebrow arched. "Why?"
Xelar stood; there was urgency in his stance. "Because, we need to bring him to Imperial Center. He must claim the throne."
Luke rubbed his eyes and groaned.
Xelar grabbed Luke by the shoulders firmly. "Skywalker, the Empire will break into chaos! The GALAXY will break into chaos!"
Luke looked up at Xelar, amused.
The stormtrooper rolled his eyes, releasing the other, muttering, "Rebel."
Luke smiled. "My part of the agreement entails that I follow my father for a time, if he chooses to go to Coruscant..."
"Imperial Center," Xelar corrected.
Luke ignored him. "I will go with him."
Luke grabbed his bag, throwing it over his shoulder. "Come on, I informed Command I'd be leaving after that meeting, let's get out of here before they reconsider your performance."
Xelar gave Luke a mock-offended look as they stepped out the door. "What about your story? You think they won't reconsider THAT?"
"Shut up, Xelar."