Between ANH and ESB, Luke's gone scouting for a new base and has ended up shipwrecked on some obscure planet. If there's problems with the formatting, just bear with me, because I'll be trying to fix it as quickly as I can. And I hate the title, but I plan on replacing it as soon as I think of a better one. Oh yes, all Star Wars characters are the property of George Lucas and please don't reprint this without my permission. Ok, here we go…

A Secret Revealed

Starr (Starr28653@aol.com)

His first thoughts had been for his father's lightsaber. So, when he suddenly found himself well past his knees in quicksand, he took the weapon in his hand, gripping it tightly. His next thought was how to get out. Luke knew all about sand, of course; it had surrounded him his entire life. This sucking mix of sand and water, though, was something he'd never before encountered. He couldn't move forwards or backwards, nor could he reach anything solid on any side of him. He was up to his ribs now, the hand clutching the lightsaber high above his head. He'd exhausted himself with his struggles and couldn't see any other way to escape.

"What a stupid way to die," he muttered, when a voice came from behind him.

"No, it's not your time yet." At that, he was hauled roughly from the death trap back onto solid ground. He sat for a moment, trying to catch his breath and wipe the sticking mess from his clothes, then rose to face his rescuer. Upon turning, he found himself face to breastplate with Darth Vader. Angrily, he ignited his lightsaber, preparing himself for battle, but Vader merely looked at him impassively. Finally, the Dark Lord spoke.

"What are you doing?"

"I'm…I'm challenging you!" Luke said, feeling rather unconvincing.

"Are you sure that's wise?"

"Of course! Do you know who I am?"

"You're Luke Skywalker."

"The son of Anakin Skywalker!"

"Yes. And?"

"And?" Luke repeated incredulously. "You killed him! Or have you forgotten?"

"Is that what this is about? Revenge?" Vader sounded shocked, almost amused. Luke, on the other hand, was furious. "Put the weapon away, Skywalker. There will be another time. I promise you." Luke lowered his weapon slightly, uncertainly, but didn't turn it off. Was this a trick? "My ship has crashed, my men are dead, and I have no way of contacting my fleet. I assume the same has happened to you." Luke nodded once, tightly. "Then you have two options. You can fight me and be defeated, either killed or taken prisoner, or we can work together to escape this place."

"I won't surrender to you. I'll die first," Luke swore firmly.

"I'm not asking you to surrender," Vader said dryly, "although I think your terms are a bit harsh. I'm only suggesting we call a truce until we find a communicator and can go our separate ways."

"And what then? I'm not going to follow you so you can arrest me when we get to wherever we're going."

"I have no intention of arresting you. The prospect of having you in my control is tempting, but I won't take advantage of you this way, and I won't leave you to die."

"I don't understand," Luke said warily.

"It doesn't matter. When we reach our destination, I will allow you to go wherever you wish, even if you want to go back to your fleet. And," he continued, answering the youth's coming accusation, "I won't trail you. You have my word."

"Fine." Luke shut off his lightsaber and hooked it on his belt. He didn't like the idea, but he had a feeling that Vader wouldn't allow him to just walk away. There would be an opportunity for escape—he was sure of it. "What now?"

"There's a settlement close by. A large source of life. Find it."

"What?"

"Find it. The Force is strong in you—you fly like it and you handle your lightsaber correctly by instinct without training. I'm interested in seeing whether or not you can pinpoint apexes in the Force."

Luke shrugged. "I'll try." He wasn't sure if he could, but he felt that it was desperately important to show Vader that he was capable. He took a deep breath, trying to call the Force to him. It came easily enough, when he was relaxed, trying to meditate, but he was nervous now, put off by the uneasy truce between him and his most hated enemy, and he couldn't grasp it. He shook his head, frustrated, and tried again. He focused on ignoring the rasp of the respirator and instead thought about the life surrounding him. Slowly, he allowed himself to be drawn outward, until he felt he had a vague idea of the right way to go, although he had no idea of what to look for.

"That way?" He said, pointing roughly east.

"Close." Vader sounded pleased, and touched Luke's wrist gently, moving his hand a few degrees towards the north. "That way. That was rather impressive for someone with no training."

"You'll find I'm full of surprises," Luke muttered, angered by the thrill he received from the praise. Imagine, one of the most powerful Force users in the galaxy, thinking his skills were impressive! Even if Vader was evil, it was very rare that anyone had ever praised him for anything. Still, he knew he shouldn't feel that way and he jerked his hand away from the contact with the man. "So, what now? We walk?"

Vader stared at him for a moment and Luke felt a strange sensation, like he was being drawn to something, when the Dark Lord nodded and the moment was broken. Vader spun on his heel and began to walk.

They traveled for hours over the rough terrain, Vader walking quickly and Luke practically running to keep up with his large strides. While Vader never seemed to tire, Luke was exhausted. He didn't want to complain, however, so he just tried to keep up. He'd always thought he was in decent shape, but this pushed well beyond his limits. Finally, when the sun had sunk below the horizon, Vader stopped abruptly. Luke's momentum almost carried him into the man, but he managed to scramble to a halt just in time.

"We'll camp here," the Dark Lord intoned, pointing to an area where three large boulders created a sort of wall around a gently sloping hill.

"I thought…" Luke panted, resting his hands on his knees, "I thought you said it was close by."

"I was speaking in terms of other settlements. A three day walk is hardly far when you consider the next settlement is a good ten days walk from here."

"Oh." Luke frowned angrily. "I should have known that."

"You have no training. Just knowing there was a settlement nearby is above and beyond where you should be." They entered the makeshift fortress and Luke sank to the ground, leaning against the rock face and closing his eyes. Vader sat across from him with much more grace than one would expect from a man of his size.

"How do we divide the watch?"

"I need very little sleep. You'll find that one attuned to the Force as I am can vastly expand their physical limitations."

"So…half and half?"

"You sleep. I can enter a trance that will allow me to rejuvenate myself while maintaining awareness of our surroundings."

"Are you sure?"

"Do you doubt me?"

"No!" Luke exclaimed. He sighed, feeling awkward and graceless yet again, just like every other moment of his life. "I just meant…you don't want to sleep?"

He had the uncomfortable sensation once again that the Dark Lord was staring at him. "I don't mind," Vader finally said.

The boy settled himself into a more comfortable position and succumbed to his exhaustion. He was almost asleep when he almost felt rather than heard Vader speak. "Tell me about your father," he whispered seductively.

"I never knew him," Luke murmured softly. "You killed him before I was born, I guess." Normally, the thought would have infused him with a quick rage, but now he just felt a peculiar resignation. He kept his eyes shut, content to imagine that he was talking to a friend, not his father's killer.

"I've killed many people, but I apologize for your loss. Tell me what you know." The voice was soft, persuasive, and quite gentle for a Dark Lord. Luke felt compelled to reply.

"Ben told me he was a powerful Jedi. You must have known that, though. Actually, you probably know more about him than I do. Tell me something about him."

"Something about your father," Vader mused. "Well, he loved your mother very much. He never knew she was pregnant."

"I wish I'd known him," Luke said sadly, old wounds reopening. "It was hard, growing up without a real family. It was lonely."

"I understand," Vader replied softly. "Did you know I have a son?"

"A son? No, I didn't know that. How old is he?"

"Oh, I suppose he's about 19 now."

"I'm 19," Luke slurred sleepily.

"Yes, I know. My son was stolen from me the moment he was born and raised by others. He still doesn't know about me."

This piqued his curiosity. "But you know about him? Why haven't you gone to him?"

"I want to. I'm afraid, though."

"You? Afraid? Of what?"

"Afraid he won't accept me."

"I'd love my father no matter who he was."

"What if he was me?"

Luke was silent for a minute, stunned at that prospect. He'd considered the possibility that his father was still alive, had dreamed about it daily. But his father being Darth Vader—that would turn his entire existence upside down. "I don't know." He laughed weakly. "I guess that would be kind of ironic. But it doesn't matter. You're not my father." But Vader didn't say anything. Luke opened his eyes and sat up, suddenly panicked. "You're not. Right?" Still, Vader didn't reply. "Right?" Luke's voice rose as he repeated himself desperately. Vader nodded once.

"Yes, child," he said solemnly. Luke turned away quickly before he lost his scant lunch.

"Oh, Sith," he whispered. "That can't be. Ben wouldn't lie to me."

"I didn't think he would lie to me. But he told me your mother had died, taking her child with her."

"No, no he didn't. He wouldn't." And then lunch did come up and he was bent over coughing roughly and he felt Vader's hands on his shoulders, steadying him. He wiped his face with one hand. Tentatively, Vader pulled Luke's small body back against his, holding him gently while he shook.

"I'm sorry," he whispered. "I didn't want it to be this way. I just knew when I saw you that I had to tell you somehow."

"No!" Luke cried, struggling violently out of Vader's grasp. "You're lying!" He sprang to his feet and backed away from this man with his soothing words and his warm caresses. Vader remained sitting, but spoke sadly.

"I thought you said you would love your father no matter who he was."

"I did, but this is different! You can't be my father!"

"Why not?"

"Why not?" Luke repeated, stalling for time as much as anything. "Well…because! You just can't be. My father was a good man!"

"And what makes a good man, Luke?"

"I don't know! A sense of honor, for one."

"You think I have no honor?" Vader asked, anger beginning to harden his voice. "Did I not save you when I could have let you sink to your death?"

"That's different!" The boy clenched his fists and shut his eyes against the terrifyingly violent tension inside of him. "You killed Ben! You killed your friend!"

"My friend?" Vader rose to his feet slowly, ominously, and began to bear down on the young rebel. "Does a friend steal his friend's child? Does a friend tell that child that his father is a murderer and worse to alienate him?" Luke was backed against a rock now, with nowhere to go, but still the Dark Lord moved forward, putting a hand on the rock face behind the youth and leaning in closer to him. "Does a friend leave someone to die in a pit of molten lava, damning him to a life inside a suit, cut off from the world?"

"Shutup! Shutup, damn you!" Luke exploded, pounding his fists into Vader's arms and chest angrily. In a more coherent state of mind, he might have been a powerful enemy with so much anger boiling over, but he was simply too distraught to consider his actions. It was a weakness Vader would have to temper out of the child, while keeping his fire intact. Now, he grabbed Luke's arms loosely, slowing his onslaught, until the boy collapsed against his chest, sobbing. He was stunned at how small his son was, at how very fragile he seemed, yet he could feel the strength under his tense muscles. He held Luke's trembling body, slowly lowering them both into a sitting position, and moved Luke's head to lean against his broad shoulder as he wrapped his cape around the boy. Luke sniffed a few times, then spoke in a shaky voice.

"Where were you?"

"When?" Vader asked gently.

"My entire life! Why did I have to be different? Why didn't you come for me?"

"I didn't know about you. Luke, you must believe that. I knew your mother was pregnant, but I thought she had died." His voice hardened with anger. "Obi Wan told me she had died. But if I had known about you…" he trailed off, leaving the possibilities to tantalize Luke's imagination.

"How long have you known?"

"Not long," Vader said softly as he began to stroke Luke's hair with his gloved hand. "A few months after the Death Star."

It hadn't even been a year since the Death Star, since he'd single-handedly destroyed an entire battle station. So, Vader had known about him for maybe five standard months, maybe. "So…what do we do?"

"I want you to come home with me," Vader said, lacing his voice with persuasion and possessiveness.

"Home? Where's that?"

"Many places. You would always be home with me, though."

"Really?" He was starting to get sleepy again, but he felt warm and protected in Vader's arms. No, in his father's arms, he corrected himself. He was having trouble keeping his eyes open, and his father's voice, normally so terrifying, was lulling him into a feeling of extreme comfort.

"Yes, my son. I promise."

"Son…" Luke murmured with a smile. "No one's ever called me that before."

"I should hope not," Vader said, amusement coloring his voice, but he was more serious when he spoke again, fervently. "Come with me."

The request was wonderful and tempting, but something was nagging at the back of Luke's mind and he struggled to grasp it before he spoke. He was too tired to put much effort into it, though, and his father's close grip on him tightened when he felt Luke's indecision. There was still something, though…he could almost remember it. "I can't."

"You can. You want to."

"I do, I really do, but—"

"Then come with me."

"But what about—"

"It doesn't matter. A son belongs with his father. Luke, son, my only child, say you'll come with me."

"Ok," Luke breathed, the last of his consciousness slipping away. But it wasn't enough.

"Say it," Vader hissed insistently.

"I'll come with you, Father." And he was asleep, all his troubles forgotten.

Well, that's the end of chapter one. I've got about half of chapter two finished, but I'm not sure where to go once I'm done with that. Feedback, please!