Chapter 13: Showdown

Luke stared at the ceiling, wondering what was going on up there. People had been running around all day, and it wasn't showing any signs of letting up. No droid had arrived to give him any lunch, but after the last time he had been overlooked, Luke had taken the precaution of storing non-perishable food items in case of situations like this. It was strange, that after the senator had urged him to tell the media he was malnourished at Family Services, it turned out to be him who wasn't feeding him properly.

Luke made another attempt to concentrate on writing his latest letter, but it was thwarted yet again. Not from the noise above, this time, but by the sound of his door being unlocked. Luke stood up in surprise. The senator was waiting on the other side.

"Boy? Luke?!"

Luke presented himself, wondering if there was some kind of disaster going on. The senator hadn't come down here since the first day when he'd shown Luke to his room.

"What's going on?" Luke asked.

"We're hosting a big party tonight. I'll need you."

"No way," Luke said, frowning.

"One of my personal aides will come to get you at the right moment," the senator continued, oblivious. "I want you to offer to get some of the more notable guests a drink. Governor Tarkin himself will be in attendance and -" He paused a moment and sniffed the air. Then he screwed up his face in disgust. "For star's sake, boy, have a shower or something! You smell like a garbage scow."

"It's not me!" Luke protested. "It's coming from the room where you keep those prisoners!" He pointed, and the senator followed his gesture.

"Ah," he said, understanding. "I really should set those things free, if Chilee isn't going to take care of them. I thought they might teach him some responsibility."

"Give me the key!" Luke said, eagerly. "I'll do it!"

The senator waved a hand in a dismissive gesture. "After the party. I've got more important things to worry about."

The senator wandered off towards the elevator, mumbling a list of things he still had to take care of. Luke watched him, careful not to make a sound. Once he left, Luke grinned wide with relief. The senator had forgotten to lock him back in his room. Even better, everyone would be distracted tonight, and he could escape from here once and for all!

He was about to turn back to his room, when he got another whiff of the stench which had upset the senator. It certainly did seem worse than usual ... maybe he should check on them. He held his nose and pressed the door release.

"Oh no!" Luke gasped.

The Ewok lay on its side, breathing erratically. Flies buzzed around ominously. The wookiee and the green furry thing didn't look much better, the latter having shrunk to a third of its previous side. The Wookiee had grown thin, even his thick coat couldn't hide it. Without Luke to bring them snacks, they had grown decidedly ill.

Luke's own spell as a prisoner had given him a new perspective on their plight. It was time to take action, even if it meant another beating from Chilee. Luke winced at the thought, but if he didn't do something soon, his friends would die.

"Hang on guys. I'll get you out. I promise."

His spies were all in position. He himself was watching from an ideal location. His senses were fully attuned to everything going on, down in the senator's home. So why did he feel so apprehensive?

Vader reached down to finger his lightsaber, as if checking to make sure it was still there. If his plan worked, he would be using it soon. It had been a while since he'd killed Jedi. But still there remained a possibility, however slight, that he might fail in his mission tonight. The Jedi could find a way past him, take the boy, and -

The thought of it shouldn't distress him as much as it did. There would be other opportunities.

Vader struggled to remain detached for a few moments, before finally leaving the rooftop. If preventing the Jedi from reaching this boy was that important, he should do it from within the building. He would locate the boy and be sure to keep within his vicinity. It shouldn't be too difficult to do so and remain inconspicuous. Lerrod would no doubt have the boy doing PR duty at his self-aggrandizing party.

Vader entered the senator's home through a side entrance guarded by two of his own agents. It was a convenient way of reaching the party without drawing attention to himself and also ensuring the two spies had not observed anything suspicious. They didn't move or give any other sign as he walked past, but by the time he was inside, he knew the men had seen nothing so far. Still, the night was young.

He emerged from the dark corridor onto a balcony floor overlooking the main party. Governor Tarkin stood nearby and turned around as he heard his approach.

"Lord Vader," he said in greeting. "It is a surprise to see you here."

"I am here on the Emperor's business," Vader said, looking over the edge. A sizeable proportion of Coruscant's rich and famous mingled below. "As are you, I presume?"

Tarkin nodded. "I am meeting Governor Nixer in twenty minutes. Otherwise, this is the last place I would set foot. I cannot stand this Lerrod fellow."

Only Tarkin was secure enough in his position to openly say such a thing about a person in the Emperor's favor. Apart from himself, of course.

"Then you may wish to make yourself scarce," Vader said. "I sense he is coming this way."

Tarkin looked around for the object of his displeasure. "Where?"

"Lord Vader! Governor Tarkin!"

Tarkin started slightly and whirled around to find Lerrod had appeared on Vader's left. Vader didn't bother to turn - he was too busy scanning the crowd for any sign of the boy.

"I'm so honored you made it this evening," Lerrod babbled. "You have made this party complete."

Tarkin merely gave a condescending sneer. Lerrod was lucky he could not see Vader's expression.

"Unfortunately, I have to go and meet with my campaign manager," Lerrod said. "But allow me to introduce my son, Chilee Lerrod Jnr." Lerrod pushed the tall, adolescent boy forward. "He's a straight A student and captain of his school nunaball team."

Tarkin favored them with a look of supreme disinterest and then turned and walked away on a direct line for the nearest exit. Lerrod went off in pursuit, leaving Vader with Lerrod's son. The boy looked up at him nervously and began to back away slowly.

Normally, Vader would have ignored the boy and left him to run away in fright. But he needed information. "There is another boy who lives here," Vader said. "Younger than you. Where is he?"

"Um . . . ah . . . on the lowest floor, I think," the boy mumbled, now a good two meters away.

"Will he be attending this party?" Vader demanded.

"I don't kn-know." he stuttered. " I, um, have to go, um, over there now."

The boy ran off, leaving Vader alone. Perhaps now was the time to do a little snooping.

Luke ran through the corridors of the senator's home, trying to locate something he could use to break the locks on the cells. He'd already picked up several antique-looking vases, but closer expectation had revealed an impact would do more damage to them than the locks. Not that he thought the senator would mind if he broke his works of art. He could probably afford to replace them a thousand times over.

He bumped into one of the senator's assistants, who was looking flustered and nervous and mumbling something about a guestlist. Luke pressed himself against the wall, hoping he wouldn't be noticed.


Too late.

"Make yourself useful and go to the kitchens. Ask the droids to hurry up with the drinks."

He rushed on, leaving Luke alone.

The kitchens. Of course! Laser cutters, a utensil used for cutting especially tough meat. They could easily slice through those locks.

Luke set off, with new determination.

The party was clearly well underway by the time Obi-Wan arrived with Tis. He parked his speeder on the roof of a building a block away from the one where the senator's home was located and led Obi-Wan on a dangerous journey leaping from one building to the next. As they landed on the building opposite, Tis crouched down beside a satellite dish.

Obi-Wan was breathing quickly by this stage, and it didn't go past Tis.

"Are you sure you're up to this, old man?"

Obi-Wan ignored him. "Vader is in the building," he stated, calmly. "You lied. Why?"

"Perhaps my intelligence sources were in error," Tis said.

"Perhaps you have a plan you haven't seen fit to enlighten me of?" Obi-Wan said, raising an eyebrow.

Tis made an odd clicking noise and then reached for his lightsaber. "I didn't want to worry Isel. She is fond of you, for some reason. Our original plan holds - you distract Vader, I rescue Luke."

"You make it sound so simple," Obi-Wan said.

"It is simple. Go on over to the roof -" Tis pointed, "and wait for Vader. He will no doubt come as soon as he senses your presence. Meanwhile, I will find the boy and hightail it. As long as you can occupy Vader for at least five minutes, that is. I'm beginning to think you'll go down in two."

"You know very little about being a Jedi," Obi-Wan said. "If you think such childish mockery will affect my judgment."

"I know more about being a Jedi than you ever will," Tis said, anger evident in his voice. "I represent the future of the Jedi, Obi-Wan. You are a relic of the past."

"We're wasting time," Obi-Wan said, simply. He stepped out from behind the satellite and gathered the Force.

Vader had a firm hold on the boy's Force signature and was following the trail with single-minded purpose, when his mental concentration was shattered by a very familiar presence. Obi-Wan.

He made an about-turn and picked up his comlink, already sensing an impending call. It was one of his spies.

"Lord Vader! An intruder has just landed on the roof ... wearing a brown robe ... holding an ignited lightsaber!"

"Don't go near him. Leave him to me," Vader ordered. "I'm already on my way."

Luke eyed the Wookiee warily as he held up the laser cutters. He looked ravenous. Maybe he wouldn't be too fussy about what he would eat. Perhaps it would be a better idea to start with the fungus-like alien.

He turned on the blade and slashed the lock off with a single gesture. The door swung open immediately, and the green mossy ball came rolling out. Luke smiled as it brushed against his leg, but was then interrupted by a low whimper from the Wookiee.

Bracing himself, he extended his arm as far as it would go and then removed the lock from the Wookiee's cage. Surprisingly, he didn't come out straight away. He was gripping the bars between his and the Ewok's cage, whimpering miserably.

Luke followed his gaze and shuddered. The Ewok was dead. His anger at the sight threatened to overwhelm him, but he knew anger wasn't going to get him or his alien friends out of here. Someone was coming, and he had a feeling he knew who it would be.

"Quick, outside!" He pushed the Wookiee towards the door. The fungus alien trailed behind, leaving a thin coat of slime. Luke tossed the laser cutter away and followed his friends out into the corridor. Down the hall, he could see the elevator lights descend through a sequence of numbers. It was Chilee, somehow he knew. But where could be hide a full-grown wookiee?

"In here," he said, guiding the aliens into his room. He followed them and shut the door.

"Quiet!" he whispered.

"Puke!" came the call, "You'd better not be down here!"

Luke kept silent. He listened as the footsteps came nearer. Chilee took a step towards Luke's room and then hesitated. Luke bent down to watch through the food slot and saw his nemesis turn to enter the cells.

"Now!" Luke yelled, slamming his hand against the door controls, "Run!"

The Wookiee did not need Luke's encouragement. They both clattered down the hallway towards the elevator.

From inside the cells, came an angry roar.


"Hurry! In the elevator! Hurry!" Luke yelled.

Chilee came running out of the cells and into the corridor behind them.

As Luke and the Wookiee entered the elevator, Luke glanced behind at the fungus-ball, who was somewhat slower.

"Hurry!" Luke yelled.

For a second, Luke thought they weren't going to make it. Then Chilee fell to the ground, slipping on the trail of slime. The green ball made a squeaky noise Luke could have sworn was a laugh. Luke smiled as the elevator doors closed, shutting Chilee out and taking him and his friends to safety.

It took Vader a frustratingly long time to find an elevator to take him to the roof and more than once he was tempted to smash a window and hoist himself up using a grappling hook and cable. It was Obi-Wan, however, who had taught him that the least-destructive way was usually the best. How ironic that he should now use his former master's advice to assist in the journey towards his death.

So focused was his mind on that pleasant thought, that he was surprised when something else began to nag. There was a feeling of urgency gnawing at him, and it wasn't related to Obi-Wan. It was centered around ...

The boy! How could he have been so stupid! This could be a Jedi trap to reach the boy, and Obi-Wan was sacrificing himself as bait. Vader reversed the elevator and set it to stop at the lowest floor. That was where Lerrod's son said the boy was most likely to be, so that's where he was going. He could only hope he was not too late ...

The Wookiee stopped for breath, panting. It was too much for him, in his half-starved state.

"I know you're tired," Luke said, "but the exit is just around the corner, I promise. You've got to make it."

The Wookiee groaned and took another reluctant step forward. Luke looked behind nervously, knowing Chilee couldn't be far behind. If he caught up with them, he'd call security, and his Wookiee friend would likely be shot.

"Please," Luke said. The fungus alien squeaked in agreement.

Suddenly, the Wookiee raised his head, sniffing the air. Luke could smell it too, but he'd been too distracted with his plight to take notice. It was the smell of food.

"Maybe we could stop on the way and I could sneak into the party and -" Luke started.

Too late. The Wookiee took off at a run that would have crushed mountains had they stood in his way. Luke groaned and jogged after him, calling out pointlessly for him to wait. Hopefully he would find his way to the kitchens, or wherever that smell was coming from, and then they could both be on their way.

It wasn't until Luke turned a corner that he realized just where the smell was leading them. Two large doors, guarded on either side. Behind them was the low hum of conversation that could only mean one thing - the party!

"Stop!" Luke yelled.

He didn't. Luke buried his head in his hands as the Wookiee barged through the doors and chaos ensued within. The floor began to shake, and Luke jumped aside to avoid being trampled as a horde of panicking guests barged through the doors screaming something about a monster.

When the elevator doors slid open, Vader found himself looking at Lerrod's son. His face was flushed red, and his fists were clenched. He didn't react when he saw Vader. He merely jumped into the lift, slamming his fist into the buttons and disappeared from sight.

Vader didn't have time to wonder. He walked down the corridor, curious as to the accommodation the boy had been living in. He could already sense he was not here, and urgency demanded he depart as soon as possible, but he couldn't resist the urge to look around.

Besides, he would have to wait for the elevator to return anyway. In the room to the right, there were empty cages and a terrible smell. A laser cutter lay on the floor. He turned back to the room on the left. This was clearly Luke's room. Bare and dark, it was hardly an acceptable place to keep a child. Then, Vader felt his anger reduce, as he looked on the bed. A toy spaceship. A T-16 model. It was a simple toy, but appeared to have been ... well loved.

A rumbling noise above distracted him, and he looked up, stretching out with the Force. Whatever was happening up there, it sounded like something that required his attention.

After the noise had finally begun to die down, Luke heard a squeak beside him. He glanced down to see the fungus alien, rolling out from behind him.

"You're lucky you didn't get turned into a pancake," Luke said, picking it up. "I guess it's safe to come out now."

He stepped out into the corridor and found himself face to chest with an enraged Chilee.

"I'm going to kill you!" he yelled, balling his hand into a fist and swinging it wildly. Luke dodged and ran for the ballroom. Chilee was close behind, clearly not worried about the reason for the guests' departure. The only person who remained in the ballroom was the Wookiee - even the guards appeared to have run in terror. Surprising, what a starving Wookiee could do.

Luke didn't have time to dwell on it, though. Chilee picked up an abandoned plate and threw it at him. It smashed into his head, causing him to trip and sprawl forward onto the floor.

"Run!" Luke said, throwing the fungus alien to the Wookiee. "There's an exit through the other doors!! Run!"

The Wookiee paused from devouring an entire roast meat and caught the fungus alien with a single paw. He roared angrily, clearly noticing Chilee. He started towards his former owner with seemingly murderous intent.

Luke couldn't blame him, but he knew he couldn't stand by and let this happen, either. As much as he hated Chilee, this wasn't right. Chilee backed away in terror, grabbing a chair to defend himself.

"Stop!" Luke yelled, shifting so he was between the Wookiee and Chilee. "I freed you. If you honor that, then you have to listen to me."

The Wookiee paused.

"Go!" Luke repeated. "You're free now - don't waste time on him!"

The Wookiee glanced at the doors and then took a step towards Luke. Luke thought he was going to push him aside, but instead he grabbed him in a strong, hairy hug.

"Okay, okay!" Luke said, smiling despite the grave situation.

The Wookiee then ran for the doors. Suddenly aware that he was now alone with Chilee, Luke glanced behind, only to find the chair flying straight at him. He leapt aside, but he wasn't quite fast enough. It knocked him to the ground, twisting his leg which was still healing from the blaster graze.

"You ... little ... piece ... of ... poodoo ..." Chilee yelled, rushing forward to kick him. "You let my pets out! You never should have come here, you filthy little gutter dwelling ..."

Luke tasted blood in his mouth. He desperately tried to hit back, but there was no stopping Chilee this time. He was angrier than Luke had ever seen him, which was saying something.

Luke wondered if he would get out of this one alive.

Arriving on the floor where the party was, Vader questioned the first guest he saw.

"What happened!?"

Unfortunately, it was a drunk politician.

"Monster!! Really ... big ... monster!! Look out!!"

Vader made a noise of frustration and walked on. It was tempting to choke him, but he didn't have time. Besides, it wasn't the same if they were too drunk to know what was happening.

A guard came rushing down the corridor and came to a halt in front of him.

"Sir! You must leave the building! There's an animal on the loose, and we've had to evacuate."

"I think I can handle an animal," Vader said, not stopping. He had a sense of the boy now, and he was following it.

"Intruder!" the guard yelled, suddenly firing his blaster.

Vader turned in surprise, wondering if the guard was also intoxicated. But no - there was indeed an intruder. A familiar intruder, standing at the other end of the corridor. Too thin and tall for Obi-Wan, though. It seemed there were two Jedi in the building tonight. The new arrival disappeared from sight at the knowledge he had been seen.

Vader started after him, reaching for his lightsaber, but then he paused. He'd already fallen for this trick once tonight. It seemed they would do just about anything to lure him away from the boy.

And speaking of the boy -

Vader winced as he felt a sharp, stinging pain in his head. The boy was hurt! He didn't have time to wonder at why he would feel the boy's pain so keenly. Something was telling him he had to get to his location, and fast.

Obi-Wan paced up and down in the wind, feeling strangely passive. There had been few times in his life when he felt the presence of the Force as keenly as he did right now. It reminded him of something Qui-Gon used to say to him when he was a young padawan. About feeling the Force not just around you, but within you. Within your very bones.

The door leading into the building hissed open, and Obi-Wan turned, igniting his lightsaber. It wasn't Vader, however.

"What happened?" Obi-Wan asked, lowering the blade.

Tis took a step towards him, looking vaguely menacing. "Vader went for the boy. He knew of our plan."

Obi-Wan frowned in confusion. What would Vader want with Luke? Unless he had somehow discovered the boy was his son ... but even then, why would he care about a family relationship? Such things had no use to the Dark Side of the Force.

"There might still be a chance if we take him together," Obi-Wan said, finally, "We could -"

"No," Tis said.

"Why not?"

Tis ignited his lightsaber.

"If I can't kill his son ... at least I can deprive him of killing his former master!"

Upon entering the ballroom, Vader found himself treading on several glass shards. He took in the appearance of the room in one quick glance - tables were overturned, food smeared on the walls, and furniture lay in disarray. A far cry from the room he had viewed from the balcony a short time earlier. It seemed the stories of an animal on the loose were not without merit.

A shout alerted him to the location of the boy, and he stepped around an overturned table. Lerrod's son was beating the boy with an unrestrained fury that would have been enough to cause an earthquake had he been a Sith. It appeared he was so intent on damaging the younger boy, he hadn't even noticed Vader's entrance.

Vader chopped his way through several discarded chairs with his lightsaber and then grabbed the older boy's arm, just as he raised his fist to strike again. The boy twisted around and looked up in terror. And kept looking up.

He stammered something incoherent, and Vader pushed him aside, angrily. So, this was the answer to why the boy had been so frightened at the thought of living here. Lerrod's son had been responsible.

Chilee took the moment to make a quick escape, which was very wise in Vader's opinion. He crouched down beside the boy, assessing his injuries. His face was swollen and bleeding, and he wasn't focusing properly. It was likely he was concussed. Vader holstered his lightsaber and then helped the boy to his feet.

"I'm fine!" the boy declared, before stumbling forward. Vader caught him before he hit the floor, and he made a noise of resigned frustration.

"Why is it," he enquired, "that wherever you are, trouble seems to follow?"

The boy didn't reply. Vader studied him, wondering what to do now. Perhaps he should take him back to that doctor at the private medcenter. He couldn't trust Lerrod to look after the boy properly. The man was probably off giving interviews for the HoloNet news channels. He wouldn't be surprised if he'd let an animal in on purpose, just to get some attention.

"Come on, I will take you to -" Vader started. He broke off, sensing a disturbance in the Force. Obi-Wan! He had almost forgotten about him. This boy was truly going to be the end of him if he wasn't careful. And now there was the question of what he would do with him while he dealt with his former master. Leaving him here was out of the question - one of the Jedi could double back. He would have to take the boy with him.

Vader bent down to pick him up, trying not to think too much about what he was doing. It was necessary, as the boy couldn't walk on his own, and he had to reach Obi-Wan. The boy didn't protest, although he seemed to be partially unconscious.

They soon reached the elevator bay, at the far end of the room, and Vader set the boy down while he pressed the button for the top floor. The elevator began to creak into action, causing Vader to bang the wall in frustration, idly hoping it would be intimidated into moving faster. The boy was injured; he needed medical attention now, and the longer he delayed, the greater the chance that Obi-Wan would again allude his grasp.

"Thank you."

Vader looked down, surprised the boy was still talking. "What?"

"Thank you. For saving me."

Vader was about to protest that he hadn't 'saved' anyone, and he was only assisting the boy because of the Jedi. But the words sounded hollow, even in his mind. He couldn't deny it any longer. There was a connection between him and the boy ... a connection that kept throwing them together. He would have to investigate this properly once he had dealt with the Jedi and the boy was healthy.

Nothing more was said until the elevator reached the top floor. Vader again picked the boy up and stepped into the corridor. Ahead was a stairwell, leading up to the roof. And he could sense two distinct people now. Both Jedi were up here. That made things a whole lot easier.

"Wait here," Vader said, setting the boy down at the top of the stair well. "I will come back for you once I have dealt with these Jedi."

As he opened the door, a rush of wind met him, nearly pushing him back inside. His cape whipped around him, and he steadied himself against the small rectangular doorway. As if from far away, the sounds of lightsaber blades clashing reached him, and he turned to see Obi-Wan struggling against the other Jedi.

He didn't waste time on wondering why they were fighting, or who the second Jedi was. If he didn't do something quickly, Obi-Wan would be dead, and his desire for revenge would go unsatisfied for all eternity. His red blade ignited in front of his mask, and he crossed the distance of the small, square roof.

The unknown Jedi snarled at the sight of him and wildly tossed an abandoned crate in his direction. Vader sent it spinning back twice as fast, hoping to intimidate this Jedi into fleeing. He could hunt him down any time, but an opportunity to kill Obi-Wan was rare.

The Jedi somersaulted backwards, resulting in the crate flying past him and tumbling over the edge. There was no safety barrier in sight.

The Jedi regained his balance and immediately charged at Obi-Wan. Vader rushed forward to intercept. Obi-Wan appeared weakened, it was unlikely he would survive another assault from this younger, quicker Jedi.

Vader attacked the Jedi from behind, causing his opponent to forgo his assault on Obi-Wan in order to deflect it. Obi-Wan came in strongly from the other side, and suddenly a temporary alliance had been formed. Vader couldn't help but recall the many times they had fought in this fashion as Master and Padawan.

The Jedi jumped to avoid a low-angled attack from Vader. Obi-Wan swung high, in perfect symmetry to Vader. The Jedi twisted awkwardly and then lunged wildly at Obi-Wan, forcing him backwards. Vader came in behind him, raising his lightsaber to deliver the final blow.

But too soon his opponent realized he was boxed in, and he flipped sideways and disappeared in a blur of Force-enhanced speed.

"Jedi coward!" Vader called after him, feeling his anger bubbling up out of pure frustration.

"He's no Jedi," Obi-Wan said, letting his blade drop. "He's -"

"You are foolish to lower your weapon, Obi-Wan," Vader interrupted, taking an angry swing at his former master.

"Luke!" Obi-Wan yelled, barely blocking the attack. "He's gone after Luke!"

"That name means nothing to me," Vader said, taking another swing. It wouldn't take long to finish the old man now.

"The boy!"

Vader hesitated. He met Obi-Wan's gaze across their blades and sensed something was going on here that went far beyond their personal disagreement. Vader growled in frustration and broke off the attack. In a second, he was over by the door to the stairwell, and he looked through the glass to see the boy still sitting safe on the other side. Perhaps the Jedi was hanging from the side of the building, on the far side of the roof.

He walked over cautiously, aware of the potential for attack at any moment. His opponent was foolish if he thought he could surprise a Dark Lord of the Sith. He glanced over the edge, seeing only the clogged traffic lanes, a long way below. It would be a long, long fall before reaching even the uppermost streets.

The sound of clashing lightsaber blades suddenly broke the silence.


Vader returned to the spot he'd last seen Obi-Wan, only to witness the unknown Jedi kicking Obi-Wan in the chest. His former master tumbled over the edge.

"You will pay for that, Jedi," Vader said, taking an angry swing at his opponent. It would have cleaved him in two, if he hadn't leapt into the air and flipped over his head. Vader turned around and came in fast. He attacked over and over, forcing the Jedi back with the sheer power behind every swing. As the opposite edge of the roof loomed into view beyond, Vader hooked the lightsaber out of the Jedi's hand and sent it flying over the edge.

The Jedi fell to his knees, and Vader brought his blade to his throat. Before killing this vile being, he needed some answers.

"Who is the boy, and what is his significance to you?"

"You mean the legendary Anakin Skywalker hasn't figured that out?" the Jedi rasped, struggling for breath. "I thought you were the chosen one!"

Vader angrily grabbed the Jedi by the neck and lifted him over the edge. His captive clawed at Vader's gloves, struggling to breathe, but to no avail.

"I am Darth Vader," Vader stated, "Your puny defenses are nothing to the power of the Dark Side."

To demonstrate, Vader mentally invaded his mind, crushing his shields easily. He sensed much hatred, much anger. Images of the Jedi's recent victims bubbled to the surface ... he was shocked to recognize a middle-aged Owen and Beru Lars. It seemed this creature hated him so much, he had even sought out his extended family to exact revenge.

He searched deeper, seeking any information on the boy. There was nothing but an obsession for killing the child and endless visions of Vader looking on while it happened.

Did this Jedi really imagine he would care if he killed a child in his presence? This Jedi was clearly deranged. Vader lapsed his mental probe, and his prisoner began to laugh.

"I may not be able to kill the boy," he said, "But I killed your master, Anakin. You'll never get the satisfaction of revenge. How does that feel?"

Vader gripped the Jedi's throat tighter, preventing him from spewing forth any more annoying last words. "In the name of the Emperor," Vader said, "All Jedi must die."

They stared, face to mask, for a few seconds. Then Vader, almost lazily, released him. He turned around, brushing off his hands ... and met the gaze of the boy, who had just crawled out onto the roof. Of all the disobedient ... as if his constant tendency to get himself into trouble wasn't enough, it also appeared this boy couldn't obey a simple instruction to save his life.

A groan reached Vader's ears, and he quickly walked past the boy to the other side of the roof. Just as he suspected, Obi-Wan was hanging by one hand and one foot, a meter below the edge.

Obi-Wan looked up, and Vader looked down. He should finish this right now and see about getting that boy some medical attention. But he didn't want to let Obi-Wan's life end so easily. The only way it would be fitting for this Jedi to die would be by his blade.

He bent down and offered Obi-Wan his hand. Surprise flashed across the old man's face, but he took the offered assistance and crawled back to safety.

"You should have remained hiding in the outer rim, old man." Vader said. "Being here is the last mistake you'll ever make."

Obi-Wan gave a small, wise smile, perhaps agreeing with Vader, or perhaps just being smug.

He suddenly jumped to his feet and broke into a run. Vader ignited his saber, thinking he was attacking. But Vader was not his target.

Vader whirled around in time to see the other Jedi had somehow managed to survive being dropped over the edge. There was no time to berate himself for his stupid oversight - the overgrown insect was heading for the boy.

Perhaps there is still good in him. That was Obi-Wan's thought as Vader pulled him back to safety. He barely had time to consider this, before a flash of movement appeared over the far side of the roof.

He jumped to his feet, running to Luke's aid. However, it was clear Tis would reach the boy first. He hurled his lightsaber in desperation, but Tis shifted aside and ended up catching it by the handle. Tis then raised the blade, aiming for the boy.

Obi-Wan could only see one solution. He knew this action would be his last. He knew he would be leaving Luke alone with Vader. But at that moment, it didn't seem like a bad idea at all.

He jumped into the path of the blade.

Vader watched Obi-Wan's sacrifice in disbelief. His former mentor really had lost his mind. The other Jedi stared at Obi-Wan, distracted and obviously surprised. It was all the opportunity Vader needed. He stepped behind the creature and plunged his lightsaber through his upper body.

The corpse slumped to the ground, and Vader kicked it over the edge. He then turned his attention to Obi-Wan. The old man's wound was mortal. He was still breathing, though, hanging on to the last few moments of life. There was still time, if Vader wished to be the one to kill him himself. But before that, he needed answers.

Vader glanced at the boy and saw he was unconscious. Probably just as well - all this violence was no sight for a child to witness. He crouched down beside Obi-Wan and met his gaze.

"You died to save him," Vader said. "Why?"

"Look ... at ... him," Obi-Wan gasped, weakly. "Look ..."

Vader did so. He couldn't see anything remarkable about the child. Apart from his Force sensitivity, but that wasn't immediately visible.

"Anakin ..." Obi-Wan said, attracting Vader's gaze back.

Obi-Wan's eyes became blank and unfocused. Vader thought he was gone, until he managed one last shallow breath. He choked out words that shocked Vader to the very core.

"He is your son."

Then, Obi-Wan's body faded into the Force.

Continued in Force Bond 2: Threat