Chapter 8: A Final Plan

"Listen, I'm sorry about all this," the senator said, pacing up and down in front of the examination bed. The doctor was still binding up Luke's leg, with the assistance of a medical droid. "I never intended to leave you alone with Chilee. I'm still trying to find out where in space Madden has got to."

"I'm not going with you," Luke insisted. "I want to go back to Tatooine."

"And you can! I'll buy a luxury flight for you and everything, I promise. But I just need you to do one more thing for me. I'm hosting a reception tomorrow night for potential donors for my election campaign, and I want to try and do the speech properly this time. You'll be the star attraction."

Luke stared at the man, wondering how long he would have survived if he'd ever had to live in a place like Anchorhead. He was so out of touch with reality, and everyone else here just seemed to go along with it.

"I heard your conversation," Luke said, gesturing to the door. "Lord Vader thinks you hit me. I bet that's what everyone else at your party will think too when they see my face."

He'd caught sight of himself in the gleaming surface of the medical droid, and it wasn't a good look.

"We'll just say you accidentally fell out of bed."

Luke sighed, looking down as the doctor sealed the bandage.

"You can shower with this on," he said. "You'll need to come back in three days so I can check on the progress."

"Yes, yes, can he leave now?" the senator said. "Just charge the bill to my account. I need to get back to the parade."

"I'm hoping to be as far away as possible in three days," Luke mumbled.

The doctor looked between him and the senator, and then said, "Sir, would you mind waiting outside for a moment? I need to talk to the boy about a sensitive medical matter."

The senator raised his hands, looking vaguely nervous, and then quickly reversed out the door. The medical droid closed it behind him.

Luke stared at the doctor, wondering what this was about. "Um … do I have sand lice?"

He smiled, turning to his computer. "No, I just wanted to get rid of him."

That finally made Luke grin. This doctor wasn't so bad. He even looked a bit like a really old version of him, with blue eyes and blondish hair that was greying in places. A bit like how his father looked in his daydreams, except with shorter hair.

"This is a real long shot," Luke said. "But your name isn't Skywalker, is it?"

"Skywalker?" he said, looking at Luke in surprise. "No. Doctor Rafi Leeson."

"Oh. That's okay."

"You're looking for someone named Skywalker?"

Luke shook his head. "It's my name. Luke Skywalker. You look a bit like me so I thought … never mind. Wait, why? You know someone by that name?"

The doctor started to say something, and then stopped. Then he said, "Tell me … how did you attract the attention of the Dark Lord of the Sith?"

"Who?" Luke said, frowning in confusion.

"Lord Vader."

"Oh. I've been wondering that myself. He's really scary."

It felt wrong, somehow, that he had ever come to the man's attention in the first place, never mind that he had actually spoken to him. Lord Vader was so important, a lightyear removed from everything Luke had ever known on Tatooine. Vader had probably been to every star system in the galaxy, traveling in gigantic starships that could dwarf entire moons and who knew what else.

"There's some Jedi trying to kill me," Luke admitted. "Or maybe just capture me. He killed my aunt and uncle … then I ended up with Family Services. The Senator took me from there. Lord Vader seems like he's interested in finding that Jedi."

"Was your father a Jedi?" the doctor asked.

"No. A navigator on a spice freighter."

"Ah." The doctor sighed in a way that sounded relieved. "For a moment there … still, probably best not to tell anyone your name is Skywalker. Children of Jedi aren't … well, they aren't looked upon favourably by the Empire."

"Are you saying there was a Jedi named Skywalker?" Luke asked, raising an eyebrow.

"The Empire also doesn't look favourably on anyone talking about the Jedi, or remembering things about famous Jedi," the doctor said. "Perhaps we should change the subject." He smiled at Luke. "In any case, you seem to have been left better off by your encounter with Lord Vader."

"That's true," Luke said. He tested his leg on the floor. "This feels a lot better. Thanks."

"I'd like just a bit more information before you go," he said. "When is your birthday?"

"Um … I only know in the Tatooine calendar."

"That's no problem. I have a conversion tool right here."

He brought up a different screen on his computer, and Luke helped him select the 56th day of Dopa. This converted to the 23rd day of the fifth month in the Coruscant calendar.

"That's today," the doctor said, glancing at him. "Today is your birthday?"

Luke frowned, trying to think. It felt like months ago that he'd left Tatooine, but it might have been days. But he knew it hadn't been long before his birthday when he left.

"That … could be right." He shrugged. "My life has been changing since I came here and I don't know what's going on most of the time."

"Do you at least remember how old you are?" The doctor sounded sad.

"Um … twelve? Yeah. I was eleven last birthday."

The doctor studied him for a moment, and then said, "Would you like me to call someone at Family Services? You don't need to go with the senator. I have already made notes detailing three examples of neglect I've seen in the past ten minutes."

Luke glanced at the door. "Well … he did say he'd buy me a flight back to Tatooine. I'd rather go back there than Family Services, so maybe I'll see where that goes. It's just one more day. And I've realized I left my stuff at his house so I'd like to get it back."

"All right. But I want you to call me if anything gets worse, okay?" He produced a datachip. Luke wondered if any of these kind adults offering him help realized he didn't actually own a comlink.

Then he produced a bowl of wrapped chocolate candy shaped like the Imperial flag. "And take a handful of these. Happy Birthday."

"Thank you," Luke said, eagerly filling his pocket. This was more useful.


Obi-Wan stared around in confusion. He was standing on the square roof of a building, the Coruscant cityscape all around.

"Qui-Gon? Master, is that you?"

He hadn't heard that calm voice since Tatooine. Since that terrible night on the Lars farm. The fog grew thicker around him, and he saw glittering points of light begin to appear.

"I've failed," Obi-Wan said, looking down in despair. "I failed his father and now I've failed Luke."

It was a different voice that replied. Padmé's voice.

"There is good in him. I know."

The sound of lightsabers clashing filled the air. He took a step forward, seeing Luke lying slumped on the ground, but the boy disappeared before he could reach him.

"You need to trust in the Force, Obi-Wan." Qui-Gon again.

Obi-Wan turned, seeing another vision appear off to the side. Vader, the mangled dark form that once was his best friend, was standing with Luke cradled in his arms. He stared straight at Obi-Wan.

Then a sudden sharp jolt of electricity, and Obi-Wan's head snapped up. The meditative trance faded away, and he saw Tis standing in front of him, holding a force pike.

"See anything interesting?" he asked.

"I won't ask where you got that," Obi-Wan said, standing up and rubbing his shoulder. "What did you find?"

"The boy is still alive," Tis said. "According to the senate guard I questioned, your former padawan even took him to a medcenter."

Obi-Wan's eyes widened in surprise. "Medcenter? Was he injured?"

Tis clicked his claws together a few times, which Obi-Wan supposed was a shrug. "I believe a stormtrooper shot him while I was trying to reach him."

"And you never saw fit to mention this? Where is he now? Is he still in the medcenter?"

"It was only a graze. Now he's back at the senator's home, and Vader appears uninterested. They even say he's leaving Coruscant today. The senator is having a launch party for his campaign tonight. A good opportunity to make another attempt to retrieve him."

Obi-Wan nodded. "Very well. May I please have my lightsaber back?"

Tis spun the force pike around in one of his hands. "Tonight." He waved a claw at him as he turned to leave. "Why don't you continue meditating? You might learn something useful."

The frustrating part was he felt like he already had, only he wasn't sure what to make of it. It was near impossible to return to the same Force vision after one had been interrupted, but Obi-Wan assumed his cross-legged position again, endeavouring to centre himself. This is what Qui-Gon would do. Anakin would be ripping apart the ship in search of his lightsaber or trying to build a comlink out of spare parts. He smiled at the thought, trying not to let it become clouded with pain.

Footsteps made him open his eyes again, and he saw Isel in the doorway.

"I hear Tis has good news," she said, coming over to sit with him.

"Yes, we will hopefully rescue Luke tonight," Obi-Wan said. The image of Vader with Luke in his arms returned to his mind. Unwelcome.

"And then?" she said. "Will you stay with us?"

"I will never allow Luke to be corrupted by the Dark Side. You need to take those padawans and get far away from Tis."

"I have considered it," she said. "I've known him a long time, and he's become a completely different person during this last year. But where will we go?"

"I can give you a comlink frequency for a friend of mine," Obi-Wan said. "Senator Bail Organa or Alderaan. He'll know a place where you'll be safe." He hesitated, and then said, "I want you to give him a message from me."

"Anything," she said.

"Tell him I had to trust in the Force."

Imperial City was still swarming with cleaning droids and local security, both tasked with restoring the government blocks to order after a long night of revelry. Vader had barely rested, preferring instead to monitor the feeds from the many security droids currently circling the Lerrod mansion, and to read the updates from the ISB agents stationed inside. It was a testament to Lerrod's stupidity that he had not noticed that his new 'security guards' hired for his party were in fact spies. It was a wonder he was still alive.

One of them, Agent Pari, had been specifically assigned to guard the boy, and she had reported he was currently confined to his room in the basement. Thermal scans of the building confirmed this. He was as well-monitored as he could be without having a camera in his room, but Vader still did not feel able to withdraw into meditation. Last night's attempt to take him had been desperate, and his instincts told him they would try again soon. If they weren't on their way already.

Part of him knew he was acting obsessively, as he was often prone to do when Jedi were involved. But at least he wasn't so far gone he was spending the day waiting on Lerrod's roof with his lightsaber in hand. His younger self would have flown over there hours ago and paced up and down all day.

His comlink beeped, right on schedule. It would be Agent Pari reporting in again. He'd requested immediate updates on any change in the boy's situation.

"My lord," she acknowledged, as the call connected. "The senator just came down to speak to the boy. He's gone away now."

"About what?"

"He is doing a speech at his reception tonight to launch his senatorial campaign, and it seems heavy on talk about serving the less fortunate. He wants the boy to wait in the wings and then come out to stand beside him at a certain point. He's told the boy to wait in his room and asked me to bring him upstairs when I receive a call from his assistant. The guests will start to arrive in about two hours."

"Very well. Does the boy seem content to remain in his room? No attempts at escape?"

"He is restless, sir. I gave him my multi-tool to play with, and he's occupying himself with dismantling one of the surveillance droids right now." She hesitated. "He's also asked a few times if he can borrow my blaster."

"Does he want to shoot the senator?" Vader asked, dryly.

"I thought the senator's son might be his target, sir. That kid is insufferable. But he told me he needed it to rescue some prisoners. I suspect an overactive imagination."

That sounded like the type of ridiculous idealistic thing he might have dreamed of doing at that age. It suddenly occurred to Vader why he had found Luke's stare so disconcerting.

"Don't take any chances," Vader said.

"Yes, sir."

He continued to stare at the empty comlink long after the call had ended, considering the situation. Finally, he turned, heading for the ship hangar. It was time to give in and go and wait on Lerrod's roof

Night had once again fallen over Imperial City when Tis brought the ship in to land, a block away from the senator's mansion. Obi-Wan could see the party was already well underway, with a line of chauffeured speeders waiting to unload VIP guests. Vader's presence filled the air with a chill, and Obi-Wan wondered if he was actually attending this event as a guest. Anakin had hated such things, and it was hard to believe such a trait wouldn't be amplified after the Dark Side had taken over his old friend's personality.

Tis stood up and waved his arm for Obi-Wan to follow. As soon as he left the ship, he leapt up to the side of the building, and continued on up to the roof. It had been a while since Obi-Wan had used the Force like this, and he was breathing quickly by the time he joined him, hidden behind a satellite dish.

It didn't go past Tis.

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

Obi-Wan ignored him. "I can sense 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, considering the two of you are such good friends. You'll have lots of catching up to do. 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.

Luke stared at the blade of the make-shift laser cutter he'd managed to assemble from the surveillance droid's parts. It didn't look like it could cut through much, never mind the lock on the cages, but it was worth a try. Unfortunately he hadn't managed to convince the guard to lend him her blaster, or this would have been over much sooner. Now time was running out. Any moment now, he'd be dragged upstairs to play a part in some boring speech.

Pari, the security guard assigned to watch him, was standing on the other side of the corridor, blaster in hand. She was taking this really seriously.

"Everything all right?" she asked.

"Yeah, just going to the refresher," he said, gesturing down the hall.

She nodded. As Luke suspected, she had no idea which door was the refresher, and didn't react as he entered the cage room.

The Wookiee started to roar in greeting, but Luke hastily raised a hand. "Quiet! Please, there's a security guard down the hall." He started to move towards the lock, but then he hesitated, eyeing the Wookiee warily. 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 ball.

He turned on his improvised tool and slashed the lock on the third cage 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 these other prisoners out of here safely.

"Come on. I'm sorry, but you'll have to leave him," Luke said. "I'll tell the security guard you are lost party guests and I'll show you the way out. There's so many people here they won't notice."

The Wookiee made a noise of agreement, and finally came out of the cage. Luke opened the door and looked down the corridor. His stomach twisted as he saw Chilee had made an appearance. He was dressed in a fancy suit and, judging by his expression, attempting to flirt with the security guard, who looked vaguely disgusted.

"Wait," Luke said, putting his improvised laser cutter aside. "Chilee is here. I'll try and get him to go away and then I'll come back for you."

The Wookiee made a noise of agreement, and then Luke came fully into the corridor again. At the sight of him, Chilee's leer turned into an angry disgust.

"Puke! It's time for you to go upstairs!"

"Thanks for telling me," Luke said, keeping his tone polite.

"What are you doing in there? You better not have been touching my pets again!"

"I was just making sure they weren't upset by all the noise from upstairs," Luke said, trying to sound as casual as possible.

Chilee walked towards him, and Luke dodged out of the way of his attempt to shove him aside.

"I wouldn't go in there, if I were you!" he said, raising a hand.

But Chilee only turned back and shoved at him again. This time, his hands made contact. The security guard came a few paces down the hall.

"Hey now," she said. "What's going—"

A roar loud enough to shake the walls filled the air as Chilee opened the door, and he immediately came flying back and fell against the far wall. The security guard raised her blaster in shock, but Luke hastily pulled it down.

"No! He's my friend!"

The Wookiee ran out into the corridor, and Luke turned, pulling the guard on towards the elevators.

"Time to get out of here."

She looked between him and the Wookiee, and then seemed to agree. Luke held his arm against the elevator door, and yelled back down the corridor.

"Come on! Run!"

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

Chilee was climbing back to his feet, looking a bit dazed. "Puke!"

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

The Wookiee was first in, 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 its 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 the escaped prisoners to safety.

He glanced up at the security guard. "Don't worry! I'll just show them the door and then I'll do my bit for the senator, and no one will even notice."

Vader felt the waves of panic from below before he heard the screams. As he walked over to the edge of the roof, he could already see the hordes of party guests falling over each other in their haste to get out. Then, the sound of shattering glass, and a table was thrown clear through a window, causing a wave of water as it splashed into a swimming pool. The screams only grew louder.

His comlink beeped with three different callers, but it was Agent Pari who connected through first.

"Sir! We have a situation down here!"

"I noticed," Vader said. "I'm on my way. Is the boy safe? Where is the Jedi?"

"No sign of the Jedi. There's a Wookiee rampaging through the main ballroom and—" The holo abruptly flickered out, and Vader stared at it, wondering if he'd heard correctly. A Wookiee?

Another call connected, and this time it was Agent Akeylemp, the Zabrak assigned to the north wing. "Lord Vader, I can't raise any of the agents on the landing pad! The Jedi might be—"

This call was cut off by the distinctive sound of a lightsaber hum. Vader immediately jumped off the roof, landing neatly on the nearest balcony. A very drunk navy officer stumbled through the doors and waved a finger at Vader.

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

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

As he strode into the rapidly emptying corridor, he narrowed in on the boy's Force signature and followed the trail with single-minded purpose.

Then his mental concentration was shattered by a very familiar presence. Obi-Wan.

After the noise had finally begun to die down, Luke heard a squeak beside him. He glanced down to see the fungus ball, rolling out from behind him. They'd been sheltering from the stampede of guests under a large grand piano.

"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 senator 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 ball to the Wookiee. "There's an exit through to the landing pad! Go!"

The Wookiee paused from devouring an entire leg of 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.

As Vader arrived in the main hallway, Agent Pari came rushing down the corridor and came to a halt in front of him. Her blaster appeared to have been recently fired.

"Sir, we have three agents down and two injured. The Jedi is—"

Vader ignited his own lightsaber, seeing a cloaked figure appear behind her. It wasn't Obi-Wan. So, there were two Jedi in this house tonight. The agent turned around and fired rapidly, causing the intruder to deflect the bolts with his own red lightsaber. Vader felt a wave of anger at the travesty. That weak fool had no right to such a weapon. A fact further reinforced when he turned and ran.

Vader started to follow, but then he paused.

"Where is the boy?" he asked, turning to Agent Pari.

"I last saw him going into the ballroom."

Vader reached out with the Force and winced as he felt a sharp, stinging pain in his head in response. 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 find him, 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 shape of a person landed on the roof with a thud behind him, and Obi-Wan turned, igniting his lightsaber. It wasn't his fallen apprentice, 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 motivate Vader to go after Luke? He must have sensed his presence by now. Vader's darkness was nearly overwhelming Obi-Wan. Unless he had somehow discovered the boy was his son ... but even then, why would he care about Anakin's child? Such feelings had no purpose for 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 broken wine glasses. 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 shout alerted him to the location of the boy, and he stepped around a broken chair. A boy that had to be Lerrod's son was radiating such unrestrained fury it 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 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 used the Force to throw him against the wall. He slid down and landed on his feet, and then took the moment to make a quick escape. 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. "Nearly took him!" 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, destruction seems to follow?"

The boy didn't reply. Vader studied him, wondering what to do now. Leaving him here was out of the question—one of the Jedi could double back. He would have to keep the boy with him while he hunted down the Jedi. He bent down to scoop an arm under the boy's knees, trying not to think too much about what he was doing. It was necessary, as the boy couldn't walk quickly on his own, and he had to reach Obi-Wan. The boy didn't protest, although he seemed to be only partially conscious.

They soon reached the elevator bay, at the far end of the corridor, and Vader set the boy down while he pressed the button for the top floor. The elevator was slow 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 elude his grasp.

"Thank you."

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

"Thank you. For getting that sleemo off me."

Vader was about to protest that he was only assisting the boy because he was bait for 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 drawing him in as much as he tried to resist. 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 stairwell. "I will come back for you once I have dealt with these traitors."

As he opened the door, a crate came flying at his head, causing him to quickly step aside. The sounds of lightsaber blades clashing reached his ears, and he turned to see Obi-Wan struggling against the other Jedi.

He didn't waste time 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 again wildly tossed a satellite dish 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 this opportunity to kill Obi-Wan might never come again if he escaped.

The Jedi somersaulted backwards, resulting in the object flying past him and tumbling over the edge, then he 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 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 Anakin 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 between their blades and then lunged wildly at Obi-Wan, forcing him backwards. Vader came in behind him, raising his lightsaber to deliver the final blow.

But his opponent twisted out of the way in a blur of Force-enhanced speed, and then caught Obi-Wan with a hard kick to the chest. His former master tumbled over the edge.

"You will pay for that, Jedi," Vader said, taking another 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.

"What is the significance of that boy?"

"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.

"I am Darth Vader," Vader stated. "Your puny defenses are nothing to the true 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 confused to recognize a middle-aged Owen and Beru Lars. It seemed this creature hated him so much, he had even sought out Anakin's 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? He 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.

Then he 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.

Obi-Wan hurled his lightsaber in desperation, but the Jedi shifted aside and caught it by the handle. But before he could bring it down on the boy, the older Jedi was there, blocking the attack with his own body.

Vader could only watch 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. If he wished to stand by and watch him suffer. But before that, he still needed an answer.

Vader glanced at the boy and saw he was unconscious. 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, necessary to choke 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


Thanks for reading!

Some of the sources for some elements in this story:

Where Vader actually lived has changed a lot in Star Wars lore. Mid-nineties, there were comics and video games which had him on a planet called Vjun with acid rain. That was the inspiration for the Sith retreat on the acid rain planet Lygun in this story, and I added in the idea of Vader having 'pet' gargoyles from an early draft of ESB. Late nineties established Vader living on Coruscant, so I went with that when writing this in the early 00s. The 2016 Rogue One movie brought the awesome Fortress Vader to life on screen so I revised this to reflect that. Vaneé was a character from that movie too.