Author's Note: Hi everyone! . . . I don't really have anything else I want to say. Oh, wait, yes I do. I hope you like this story! I realize it's a fairly common plot, but I'm hoping my little twist on it will make it more unique!
Disclaimer: I do not own Star Wars. I also do not own the TV show Supernatural, the book White Oleander, or the song Who Knew, as elements/quotes from these are also included throughout this stroy.
"Our greatest glory is not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall." -- Confucius
Chapter One: Of Death . . . And Life
Luke Skywalker sat bent over his father's body as the last shallow breath left Anakin's broken lungs. He tried to memorize the pale face, scarred and worn. He struggled to recall the sky-blue eyes, identical to his own, as they shone up at him full of love and peace. And as he watched, he waited. He waited for the Force to come and take his father away from him, to join him to itself for all time, as it had taken Yoda, and Obi-Wan before him.
And come the Force did, just as Luke had known it would. However, no sooner had Anakin's battered features begun to fade than they solidified again. Luke rocked back on his heels in shock, unsure of what was happening.
"He has been forgiven," a voice Luke knew well said from behind him.
Luke whirled around. "Ben!"
Obi-Wan smiled. "Good evening, Luke."
"Ben, what's going on? He renounced the Dark Side; why is the Force rejecting him?"
"The Force is not rejecting him. In fact, it is fighting tooth and nail to bring him into oneness with itself. I've often thought that if the Force could play favourites, Anakin would come out on top every time."
"Stop going philosophical on the boy, Obi-Wan, and answer his question. And who says the Force doesn't play favourites?"
It was only then that Luke noticed the three other beings standing with Obi-Wan. He recognized Yoda, but the other two were humans he couldn't place. The man who had spoken had shoulder-length brown hair that was generously streaked with gray and sparkling blue eyes that never left Luke's. "I'm Qui-Gon Jinn," he introduced himself. "I'm the one who found your father when he was a child, and saw in him the potential for a great Jedi and an even greater man."
The other human gave him an amused look. "That's very poetic of you, Qui-Gon." He turned back to Luke. "I'm Nejaa Halcyon. Anakin's a friend of mine."
"Nice to meet you," Luke replied, feeling extremely confused.
"Time on our side is not," Yoda interjected sternly, glaring up at the three taller Jedi. "Continue with our objective, you will."
"Yes, Master Yoda," they chorused obediently, sounding like reprimanded children. Obi-Wan addressed Luke again.
"Get Anakin out of here. Go to the Executor and have them take you to the Rebel Base. Admiral Piett is a reasonable man, and very loyal to your father. He will help you. We will meet you there."
Luke opened his mouth to ask what exactly they were planning, but the four Jedi were already gone.
He looked down at Anakin's prone form. "I guess I'm just going to have to trust that they know what their doing," Luke muttered, and set to work getting his father's body aboard one of the Imperial vessels.
"Admiral, a ship has exited the Death Star. The pilot will not speak to anyone but you."
Piett frowned. That was unusual. Most pilots didn't even know the name of the admiral they served under, much less spoke to them.
"Hold your fire," he snapped at his crew, then stalked out of earshot to take the call. "Piett here."
"Admiral! Finally. This is Luke Skywalker, Admiral. I have Lord Vader on board. Repeat, I have Darth Vader on board. He's – ah, injured. Requesting permission to dock."
Luke Skywalker? "Permission granted. Use Lord Vader's personal landing pad."
"Where exactly – oh, never mind, I see it. Thanks, Admiral."
"I will meet you there, Skywalker. We have much to discuss. Piett out."
Piett turned the comlink off, already heading toward Vader's private docking bay.
Luke guided the ship into the Executor. There was only one other being in sight. He assumed that this was the admiral.
No sooner had Luke touched down and lowered the boarding ramp than Piett was on board. "Even injured, I can't believe Lord Vader even let you in the cockpit. His passion for being at the controls of a ship is legendary." Piett looked around. "Speaking of my lord, where is he, Skywalker?"
Luke swallowed nervously. Somehow he didn't think Piett would believe Anakin was merely unconscious. "In the back."
Piett turned and strode in the indicated direction. When he reached the hold where Anakin's body lay, he froze.
Luke hadn't bothered to replace the mask. The sight of Anakin's pale, scarred face had no doubt shocked the admiral. Only the black suit and the mask lying next to him related that man on the floor to the fearsome Dark Lord of the Sith.
Piett stepped forward cautiously. "My lord?" he called softly. He knelt beside his superior, his back to Luke, and felt for a pulse.
When he stood again and turned, Luke found himself staring down a blaster.
"Have a seat, Skywalker," Piett ordered in a hard voice, gesturing him into the hold.
Remembering that neither he nor his father had a lightsaber at the moment that he could arm himself with, and that he wanted Piett's help, Luke thought it best to do as he was told. He edged around the doorway and slid down the wall. Piett's pistol never moved from its target between Luke's eyes.
"There is a great deal of distance between injured and dead, Skywalker." Piett's eyes were cold. "Care to explain?"
Luke gulped. "I – I don't really know where to begin . . ."
"Try the beginning," Piett suggested flatly.
Luke struggled to collect his thoughts. Where was the beginning? "Well, I guess it all started about a year ago at Bespin . . ."
As Luke told his story, he noted that Piett was an excellent listener. The admiral never interrupted. If he ever wanted more details or was shocked at what Luke told him, he didn't express it. He merely listened passively.
When Luke finished, Piett holstered his blaster and sat down in front of him. "Let me get this straight," he said carefully. "Vader is your father, the Emperor is dead, and a bunch of dead Jedi want me to take you to the Rebel Base?"
Luke nearly winced. When he put it like that . . . "Yeah. I was just going to head to Base myself, but this ship is a little short on hyperspace capabilities."
"Indeed." Piett stared at Luke for several seconds, then took out his comlink. "Alright. What are the coordinates?"
After they had safely entered hyperspace, Piett showed Luke to his father's personal rooms. Luke commented on the deserted corridors as they walked.
"There is nothing around here that the crew needs to deal with, so they just don't come here," Piett explained. "This is Lord Vader's intensely private domain, after all. He might misinterpret their intentions, and – well, let's just say that nobody wants Lord Vader to misinterpret anything."
Luke smiled weakly.
"Here we are." Piett stopped. "It's that door." He pointed.
"You're not coming?"
Piett gave him a look. "No."
There was little in the room. A hyperbaric chamber took up most of the space. Luke opened it, hoping there was something slightly more personal than Imperial datapads inside.
Other than some machines and a supply of syringes containing vitamin and mineral supplements, the only thing of any interest was an extra lightsaber. He took it with him when he left. It was red, but it would have to do until he could build another one.
"Find anything?" Piett asked as he reemerged.
"Only this." He held up the lightsaber.
Piett sensed his disappointment. "You'll have to check his residences. He likely kept his more personal possessions there."
Luke looked at him curiously. "Where did he live?"
"I believed he has a place on Imperial Center, but whenever he took leave he went to Vjun."
Piett's comlink beeped. He activated it. "Piett here."
"Admiral, we are ready to revert to realspace."
"Thank you, Captain. Go ahead." He switched the unit off.
Luke was struck with a thought. "Hey, can I borrow that? I should probably let my sister know I'm okay."
Piett stared at him.
Luke smiled innocently. "Oh, did I forget to mention that I have a twin sister?"
The admiral shook his head in disbelief and handed the comlink over.
"Luke!" Leia shrieked. "You're alright! Well, I knew you were, I could feel it, but – We got it, Luke! The Death Star's gone! We're celebrating right now – where are you, Luke? You should be here."
Luke told her the whole story.
Leia sighed, her exuberance gone. "Luke, if he's dead --"
"Hey, I'm just following orders!"
"From dead people! And the Executor, oh Luke . . ."
"Look, can you just call Mon Mothma for me so she doesn't blast us all on sight? She'll listen to you. Tell her it'll only be me, Father and Piett to land. The crew will stay in orbit."
Leia sighed. "Alright. And I'll go round up Han and Chewie. We'll be there in an hour or so."
"Great. Thanks, Leia."
She smiled. "What are sisters for?"
Mon Mothma herself met them on the landing pad. She had had the foresight to bring an anti-grav stretcher from the medical bay, for which Luke was grateful. It would make getting Anakin off the ship that much easier.
Soon the four of them were settled in the medical bay. An MD droid bustled up and bent over Anakin. After a few moments, it straightened. "Apologies, but this man is dead. There is nothing we can do for him."
"I know," Luke replied, "But can you get him out of that suit? And take off the mechanical hand?"
"The ruined one or the whole one?" the droid asked.
The three living humans blinked. "What?" Luke asked intelligently.
"Both arms are mechanical," the droid repeated. "From the elbow down. And both legs from just above the knee down. He also has an artificial lung, and several other organs have been patched up with mechanics."
Mon Mothma looked horrified; Piett was shocked. Luke didn't know what he felt. "Take off all the limbs, but leave the other stuff, I guess."
Leia, Han and Chewbacca arrived soon after the last prosthesis had been removed. All three of them stopped dead in their tracks when they saw the wreck of a man on the operating table. "Luke . . . ?" Leia asked, sounding as if she wasn't sure she wanted to know the answer.
Luke nodded. "Yes."
Leia's hand went to her mouth and her brown eyes filled with tears of compassion. Han glanced from her to Luke. "Well? Me and Chewie aren't mind-readers, you know."
Luke chuckled mirthlessly. "Han, meet our father, the one-time Darth Vader."
Han's eyes widened. "That's Darth Vader?" He edged closer, then swore as he realized the full extent of Anakin's injuries. "How in the hells could anyone survive that?"
"Anakin has always been exceptionally resilient," a voice said from beside Luke.
Luke jumped. "Ben!"
Leia was shocked out of her tears. "Where did you lot come from?!" she demanded. Han gave her a strange look.
Luke looked around. Sure enough, Yoda, Qui-Gon and Nejaa were there, too. "They're Force spirits," Luke explained. "Only those of us who are Force-sensitive can see them."
"Are you saying there's a bunch of ghosts in here?" Han asked in alarm.
"Shut up, Han!" Leia snapped. "They are introducing themselves!"
When Luke and Leia had told everyone else just who was in the room with them, Obi-Wan asked them to move slightly back from the table Anakin lay on. Then the four Jedi stood around it, concentrating.
At first, Luke wasn't sure what they were doing. He could feel them calling on the Force in waves, but wasn't sure what they were using it for.
It was Leia who noticed it first. "Look!" she gasped, pointing at Anakin's chest.
They all saw it, then. Just a tiny patch of skin at first, but spreading with increasing speed. Colour flooded into it, and it writhed grotesquely, only to settle into porcelain smoothness. Golden brown hair blossomed from his scalp, curling as it grew.
"That's impossible," Han breathed.
Obi-Wan chuckled tiredly. "I've said it before, and I'll say it again: For Anakin, the completely impossible has an uncanny way of becoming merely difficult."
Luke could only stare. Impossible was one word he had stopped using tonight.
The Force spirits moved back, and Luke and Leia stepped forward hesitantly, studying their father's handsome features. "I wonder why they did that," Leia murmured. "Fixed his looks, I mean."
Luke was about to reply when he noticed something he never thought he'd see again.
Anakin Skywalker was breathing.