A/N: Written for an L/V group challenge, which was to write a short story focusing on the conversation that took place when either Darth Vader or Luke Skywalker learned of their relationship.
He could feel the agent's anxiety from the moment the ship landed in the Executor's bay, though the source was unknown to him. This particular being, his most trusted agent and one of the very few alive who knew of his former identity, had been tasked with retrieving the name of the pilot who had caused the Death Star's untimely demise. While he had been privately relieved to see the end of that bloated monument to insignificant technology, others did not share his opinion and were even now clamoring for the capture and execution of the being responsible. Though the destruction of the Death Star was now several standard months past, the pilot's identity remained a closely guarded Rebellion secret. Previous attempts had proved mostly useless, revealing only that he was a member of the infamous Rogue Squadron that had been a thorn in his side for so long.
With the return of the deep cover agent, he could only hope more progress had been made in solving that puzzle, for his own private reasons. Any being that strong in the Force would be a serious threat against his position…or a possible asset in a bid to wrest control of the throne.
That satisfying train of thought was broken by the entrance of the agent. A medium-build human, he had no distinguishing features that would allow any accidental exposure of his identity. He normally displayed a confidence born of long acquaintance with the Dark Lord, but now he barely maintained his professional mask of calm. Only the Force betrayed his agitation.
"What have you found?"
"The High Command will be relocating to a secondary base in the Thila system, though I believe that is only a temporary staging point. Reports indicate a larger base somewhere in the Greater Javin region, possibly the Anoat or Yarith sectors, as of yet unconfirmed."
"Probe droid deployment will be concentrated in that area. More precise information would be of great use, however."
"I understand, milord. The target area will be narrowed down as our spies gather more information."
"Good. Have you uncovered any information concerning the current whereabouts of the High Command?"
"No, milord, I have not. All indications point towards the cruiser designated as Home One, but there have been no confirmed sightings."
"Understood." He waited patiently, knowing that there was more to come, for the man's unease had only grown. The Force hummed expectantly.
"I have located the Death Star pilot, milord."
Had he the capacity, his heart would have quickened at the news. Long months of searching and the expenditure of precious resources were not in vain, after all.
"Were you able to discover his identity?"
"Yes." The agent swallowed hard, dropped his gaze to the floor, his sudden spike of fear obvious even to a Force-blind as he held out a small holo-projector. A tiny exertion of the Force brought the device to his gloved hand. A small image flared to life, static marring it briefly. It showed a young man, no more than twenty years old, with blond hair and blue eyes. For the briefest of instants, he thought the image was one of himself, before his injuries, but a closer examination revealed differences. The boy –for he was little more than that, despite his accomplishments- was slight of build where he had been powerfully built. The planes of his face were softer, bespeaking a more quiet temperament, and his eyes showed none of the passions that had tormented him at that age. Still, the likeness was a bit jarring.
"I daresay you see the similarity," the agent whispered, his eyes still on the floor.
"It is a coincidence, nothing more."
The man shook his head. "I had chance to speak with him, shortly before I learned his name. His father was a Jedi in the Clone Wars."
"What of it?" Now he was beginning to grow impatient. What could truly be so terrifying about this boy's identity?
"He is a native of Tatooine," the agent said quietly. "He met an old Jedi by the name of Ben Kenobi and was told that his father was Anakin Skywalker, a Jedi Knight."
"That is impossible," he protested, though it was a feeble defense at best.
"His name is Luke Skywalker," the man continued. "He's your son."
For an instant, he couldn't believe it. It was not possible: it couldn't be! She had died before giving birth, died at his own hand. The child must have perished with her. His master had told him it was so. He lied, a traitorous voice whispered. He lied.
For a moment, he couldn't breathe, the emotional shock temporarily overriding the mechanisms as he stared blankly at the tiny glowing image in his hand.
"My son," he breathed, still almost unable to believe his eyes.
His hand closed abruptly around the image, hiding it from view. "Destroy all records you obtained about him."
"Milord?" The man's shock was reasonable. He had gone to a considerable amount of trouble to bring this information to him, after all.
"If the Emperor learns of his existence, he will go to any length to destroy him."
Comprehension showed in the other's eyes: comprehension…and sorrow.
"It will be done, milord," –the agent hesitated for an instant before continuing- "but he will find out eventually. He always does."
"So be it," he said softly, drifting to the viewport to look upon the vast starfield. "All I can do is to buy him time."
"To do what, milord?"
"To become what I could have been."
The agent wisely did not reply. Seconds stretched into minutes before he gained the courage to speak once more.
"Is that all, milord?"
"Yes. You are dismissed."
With a sharp salute, the man turned on his heel and exited the Dark Lord's quarters, leaving a strangely subdued Sith behind him. Had he lingered but another moment, he would have seen his superior activate the holo-projector once more before carefully placing it in a hidden compartment within his cloak, next to a small, worn piece of wood from an obscure Outer Rim planet.