Post ESB. Totally AU. Halloween-ish type short story.

Ceremony of the Sith

Cloud City

"I'll never join you!" Luke cried out in despair as he hung over the precipice. Shutting his eyes, the young man prepared to let go of the railing and plunge to his death over Bespin. No one will ever find my body... Luke thought sadly as he released his grip. But the young Jedi did not fall. Held in an invisible grasp, Luke felt himself floating back to the safety of the walkway.

"Did you think it would be so easy, Luke? Did you really think I'd simply let you fall to your death?" Vader asked as he watched his son stumble and fall to the ground at his feet.

Luke looked up, holding his arm, his face showing defeat. "Then the Emperor will kill me," he said quietly. "The end result will be the same."

"You are a Sith, my son. It is time you learned exactly what that means." The Dark Lord pulled Luke to his feet, and dragged him to his waiting ship.


"He captured Luke," Leia whispered as the Falcon tore away from Cloud City with Lando Calrissian at the controls. Both of the men I love are gone....

"How do you know that?" Lando asked, perhaps a bit too sharply.

"I can feel Luke," she replied, shutting her eyes. "I can sense his despair, his fear. Just like I can sense what Han is feeling."

"Han isn't feeling anything! He's in hibernation!"

"You're wrong, Calrissian. Han's aware, and he's in pain." Just like Luke.

Chewie gave an angry roar, turning his blue eyes to the man he considered a traitor, and Lando swallowed nervously. "That's not possible!" he argued fearfully. "Can we discuss this after we get into hyperspace?" Without waiting for an answer, the baron pulled back on the lever. The stars remained focused and the hyperdrive rattled and wheezed. The Wookiee snarled at Lando. "It's not my fault!"

Suddenly, the Falcon bucked as a tractor beam grasped the small ship. "It doesn't matter anymore," Leia said sadly. "It's too late."

For a few minutes, Calrissian and Chewbacca struggled to free the Falcon from the tight grip of the Executor, but it was useless. In moments, the Millennium Falcon was sitting silently in the vast hanger of the personal ship of Darth Vader.


Executor

Princess Leia stood defiantly as Vader entered her cell. "You surely did not think you could escape that easily," Vader rumbled as he stood before her.

"Why?" she asked. "Why did you want Luke so badly? What have you done with him?"

"He is my son."

The room seemed to spin, and Leia sat down on the hard bunk. "You're lying."

"You will be able to ask him yourself, once we arrive home."

"Home?" she gave a bitter laugh. "You mean Coruscant?"

"No, Princess. I mean Sithy'n." The Dark Lord turned and left her cell with further explanation. It was enough of a shock for her to hear that Luke was his son. He would wait to tell her that she was his daughter.


His face was pale and drawn when the guards brought him before Vader again. The medics had given him pain medication, and replaced his hand. Fighting fear, Luke looked up at his father. "Leia is on this ship," he stated quietly.

"Yes."

"What are you going to do to her?"

"I am taking her home."

"What?" Luke felt confused. "Alderaan was destroyed. She has no home."

"Her home is our home, Luke. She is your sister - your twin sister."

Luke was speechless, and he could only stare at his father in silence. Finally he found his voice. "You tortured her on the Death Star." I thought I was in love with her....

"No, I used drugs to weaken her resistance to my probing of her mind. When she resisted me, she experienced pain. It was unfortunate, but unavoidable."

"Unfortunate?" Luke could barely believe what he was hearing.

"At the time, I did not know she was my daughter. But her mental resistance was too strong, and her resemblance to her mother....." Inside the mask, Vader shut his eyes. Padme. If he had taken her to Sithy'n, like he was called to do, she would still be alive. She would still be young and beautiful. Forever young and beautiful, and forever his. "Soon, you will understand, Luke. And your sister will understand. A Sith should never leave home. It was Palpatine's mistake." And mine.

"I don't understand what you're talking about."

"No, you don't. But soon, everything will become clear." Vader motioned to his guards. "Take my son back to his quarters. Treat him well, or you will die."

The red-robed guards bowed, and escorted Luke away.


Mara Jade was asleep in her cell when Vader entered. Instantly, she jumped to her feet and backed away from the powerful Sith, green eyes wary, her body trembling from the after-effects of the pain-inducing drugs and torture that had been inflicted upon her body.

"Enjoying your accommodations, Jade?"

"The Emperor will have your head for this, Vader," she snarled, swaying unsteadily. "You have no right to torture me and hold me as your prisoner."

"The Emperor is dying. Even the destruction of Alderaan was not enough to appease his hunger. His body is simply decaying too quickly."

Confusion crossed Jade's features. "Alderaan?"

"He requires the pain and death of souls to survive. On Sithy'n, he could have lived forever, but he got greedy and bored. He needed power and control over millions to alleviate that boredom."

"What does that have to do with me? I'm not a Sith."

"No, Jade. But soon you will belong to one."


"Have a seat, Princess," Vader nodded as he indicated a round table laden with food. Luke was already sitting at the table when Leia was brought in. The guards released her binders and left.

"Luke? Are you alright?"

The young man held up his new hand, and flexed it thoughtfully. "I guess."

Immediately, understanding and sympathy filled Leia's eyes. "Oh, Luke." She turned to Vader. "Is that the way you treat your son?"

"My son should not defy me. Neither should my daughter."

"Daughter? Who is your daughter?" Leia was not certain she wanted the Sith to answer.

Vader gave a rumbling chuckle. "You are, Princess. Luke is your twin brother."

Grasping the back of a chair, Leia couldn't think of a reply. Finally Luke responded dully. "He's telling the truth."

"You don't know that!" she cried out.

"Please, sit down," Vader repeated. "I have much to discuss with both of you. Much to explain." Trembling, Leia sat and Vader waved his hand at the food on the table. "Eat. It is nothing but the finest." When Leia did not answer or move to eat, Vader sighed and withdrew a small electronic medical chart. "This is the proof you require. Blood tests show beyond a doubt you are my daughter, and Luke is my son."

"Forged," Leia whispered, refusing to take the chart from Vader's gloved hand.

"No. They tell the truth, and you will soon know this. Once we arrived on Sithy'n, everything will become clear - you will understand and believe."

"I've never heard of Sithy'n," Leia replied, staring down at the reflective table top.

"It is the planet of my father. It is why I am a Sith, and why you are also Sith. It is your heritage. You cannot deny your bloodline."

"Where is this system located?" Luke asked, curious despite himself.

"In the center of the Requiem Triangle."

The young man looked up sharply. "The Triangle? Even I've heard those spacer tales. Ships that go in there never come back."

"That is very true. The pilots are either enslaved... or consumed."

"Consumed? As in eaten?" Luke asked, shocked.

"Not physically, son. It's their souls that are consumed by the Sith to provide strength and enlightenment."

"Enlightenment?" Leia gave a harsh laugh. "You enslave people and call yourselves enlightened?"

"It is our way. Those that are enslaved are necessary to procreate and continue our species. A Sith cannot breed with a Sith."

"Then our mother was a slave?" Luke wondered.

"Padme. It was my error not to return to Sithy'n with her once I chose her. She would still be alive, and mine," Vader replied, his head bowed. "I did not learn this lesson from my father. He left the planet with my mother, only to die, leaving her trapped on a horrible world as a slave to another. Sith are foolish to leave their system, and I have learned this the hard way." He looked up at his silent children. "Palpatine took his bondmate with him when he left Sith, as all do when they leave. It was only after she was killed that he lost his mind. Only one bondmate is allowed - ever. And that is why I have chosen one for you, my son. She is strong-willed and beautiful, but that strong-will is only temporary. The Force-strong are weak in comparison to the Sith, which is why they were so easily disposed of by Palpatine. Once you have completed the Ceremony of the Sith, she will belong to you, mind, body and soul - for all eternity."

"What if I refuse to do this... ceremony?" Luke questioned sharply.

Beneath his mask, Vader smiled. "Once you arrive on Sithy'n, it will no longer be an issue." He turned his helmeted face to the frightened Princess. "You have already chosen your bondmate."

"What?"

"Solo."

"But... you've frozen him in carbonite. And you've given him to Fett!"

"Fett only thinks he has Solo, but what he was given was only an empty chamber, with a fake top copied from the original. The actual smuggler is on this ship, and once we arrive on Sithy'n I will have him revived from the carbonite." When Leia only stared in shocked silence at the Sith Lord, he continued. "Are you not pleased he is here, instead of on Tatooine?"

Any other time, Leia would have been thrilled, but suddenly this alternative seemed worse than even Jabba the Hutt. "Why did you freeze him in carbonite?"

"He is too strong-willed as well. The torture and freezing will weaken his resolve. It will now be easy for you to claim him during the Ceremony."

"You wanted to freeze me!" Luke protested.

"It was only a test of your skills, my son. It was never my intent to freeze you, only lure you to Bespin with the pain of your friend and the mental anguish of your sister."

"What did you do with Lando and Chewie?"

"Calrissian will be consumed," Vader said, dismissively. "I am uncertain if anyone will want to consume the Wookiee. Most Siths prefer the souls of their own kind. If he is not consumed, once Solo is yours, you will order him to execute the Wookiee. The ultimate test, if you will, of his new obedience to his Mistress."

"I will never do that," Leia shouted, appalled.

"We shall see."


Sithy'n

From a distance, spacers could not see the planet. Only a misfortunate few would stumble upon it during the course of their travels, for it was not listed on any astronavigation charts. Those that did accidentally "find" the system were never heard from again. The planet itself was shrouded in a misty fog that cascaded over rolling hills and spindly tall trees that appeared to be reaching desperately away from the ground, up toward the steel gray sky, as if begging to escape. Occasionally, there would be villages made up of stone buildings that matched the color of the sky. The temperature was neither freezing cold nor very warm - just a constant, dreary, bone chilling dampness. The sun never broke through the overcast, and the low hanging clouds merely merged with the lower fogbanks creating a veiled appearance to the solid objects on the ground.

When the twins stepped off the shuttle near Vader's foreboding castle, immediately a coldness settled over their spirits, weighing them down and at the same time, filling them with a sense of power. The pull of the Darkness was nearly overwhelming, and Leia grasped Luke's arm tightly. She looked up at her friend - now brother - and saw a change sweep across his features. "This is home," he whispered. "This is where we belong."

"Yes, my son," Vader agreed. "You feel the change, the Filling of your very essence. This is home." The Dark Lord turned to his guards. "Take the prisoners to the dungeon, and Solo to the medic-ward. Come, my children, and I will show you to your rooms."

The stone castle was huge and damp, even though fires blazed in every room. The walls sparkled with a silvery flecks in embedded in the dark gray blocks of stone, the floors were a polished dark wood. All the wood was dark, the furniture, the doors, and the trim on the windows. High above, chandeliers refracted the light from the fireplaces. Oddly, there was no dust, mold or grime anywhere. Vader lead his charges through the long, wide halls, finally pulling a large, dark door open. Inside was a bedroom, the walls draped in dark blue, heavy material. The furniture matched the other in the castle - dark, almost to the point of being black, and ornately engraved. "This is your room, my son," Vader tilted his head. "And yours, my daughter, is across the hall." Stepping over to the other side, he pulled a second doorway open. This room was an exact replica, with the exception of the material. Instead of dark blue, this room was blood red.

"How cozy," Leia commented flatly, trying to fight the change coming over her.

"You will soon find it very comforting," Vader replied. "It's like being in a womb, and you draw your nourishment from the very air you breathe. Please, make yourselves at home. Tonight, will be your bonding ceremony, my son." With that, he turned and left the young people standing in front of the doorways to their rooms.


Gasping for air, Solo reached sightlessly up. "Where am I?"

"You are on Sithy'n" the unmistakable voice of Vader replied.

This is not good, Han's confused mind told himself. "Sithy'n? I've never heard of it.... w..where's Leia? What h..have you done with the Princess and Chewie?"

"My daughter is preparing to witness Luke's bond ceremony. Your Wookiee is in my dungeon."

Dungeon? Daughter? Bond ceremony? "I ...I don't understand what you're talking about. L...Luke's here?" Han asked through his chattering teeth.

"It is irrelevant what you understand, Solo. Your purpose in life has changed dramatically, and by tomorrow night you will live only to serve." Vader then addressed another person in the room that Han hadn't been aware of. "Tie him down and restore his sight. He must be ready in thirty-six timeparts."

"Yes, Master," a male voice replied. A second later, Solo felt a hard jab as a needle was stuck in his upper arm. Moments later, he drifted off.


Dressed completely in a long, black dress, Leia was escorted into a huge chamber. Torches hung every few feet on the walls, black smoke wisping up from the flames and rising to the high ceiling. In the center of the room was a waist high stone slab, and a young woman with red hair lay flat on her back, chained down, her arms spread, ankles tight together. She wore much the same dress style as Leia, only a deep, midnight blue. She stared at the stone ceiling, hair fanned out beneath her head. The Princess tore her gaze away from the pretty woman as Luke and Vader entered the room behind her.

"What's this?" Luke asked nervously, now dressed fully in black, like Leia and Vader.

"Your bondmate," Vader answered simply. "You will complete the Ceremony of the Sith tonight, and she will be forever yours. I have chosen well for you, my son. She will serve you and bear you many children."

Luke and Leia exchanged looks. "I don't want to do this."

"You have no choice. Do you wish to become a Consumer, instead?"

"What?"

"If you do not have a bondmate, you must consume souls to survive. A bondmate replaces that need, as you consume her soul a tiny piece at a time. Never enough to kill, but always enough to own them and fill your need. It is what Palpatine has become, and the older and weaker he becomes, the more souls he consumes in a useless attempt to stop the inevitable - his death."

"What about you, Vader? Didn't you say your own bondmate died? And you can only have one bondmate? Are you a Consumer, too?" Leia asked, clenching her fists.

"True. And yes, I am a Consumer, also. But here on Sithy'n I will only need to consume very infrequently. The passing spacer should easily be able to fulfill my needs."

"Aren't there other Consumers on this system?" Luke questioned his father.

"Only those that have been foolish enough to leave the second time, and not return until after tragedy strikes their bondmate."

"Second time?"

"One time is required, to find a bondmate. Only the foolish leave Sithy'n a second time."

"Like you.... and Palpatine."

"Yes. I returned here with Palpatine years ago, after I understood my powers. Palpatine's bondmate was still alive then, and he had not yet lost his mind. I intended to return to Sithy'n after I claimed Padme, but Palpatine had other ideas. He wished to keep me as his apprentice, someone to do his bidding. If I would have brought your mother back here, when I should have, this is where you would have grown up- where you would have been born."

Luke walked up to the stone table, and stared down at the beautiful young woman. I want her.... I WANT her..... the idea became intense, undeniable, and unbearable. "How?" he whispered. The woman only stared at the ceiling, her eyes unfocused, her senses confused.

"Clear her mind, first," Vader instructed. "She has been heavily sedated." The Dark Lord stepped next to his son and placed Luke's real hand on Jade's forehead. "Reach in... break through all the walls and barriers.... she cannot fight you."

Shutting his eyes, Luke obeyed. He didn't listen as Leia protested in the background - he only WANTED her... this beautiful red-headed woman.

Nooooo! Jade's mind screamed in panic. "NOOO! You can't have me!

The young Skywalker delved ever deeper into her soul, pushing aside her shields. This young woman was Force-strong, but even with her Force-abilities, she was no match for a Sith, a Sith that was drawing power from the very air currents surrounding him. Mara was screaming now, crying out for help, struggling against the chains that held her. Leia attempted to move forward and pull her brother away, to try and break the connection somehow, but Vader grasped her arms and held her tight.

"This is not for you to interfere," Vader hissed.

"But, but she's hurting! Luke's hurting her!"

"It is not physical pain," Vader replied shortly. "She will survive."

With shocking abruptness, Mara Jade went limp, her struggle for 'self' over. Luke looked down as his prize. "Open your eyes, Mara," he ordered.

Her green eyes opened, staring up at her new Master. As hard as she tried, Mara could not speak or move as the young blond man removed her manacles. "Sit up," Luke told her.

Obey. I must obey... Jade sat up quickly.

"Do you understand the power now, Luke?" Vader asked softly.

"Yes, Father." It was a sensation of power and strength Luke had not thought possible. He never wanted the feeling to end.

"Take her back to your suite. She will never disobey you, as long as you remain on Sithy'n."

Luke turned to his father and smiled. "Thank you, father."


The next day

The dungeon door clanged open, and a Dark Sith entered the cold cell. Lando Calrissian forced himself to stand on shaky legs to face his captor. "Vader," he said dully.

"Calrissian, it is time."

"Time?" he asked fearfully, as he watched Vader remove his glove.

"Time for me to Consume." Vader stepped closer, forcing Lando to back up against the hard wall. He saw the fear in the gambler's wide eyes, noted the sweat trickling down his face, even in the coolness of the cell. Using his powers, Vader reached up and pressed his hand to Calrissian's forehead. Distantly, he heard the Baron scream, but soon the screams stopped. Vader took his hand away, and Calrissian dropped to the floor - dead. "Very satisfying, Baron." The Sith turned and walked away without a backwards glance.


When Han woke up, his body still ached and his head throbbed, but at least vision had returned. Sitting upright in his small room, Solo noted he'd been dressed in a dark red shirt and matching pants, but nothing was on his feet. Red? Red ain't my color, he groaned to himself, holding his head in his hands. The door opened, and four guards, dressed in red robes and masks, entered the room, pointing stun rods at the woozy smuggler. "Red seems to be the going color around here," Han smirked at the silent sentries.

Still not fully recovered from his torture and carbon-freezing, Han Solo was pulled to his feet and dragged by the guards through the vast hallways of the castle, then into a large, nearly empty room. A stone table stood menacingly in the center, and Han was forced toward it. When is this going to end? he thought desperately, thinking of the scan grid and wondering what further torture was about to happen to him. Despite fighting and struggling, the four guards easily hoisted him on the cold stone, his arms yanked painfully apart and metal binders clamped around his wrists. His bare ankles were manacled together, and once he was helpless and bound, the guards left.

Chewing his lip and trying to stay calm, Solo began wondering about the Princess and Chewie. After what felt like an eternity, Han heard a door swing open, but since it was behind his head he couldn't see who entered the room When he heard the respirator, the Corellian didn't need to see who it was anymore. "Vader," Han said aloud.

"Han!" Leia said trying to pull toward the bound smuggler. Luke and Vader held her firmly, and guided her to Solo's side.

Twisting his head to the side, Han grinned up at the woman. "Sweetheart! Are you alright? Where are we? Have you seen Chewie?" Suddenly, Han saw his young friend. "Luke? What are you doing, kid?"

"So many questions, Solo," Vader rumbled. "And all of them will soon be so unimportant to you."

"It's time, sister," Luke prodded Leia gently. "You won't regret it, believe me. The feeling is..... unreal."

"Sister?" Han frowned, confused.

"I... can't," she whispered through tears. "I love him."

"If you refuse, then you will soon need to Consume to live," Vader said simply. "The hunger will not give you a choice, and Solo will be Consumed rather than bonded. Is that what you truly wish for?"

Leia turned her eyes toward Luke. "Luke, please.... help me. Help Han! Can't you see what's happening?"

"I see very clearly. The bonding is beautiful, my sweet sister. It makes you complete. Trust me, and embrace the flow of Sithy'n. Han will be just fine, and he'll be with you for eternity, living only to please you. Think about what that means," Luke implored. "Do you want his death, instead?"

Trembling, Leia shut her eyes, trying to resist. "No, my daughter," Vader intoned. "Do not shut your eyes. Look into Solo's eyes, and feel."

"Leia?" Han said softly. "What's going on here? Come on... fight them. Set me free, and we can both escape, together."

Set me free, together... Leia opened her eyes and looked deeply into Han's hazel eyes. I want him........

"Yes, my daughter," Vader encouraged quietly. "You want him." Like before, Vader gently placed Leia's hand on Solo's forehead. "Reach in, he cannot fight you."

White hot, blinding pain slammed into Han's mind. Gasping, he made a feeble attempt to turn his face away, but invisible bonds held his head firm. Leia! No! Please don't do this! Even as he thought this, he knew it was too late. Solo could feel her burrowing deeper and deeper into his very being, and as he opened his mouth to scream, he mentally saw his spirit sucked from his body and into the control of the Princess. She's smiling..... was his last conscious thought.

It's wonderful....Leia thought dreamily as she claimed Solo's mind and soul. He's mine... for eternity.... Luke was right. I'm complete.

"Very good, daughter," Vader nodded in approval as he removed the binders from Solo. "The Ceremony of the Sith is finished. Both of my children have bondmates. You will never need to Consume now to live. It is the way it should be."

"Thank you, father," Leia smiled back at the tall Sith. She turned her attention back to the Corellian. "Open your eyes, Han," she ordered, pleased when he instantly obeyed. "Come with me." Han silently got off the slab and waited to follow his new Sith Mistress. Leia looked over at Luke. "I see clearly now, too, Luke. Thank you."

Luke embraced his sister briefly and watched as she left the room with Solo following in her wake.

THE END