A/N: Told you it'd be quick. Enjoy Chapter Eight and Epilogue.
"Welcome, young Skywalker. I have been expecting you."
Luke peered at the hooded figure with defiance. His father was standing from his kneel next to him. The Emperor waved his hand and the tight binders unclasped themselves, clattering to the floor.
"You no longer need those" he hissed. Luke rubbed his wrist, trying to keep his inner peace. This was the man that turned his father. His life was the way it was because of this man. So many things in the galaxy were horrible, because of this man. Leia was wrong, their father wasn't a true monster, the Emperor was.
"Guards, leave us" intoned the Emperor. The two red guards that stood at the elevator promptly left. The Emperor peered at Luke from beneath his cloak for a moment.
"I'm looking forward to completing your training. In time you will call me Master, as your father does as well as my Hand, Mara Jade." he said as a young woman with flaming red hair and emerald eyes (thankful, as opposed to sith yellow) stepped out from beneath the shadows. She had on a dark green skin tight jumpsuit with a sleek sliver lightsaber hanging from her utility belt.
Luke's eyes flitted to the young woman before responding. She can't be older than me he thought to himself. "You're gravely mistaken. You won't convert me as you did my father or your…Hand."
The Emperor stood from his black throne and carefully made his way over to Luke.
"Oh, no, my young Jedi. You will find that it is you who are mistaken" he spat. This gave Luke a first look at his façade, something the galaxy hadn't got since the fall of the Republic. He was hideous; pale, sagging, wrinkled skin hanging from under his yellow eyes. "About a great many things."
Vader took a step forward, wanting to momentarily remove the Emperors concentration from his son.
His son who shouldn't be here. The only reason he was here was because of Vader's own fault and flaws. He was the reason for his mother's death, his beloved's death, and soon to be his son's. He wondered how he would condemn his daughter to death, as he did the rest of his love ones.
"His lightsaber" Vader said solemnly, extending the weapon to his master. The Emperor momentarily narrowed his eyes at his wayward apprentice, but ignored it. Soon this Jedi affair would be over, either ending in the boy joining forces with the Sith or his death. The Emperor took it.
"Ah, yes, a Jedi's weapon" he said, examining it. "Much like your father's. By now you must know your father can never be turned from the dark side. So will it be with you."
"You're wrong. Soon I'll be dead...and you with me" said Luke boldly.
The Emperor merely laughed, strolling back to his throne with arrogance. "Perhaps you refer to the imminent attack of your Rebel fleet" he said with amusement.
Luke looked up sharply, trying to remain impassive.
"Yes...I assure you we are quite safe from your friends here."
Vader looked at his son, who was trying to rein in his fear.
"Your overconfidence is your weakness" Luke accused the Emperor.
The Emperor turned to Luke. "Your faith in your friends is yours" he spat venomously, anger growing. He sat down thrown.
Tread carefully, my son. Do not goad him Vader thought to his son. Luke glanced at his father. The Emperor looked between the two of them, feeling a small tremor, assuming that the younger was slowly turning to the darkness that his father was consumed by. And the Emperor knew he was never wrong, so it must be true.
"Everything that has transpired has done so according to my design. Your friends up there on the Sanctuary Moon" he said, gesturing to Endor. Luke bristled with panic, much to the Emperors delight "are walking into a trap. As is your Rebel fleet! It was I who allowed the Alliance to know the location of the shield generator. It is quite safe from your pitiful little band. An entire legion of my best troops awaits them."
Luke took a deep breath in order to try and reclaim his peace, glancing between the Emperor, his father, and his lightsaber. Mara Jade tilted her head slightly, studying the Skywalker boy. She did not understand how he was resisting her master. Was he that deluded? Or was it something else?
"Oh...I'm afraid the deflector shield will be quite operational when your friends arrive" said the Emperor with mock sorrow, grinning evilly at the end of it. Settling into his throne once more' he gestured toward the young Jedi.
"Come, boy. See for yourself" said the Emperor, Vader stepping into place next to Mara Jade. "From here you will witness the final destruction of the Alliance, and the end of your insignificant Rebellion."
Luke hesitantly stepped forward, toward the Emperors viewing window, horror growing with every step. He watched as the ambushed Rebel Alliance fought against the larger Imperial fleet. He looked back to the Emperor and to his lightsaber, lying untouched on the armrest. The Emperor seeing this, smiled and petted the saber.
"You want this, don't you? The hate is swelling in you now. Take your Jedi weapon. Use it. I am unarmed. Strike me down with it." Luke sighed, turning back to the window. "Give in to your anger. With each passing moment, you make yourself more my servant."
Vader watched his son in agony, helpless. Luke turned back, drawing audacity from his wavering determination. "No." he refused.
"It is unavoidable. It is your destiny. You, like your father, are now mine!"
Luke turned back to the window, trying to find his inner peace, releasing his hate and fear into the Force, watching the battle progress.
"As you can see, my young apprentice, your friends have failed. Now witness the firepower of this fully armed and operational battle station." The Emperor spoke into his comlink "Fire at will, Commander."
In shock, Luke looked out the viewing window to see the Rebel fleet being decimated in blinding explosions of light and debris.
"Your fleet has lost. And your friends on the Endor moon will not survive. There is no escape, my young apprentice. The Alliance will die...as will your friends."
Vader watched his son turn to the Emperor, eyes full of rage. He glanced at his weapon once more.
"Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless. Take your weapon! Strike me down with all your hatred, and your journey towards the dark side will be complete."
Luke turned to the window, trying to control his rage. Suddenly, a dam broke within the Jedi. He turned, summoning his weapon, lighting it, fully intending to cut down the evil being before him.
Anticipating this, Mara Jade swiftly stepped in front of her master, igniting her own weapon, blocking the attack. The Emperor let out a cackling laugh. Vader watched helplessly as his son battled the Emperor's Hand.
Luke was attacking again and again, but Mara Jade only blocked, steadily moving farther and farther away from him. Why hasn't she been trained to her full potential? he wondered. He felt the raw power she possessed, but she was barely trained. Jade gritted her teeth as she fell backwards down the stairs. She tucked and rolled out of it, landing in a knelt defensive position.
"Good" laughed the Emperor. "Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Let the hate flow through you."
Luke paused, and lowered his weapon, realizing he had been drawing from the dark side. He shut of his lightsaber.
"I won't fight her. She's barely been trained! I won't fight anyone."
Jade furrowed her brows, resenting the comment he made. Her master had always told her she had little force potential.
"You are unwise to let your guard down" spat the Emperor.
Behind you! thought Vader to Luke. Luke turned around just in time to block Mara Jade's attack.
Your thoughts betray you, father. I feel the good in you...the conflict Luke thought, jumping and flipping around, blocking Jade's ferocious attacks.
There is no conflict, son.
You couldn't bring yourself to kill me before; you can't even fight me now! I don't believe you'll destroy me, landing onto a catwalk above.
"You underestimate the power of the dark side. If you will not fight, then you will meet your destiny" crooned the Emperor. Luke opened his mouth to retort, but quick as a flash, Jade pulled a small blaster and shot two shots rapidly, unlatching the cables that held the catwalk he was standing on. Luke fell and rolled himself under the Emperors platform as the Emperor laughed once more.
"Good, good" he said as Jade cautiously investigated the low-ceilinged area on the level below the throne, lightsaber held ready. Luke hid in semi-darkness, trying to plan his next move.
"You cannot hide forever, my very young apprentice."
"I will not fight" said Luke, trying to calm himself. He must …he didn't know what he must do in order to stop this madness. He needed to save the others especially… He closed his eyes, banishing those thoughts. If his father was able to keep it a secret, surely he could.
"Give yourself to the dark side. It is the only way you can save your friends" rang the Emperors voice. Jades soft footsteps sounded as she tried to ferret out Luke. "Yes, your thoughts betray you. Your feelings for them are strong. Especially for..."
Panic bubbled with Vader and Luke as the Emperor paused and smiled with glee.
No! thought Luke. No, not Leia. Oh, I failed her. It's all my fault.
Never your fault. All mine. It can't be helped, son lamented Vader.
It can! Yet you do nothing! You don't even try! fumed Luke.
"So...you have a twin sister. Your feelings have now betrayed her, too. Obi-Wan was wise to hide her from your father and I. Now his failure is complete. If you will not turn to the dark side, then perhaps she will."
"Never!" screamed Luke, turning to run and kill the Emperor. But Jade was there again, running to his defense. Luke let his aggression out, viciously fighting with her. His saber hit hers so many times, that her unpracticed arm couldn't take it. She tried backing up while she blocked him, but stumbled on the bridge. Luke hit her again, and she fell onto her back, saber spinning out of her hand. Luke put his emerald lightsaber to her throat.
Master, Mara called through her special connection to the Emperor Master, stop this.
Vader watched, helpless once more, as his son began to slip deeper into the dark side. Luke had his lightsaber held to the throat of barely trained Mara Jade, rage gleaming in his eyes.
"Good!" said the Emperor, ignoring the only plea his Hand had ever made to him, walking over to Luke "Your hate has made you powerful. Now, kill her. Kill her now."
Vader winced at the memory, unintentionally opening it to his son.
Good, Anakin, good. I knew you could do it. Kill him. Kill him now!
I shouldn't . . .
Mara's eyes widened as she looked to her master.
"But…she is your Hand." said Luke, hesitantly, reason slowly trickling back into his mind.
The Emperor waved his hand impatiently. "It is no matter. I have others. Do it! Fulfill your destiny, and take your place by my side. DO IT."
You have failed me for the last time, Mara Jade.
And with that he shattered the connection he had with the girl.
Mara Jade let out a horrible gasp and growl, determined not to scream, as pain exploded in her mind. She laid there, dizzy, eyes watering from the pain and betrayal. She looked resolutely at Luke, knowing she was about to die.
Luke retracted the lightsaber blade, stood up strait, and threw it to the side.
"Never! I'll never turn to the dark side. You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
The Emperor gleeful smile turned into a complete rage. "So be it...Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed" he spewed and let out a tidal of blue sith lighting, hitting Luke squarely in the chest.
Luke fell back, howling as the electric current fled throughout his body. He felt as though he was on fire. Mara Jade, still weak from the Emperor ripping himself from her mind, attempted to raise herself on shaky arms.
"No!" hissed the Emperor, sending a line of lighting her way. She let out an involuntary scream, arching her back in pain. "You stay down there, you worthless piece of filth. I will deal with you later!"
"Young fool...only now, at the end, do you understand." He said, reinstating his lighting attack on the young Jedi. Luke screamed again, writhing in on the floor. "Your feeble skills are no match for the power of the dark side. You have paid the price for your lack of vision."
"Father! Father, please! Help me!"
"Your father is mine! He will watch you perish and help me turn your sister! Now, young Skywalker...you will die!"
"NO!" howled Vader, charging and seizing the Emperor. "You will not harm them anymore!" Sith lighting ran through Vader as he picked up the unawares Emperor. He lifted him above his head and off the bridge, and hurling him off into the bottomless shaft. He soon after collapsed onto the floor.
"Father," mumbled Luke, exhausted. He sat up and unsteadily made his way over to his fallen father. The Death Star II began to quake. "We must get out."
Luke grabbed his father's arm and hoisted it around his shoulders, ignoring the burning ach he felt throughout his whole body. Mara Jade had finally pulled herself up and was looking over the railing, at the place where her master – no, sorry – former master, had fallen.
She was still raw from Sidious' betrayal and blatant disregard for her worth. She knew the Sith Lord had no love for her, nor really cared for her wellbeing. His little toy. She was his beautiful but deadly possession. But apparently not indispensable she thought bitterly.
"Come on!" called Luke, looking at her.
She turned her head incredulously. "What?" she asked, bewildered.
"This thing is gunna blow, we gotta get out of here!" he answered. "Come on!"
"I tried to kill you" she explained, as if he didn't know already. Was this hick crazy? Why in the nine hells would he try to help her now?
"I know," he said, hoisting Darth Vader, his kriffing father, a little higher on his shoulders. "But that was then, and this is now, and I'm still alive. Let's go!"
The space station shuddered, and that was good enough reason for her.
For now, at least.
If any of the Imperials had been paying much attention, none of them would have believed to see rebel scum Luke Skywalker and a red headed dancer of the Emperor's dragging Darth Vader down the hallways and into the hanger of the expiring space station. Mara had begrudgingly helped Skywalker trek his father to the nearest ship, muttering all the while that she should get her head examined. They both stumbled under Vader's weight, his breaths coming in harsh wheezes from his voice synthesizer.
"Start the ship" said Luke, "I'll pull him the rest of the way."
She nodded, too drained to tell him she wasn't about to take orders from some back planet farm boy, no matter how many Jedi tricks he had up his sleeve or who his daddy was. Pieces of the space station were falling off the wall; wires were short circuiting. There would be other times for her pride. She ran into the ship.
Luke turned to grab his father from under both his arms and pull him the rest of the way, but Anakin raised an arm.
"Luke, help me take off this mask."
Luke looked at him confounded. "But you'll die!"
"Nothing can stop that now. Just for once...let me look on you with my own eyes."
"No" said Luke stubbornly. "You need to see Leia. Leia needs to see you."
"Luke…" started Anakin, but then an overwhelming calm took over him. A strange soothing feeling that he hadn't felt since…
Padmé? He asked, dazed.
Ani, you need to hold on. You need to see our Leia. She needs the closure.
Angel, I've missed you. I'm sorry he pleaded.
I know, my love. Hold on.
"We must hurry" he rasped, as Luke dragged him into the ship. Luke laid him down gently. He grasped his father's hand.
"I need to go tell Mara Jade where to land, and I'll get in touch with Leia. I'll be right back."
"All right, son" he said with a shuddering breath. "Hurry."
I love you, Angel. I'm so sorry for everything .If-
Hush, my love. I know. We will have plenty of time for that. Leia needs this, Ani. Hold on for a little while longer.
Luke walked into the cockpit to see Mara Jade expertly flying the ship out of the exploding space station.
"Do you want me to take over?"
"I can do it" she snarled.
"I don't doubt it" Luke pacified, "I just meant you don't know where we are going to land. It's not a landing platform."
"I can do it," she growled again, pride wounded from their fight earlier.
"Alright," Luke said. He typed in the round about coordinates, not exactly sure the exact location of the Ewok village. "It's about a hundred yards from a Ewok settlement. It's a small clearing, but the ship should be able to fit."
She said nothing, so Luke closed his eyes and called out to his sister.
Han was tending to Leia's blaster burn behind a fallen log as the Death Star II exploded in the air above them. They looked to the flash as rebel troops and Ewoks alike began to cheer.
"I'm sure Luke wasn't on that thing when it blew" he said comfortingly.
She shook her head, brows lowered. "No, he wasn't. He…" but she broke off at the sound of her brother's voice in her head.
Luke! We were so worried! "He's alive. He is talking to me now" she told Han.
"That's really weird, you know that, right?" remarked Han. She rolled her eyes, smiling slightly, knowing most people would do more than off handedly comment on the oddity of the fact that she could talk to her brother within her mind.
Are you all right?
Yeah, I'm fine. He answered The emperor is dead. Father killed him.
What? "What?" she exclaimed not only in her mind but out loud to Han.
"What?" he asked quickly, confused and worried. "What's happened?"
Leia hit him lightly in a 'shushing' manner, concentrating on her brother, not paying attention when Han murmured "Kriffing Jedi tricks, leaves me completely in the dark. I don't know what the nine hells is going on."
Father turned back to the light. He is Anakin Skywalker once more said Luke with a sense of sorrowful pride. He sacrificed himself for me, Leia, he paused before pressing on. He is dying.
Yes, he doesn't have much time. Give yourself the closure, sister. It's your last chance. He felt her hesitance. You don't have to forgive him, Leia, just say goodbye. You'll regret it if you don't.
Okay she said softy, her stomach twisting with nerves.
Meet us a hundred and fifty meters south of the Ewok village.
She looked at Han, and there must have been something in her expression because his brows furrowed. "What's going on?" he asked again, concerned.
She opened and closed her mouth three times before saying "My-my father killed the Emperor."
"What?" Han asked, disbelievingly.
"Luke said he saved his life, killed the Emperor, turned back to the light, and is dying." She said dizzily. She scrambled to her feet, and swayed, unbalanced. Han stood up quickly and steadied her.
"He hasn't got much time. Luke is landing a ship in a clearing outside the Ewok village. South he said. South. Oh, blast, which way is south?"
Han grabbed her hand. "Come on, I know what he's talking about. We'll take one of the imperial speeder bikes. "
She stood her ground, face white. "What am I supposed to say? I…"
"Just say whatever you feel" Han said, pulling her gently. She followed him.
Han asked her if she wanted him to go with her, but she asked him to wait for her outside Leia followed Luke tentatively into the room in which her father was dying. He was lying on the floor, shallow breath emulating from his mask. He brother automatically knelt by their father's side, but she hesitated.
He really is dying she thought to herself, slightly shocked. She softly knelt next to him. The mask turned to look at her.
"Leia" he wheezed.
"Dear ones…" he rasped "I'm sorry it….took me so long… to break free…If I had…been stronger…"
"That's the past, Father" said Luke. "You broke free now, that's what matters. You defeated the Sith, just as you were meant to."
"But…at what… cost?"
"I've not…got much time…"he breathed. "Please…remove my mask…let me see you for the last time…with my own eyes."
"B-but, you'll die quicker!" said Leia, surprising herself.
"It is… inevitable now…my dear."
Leia and Luke locked eyes for a moment, before he nodded and undid the helmet mechanism, sliding the helmet off gently. Before Leia knew what she was doing, she grasped her father's hand and Luke grabbed his other. He was very badly scared, pale, and bald. She should have been revolted, but she wasn't.
His bright blue eyes (that completely juxtaposed the rest of his face) hungrily took them in.
"I forgive you father" said Leia softly, not knowing how or why, but knowing it to be true. Her father and brother both looked completely taken aback, neither of them expecting that.
"Leia…dying does…not make… me innocent"
"I know…father. But I forgive you nonetheless."
His scared mouth smiled, not missing that it was the first time she had called him father to his face.
"My children…I…love you so much…so sorry." he closed his eyes and opened them once more. "I feel…your mother's presence… She is…with me now…She loves… you too and …is so proud…as am I."
"Be in peace, Father" murmured Luke.
And with that, Anakin Skywalker closed his eyes and became one with the Force.
The twins watched as their father's body disappeared. Leia's eyes widened.
"Don't worry," Luke soothed "as far as I can tell, that's fairly normal. He has been accepted into the Force. He is truly redeemed."
Leia slid off her knees, sitting on her behind, fatigue setting in. "Nine hells," she sighed. "I never thought today would go like this!"
"Nor I" said Luke. "I knew you could do it" he said to Leia, referring to her forgiveness.
She swallowed the lump in her throat. "What should we do with his remaining…parts?"
"Burn them" said Luke firmly. Leia raised an eyebrow. "It is customary for Jedi's to be cremated when they die. At least, those who don't disappear."
"All right" she said tiredly. "I'll go tell Han." She furrowed her brows, not moving, her untrained senses stretching out. "Luke…in the cockpit…is there someone else on this ship?"
"What? Oh, yeah. Mara Jade."
"Its…it's a long story. I'll tell you later. Go talk to Han."
She nodded, standing up. She paused at the exit way. "Is it odd that I feel grief for someone I hated for so long?" she asked, not playing down the feelings she felt for her father for so long.
Luke tilted his head slightly, thinking on it for a moment. "No..." he said finally. "I don't think it's odd. Confusing, yes, but odd…no, not odd."
She nodded once more and left the shuttle.
"While I was looking the other way your fire went out
Left me with cinders to kick into dust
What a waste of the wonder you were
In my living fire I will keep your scorn and mine
In my living fire I will keep your heartache and mine
At the disgrace of a waste of a life."
—Fire by Kristin Cashore
It was a completely inimitable experience for Leia, burning the artificial remains of her father. She had never gone to a family member's funeral. She was too young for either of her mothers, and Bail couldn't have one. She had sent Han back to the imminent and well deserved celebration the Alliance was bound to throw, knowing that her task was one for family. She and her brother built the funeral pyre together. Luke told her of what took place in the throne room.
Watching the body (Did it constitute a real body? She didn't know.) burn with her brother was surreal. She wrapped an arm around her brother's waist and he slung an arm around her shoulders. She assumed that a gesture such as this was supposed help with closure, and in a way it did. However, it also made her question a number of things.
Did she love him? She wanted to answer no, but somehow it didn't sit right. She didn't love him like she loved Bail, or Luke. She knew she loved her mother, even though she never knew her. She loved her, well, because she was her mother, she gave birth to her and Luke. She loved the notion, idea of her. Maybe that's how she loved her father. She loved the idea of Anakin Skywalker.
She shook her head, dispelling her thoughts as she joined the Alliance brouhaha. Her and her brother were pulled in for hugs, some pilots shaking her brothers hand, bold ones kissing her hand in an overdramatic manner that made her laugh. After she was welcomed thoroughly, she sidled up to Han. He put his arms around her and kissed her forehead.
"How you doin', sweetheart?"
"I'm okay" she allowed. "It's just odd, you know."
Han nodded, giving her a tight squeeze.
"I forgave him" she said quietly.
"Really?" he asked, slightly astonished.
"Yes. It's a liberating feeling" she admitted. "But I haven't forgotten. I'm not naive. I just forgave him."
"Hey, princess, you don't have to convince me. I believe you."
And it was the truth. She had had nightmares about the man in that suit for over the last four years and now she was doing an odd sort of grieving for him. First, her nightmares had been of her being tortured, later of her mother, Padmé, being kidnapped by the masked man. After she had learned he was her father, she dreamed of memories she had with Bail being replaced by a cold, hateful Vader.
Was it really almost four years that a bright eyed youth and cynical space pirate rescued her from her cell on the original Death Star? She started to laugh.
"What?" asked Han, looking down at her.
"Nothing," she said, smiling up at him. "I just... if four years ago you would have told me what I now know, I would have died laughing."
"Yeah, it is pretty unbelievable" he chuckled.
"Do you remember when we first met?"
He grinned back at her. "Yeah, I remember. A bossy little brat who knew how to use a blaster."
"A wise guy mercenary who didn't give a damn about anyone." She lifted herself on to her tiptoes, reaching to kiss him. She pulled away at the sound of hooting from some other pilots and Chewie's bark of a laugh. She smiled but then furrowed her brows.
Leia, come quick! Her brother bubbled with excitement. He was on the other side of the fire, looking off into the trees.
"What is it?" Han asked.
"Nothing. Just Luke, I'll be right back."
She walked over to her brother, who was leaning against a tree trunk, completely captivated by nothing…or so she thought.
"Luke, what are you…" but she broke off her question, catching sight of what he was looking at.
Three slightly blue, slightly glowing, apparitions stood looking at them, smiling. One was Ben Kenobi, clad in Jedi robes, a hand settled on a small green alien who also wore Jedi robes. The third Jedi was the one to make her pulse jump. He was their age, very handsome, a long scar cutting through his eyes brow. He looked slightly bashful, glancing at the floor, before meeting there gaze with a type of undeniable strength.
"That's-" she said.
"Yeah" Luke affirmed smiling.
She couldn't help it. She was smiling, ear to ear. Her father grinned back and gave a slight wave. She and Luke returned it as the three Jedi disappeared.
"The small one was Yoda" said Luke, looking at that empty spot.
"Yeah, I figured." She murmured. "Father…he looked-"
"Good? Young?" supplied her brother, turning them around back to the party.
Threading an arm through her brothers she smiled. "Happy."
A/N: I'm sorry I killed Vader/Anakin! I know a lot of you were pulling for his survival, and I at one point considered it, but for this story, it didn't sit well. He had to die. Sorry.
I can't believe I finished it! Ah! I had a cute little Mara/Luke scene played out in my head, but I thought it would take away from Leia's ending. Mara is fun to write. I'm debating adding it as a little snippet in an extra chapter or oneshot. I'll let you guys decide, tell me what you think.
Again, I just want to thank everyone who reviewed followed, read, favorite-ed, subscribed, and/or put this on their alert list. It is completely wonderful feeling to know so many people enjoyed what I had so much fun doing. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!
Now for the last time for Last Hope, please, please, please, please review!