PLEASE READ THIS BEFORE CONTINUING: This is an archived version of The Shadow. The shiny new edited version is up on my profile at ao3 (my pseud over there is 'volsung'. Please check over there to read an updated version. Thanks!
Full summary: Darth Vader has lived with the belief that his child died two decades ago when he killed his wife. Luke Skywalker has always dreamed of having a father. On board the Death Star the two meet prematurely, leading to complications for both their lives.
As Luke slowly falls within the grip of the dark side, he realises what he must do, but success will depend on how much he is willing to sacrifice for his father, and how far he is willing to go in order to achieve his goals. Faced with his new allegiance, the already crumbling Alliance to restore the Republic will have to rely on a new source of strength as the Empire rises to become more powerful than ever.
A/N: This is a rather dark AU in which Vader meets Luke and realizes he's his son while on the first Death Star. Luke is ultimately captured and must face the dark side sooner than in the movies. It features mostly Luke and Vader's point of view, some Leia and Han and eventually Palpatine. Surprise characters will appear later on, as well as some of my own creations.
I started writing this story ages ago, probably around 2008 for the earlier chapters. It has been edited a few times until I was satisfied with the way it is now. I've been writing this thing on and off for years but I hope to have it finished soon. (It was previously hosted on fanfiction net, so if it seems familiar, that's why. Thanks for all the support!)
Any mistakes are entirely mine, as I have no beta reader.
One last thing! I'm a big fan of the EU, and this story certainly nods to it at certain points, but I'm certainly no expert, so I'm not always extremely faithful to it. Partly because of artistic license as well haha! I love the EU, but this is my story and I don't get paychecks for it, so!
Disclaimer: I don't own these characters, locations or otherwise and am using them only for my (and hopefully your) entertainment. Everything relating to Star Wars belongs to the guy in the plaid shirt, George Lucas, Lucasfilm and Disney. Booooo.
Chapter One: Revealed
There was a brief moment in which both Vader and Obi-Wan were distracted by a scene in the hangar bay, where several troopers were uneasily watching their confrontation; a group of people were running towards the freighter parked there. But they moved silently enough that the troopers paid them no heed. One young boy slowed in the middle of the hangar and uttered a small, frightened, "Ben…?"
When Vader turned his head back to face Kenobi, he saw that his old master had closed his eyes in concentration. A feeling of utter calm was radiating from him and for a moment, just a moment, he let down his guard and raised his lightsaber in front of his own face, the blue light somehow smoothing out his aged features. Without hesitating, Vader stepped forward and sliced his ruby blade right to left, cutting through Obi-Wan's body as though it were part of the air.
To his surprise, his old master was not cut into pieces. He had expected to be able to see Obi-Wan's eyes as he died, as his vengeance was executed. Instead, Kenobi's body seemed to simply melt away as the clothing that had surrounded it pooled down to the floor. The blue lightsaber blade retreated into its hilt and fell neatly upon the pile of robes.
Even as he heard the young boy's horrified cry from the hangar, Vader took several steps toward the fallen robes and patted them with the end of his boot. He didn't know why, but it felt necessary to check that his eyes weren't fooling him. Was Kenobi truly dead? And what of those words, his last words: If you strike me down, I shall become more powerful than you can possibly imagine…?
A moment later, he pushed all these thoughts aside to concentrate on the present situation. The stormtroopers had opened fire at the rebels in the hangar. Vader spun round to watch the scene. The young blond boy was still frozen into place, staring at Vader with a look of utmost contempt, while Princess Leia ran towards the ship, shouting for him to follow her. A man wearing a smuggler's outfit was already on the boarding ramp, busy shooting at stormtroopers with his companion, a wookiee. White-clad troopers were falling all over the hangar as the smuggler's aim hit its mark each time.
Vader's anger towards the Princess's escape and the incompetence of his own troops flared out as he strode into the hangar, palpable even to those who weren't trained to use the Force. The stormtroopers seemed to redouble their efforts at the sight of their leader, he noticed as he continued to advance on the young rebels. Princess Leia was mounting the ramp to the ship by now, still shouting out to the blond boy.
"Luke! LUKE! WHAT'RE YOU DOING?" She hesitated for a moment, and made to run back down to the boy, but the wookiee and the smuggler grabbed her each by one arm in order to drag her back to the ship. They were overwhelmed by troopers, with no way to get to their friend.
The boy named Luke seemed to come back to his senses suddenly and stopped shooting around him at the troops to instead shoot directly at Vader, who easily diverted the laser shots with his palm. The boy, now only a few feet from him, came to a halt. For a moment, Vader felt sure he was going to blindly make a run for it – the expression in his eyes made it quite clear how terrified he was – but instead he reached for his belt and drew a lightsaber.
A lightsaber! So this boy was a Jedi, then? Had Obi-Wan taken on a new apprentice while he was in exile?
Vader was proven wrong when the boy assumed a fighting stance that was, quite frankly, not even acceptable for a padawan learner. He covered the hilt with both hands and stood awkwardly to the side, visibly shaking. This boy was no Jedi. Even in Death, Kenobi managed to disappoint. Automatically, Vader drew his own lightsaber, the glowing red blade contrasting the pale blue of the boy's. The stormtroopers around them stopped to observe when Vader lifted up a hand and calmly ordered them to stay put. He barely even noticed that the ship in the hangar was commencing lift off.
The boy was also seemingly oblivious to his surroundings; his blue eyes were fixed only upon Vader, his hands still grasped the hilt of his lightsaber stiffly, and he was perfectly still.
He has focus. Vader observed. And such raw energy. Almost like… He stared at the boy for a moment longer, reaching out through the Force to probe at his mind. Immediately he was met with a flurry of emotions. Anger and fright blended together as the boy's narrowed eyes surveyed him through his messy bangs. He could feel a pulsating, vibrant sense of justice coming from the boy, but also the strong knowledge that he couldn't do much to defend himself here. In all evidence, he was just a young boy who happened to have been given a lightsaber.
Just as this thought crossed Vader's mind, he felt something else. It was pure Force radiating through to him. The boy was strong with the Force but untrained, that much was clear now. Perhaps Kenobi was not so foolish after all… Vader sensed that in time, if the boy could learn to control this enormous power, he could be a great asset. His failure with Galen Marek was still fresh in his mind, but this one was different, he knew it.
A long ringing silence followed and Vader realized that the ship with Princess Leia had just left the hangar. The blond boy was still staring at him, either too afraid or too weak to make the first move.
"Poor boy. Do you really think you could defeat me? Your master is no more, he cannot help you now." Vader said.
"Don't…" The boy began, stuttering, He'd obviously not been expecting Vader to speak. "Don't talk about Ben! How dare you talk about him?"
Vader let out a slow, deep chuckle. This boy had no idea what he was getting himself into. However, now that he knew what the boy was, Vader certainly wasn't about to fight him. Not yet anyway. To test him now would be a complete waste of time.
He put his lightsaber back at his hip beneath his cape and straightened up. The stormtroopers around him came to attention, so he gave his order: "Take him to the detention level. He shall wait there until I have time to interrogate him."
"What?" The boy jumped as the stormtroopers closed in and inexpertly swung his lightsaber at them. Vader took a step forward and quite easily wrenched it out of his grip.
"Careful, Boy. You'll hurt yourself." Vader said softly, but with just the right amount of menace in his voice. The troopers then grabbed the boy and promptly led him away. Vader didn't bother to stay and watch, preferring to return to his quarters for a while. As he marched down corridors, soldiers and droids avoided his path. Vader was quite adept at giving the impression that he was in a hurry and not to be disturbed. He knew his master would demand a report on the Death Star's test fire soon and he didn't want to be late in delivering it.
He had nearly reached his quarters when he thought to look down at the boy's lightsaber. With a jolt, he recognized it as his own. It was the one he'd owned before Mustafar!
Vader stopped in the middle of the corridor which was, thankfully, empty. No, he forced himself to think, Anakin Skywalker made this lightsaber. And Kenobi must have kept it all these years. Why would he give it to this boy?
Vader stared at the saber for a long while, forcing down good and painful memories alike, before reaching a decision. He could not fathom why this old lightsaber was in this blond boy's possession, but he would find out.
Upon reaching the detention level, Vader was apprehended by some troops. Gritting his teeth and straightening to his full height, he crossed his arms impatiently. "I am here to question the rebel. I think it would be in your best interest to let me pass."
Nervously, one of the guards stood forth. "Governor Tarkin ordered us not to let anybody through after what those rebels –"
"I think it would be in your best interest to let me pass." Vader repeated calmly, the threat implied. The man closed his eyes and gulped, but stepped aside. Vader walked into the detention area without another word, leaning down slightly so his head didn't touch the ceiling. Several troopers were following him, and they stopped in front of the right door. There was no need for this of course; the Force signature of the boy could be sensed from quite a distance. Why hadn't Vader felt it earlier?
The door slid open when a trooper punched in the right code, and they made to follow him inside. "There will be no need." Vader commanded, "I wish to speak to the rebel alone. And I shall know if anyone is eavesdropping." The troopers backed away and Vader strode into the cell alone, the door shutting noisily behind him.
The boy was curled up on the floor, holding one of his arms with the other hand as though wounded; he'd clearly put up quite a fight against those troopers. This only served to fuel Vader's curiosity. Just who in the galaxy was this boy? He had sandy, dirty blond hair and striking blue eyes. His skin was tanned, contrasting with the white clothes he wore. These looked damp and dirty, but were all white, down to the boots. Vader didn't know what it was, but something seemed familiar about the boy, or rather there was something that made him feel uneasy. He was quite sure he'd never seen this boy before in his life, but still, he felt like he should remember him. The boy was quite short, and had a lean frame to him. There was definitely something about those shoulders and neck...
But the worse thing about him were his eyes. As much as he was curious about the boy, he didn't want to look into those eyes for too long. It was undeniable: those eyes reminded him of someone. They were sharp and deep and obnoxious. He could already tell this boy was going to be difficult. An awkward feeling not belonging to him snapped Vader out of his pondering, and he was making the boy uncomfortable. Good, that shall make it all the easier.
Never one to waste time, Vader got straight to the point. "How did you acquire this?" He growled, brandishing the boy's lightsaber. For a moment it seemed like the blond was going to answer, but his mouth snapped shut right after he took a breath.
"I'll have your answer one way or another, boy. Only you can decide if the process will be painful or not." He let the warning hang with a pause, before repeating himself; "Now, how did you obtain this? Kenobi gave it to you didn't he?" He felt recognition pass through the boy at this, and knew he was right so he added, "Why?"
The boy looked away at the wall, his jaw shut tight. In a moment of annoyance, Vader took three steps so he was towering straight above the boy. "Answer me!" He snapped, as he aimed a kick at his stomach. The boy let out a whimper and fell forward, clutching at his midsection with both arms. "Why should I tell you anything?" The boy asked suddenly, his voice very clear and concentrated. It was obvious he'd been dying to say whatever he was going to say next. "You killed Old Ben, you tortured a princess and destroyed Alderaan, my family is dead because of you… you… You killed my father!"
"I've killed many people's fathers, boy. Whoever he was, it is doubtful I even remember him. Why do you think you have the right to hold a personal vendetta against me?"
The boy sat up with some difficulty, but still managed to hold up his neck to glare at Vader. The intensity in his eyes was remarkable, Vader couldn't help but notice. His anger rang through the Force as he spoke. "No. My father was a Jedi before the rise of the Empire. If it rings any bells… that lightsaber you're holding… it was his."
Vader paused, hardly daring to breathe. The controlled breath of his respirator came anyway, but it still felt like his heart had stopped. This… this could not be. It was so impossible, he thought wildly for a moment that someone had laid this whole affair down as a prank. A cruel joke implying that, somehow, his child – Padmé's child – lived. Abysmal memories came back to him in that instant. The dreams, the nightmares, of Padmé suffering and dying while she gave birth. Her, on Mustafar… 'Anakin, you're breaking my heart…' And his own rage, his own terrible anger as he strangled the woman he loved. The only woman he had ever, or would ever, love. And then, his master after his transformation into the mechanical Vader the universe now knew and feared…
'Where is Padmé? Is she safe? Is she alright?' He asked, his heart aching at the thought of what would happen if… somehow… but no, he knew she must be alive… Palpatine's face, or what was visible of it under his dark, heavy hood, seemed to glow in the eerie light of the room as he spoke: 'It seems, in your anger… you… killed her.'
And then the pain washed over him, the regret and almost disbelief that he could have killed the woman he loved struck him like lightning. 'No! She was alive! I… felt it! She…' But he knew it was futile. Palpatine wouldn't lie, not about this. His master, whom he trusted implicitly, would not tell him this if it were not true. And so, he knew it must be. Pain replaced any denial he still felt as he freed himself of his bindings and let the Force explode from him in one horrible moment of fury.
He had relived this particular memory so many times in the past years, nearly two decades now, but it was somehow even more vivid this time. Nevertheless, he must be sure, absolutely sure about this before any decision could be made. So he continued to look down at the boy, vaguely aware that he'd taken at least one step back during the reliving of his painful past, and asked quietly; "Luke, I take it? What is your full name?"
The boy's resolve must have broken, or perhaps he felt that Vader was no longer angry at him, for he answered tentatively: "Luke Skywalker." It was whispered, almost as if he knew that uttering his own name in this instant would change the course of his destiny forever. Vader was stunned. They hadn't even bothered to change the boy's name. He thought for a moment that maybe someone else carried that name somewhere, but it was quite unique and this boy was just the right age anyway. And those eyes, he realized it only now, those eyes were Anakin's. And his slight frame was entirely Padmé's. The boy had his mother's build, but his expressions, even his jawline from what Vader could see, was completely Anakin's. This was amazing. Apart from Padmé's revelation all those years ago; 'Something wonderful has happened. Ani, I'm pregnant', this had to be the most amazing moment of his life.
"You're Anakin Skywalker's son." Vader finally uttered in deep brass tones, feeling slightly awkward saying that name he hadn't said out loud in such a long time.
Hatred and pain lashed out from the boy, affecting Vader too, at the mention of that name. "So now you remember him, huh? Do you remember how you betrayed and murdered him?"
"I won't deny that I was the end of Anakin Skywalker, but…" He paused, nervous. Should he tell the boy? Surely it was his business, his right to know the truth.
The truth. The truth Palpatine had hidden from him – that even Obi-Wan had hidden from him. If this boy was truly his son, Padmé could not have died that day. For a fleeting moment he dared to wonder if she might still be alive, but now was not the time. Soon, the time would come when he would know everything, the whole truth. But for now, he owed it to his son. Lying to the boy could only backfire on him later; his son deserved to know the truth about his heritage.
"Contrary to what you've been told, your father is not dead Luke." He saw those blue eyes widen in shock and hope, but pressed on. "Anakin is just… I stopped using the name Anakin when I became a Sith. I ceased to be Anakin and took on the name Darth Vader." At these words, all the life seemed to drain out of Luke. Those eyes were now impossibly wide and he crawled away very slowly until his back was against the wall, shaking his head.
"What! What are you saying – that's… impossible…" He breathed, staring wide-eyed at the behemoth of a man he'd been told from the start was pure evil. Vader sensed his denial, the fear and loathing directed at him. He knew this must be hard to believe, and so he found the need to explain himself.
"You were hidden from me Luke. I only just realized… when I saw the lightsaber. How could I not recognize it? And now that I see you, I can feel you Luke. I am your father." The boy's hands went to his ears, covering them as he shook his head again. In that moment, he appeared much younger than he was, as the truth proceeded to break everything he believed. Vader could feel his pain and anger, but also something deeper; a short joy at the thought that his father was alive erupted in the boy's heart, but was immediately quashed by shame. Luke was not ready to acknowledge him. "It's not true!" He whined, "How can it be true?"
Vader didn't answer, but rather asked a question of his own. "You said… your family is dead because of me. What did you mean? Who –"
Luke dared to cut across him; "My aunt and uncle. They took me in when I was born. Stormtroopers burned down the homestead while searching for some droids. I was out that day." Vader had a fleeting memory of meeting someone who claimed to be his step-brother. It was on Tatooine, when he'd returned to save his mother. He personally would never have considered those people as family, however. "I see." Vader said quietly, seeing as any hope that Padmé might have survived was crushed by this theory. "Your mother," he said and saw Luke's eyes snap up to him, "You're quite sure that she's…?" He found himself unable to say it.
"I never knew her." Luke said, and that was answer enough for Vader. He'd known in his heart it was futile anyway. Still, the fact remained she'd lived long enough to give birth. And that meant Palpatine had lied, that old bastard…
"What was she like?" Luke suddenly asked, his voice tiny and awkward again. Vader found himself incapable once more of speaking about this, so he changed the subject.
"I wish for you to come with me to Coruscant. We will speak about our present… predicament… later." He turned to leave, adding one last thing before opening the door; "I shall arrange for you to be taken to more comfortable quarters." As the door slid open, he registered the boy's cry; "Wait!" but he ignored it, leaving the cell. He needed to take a step back and think about this for now. And more importantly, he needed to ensure that nobody find out about Luke.
He locked the door behind him and walked back down the corridor to the control room. The guards were studying him nervously, and he could read them quite easily. They were waiting for him to leave so they could inform Tarkin of the situation. Vader stopped in the middle of the room, and began to speak softly. "The boy is to be moved to a chamber adjacent to my own, immediately."
The guard straightened smartly and saluted. "As you wish, Lord Vader." He then gestured to his men and they went to retrieve the boy. Not wishing to confront Luke again so soon, Vader let himself out and made his way to the observation deck where he knew he would find Tarkin. It was very important that he make himself very clear: the boy was his responsibility, and none of Tarkin's business.
Indeed, Tarkin was on deck, busy giving out orders for a new course. "Ah, Lord Vader," the Grand Moff acknowledged as he approached, "We are now tracking the rebel ship that escaped earlier and have traced them to the Yavin system. They are most likely hiding on one of the moons of Yavin Prime. Scouts have been sent there to confirm."
"Good." Vader said simply, stopping to stand next to Tarkin, his arms crossed as he observed the working men. He was pleased that the beacon had been attached properly to the rebel ship, but he'd still have liked it better if the Princess had not escaped his grip. Tarkin looked away, as though he knew Vader was in a bad mood. As much as Tarkin disliked Vader, he wasn't fool enough to cross him when he was so obviously already annoyed. Vader could sense the Moff's apprehension, and it eased his own tension for some reason. After a moment, he said; "We have captured a rebel."
Tarkin sighed. "I was told. I should guess you have already interrogated him then. What did you find out?"
Hesitating, Vader changed his position, leaning slightly to the left in order to look at the Moff. He let several of his hissing breaths pass before answering, lying with practised ease. "Nothing of value for now. In all evidence, he is of no real importance to the rebellion."
"He doesn't know anything about the stolen plans?"
"No. He was merely on a mission to rescue the Princess."
"A mission that succeeded, I hardly need to remind you." Tarkin was now surveying him very harshly from the corner of his eye, as if the rebel ship's escape had been entirely Vader's fault. But Tarkin had authority over Vader on the Death Star, to a certain extent, which made any mistake his responsibility. The Emperor had not stated this explicitly, but Tarkin was not stupid – he knew his neck was on the line already.
"Be that as it may, their escape allowed us to track down their base," Vader deflected. "But this is not what I came to say." This statement finally acquired Tarkin's undivided attention. "The rebel I have captured is of a certain value to me. I will deal with him personally."
"He is to be kept alive?"
After a small moment of hesitation, Vader nodded; "Yes." Let Tarkin think whatever he wants.
"You understand of course that I will report this to the Emperor." Tarkin said immediately, his tone of voice vaguely suspicious.
"This is none of your business," Vader snapped. "I will notify Emperor Palpatine. You would be wise to stay out of this, Tarkin. The Emperor is my master, I shall report to him."
"He may be your master, but he is also my direct supervisor for the duration of my post here on the Death Star. Why are you telling me this? How can I be sure I can trust you?" Tarkin was speaking rather boldly now and Vader had to resist the urge to growl. He was proving to be just as bothersome as he'd anticipated.
But Vader had the upper hand on at least one level; "You can trust in this, Tarkin," he rumbled, "I am of much greater worth to the Emperor. In consequence, I have every power to terminate you." Tarkin's eyes widened minutely at this, although the rest of his face remained impassive and nearly as cold as the Sith's own mask. Vader went on; "I have said this before, but I shall repeat myself – anything you do is insignificant next to the power of the Force. But I know that is something you shall never be able to grasp."
Tarkin nodded almost imperceptibly, but coming from him it was almost like an outright pledge of submission. Knowing this was the best he would get out of this situation, Vader turned to leave. Only once he was nearly at the door of the bridge did Tarkin speak again.
"I still want a report regarding this." He shot out firmly. Vader paused but didn't turn, uttered a single, deep, "Certainly" and walked out, his cape whispering at his heels.
As he neared his quarters, Vader felt his son's presence quite clearly. The boy would have to be taught to conceal his Force signature; it shone through like a beacon, almost tantalizing, practically teasing him, as if he were daring the dark side to try and turn him. Vader had to suppress a chuckle at this. The boy would be turned, of course; it was his destiny, as clear as day.
He entered his room, and the dim lights turned on as they were programmed to do. Vader lost no time and moved to one of the many hyperbaric meditation chambers he owned which allowed him to remove his helmet and breathe clean, concentrated air for a while. This one wasn't the best of course, his favourite was in his quarters on Coruscant, but it would have to do. He really needed to calm down before facing Luke again.
And the filter in his respirator had to be changed soon anyway. Vader's damaged lungs needed so much care that it often became a very time-consuming hassle, but in the face of certain death...
So he climbed into the chamber and as it closed, the pressurized, super medicated air flow began. His mask was removed from his face, and the helmet was lifted off, allowing his skin to feel fresh air. Every time he sat in here, which was an almost daily occurrence, he felt as though he'd forgotten the feeling and was experiencing it for the first time again. He let out a sigh and closed his eyes, letting the heavy atmosphere of the chamber lull him into that deep meditative state he so needed.
He sometimes wondered whether Palpatine had made his armour this way in order to restrict him. During the first years he'd worn it, he'd often succumbed to a terrible feeling of claustrophobia, needing to take the helmet off sometimes twice a day. His busy schedule and military duties didn't allow for this anymore, but he was getting more and more used to it at least. He should be - it was nearing two decades now.
Two decades... In fact, it had been eighteen years since the fateful day on Mustafar, which meant Luke was most certainly eighteen years old.
There were so many things he wanted to say to his son, but most of them implied there would be uncomfortable moments and revealing of painful memories Vader was not yet ready to share. He doubted he'd ever be ready to share again, even with his newly discovered son.
But perhaps some memories could be shared. It would not do to appear weak and nostalgic in front of his master... However, it might help Luke accept the harsh fact that his father was Darth Vader.
He was at least aware that it was hard for the boy to understand. Vader knew how most people viewed him in utmost fear, as a symbol of death, proof of the Empire's absolute power. He was not ashamed of it. Quite the contrary, other beings' fear gave him strength and focus.
However, he could not let the boy become too comfortable in his presence. Vader liked his apprentices to retain a certain amount of uneasiness around him. Of course, none of his previous apprentices had been related to him that he knew of, and it was fair to assume that it would complicate things at first. But Vader would do what he must. The boy would submit to him.
Finally managing to clear his head, Vader relaxed, even as tense muscles he could not rub pained him, legs that weren't even flesh somehow throbbed from the task of maintaining his heavy body in an upright position, and a headache was pounding at the back of his brain. His eyes burned under his closed eyelids, sore from looking out of slightly red-tinted lenses all day, so he relaxed the muscles of his face, letting his mouth fall slightly open and his head drop back.
He could hear the mechanical arms of the chamber replacing the filter inside his mask and the one in the compartment on his chest, but the sounds were familiar, even comforting. The first few hours with new filters were always enjoyable after several hours of discomfort caused by debris caught somewhere in his respiratory system.
Concept of time was lost to him as he sat there, just breathing, his mind blissfully blank, but eventually he knew he had to get out. On Coruscant he could basically stay in his chamber as long as he wanted to, but he had to remember that he was presently on the Death Star and that he wanted to speak with Luke before reaching the rebel base on Yavin's moon.
That didn't leave him much time. Reluctantly, he entered the commands on a control panel for the mask to be replaced upon his face, the helmet reattached, and the chamber opened up. Vader took his first breath into the new filter and sighed, feeling at least somewhat rejuvenated by this short hyperbaric session.
And now, to face his son again. This time, he was prepared.
The boy had been dropped off in a small room near Vader's own private quarters. It was slightly larger than the cell he'd previously been in, and furnished with all the basics. At least the boy had a bed now.
Indeed, when Vader entered, without bothering to knock, Luke was lying on his back and staring at the ceiling, his limbs splayed out in all directions. Just as Vader came in, the boy jumped into an upright sitting position and edged away so that his back was to the wall. Vader stood near the foot of the bed and surveyed the boy for several long moments, the sound of his respirator breaking the silence every few seconds. His long shadow was cast upon the floor and bed in front of him, stopping just short of his son's feet.
Finally, it was Luke who spoke first. "So what now...?" Vader knew the boy had nearly called him 'father' just then, but had been unable to form the word. That was... Interesting.
"It is as I told you before. I shall take you to Coruscant. There you will begin your training under my supervision." Vader watched as Luke's face hardened. His clear blue eyes looked to the side dismissively.
"I don't want you to train me." He said simply.
At once, Vader took a step closer so his shadow engulfed Luke's form completely. "You will become my apprentice. You have no idea of the extent of your power... We could rule the galaxy, together." Vader's words sounded so powerful as he said them, but Luke's expression became more and more strained.
"Never!" He shouted up at Vader, probably louder than he'd intended. Vader was slightly surprised and, dare he think it, proud of his son's defiance. Clearly, the boy had had time enough to think this whole thing over and was now less afraid than angry.
"You cannot choose to walk away from this, Luke. It is your destiny."
The boy stared at him in silence. His blue eyes caught in the light and shone bright against the shadow upon his face. Then, he spoke slowly and confidently; "You're not my father. And I'll never join you."
Vader huffed, the sound coming out as sort of a growl through his respirator. "I grow tired of your insolence. But in time, you will submit to me... If you have nothing else to say then, I shall leave. We are approaching the Yavin system, which is, I believe, where your little friends are currently hiding?"
His taunt did not go unnoticed - he saw the anger flash in his son's eyes - but then the boy seemed to relax against the wall a little. "As a matter of fact I do have something to say." He began, looking anywhere but at Vader. "You didn't answer me before. Tell me about my mother."
Once again, Vader ignored him. He was tempted to give him something, even just her name, but it dawned on him that this information could be used to force Luke into obedience. If the boy bowed to him, he'd be rewarded.
"We shall speak about that later." Vader told him instead, before reaching for his belt. The boy flinched slightly as he drew a lightsaber, but then realised it was the one he'd previously owned. His wide eyes turned back to Vader's face quizzically. The dark Lord held the weapon at arm's length, towards Luke.
"If you'll only admit that I am your father, I will trust you with this again. I have no use for it, and I... can't look at it anymore." Vader told Luke, a little awkwardly.
Luke's face was stoic, his jaw clenched and his eyes rested upon the saber. Vader knew he wanted it back desperately, he could sense it, but to admit Vader was his father was still very painful to him. Long seconds slipped past, and just as Vader began to get impatient, starting to think that Luke was never going to say it, the boy closed his eyes firmly and sat up. His face betrayed underlying emotions: he knew it was the truth, somewhere inside him, but to say it out loud... Luke was too attached to his pride.
"Say it." Vader hissed, moving the lightsaber even closer.
And he did. "I would like my lightsaber back..." Luke said, defeated, "Father."
Vader smiled behind his mask, but did not surrender the weapon yet. It wasn't quite enough. He saw the boy's eyes open wide in apprehension. "Look at me and say I am your father." Vader rumbled.
Without hesitating this time, Luke met his gaze, or rather the obsidian sockets of his mask, and said it. "You are my father." There was such finality in his tone of voice, as if the whole universe would come to an end right at that moment. Vader threw the saber softly upon the bed near the boy's feet and Luke grasped it in his hand immediately, relief washing over him, palpable through the Force.
"Good." He said, feeling victorious. "That's a good start. Have your weapon back, but know that escaping from here again is impossible. Using the lightsaber to try and do so will only result in more of your liberties being taken away. Do I make myself clear?"
The boy's gaze met his once again, though this time it was unreadable. "Perfectly." He answered. In a swish of black cloth, Vader turned on his heel and left the room.
Luke turned the saber in his hand, hardly daring to believe it was real. As the door of his room closed swiftly and was locked behind Vader, his whole body relaxed again. He was no longer afraid that the Sith would kill him, but from a certain point of view, this whole affair was even worse. Luke had no desire whatsoever to be trained by Darth Vader, and forget travelling to Coruscant.
While Coruscant had once been called the bright center of the Universe, it was now the middle of the Empire. The Emperor's stronghold. His fortress.
Vader hadn't said a thing about the Emperor up to now... Some people back on Tatooine even doubted that an Emperor existed. Whoever he was, he never appeared on the Holonet, or in news broadcasts. His underlings and subordinates, such as Vader himself, always seemed to be the ones in the heart of the action. Besides, Vader was the one everyone feared. Luke had memories of watching the Holonet sometimes as a young boy. Uncle Owen had never allowed it, but Luke had always managed to steal glances somehow, in secret. He remembered watching images of Darth Vader commanding troops, Empire propaganda tapes, Imperial army recruitment videos... How he'd hated it all. The Empire didn't really affect planets such as Tatooine as much as others, but Luke knew of the injustices being carried out elsewhere.
Always, somewhere deep inside of himself, he'd known that he would get involved in the struggle against the Empire one day. He had dreams of fighting in space battles, becoming a great pilot and warrior, like his father... Oh, how wrong and ironic those dreams seemed now.
Despite having been forced to say it aloud, he still could not come to terms with it. Darth Vader, the Dark Lord of the galaxy, the Emperor's right-hand man, was his father. His father. And Luke, a simple farm boy from Tatooine was now prisoner on board the Death Star, soon to be on his way to Coruscant. He knew once they reached the Universe's central planet, there would be no escape possible. Here on this battle station Vader had other things to deal with, but on Coruscant, Luke was quite sure he wouldn't often be let out of his sight.
If one thing was clear, it was that Vader was not joking around with this whole situation. Well, if Luke was going to just sit here and wait for that Sith to return, he might as well just kill himself now and be done with it, because he'd never submit to Vader. Ever.
Still, he pondered the meaning of Vader's actions. Why return the lightsaber to him? Hadn't Luke's previous actions today proven that he would stop at nothing to try and escape? That, and to save his friends. With a jolt, he realized what was about to happen.
The Death Star had already destroyed Alderaan. Destroying one of the moons of lowly, uninhabitable Yavin would surely not be a problem for the Empire if it allowed them to crush the rebellion once and for all. That did it for Luke - he was going to escape from this wretched place, or die trying. He'd rather die than serve Vader anyway. The fact that he'd had to acknowledge that monster as his father still made him feel sick to his stomach...
Having finally reached a decision, Luke stood up from the bed and ignited the lightsaber. He'd almost expected it to be deactivated somehow - he wouldn't put it past Vader to humiliate him as he'd done for nothing at all in return - but the blue laser blade appeared noisily as it always did. It was unknown to Luke whether his blade could slice through the metal of his door, but he had to try…
'Have your weapon back, but know that escaping from here again is impossible.'
Luke gulped, tried a few swift strikes at the door with the saber and found that it cut through the material quite easily. After slicing at the door for a few minutes he decided to try something else, this time stabbing the door with the tip of his blade. To his surprise and relief, the pale blue beam sank through with no real difficulty and the material around it began to melt away.
Heart beating wildly, Luke drew out a circular shape in the door, taking his time in melting it away, until he was faced with a hole large enough for him to squeeze through. He felt the edges of the hole burn against his clothes and sizzle his exposed arms and his hair, but he didn't care. He was free!
Well, not quite. He still had to escape the whole kriffing Death Star, but just escaping his tiny room felt like such a relief already. Luke felt invulnerable. He was no longer in his room and, as far as he could tell, no alarm had been sounded. Even if he stumbled upon enemies soon, he'd still have the element of surprise in his favour.
Stealthily, he began to walk down the small corridor he was in. This area was much colder than it had been in his room. In fact, he soon realized the air was being pumped out from somewhere... Which meant there had to be a circulation vent of some sort close to him. Now that his mind was focused on it, he could really feel the gush of cold air. After stopping for a few seconds to identify its direction, he turned to follow it, keeping his lightsaber at the ready. The corridors on this level were short and had many turns; he feared he would run into someone sooner or later.
Luckily, he didn't. If he understood correctly, this level was for the private quarters of many of the higher-ups of the Death Star. Circulation in these halls was surely restricted. Very soon, Luke reached an air vent very much like the garbage shoot through which he'd escaped earlier with Han, Leia and Chewie... He felt a pang at the thought of them and the fact that they'd flow off without him. But he knew the plans Artoo contained were very important and they couldn't afford to jeopardize everything to save him. Besides, Luke felt sure he would see them again.
Luke lost no time in melting the gate to the air vent and, with some difficulty, managed to climb in. Now though, he had no idea where to go. A voice sounded in his head; 'Use the Force, Luke.' He knew it to be Ben's voice. Even though he couldn't understand how it was possible, he felt sure the old Jedi was still guiding him. Angry as he may be at Obi-Wan for lying to him about his father, but he wasn't arrogant enough not to take the advice.
He closed his eyes and concentrated on the life-energy he felt moving around the Death Star. To his great surprise, he could see a relatively clear image of everything at close proximity of himself; almost like mental plans of countless levels below him and several above. Also visible to him were the presences of people walking about the station. Troopers, guards, generals, admirals, even... Vader. As soon as Luke felt the man's presence he pulled away, afraid that this would have alerted him to his escape attempt. After several nerve-racking moments in which he half-expected troops to come running down the corridor looking for him, or even Vader's hand reaching up inside the vent, grabbing at his ankle to pull him out, Luke slid back into the Force and tried again.
This time he concentrated only on the environment. It took him several minutes but he finally came to the conclusion that, only four levels below, there was a small hangar full of TIE fighters. If he hurried, he may be able to slip in there and steal a ship. Taking a deep breath and opening his eyes, Luke started to crawl.
It was a long and physically demanding journey downwards, through vents nearly too small for him to slide through, air shafts that were practically vertical, and several scary moments where he actually had to crawl in front of open panels. If anybody had happened to look upwards in those moments, he could have been sighted easily. But eventually, and after much effort, he reached the hangar. Dropping down to the floor, he quickly ran to the nearest corner and hid behind some crates, clutching at his chest to ease his breathing and looking around for signs of stormtroopers.
There were none. But the thought suddenly struck him: TIE fighters weren't equipped with hyperdrive. Even if he managed to leave the hangar safely, he would never reach Yavin IV. He'd die from lack of air or from the cold of space first. So two options presented themselves to him; Fly out into space, revealing himself in the process, and probably dying, or waiting for the Death Star to reach Yavin, taking the risk that Vader would find out he was missing and send people to look for him. Neither of these were ideal, but Luke preferred to live a little longer for now.
His best hope was to find a TIE pilot suit, and try to blend in with the others.
Luke took a deep breath, ran out towards a TIE ship and peered inside. There was a suit and some armour already inside. He sighed in relief and put it on quickly over his own clothes. It was a little large for him, but hopefully not suspiciously so. As soon as he was done, he found a small door to the side of the hangar and escaped through it, hoping to run into some other TIE pilots soon, and also not to cross paths with Vader. He'd managed to stay under the radar up to now, but in a direct confrontation, Luke wasn't sure he'd be able to hide his presence.
It was a here-goes-nothing situation as Luke walked out into the main area which was, thankfully, full of pilots and stormtroopers. Nobody looked at him twice.
This just might work.