Previously: A few months after the duel of Bespin, Vader allowed himself to be captured by the rebels so as to secure his son yet again. He then blocked Luke's Force ability and forced the boy to cooperate with his plans to groom him into the Empire's third-in-command. After a first few confrontations over ideology and visions of his future, Luke found out about his father's past tragedy. After that, he reluctantly began his forced advanced schooling program. Vader was then planning to begin his self-defense training when an unwelcome visitor came knocking at their door. Vader instantly pulled his son behind him so as to stand between him and the unwelcome visitor.
Good afternoon everyone! First of all, thanks to everyone who has reviewed this story's last post! Your comments really meant a lot to me!
I answered the signed reviews so now for the anonymous ones :
Roseforever: thanks! the answer will be revealed early in this next part :) I hope you'll enjoy it :)
see180movie: yeah, sometimes, I do cliffies, too ;P Hey, I'm served enough of them as a reader myself ;P But I know how they feel and so, I only do it when it's absolutely unavoidable ;P I have to ask: what do you mean by keeping the story clean? Do you mean in terms of violence? grammar? or style?.. Thanks for the comment :)
guest: thanks! Here's more.
Thanks as well for the favorites and alerts. I still hope to one day hear your thoughts in more details :)
Everyone else, please, don't hesitate to share your thoughts :D
After last post, I realized that I forgot to give the results of the survey. Well, in case you didn't figure it out on your own from the only two stories that I updated, Unexpected and An Unfortunate Blessing finished ex-aequo. Therefore, I am now focusing only on those two stories.
However, that doesn't mean that the other stories will be abandoned as I still feel like visiting them from time to time. As a result, I will probably update them as well from time to time, like during vacation time or long week-ends. So, if you want to share your thoughts about them as well now that the vote is over, please don't hesitate I always love to hear from readers
And on with the new part of Unexpected Be warned… expect the unexpected
Disclaimers: Nothing in the Star Wars Universe belong to me; everything belongs to George Lucas. I'm only writing stories for fun.
"Hey!" was Luke's indignant reaction, but before the child could complain further, the door of Vader's public room slid open – under the control of the man who had decided to test his apprentice through a surprise visit. As usual with the said man, two red-clad royal guards swiftly preceded him inside, expertly assessed the threat he and Luke represented, and then stood back on either side of the door while the Emperor himself walked inside.
Even without the Force, Vader would have felt his son's shock and skyrocketing dread; Vader held him tighter even before the boy had begun to back away from his father and their arch nemesis.
It just wouldn't do for the child to attract the Emperor's wrath with his lack of proper submission, thus he physically kept him in check.
"Master," Vader bowed deeply before he knelt, still holding onto his son's left wrist.
Meanwhile, Luke was staring in unconcealed terror at the enshrouded galactic tyrant, pulling as strongly as he could against his father's vise-like grip on his wrist so as to escape the encounter and the Sith master's bloodcurdling presence.
"Rise, my friend," Sidious bid him yet his eyes were locked on the struggling rebel Jedi who was now straining with both hands to wrench himself free of his father's unbreakable grip. "I apologize for the subterfuge," he went on, and Vader knew that he didn't regret his choice in any way, "but I wanted to catch your guest unprepared."
And that he did, Vader conceded although he had a bad feeling about this sudden and unexpected visit from his master. After all, Luke was nowhere near subservient enough to be ready to meet his new master, let alone show the proper respect to him, as the child was already proving through his desperate attempt to escape from the impromptu meeting.
Vader reluctantly warned his son to stop by tightening his grip around the boy's real wrist, threatening the integrity of his fragile bones.
Luke hissed and reluctantly stilled while Palpatine watched the silent interplay with avid interest.
Although he couldn't see much under the deep hood that covered the Sith's head, Luke felt completely exposed under his unwavering glare. Worse, even though he already regretted wearing a tank top tonight, as it made him feel physically exposed, the Emperor's mere focus on him made him feel completely naked, not only physically, but also in regards to his thoughts and feelings. Like Vader, the Emperor carelessly read his thoughts like an open book, but unlike his father, the despot wasn't trying to salvage a bond of some kind with him.
He wanted him, plain and simple, and he took what he needed to figure out his weaknesses and what not without a concern about the recipient of that mental invasion.
"Welcome to my Empire, young Skywalker," the evil ruler bid him at last. "I have been looking forward to meeting you."
Luke bit his lips against an insult that would undoubtedly put him in trouble with both the Emperor and his father. Given what he had learnt already about his nemesis, he had no intention to test that theory further.
"I see that you have chosen to obey, Child," the Emperor commented, stepping closer still. "That is most wise of you. Perhaps, your father is correct in his assumption that you can be useful to me."
In answer, the ex-rebel shifted his eyes and glared blaster bolts at the black-armored hulk that kept him from moving away from the approaching tyrant. Vader met his resentful stare without any visible regret.
"You do have your mother's spirit, my boy, but you have your father's looks. You have also inherited his Force potential," Palpatine began, turning back toward his towering servant, motioning him to let him go. "However, that is not something I can allow."
Luke had barely begun to step away after being released that he found himself violently shoved backward and forced down to the deck by an invisible pressure . Meanwhile, Vader was equally pushed away from him before being held back at the point of two Force-pikes, one under his chin and the other against the underside of his chest panel.
"Ever," the Emperor added meaningfully, turning briefly toward Vader while he stepped up to the boy's prone form.
Luke, who had barely managed to push himself back to a kneeling position, suddenly noticed his father's abnormal rigidity.
He had a really bad feeling about this.
Before he could duck or otherwise avert what happened next, the Emperor snapped back toward him - and uncoiled his hands with the speed of a snake. He cruelly grasped his hair even as he ram hard into his mind.
Luke could only howl at the burning agony of having that viper-like presence slither into his mind, searching, plowing, removing -
The youth then shrieked when Palpatine finally found what he had been looking for.
There, he not only solidified Vader's previous block around Luke's Force awareness, but he also built several more layers of mental blocks of his own until he was certain that not even Vader would find a way to undo them, let alone the boy or any other weaker Force user.
Meanwhile, Vader wanted to defend his son from what his master was doing to him. He wanted to put an end to the boy's pain, but even without the threat of the royal guards, he would have held his peace.
He knew better than to endanger his son like that.
Hence, he tightened his mechanical hands into fists for as long as the overcome child howled in agony, and then breathed more easily after the Emperor's mind withdrew from the half-conscious boy.
"There, now that is what I call a block, my friend. Yet," he added, as if in afterthought.
Sidious turned his attention back on the weakened boy, and Vader felt his remaining blood freeze when he spotted a green-filled syringe in his master's hand.
Now he really had a bad Feeling about this.
Reeling on the deck in front of him, Luke's senses had barely begun to recover from the Emperor's unforgiving assault that the despot viciously jerked his head back yet again.
This time, Palpatine pulled him backward until his head couldn't go any further even as he used the Force to bind the child in place. Luke moaned half-consciously while he reflexively struggled against his invisible bonds, but to no avail, of course.
Given his half-aware status, the brat didn't even have time to brace for the painful injection before Palpatine aimed at the Jedi's jugular with his abnormally long needle; with a twist of his frail wrist, he jabbed at the skin before inserting the needle as deeply as it could go inside the artery, careful to remain within the main blood vessel and not damage his future servant anymore than necessary.
From this strategic point of entry, the solution went almost straight to the boy's heart, and from there, was distributed practically right away into the rest of his body, including his brain.
The child was naturally caught in throes of agony but Sidious held him completely still and silent so that he didn't endanger his life with the long needle that he had guided with the Force and that was still delivering more of the unique ysalamiri Force-removing solution.
Before long, the Light-infested Force-presence of the youth disappeared from his senses even though the boy was still very much alive and mostly healthy.
A few minutes later, Palpatine's own Force-senses were temporarily neutralized, confirming the creation of the second side-effect that he was planning to use against his traitorous right hand.
He carefully completed his slow injection of the permanent ysalamiri drug, revelling in the dread that blanketed the icy blue eyes of the horrified boy; when the syringe was finally empty, he slowly removed the needle from his new slave, and then watched with undivided interest as the boy shivered violently – the expected reaction for someone of his incredible potential – and then threw up and fainted.
Yes, he surmised with satisfaction, this would do. While no one but him would be able to restore the boy to his Force-awareness, Vader would also not only be unable to sense his child anymore but he would also be bereft of the Force whenever he would be within three meters of him – a fitting punishment for his unfaithful servant who had looked forward to sharing his Force connexion with his offspring.
Speaking of whom, he turned toward the bristling Dark Lord and motioned to his guards to let him go. They silently bowed and returned at their post by the door. "There, my friend," he explained, mock-kindly. "Now you can have your puny son and do with him as you wish. He is no longer of any concern to me. You may even flaunt him about if you wish, but," he added, his voice turning cold and bitter, "never, ever bring him within less than fifteen meters from my presence or he will die right there, right then."
He then waited for his chastised slave to prove that he had once again learnt his lesson about fomenting plans against his master and that he would behave from now on.
With only a moment of hesitation, Vader bowed his head and knelt obediently before him. "As you wish, Master. Thank you, Master."
"Good. And now that this has been dealt with, you will go to the Death Star and hasten its construction. It is once again falling behind schedule."
"What of the rebel fleet massing near Sullust?" his subdued servant still inquired despite his unequivocal orders, as he was wont to do nowadays.
Although the son, when properly groomed, would know better than to question his master in any way, Palpatine was aware that, with Vader, he needed to maintain a delicate balance between blind obedience and autonomy, or at least the illusion of autonomy.
It was the price to pay for not keeping his apprentice at hand at the beginning of his servitude, but the situation had required him to make sacrifices and send his new and still wily apprentice after his Jedi ex-brethrens.
It would be different for the son, however, but only after the father finished not only his academic and military trainings, but that the youth had proven his absolute obedience to his master by satisfying him in his future role of third-in-command.
"It is of no concern, nor is the timing right. When we will defeat them, they will all be there for the massacre, my friend. Now go to Endor and make work my will." He turned away and took a step toward the outer door of the room.
"Yes, Master," he bowed again at his departing form.
"Good. And, Lord Vader," Palpatine added, purposefully stopping in his tracks to turn back around toward his subdued older slave. "In regards to your son, I approve the curriculum that you prepared for him; I will grant him the four years that he needs to prepare for his new role. However, make sure that he succeeds in everything. I will not tolerate anything less than perfection, nor will anyone else when the time comes. Being your son, he will face nothing but the highest of expectations from every party, starting with myself. If need be, provide him with proper incentive to perform to our exacting standards."
"O... Of course, Master. It shall be as you wish," Vader answered, bowing deeper than ever.
Without another glance at either his utterly subservient slave or the unconscious child, Palpatine stepped away once again. He took his time to slowly walk out of Vader's private quarters, aware that the longer he remained, the longer Vader had to hold himself in check even though he was burning with the need to go to his son's assitance.
On the way out of the meditation chamber, Sidious collected his ysalamiri-blanketed intel agent, who had fulfilled his duty while he had provided useful distraction.
Like when they arrived, the agent kept his distance from him yet followed closely enough to be covered by his mind manipulations on the crew members that they encountered.
Therefore, just like his arrival had been accomplished under complete secrecy, he altered all the minds of those he encountered, returning unseen to his undercover shuttle, which had landed in the landing bay closest to Vader's quarters.
Unbeknown to Vader, when his servant had returned with his son, Sidious had already been monitoring from the Eclipse, which had been lurking nearby yet out of range of Executor's sensors. He had merely pretended to be on Coruscant so that his devious apprentice felt safe enough to openly think about his true plans regarding the youth.
Not surprisingly, they hadn't been without the ulterior motive to overthrow him. The Emperor had tempered his ire with great difficulty, aware that any rash action could backfire if he didn't plan for every contingency.
The Sith master had still been pondering his next course of action when a wave of regret had crashed into him, originating from his apprentice.
Disgusted by the signs of re-emerging Light in his servant, he had finally made up his mind.
He had decided to remove the temporary threat that was the boy so that Vader would step back in line until his next bout of impatience. Then, while his unfaithful apprentice would now devote his clever mind to making sure that his son would survive in his new and Forceless life, he would also unknowingly prepare his replacement.
As for the boy's Sith training, Sidious would see to it when the time came. When that happened, however, the boy would not even be aware of it, which would allow Palpatine to outwit his young Sith and any remaining misgivings he might still have then.
By the time that he boarded his shuttle and sat back in his comfortable acceleration couch, Darth Sidious was openly cackling in self-content. How he would enjoy the next five to ten years of his reign.
He would especially revel in Vader's paternal attempts to protect his son from the dangers of his new station, only to ensure that he would be perfect to replace him at the end of his training.
It was a glorious day for the Dark Side of the Force, and the upcoming years would be equally as grand.
Back in Vader's quarters, the moment that the door closed behind the Emperor's back, Anakin rushed to his son's help.
"Luke!" he called— and stopped in shock when the Force abruptly left him upon approaching his son. Luke was not only blind to the Force, he realized; he was also able to take it from him… like a ysalamiri.
He quickly dismissed his unease, gathered his composure and moved all the way to the boy. No special power was more important than his son. Not anymore.
He picked up the limp body and held him carefully against him. "Luke, please, talk to me!" he begged, jostling him slightly.
Without the possibility of sensing his son in the Force, he could not surmise his status in any way other than what his eyes could see… and they didn't see anything reassuring.
His son's skin was abnormally pale, he was sweating profusely, and he was panting for breath, which meant that his heart rate was probably unusually fast as well.
"Luke, son! Please, wake up." He lowered his helmeted head over the boy's unresponsive body and cried for the first time in twenty-one – almost twenty-two - years. "I'm sorry, I'm so sorry... I didn't know… I thought… I should have known... I'm sorry," he repeated, his grief and regret rendering him completely inarticulate. Luke wasn't dead, that much he was certain of, but was he condemned to being in a coma for-
Tightening muscles and jerking limbs drew his attention back to the here and now and he quickly straightened back up to gaze down at the boy.
His beautiful blue eyes were wide with fear and concern, and then he closed them and grimaced while he clutched his chest with his free left hand. "Ah, hurt, Father... what… what happened?.."
"The Emperor," he began and heard the vicious resentment in his artificial voice, "our master," he continued in self-disgust, "altered the conditions of our deal. Now, not only is he the key to giving you back your Force powers, but he also made you disappear from the Force… I don't know how…"
Luke hissed again while his hand tightened against his chest and over his heart. "It burns, Father... it burns so much..."
"It will pass, Son," he tried to encourage him.
It had to pass.
"Not fast-aaah!" the youth groaned more painfully.
If he could Feel the boy, he would be able to knock him out right away, but with the hole in the Force that was now his son, he couldn't even connect with the energy field, let alone find his son's center of awareness.
Therefore, he simply stood up, still holding him in his arms, and stalked toward his private medbay.
Although Palpatine had explicitly granted him permission to reveal the boy's presence to the outside world, Vader knew better than to take advantage of such a double-edged permission, especially after what had happened to the boy.
Displaying Luke now would not only put him at risk of retribution as either a former rebel or Vader's son, but neither he nor Luke would be able to defend the boy from attacks.
As for the Noghris, they could always watch over the boy during his father's absences, and they could help perfect his self-defense training, but they wouldn't be able to follow him outside their quarters without revealing the secret of their people.
Since Palpatine had long since strictly forbidden him from ever using them in any way that would reveal their existence to anyone except them, they weren't a possible solution to their new problem.
So, no, he resolved, he would not expose the boy yet, or even for a long, long time.
He would not lose him after finally being reunited with him and slowly bonding with him.
He would protect him with everything that he was and that he had.
In his arms, the boy continued to moan and whimper for as long as his father hadn't managed to inject him with both a soporific and a painkiller. Then, and only then, Vader hooked him up to the monitors that he used on occasions, turned on his advanced med droid and assessed the situation with his help.
What had Sidious done to his little Jedi?
Well? How was that? Did you expect that ;) Anything else to share? I most certainly cross my fingers that your fun continued :)
Have a great week-end everyone, and remember, reviews are very precious gifts all year long! Moreover, they can make me write and post faster than scheduled, so ;P Please, pretty please?