Power Lust: Lust for Revenge
Chapter 1: The Chosen One
By SJ and Tatiana
Disclaimers: Nothing in the Star Wars
Universe belongs to me; everything belongs to George
Lucas. I'm only writing stories for fun. See my
homepage for more details.
Special thanks to Tatiana for allowing me
to bring this sequel to life and for her wonderful
job on Vader who once again surprises us with his
refreshing point of views :) Like she did in the
first story, she wrote Vader, Leia and added Kyp to
her creativity so the peculiar traits of those
characters are from her mind, not mine :) Working
with you is a pleasure, my friend!
Finally, special thanks to my shy, secret
beta-reader and best friend, Adrianne, for her help
with the final editing of my new stories. Thanks for
giving me some of your precious time, my friend :)
Summary: Two years after the end of Power
Lust, Luke, Leia and Han still share a family
life with the dark Lord of the Sith, Darth Vader.
While Leia assist her father in his operations to
unify the Empire and the Republic in a joint, yet
somewhat distinct government, Luke has gathered Jedi
students on Yavin 4 and is beginning to lead them on
the ways of the Jedi. Sadly though, the days of peace
will soon be over for the Vader/Skywalker family.
Well hidden, somewhere in the galaxy, a group called
Palpatine's Brigade is bidding its time in order to
strike Vader through his most vulnerable spot: his
Main Characters: Luke, Vader, Leia, Han, Mara
Other Characters: Kam Solusar, Kyp Durron,
Exar Kun, Kirana Ti, Winter, Cilghal, Streen, Piett,
Category: Drama, adventure, family, angst,
Rating: PG-13, torment in part 4, then
implicit torture in part 6 but no details whatsoever.
Archivist's Note: The authors
will not be completing this story.
Time: 2 years after the first story: Power Lust
The Tydirium shuttle exited hyperspace near the
great red giant of Yavin and her green satellite,
Yavin 4; it was immediately greeted by the very bored
voice of a tech who was aboard the nearby, very small
"You've entered the New Republic's system.
Please, identify yourself," the tech stated
monotonously, obviously not worried anymore about any
danger of invasion.
Lord Vader, also known as Emperor Vader nowadays,
smirked under his faceplate and entered his access
code in his terminal.
With the latest progress of the integration of the
Empire and the New Republic, these controls were now
no more than mere formalities, just a reminder of the
Republic's independence whenever an imperial ship
entered their assigned space.
However, just like the imperial ships never
attacked Republican installations anymore, the
Republic controls were no longer set on a hair
trigger for alarm.
Instead, the two groups were finally co-inhabiting
the galaxy without shedding anymore blood because of
their differences of visions. Then, once the Senate
would be completely re-established, they would even
be able to completely abolish the need for
surveillance stations, and thus free all those bored
controllers for more pleasant duties than watching
over empty parts of space.
Or perhaps not, he reflected more seriously.
Perhaps they would need them to protect the galaxy
from outside danger, but that, he decided, was still
in the future.
For the moment, having an independent yet
controlled New Republic as an ally was extremely good
for the internal stability of the Empire. Since
ensuring this stability had become his new goal in
life for the past two years, he really hoped to never
see a civil war again.
"Your code has been accepted," the tech
acknowledged a few seconds later. "Please,
proceed, my Lord."
The Dark Lord complied without further ado. The
white/silver shuttle accelerated and began its slow
approach of Yavin 4.
As the planet grew bigger in his forward viewport,
Vader reflected that it was still almost unbelievable
how difficult it had been to make this visit
possible. Apart from creating some free time in
his overcharged schedule, the main problem had
surprisingly been his status.
For obvious reasons, the Imperial laws had never
said anything about why the Emperor would make an
informal trip in the Republican territory... Unless
it had been conquered, something which he himself had
ordered barred out of the Books of Law.
Thus, after an impressive series of discussion, to
which he still hadn't seen much reasons although he
understood Leia's point of view about how he needed
to prove his good will toward a democratic ruling
instead of a dictatorship, they had figured out
how to 'justify' his current location. After
weeks of democracy, which had resulted in pointless
meetings filled with pointless ramblings, he had
finally been 'allowed' to leave Coruscant.
After digging in history and dusty old laws, the
assembly of both Imperial and Republican lawyers had
decided of their own free will that he would go as a
Sith Lord, and that his visit would be qualified as a
Well, Vader conceded, there were indeed some Sith
temples on Yavin 4, and he did have a great desire to
visit them. However, it was not the real reason of
his visit... far from it in fact.
'I want to restore the Jedi Order,' his son had
told him earnestly, almost two years ago.
Back then, he himself had agreed with this, and
for two years, he had not interfered with Luke's
searches and projects. So far, his only interaction
with the new Jedi Order had only taken place on a
medium-sized, financial aid.
Now however... he wanted to see what his son had
accomplished. He wanted to see this new Jedi Order,
observe its ways... and intervene if need be, as was
his role in this life.
This time though, although he had chosen his way a
long time ago, he really hoped that his intervention,
which could be compared to a surgical treatment of
sorts, would not be needed.
Perhaps, he thought in dim hope, the new Jedi
Order would finally figure out how to bind the Force
the right way, to make it stronger and clearer in the
universe once again. Then, perhaps, just perhaps,
'this' would finally help him to find the answer to
the greatest mystery of his life: his own very
In the end, he reminded himself, he hoped for a
rather calm stay, far away from the political
headaches of Corcusant.
As the shuttle neared the planet though, and that
he became aware of Luke's presence, he detected that
his son was both confused and clearly not happy about
Something was wrong, he surmised while suppressing
a sigh of slight annoyance; there was always
something wrong... Sometimes, he reflected wryly, it
seemed that his family couldn't live without problems
for more than a few hours at a time.
Well, he heartened himself, what was new?
He chuckled to himself and began the descent
On Yavin 4, Luke Skywalker, Jedi Knight although
some of his students addressed him as 'master',
something with which he felt most uncomfortable, sat
comfortably on a flat rock that was located near a
stream. After exercising on his own to clear his mind
of physical tensions, he had decided to meditate on
Calmly, slowly, focusing his attention on his
breathing rhythm, he immersed his soul in the Force.
Today's practice had been somewhat strange, he
reflected as he began his meditation. It had been
filled with unusual tensions in his group of Jedi
apprentices. As he remembered their last lesson, he
confirmed to himself that the disturbance seemed once
again to be coming from the youngest, Kyp
Durron. However, he was still unable to
ascertain his feeling for a fact, and he did not want
to bring up questions on a baseless front.
Throughout the past years, he had learnt to not
trust his 'feelings' without verifying them with his
head and heart.
Focusing his mind on the problem at hand, he
called up an image of each one of his students; the
five of them appeared before his inner eye. He began
to study them.
One by one... as they had come to him.
Cilghal, he identified the female
calamarian. Her mind was bathed in a blue-
green pattern and felt like soft, clear water. She
was an ex-ambassador of the planet Calamari. She had
been the first one to cross his path, back on
Corcusant. Back then, he had been meeting with the
delegation from Calamari when he had felt something
about the woman. However, he had obtained
confirmation of her Jedi potential when he had seen
her fledgling skills at work, right after some
"Palpatine's New Order" fanatic kamikaze
had attacked the embassy. The woman, has he had seen
back then, was a born healer; she instinctively knew
how to help someone to recover their health. As he
considered her mellow, quiet personality, he decided
that he couldn't foresee any problem coming from her.
In fact, she was one of the students on which he
could count on when trouble rose in the group.
With Cilghal's possibility being dismissed, Luke
focused on his second student.
The second one to join his group of apprentices
had been Kam Solusar, a steel- gray mind. Kam was a
rock, stable and sure. He had already been an half-
trained Jedi when they had met. Back then, he had
begun his training when he had been very young, but
had never completed it since his teacher/father had
been killed by Vader during the purges. Now
aged of nearly forty years old, the man was still a
beginner, but what little he knew about the Force, he
had always used in service of his community. He had
never tried to become a reference because of his
abilities, nor had he devoted his life solely to the
Force. What greatly surprised the younger Jedi about
the man though was that even after he had discovered
about his Vaderish parentage, Kam had still decided
to join the 'academy' in order to complete what he
had begun as a child. Luke admitted to himself that
he admired his student's open mind and resolve;
because of his steadfastness, he thought of him as
his right arm, or even more as an equal than as a
student. Thus, once again, Luke could not confirm his
feeling with Kam's whole demeanor. The older man did
not have any obvious reason to be as strongly
disappointed and frustrated as he himself had felt
Third on the list was Kirana Ti, a witch from
Dathomir. Her spirit was tinged by the earth-brown
color of her homeworld. Like the forests of Dathomir,
Kirana was a young, vibrant, proud, strong tree for
them all. She was the only witch who had decided to
leave Dathomir's quaint, primitive villages and ways
of living in order to explore the power that she had
always had yet had never really known how to use.
After seeing him and his sister use the 'power'
without spinning any spell, nor chanting, Kirana had
approached him and asked him to teach her a more
skillful usage of the Force. When he, Han and Leia
had left the planet that they had been exploring,
Kirana had left with them. Later on, she had told him
that she didn't want to return on the planet other
than to share what she was learning and incite more
of her sisters to open their eyes to the real world,
not just their world. Again then, he thought
seriously, nothing that could warrant the tension of
Fourth in line came old Streen, an ex-prospector
of gas on Bespin... His mind was like a deep-blue
sky, but had the coolness of pure cold air that was
filled with golden light. Unlike his other trainees,
he had been discovered by Vader himself. Luke
couldn't help but smirk slightly at the memory of his
father's reaction when he had found himself with the
necessity to go back to Bespin, a planet which
neither him nor his father wanted to even see ever
again. For one of the first time since he had really
met him, Luke had had the distinct feeling that his
father had pouted under his mask after discovering
that no one else but him could fulfill this specific
diplomatic duty. However, the trip had not only been
a trip down unpleasant memory lanes; it had also
allowed him to uncover a Jedi potential that they had
both agreed they had to help before madness took hold
of it. And madness it would have been, Luke knew
today. Streen couldn't shield his mind from the mind
of others, could not completely block them even in
the complete isolation that he had been enforcing on
himself. His unconscious cries for help had alerted
Vader. Not willing to involve himself though, the
Dark Lord had asked his son to join him on Bespin;
once there, Luke had spent several days on end with
Streen, teaching him how to shield himself from
feeling other's minds all the time, although he had
been aware that the Dark Lord had not considered him
as a great authority in the domain. Back to Streen,
Luke thought more seriously, now that the old hermit
could once again be around people, he was content to
nurture his strange connection with nature and
clearly wasn't willing to return to his older
activities; he was very happy in developing his
potential little by little.
With this new element excluded from the
possibilities, Luke knew that he had found his answer
to his question. He should have started right from
there, he conceded, but he hadn't wanted to be
Kyp Durron was at the origin of the tensions which
were now permeating the training sessions of the
His mind was a swirling violet and dark-blue; his
emotions were confused. The youngest member of the
group, Luke had found him while supervising the
closing of the mines of Kessel. Back then, he had
been amazed by the boy's potential for power and had
promised him that his life would never be what it had
been up to then, but now, he could see how the youth
had understood it wrong. The kid was out for justice
and corrections of wrongs; the more he learnt about
the Force, the angrier he grew.
In a way, he conceded that he had somehow known
this answer already since he had voluntarily lessened
the practical sessions and had replaced them by
discussions about how to use the Force the right way
to help the regular citizens if need be.
Now that he thought about it though, he understood
'very' well why the boy's frustration and impatience
had come so clearly to him all of a sudden. He was
probably still seething mad at him for restraining
Reaching a decision, Luke opened his eyes and
stood from his warm, rocky seat. It was time to
have a talk with his most skilled apprentice.
He had barely left the vicinity of the river when
his father's presence entered his senses; he looked
up just in time to spot the shuttle as it became
visible to the naked eye.
Talk about a pleasant surprise, Luke reflected
wryly to himself before he set out for the landing
platform of the Jedi Academy, former site of a Rebel
The landing was smooth. The white, metallic bird
gracefully came to rest in an almost empty hangar,
its wings folding upward to allow landing. Luke
waited for the ramp to lower itself, then walked
forward when he saw the black figure of his father
coming down. "Welcome Father," he smiled
warmly. "How was the trip?"
"Blissfully boring," the Dark Lord
answered coolly, clasping his son's shoulders in a
brief hug. "I'm glad to see you alive and
Luke laughed heartily. "My trainees are not
so horrible, Father," he reassured him
playfully, then added: "they leave me some time
to patch myself up."
He chuckled at the barely annoyed shake of head
that his father gave him, as if rebuking him for his
"I'm glad to see you too," he added more
seriously. "Congratulations on your escape from
your bureaucrats," he then commented more
lightly when he noticed the second gaze that the Dark
Lord gave him. "How is Leia? I can barely catch
up with her when I call," he continued,
skillfully changing to a topic that wouldn't upset
"We were negotiating with the Trade
Federation in the Outer Rim. It was rather
complicated," Vader explained seriously, gazing
forward once again.
Luke whistled lowly as he understood his sister's
latest predicament. He knew that 'Rather complicated'
meant, in his father's mind: almost impossible.
"I suppose that you were successful
though," he said at last as he considered what
little news he had gotten from the Imperial network.
"That's why I was able to escape," his
father confirmed with a short nod. "I left Leia
in charge; it will undoubtedly make her rather busy
for the next week or so."
Luke grinned as he tried to imagine his sister's
face upon finding out that she would be left in
charge of their father's Empire until his return.
"I'm sure that she was 'really' pleased about
this turn of events."
"Ecstatic," Vader returned in cool
"Poor Han," Luke shook his head in
compassion although he couldn't help but grin at the
thought of the face that both his sister and
brother-in-law had bestowed on his father upon
hearing his plans. He dimly wished that he could have
seen those. He was fairly sure that they had beaten
the face that Han had made when he had been told by
Vader that he could marry Leia if he dared make his
"Indeed," Vader agreed with him, then
shook away the consideration of Han Solo's fate with
a movement of his hand. "But tell me about you.
How are things going here? We didn't hear much from
you either," he slightly scolded him with a
stern finger that was point at him in rebuke.
"I know, I'm sorry, but we're all
right," he reassured his father. "However,
it's rather strange to have all this enormous base to
ourselves," he commented as he looked around
himself at the silent and almost empty hangar: only
four small ships occupied the space that had been
designed for two hundred. As he gazed around, images
from the past rose once again to the front of his
mind... He pushed them away, part of the past, not of
the present. "Were do you want to stay?" he
inquired, turning his attention back to his father.
"There are some very good, comfortable rooms
"I'm not a former Rebel, and surely not a
Jedi," Vader reminded him more coolly. "It
would be most improper for me to stay here. I'll be
in the closest Sith temple," he stated with
finality. "Structure 187 then," Luke
offered. "If I remember the archaeological
reports correctly, it is clear for inhabitation now.
I walk you there?" he suggested earnestly.
"It's about half an hour from here."
"Gladly," Vader assented. "Lead the
The dark green, wet jungle began directly around
the small clearing of the former base.
"We don't have enough droids to clean the
approaches to the base, just enough to clean the base
itself, but even then, it's a huge task," Luke
explained as they walked through the dense foliage.
"All the other structures are completely covered
with vegetation. The last research expedition cleaned
some, but you can't really see the difference from
the surrounding jungle anymore."
"It's good for the training though," the
Dark Lord commented as he noticed how graceful his
son's movements had become. At the moment, the Jedi
was moving through the forest as easily as knife
through butter, he reflected. Unlike the jerky, young
Jedi that he had learnt to identify as his son, the
youth now moved with absolute confidence and
Luke grinned. "Indeed. The jungle is so alive
that I can't think of a better tool to hone Force
"Speaking of perception," Vader
interrupted more seriously, "something is
greatly bothering you."
Luke stopped his forward progress at this and
stared at his father in what Vader understood was
disbelief. "You can read my mind even behind my
shields?" the youth inquired in slight
"Your shields..." Vader smirked as he
remembered all the other times that his son had faced
the fact that he couldn't shield himself from him,
"are better then they used to be," he
reassured him, "but not nearly good enough since
you still broadcast your emotions very openly. Hence,
reading your mind is still easy."
"It's because of our bond, right?" Luke
inquired, miffed. "Shields can't block it
"It's because of your lack of skill,"
the Dark Lord countered coolly. "With more
practice, you will be able to block this too."
"But it can't be blocked from you, can
it?" Luke challenged him, his temper gaining
over his normally gentler disposition.
"Try to read me," was the reply.
The moment Vader threw down the challenge, he felt
his son's senses reach out for him, felt him withdraw
the moment that he ran in 'his' black hole. All of a
sudden, he had turned himself into a cold,
emotionless void. While it was a new experience for
his son to feel him this way, he himself was used to
rely on this technique when he wished to remain
inconspicuous, even amongst Jedi.
"OK," Luke sighed in defeat. "You
proved your point. Can you undo the block? It's
really chilling to not feel you at all."
Vader didn't bother to reply, but he allowed his
presence to return, although he made sure that it
remained dimmed and faint. "I don't want to
alert your students yet," he explained in answer
to Luke's unstated question about this apparent
wariness. "I think that you should talk to them
before they discover my presence here. It would
probably be better advised to prepare them mentally
for my being here," he finished more grimly,
reminding his son that only 'he' had his trust as a
Jedi. His students still had to prove themselves to
"Alright," Luke nodded in understanding,
then took a deep breath to shoo away his remaining
frustration. "And thank you for them,
Father," he added, indicating that he understood
how dangerous his presence here could be for the Jedi
apprentices' continued health. "I will speak
"Good, now, can you tell me what's disturbing
you?" Vader inquired, getting back on their
previous topic as they resumed their walk in the
"Well..." Luke frowned. His father would
help him, of this he was sure, but... Kyp was 'his'
responsibility, he reminded himself. On his way to
the hangar bay, he had decided that he would try his
way with the youth before mentioning him, and perhaps
doom him to his father's... mission. He finally shook
his head slightly in negation. "I... prefer to
see it through myself first, Father. Perhaps I
can deal with it alone."
"Good," Vader nodded in answer; Luke
couldn't help but shiver under his gaze although he
was praising him. "Very good, my son. You're
Luke smiled slightly. "I try."
"You are beginning to really trust your own
judgement. It's a very good progress," his
father added less coolly than usually.
"I don't have much choice, don't you
think?" he commented, raising an eyebrow in
inquiry. "After all, I need to teach them even
if I'm still learning myself. In fact, I feel
more like I'm a guide than a real teacher..." he
admitted truthfully, humbly.
"Logical," was his father's short
answer. "After all, there's very little that you
can 'really' teach them."
"Thanks," Luke replied in dry humor.
"That's a great vote of confidence,
"You're welcome," Vader retorted in kind
before sobering once again. "What I meant
however is that there's not much to teach when you're
starting from scratch. You're creating a new way,
nobody has ever done what you're attempting to
"Ever?" Luke frowned in surprise and
confusion. He had thought that the Jedi had at
"Ever," Vader stated with finality.
"Oh. Hmmm... I can only do the best I can
then, huh?" he commented while turning once
again toward his father to see if he approved his new
"Indeed," the imposing, still slightly
frightening Dark Lord nodded in reassurance.
"And don't worry, I won't interfere with your
teachings, nor influence you or your students in any
way, unless you require this from me."
"I did want to ask you this," Luke
admitted with a wry smile.
"I know," Vader smirked under his mask.
"You really need to work on your shields,"
he then reminded him mock-seriously.
"Alright, alright," the youth groaned in
annoyance even as he sighed in acceptance of his own
weaknesses. "Show me how you did whatever you
did to block the bond."
His father seemed more than content to help him
with this new technique. They spent the rest of the
road exercising this new kind of shield.
The Sith temple looked more like a grassy, small
hill, than a temple; it was completely covered with
However, Vader had no trouble finding the entry.
Once the temple was open, Luke bid him farewell till
the evening and departed to sort out his problem.
The Dark Lord entered his chosen place of
The inside was a small, light grey, very dull room
that bore the signs of the recent presence of
research teams. As he gazed around himself, Vader
remembered the lines of the report about this place.
'A small ritual place, presents no historical
interest,' the archeologist had stated with finality.
Vader almost laughed aloud at this. Only a fool
could think that a Sith temple was exactly what it
appeared to be. Stepping closer to the far wall, he
touched a section of the writing--- and a wall opened
up to reveal a flight of stairs. As he had
surmised, the main part of the Sith temple was
A few seconds later, after a long descent through
complete darkness, he reached a huge octagonal room.
The moment that he stepped on the floor, eight
columns of silver light turned themselves on. He took
a moment to gaze at them; they looked like waterfalls
that were dropping from the ceiling and falling into
the bowels of stone of the floor. The eight walls of
the room were covered in intricate carvings; each
wall was also pierced by archways, each of them
leading into more darkness.
Vader smiled and extended his senses. He instantly
felt that there was a soft humming of light around
him, and a tinkling of water not so far away. There
were also hundreds of memories and emotion that were
printed in the very room... The underground
feeling of god's presence, he identified knowingly...
*I honor you, Lord of the Sword.*
And a feeling of another mind, powerful and
somehow familiar. Before he understood its nature,
Vader felt a wave of aggression attack him and barely
had the time to mentally close himself.
The attack was powerful, but his shields held
strong. They continued to hold for as along as the
attack hadn't subsided. While so engaged in a battle
of strong minds, Vader lowered himself to the floor
and assumed the meditative posture.
Since the attacker did not give him a chance to
speak with him in a normal manner, he resolved to use
Thus, he reached for the Circle and touched the
memories in the other's mind. They were like dry
leaves, dead and crumpling under his touch. However,
there were some poisonous leaves in the stack; Vader
made them come back to life. The attack stopped
abruptly, he felt the pain of his aggressor and then
The Dark Lord stood slowly. The situation truly
intrigued him now; his attacker clearly was a master
of great power, but the taste of his mind was
strange, grey, dry and dusty.
Vader circled the room, touching the walls,
awakening the temple.
The carvings switched under his hand. The memories
swirled around him. He reached for them and asked
about his attacker; when he received an answer he
"Exar Kun!" he exclaimed in a mixture of
amusement and contempt. "The so-called 'Greatest
of Sith Lords'. What an interesting cohabitation it
will be!" he commented out loud, not hiding his
harsh enjoyment anymore.
He felt the temple respond to his amusement; the
writings on the walls began to glow dimly, the pitch
black darkness in the archways subsided and became
only deep shadows that were pierced by blue-white
threads of curved script on the walls. The temple
rejoiced in his presence.
Vader thanked it, then set off to find a suitable
room for his stay. He couldn't wait for the next
confrontation with this so-called Sith Lord...
Kyp Durron sat near the waterfall. He had selected
a warm stone as a proper seat and was now trying to
tame the swirl of his emotions.
The hum of falling water, the soft whisper of wind
in the rustling foliage; all these soothing sounds
that usually did wonders on his emotional state were
currently of no help to him.
He just couldn't make himself calm down, and he
didn't dare touch the Force in so unstable a mindset.
Touch the Force... To him, the very idea of
reaching out felt like a white-blue, glowing,
powerful sword. Like those sacred swords of legends
that only the purest of heart could wield in a battle
He had dreamt about this battle in the dark stoned
caves of the mines of Kessel. He had dreamt of
it while being forced to work without respite, till
total exhaustion. He had dreamt of being the weapon
of light, of destroying his tormentors after he had
heard about his brother's death.
His beloved brother, who had been one of many
faceless stormtroopers who had been killed during a
Sometimes, Kyp had dreamt about his brother's
death, seeing his last moments like a torrent of
violent fire, hearing his screams, over and over
again. After such a dream, he had awakened in his
grey cell of Kessel and imagine himself being a
legendary sword in some heroes' hands and cutting
down the Emperor.
And now the Emperor was dead.
His torment had ended. The Light's servant, the
Light's very son, or so he still felt, had come in
the mines and had freed them all. It was then
that Jedi Skywalker had told him, Kyp Durron, young,
worthless slave, that he could be a weapon of light-
a future knight.
At first shocked by the news, he had blindly
followed the Son of Light... until he had discovered
that he was also the son of a Sith Lord. Naturally,
it had unsettled him, even worried him about the true
nature of Skywalker, but he had come to discover that
the son was not the Father.
He knew, even now, that the light was inhabiting
His actual master was fair and pure, he was sure
of it. Now, if he could just despise his master,
distrust him!, he thought in frustration. He wanted
more than what Skywalker was teaching him, yet
couldn't hate him. He simply felt the light in his
master with every cell in his body.
However, as much as he revered his master, he
revered the Force more, and his Skywalker's words
during the last training session had generated a
great turmoil within him.
'You should use the Force, wrap your will around
it to guide it,' his master had said. 'Listen to your
hearts and minds, determine the best way of action,
and only then should you turn to the Force. The Force
is a tool, not a guidance. Our heart is the
guidance that the Force needs.'
And it was painful to hear his master speaking
like this of the only sacred thing that he himself
had ever had in his life. To him, those words meant
that the Force was nothing more than a kitchen knife
while it was, in fact, at the basis of absolutely
It pained him so much that even the forest and the
river could not help him to appease his mind.
Kyp was so engrossed in his musing that he didn't
hear, nor felt, Luke's approach. By the time that he
became aware of his presence, Luke was already near
him; he hastily acknowledged his presence and made a
movement to stand up. Luke stopped him, then
sat down beside him.
They were silent for a while; Luke contemplated
the waterfall, Kyp looked at the ground. The Jedi
appeared calm and composed, even authoritative, but
in fact, the Son of Light was not feeling confident
at all. Now that he was near Kyp, the words were
eluding him. He could feel the boy's anger and
torment, but he still wondered how he could clear
this matter with him. "That's my favorite spot
too," he finally commented when the silence
began to oppress him. "The waterfall is
"This whole planet is," Kyp answered
coolly. "It's so full of life, it's incredible.
And so much water... I still can't get used to
"Me neither," Luke smiled in agreement.
"Tatooine is not very different from
Kessel," he then explained to the younger man.
"However, we have sand there instead of
"I've never been there. I'd like to see it
someday," Kyp said thoughtfully. "I'd like
to see the whole galaxy..."
"Someday you will. I don't know about the
whole galaxy, but I surely can organize a visit to
Tatooine for you," Luke offered with a touch of
humor in his voice.
Kyp smiled, then grew serious once again.
"I'm sorry, Master," he said. "I
disturbed the session, I didn't mean to. I
"You're confused. And something bothers you
"Yes, Master. I..." Kyp shuddered.
"I just don't understand... about the
"You must find your way in your inner heart,
your compassion," the older Jedi explained
kindly as he nodded in reassurance. "It is the
only true way that will guide you in your
actions. Right now you're guided by your
emotions; it's very dangerous to touch the Force in
this state of mind. The results can be
disastrous," he explained, pausing as he
remembered the late Emperor and what he had brought
upon the galaxy.
Kyp seemed to understand this; he nodded slightly
as he swallowed hard.
"That's why I lessened the practical
lessons," Luke began anew. "It's very
important for you to find a way to control your mind
before you begin to really use the Force."
"But how can I find guidance if I don't
practice, Master? Can you tell me what is this
compassion and heart that you keep talking about? how
do I recognize the Guidance?"
Luke sighed this time, faced yet again with the
fact that he didn't have an answer for everything.
"Kyp, I'm not a Jedi Master," he told him
seriously. "I still don't know every secret, and
I'm still discovering this particular secret myself.
I can help you to advance along with me, but I really
can't give you an answer other than to trust your
care for others. For the rest, I don't have any
answer, I'm sorry." The boy looked
thunderstruck; Luke gently touched his arm.
"Trust me, please," he asked him
beseechingly. "I'll never let you down. I'll
help you in every ways that I can, and I'm sure that
together we'll find this secret. I can feel it."
Kyp looked straight at his face and slowly nodded.
As he did so, Luke felt the swirl of the boy's
emotions slowing down before it completely
dissipated. He smiled.
"Thank you for trusting me," he told him
The boy smiled too, if shyly. "Thank you,
Luke," he answered kindly.
The Jedi nodded and bid him goodbye.
Kyp watched him leave, now calm and serene. The
answer to his problem was so easy that it almost made
him laugh. Luke Skywalker, while being the son of
Light, just wasn't his master and could be wrong. All
he had to do now was to find a real Jedi Master who
could provide him with responses.
And he had the feeling that he knew where to
Chapter 2: Discoveries
In the evening, Luke gathered all his trainees at
the foot of the main temple. Thus, they all sat in
the large clearing that usually served as a training
As he looked at each face that was watching him
patiently, Luke wondered how in the Galaxy he would
inform them that his father was on the forest moon...
with them. With the possible exception of Streen, who
had already met with the Dark Lord of the Sith, he
was aware that his trainees did not really like his
Would they decide to attac---
Catching his worried thoughts, he almost smirked
to himself for his protectiveness toward his powerful
father. Throughout the past years, he had seen for
himself that the Sith lord could handle anything that
was being thrown at him, whether it was a
full-fledged attack against his very human self, or
the apparition of children and family in his
up-to-then lonely life.
Finally, he had also realized that the Dark Lord
did not bother much about anybody's feelings, let
alone Jedi trainees'.
In fact, he then reflected, it was unusually
considerate of his father to give him time to warn
his 'Jedi' students of his visit instead of scaring
them to death with his revealed, potentially-lethal
presence. Even now, the Dark Lord was dimming his
presence in the Force in order to avoid disturbing
the future Jedi Knights.
"Well," Luke finally said in the
expectant silence. "I have an importance
announcement to make," he began seriously, then,
unable to think of any way to subtly introduce his
father's presence, took a deep breath and let out his
secret. "My father is here."
"Emperor Vader?" Cilghal gasped in
obvious shock while older Kam Solusar frowned.
"Lord Vader is here?" he finally
half-whispered as if muted by shock.
"He is," Luke nodded while he threw a
warning glance at his student, perplexed by his
Aggression, he would understand, but shock.
"It's an unofficial visit," he continued
more seriously. "He is here as a Sith in a
"A Sith??" Kirana Ti exclaimed in sudden
worry and distrust. "And we are Jedi----"
"That is why he is staying at the Sith
temple, away from us," Luke reassured her
calmly, hoping to quiet the others' growing worries
with his words.
"Why is he here?" Kam demanded, his eyes
now narrowed in open dislike.
"To visit my son," said the deep,
familiar voice from the surrounding shadows, then
pitch black shadow moved, and the Dark Lord stepped
on the clearing, his presence now clear and strong to
both the trainees' eyes and Force senses. Even to
Luke, it felt like a cold wind on their minds,
reminding them of a starless night above a field of
ice. "You should not worry about me, son of
Solusar," Vader stated coolly. "I didn't
come for you, nor for your friends."
As if provoked though, Kam was instantly on his
feet--- and attacking! Before Luke could stand and
interfere, the older man had called Luke's,
green-bladed lightsaber to his hand, and was upon the
Dark Lord of the Sith.
The young Jedi teacher watched in shock as his
student swiftly yet gracefully wielded 'his'
lightsaber, his anger and pain swirling around him as
a dark blue cloak that was barely lit by the
green-white hue of his Jedi teacher.
"Kam, no!" Kirana Ti begged him
The enraged Jedi did not pay any attention to her
and brought his arm in a fast, downard arc----- then
the green, pulsing light suddenly stopped at Vader's
Luke, as well as his students, were holding their
breaths, barely aware that the Sith Lord had not
moved a finger to defend himself. For a moment the
only sounds that filled the clearing were the labored
breaching of Kam and the mechanical sound of Vader's
"I should kill you," Kam stated, hatred
and pain dripping from his voice. "I should and
I can. I have dreamt about it for endless nights. I
have been dreaming about cutting you down,... as you
did my father," he almost sobbed as his
emotional pain overcame even his hatred of the Dark
"Than why don't you finish me?" Vader
inquired calmly. "Why don't you fulfill you
dream?" he prompted him, locking his darkened
eye lenses on the other's distraught gaze. "Do
"I..." the other hesitated, then slowly
pulled his blade away from the other's neck.
To Luke's horror though, this first face-off did
not seem to satisfy his suddenly worrying father.
Instead, he goaded the other further. "I'm your
teacher's father," Vader reminder Kam almost
meanly, "I killed your father as I did
uncountable others. What is my son's suffering
compared to the justice that you will
accomplish?" he demanded coldly.
That naturally spurred to life the Jedi
apprentice's anger once again. "How dare you
compare my father with----" Kam exclaimed--- and
suddenly froze as if a detail had just occurred to
"Yes?" Vader prompted him knowingly.
Luke, for his part, shifted his worried, doubtful
gaze from one warrior to another, wondering what in
blazes his father was hoping to achieve except doom
his student to the Dark----
"I... It can't be compared, can it?" Kam
slowly inquired, looking intently at the black
faceplate. "My dream... is not right. If I kill
you, I will create more suffering and won't remove
The Sith Lord slowly nodded in agreement. "My
son has taught you well, son of Solusar" the
Dark Lord stated almost proudly.
"Yes," Kam nodded, throwing a look in
his back at his distraught teacher. "He
did." He focused back on the Dark Lord and
deactivated Luke's lightsaber before he stepped back;
his eyes did not stray away from the Dark Lord of the
Sith. The tension didn't fade from the air; nobody
dared to move, no matter how much they felt as if
they 'should' intervene at some point.
"I still have my honor," Kam finally
commented bitterly. "I will not hide behind your
son's back." He squared his shoulders, as if
preparing to face a punishement, Luke dimly reflected
while he searched his father's blocked senses for a
clue about what the Dark Lord was expecting to hear
next. "I admit that I have thought about killing
you, sire," the older man stated calmly. "I
am aware that I am still the Empire's subject.
Luke, who was still sitting on the ground as if
paralyzed, gaped in disbelief and understanding as
Kam let his weapon fall to the ground.
'No!' he wanted to shout, yet was strangely unable
to generate any sound at the moment.
"I submit myself..." Kam stated as he
knelt in the grass and bowed his head, "...to
thy justice, my Emperor."
The young Jedi teacher silently shook his head at
his father as Vader studied the kneeling form of
Kam--- then the sharp sound of his activated blood-
red blade cut through the frozen silence even as the
lightsaber bathed the surrounding gloom in shades of
As if his father's anger had come alive, Luke
thought in sudden fear. As if he was lusting for
He tried to jump to his feet and object to the
obviously unavoidable actions of his father, saw that
his other students were either preparing a last ditch
defense, or else a frightful retreat---- then the
cold, black power of the Sith, which was hovering
around the Dark Lord, washed over them all as if in
warning to not interfere; it naturally killed any
words or thoughts that any of them had been harboring
at the moment.
Petrified, Luke watched in horror as the red blade
slowly descended toward Kam's neck. For a brief
moment, he felt the desire to block out the horrible
sight of his father killing his first 'new' Jedi, but
he fought against it. If Kam was being executed, it
was because of him, because he had not taught him----
The lethal blade suddenly stopped its downward
"You asked for justice, Kam Solusar,"
Vader said solemnly in the horrified silence,
"for an offence that is normally punished by
death. Since you submit your life to my judgment, I
decide that you will live. I condemn you to serve the
Empire's people till your last breath. Do you accept
my judgment, son of Solusar?"
Luke was too shocked by this sudden turn of events
to utter a single word. He fastened his eyes on his
father, who had suddenly morphed into a real,
"Yes, my Emperor," Kam answered, his
voice devoid of life.
"Then I, Darth Vader, the Sith Lord of the
Circle," he proclaimed as he moved his blade
from one side of Kam's head to the other,
"recognize you, Kam Solusar, as a Jedi Knight.
You may rise," he finally told him as he his red
blade disappeared from sight.
Kam slowly rose to his feet, gaping at the Dark
Lord. Behind him, his comrades in the Force equally
gaped in stunned disbelief at the 'dangerous' Dark
Lord of the Sith. Even Luke, who knew his father
fairly well now, could not stop staring at him.
"Jedi?..." the less-experienced Jedi
stuttered once he managed to recover from his
complete shock, a feeling that Luke could easily
refer to at the moment. "But. but I'm still
learning. I'm still---"
"In a way, you will never stop learning, Jedi
Solusar," the suddenly wise-proven dark lord
agreed. "For the moment though, you will simply
learn what you can from my son, then you will move on
to your duty." When the newly nominated Jedi
Knight cringed in worry and uncertainty, the Sith
Lord straightened his imposing, menacing body.
"Remember that you asked for my judgement, Jedi
Knight; now that I have given it, do you question
me?" he inquired in mild rebuke.
"No, my Lord." Kam answered quickly,
then humbly lowered his head in deference.
Vader nodded at him in approval, then shifted his
gaze until everybody who was present in the clearing
knew that he was looking at them; although he had
expected to shock the future Jedi Knights with his
unusual actions, he frowned slightly when he noticed
that Luke too had been scared by his latest action.
"I will leave you now in order to give you time
to adjust to my presence here," he calmly
informed the group of Jedi apprentices. "I will
not interfere with your training in any way, and will
not approach your training grounds without my son's
consent. Were you to attack me you will suffer the
He didn't wait for a reaction and turned on his
heel; he disappeared in the deep, evening shadows
that welcomed him as if he were an integral part of
In the clearing, the tension broke at last and
everybody rushed to Kam's side; the new Jedi Knight
had begun to shiver thanks to the side effects of
what had just happened. He sat down hard on the
Luke, who was still busy quelling his own
misgivings, shook his head at him in Rebuttal as he
recovered his discarded lightsaber. He slowly
attached it back to his belt. "That was a very
stupid thing to do, Kam" he rebuked the other,
his own recent fear coloring his voice. "My
father is a Sith Lord; you're very lucky to still be
"... A Jedi?" Kam inquired hesitantly,
incoherently, then locked his eyes with his
teacher's. "Me, a Jedi?"
"Well, he acknowledged you," Luke
reminded him in gentler tones, "and I must say
that I agree with him. You still have much to learn,
yes, but you've also found the way of your
And with that, he understood why his father had
acted as he had just moments ago. The wiser Sith Lord
had known that Kam had needed a final face-off with
his emotions, something that he, Jedi 'teacher', had
never been even aware of. He really had many more
lessons to learn before he would ever be as wise and
as powerful as his father was, he admitted ruefully.
"Congratulations, Kam," he finally
commented warmly, then exchanged a comforting gaze
with the nearby students. "I will leave you
alone now." He looked up in the direction that
his father had taken; the others followed his gaze,
as if understanding of whom he was thinking. "I
have to speak with him," he told them
nonetheless, both to reassure them about his
whereabouts as well as his reason why he was seeking
the dark lord's presence right after being scared
almost to death by him.
When neither of them objected to his plan, he
stood up and meant to be on his way--- when he met
Kyp's distraught eyes. Revulsion, fear, and...
something else were creasing the youth's feature.
Upon seeing this, Luke reflexively reconsidered his
decision, then, when he failed to find a good
justification for his not going to his father,
shrugged and affected a lighter mood in order to hide
his remaining worries. "I trust that you can all
find your way to the temple without any more
foolishness for tonight?" he inquired, locking
his serious gaze with the young man.
He and his fellow students nodded in reassurance.
"Right. See you in the morning," he bid
them goodnight, then turned around as an idea struck
him. "Kam?" he called, a smirk creasing his
lips now. "Since you're a Jedi now, you'll
conduct the first exercise," he informed him. He
chuckled slightly at the face the other made upon
hearing those news, but did not let Solusar's shaking
head dissuade him from his decision. "Good night
everyone," he repeated, then he entered the
surrounding shadows, as his father had done just
Through the Force, and their bond, Luke tracked
his father's presence all the way to the Sith temple.
As if knowing that he would seek him out, his father
was sitting on a fallen tree, his legs folded in a
"You sure went for spectacular this time,
Father," the young Jedi commented in
mock-rebuttal as he approached him.
"Thank you," Vader replied dryly; his
body did not shift position at all, yet Luke felt
that his father was now giving him a meaningful gaze.
"Don't you agree with my judgement about young
Kam?" he inquired coolly.
"I do," Luke sighed, hitching himself up
besides his father. "I know that you were right,
"But?" Vader prompted him, then
inquired: "Why are you angry?"
As he realized that his father was once again
reading his senses as if they were an open book, Luke
gaped in disbelief at him. "You can feel that
"Yes," the dark giant confirmed with a
slow nod of his head. "It's diffuse, and not
exactly overwhelming you, but it has brought you to
me all the same. What is bothering you, Son?" he
asked him pointedly.
Sighing in annoyance at his own lack of control,
Luke ran his hands through his hair. "I'm angry
at myself," he revealed, then turned away from
his father's emotionless yet very expressive
faceplate. "How could I not feel his state of
mind, his torment?"
"There wasn't any torment," his father
stated coolly. "Kam Solusar decided to kill me
in calm conscience, long before you two met," he
explained. "There weren't any ill intentions
towards you. Thus, you couldn't feel it."
"Just like that?" Luke frowned in
confusion. Somehow, if Kam had planned to kill Vader
a long time ago, he had the feeling that he 'should'
have detected it when he had first met the man---
"I suppose that you could have deduced it
from his past," his father agreed with his
unspoken thought, "but you tend to overlook such
details," he then scolded him slightly.
Perching an eyebrow up in slight frustration at
his being unable to detect even his own sending to
his father, he focused his attention on his father
once again. "Meaning that I am too
trusting?" he inquired with a tiny bit of
"In a way, yes" his father agreed
somberly. "You tend to see only the good sides
in people, Luke."
Before Luke could argue though, Vader continued,
interrupting his son's 'but'.
"But I wouldn't advise you to change
either," he reassured him more warmly.
"This attitude of yours is an important part of
your personality and is, apparently, your heart's
Like Kam's way was to understand that no evil
could be vanquished by more violence and destruction,
Luke dimly thought while he answered his father with
an inarticulate: "Oh."
A silence answered him, then his father seemed to
study him more intently. "Something else's
troubling you, Son" Vader observed seriously.
Luke looked at his father... and smiled without
humor. "I just can't shield myself
His father shrugged his broad shoulders in answer.
"You simply don't want to shield yourself from
Luke sighed once again, this time in acceptance.
"I guess so," he finally agreed with his
Who would not be distracted from their new topic
of conversation. "What is it, Son?"
For a moment, Vader felt as if the boy would never
answer him, something which had never happened since
they had forged a truce. Eventually though, the boy
focused his blue eyes on him once again.
"You scared me," he finally revealed to
him. "Awfully," he then specified, his eyes
searching his although he could not see them.
"Before now, I had never been this afraid of you
in my entire life, not even on Bespin."
The mention of their cursed duel caused Vader to
catch his breath in shock.
Bespin, he almost cursed, where the boy's soul was
scarred so strongly. Somehow, his relationship with
Luke always came back to this damned place, they
never could escape it.
Vader knew that whatever he was, he wasn't a
Healer. Most importantly, he couldn't heal the scars
that adorned Luke's soul. He wanted nothing more than
to do so but somehow, despite everything he did,
despite his care for his son, Bespin's shadow
remained between them.
Gently, he laid a hand on his son's shoulder. It
was a very light touch, wordlessly inviting him to
open to him, yet it was not insistent either.
For a brief moment, Luke froze under his touch,
than he silently leaned in his strong embrace and
accepted his offer of comfort. "I'll never hurt
you again, my son," Vader's whispered roughly,
fiercely. His arms tightened around his precious son.
"Never ever. I swear that I'll kill myself
before I harm you again, even by accident."
In his hold, Luke shivered as he returned the hug.
"And I would not let you take your life for
this, Father," he whispered, his voice tight
with emotions. "So I guess that we'll just
make sure that we never reach this point."
Totally agreeing with the youth, the dark lord
remained silent, simply taking care to reassure the
boy whom he had scared just one too many times in his
But never again, he promised himself.
Around them, the jungle filled the silence with
its nightly sounds.
A day later.
'That practice sure was interesting', Luke
reflected as he cleaned himself. His students had
managed to calm themselves a lot since he had
introduced them to his father, but he could still
feel an underlying tension in all of them.
Somehow though, that made them more studious than
usual. Even Kam had been more serious than before,
having apparently thought about his new status
throughout the night.
His leading of the first exercise had been
exemplary, he admitted as he finished his shower and
changed into his more regular clothes.
Unlike when he had first allied himself with his
father to save his sister, Luke did not wear black
clothes anymore. A few weeks after he had decided to
stay with his ever surprising father, the man had
convinced him that black hadn't been the right wear
for him. As he chuckled at the memory of this
most surprising, and unexpected, discussion with his
father, Luke pondered once again his father's
argument that since he was a son of the Light, he
could not wear the Night. While he had expected his
father to comment about a few of his 'Jedi' habits,
he had most certainly never expected him to scold him
about what he had chosen to wear unless it was truly
unfit for him.
Still, he had listened to his father and had spent
a few days considering his words, then had decided to
abide by them.
On the other hand, he hadn't picked on the 'usual'
Jedi garb either, aware that his father would have
bristled if he had tried to bring anything from the
old order back to life. Thus, he had instead adopted
tones that were familiar with him, yet weren't the
same cut than his farmboy fatigues on Tatooine.
Thus, he finished to put on his earth-brown
trousers, then threw an ample, large-sleeved white
shirt over which he attached a utility belt to which
his lightsaber was attached.
Other than his saber, he never carried any other
weapon anymore, but he always wore his saber when
outside of his private quarters. Even like when he
was going to enjoy a quiet meal with his students, he
had learnt to never be caught without it. His scar on
his left arm also took care to remind him of what had
once happened when he had been too naive about his
ability to defend himself without a weapon.
Since his incident with a roaming predator, he and
his students had also learnt to set magnetic shields
at the entrances of the temple to protect themselves
from wandering predators, but still, he reflected as
he left his quarters and headed for the communication
center, even with those security devices in place, he
never wanted to repeat the experience of being caught
After a ride in the elevator and a short walk down
deserted corridors, Luke reached the old rebel
communication room where his sister had stood while
he himself had been dodging laser blasts and his
father's accurate aim above the Death Star...
As he gazed around himself, images from the past
seemed to come to life once again. He could almost
see the beautiful, familiar yet unfamiliar princess
of Alderaan as she watched the progress of the
approaching planet killer while the x-wings and
y-wings were attempting to destroy it through a
nearly impossible shot in the exhaust port...
He himself had succeeded where others had failed,
he remembered, bittersweet. That day, he had killed
nearly one million beings, unknowingly evening the
score between himself and his then unbeknown father.
Back then, he had seen it as having no choice but
to kill all those people to save the rest of the
galaxy, but now that he knew who his father was, as
well as who he truly was, he could not be this naive
anymore. He himself had meant to make sure that the
Death Star would not be used ever again after
Alderaan... 'He' had 'chosen' to kill all those
'enemies' of Life... of the Force.
Hence, whereas his father had destroyed the Light
in the Universe, thus becoming the son of Darkness,
he himself had destroyed the Darkness, unknowingly
becoming the son of Light... the opposite yet very
equal of his counterpart: his father.
Perhaps, he reflected more wistfully, this was why
both of them were now starting from scratch with one
another, having destroyed each other's greatest
resources... which would have led them astray in the
Hence, even though both he and his father had
destroyed too many lives to count, Luke had to admit
that it 'had' been for the greater good, no matter
how taxing this admission was for his gentle mind.
Pulling himself out of his glum, unpleasant
thoughts, his inner image of a younger Leia
disappeared from before his eyes. AS his sister faded
away, he made a note to himself to contact her as
soon as possible. For one thing, he then thought more
seriously, he needed to know if he could somehow help
her to get through what their father had left her
Just like killing went against what he himself
stood for, managing the Empire went against
everything 'she' had ever believed in.
"I miss you, sister," he whispered
softly at his last remnant of what he had heard had
taken place in the command center after his
successful shot, then turned away from the far away,
deactivated scanning board and activated the
As he had estimated, several messages were already
waiting for his attention. He quickly scrolled
through the list, deleted threats and love letters
without even opening them, then sat down and read his
truly important messages.
Ever since his and his sister's parentage had been
revealed, he had received too much unwanted attention
to his taste. What was the less to his liking was the
fair amount of hate mail that he kept receiving from
a faction called Palpatine's Return. That particular
troubleseeking group had sprouted to life some time
before he had joined his father, yet still had to be
detected anywhere. However, its members' main hobby
seemed to send hate letters to both himself and his
Upon seeing this, his father had insisted that
both of them learn more self-defense techniques in
case they were attacked, then when they had refused,
had assigned permanent Noghri guards to them. Luke
had eventually grown tired of being 'bodyguarded' and
had indulged in the rigorous training that his
father's trainers were offering to him. He was now
quite good against open attacks, but, he could admit
that he still had to improve himself when he was
attacked from behind.
On the opposite specter of emotions, he had also
been receiving messages of timeless devotion of love
to him from women, of his race or not, who would give
anything to be his chosen lover. Unlike his sister
who was now married to Han, it was widely known that
he himself was still bachelor and held a place of
choice in his father's and sister's favors.
At first, he had read those messages as well, had
even detected true, blind love in amongst letters
which had sounded more like a business proposition
than anything else, but as the months had passed, and
that the Jedi had taken prescience on his time, he
had stopped reading them altogether.
If he ever was to fall in love, he had resolved
back then, it would be with someone whom he would
meet on his path of Life, not someone who would force
herself on it.
He finished is third message, sent a quick reply
to the potential new Jedi to come by if he wanted to
see if he were right about his feeling or not, then
opened his last message.
The moment that he selected the message, the young
man felt a strange wave of awareness enter him,
translating itself into a slight shiver that coursed
down his spine before it settled at the small of his
back. Even as the message loaded itself up, he
admitted that he had never felt anything like this
before in his entire life, not even when he had 'met'
his father for the first time. Was it fear? Warning?
Or peace?... He couldn't tell.
He decided to read the message.
'Master Skywalker,' it began, 'I am not a Jedi nor
do I really believe in any such nonsense, but... a
young woman on Dantooine might be better off with you
than with us. She has strange, levitating powers and
can't seem to control them. Her powers have already
gotten her into trouble; she is secluded in a house
for troublesome youths and is awaiting trial. If you
don't help her, master Jedi, she will probably end up
in one of our detention colony on one of our moons. I
wish I could help her, I love her... but I am barely
free myself and have been blocked away from seeing
her again. Please, gentle sir, help her, help us...
You can find her in quadrant 869-54, in the city of
Tinan. Her name is Arica Jeel. Thank you from the
bottom of my heart, Master. M.'
Struck by the emotions that were barely contained
enough by the written format to not assault his heart
head on, Luke took a moment to read the plea one more
time, then leaned back in his chair and pondered his
Judging from the tone of the letter, the situation
was an emergency; the girl was on trial and he
understood that she would lose her freedom forever.
Luke also knew enough about the detention colonies of
Dantooine to know that they were the opposite of the
green, lush planet; no one survived for long in them.
If only to spare one more life until his father could
obtain the abolition of such places in the Republic
space, it was worth going. If the girl was also a
true Jedi potential, then all the better.
For the moment, the only thing that he knew was
that he 'had' to go. He couldn't abandon her to a
fate that he now knew; he replied to the message that
they could count on him.
Once his message was gone, he focused on what he
had to think about before leaving. His first concern
was naturally his students. He was aware that they
were not ready to be left on their own yet, but, he
shrugged, his father was on the moon at the moment.
He decided that Sith or not, he could cover up for
him for a few days until he returned with a new
His decision made, he stood up and headed outside
to gather his students; he had to inform them of this
new turn of events. On his way outside, he made a
mental note to contact his sister when he would reach
Dantooine. He truly, really missed her. Besides, he
reflected more wryly, she would also be able to help
him if he needed to pull some weight in this matter.
Aboard her ship, which was already in transit
toward Dantooine, Mara 'Arica Jeel' Jade smirked
meanly as her target answered her.
The trap had been laid, she thought maliciously,
and the prey had taken the bait. Soon, her group for
Palpatine's Return would have in its hands the
perfect tool to humiliate the so-called Emperor Vader
before forcing him to return the Empire to her group,
who would then kill his 'dear' son and daughter, him,
then resume where the true Empire had left off
against the rebels.
Then, she sighed in upcoming contentment, and only
then, her master would be avenged from the traitor
who had wrongly taken advantage of his blind trust to
destroy him and steal what had rightfully been her
master's, and her master's alone.
She spent the rest of her transit toward Dantooine
fomenting more plans about what she would do to
Skywalker once she would have him in her hands.
Her master's revenge would be slow and bitter, she
Back on Yavin 4, Kyp Durron was sitting on the
small perch of a stony cliff. A very arduous path had
lead him to a small, dark cave in which an ancient
Jedi Master had lived and died, many centuries ago.
An 'experienced' Jedi with whom he was now
talking. "I considered your proposition, Master
Kenan" he said seriously to the blue-white ghost
of the old Jedi. "And I have decided to accept
"You really want to be my apprentice,
child?" the gentle-looking man inquired, asking
him to consider his answer one last time.
Kyp did not hesitate to commit himself his new
master. "I do."
"May I ask what changed your mind?" the
older man queried while he seemed to relax somewhat
now that he knew his answer.
"My... teacher, Luke Skywalker, is still a
student himself. He is leading us" he reflected
out loud, "but he himself doesn't know were to
go. Moreover, his father is a Sith Lord... and is
here at this very moment."
"A Dark Lord!!? A Jedi is related to a
Sith??" the spirit, named Master Kenan,
exclaimed in horror. "Poor child!"
"Well, huh," Kyp shrugged uncertaintly.
"Luke did not seem exactly unhappy to be his
son. They appear to be on good terms, but the Sith
lord sure looked impressive last night... It was an
unpleasant experience," he admitted honestly,
"but what truly worries me is that Luke is
listening to him, and..."
"And if he is still in training, than the
counsels on this Dark Lord will undoubtedly be
disastrous to him and his apprentices. Siths are vile
creatures, young Kyp" the unknown master Jedi
warned him grimly. "There's no goodness in their
hearts. You are right to be wary; your Jedi teacher
is in great danger, as are you all," he stated
"But you will help us.., won't you?" he
inquired in worry.
The spirit seemed to consider his request for a
while, frowning as if faced with an unpleasant
choice, then his features softened once again and he
was a paternal figure again. "Of course, my dear
child. Of course I will. Unfortunately, I can't leave
this place, but I'll help you with all my knowledge.
Have no worry," he smiled benignly.
Kyp beamed. "Thank you, master! Thank you so
much! I must leave now, but I'll return tomorrow, and
we'll begin the lessons, right?"
Kenan laughed. "All right, all right, eager
child! Till tomorrow then."
Kyp waved to him, then left the cave, then its
Once he was out of hearing range a deep voice
commented: "'Siths are vile creatures indeed,
Exar Kun," then Darth Vader came in the cave,
blocking out the failing light of the evening sun.
"What are you planning this time?" he
inquired, slowly placing his hands on his belt.
'Kenan', also known as the Sith Lord Exar Kun,
hissed in anger. "You! What are you still doing
in my temple?"
" 'Your' temple?" Vader shook his head
in disapproval of the other's arrogance. "Are
you a god now, or the greatest of the Siths?" he
taunted him with an audible sneer.
"You're this Skywalker's father, am I
correct?" the spirit retorted, evading his open
rebuttal with a new topic.
"Yes, I am. What of it?"
It was Kun's turn to snort at him. "A father
of a Jedi, yet you think of yourself as a real
Sith," the spirit sneered in turn before he
cackled in derision.
"Whatever you may think, 'your' temple still
accepts me as a Sith," Vader pointed out coldly.
"Hmph," the other scowled, miffed, then
seemed to drop the current topic, again. "You
could have interfered with our discussion in any
moment. Why didn't you?"
"My motives are my own," the living Dark
Lord retorted coolly, then gentled slightly,
"but I will admit that this boy intrigues
"Even if he eventually threatens your oh so
precious son?" Kun challenged him mercilessly,
openly averse toward him.
Vader shrugged his broad shoulders at him.
"If he does, I'll deal with him," he stated
matter-of-factly, then lowered his voice to a more
threatening tone, "as I will deal with you
should you try to harm him."
"Is this a threat?" the other Sith
scorned in derision.
"No. But now you stand informed of what would
befall you should you approach my son."
"I see." Exar Kun studied the Dark Lord.
"So if I understand you, excluding the situation
where your son would be in danger, you will not
interfere with my dealings with this boy?"
"Correct," Vader nodded. "Kyp
Durron's choices are his alone. I will not interfere
with your 'lessons'."
"Too good to be true," Exar Kun mused as
he turned slightly away from his 'visitor'.
"Indeed," Vader agreed before he lowered
himself to sit in a meditative posture, "but let
us see if we are right," he offered seriously.
Kun imitated him and both Sith Lords used their
powers to scan the future.
Once Luke's students were told about his imminent
departure, the young Jedi set out in the jungle and
sought his father. Since the Dark Lord of the Sith
was still shielding himself, thus being undetectable,
Luke took a first chance by choosing his chosen
residence as a first possibility. If he weren't
there, he then decided, he would simply wait for him.
He estimated that the dark lord would return to it
sooner than later.
When he finally reached the small clearing around
the temple, he gazed around himself--- and stopped
short at the sight that greeted him. Instead of the
moss-covered, barely detectable temple that he had
always seen, the pristine white structure was now
cleanly revealed to his eyes.
A relatively large ring of water was also
surrounding it, adding to the nearly surreal effect
of the sudden change in the clearing.
"How--?" he gaped in awe. As far as he
knew, the ground around the temple had been solid,
without any underground river or lake waiting to
resurface. As for the vines, the cleaning teams had
needed several months to clean only the necessary
areas of the main temple because their growth rate
was astonishing... yet, after only a day or two of
being inhabited, the Sith temple was as clean as on
the first day it had been built.
Slowly, the young Jedi stepped forward again,
studying the unexplainable feat of maintenance; he
walked around the small watery trench, then
eventually stood right in front of the sole entrance
of the temple.
"Father?" he called out loud.
Only the echo of his voice returned from the
*Father?* he tried again, this time through the
Still no answer.
Gazing around himself yet again to make sure that
he hadn't missed the presence of his father in a
nearby tree, he hesitantly prepared himself to jump
to the other side of the watery trench--- when he
noticed the presence of what looked like stepping
stones just beneath the surface of the water.
Even more awed than a few minutes before, Luke
took a step forward, then another, dimly expecting
the stones to sink under his weight.
They didn't, nor did they trigger any defense
mechanism. His passage on the rocks also failed to
awaken any guardian beast from the depths of
deceptively clear water. While he had read about such
'traps' in old-fashioned temples and castles, he
slowly understood that the Sith however didn't resort
to such means of discouraging unwanted visitors,
unless his father had 'deactivated' them, he
Still, the closer he came to the temple, the more
a foreboding feeling crept up his spine and settled
at the pit of his stomach; he was being warned... but
of what?, he wondered worriedly.
"Father? Are you here?" he called again,
this time directly in the temple.
He could now see the sky blue light that was
running all around the inside of the temple, exactly
where there had been an intricate band of stone
carvings. He smirked in renewed interest as he
realized that the writings had obviously been more
than stone carvings.
Pulled by his curiosity, he walked forward
again---- and yelped in surprise as a strong grip
appeared on the scruff of his neck and sharply pulled
him off his feet and backward.
Luke had barely become aware of what had just
happened when he landed in the warm waters of the
trench. Quickly reorienting himself, he pulled his
lightsaber free from his belt even as he broke the
surface and gasped for air; he instantly looked for
"I thought that I had told you to not go in
Sith temples without me," his father scolded him
as he walked closer to his location.
The young Jedi, who had almost turned his
lightsaber on by then, relaxed his arm, then used it
to thread water as he swam closer to the nearby
shore. "You didn't," he replied in slight
resent. "Although I take it that you should
"I did tell you," Vader stated, stopping
just in front of him on the shore.
"Remember what I told you when we entered the
temple of Asharel?"
"Sure," Luke replied easily, "but
first," he argued slightly, "that was a
Sathed temple, not a Sith, and second, you didn't
specify that it was a general characteristic to those
temples," he continued while pulling himself out
of the watery trench.
Vader sighed as if in annoyance. "I see that
you haven't understood much yet, Son. Sathed is the
name of the people, Sith is a name of religion.
Sathed had Jedi temples too."
"You're living in one," his father
replied seriously, then shrugged. "but it's
irrelevant. What is important is that Sith temples
are dangerous to Jedi when activated."
"Activated?" the young Jedi frowned,
sparing a glance up at his father as he removed his
boot to pour water out of it.
"Turned alive if you will," his father
answered evasively. "While they are in their
stone status, they don't react to a Jedi's Force
resonance, but once their integrated Sith energies
are turned on, no one but a Sith can enter one."
"I see," Luke mumbled while he removed
his shirt in order to wring the water out of it.
"So I guess that you saved my life again
huh?" he inquired, suppressing a shudder at the
thought of how close it had been yet again.
"No, not your life," his father shook
his head before he took hold of his still very damp
shirt and 'forced' the water out of it; he gave him
back his now dry shirt. "Only from most
unpleasant torments for weeks following the
"Oh," the youth nodded as he barely
registered the new that father had just demonstrated.
"Then, considering that there are several Jedi
on this planet, will it be possible to post a warning
sign or something? I wouldn't want any of my students
to experience that."
"Your warning sense is your warning,"
Vader stated coolly, lowering his helmet toward him
so that he looked as if he were scolding him.
"And I didn't follow their guidance, I know,
I know," he grumbled, turning away from the
relatively menacing sight of his unhappy father.
"You didn't believe them," the Dark Lord
specified seriously. "Although you should know
better than this now," he added.
"Yeah, I should," Luke agreed, feeling
more like a child than a grown up man at the moment.
Just why, he wondered, did he always feel barely
trained and intelligent when his father was around
him? It wasn't because he didn't love the Sith
embodiment; he greatly enjoyed the time they could
spend together, no matter how frustrating it could
sometimes get for him, but on the other hand... No
matter what they were talking about or what he was
doing... He constantly felt as if he were a
ten-year-old kid instead of a man in his own
rights... as well as a real Jedi Knight to boot.
The sound of shifting leather and fabric attracted
his attention back to the here and now; he turned his
head around and saw that his father had crouched down
to be at eye level with him.
"Luke," Vader began in the voice that he
only used when with his children, "no matter how
old you will grow, you will always remain my
son," he reminded him kindly. "As nature
has it, this means that I will probably always have
more experience than you do, but this doesn't mean
that you can't teach me with your own."
"Really?" the youth inquired, raising an
eyebrow in slight disbelief. "Like when?"
"Like when you taught me to not turn away my
own children," his father explained as he warmly
rested his big hand on his son's shoulder. "You
lesson was, and still is much wiser and more mature
than anything I can ever hope to achieve in the ways
of the heart. Always remember that we all have our
strengths and weaknesses," he finished
"I suppose," Luke nodded, then rested
his hand over his father's. "Thank you, Father.
Thank you for being here," he added earnestly.
"I will always be there for you, my
son," the Dark Lord promised him once again,
then opened his barriers a bit and allowed his
feelings of care to reach Luke.
Luke returned the sending with one of his own,
then a silence ensued.
Chapter 3: The Trap
Eventually, Vader broke the silence. "Why did
you want to see me, Son?" he inquired seriously.
"Huh?" Luke gaped slightly in answer.
"I believe that you came here to tell me
about something," he reminded him teasingly,
"not to test the temple and take a swim."
"Oh yeah, right, huh, well," the youth
began in his naive way, as happened every time that
he was thrown off-balance.
Vader himself considered that it was a strangely
refreshing trait. No-one else trusted him so much as
to act this way in his presence. However, he was
aware that it was also a potential for much trouble
for his son if someone learnt how to exploit his
naivete. Up to now, the boy's good judgment had
kept him out of trouble, but for some reason, he
could feel that soon, things might change.
As if to confirm his feelings, his son told him
about a message that he had just Received, then about
his decision to leave. It felt bad. Vader didn't have
a vision, but his whole being was suddenly filled
with anguish. "Are you sure you can trust the
source of this message?" he inquired coolly.
"Well, no, but---"
"Then it might be some kind of ploy to pull
you away from the safety of Yavin 4," the Dark
Lord stated seriously. "You should not go,"
he advised, only meaning to show his son his worry
about him; he utterly failed.
Luke took it the wrong way. "Why?" he
defied instantly, "Because you don't think that
I can defend myself if it isn't what I think it
is?" the youth inquired indignantly. "I can
take care of myself, Father," he reminded him
with just a touch of animosity in his voice.
"I've been receiving such messages for a while
now and nothing happened."
"And what about the incident with Palpatine's
Brigade on Coruscant?" Vader demanded sharply,
his own temper awakened by his son's. Back then, he
silently reminded his son, he himself had decided to
assign permanent guards to his children.
"That was before I trained with the Noghris
and you," his son countered in turn, getting
back to his feet in growing irritation.
True, Vader conceded, the boy had grown quite
efficient in defending himself from any kind of
attacks, and he 'was' an accomplished Jedi Knight.
However, his warning senses didn't want to shut up.
"It still wouldn't be enough if they are
prepared against you," he stated coldly as he
too straightened up, aware that he would thus tower
over the smaller youth.
Luke, who had been putting his dry shirt back on,
sharply pulled on its hem to clear his head from the
fabric, then glared defiantly at him. For a brief
moment, the Dark Lord felt himself return to----
"You mean that they could be more prepared than
that trap that you set for me on Bespin?"
"Yes." Vader answered calmly, sparing a
second to not let the sting of that hated word, and
memory-awakening stare, get to him once again.
"Really? How so? Back then," the youth
continued with animosity, "I was barely trained
and fought against you, who wanted nothing more than
to turn me or kill me. I was not prepared and I made
it through, and now that I am trained and simply
leaving on a reconnaissance mission alone, you don't
trust me to 'survive'?! Why, I----"
"Stop," the Sith ordered, his voice cold
and threatening like when he was commanding thousands
of men; the Jedi fell mute as if slapped in the face.
"First, I never wanted to kill you. Never. If
this had been the case on Bespin you would be dead,
incinerated in the first room you set your foot into.
Is that clear?"
Luke dumbly nodded.
"Good. Now, what I want you to understand is
that if this is a trap, and for me it definitely
feels like one, you might still be killed no matter
how well you're prepared. For example, if you're
blown up with the base you're in, your status as a
Jedi will be of no help for you. Do you
"Yes," Luke nodded somberly. "Yes,
I do. But I for one don't feel any danger," he
informed him seriously. "I 'have' to save this
girl, Father. That's what I'm living for.
Besides," he argued earnestly, "I simply
can't run from any situation that seems to be a trap,
it's paranoid. I'll end up being a hermit in some
safe slump, like Master Yoda. It's not a life, or not
'my' life anyway."
"I still feel great danger coming for
you," the Sith repeated while reluctantly
accepting his son's words with a nod. "Don't go,
"I must," the boy answered after a
moment of pondering. "I promise to you that I
will be very cautious. I will consider everything
before acting, but I know what I'm doing. The Force
is with me on this one, Father, I know it."
"It is," the Dark Lord had to agree,
"but the Force's purpose is not to defend your
life, Luke. Always remember that." He paused,
then took on a more conciliatory voice. "I'm
asking you to reconsider."
Defiant blue eyes met darkened eye-screen as Luke
pondered Vader's words once again. Finally, the Jedi
shook his head; the Sith sighed in reluctant
"I'm going," the boy stated, hooking his
lightsaber back to his belt. "It's my duty. I
merely came here to tell you that I left Kam in
charge of the others while I'm absent, but I wouldn't
mind if you'd also keep an eye on them."
"I will," the black-clad giant nodded
slowly. "Take care, Son."
Luke nodded once, than turned and went away. Vader
watched his leaving figure; he could see the violet
cloud of danger hover around his son.
He did have faith in his son's abilities and
powers, but he also knew better than to underestimate
the enemy. Considering the signal that he kept
having, he was really worried about the boy. In fact,
he was so worried that for a brief moment, he
considered knocking him out and erasing his memory of
this whole thing..., but he didn't give in to this
First and foremost, his son would never, ever
forgive him when he'd find out, because clever as
Luke was, Vader had no doubt that he would find out
sooner or later, and second... He indeed couldn't
hide him from danger forever. Eventually, they
would have to face the enemy if they wanted to defeat
Besides, he heartened himself, Luke was 'more'
than capable to take care of himself. He had even
defeated Noghris during his training, and he 'could'
outdo him in duels when he himself could take defeat
without having the urge to attack him afterward.
Everything would be well.
Hours later, still slightly disgruntled by his
conversation with his father, Luke leaned back in the
piloting seat of his long-range shuttle.
The dark lord was turning overprotective, he
thought as he sighed in annoyance. First, he
had practically forced his hand into learning
self-defense techniques worthy of an assassin, and
now, he didn't even want to let him go in his Jedi
"I'm not a child anymore, Father," he
said out loud. In fact, he was not even a mere rebel
Instead, he had completed his Jedi training, had
even begun to surpass that level, according to his
father's words. He was also nearly twenty-four years
old, a grown man in every sense of the word.
Of course, he conceded that his father might feel
the need to protect him to catch up with the years
when he hadn't been there for him, but... it was too
late to live those years.
They were both adults now, were both warriors and
men of action. They both knew when they needed to
take certain risks to reach their goals for the
Today, he himself had such a goal, even if it were
directed at only one person. The number didn't
matter; it would be one more life saved, and a
potential ally in the ongoing pursuit of galactic
Even his well-intentioned father wouldn't have
been able to keep him from going, he admitted to
himself; it was something that he simply had to do.
He could feel it.
Lord Vader scolding him for taking risks, he then
thought with a wry smirk. Things had certainly
changed a lot between them since they had 'truly' met
with each other. Before then, he had never, ever even
imagined what growing up with his father would have
His images had always been nightmarish. Now
however, he did wonder about this from time to
time... and had to admit that it might not have been
has bad as he had first thought.
"He would just have been very
patronizing," he concluded with a note of humor.
Sighing in relaxation, Luke admitted to himself
that he wasn't really angry at him, nor even really
irritated. Just slightly miffed.
It certainly didn't compare to the only thing that
still rose between them from time to time: the
shadows of their traumatic past. While he quelled
those thoughts once again, he suspected that it would
take time to completely forget what had happened
between them 'before' Emperor Vader.
Perhaps, he conceded, it would always remain; only
time would tell.
He pondered this thought for the rest of his
transit through hyperspace.
By the time that he reached Dantooine, he had
cleared his mind of any thoughts concerning his
father and their past; instead, he was focused on
finding a way to free the young woman named Arica.
He brought his ship down in the atmosphere of the
planet; even though the procedure was very easy for a
pilot with his experience, he dimly wished that he
had brought Artoo with himself to check the far
gauges for him. However, this would have meant making
a detour by his sister's location, and that would
have delayed his arrival here. Since time was of the
essence in the current situation, he had decided to
The triple-winged, lambda-class shuttle glided
smoothly in the fresh, morning sky of Tinan. He was
granted permission to land directly at the Correction
House for Disturbed Youths.
Minutes later, he exited his shuttle and headed
toward the young man who had come in to welcome him.
"Welcome, Jedi Skywalker. I'm Lee Shag, aid
to the administrator of this complex. How may we help
you?" the young man inquired directly.
Pleased that they would skip the boring
formalities of usage, Luke also adopted a
straight-to-the-point attitude; he shook the other's
proffered hand. "Thank you, Mr. Shag. I received
a message that I could help you with a young woman
named Arica Jeel."
"Ah, this one," the other sneered in
barely contained disgust. "I'm afraid that
you'll be wasting your time with her, Jedi Skywalker.
She's part of those individuals who should never see
the light of a first day."
Stunned by the level of vehemence that was
directed at the young girl, Luke worked hard to not
let his composure falter thanks to his disagreement
with such attitudes. "I'd still like to speak
with her, if I may," he said seriously, locking
his gaze with the other's.
The other flinched at the direct eye-contact---
and his reaction allowed Luke to feel a sudden
tension in the man, which he hadn't noticed up to
now. That tension then led him to the discovery of a
very diffuse warning in the Force, but it was barely
detectable by him.
He surmised that he simply had to keep his eyes
open for someone to attack the girl if he managed to
Meanwhile, the aid continued to ponder his
request, then finally sighed and bowed his head in
agreement. "Follow me, please."
"Thank you," Luke told the other as he
followed him away from the landing pad.
At first they walked through spacious,
well-maintained and clean corridors that obviously
served for the workers of the center, but the further
they walked, and the more the place became shabby,
lacking in even basic maintenance rules and becoming
Minutes later, and a few stairwells downward, the
gray walls were visibly dripping with water and the
air was thick with humidity, which made it cold
around them. "Do you really keep troublesome
children here?" he inquired in the silence while
he scanned his surroundings to find the answer to his
------"Only exceptions," the aid
When Luke's scan came up dry except for one,
Force-strong presence ahead of them, he understood
that the girl had really managed to traumatize her
community. "What has she done exactly?" he
queried while he sent soothing thoughts to the
distraught mind that was hovering closer and closer.
"You will see by yourself, Jedi
Skywalker," came the enigmatic reply.
Finally, they reached the door.
The warning sense, which had been merely tingling
the back of his mind, grew somewhat stronger while
the aid keyed the door open; Luke decided to keep his
eyes on him.
Instead of attacking the girl in the cell, as he
had thought he would, Lee Shag merely stepped aside
from the opening and wordlessly invited him to step
inside. "She's waiting for you," the
other commented as he stepped through the opening.
At first, he didn't see anything through the gloom
of the room. "Arica?" he called, taking a
step further inside the room. His warning senses
didn't grow in intensity. He took another step
inside. "I'm Luke Skywalker, I'm here to
help---," he began to explain when the content
of the room suddenly became visible.
A ship was berthed no less than twenty meters away
"So gallant of you," a harsh, feminine
voice commented from behind him--- then something
impacted violently with his head.
He reeled down, tried to gather his strength, but
the other was already upon him. The second hit to his
head knocked his lights out.
Mara had barely finished her round-house kick when
she lifted her leg again and brought her hard, booted
heel down on Skywalker's neck.
The Jedi fell to the wet ground, unconscious.
Satisfied with her fast results, she turned toward
the man who had tried to shoo the Jedi away from her.
"You're lucky that he is as naive as he is,
Shag," she snarled at him. "Had you managed
to make him leave, I would have personally made your
last days a living nightmare."
The man swallowed hard in fear, then took a step
away from the dangerous red- head. "But now it's
over, right?" he asked her hopefully. "I
fulfilled my end of the deal; you will leave my
family and myself alone now?"
Mara answered him with a silent glare, pondering
the traitor's fate. Lee Shag had been one of the
Emperor's minor aids, and she would have dismissed
him as unimportant if not for one detail: Shag had
been with the Emperor when his final throes of agony
had hit him... and he had fled away instead of giving
the medical alarm.
He had doomed her master to an early death.
If only for this, he deserved to fear punishment
for the rest of his life, but she tempered herself as
her cool gaze landed on the sprawled form of her
prisoner; she had a much bigger fish to play with
"You are pathetic, Shag," she sneered in
disgust. "Get lost before I change my mind and
personally finish you."
The other didn't need to be told twice; he
literally fled away from her.
She closed the door of the disaffected landing
pad, then pulled a dart thrower from her utility belt
and aimed it at her unconscious prisoner.
"Horrible nightmares, Jedi," she commented
sarcastically, then shot the unconscious man.
By the time she had transferred him in her
shuttle, the drug had kicked in and had begun to
torment her prisoner's spirit.
As she watched him caught in mental torment, she
smiled wickedly at the thought of how sweet her
revenge would be.
Sweet, and long.
Kam Solusar approached the Sith temple most
He crossed the ring of water and stopped
immediately when he perceived the first warning.
Everything was silent and still. He looked at the
white walls of the temple and felt as if he was
Somehow, he had the feeling that the large
structure, with its intricate, fine carvings, was
studying him, judging him.
"I'd like to speak to Lord Vader," he
said to the temple. "Please," he added as
if in afterthought.
He then reflected that he ought to feel foolish,
standing like this, speaking to the wall. However it
felt right, as the most natural thing in the
world. Something around him changed.
Something in the air, in the white walls told him to
"I'll wait as long as I need to," Kam
assured the warm air.
Then he waited.
Since he didn't dare meditate in such strange
environment, he just stood there, listening to the
jungle and to his own very confusing thoughts.
Half an hour later, Vader finally emerged from the
"You wanted to speak with me, Jedi
Solusar?" he inquired as he walked closer.
Kam bowed at little. "Yes, my Lord."
"Then lets go to the neutral territory."
They crossed the ring of water, then approached a
fallen tree; Vader sat down on it and made a gesture
to Kam to imitate him. The Jedi assented.
"What do you wish to speak about?" he
prompted him without detour.
"Luke left me in charge of the other
students, and I'm concerned for their safety... with
you," he admitted seriously.
"As long as they don't attack me, they have
nothing to fear," Vader reassured the other.
"I'm surprised that Luke didn't tell you
"Oh, he did, but I didn't mean their physical
safety, my Lord," he explained more bravely.
"I'm concerned about the Dark side... and the
"Because a forbidden fruit is the most
appealing of the lot?" Vader offered suavely.
"Yes. Something like that," the
newly-promoted Jedi agreed uneasily.
"You are afraid that I will teach them the
ways of the Sith then," the Dark Lord commented
"Won't you?" the Jedi gaped uncertainly.
Vader chuckled. "No. I'll never 'corrupt'
your Jedi trainees."
Kam sighed in relief at this.
"However," Vader added seriously,
"should one of them refuse his status as a Jedi
and come to me desiring to be a Sith, we will see.
The Sith aren't always linked with the Dark
"Perhaps, but I'd prefer if this never
happened," Kam commented coolly. "I'm sure
that some of my charges will come to you, if only per
curiosity... and I doubt that Luke would approve of
this procedure. Please," he then said
beseechingly, "I beg you ,my Lord, don't play
with them, don't confuse them."
Vader reassured him coolly. "Rest assured,
Jedi Solusar, I will not play with them."
"Thank you," Kam replied gratefully,
then rose from his seat and bowed his head in
respect. "Have a nice evening, my Lord."
Vader looked at his retreating figure smiling
under his mask. This kind of small, almost pointless
conversation, amused him greatly. The mix of
distrust, fear, remnants of ancient hate, growing
respect and need to trust in young Solusar was
astonishing. His faith in his son as a good teacher
was also undeniable.
However, just like his son was naive, so was
Solusar. This new Jedi hadn't even understood that
Vader hadn't, in fact, promised anything. To him, the
definition of 'playing' and 'confusing' were blurry
enough to allow any interpretation.
Further more, the Solusar boy had apparently not
realized that he had been the first of Luke's
trainees to come to him out of curiosity about the
Not that he intended to convert Kam or any of the
trainees to the ways of the Sith, Vader admitted to
himself, but after the meeting with Exar Kun he 'did'
intend to teach them a lesson in judgement and trust.
And despite what Solusar had said about his son's
reaction to his plans, he 'knew' that Luke would not
disapprove his strengthening their minds.
Well, he decided, Kam Solular would be the first
to learn then.
That night, Vader was awakened by an acute feeling
of danger. It was so strong that it was almost
painful, even to him who was used to live with pain
on a daily basis. Focusing his mind, he hastily
scanned the temple, the nearby area... and found
The temple was silent and peaceful; no danger was
present around him nor in the proximity. No intruder
either, he then confirmed as he searched for Sith
energies. Kun's presence was calm, the so called
Sith-lord apparently deep in meditation. At the Jedi
Academy, Luke's trainees were asleep, and no danger
were threatening them either.
However, the painful feeling didn't disappear; if
anything it grew stronger.
Belatedly, he understood where it was coming from.
Something was happening to Luke.
Cursing in Huttese, then a few other languages,
Vader hurried to assume the meditative posture, then
tried to reach his son through the bond that they
What he felt froze his blood in what remained of
his true veins.
Nothing. Black, cold nothing, as if Luke didn't
No, he countered quickly, his son was still alive.
He could feel it. "Kreth," he cursed again.
Luke had definitely done it this time.
Aware that the current situation left him only one
option to contact his son, the dark lord considered
it long and hard. He was very reluctant to use it :
this technique was very dangerous for his mind, and
left him very vulnerable to any attack. Yet he had no
other choice to help his son.
Sighing, he touched the Circle... and stepped into
the dream world.
"... I'll never join you, never,
never!!!" Luke's voice rang loud, frightened,
Gray steel parapet, wind swirling around him and
Luke--- battered, exhausted, gripping the steel
handle that was just before him, his right hand
hidden under his left armpit...
Bespin, Vader recognized.
Every single road led him back to Bespin.
The memory of Bespin, he then corrected as he
noticed that the walls of the shaft around him were
blurry as if they were a pencil sketch compared to
the clean definition of his son and himself.
"...Please, please, don't advance, don't, I
don't want to die again, please!" the youth
Again?, Vader frowned in confusion. He looked into
Luke's eyes--- and felt his blood freeze completely
in his veins as he saw an infinity of Bespins, the
very same scene repeating itself over and over, only
ending with his son's death thousands miles below
when the Falcon failed to show up to save him.
In this world of nightmares he and his son were
"Luke..." he called tentatively, taking
a step forward.
"Don't come any closer!!" the horrified
child begged, trying to walk away from him even
though he didn't have anywhere else to go.
"I won't," Vader reassured him hastily,
stilling in his tracks. "Don't move. I will stay
where I am, all right?"
"Y-yes..." Luke quivered like a leaf on
the wind. "S-stay were you are..."
"Luke, do you know who I am?"
"My demon. My tormentor," the youth
answered, burying his face against his arms to hide
"I'm your father," Vader reminded him.
"Yes. My demon father..."
"Do you know why I am here?" he tried to
ask him, to pierce through the veil of nightmares.
"To take me to Hell. To make me a demon like
you. To hurt me."
"Luke..." Vader tried to object.
"Whatever you say, I don't believe you, I
don't!" the youth interrupted, recovering his
more defiant, if no less frightened composure.
"Luke, you're in a nightmare," he
informed him seriously.
"Yes... I'm in Hell, but I won't became a
demon, I won't!"
"Luke," he interrupted him more
seriously. "I'm here to end it."
"I don't believe you," the youth stated.
"I'm here to help you," Vader tried
"I don't believe you."
"Luke..." Vader extended his arm to his
son, and Luke's eyes widened in fear.
"Don't! Or I will jump!" he threatened,
looking behind himself, as if to add weight to his
"All right...," the dark lord
reluctantly subsided. "But try to remember,
Luke, try to remember."
"Remember what?" the boy sobbed,
obviously at the end of his rope.
"Us," Vader said--- and touched his
son's memories, or at least tried to touch them for
they were protected by a stone wall.
"I remember nothing!" the youth retorted
Vader sighed. Luke was apparently trapped in some
sort of artificially created nightmare. Anything that
could allow his escape was blocked.
Anything? he wondered as an idea came to him. He
knew that it was dangerous since it left him open for
any attack, but he couldn't think of any other
solution, and Luke's safety was his prime priority.
"Listen to me," he began seriously ----
and dropped his shields, all of them.
His feeling and memories flowed into Luke's mind,
overflowing the nightmare, Shattering the wall that
had been protecting his son's memories.
The vision of Bespin disappeared, as if an holovid
had just been shut down.
Luke cried as he fell in darkness, but the
darkness caught him, and held him.
"Father?" he asked, exhausted.
"Son," Vader replied as he hugged him.
"I don't really know..." the Jedi
half-whispered as he held his father as if for dear
life. "I came in the cell were the girl was...
But there was a ship... and a voice..."
He remembered a voice, the harsh tones, the cruel
undercurrent- and heard his father's undertake of
"Jade..." the other rumbled in sudden
"Jade?" the young Jedi frowned even as
his confused memories brought him back to a certain
day when his father had introduced him, Leia and Han
to his new problems with a Palpatine Brigade.
"Yes," Vader nodded in agreement,
"you have been caught by the Emperor's Hand,
Mara Jade. It 'was' a trap after all," he mused
out loud. "I wonder what she wants."
"I have the bad feeling that I will find out
soon enough" Luke shuddered in worry, then he
suddenly became aware of the strangeness of their
situation. "Where are we?"
"In your dream."
"My..?" he gaped in disbelief.
"It's a technique of the Circle that allows
us to enter a dreaming mind. It's very tiring
to you, so I have to depart soon," Vader
explained. "I couldn't feel you through the
Force, so I suppose that wherever you are, the Force
flow there is blocked. I don't think that you have to
fear for your life for now..."
"Because I'm still alive," the boy
"Exactly," Vader nodded in agreement.
"Be strong, and don't believe anything that she
says. Remember that she is very dangerous, and wait
for us. I'll contact Leia immediately."
"All right. Will you visit again?" Luke
asked him, reluctant to let him go.
"Yes, soon. By the way, I allowed myself to
add a defense for your mind," he informed his
son. "You won't have anymore nightmares."
Luke smiled tiredly. "Thank you."
"You're welcome. I'm going now, and you will
sleep without dreams for as long as you need to
"Thank you," Luke repeated, his mind
already shutting down to rest. "Good
"Good night," Vader said and stepped out
from Luke's mind---- and into in his own body.
He slowly stood from his seat on his bunk; his
body was exhausted. The so called "dream
walk" had taken a lot of his energies.
He slowly approached the portable communicator
that he had taken from the shuttle exactly for this
kind of emergencies.
The call to the Palace took a long time to be
processed; he had to type three different access
codes just to connect to Leia's visual communicator.
The call was finally answered by Leia's aide and
"My Lord, " she answered calmly,
"Her Highness is in a meeting."
Upon hearing this, Vader made a quick calculation.
It was indeed the middle of the day on Coruscant.
"It's an emergency," he said. "Get
her out of there."
"But my Lord..."
"Now," Vader stated. "It's an
"Yes, my Lord." she frowned but obeyed.
About fifteen minutes later, Leia's angry face
showed up on the screen. "Father, I hope that
"Luke has been kidnapped," he informed
Leia blinked. "What?!"
"He received a message to help a
Force-sensitive girl named Arica Jeel in quadrant
869-54, in the city of Tinan."
"And he went, straight into a trap."
"Obviously," the dark lord nodded
somberly. If Luke was naive, Leia was sometimes too
wary for her own good, but in this case, her wariness
would have served Luke right.
"And you let him go?!" she suddenly
asked him in disbelief.
"My dear, remember that we are speaking about
your brother," he reminded her humorlessly.
"Whom not even a lightsaber duel would have
kept from going, I know," she sighed in
understanding. "What do you know about
"It seems that Arica Jeel is in fact Mara
"The Mara Jade? The Emperor's Hand?"
"Yes. I have no doubt that she's taking Luke
to the main base of Palpatine's Brigade."
"Damn," Leia cursed. "Damn, damn,
damn. We've got to recover him," she finally
commented more coherently, determination shining in
her hazel-brown eyes. "When will you return to
He sadly shook his head. "I can't leave Yavin
4 now," he informed her somewhat glumly.
"Luke asked me to keep an eye on the
"What?! But, Father, I can't do that..."
"Leia, I can't leave," he stated again.
"Exar Kun, the Sith Lord, is here and looking
"The spirit of..." the young, beautiful
woman froze in understanding.
"Kreth, this can't get any worse," Leia
commented angrily. "Sith, What a mess!"
"Indeed," the dark lord nodded, smirking
slightly at his daughter's choice of curses.
"Ooooops, sorry, Father," she apologized
quickly. "Old habits... All right, I'll get our
teams to track Palpatine's Brigade down. You take
care of the Sith Lord. Hopefully, everything will be
settled before I can't see my toes anymore," she
sighed in acceptance.
Now it was the Dark lord's turn to frown in
confusion. "What do you mean? Are you all
right?" he inquired, his worry shifting from one
child to another.
"Ah, yes, it's just...," she began, as
if searching for an explanation, then shrugged.
"Pregnant?" the dark lord gasped, the
news having caught him like a hit in the stomach.
"I'm expecting twins, a boy and a girl,"
Leia revealed in more details. "I'm sorry that I
didn't tell you before, Father, but I didn't know how
you'd take it, and... well, Luke wasn't supposed to
disappear," she smirked slightly at the screen
before a shrill call came from her end of the line.
"Gotta go! I'll find Luke, Father, I
promise," she said, then cut the transmission.
Vader continued to stare at the blackened screen
long after even his line with Coruscant was
interrupted on his end. His mind slowly processed the
last information that he had just been given...
And then, at last he laughed, something that he
hadn't done for eons.
Or so it seemed.
Chapter 4: Mara Jade
Aboard the Jedi Hunter, Mara Jade once again
turned her head toward the back of the ship where her
prisoner was securely tied and going through
nightmare after nightmare.
Or was at least supposed to, she frowned as she
failed yet again to hear a moan or even a whimper of
pain. She listened attentively for a whole minute,
then, when no sound came from her sleeping prisoner,
decided to check on him.
Was he already awake?, she wondered angrily. The
drug that she had used had been supposed to keep him
under for the whole duration of the transit back to
Unless, she thought in growing frustration, the
man who had sold it to her had lied to her. If it
were the case, she growled in frustration, then that
man would experience his own medecine before learning
to never cross her ever again.
Definitely angered now, she stepped inside the
holding compartment of the ship. The Jedi was
still in middle of the small room, his wrists locked
in chains that kept his hands high above his head; he
was thus dangling from the ceiling while his feet
were locked to the deck. His head was also slumped
In short, he looked exactly like when she had left
him to his torment, almost twenty-four hours ago.
However, unlike when she had locked him up, she
could see that he wasn't caught in the throes of
nightmares anymore. Instead, he was sleeping as
peacefully as if he were in a bed, far away from
danger. Furious that the Jedi would not suffer even a
little from his predicament, she considered giving
him another shot of the nightmare-driving drug, then
reconsidered the time that she had left in transit.
She slapped him hard in the face... and failed to
wake him up.
Fuming mad, she moved to hit him harder--- when an
idea came to her. Leaving her prisoner's side for a
few seconds, she returned with a large bucket that
she had just filled with cold water.
Grinning wickedly at her mean plan, she balanced
her load so that she was aiming at the Jedi's face...
then emptied the bucket toward him.
His reaction was everything that she had hoped
for; he awoke with a gasp even as he tried to catch
his breath from the near-drowning experience that she
had just bestowed on him.
"Wakey, wakey, Skywalker" she sneered at
him, pleased by the grimace of pain that he made the
moment he recovered from his shocked awakening. She
suspected that his shoulders were already tormenting
him, and she admitted that rather liked that idea.
"Jade," he moaned, then shook his head
as if to clear it from the remnants of his drugged
sleep. "What do you want?"
"So you know who I am," she commented,
surprised that he knew this much about her already.
"Your dear father, most certainly," she
sneered next in disdain. "As for what I
want," she began, then took a step closer to him
before she gripped the hair at the nape of his neck
and forced his head backward until he would meet her
Skywalker did not have any other choice but to
meet her green, hatred-filled gaze... but so did she
his blue one...
As she stood less than an inch away from the son
of the man who had betrayed her master, Mara forgot
completely what she had been about to tell the other.
Instead, she lost herself in the blue,
unexpectedly gentle if defiant eyes of her
dripping-wet prisoner. As she gazed in them, she saw
the pain that she had inflicted upon him through his
nightmares, the pain that he was currently feeling
thanks to his predicament... but also, and that
greatly surprised her, the compassion that he felt
Compassion?!? she suddenly stopped on her
thoughts. Who was he to take pity of her??? She
wasn't weak, nor did she need Skywalker's sickening,
softy feelings to feel better----
Recovering her colder edge, she viciously twisted
her grip on his wet hair, pulling another grimace
from him before she leaned closer to him, as if
daring him to care for her again. "I think that
you know what I want, Vader," she spat. "Or
is his real name Skywalker?"
To her utter bafflement, her prisoner answered her
mean taunt. "My father's name is Darth Vader, my
own name is Skywalker. I am not a Sith devotee,"
he finished, clenching his teeth against a groan of
complaint as she added weight on his arms by pulling
him down via her grip on him.
"Ah yes, the righteous, holier-than-thou Jedi
master," she sneered at him, then let go of him.
"So tell me, 'Jedi', was it you or your father
who poisoned the Emperor?"
When the man gaped as if caught red-handed, she
felt her victory bubble up inside herself at the
thought that she had been right, but the man's answer
kept it from going much higher than her guts.
"We didn't poison him," the Jedi shook
his head, locking his eyes on hers once again.
"The Emperor made a mistake during one of his
Force uses; the Dark Side consumed him completely,
his sanity included."
Outraged by the preposterous lies of her captive,
Mara lashed out at him and hit him once again in the
face; this time, he felt the impact and reeled from
"I can understand that you might want to
protect your skin, or your father's," she warned
him as she gripped his jaw and forced him to look at
her once again.
And once again, those dripping-wet, boyish
features and eyes affected her in a way that she had
never even suspected could be possible. Strangely,
she felt bad about hitting him, then dismissed her
thought as completely insane.
"But if you lack to show respect to the
Emperor even once," she tried to warn him
vehemently, "I will personally teach you to
think of other lies if you want to hide the truth
that your father planned the demise of our
master," she spat in disgust before letting go
The more she was gazing at him, and the more she
was beginning to believe his earnest lies. Somehow,
she could... feel... that he wasn't lying.
Even if they were currently in an ysalamiri
bubble, cut away from the Force.
Luke nodded to reassure the furious, surprisingly
beautiful woman, then shook his head to recover from
his latest daze. She had quite a temper as well as
had a strong right hook.
He wasn't interested to be on its receiving end
"I'm sorry," he began, thinking
furiously about how he would be able to perhaps break
through to her and save her from her own lies and
misconceptions. "It was inconsiderate of me.
However, the fact remains that neither Father nor me
took any actions against your master."
He reflexively cringed when the strikingly
beautiful woman turned once again toward him.
"And what about the secret treaty that made
Vader the next Emperor?" she growled, crossing
her arms across her chest in challenge.
Luke sighed inwardly at this; at least, she did
not mean to hit him again. "Father knew that the
Emperor's health was failing and that," he
swallowed hard, aware that his next word could be
taken as disrespect once again. "because of the
particularities of his physical sickness, he couldn't
oversee the Empire properly----"
A renewed grip in his hair made him shut up.
"If I didn't want to save the best for last,
Skywalker," she whispered angrily, her eyes
ablaze with fury, "I'd show you that what you
experienced at your father's hand is nothing compared
to what a true imperial can do."
Even though Luke knew that the woman's reaction
was simply reflexive denial of the truth, he couldn't
help but gasp in fear as memories of what had
happened between his father and himself 'before' came
back to him.
"Oh yes," the other smiled meanly,
obviously aware that she had hit a sensitive chord in
him. "I know what he did to you, how he caused
you more pain than you ever thought possible,"
she tormented him, stepping away to circle around him
as if studying him. "Did you know that he knew
that you were his son back then?" she taunted
Even though Luke tried to counter the woman's
attempts to make him distrust his father with his
more recent memories of his father risking everything
to reach him less than a few hours ago, the present
moment took prescience in his mind.
He listened to her.
"Did you know that he didn't feel any remorse
when he returned with your hand and lightsaber as a
"No, that's not true," he tried to deny.
"Did you know that he had vouched to kill you
if you didn't turn? Quite a father, don't you
think?" the red-head commented mock-suavely as
she finished her walk around him. "Did you know
that before you contacted him, oh yes, I know all
about this too," she smiled as she noticed his
gaping mouth. "Did you know that before this
alliance of yours, he had been ready to sacrifice
you, and your sister, if it meant destroying rebel
ships that were attacking the Empire?"
Luke wanted to deny the mean assumptions, wanted
to prove the woman wrong, and yet... he knew that
everything that she had said was true. He had seen it
for himself in his father's memories, had even talked
about this with him.
He jerked away from Jade's touch when she ran her
hand in his hair as if in comfort.
"Poor little Skywalker," she
mock-soothed, "thought you knew your father,
didn't you? Well, surprise, it's Darth Vader, always
was... always will be," she finished with an
ominous smirk before she turned her back to him.
"You're wrong," he finally
half-whispered, his voice catching in his throat
thanks to his strong emotions.
"Perhaps, but you will be in the first row
seats to find out if I'm right or wrong, Jedi,"
she commented as she returned with a syringe in her
Luke, who hated needles, tried to draw away from
the approaching woman; given his predicament, he
could only wriggle like a fish on a hook.
"Consider this as a gift from a father who
didn't want to hurt his son... much. However,
he still wanted to convince you to join his
side," she said as she stilled him against
herself and injected him in the arm.
As their eyes met once again, Luke saw the anger
and hatred that the woman literally nurtured toward
his father, himself and his sister, but most
important, he saw an undercurrent of constant pain.
Her pain was so acute that he realized that the
woman simply felt driven to pass it on to the people
whom she considered responsible for it. She
especially considered his family responsible for it.
As if aware that he was studying her, she first
glared at him, then smirked meanly as another idea
obviously crossed her mind. "Here, you're all
wet; let me help you out of those," she
commented mock-suavely, then took hold of his shirt's
collar and ripped it up.
Since the fabric was drenched, it was a matter of
seconds before he was hanging there in nothing but
his trousers. He shivered slightly as the cold air of
the compartment assailed his damp skin.
"Now I'll dry it up for you," she said
mock-gently. "You stay here and... suffer,"
she finished, her voice going back to its previous,
She left him alone once again, dropping his rags
on her way out. Luke tracked her with his eyes for as
long as saw her, then craned his head backward and
tried to ease the slight pain that he felt in the
Man, she had hit him good on Dantooine, he
admitted as he gently swayed his head from left to
right to rub the abused tissues as best as he could.
He then righted his position once again, studied the
slight bleeding of his arm where the other had
injected him, then focused higher up to see what kind
of restraints that she was using on him.
He sadly recognized the Jedi-proof restraints that
his father had told him about. he then noticed that
they were set on high which meant that if he,
somehow, recovered the ability to use the Force...
He suddenly paused as he felt a strange, slightly
painful sensation build around his spine and neck.
What was the drug that she had used on him this time,
he wondered, and how...
The more he pondered, and the more acute the
sensation grew until he really felt as if his
shoulders were slowly burning...
Belatedly, he understood what had been introduced
in his system: one of the pain-enhancing drugs that
the Empire was so fond of.
Shortly after, he could only bite his tongue and
lips to not scream. He did not want to satisfy Jade.
Two hours later, Skywalker's sounds of torment
were beginning to ebb as the drug wore itself out of
his system. For a brief moment, Mara considered
shooting him once again, using the occasion to tell
him that his father had tailored that drug to his
DNA, then changed her mind after checking the chrono.
They were less than an hour away from their
However, she decided to not let the Jedi get any
rest until she chose to, preferably when the time
would be right to kill him, although...
Throughout the past hours, she had had flashes of
what she had uncovered when she had ripped
Skywalker's shirt off from his body. Given his choice
of clothes, she had always assumed that he had been,
like his father, slightly more corpulent than he
should, but in fact, she had seen for herself that
the young man was definitely what one could call
She had even felt what that body was like when
pressed against her own, and, combined with the still
puzzling effect of his eyes on her, she had to admit
that she wasn't completely sure anymore if she wanted
to kill him or not.
There was no doubt in her mind that she would
shove Vader and Organa Solo out of her way, but the
young man... was quickly becoming another matter.
For one thing, he hadn't attacked her, hadn't even
insulted her when she had sneered at him, then he had
even apologized about his lack of respect for the
Then, when she had shot him, he had obviously been
afraid, yet hadn't tried to even hit her with his
head... although he could have done so. Perhaps he
hadn't hurt himself for something he knew was
unavoidable, she reflected seriously, but perhaps it
had simply been because he hadn't wanted to hurt her
anymore than he, or his father, or the two of them,
had done already.
But that was preposterous, completely ridiculous,
she scolded herself as she headed for the medwing and
retrieved an adrenaline shot. Still, there, outside
of the ysalamiri bubble, it definitely felt... true.
Shaking her head to rid herself of any thoughts
that would gravely alter her devotion to the avenging
of her master's dream, she headed toward the back of
There, she paused in the entrance, watching the
Jedi as he writhed slightly thanks to the drug's
subdued assaults on his nerve system. Since he was
bare torso, she saw every detail of his moving
muscles as they shifted in feeble attempts to escape
Somehow, she thought dimly, the sheen of sweat
that was now covering his tanned, scarred flesh was
making his half-naked sight even more captivating
than when she had first uncovered him.
In short, she finally, reluctantly admitted, she
had never seen a man that looked anything like her
prisoner looked, not even in her own group of well-
muscled, strong mercenaries.
The others simply didn't have Skywalker's boyish
look to accompany their strong body, and, she added
as she walked closer to the man, none of them were as
slight as the other was while well-proportioned.
Slowly, but surely, she realized that he was
beginning to captivate her with his unique physical
Perhaps keeping him alive would serve her better
than to kill him to, she then admitted with a shrug
of her shoulders before she lightly slapped him on
the cheek. She wanted to wake him up from his
Luke didn't know how much time had gone by him; he
only knew that his pain was slowly returning to more
bearable levels, leaving him utterly exhausted and
yearning for sleep.
With his returning awareness though came one
question: had his father truly planned to use this on
him? Would he have been cruel enough to---
Slight stings on his right, aching cheek forced
him awake, then his eyes flew open as he felt the
all-too-well remembered sting of an injection in his
"Please," he begged, trying to draw away
from the other's syringe.
"It's too early to go to bed, Jedi," his
tormentor commented as she emptied her syringe in his
arm, then stepped away from him as if to leave.
"Mara," he called, feeling his pain
return as his senses became more and more awake.
To his surprise, the beautiful assassin turned
back toward him. Not for the first time since he had
awakened in her grip, he dimly reflected that she was
truly mesmerizing. He couldn't help but like
her physical features, but he naturally rebuked
himself every time that he caught himself.
"I know that you won't believe whatever I
will say... that--- ahh," he gasped as his
shoulders burned anew, "you will not stop until
you have avenged what you feel my father took from
the Emperor, but," he continued, gathering his
resolve to see this through before his burning
shoulders required all his attention once again,
"I want you to know that I'm sorry that you had
to suffer from the change in the Empire. I truly
am," he finished, then clenched his teeth even
as he tried to shift his position and alleviate the
weight of his body on his shoulders and neck.
For a moment or two, the young woman didn't answer
him, watching him as the shot of adrenaline kept him
from falling asleep, then she shrugged her shoulders;
her loosened hair shone under the light, offering him
a very brief respite in the form of a beautiful sight
before painful reality caught up with him once again.
"You really are a softie, Skywalker,"
she sneered at him in disgust. "Looks like I had
pegged you right as your father's weakest
Luke closed his eyes and groaned in annoyance and
pain as his attempt to open the dialogue with his
captor failed once again; he heard her booted feet
walk away from him until he was once again alone with
his aching body... and the strange thoughts that he
was beginning to have in regards of the dangerous
young woman who had caught him.
His father had told him about the Emperor's Hand.
He had never revealed her name before now, except for
'Jade', but he had told her about a top field
agent/assassin who had been reported missing as soon
as the secret treaty had been signed. From this day
on, his father had received constant threats from the
red-head woman, and he had even had to deal with a
few attacks against his personal, private places
throughout the galaxy. From the start, the woman had
identified herself as a vicious, personal enemy to
Unfortunately, by the time Vader had been ready to
go after her, Leia's disappearance had come up and
his father had had to change his priorities while
still monitoring the dangerous woman and her growing
group of pro-Palpatine mercenaries.
Then, when the Emperor had truly died, and that he
and his sister had become known to the imperial
world, they had both begun to receive threat letters
from the faction. Eventually, they had even attacked
them,... and especially him.As always, the enemy had
come through as a very dangerous one.
Back then, he had thought that the attacks had
taken place to get to him, and his father, but now
that he was thinking about it, he realized that it
had been a way from Mara to size him up and plan the
surest way to capture him. Far from Coruscant and
without arousing suspicions seemed to be the answer
that she had found; he groaned as his shoulders
complained yet again against his weight.
Hence, he summarized as he tried to expel his
breath without moaning too loudly, he now knew from
first-hand experience that she was, indeed, a very
dangerous woman and should not be trifled with.
Still, he frowned worriedly, his warning senses
hadn't reacted in their customary ways in Tinan.
Normally, they never failed him when such dangerous
enemy was lurking around. Considering the deadly
reputation of the woman, he should, by all rights,
have felt a definite warning through the Force while
he had been approaching her location, and yet, except
for a diffuse, almost non- existent tug on his mind
to merely be careful... Nothing.
What he had felt in Tinan couldn't even compare
with the strong warning that he had felt when he had
been about to enter his father's chosen temple, and
yet, the woman wanted to kill him whereas the temple
would have merely injured him.
Could the Force be lying to him, or hiding the
truth from him?, he wondered uneasily. Or was it that
he was, in fact, in less danger than they all
thought? True, he conceded, the red-haired
woman was hurting him, and leaving him to slowly
freeze in the cold air of the ship, but...
She could also do much worse than what she had
done, he conceded seriously. No matter what she said
about his father, or about saving the more serious
challenges for later on, he knew that, were she
cold-hearted, he would already be a sight. Instead,
he was bruised in the face, cold, and his shoulders
and neck ached as if they were ready to burn through
his skin, but otherwise... he was relatively well.
In a way, he was in even better shape than when he
had dueled against his father... who had known that
they were relatives. Back then, the dark lord had
been vicious, had not 'cared' much about him, but
Mara, who had no relationship with him and was
claiming that she would kill him...
That Mara was not harming him anymore than she had
to... in order to keep up appearances!, he suddenly
gaped as he forced his head up to look in the
direction of the cockpit.
There was goodness in the beautiful assassin, he
realized even as he understood why his senses had
somewhat 'failed' him in Tinan. If he didn't give up
and showed her compassion, he might just save her
from the persisting grip of the Emperor as well as
the lies in which he had wrapped the young woman's
Even though his father hadn't told him much about
the young woman, he had told him about how she had
been stolen from her parents when still a toddler and
how the Emperor had 'molded' her into his secret
His father, who had always been free of the
Emperor's lies, had witnessed how the older dark Jedi
had manipulated the pliable mind with lies of
different importance until she hadn't known anything
but what the Emperor had told her.
And if he had told her, during some secret
encounter, that he had been poisoned by Vader, then
the poor woman would believe him to her grave...
Unless he could help her, he decided.
If only to free one more person from the grip of
the Dark Side and its destructive, pain-generating
emotions, he would do it, he promised himself.
He then admitted to himself that part of his
motivation was the strange interest that he was
quickly developing for the woman; she was even more
beautiful than on the grainy holo that his father had
shown him when he had wanted him and his sister to
learn to identify the woman if they ever ran into
Now, he sighed in brief dreaming, he would never
forget her striking features.
Up front, Mara equally sighed as she tried in vain
to rid her mind of the afterimage of Skywalker's
half-clothed sight. Going back in there had been a
very bad idea, she finally rebuked herself as she
leaned forward and tried to focus on their upcoming
Not only had his body showed more to her scrutiny
than she had ever expected to see from the man, but
the nature of what she had seen had also greatly
surprised her. Then, as if it hadn't been enough, he
had had to apologize to her.
Even though she had affected the cold, uncaring
attitude with him, he had, in fact, gotten through to
her. She had seen how truthful he had been about
this; she had really believed him.
While she had heard about how the boy wasn't
anything like the father she knew very well, she
still hadn't expected him to be 'that' different. She
could understand why he would be, for example,
defiant while not insulting, or even begging for
mercy instead of trying to attack her, but... to
apologize, and even wish that he could have saved her
If anyone had ever told her that Skywalker would
be like this, she wouldn't have believed him and
punished him for wasting her time. However, here she
was, faced with that very type of man...
She simply didn't know how to deal with him
On the one hand, she knew that she would not
expose herself to his sight anymore than necessary,
and certainly not before recovering her cooler edge,
but on the other hand, no matter what she would try
while in his presence, his obvious kindness would
undoubtedly affect her... make her reconsider the
fate that she had planned for the young man.
One thing was sure though, she reminded herself as
she brought her ship out of hyperspace: she was not
giving him back to his father anytime soon.
The loss of such a gentle being would probably
hurt him more than anything she could ever devise
Through the viewport, the lines shrank back to the
shape of far away stars and the sight of her
destination: the asteroid field of the Hoth system.
Chapter 5: Searching
On Coruscant, Leia had to consciously keep herself
from biting her nails as she listened to the reports
of the fleet officers. Jade's group hadn't been found
"Sadly, Madam," an imperial admiral was
saying, "we haven't been able to locate them
anywhere in the Cauldron Nebula quadrant. We left
probe droids to monitor the area."
Negative, like every other report that she had
received so far, she sighed inwardly. Beside her, Han
shook his head and threw a gaze at the nearby
"Where in Hell can they be?" he grumbled
while she thanked the officer for his help and agreed
with his new destination. The moment that he closed
the transmission, general Antilles from the Rebel
Alliance reported in.
"I'm sorry, Leia," he apologized sadly,
in turn. "We went to Dantooine and found someone
who confirmed to us that Mara Jade had threatened him
to help her or else go after his family, but even
'he' didn't know where she is hiding."
"Are you sure, Wedge?" she asked him,
feeling both her hope and worry surge at the news
that they had, at last, a contact with someone who
was related to her.
"Unfortunately," the Corellian general
shook his head. "We ran him through a
truth-serum session," he paused, giving her time
to process this new information. "He didn't know
anything. He was chosen by her because he had been
present in the Emperor's quarters when he died. The
psychologists' verdict was unanimous: he's not who
we're looking for."
"Darn it! They're not ghosts!" she
suddenly exclaimed out loud in frustration and
growing worry about her brother. "The Empire
could locate us Rebels anywhere we tried to hide from
them," she then sternly reminded her
friend. "Surely we can do it again to find
the new 'rebels'."
"I'm sorry, Leia," her friend tried to
comfort her. "You know that I want to save Luke
from that witch's claws as much as you want. In spite
of what happened since Hoth, he is still my
"I know, Wedge, I know," she apologized
in turn, then rubbed her cheek dry. A tear that
escaped her control. "I'm sorry, I shouldn't be
taking this out on you." She took a deep breath,
trying to recover her composure. "What are your
next plans?" she finally inquired, self-assured
"I think I'll take my ship to the Hoth
system," the other answered seriously.
"This area of the galaxy is filled with perfect
"Make sure to check the asteroid field,"
Han spoke up, sharing his ideas for the first time in
minutes. "We once hid in a large rock in there.
Perhaps Jade also knows about this trick and is
pulling it on us."
The Hoth system?, Leia mused even as she felt a
strange, tingly feeling at the nape of her neck.
"How far are you from it?" she asked her
friend as a strange confidence slowly replaced her
"Five days, even at top lightspeed," her
friend informed her grimly. "I'll keep you
informed," he promised her as her composure
faltered once again. "Take care of yourselves
and don't worry, we'll find them."
"Thanks Wedge," Leia smiled faintly,
sadly. Her hopes had vanished just as fast as they
had appeared. "Be careful out there."
"We will. Gold team out."
Leia and Han remained silent after this, pondering
their respective thoughts.
"Could it be this simple?" her husband
finally inquired from her side before he programmed a
request in the hologram's controls. Twenty meters
ahead of them, in the middle of the huge holographic
projector, the asteroid field of Hoth appeared,
larger than its initial size. "Could they be
hiding almost right under our noses."
"Even if they were," Leia replied
glumly, "we're nowhere near this place. So much
can happen within five days...," she then
commented as she studied the tactical display--- when
her intuition suddenly grew stronger than ever. They
were there, it seemed to tell her. Their search was
over. "How far are our teams from this
location?" she asked, turning her attention to
the tacticians who were standing nearby.
One of them called up a report. "General
Antilles is the closest, Madam. The Adamant was on
the other side of the system less than two days ago,
but is now in hyperspace and headed for the
"Did they leave any probe droids?" Han
inquired, stepping closer to the tactical table.
"Not that we know of, Sir. They were merely
patrolling when they left; Jedi Skywalker's
disappearance had not been signaled yet.
"Then Wedge is still our fastest way to know
if I'm reading the Force correctly or not," Leia
observed, determinate once again. Strong-willed once
again, she studied the layout of their current search
"Still, Madam, there's nothing else to do but
wait, and direct the closest units to this point if
you so wish," Admiral Plaat advised her coolly.
Leia could only nod silently.
Wait and see... and hope that her brother was
And not suffering too much, she prayed silently to
Meanwhile, on Yavin 4, Kyp Durron was dancing
among five remotes, his new lightsaber, a sky-blue
one, flashing like lightning as it blocked every
single bolt of energy that tried to hurt him.
He was so happy that he wanted to laugh and sing
The deadly dance was easy, astonishingly so. He
could 'feel' the Force singing around him, telling
him what to do next--- and he obeyed with joy. That
was what he had always wished, what he had always
dreamed about: to be the Light's sword, to be its
And that dream was becoming reality.
"Do what you feel is right," Master
Kenan said, "And you will see that it's the way
of the Force. Trust your feelings, young one. Trust
And that was the real way of the Jedi, young Kyp
reflected grimly. No matter what Skywalker had said,
or how he had tried to paraphrase what he had said,
trusting his emotions was the way of the Force.
He batted aside another flurry of blaster fire,
slashed in pieces two extra remotes, then shielded
himself against the attack of three other 'gnats'.
Shifting his stance, he angled his blade downward to
block their next attempt to hurt him, swiftly shifted
his arms and brought the blade up and perpendicular
to his torso--- then letting go of all caution,
following the guidance of the Force around him, he
lashed out at his tormentors.
Five seconds later, he was standing in the middle
of a circle of electronic parts.
"Most masterful, my boy," master Kenan
commented from his left.
The young man looked up, beaming with pride at the
Skywalker had never told him anything this
"Thank you, Master," he bowed
respectfully to his new Jedi Master.
Unlike his previous one, this new one was not
restraining him from developing his full potential.
Instead, he was guiding him in his self-discovery of
the Force, passing on all the respect that was due to
"Skywalker was truly sheltering you from your
true abilities, young man. But then, what could we
expect from an untrained Jedi who has been fathered
by a Dark Lord of the Sith?" he asked in mild
"You mean that Skywalker is under his
influence?" the young Jedi inquired seriously,
feeling his neck tickle as the master's words settled
"Sadly, it is a most certain fact," the
other nodded dimly. "The Siths are vile
creatures... " His face clouded for a moment;
Kyp was sure that he saw a flicker of pain in his
eyes, then the Jedi Master forced himself to smile.
"But what matters is that you're out of his
"What troubles you, Master Kenan?" Kyp
inquired, concerned. "What?..." And then he
understood. It was as if a bolt of lightning had hit
his heart--- "The Sith killed you?" he
whispered in horror. The response came in the
form of a sigh.
"Was it Vader?!" the young man asked
"Oh, no," the other shook his wise head.
"It was a very, very long time ago. Hundreds of
years ago. They..."
"They sacrificed me to their god, the Sword
Lord I believe is his name. It happened right here,
where we are. That's why I can't leave this
"Oh..." Kyp looked at his Master,
reflecting that he could almost feel his pain even
though the other was already dead.
"Don't pain yourself for me, my boy,"
Kenan counseled him gently. "It was a long time
ago. However, beware the actual Siths, and especially
this Dark Lord. He is the faithful follower of their
tradition as well as a servant of the Dark
"And Luke..?" Kyp swallowed, suddenly
worried about the young man who was the 'closest'
being to the dark demon.
"The boy is largely under his control, I'm
afraid," Kenan sighed glumly. "He may not
understand it, but he is undoubtedly being
manipulated. It might even be part of the Dark Lord's
plan, whatever that may be... However," the
other continued, his voice harsher this time, "I
have no doubt that he is planning to expand his
control over you and your comrades through his son.
Still, that is not very worrying compared to my worst
fear..." Kenan finished ominously.
"Which is?" the youth prompted him
The old spirit locked his ageless, kind eyes on
his, as if pondering whether he would tell him more
or not. He did. "The Siths have a very vile
ritual to obtain supreme power, the one I fell victim
to. I fear that Vader is seeing his son, and possibly
all of you, as worthwhile sacrifices to his
Kyp swallowed hard at this, chilled to the bone by
the other's villainy.
"If this happens," Kenan continued
grimly, "and that the ritual is completed, he
will have an enormous amount of power, much more than
even your Emperor Palpatine ever wielded..."
As he contemplated this vision of horror, Kyp
suddenly understood why he had come to Yavin 4.
"I can't let this happen, Master Kenan," he
said, his voice taking on the sharp edge of
determination. "I will do anything that I have
to do to stop this from happening."
"And I know that you will, my boy. You are
brave, courageous, and you now showed proof that you
master the Force unlike any other Jedi before
you," his master nodded somberly.
"Remember, follow where your emotions take you,
what they make you do to use the Force, and you will
save your Jedi comrades from this new threat."
"So you really think that I could vanquish
Darth Vader if I challenged him?" the youth
queried with last remnants of doubts inhabiting his
mind although inwardly, he was confident that he
would be able to do it.
"I have great confidence in your abilities,
young one. However, caution warrants that you should
first try and warn the others about the danger that
looms over their heads. That way, you will free them
from his control before attacking him. With his son
out of the way for the moment, nothing will stop
"Thank you, Master Kenan," Kyp bowed his
head gratefully. "I will follow your advice. I
"I know you will, my boy. But please, be very
careful," he told him beseechingly. "Vader
is very strong."
"I will be, Master," the other smiled
confidently as he headed out of the cave.
As he watched his new servant climb down from his
forced refuge for the time being, Kun forced himself
to not reveal his true self just yet. The time was
not right yet to reveal the truth to young Durron,
future reborn Exar Kun, but soon, very soon, with
Vader out of the way, no one would be able to stop
him from resuming his dream where he had left off:
completing the ritual and conquering the galaxy.
In the asteroid field of the Hoth System, Mara
Jade completed her landing procedures, then stood up
and headed for the main ramp of her ship. Unlike what
she had first planned to do, she didn't make a detour
by the holding compartment to take custody of her
prized prisoner. Instead, she left him to his cold
unpleasantness and exited the ship. At the foot of
the ramp, she met with her officers who, upon seeing
her alone, ordered two strong men to go inside and
fetch their prisoner.
"Congratulations for your success,
Madam," General Jerjerrod bowed respectfully.
"Thank you, General. Have you managed to find
out where Vader hides nowadays?" she inquired,
turning toward a second man.
"No, Madam," Admiral Piett answered her
as she walked away from the shuttle.
"However, now that we have Skywalker in our
grasp, I can guarantee that we will uncover his
location before soon."
Even though it had been 'her' plan to use the
young Jedi this way if need be, 'and' even though she
had finally quashed her strange feelings about the
young man, she still couldn't help but wince at the
thought of what was awaiting the unexpectedly kind
As if to answer her resuming inner debate
regarding Skywalker, the two troopers came down from
the shuttle with a heavily restrained, barely
conscious Jedi in their grasp. As she studied them,
she dimly reflected that somehow, she had the
puzzling feeling that the Jedi hadn't defied the
guards in any way in order to earn the bruises she
could now see on his ribs----
And now she was going completely irrational, she
rebuked herself angrily as she turned away from the
Jedi's sight. She refocused on her strongest allies,
who would help her bring about the return of her
Master's Order. "I leave the details in your
hands, Piett," she stated as coolly as she could
manage... although she quickly realized that it was
not an easy thing to do; her voice was suddenly
fluttery as if in reaction to her horrible orders.
Horrible orders? About Skywalker??, she asked
herself in disbelief while she listened to the rest
of the report about their group. True, she conceded,
the man was unlike anything she had ever been led to
believe, but in the end, he was still an enemy...
And the son of her arch-nemesis, she reminded
herself sternly. If only to hurt the father, then
making Skywalker scream would be worthwhile.
Somehow though, she didn't manage to recover her
cold composure after such a reasoning.
Meanwhile, Veers informed her of the progress of
the preparations for their upcoming attacks on the
Rebel stations. She forced herself to forget
Skywalker and focus on her own plan, which would
avenge her late master once and for all.
After she had checked with the scattered groups in
order to estimate how soon everything would be ready
for their attack, Jade read all the reports of their
spies, catching up with what she had missed while she
had been away, then she spent time in the training
room to help her troops be ready for anything...
However, her training session turned out to be more a
mean for her to vent her pent-up emotions about what
had happened during the last days, than a truly
constructive training exercise.
She was frustrated---elated, angered----
confused... she simply couldn't get Skywalker out of
her mind! Every time that this realization struck
her, she ended up beating her partners to the ground
instead of helping them to train.
After five such losses of control, she retired to
her quarters, frustrated beyond belief.
As she finished to wrap a towel around her
athletic body and exited her shower, she literally
fumed with irritation. Once again, she had tried to
get rid of her unwelcome emotions in regards to the
Jedi. It just wouldn't work. She tried it once again.
First, she tried to reason with herself that he
was a Jedi, the very enemy of what her master's Order
Second, she reminded herself that he was Luke
'Vader', the son of the coward traitor who had killed
the Emperor. Thus, he also 'was' her enemy.
Third, she continued, feeling her feelings ebb
this time, she pointed out to herself that the Jedi
was already bringing back the Jedi danger in the
galaxy; she couldn't allow this to happen.
Finally, fourth, but most easily forgotten it
seemed, she was the Emperor's Hand, a professional
assassin/agent/commander who wasn't hampered in any
way by weak emotions. She didn't care about anything
nor anybody, was wholeheartedly devoted to her late
She would certainly not let that weak-hearted Jedi
affect her now, she growled inwardly, finally feeling
her hatred of him burn cold and pure at the core of
her being. She would not let him affect her when she
was so close to what she had been working for almost
two years now. She would not change her plans for
anything... nor anyone, she resolved adamantly.
Besides, she shrugged as she began to dry her
heavy red-gold hair, it was what she had wanted to
happen... wasn't it?
Yes it was, she nodded resolutely. She was ready
for this, she reminded herself, had envisioned this
moment for gods knew how long, had even specifically
targeted the youth instead of his sister because she
had known that the results would be better with him
No, she objected vehemently at her own feeble
attempt to resist her anger. She did 'not' care about
Skywalker; it was utterly ridiculous to even consider
anything about him...
Although, she unconsciously reminded herself a
visual flash of his eyes, he certainly was hard to
'not' consider. He had been so----
Out of dangerous anger, she threw her damp hair
towel at her reflection in the mirror, then pulled on
her nightshirt, dropped her larger towel and stomped
out of her 'fresher and into her private room.
Darn cursed Jedi, she seethed as she fell on her
bunk. They were really causing more trouble than
anybody gave them credit for.
She tried to find sleep after that thought; not
Back on Yavin 4, Vader sat on his chosen fallen
tree. His hidden gaze was locked on the fiery orange
ball of Yavin, but his mind was elsewhere.
He had just contacted Leia and had discovered that
she had not located Jade yet. His son's pain hadn't
left him for the past three hours.
The mere thought that anyone would dare hurt his
son was enough to make him throw aside any
rationalism and cool-headedness that he still had; he
'had' to find him. If he didn't hold himself back, he
would board his ship right this moment and plow his
way right through to his son, no matter what, or who,
would stand in his path.
However, he had seen what this kind of rage did to
a Dark Jedi, how it ravaged his mind and body until
it died of insanity. No matter how unlike he was from
the late Palpatine, he had no delusion that he was
protected from the debilitating side-effects of
letting his rage free while he used the Force.
Not even if he himself had been created by the
He still didn't know exactly why he had come to
be, creature of the Dark Side that he was, and he
understood even less how he could be at the source of
two human beings who were the very opposite of him.
He also didn't know why he was still alive now that
his purpose was fulfilled, but he knew one thing for
He was exactly like the other Jedi or Sith had
always been: vulnerable to the side-effects of how
they used the Force.
Thus, he never gave into his rage, or fury. Anger
he would let lose, hatred, but not rage.
Rage destroyed the bearer as well as his target,
he reminded himself, just to make sure that he would
remind it for a little longer as his son's pain went
on through their bond.
He wanted to destroy Jade and her group, he still
admitted to himself. He wanted to make sure that this
danger would never threaten his children and future
grandchildren... but he also wanted to remain with
them for the time being.
He missed his son terribly, he finally admitted---
instantly rebuking himself for allowing such a
feeling to invade him, yet it was there.
He hadn't seen Luke for almost five days now, had
contacted him through the Circle two days ago, but
hadn't re-established contact with him ever since.
He had come to Yavin to spend some time with him,
to try and catch up a little on the time they had
lost while separated, but as it always was with their
family, an obstacle had risen. That stupid mission
had come up and his son had walked straight into a
Couldn't he have looked over it and send someone
else?, he asked his son even though he couldn't hear
him. Couldn't he have listened to him for once?!?
And now he was being childish, he berated himself.
Luke listened a lot to him, perhaps even a little too
much to his liking, he conceded as he remembered a
few discussions that he had had with his son. Being
aware that his father had superior experience in the
Force, Luke was almost always believing and listening
attentively to what he said about it.
The truth though was that sometimes, his ways were
just plainly wrong for his son. He didn't know if his
son recognized those things for what they were, but
he himself did.
He would have to be careful to not 'influence' him
too much about his teachings, he decided as he
remembered that his son was now teaching a new
generation of Jedi Knights.
As he had once told his son, Luke was the son of
the Light, a natural guide and teacher in the right
ways to use the Force without corrupting it with the
will or altering the laws of the universe.
Luke 'was' a Jedi, in every sense of the word; a
'servant' for the Light and the master of the Force,
but of its good, constructive side instead of his
He was a great Jedi teacher, he then nodded to
himself as he considered how he had introduced him to
his students. He had been straight to the point, yet
had put himself on their level, acknowledging their
worries and questions before soothing them.
Well, he smirked slightly, as far as soothing
went, he himself had slightly ruined his attempt, but
at the same time, he had shown them who he was.
What they had to fear and what they could trust.
Ever since that day, he had felt the students'
growing curiosity and even attempts to Force-probe in
his direction. He also knew that one of them would
come to him today.
Of course, he conceded grimly, the one he really
wanted to talk to was Kyp, but it was too early, way
too early. Right now, the boy was drinking Kun's
words as if they were water; his distrust towards
Siths was equally growing as did his strength and
The change in the Force was noticeable even though
the child had only had three lessons with the dead
Dark Lord of the Sith.
A vision of the future suddenly came to him, cold
and strong like a snow storm on Hoth.
This boy could be his death, he understood with
absolute certainty, then saw that this future was
already in motion.
"A vision?" he heard the mocking voice
of Exar Kun behind him. "Did you see your death
by my apprentice's hands?"
"Yes," the Sith Lord answered, not
moving from his meditative position. "You had
the same vision, I presume."
"Indeed. What a joyful sight! And what an
offer it will be to my master Asharel," he
"Do you think that you can change your
"'Always in motion the future is'," he
quoted, smiling. "Or so Jedi Master Yoda liked
"And you believe this Jedi?"
"In this matter I do," he nodded,
"Then we'll see. Try to change your destiny
as you like, Vader," the other sneered at him,
"but my apprentice will be the sword that even
you will not be able to parry."
"When the time comes, we shall see," he
Exar Kun laughed meanly and left.
Vader sighed, and resumed his meditation. The
vision was disturbing, but not much. It was only one
of the possible futures. The other one had shown him
Kun's final destruction, and another, the death of
It wasn't the first time he had such visions; he
had had one on Bespin just before he had dueled with
his son. If this vision had come true, he thought
seriously, he would be dead already. What had
probably kept this vision from realizing had been the
Emperor's error with his Force-manipulation, then his
resulting mental illness.
Considering that it hadn't happened though, he
decided to not think about it anymore.
If his actions, or the actions of others, could
prevent the new foreseen outcome, then it would be a
If not, so would it be.
In the meantime though, he had to keep Kun from
creating too much havoc in the Jedi school... and he
had to find a way to locate his son despite the
obvious presence of ysalamiri around him.
He would have to try the Dream Walk again, he
reflected. Now that Kun was so sure of his victory,
he wouldn't try to dispose of his adversary in a
moment of weakness, especially since he needed
Vader's presence to control Kyp.
The Dream Walk would be risky, but not that
much... at least as far as his own physical safety
An hour later he was still sitting on the same
fallen log when he felt the presence of his foreseen
The apprentice's mind was like a clear sky filled
with both cold air and golden light.
The old man approached him calmly, without
greetings, then sat down on the fallen trunk and
assumed the meditation posture.
Vader smiled and reached for the contact,
carefully, not willing to harm the old hermit--- and
found himself on the shore of a forest river.
Gold green light filtered through the leaves that
danced around him while the water was
whispering something soothing to the rocks. A massive
trunk of a once mighty tree laid nearby, it's
branches drinking in the river.
A young man was sitting on the fallen tree; he was
slender, thin, with large blue eyes and auburn hair.
He greeted him with a smile.
Vader nodded and sat near him. "Most
impressive," he said honestly. "I feared
that this had become a forgotten art."
Streen beamed. "I can't do much else, but I
found this technique rather easy and very useful,
especially for the mind talk. I don't need to open my
shields this way."
"But you can assume any form you want, my
Lord. You don't need to keep this mask on."
Vader wanted to rebuke him rather harshly for his
daring scolding, then stopped himself. Streen wasn't
asking him to adopt the form that would be his were
he not injured, the face of phantom-like Anakin
He had said 'any form'.
While his mask really was his face, as his son had
come to understand at last, he couldn't help but
think about what 'human' appearance would be adequate
for him. What appearance could he perceive as his own
after spending so many years with his 'mask'?
Eventually, he took his perception of himself and
projected it outside, using it to model the vision
that he would present to Streen: jet-black hair, cold
steel- gray eyes, pale face with harsh features - not
ugly but definitely not beautiful, the cruel face of
a bird of prey. He completed the looks with black
robes, in the Sith fashion of some thousand years
ago; a silver Sathed sign of the Circle was embroided
on them . "Is that better?" he asked the
slightly surprised Streen.
"It's... yes, I think it's better," the
hermit smiled shyly. "It will take a while to
get used to it though."
"So," the Sith Lord said, inhaling in
the clear forest air. "What do you want to talk
about?" He once again joined his companion on
"I read the Prophecy about the Chosen
One," the other admitted without any hesitation.
"I suppose that you 'are' the Chosen
"Yes," confirmed Vader briefly.
"You were created by the Dark Side to destroy
the Jedi Order and bring the balance to the
"To bring balance, Streen," corrected
the Sith. "The destruction of the Jedi Order
wasn't included in the prophecy. What is your
"How important is it to you?" hermit
inquired bravely. "How far would you go to
fulfill this prophecy, this role?"
Vader raised an amused eyebrow at him. "Are
you afraid for your fellow trainees?" he asked
pointedly, aware that the other could be worried that
he had come to Yavin 4 to fulfill the Prophecy once
"No," Streen shook his head. "I'm
afraid for Luke."
That 'did' surprise the self-confident dark Lord.
"I won't touch him," he reassured the other
seriously, almost warmly.
Streen shook his head. "It's not that. I
don't doubt your care for your son, my Lord.
However, I have no doubts about the possible cruelty
of your future decision. The boy tries very hard to
love you, my Lord," the older man continued
earnestly. "While he will understand your
decision were you to kill some of us, the very
foundation of his love will be shattered."
Vader couldn't reply to this; the old hermit had
an excellent grasp of the situation.
"I care a lot about Luke, my Lord,"
Streen continued seriously. "And, no matter what
I think about his feelings for you, I'm afraid that
some of his Light will go away were his love for you,
and the others, be destroyed like this."
"Are you asking me to refuse my
destiny?" Vader inquired sharply.
"On behalf of your son, my Lord. Yes, I
"On behalf on some delusions that my son
still harbors on my account," hissed the Dark
Lord, slowly losing his iron grip on his temper.
Streen sighed. "Your son is wise, my
"And naive," retorted Vader in
near-disdain. He could 'not' refuse his Destiny. It
shaped him, defined everything he was. He could not--
"And he loves you deeply," the other
"Perhaps." the Sith Lord replied dryly,
suddenly rising from the tree. "I'm hardly an
expert in the matter. I won't harm him, Streen.
That's all I have to offer."
Streen raised too, and bowed. "I'm sorry for
interfering, my Lord."
"Don't do it again." Vader warned and
vanished from the illusory world.
In the real world Streen slowly stood and left, as
unacknowledged as when he had arrived.