Chapter 8: Vader's Guests
They approached the other cells. Vader keyed
the left-most door open then turned back toward his
son. "I think that you should take care to
wake them up," he commented seriously.
"I doubt that Solo will be happy to see
"Okay," Luke nodded in agreement as he
took a food bar from his father's offered hand, then
walked away from his side and into the opened cell.
Silently, he went down the short steps that were
so typical to imperial cells. As he set his
foot down on the last one, he dimly wondered which
purpose they served other than tripping their
prisoners on the way in or out, then surmised that it
was probably their sole utility. He turned
around and closed the door that was behind him to
prevent his father from hearing what he and Han would
say before joining him outside. Next, he walked
up to Han's side, then finally pushed a slight jolt
of adrenaline into his friend's system.
"Han, it's Luke, can you hear me?"
Solo groaned. "Hmm, what's wrong,
"Nothing's wrong," he smiled in slight
amusement. "Only that nap time is
Solo grumbled something and turned on his side,
obviously settling in to sleep for a while
longer. "Go away, Luke...," he barely
mumbled. "Get some more sleep."
For a very brief moment, Luke could only gape at
his friend in confusion. Sleep? How could Han
think...? Then he understood. His father
had put Han to sleep while he had knocked 'him'
Suddenly aware that his father was deliberately
walking on eggshells around Han, he shook his head in
amusement. His father, although a cold
Dark Lord of the Sith, didn't want to anger the
smuggler because of his relationship with his
children, and yet, Luke smirked to himself, Vader
didn't feel 'that' well-disposed toward Han either
also 'because' of that same relationship with them.
Sooner or later, he promised himself, his father
and Han would have to have a serious talk to get to
know each other better. He refocused on his
sleeping friend. "Han, come on, wake
up. You want to see Leia, don't you?" he
offered the slumbering man.
That did rouse the pilot. "Leia?"
he asked, leaning up on his elbow while rubbing sleep
from his eyes. "Where is---" His
friend's eyes suddenly bulged as he took stock of
their whereabouts. "Hey, what's going
on?" he asked, completely awake now even as he
sat bolt upright on his pallet.
"We're in Vader's palace, remember?"
Luke supplied soothingly. "Leia's been
brought to his personal medcenter and we can now see
her whenever we're ready."
"What about us?" Solo asked, standing to
his feet, now completely awake.
Luke answered him by offering him the food bar;
the moment that the pilot identified what he was
given, he tore it open and ate it twice as fast as
"We're free from our cells," the young
Jedi informed him while he waited for him to finish
his meal. "At the moment, Vader's waiting
for you and Chewie to come out before showing us
where we'll live while we'll be here."
"What has he done to us after the
landing?" Solo asked angrily as he crumpled the
already empty package and threw it in a corner of his
Luke gave him a wry smile. "He put us
to sleep," he half-lied, aware that Han wouldn't
react well to the news that his father had knocked
'him' unconscious again. "Shall we?"
he asked his friend, inviting him to exit the cell.
Solo didn't follow him; instead, he took a strong
hold of his right biceps and stood almost
nose-to-nose with him. "Wait a minute,
Kid," he interrupted him seriously.
"What's the real deal here?" he inquired
next, his voice dropping from grim to distrustful.
"What do you mean, what's the deal?" the
youth frowned sincerely. "It's like we
"All of a sudden, you seem real chummy with
Vader," Han pointed out dangerously, not letting
him go. "I think that you know more than
you're telling me," he then informed him
grimly. "What is he up to?"
Aware that he couldn't try to sweet talk his
friend when he was like this, Luke relaxed to quiet
his friend's suspicions. He knew that he had to
convince him this time or else Leia's safety would be
"Han," he began earnestly, "I give
you my word that Vader isn't fomenting any dark
plan," he continued as soothingly as he
could. "He is the only one who is able to
heal Leia, and since he knows that we want to be with
her. He keeps us with her but under his
protection for her safety. That's all there is
to his plan. This, and Mon Mothma.
But as far as we are concerned, we are his guests,
nothing more, nothing less," he finished coolly.
"And what about his desire to turn you?
Do I have to remind you that---" Han pointed
out--- but Luke interrupted him with a sharp movement
of his head even as he locked his gaze with his
"No, you don't," he answered more coldly
as he was once again assailed by the memories of his
own torments at his father's hands, "and
no," he continued as he pushed them back in the
back of his mind, "he doesn't want this
anymore. The Emperor was pushing him to do
these things," he reminded himself as he shared
this information with Han. "Unlike the
despot," he continued grimly, "Vader
doesn't feel threatened by the existence of a
Jedi. He doesn't have any design on me."
Han's gaze remained locked with his for a good
five seconds, as if seriously pondering how far he
could trust 'him', then he finally let go of his
arm. However, he still pursed his lips in
obvious, if unhappy, comprehension. "All
right, it sounds true and good...Too good in
fact," he muttered lowly. "I'm not as
convinced as you are, Luke."
"Figures," Luke shrugged mock-seriously
to relieve the tension that was barely laying in wait
"Right... Jedi stuff, huh?" Han asked in
a lighter tone.
"Without any doubts," he smiled more
"Well I will still keep my eyes wide open for
any treachery," his friend warned him, pointing
his index at him as if to add weight to his
"So will I," he assured him, not showing
any sign that he was worried about Han's warning
regarding Vader. True, he conceded, he himself
'would' keep his eyes open, but he would also trust
his father. He only hoped that he wasn't being
too naive once again... and that Han, for his part of
their good behavior, would talk to him first if he
ever considered that something strange was going on.
Or, he amended, at least stranger than three
rebels finding refuge in the private palace of Darth
Vader, their arch nemesis.
"Now how about waking up Chewie?" he
suggested to put an end to their actual conversation.
"Okay," the other nodded and keyed the
Waking Chewbacca up was Solo's job; while his
friend tried to avoid being hit by his barely
awakened co-pilot, Luke remained in the corridor with
"Chewie, calm down," the pilot suddenly
billowed as he visibly ducked under the Wookiee's
*I take it that he still doesn't believe your
arguments,* Vader sent to his son as they waited for
the smugglers to join them.
*Why do you say that?* the child asked him almost
"What do you mean: where was I?" Solo
asked again from the inside of the cell.
*I don't need to hear words to recognize signs of
distrust, Son,* he reminded him coolly. *Hadn't
you had to reassure him, you wouldn't have remained
inside the cell for as long as you did,* he pointed
out to him matter-of-factly.
*Well,* Luke uncomfortably shifted on his feet.
*you must understand his reaction.*
*I perfectly understand it,* he rumbled with just
a trace of annoyance at the thought of the smuggler
with his daughter. *but frankly,* he continued,
more level-headed, *his trust in me is the least of
my problems. The most important thing is if he
*Yes, he does, but he is asking himself why I seem
to trust 'you',* the youth explained with just a hint
of irony in his voice.
*How have you explained it?*
*That the Force tells me that it's the right thing
to do. A Jedi thing,* he shrugged naively.
*A good explanation indeed, but do you really
believe in such guidance of the Force?* he asked him
*Of course!* Luke answered without any hesitation.
*You... don't seem to agree,* the boy commented,
his voice less confident than a few seconds before.
*Blind trust in the Force can make you a monster,
Luke.* Vader's words were suddenly slow and
measured. *The Force itself is immoral; it can guide
you but it can't make the decisions in your place. It
can suggest the easiest way to do something, but it's
up to you to choose.*
*But the guidance of the Light can't be...*
*The Light is inside you, not outside,* his father
'Like the darkness' Luke thought to himself.
*It's not the moment to discuss such matters,* the
other commented, having read his thoughts yet again
despite Luke's best efforts to shield his mind.
*Later. Your friends are coming.*
Vader crossed his arms as Solo and the Wookiee
came out of the remaining cell;their distrust was
more than obvious in their wary stances and
looks. *If Solo is to become my son-in-law,
Luke,* he reflexively warned his son, *he will have
to work on his attitude.*
Luke twisted his lips in annoyance. Things
would indeed have to change between the two
men. *Then it's valid for you too, Father,* he
retorted, then prepared himself for the outburst...
that didn't come.
*Perhaps. But only when he'll show his real face.
I can hardly appreciate his current mask,* the Dark
Lord commented half-scornfully.
Luke frowned at his answer. *Mask?
What are you talking about?*
A small smile almost showed through the black,
unchanging face-plate. *Sometimes, you're amusing,
*Later. We'll talk about everything later,*
he told him with finality. *Greet them; it's
time to go.*
Luke sighed, then did as he was told.
"Ready?" he asked his friends.
"Yeah, I want to see Leia," Han said,
his eyes already locked on the dark lord.
Luke also noticed how his hand was twitching
against his hip, as if hitching for a weapon, he
realized before he conceded that it was a good thing
that they were still unarmed.
"Of course, Captain Solo," Vader shortly
bowed his helmeted head, as if in cordial agreement,
Luke realized. "In a few minutes at most,
you will see her. But first, something must be
clear between ourselves." The cooler, much
cooler voice returned instantly. "Unless I
tell you otherwise, you'll be free to go wherever you
wish 'inside' these walls."
"But not outside," Solo sneered.
Vader remained silent and turned around; he led
the way toward the turbolifts that were gathered at
the end of the block. "Surely you
understand the lack of wisdom of such an act, Captain
Solo," he finally commented seriously.
"It would be stupid to go to lengths to make
your coming here look like it was forced, only to
have a spy see you free..."
Luke remained silent, walking beside Chewbacca
while Solo sidled closer to Vader, bunching his fists
"Oh really," Han sneered, "and once
we'll be free to go, that is if we ever are---"
"You will be, Solo, your Jedi friend knows
that you will."
Solo turned toward Luke, who nodded quietly.
The lift opened. They all filed in, then it
"So, if it is unwise to go out now, how will
it be any different once we leave?" Han cleverly
observed. "How do you think that you'll
make it safer then?"
The tension in the enclosed room became
practically palpable. Han's tone grew more
dangerous; Luke kept a wary eye on his friend, ready
to keep him from making any physical attack if need
"I don't know yet, Solo, but I can assure you
of one thing, all of you" he added, gazing at
the two other occupants of the lift. "Mon
Mothma's little war is about to end."
Luke, who had been closely monitoring both Solo
and his father, heard Vader's subsequent thought:
'And so will Jade's.'
Jade? he wondered. Who was that Jade person
to summon such dislike from his father?
He filed the name away for a later
conversation. His father threw him a look; he
raised an eyebrow in answer, then shrugged. His
father didn't have to worry about his eavesdropping;
he couldn't make any sense out of it anyway.
The lift stopped. Vader was the first
through. He walked quickly. "Your
quarters will be on the same level than the
medcenter," he informed them,
ever-so-coolly. I thought that you'd
appreciate being close to your friend."
"How attentive," Solo sneered.
Luke, who was now beside Han, elbowed him in the
ribs and threw him a warning look. "Give
him a break, will you," he muttered.
Surprised by this request, Han briefly gaped at
him, then frowned before he finally shrugged and
refocused on the dark lord. Behind them, Chewie
smelled the air, as if to detect any sign of danger.
*Thank you, Son,* his father then told him rather
dryly through the Force, *but I don't need your help
to defend myself.* He stopped in front of a
nondescript, wooden door. "These will be
your quarters. They are the best suite in the
castle and will more than accommodate your
He invited them to take a look inside. Luke
accepted the implicit invitation and stepped
inside. Chewie followed him. As he looked
around himself, the youth admitted to himself that it
was strange how he could easily trust his father
despite what he had put him through in the past.
In fact, he then conceded, he now felt
quite safe in his presence and even
wanted to know more about him... All of a
sudden, the Dark Lord had become quite an unexpected
He refocused on his surroundings. The living
room was well furnished while warmed by colorful
tones of rich reds and purples. The coloring
was slightly darker than Lukes liking, but he
noticed that it gave the room a very elegant look.
It was also quite roomy, he added as he noticed
the smile on Chewie's face. "That'll be
perfect," he reassured their host, reflecting
that he almost had to pinch himself to believe that
he had said what he had just said.
He discreetly shook his head in wry amusement,
then turned back toward the door. Han was still
standing there, his eyes boring into the Dark
"Enough dawdling, Vader. Where's
Leia? I want to see her now!" he demanded
"She's at the end of the corridor,
Solo," Vader replied, unconcerned. He indicated
a certain door. "My personal medics are
preparing her. You may see her as much as you
wish, but only from the observation room."
He had barely finished his sentence that Han was
already striding toward the indicated door.
Chewie was not long to follow him.
Luke, for his part, remained behind. He
leaned against the door frame as he watched his
friends practically run toward the medcenter.
"Well, he at least didn't jump you," he
"If he does, he will be the only one to blame
for the consequences," Vader returned
Luke shook his head and made sure that they were
alone before answering the other.
"Father, he began seriously,
nourishing thoughts such as these isn't going
to help you forge a healthy relationship with
"Ah, my wise son," Vader snickered.
"thank you for giving me a so appreciated advice
on human relationships."
Luke threw an annoyed look at him.
"What I meant was---"
"That I must not decide what he is before
knowing him better, the other interrupted him,
then nodded his helmeted head. I agree,
but I can't know him better if he continues to wear
Luke openly frowned at this. "What mask
are you talking about?" He was downright
lost when his father was talking in riddles.
"You must know it, Son," the older man
slightly sneered. "The I'm-a-hot-headed
"But he is the best!" Luke
defended. "He's not pretending to be
"Really?" his father inquired very
seriously, leaning closer to him in a fashion that
brought back Lukes memories of far-less amiable
circumstances with his father.
"Well," he hesitated even as he
reflexively stepped away from the imposing dark-clad
man. Not really, he admitted,
suddenly worried about what his father would do if he
had the feeling that he was lying to him. He is
not only that..." he finally
conceded as he remembered events that had allowed
both him and Leia to discovered Solos true,
A silence followed, then his father, who
hadnt moved closer to him during their quiet
face-off, turned toward the end of the
corridor. "Perhaps you could help me to
know him better, Son," he offered, all trace of
danger gone from both his stance and voice, which
had, he belatedly noticed, never carried any threat
at all toward him.
"I'd like to, he nodded while he walked
out of the entrance of their assigned quarters.
What do you want to know?"
"How did you meet him?" his father asked
him, inviting him to walk with him.
"It was a few years ago..." Luke began
wistfully. "I was eighteen at the
And, years later, he could still remember those
heady days; his first experiences in the real world,
and the Force, and Ben... He suddenly made a not to
avoid that name with his father.
"We were looking for a transport to
Alderaan, he explained simply, deliberately
omitting the details of who we was.
Han was there, and available."
"So you didn't know him before the Death
Star?" his father inquired as if in great
"No, Luke shook his head in
answer. It was our first adventure
together, and an unplanned one I might add," he
"Most adventures are," his father
Luke blushed upon realizing how foolish he had
sounded right about now. Indeed, considering
all the experiences of adventures that he had to his
credit, he should have known better. "Uh,
yeah... anyway, he was in it for the money, nothing
more. I got him into rescuing Leia, whom I
didn't know then, and... you know the rest," he
His father remained silent throughout the
following steps. "Interesting," he
finally commented. "Do you know that you
were reported as a team who had prepared well for
"Yes... It obviously wasn't the case.
Psychological chemistry perhaps?"
"Psychological what?" Luke frowned,
stumped once again by his father's level of
vocabulary and culture. He himself had been to
school, sure, but he had never heard about this kind
His father fortunately seemed to understand
that. "Some physical factors always affect
the way two people react to one another on the
psychological plan. I guess you two have what
is called bent atoms."
"You mean the three of us," he
corrected. "Leia's been a part of this too
ever since the Death Star."
"Yes, of course," his father
nodded agreeably before he fell silent.
Luke felt a somber mood invade his mind.
"What?" he inquired.
He was surprised to feel his father brace himself
before he answered him.
"Can you help me to convince her to accept my
help?" he inquired somberly. "If she
doesn't ... I will not be able to heal her and the
treatment will be much longer... and less
Luke gazed blankly at his father--- until he
realized that he had been staring. He shook
himself to regain his composure. "Of
course, Father, he reassured him earnestly, all
traces of his own fear gone now,
but how exactly can I do
that?" he inquired.
"Make her see your love, he told him
seriously. Make her believe that she is loved and
cared about despite the fact that she shares my
blood. She hates me primarily because she
thinks that because of my being her father, all her
life, and anyone's love, are lost to her. Thus,
it makes her hate me even more. Make her see
that the blood relations are not important."
Luke was shocked. "They are not?"
he gaped. "I mean, you really think that
it's not important at all?" he asked in
"For the definition of one self, it certainly
isn't," his father answered wisely.
"She is no less Leia Organa because she's my
daughter. For the moment, she thinks that being
my daughter negates her identity as Leia Organa. She
is wrong but this kind of thought is very dangerous
for her mental stability."
"Will you help me?"
"You can count on me," Luke assured him,
his devotion to his sister utterly wiping away
whatever misgiving he had begun to have once again in
regards to his father. "How long will you
need my help?"
"For as long as she won't wake up. When
she will recover her consciousness, the treatment
will be in its final phase, hence, less of an
emergency, the Dark Lord informed him.
We'll then be able to give her time to
consciously accept my help."
"Okay. What about Han? When will
we tell him about the truth?" he asked him.
They were now approaching the medcenter room.
*You know him better than I do, Son. I will
let you judge of this,* his father stated.
*However, it must be done before Leia wakes up. When
that time comes, he must have accepted her legacy or
not be here at all.*
Luke agreed with him.
They entered the observation room. Han was
standing at the window, unmoving. Behind the
glass, the medics were gently manipulating Leia's
"What are they doing to her?" the pilot
asked angrily, suddenly whirling toward them.
Luke hurried to put some more distance between his
father and himself, thus shortening the distance
between Han and himself.
"They're preparing her for her next
treatments, Vader answered coolly.
The precise order of procedures will be set
this evening. As soon as it will be
established, you will receive a copy of
it. However, I can tell you that her spine
injuries will be treated first."
"And her face?" Han inquired worriedly.
"At the end only. Do not fear, Captain
Solo, the Dark Lord tried to reassure the
worried smuggler, Princess Leia will be
As he studied the unfolding scene, Darth Vader
smiled slightly behind his mask. So many
variables were detectable in the room: Luke's
protective feelings, Solo's very obvious anger and
distrust, and the Wookiee's deadly readiness to act
Yet, underneath it all, he reflected in dim awe,
those three men were bounded together by their love
for the young woman who was on the other side of the
The last time that he had seen so much willing and
boundless devotion to someone was when he himself had
fought for his then future wife...
"Han, she will be fine, his son
entreated in the silence. She will suffer
even less while in his care than in any regular
As he watched his Jedi son comfort his friend, he
conceded that it still intrigued him how Luke, whom
he had hurt and wounded more times than he could
count, found in his heart to trust him not only with
his own life but with his sister's life as
well. He had, of course, noticed his slight
reaction to his looming closer to him while they had
talked about Solos mask. Even then,
however, it had been short-lived and quickly
controlled once again until it didnt show
By all means, he conceded that his son shouldn't
have trusted him even this far, especially since the
past was obviously not in the past in the
youths heart... And yet, he had.
He himself had to admit that he was glad that he
Never in his life, especially since he had found
out about his children, had he thought that he would
someday have a normal, family oriented discussion
with them. He had also never thought that he
would someday ask questions to his son in the context
of a normal, free discussion... not a forced one, and
certainly not a non-aggressive one.
However, what was even more surprising for him was
to become aware that he 'wanted' to have time to
speak with his son again, as Father and Son, nothing
He refocused on the ongoing dialogue.
"Han, we can't go in there," Luke was
trying to reason with his friend. "She's
fragile to any kind of infection right now; we can't
take any risk."
"Then find another way. I want to talk
The young Jedi shook his head. He was beside
Solo now; the pilot had visibly calmed down
since they had entered the room.
"She is unconscious and will remain so while
it is necessary" Vader answered the
other. "Besides, even if it were not the
case, she could not speak with you now."
"It would be impossible with her facial
injuries," Vader explained coolly yet without
any details. He was aware that the other knew
how far her injuries went.
Hence, the pilot's reaction didn't surprise him.
Solo was shocked. And outraged. And...
And after a second of dumbness, he simply sat
down. "I just want to see her," he
explained softly. "I just want to sit by her and
hear her breath. Nothing more."
The mask was down, Vader realized. It
wouldn't last for much longer than a moment of pain,
but it was at least down. Beneath it was
the face of a very worried man.
"Tomorrow, you and Skywalker will be allowed
to go inside, in medical outfits," he reassured
his daughter's chosen lover.
"Why not now?" Han asked, putting his
'mask' back on.
"Because, Captain Solo, she will be better
installed and stabilized tomorrow. Do not press
matters. In this case, the haste will lead to
nothing but disaster."
"So, you're asking me to wait," Solo
summarized, his eyes grim once again.
"No. You have 'no other option' but to wait.
Here, or in your room, or at her bed," Vader
reminded him. "You cannot do anything to
help her now-- accept it. Your childish displays of
anger will lead to nothing, and certainly make no
impression on me."
Solo seemed to consider it. "Don't tell
me what to do, Vader," he finally spat
angrily. "You're not the master of my
"Oh but I am, he stated calmly.
Since you have ... accepted my proposition,
you've lost all control of your life for as long as
you will be here," he reminded him coldly.
"Accept it. And quit these childish
manners. You're far too old for them," he
finished dryly, his gaze pinned on the smuggler's
glare. "And now, if you excuse me, other matters
are requiring my attention."
The Dark Lord turned and left the room.
Behind him, the rebels remained mute for a long,
Chapter 9: Darth Vader
Later that evening, after an excellent dinner had
been served in Luke and his friends' suite, Luke paid
a visit to the medcenter, then decided to explore the
castle and find his father.
Trying to justify his actions to himself, he
admitted that, first and foremost, he wanted to know
the decisions of the medical meeting and second,
well, he shrugged, he wanted to see the library that
he'd talked about. Hence, there wasn't any harm of
any kind in regards to either of his reasons.
As he walked down the long, deserted corridors, he
reflected that the castle was really huge, and rather
strange. The architecture itself was normal, although
he hadn't expected to find five inner gardens, which
were linked by a small river and waterfall, in what
looked like the Dark Lord's dungeons, but there was
something definitely strange about the castle itself.
Then, he understood what was puzzling him. To him,
the place looked more like a museum than a house
where someone, even a Dark Lord of the Sith,
lived. The cold weapon collection, the painting
collection, the three-dimension art; everything was
in as good order as if they were in a real museum.
To his continued surprise, even the living suites
were giving off the impression that they were part of
a museum, partly because of their opulence, but also
partly because of the empty feeling that they had.
Nobody lived in them for long, he slowly
His father's personal part of the castle was a
completely different matter though.
There, gone was the opulence of the
"museum" part. Everything was meant for the
sole purpose of cold functionality.
The only decorations were the paintings on the
walls--- Sathed writing, he belatedly recognized.
With a larger sample than what he had seen in his
father's office, he was beginning to identify it as
some form of calligraphy, but from some unknown
planet and some unknown alphabet.
As he walked onward, he passed training rooms,
working rooms, a wide conference hall. They were all
empty, not only of people... but of 'life' as well.
Luke finally found his father in one of the small
conference rooms. The meeting with the medics was
over; the table was covered with datacards. Vader was
sitting by the window, seemingly reading one of them.
"Come in, Son," he invited him in his
"How did it go?" he asked as he sat by
his father right side. Vader didn't move to
acknowledge his presence in any way, obviously
absorbed in his reading.
"Rather well. We begin the treatment tomorrow
at 7 a.m. I'll need your assistance."
"You'll have it," he assured him once
"What are you reading?"
"The plan for the operation. I'll assist the
medics; you'll help me with Leia's rejection.
But," the Dark Lord raised his head from his
reading and looked at him, "you must not
interfere with the healing itself. Even in the case
of an emergency."
"I won't." Luke reassured him. "I
know that I'm not trained enough."
"It's not a matter of being trained in the
Force," his father countered. "You simply
don't have any medical education."
Luke raised an eyebrow in shock even as his jaw
fell on the table, thanks to his bafflement.
"You mean that you do?" he gaped in
"Yes. Why are you so surprised?" Vader
observed, commenting on the obvious.
"Well..." Luke fumbled, trying hard to
recover his composure, "Not so long ago, the
only thing that I knew about you was that you were a
warrior and Dark Lord of the Sith. That kind of
implies killing men... not..." he hesitated
slightly as he bravely met his father's unwavering
gaze. "Well, not healing them."
His father shook his head upon hearing his answer.
"Luke," he began rationally, "I spent
a quarter of my life in hospitals of all kind. I
can't survive without a constant medical attention
and a life support system. Given these circumstances,
it would be strange to 'not' have medical knowledge,
don't you think?"
"... I see." He flushed. "I'm
really stupid sometimes."
"No. Slow perhaps, but never stupid."
The young man gazed at his father; he could swear
that he was smiling in amusement under that mask of
his. And to think that he was complaining about Han's
'mask'... "Thanks. I guess," he returned
with a wry smirk. "But speaking of the
"You want to see my library."
"Yes, I'd like that very much."
"Very well." Vader laid the document on
the table and stood up. "Come."
The Dark Lord led Luke to the part of the castle
that he hadn't seen during his exploration.
The library was taking up five large halls; each
one of them was filled with books and manuscripts of
all kinds and all languages. Even to Luke's
inexperienced eye, they looked very old.
"This is the old part," his father
explained coolly, as if reading his thought once
again. "You most probably won't need to touch
anything here. Besides, all these books have been
scanned and can be accessed from the terminal, so are
the most recent ones."
"...OK. Father?" he inquired somewhat
hesitatingly as they walked past rows of books.
"Have you read all this?" he asked,
looking around himself at the large quantity of
documents that were gathered in the shelves that were
"Even in other lang..." Luke frowned.
"How many languages do you speak?"
"Eleven. Plus five dead ones."
Luke stopped in his tracks and gaped at him as if
Vader had transformed in something strange.
The Dark Lord stopped his forward progress and
looked at him . "What?"
"I..." the youth hesitated as his eyes
slid from the dark Lord, to the books, and back to
the Dark Lord.
"You didn't expect this from a Dark Lord of
"Well... no, I didn't," Luke admitted
with a shameful blush.
"Strange enough," Vader commented as he
resumed his walking. "I have, after all, told
you that I'm a Sith of the Circle, the symbol of
memory... and knowledge."
Luke followed him. "I... Yes, but... I mean,
your manners... I mean, you are brutal and cold, so
I..." he fumbled inarticulately and feeling
quite foolish for it.
"Luke," Vader sighed, turning around to
face him. "I may be brutal, cruel and cold, but
it doesn't mean that I am uncultivated or
stupid." He resumed his walking once again.
"It certainly doesn't mean that I am only
interested in killing."
"Sorry," Luke apologized contritely as
he once again fell in step beside him. Man, he
could be so foolish sometimes...
"No need to apologize, you didn't offended
me," his father reassured him, then pointed
toward a big computer bank that was coming up in
front of them. "This is the terminal..."
As he skimmed through the directory, Luke
reflected that his father's library was much more
understandable that any other that he had ever seen
After a brief introduction to the storing system,
it was almost impossible to not find the needed
document. It also seemed to be the most complete
library that existed nowadays.
History, philosophy, religion of most
civilizations, sciences, languages, political
"It's huge!" he finally whispered in
"Yes, it is. If you don't find what you
are seeking, you can access Coruscant Main Library.
If you don't find it there, then it does not
"I'm interested in Jedi teachings," he
He sensed his father smile. "As expected. I
think that there are some books for students...
Here." The list of titles came up on the screen.
"By the way, do you have some education other
than highschool level?" his father asked him
"Er.. Well, not really, but..."
"I have the Force," Luke commented,
feeling kind of uncomfortable to admit that he didn't
know much about anything.
Especially now that he knew what a cultivated man
his father was.
"Even a complete idiot can feel the Force,
Son," Vader observed rather coldly.
"The Force can help you to choose a variant, but
you must have variants from which to choose. If you
don't know some language, the Force can't teach it to
you, even if you're a Jedi Master and need it to
survive. Begin with this."
Luke looked at the screen. "First level,
first year... For the beginners?"
"And what do you think you are?" his
father asked mock-seriously.
Luke pursed his lips in acceptance; was he going
to stop making a fool of himself while around his
father? "I suppose you're right... "
"If you have some questions, call me."
"Thank you," he answered as he picked up
the card that slid out of the distributor slot.
Vader nodded to him and left. Luke installed
himself in a chair in the reading room, then began to
The next morning, Luke was back in the observation
Behind the window, his father entered the
operation room and knelt beside Leia.
Meanwhile, Luke, Han and Chewie were watching the
last preparations before the beginning of the
"Where were you last night?" Solo
suddenly asked him.
Luke threw an askance gaze at his friend; there
had been something in his voice... "Why are you
asking me this, Han?"
"I could return the question to you,
Kid," his friend replied unpleasantly.
"Why are you so close to Vader all of a sudden.
Care to explain?" he challenged him.
Luke knew he had no choice to explain, but now was
not the time for Han to learn the truth... not the
whole truth at any rate.
"We made a truce," he finally said,
revealing part of his secret to his friends.
"A truce," Solo repeated,
Luke slowly walked away from his friends and sat
in the chair that was located near the wall. He
wasn't proud of having lied to Han, but he had had no
choice. Besides, most important of all, he
didn't regret it, not when it served Leia so well.
"When I found out about Leia's disappearance and
Mon's betrayal," he began, glumly, "I had
no one to turn to... except him."
Solo choked on his own breath. Even Chewie
expressed his disbelief. "You're even crazier
than I thought," his friend shot disparagingly.
"It's not what you think," Luke defended
Han frowned at that. "Kid, you've been
telling me that ever since we've been brought aboard
his ship. Now spit it out!" he ordered him.
Luke knew that tone of voice. If he didn't tell
him the truth, Han would ignore him and start giving
"All right..." he sighed. "With no
one to turn to, I spent some time analyzing the
situation, and I realized that he hadn't chased me
down since Bespin... I meditated a lot on that fact,
and discovered the truth."
"Which is?" Han prompted.
"The Emperor wanted me, Han; not Vader. And
the Emperor is out of the circuit."
"What do you mean, out of the circuit?"
the other frowned confusedly.
"He's lost in harmless insanity; Vader is the
true ruler now, but nobody knows about this, except
the Force... and Mon Mothma."
"So you actually trusted the Force and
contacted him?" Han inquired in disbelief.
"Yes," he admitted. "He came alone,
we talked, and made a truce."
"You realize, of course, that this could've
been your end."
"I knew that the Force wouldn't lead me into
a trap," he replied seriously.
Chewie seemed to agree with him, for once.
"All right, so let me get this
straight," Solo said as he began to pace in the
small room. "You have been working with Vader
ever since you resigned your commission, which means
that you faked your duel at the Massacres' base, as
well as our capture outside their headquarters."
He reluctantly nodded, then apologized: "I'm
sorry, Han... I couldn't tell you."
"You're damn right that you couldn't tell me,
Kid" the other nodded energetically. "For
one thing, I would have knocked some sense in that
head of yours."
"And Leia wouldn't be safe," Luke
retorted, feeling some of his temper slip from his
"We would've found another way..." his
friend argued with him. "Just tell me something;
why did he take it so hard on me at the
Luke tried his best to restrain his amused smirk.
He, of course, couldn't tell his friend that his
father didn't approve of his relationship with his
sister... He tried to imagine another reason.
In the end, it was easy to do so.
"Between the two of us, he knew that I would
go along; you were the wild card. He had to
control you, but he couldn't leave you behind
"Now is different and you know it," Luke
reminded him. "He hasn't even threatened you
once, even though you have yourself. How about giving
him a break, Han?" he offered.
Chewie's expression matched Han's.
"I mean as long as he doesn't try anything,
why not let him be?" he suggested earnestly.
"After all, he is working with us in this
Han's conflicting emotions ran wild on his face:
doubt, love, anger, frustration, worry. His features
were like a mosaic of feelings.
He settled for cooperation. "All right,
but only for as long as he'll behave himself,"
he warned him.
This time Luke openly smiled at the use of his
father's preferred expression.
Solo turned toward the window, only to find it
darkened. "Leia!" he exclaimed--- and
bolted for the door.
His friend caught him as he ran past him.
"Han, don't! It's okay!"
Solo fought against him, easily freeing himself.
Luke hurried to slide forward and stand again in
front of his friend; he grabbed hold of his biceps
and kept him from going out.
"Out of my way, Luke," Han warned him
vehemently, "or you'll be responsible for the
Luke noticed the words yet again, slowly growing
aware of how similar his father and friend were, then
he noticed the close presence of the bulky Wookiee.
"Han, listen to me," he tried again.
"Everything is fine; this was a request of the
medical team. They don't want any disturbance, the
operation is too difficult."
"No!" Solo objected. "He's hurting
He moved to throw Luke's hold off of him; the Jedi
strained against him. "Han, please." Chewie
moved closer. Luke changed tactics. "Chewie,
believe me. She's fine, I can feel it. Remember,
she's my sister. I know how she feels, when she's in
danger. She's not." Meanwhile he continued to
strain against Han, who managed to slip through his
arms and barrel for the close-by door.
Han had barely stepped inside the corridor though
when Chewbacca caught him by the scruff of his shirt
and pulled him back inside.
*Listen to the cub,* he said. *He knows what he's
"Let me go, Chewie!" Han raged
He began to try and set himself free from his
co-pilot. Luke caught one of his flailing arm and
helped Chewie to control him.
"Han, think about it. Why would I lie? What
possible motivation could I have to lie to you?"
he asked earnestly
"'He' is lying to you!" Solo continued
Luke exchanged a look with the Wookiee, who was
holding Han's other arm. The both of them were now
dragging him toward the middle of the room where they
could pin him more easily.
*Chewie, we can't let him disturb the operation!
It's too dangerous!*
Faster than Luke thought possible, Chewbacca
pulled Han down onto the floor and easily pinned his
hands above his head.
Han was furious. "Skywalker, I swear you'll
regret this!" he spat.
He exchanged a look with the Wookiee; Chewie
agreed with his decision. Luke set his hand on Han's
temple and knocked him out with the Force. Their
friend slumped in their hold.
*Now we know that he really loves her,"
"I've never doubted it, Chewie. I can't keep
him that way for the next two months though... You've
known him for longer than I do. What will make him
change his mind?"
*To see for himself that she is fine.*
They were stuck then...
"Let's get him on the bunk. If we can't
figure out a way to do that, we'll have to make sure
that he doesn't barge into the main room or knock on
*I will keep an eye on him. You keep an eye on
For a moment or two, Luke gaped slightly at the
tall creature who had just told him to use the Force
to check on his sister. It was the first time that
Chewie had clearly demonstrated his belief in the
Force. "Thanks," he nodded in agreement,
Leaving Chewie to care for Solo, he himself sat on
the floor, cross-legged, and reached out. He quickly
found the nearby presences of his sister and father.
*What took you so long?* his father inquired.
*Trust problems... It's arranged. For the moment
*For the next operation the isolation will not be
necessary, and after this one is finished he will be
allowed to see her,* his father informed him,
obviously aware of 'who' he was talking about. *That
might help to calm him*
*Are you ready to begin?*
*Good,* the other nodded mentally. *Follow me...*
They found themselves facing a moat of deep dark
water that was surrounding a high, beautiful tower of
*Princess Leia Organa, hear my call,* the dark
Lord sent out.
Her answer came almost instantly. *Go away,
*Let me enter in your fortress, Daughter,* he
beseeched her. *Lower your walls.*
*No, learning the truth about you has hurt me
enough,* she spat vehemently *I will not let you hurt
*I don't mean you any harm, Leia. Let me help you.
Let me guide you back to your former self,* he
pleaded with her.
*No. There's no light,* she retorted vehemently.
*no love, no reason to fight.*
*Leia, please,* he entreated her.
*No, I'll die before I let you in,* she defied
*Leia,* Luke suddenly sent, *hear my call.*
*Luke?* she asked, shifting her focus to the new,
unexpected presence of her brother.
*Yes, it's me. Let him help you, Leia,* he pleaded
with her. *He won't harm you, I promise.*
*How... can you be sure--?* she asked, her voice
suddenly devoid of the strength that she was
pretending to have with their father.
*Look at me, sister. Look in my heart,* he
instructed her. *What do you see?*
*Trust... and care,* she added after a long
*Now look in my heart, Leia,* Vader told her.
*What do you see?*
An even longer silence followed the dark lord's
*Care,* she finally admitted.
*Will you let me help you?* her father asked her.
*Please, Leia...* Luke sent in the silence.
A small candle appeared to the window of the
tower, showing her weary acceptance of the dark
lord's help. A 'door' opened to allow them entrance
in her walls. In common agreement, Luke and
Vader's spirits slowly moved forward to cross the
moat and enter the princess's first wall.
As they continued to move inward, they ran into
more walls. The sturdiest of the lot was Leia's
desire to protect her identity. As the faced it, they
discovered that she thought that if she were to let
the dark lord inside, it would mean that she would
become like him.
Her father didn't force down her wall. Instead, he
tried to reason with her.
*Leia, can you see yourself?* her father asked her
*Yes...* she whispered, having given up any
pretense of strength.
*Do you really see that much difference between
Leia Organa and Leia Skywalker, daughter of Lord
Vader? It doesn't change who you are.*
*You're lying,* she cried in a small voice.
*No, he isn't, Leia,* Luke cut in. *You are still
the wonderful woman I've grown to think of as a
sister even before I knew the truth.*
*And you are still the young woman who has earned
my respect despite the fact that you were with the
enemy, daughter. You are still as courageous, as
kind, as exceptional as before.*
A ponderous silence answered them. She was
*Let me help you, sister,* Luke pleaded.
*Let me bring your light back, daughter,* Vader
The wall that was blocking their progress suddenly
dissolved into thin air.
*Yes,* was Leia's answer.
Their father found her healing center without any
other mishap and initiated her Force healing. Luke
watched from a distance, taking care to soothe his
sister's mind whenever she showed an inkling to fight
Many hours later, they left her mind to
reintegrate their own bodies.
*Oof! We did it!* Luke breathed, wiping
perspiration from his forehead.
*Thank you, Son. Next time will be much easier.*
*That's a relief,* he smiled tiredly.
*Now, I'm sorry, but I have to concentrate again,*
his father told him, switching back to the Force.
Luke understood that the older man was going to
continue the healing, but without him this time.
*Okay. I'll see you in the evening,* he told him,
then slowly recovered his own senses.
The moment that he opened his eyes, Han assailed
him with questions about Leia.
Chapter 10: The Truth
Throughout the following month, the rebels lived
with Vader. While Han didn't leave Leia's observation
room, Luke spent most of his time with books, or with
his father to speak about his books.
Never before had he had so much knowledge laid
before him. To the farmboy that he had always been up
to now, it was intoxicating, overwhelming. It was
like finding a water hole in the desert. The moment
that he had some spare time, he retreated to the
library to select a new book to devour.
Meanwhile, Leia's condition improved slowly at
first, then more quickly when she stopped resisting
her father's help.
In short, almost everything was as fine as it
could be... except for Han.
Luke knew that something was bothering his
suspicious friend --- and that this thing was his
relationship with the dark lord. More and more, the
looks that he gave him seemed to scream: "What
the heck is going on here???"
The young Jedi knew that someday, probably sooner
than later, the looks wouldn't be enough and he would
have to tell the truth to his friend.
He tried to prepare himself for this moment.
He was still surprised when it arrived.
That day, he was sitting in a chair that was by
the observation window, reading. Since Leia's
condition was improving, he himself could concentrate
on the other main 'concern' of his situation: his
Thus, he completely forgot about Han's presence,
but was reminded of it rather rudely.
"Kid!" Solo clipped.
"Umm?" Luke slowly raised his head.
"Are you here?"
"Um.. Yes, Han. What is troubling you?"
Luke wasn't aware of it, but the way that he said
those words was purely like his father's. Han noticed
it; his eyes narrowed in mistrust.
"I have some questions and you're going to
answer them," he stated, leaving no room for
argumentation. "I'm not blind, you know."
"What are you talking about?" the youth
frowned. He was naturally aware of what this was
about but he preferred to let his friend bring up the
subject. Perhaps, he reflected, he would even
drop it once again.
"Perhaps 'you' are blind, Kid," the
older man commented sarcastically.
"Me?" Luke asked, puzzled.
"Okay," Han sighed, raising his hands to
the ceiling in annoyance before he locked his hazel
gaze with his blue one. "I'll go straight to the
point here. What's wrong with you and his
"What do you mean what's wrong?" Luke
"Now, now, Kid," Solo sneered
vehemently. "I'm really not as stupid as you
think I am."
"I've never said---" Luke began
"But you think it, huh? I may not be gifted
with your mumbo-jumbo, but I have eyes. What's going
on, Luke?" his friend asked him seriously.
"What 'really' is going on here?"
Luke eyes went from his friend, who was standing
in front of him, to the Wookiee who was sitting a few
chairs away. He refocused on his friend.
"You'll never give up, will you, Han?"
Luke commented in a slightly playful voice.
"Don't lead me astray, Kid," Solo warned
him grimly. "What's going on in Vader's dark
mind nowadays? Which nut has burst away?"
"Then what's wrong with you,
Skywalker??" Han asked, changing angle in his
Solo lost his patience at this. "Damn it,
Kid," he thundered angrily. "You're acting
as if he is your best friend! You read his books, go
in his personal rooms; you speak with him every time
that you can. Is he messing with your mind or
Luke shook his head as he straightened his
composure. "No, Han, he's not. Really , there's
"Enough," Solo cut in, obviously on the
edge of losing what remained of his temper.
"Enough white lies, Luke. I want the truth;
no persuasions, no manipulations, just the
"The truth," Luke repeated seriously.
He sighed warily. It was too early ; his friend
was not prepared for this. What if Han didn't accept
it?, he wondered uneasily... Perhaps he could invent
something until later on...
No!, he objected with himself. His friend trusted
him to tell him the truth, so the truth it would be.
"OK," he nodded, "the truth." He
took a deep breath. Force be with him.
"He's our father."
Han gaped at him in disbelief.
"Vader. Is . Our. Father," Luke repeated
very seriously, straining every word in his sentence.
"Your father?.." Solo whispered, unable
to spit a smart remark at this.
Chewie, who had been watching the ongoing exchange
with wariness, was also dumbfounded.
Luke sighed in acceptance, then bent his head to
gaze at the floor. He had a pretty good idea how his
friend was feeling at the moment. "I found out
on Bespin, and discovered the truth about Leia a few
months later..." he explained warily. "I
know that it sounds horrible, Han... Believe when I
tell you that this hasn't been easy for me to
"But you've accepted it," Solo pointed
Luke raised his head to meet his gaze once more.
"Of course I've accepted it. He's my
father, Han, and he hasn't hurt me for the past two
"Sure, but he tormented you to no end before
those quiet years," his friend reminded him
Luke shook his head in exasperation and stood up.
"He's changed, Han. You've felt it yourself; he
cares about us. Leia and I are his children and he
doesn't want to hurt us anymore."
"So?" Solo demanded with a barely
"So," Luke stated, planting his fists on
his hips in defiance "we can trust him, at least
this far. Besides, we are presently in one of the
rare places where we're completely safe," he
"Yeah, or totally vulnerable," Solo
"Han---" Luke began warningly.
"Kid, don't ask me to trust him like you do,
okay. He is not my family, and I haven't been craving
for a father like you have."
"I haven't been craving for a father, and
certainly not Vader!" Luke defended himself, his
temper rising out of control now.
Solo grabbed his arm and forced him to meet his
stare. "Oh yeah? Then how do you explain that
you've bonded with him so easily?"
Han dropped Luke's arm to jab his finger on his
chest, right where his heart was. "Your heart is
playing tricks on you, Kid, and Vader will milk it
for all its worth. Oh, he might not hurt you
physically, but you said it yourself: he isn't a good
guy," he reminded him meanly. "He is a
monster and I bet that he knows it as well as I do.
In the end, he will take advantage of you, one way or
another," Han finished very seriously.
Luke was stung by Han's words. "No, you're
wrong," he finally defended as he stepped away
from him, putting some distance between himself and
Chewie was still watching him from his sitting
position. Like usual, he seemed to side with his
"The Force is guiding me," Luke tried to
argue. "not my heart. Father won't do any of
that; I know it."
Solo shook his head in annoyance. "Luke,
listen how you're referring to him already. He isn't
a god, nor a hero; he's a vicious darksider who
merely happens to have participated to your
"Shut up!" Luke spat all of a sudden
before turning away from his friends.
Enough was enough; he didn't want to hear what he
himself had been thinking until up to a few
"Fine," Han shrugged and took a step
backward. "Look at yourself though, Kid.
You've even begun to talk like him."
That simple example cooled down Luke's anger...
Han was right about that. He turned back toward him.
Solo spoke up again, his tone friendlier than a
few minutes before. "I only told you what I
thought, Kid. If you don't want to hear what I have
to say, then it's your choice. You'll deal with the
consequences yourself though."
The two friends looked at each other, then Luke
realized that Han was only trying to protect him.
Well, he didn't need his protection, and certainly
not in this matter. Solo was an orphan, a loner. He
didn't know anything about families, nor Jedi
relatives for that matter.
"There won't be any consequences," he
reassured him and himself yet again. "I know
that you're trying to protect me, but I'm not a
little brother, Han. I can take care of myself, and I
know that I'm safe here; we all are. I understand you
though; I used to feel exactly the same way..."
He expelled a breath in frustration. "You wanted
to know, Han, now you know, and now you too have to
deal with the weight of such knowledge."
"This isn't knowledge..." Solo grumbled.
*More like fate," Chewie commented.
Luke shook his head in annoyance at their
reactions, then forced himself to calm down. Getting
angry wouldn't help him in any way, nor would it help
Han deal with his father when the time would come...
and thinking of which.
"I understand why you don't approve of my
father, Han, but you will have to talk with him as
soon as possible."
Han's eyebrows arched up in surprise. "Why?
I'm not going to--"
"He doesn't approve of you either. He thinks
Leia has made a wrong choice," he
The outburst came, as expected. "She's got
nothing to do with him!"
"Han, I said that he was 'our' father,"
he reminded him seriously. "Not only mine. He's
Leia's father too."
"That doesn't matter. She still has nothing
to do with him," Han argued vehemently.
"Blood is not important. 'She' has nothing to do
with him; he has no right over her."
Luke was practically gaping at him now.
'Blood is not important,' his father had said.
"He agrees with you," he heard himself
say. "Blood is not important for the definition
of one's self."
"Oh?" Han asked. "Well... good.
It's the first time that I agree with his
"However, he isn't happy about you and
Leia," Luke reminded him.
"Well, it's mutual; you can tell him that
too," Han smirked smugly at this.
Everything was said then, and it was time to deal
with the facts. Despite his unexpected wisdom, Luke
conceded that Han just didn't seem to understand all
the implications of what had been said. Luke decided
that it would be a good time to leave his friends
alone and let them ponder what he had just told them.
He headed for the door.
"Hey! Where are you going?" Han asked
him in genuine surprise.
"I'll leave you alone to sort this all out,
Han," he explained. "I don't think that my
presence here would help you. I'll come back when
you'll be ready to speak about it, or simply when
you'll be ready to see me again."
"I'm... well," the pilot fumbled.
"I don't know if I'll want to talk about it or
not, Kid... That's some revelation... but I'm not
angry at you, just at how you seem to be falling for
a trap," he told him earnestly.
Luke sighed. "I know, Han, I know, but you'll
have to trust me in this matter."
"It looks like I don't have any other
choice," Han agreed.
Luke turned away to leave.
"Say, how will you know when I'll want to
speak to you if you're not here?" the smuggler
"I will feel it," Luke smiled wistfully,
then was gone.
Han and Chewie exchanged a dubious/bemused look.
"Vader's son all right, uh, Chewie?"
Solo finally commented.
*Like yet so unlike his father," the wise
In the library, Luke sat heavily in favorite chair
No, Han was wrong, he tried to reassure himself.
He 'had' to be. He hadn't felt any deceit in his
father, he argued with himself and him, thus he knew
that the other wasn't manipulating him.
He also knew his heart well enough to know when it
was playing tricks on him. Sure, he admitted that he
had always wanted a father, but, he thought in slight
frustration, Han 'didn't' know the horror and utter
defeat that he had felt when he had first heard of
his father's true identity. He didn't know that
he had wanted to die because he had been utterly
ashamed of his true origins...
He didn't know that it had taken him a long, long
while to come to grips with the fact that the dark
lord had indeed played a part in his life, although
an absent one.
Once he had dealt with that fact though, he hadn't
looked for Vader, hadn't sought him for a Father...
And Vader hadn't looked for him... until Leia's
No, he reminded himself, Han didn't know any of
those details which gave him undeniable proof that
right now, he could trust Vader and himself, that he
wasn't drawn to him like a blind orphan, nor that the
other was playing tricks on him.
Instead... it was the Force, he slowly understood
as he analyzed the events of the past months. At
first, he had really thought that he had been left
with no option to help his sister, but more and more,
he could detect subtle stirrings in the Force
whenever his family was growing closer.
His calling on his father's help hadn't been a
coincidence, he finally Accepted, then wanted to tell
his friend. It had been the Force... and that was why
Leia would be completely restored to normal, thanks
again to the Force.
It had taken a desperate situation to bring them
all together, he realized, a situation which would
allow them to 'know' each other, not just fight and
make assumptions, and here they were, brought
together through the will of the Force.
Sure, he conceded, Vader wasn't the exact picture
of what he wanted in a father, but he cared for him
and he respected his choices, as long as he himself
returned the favor toward his father. Anyway, he
shrugged to himself, he couldn't judge Vader yet. He
had barely begun to piece together the puzzle that
was Darth Vader...
And truth be told, he was even almost looking
forward to completing the picture now. Of course, he
knew that his father wanted to do the same thing with
him, but what surprised him most about this was that
he didn't mind.
Not anymore, and as long as things would go as
well as they did now, but if they ever changed, he
decided with finality, he would flee away and accept
that his father was dead.
His dream-father had never been, leaving him with
the very opposite of what he had hoped to find.
Or was it the opposite of his dreams? Perhaps not
completely..., he carefully admitted to himself.
He would see in time.
He let his mind wander along those thoughts for
some more time before his eyes rested on a book that
was resting on a table near him. He picked it up and
began to read some more about the old Jedi Order.
Three hours later, he was still in the library.
*Luke,* his father called in his mind--- but from
right beside him.
*Huh?* he looked up and stared blankly at the
black figure, unable to understand how he could be
beside him when he was with Leia at the moment.
After a moment though, his mind seemed to
synchronize with the present and he was able to
reassert himself in his actual situation. Time had
passed and his father had left Leia's side to rejoin
him in the library.
"Sorry, I was a little lost in the
book," he admitted with a blush of foolishness.
"So I saw," Vader commented as he sat
down near his son. "You're disturbed. What is
it?" he asked pointedly.
"I've told Han everything," he admitted
truthfully in a small voice. "It wasn't
"I see. How did he take it?" his father
asked, a note of gentleness tainting his normally
"Well... He's in shock, even if he's refusing
to admit that fact. But he's accepted the truth
"Good," Vader nodded before turning
somber once again. "Luke, I must talk about
something with you."
"Yes?" the young Jedi asked, his sad
mood turning to worry in the space of a few
heartbeats. There was something in his father's
"I want to wake up Leia," his father
"What?!" Luke gaped. "But she's not
completely healed! It would be too pain---"
"She is almost healed," Vader countered
reassuringly. "Her scars look more painful than
they truly are and her body can function without the
help of the monitors," the dark lord explained
seriously. "Only the esthetic of her face is
left now. Besides, she might even wake up on her own
now: she's perfectly stable."
"But she'll be in pain!" Luke reminded
him with animosity, unable to bear the thought of his
sister in more pain.
"Yes, and that's why I want to do it,"
the dark lord nodded coldly.
Luke's mind seemed to make a one-hundred-eighty
degree turn upon hearing those words. His mouth went
dry. "W-What-- why?" he finally managed to
ask in uncertainty.
"Don't worry, son. I shall not do it without
your consent. Just let me explain."
"Yes, please do," Luke nodded, unable to
hide his distraught state anymore.
"How did she feel to you when you last helped
"Well...," Luke thought seriously,
"passive. Accepting. Calm. Why?" he frowned
"She's allowing herself to die," his
father stated somberly. "She doesn't see any
necessity to struggle."
Luke eyes bulged in surprise this time.
"What? but that's ridiculous, Father! Leia
would never do this. She's a fighter. Besides, you
just said that she was in good condition! She can't
die!" he stated, as much to deny his father's
opinion as to reassure himself.
No, he pleaded the Force, he couldn't loose his
sister... not now that he had found her.
"She can," the wise Dark Lord told
him. "She is physically well, but she's
"And this is why you want to wake her
up?" Luke summarized for him.
"Yes. The necessity to heal will wake up her
personality. She's a warrior, Son, you said so
yourself. Her need to overcome both her physical and
mental pain will make her stronger."
"What mental pain?" Luke asked him,
getting worried once again.
"Her subconscious knows the truth about
us," the dark lord paused briefly, "but her
consciousness does not... yet. When she will wake up,
she will become aware of the truth about our
"Oh no..." he breathed in horror. Not
again... "I-I thought that she was done with
So not only would Leia have to deal with her
physical pains, he summarized, but she would have to
process her dark secret as well... It was Bespin all
over again, he sighed forlornly. It was the very
thing that he had tried to protect her from.
"She is not you nor me, Father," Luke
told him, hoping against hope that his father would
understand that Leia wasn't always strong.
"Fortunately. But, she is much more like me
that you are allowing yourself to see," his
father slightly rebuked him. "Luke, I know what
I'm talking about. It will help her."
Up to now, Luke reminded himself, his father's
advice had always been sound... Perhaps he should
also trust him in this matter, he thought
"Perhaps..." he agreed, gazing down at
his hands, then something occurred to him and he
raised his head to meet his father's gaze once again.
"Are you asking me to decide?" he asked him
in slight disbelief.
"Yes. Take your time," he counseled him
as he stood up. "When you will have made your
decision, you know where find me."
"Father!" Luke said, taking hold of his
father's forearm to keep him from leaving already.
"If..." he began hesitantly, suddenly
aware of what he had just done, namely deliberately
keeping the Dark Lord from leaving him... "If I
say no," he tried again, "will you respect
my decision? Will you let her wake up 'all by
An electronically-altered laugh. "You know me
well, Luke, but you can trust me. I will respect your
decision, don't worry. Now think well, consult the
Force if you 'really' need to," he finished in
The Dark Lord then left him alone to his
Chapter 11: Awakening
Luke took his time to consider the weighty
If he only thought about his sister's needs, then
he didn't want to wake her up to a kaleidoscope of
On the other hand, if he only thought about
himself, he couldn't wait to have her back with him,
in the world of the living and the way she used to
be. Even though he regularly contacted her soul to
help her healing, it wasn't like when she was awake.
Her warmth, her very essence wasn't there anymore;
only her thoughts were there, and they were cold and
emotionless except for her hatred that was directed
at their father.
If only to break this awful stillness that was
isolating her from him, he admitted shamefully, he
wanted to wake her up. However, if he thought
along those lines, then whatever happened next would
also be worth it, for her, him, but also for Han and
And what if he thought about those two men? he
wondered next. If he did, then he realized that he
would also wake her up, but for different reasons.
The two of them loved her in a different fashion
than he did. Both men were so protective of his
sister that if he didn't know better, he would think
that they were vying against each other for her
It was ridiculous of course, and even if it were
the case, he conceded to himself, nothing could rival
with Han's selflessness when it came to Leia...
although their father seemed to be able of boundless
love in some cases... like he had been with their
At this, Luke forced himself to remain on his
track of thoughts: his sister.
One thing was sure, he surmised for himself: both
men loved her and wanted her back with them.
Han had long since stopped pretending to be aloof
when Vader was around. He now openly showed his worry
and desire to help his lover. He wanted to do
something for her because he couldn't 'bear' anymore
to be helpless in face of his lover's torment. Of
course, he still had a tendency to take it out on the
dark lord, but he at least didn't have an urge to
pound on him anymore.
Luke smiled slightly as he remembered a few scenes
of the past month; yes, he nodded to himself, Han had
And his father... his father... Vader had also
dropped part of his mask, he had to admit.
Well, as much as he could anyway. After all, his
real mask wasn't helping him to look like anything
else but the dangerous dark lord who had caused them
all much torment... but, he cared about his daughter,
if in a cool fashion.
Naturally, Luke conceded that he wouldn't be the
type to hug and kiss his children if he had the
chance, but he would definitely lend them all the
support that he could find, as well as protect them
from any harm.
Vader didn't love, Luke summarized to himself, but
his boundless care compensated.
Now, if only Leia knew what he had already done
for her, he then thought earnestly. Ever since the
medics had begun to rebuild her face and body, the
dark lord had tripled-checked every procedure to
prevent any side-effect or oversight ; he had also
always been at her side during the procedures, much
like a watch dog that was ready to defend his master
at the slightest sign of danger.
Unlike a dog though, their father wasn't
restraining himself to her physical safety only; he
was also keeping an eye on her soul, baring his own
soul to hers whenever dark hatred seemed to resurface
in her senses.
At first, it had happened very frequently, but it
was less so now.
Because..., Luke sadly realized, she was truly
letting herself die.
He closed his eyes in acceptance of the horrible
Never in his life had he ever imagined that his
sister would just give up. No, he tried to deny his
discovery. She was a fighter, a stubborn woman who
embraced life like she embraced her family and
friends: with passion.
She just couldn't possibly let herself die.
Yet, he sighed forlornly, she was... His father
was right, he admitted sadly. Even though her
body was healing well, and even though her scars were
much less disfiguring than they had been, her soul
wasn't healing at all.
For a fleeting moment, he reached out and checked
on his sister; he got no answer whatsoever.
It helped him to put the final touch to his
decision; even without the Force, he now knew what he
had to do.
He stood up and went in search of his father.
It was time to wake his sister from her coma.
Han was in the observation room, as usual.
What was not usual though was his absence of
reaction to Vader's presence. He barely spared a
glance at the Dark Lord when he entered the small
room, then he turned back to watch the medics who
were examining Leia.
Vader silently stood beside him, also watching the
progress of his daughter.
They eventually broke the silence a few minutes
later. Or rather, Han did.
"I still can't understand how she can be your
..." he hesitated. "Your daughter. And
"The more you study her and the more you will
understand," Vader answered coolly.
"I hate to admit it," Han muttered
unhappily, "but you're right.
"She is very much like you," the
smuggler conceded with a sigh.
Much was expressed in that sigh, Vader noted.
Weariness, acceptance, worry.
"You can't imagine how painful it is for me
to know that she is your daughter," the younger
man half-whispered, "But she does have your
explosive temper and will for power..."
"Yes. Fortunately though, she is also
everything that I am not," Vader said warmly.
"What do you mean?"
"She is good, Solo. She is inhabited by a
Light, like her mother was... She will never become
as twisted and cynical as I am," he tried to
reassure the confused smuggler, yet he inwardly
added: 'She will never become a monster like I am.'
"I'll see to it," Han commented lightly.
"I see that your feelings haven't
changed," Vader observed in relief.
Now that Solo knew the truth of Leia's parentage,
he had truly feared that the other would reject her.
Thus, he had tried to prepare himself to deal with a
heart-broken and soul-broken daughter, but it seemed
that he had underestimated the pirate's feelings for
Exactly like Luke had warned him against, he then
admitted to himself.
"In your dreams," Han snorted in answer
to his previous comment. "Your being her father
isn't important; what is important are my feeling for
her... But," he shrugged a little, "let's
just say that I understand her better now."
"Good? Just like that?" he challenged in
disbelief. "Luke said that you're not happy with
the idea of me as your son-in-law?"
"I'm not, but my feelings in this matter are
not important," the dark lord answered simply.
"As long as you behave," he added, as if
in after thought.
"What does that mean?" Han asked,
suddenly irritated anew.
"That I will not tolerate anymore foolish
displays of your well imitated temper," the dark
lord warned, and Han could almost swear that the man
was smirking under that mask of his.
"What you are tal---"
"Exactly like what you're doing now. Stop
hiding behind that mask, Solo. I know that it
isn't the real you," he sternly reminded him.
"Oh..." Han nodded and stopped trying to
pretend being angry. "Well, it's valid for you
too, then. You want to understand me; the same goes
"What do you want to know?" Vader
"Do you love them?" he asked bluntly.
"My children? Yes."
"Enough to not sacrifice them to your goal,
even if they make the difference between victory and
defeat?" Han asked pointedly.
Vader took a moment to reconsider his opinion of
his future son-in-law. Solo was indeed clever, sharp,
as well as more attentive than he had thought. And
unlike Luke, he could see both the evil and the good
in him, which meant that he remained wary about his
Luke, he then reflected thoughtfully, was still
too naive to make that dichotomy by himself. He
himself needed to constantly remind him of his true
self if he didn't want him to 'fall' for him.
"You understand me well, Solo," he admitted
with a slight bow, "but yes, as far as my
children are concerned, I would not sacrifice
"Do you care enough to not harm them?"
Han asked, demanding for precision.
"Your meaning of harm is not mine. In my
terms, I do not harm them."
"I see," Han commented matter-of-factly,
accompanying his retort with a raised eyebrow.
"And what of me and Chewie?"
"You are a matter of great importance to my
daughter. Harming or destroying you would harm
her badly, so I will not touch you either."
"I see... Do you hate me? personally?"
Han inquired although it seemed to be a difficult
question for him.
"No. What for?" Vader frowned in
"Because I used to hate you," Han
"Yeah," the smuggler shrugged. "I
don't think that I do anymore."
"Why?" Vader asked, genuinely puzzled by
this turn of events.
"I don't have any hatred left," Han
shrugged again. "It's all burned away. Besides,
she is your daughter. I would probably not help her
healing if she knew that I hate her father."
Vader added wise to the list of qualities of his
son-in-law. "Do you really love her?" he
inquired much like Solo had done with him the
"Yes," came the instant reply.
"Even more than I love my own life."
And with that, he knew that he had pierced Solo's
mask, as well as ascertained that their children had
indeed well chosen their best friend. Solo was a man
of heart, head, and ideals.
"My compliments for your mask, Solo," he
answered coolly. "Very impressive."
"I used to be like this, a long while
ago," the smuggler tilted his head slightly.
"It seems that people appreciate more the
hot-headed stupid smuggler that I pretend to be than
the cynic bastard that I really am. Leia loves
"And my son cherishes your friendship,"
the dark lord reminded him coolly. "In your
place Solo, I'd give more credit to my children. They
know you better than you think. As do I."
"That your mask is a double protection; a
reflection of your real self as a first level mask,
and a monster's face as a second level. An excellent
trick, but I can't confuse the illusion with the
reality. You are as much a monster as I am an
"I see your point... But... I'm a smuggler,
"And a man with ideals," Vader returned
"Damn you!" Solo suddenly exclaimed in
annoyance at being cornered so efficiently by his
most probable father-in-law.
"I am already, thank you very much."
Solo stared at the Dark Lord, then his hard gaze
softened. "What do you expect of me?" he
asked him pointedly.
The Dark Lord indicated the nearby bay-window.
"Love her. Help her. With Luke's agreement, I'll
wake her up tomorrow. She might need your
"What??? You will harm her again!?" he
suddenly exclaimed in disbelief. "Why? I
"To insure her survival, Solo. Mentally
speaking, she's dying right now."
Much like Luke had done in the library, Solo
calmed down and took a long moment to consider his
words, then finally nodded in agreement. "I'll
help her, and I'll behave."
"As long you're doing the same," the
younger man then warned the dark lord, the ghost of a
smile tugging at the corner of his lips.
Vader openly laughed. "Very well, Solo. I
think that we can call it a truce."
"A truce? On what terms?" the smuggler
"That we both behave ourselves and help Leia
"Deal," Han said, offering his hand to
the dark lord.
They strongly shook hands, then Vader nodded and
left the room, satisfied that yet another element of
his daughter's recovery had been dealt with.
The next morning, father and son were inside the
princess's room. Luke was dressed in a sterile suit,
but unlike the other times that he had been allowed
in his sister's room, his face wasn't covered. Only
his hair and body were.
At first, his father hadn't agreed with his
decision to be in the room upon his sister's
awakening, but in the end, the dark lord had
relented. He knew all too well that if something
wrong happened, he needed him in the room, ready to
help and physically close by to reassure his
And gods knew that many things could go wrong
during their upcoming session.
Luke stood beside his sister, gazing down on her
badly scarred but now recognizable features. In time,
he knew that they would completely disappear,
becoming little more than faded marks on her skin.
He could only hope that it would be the same for
His father broke his silent pondering of the
future. "When you're ready, Son," he
informed him warmly.
Right, Luke reminded himself, bringing himself
back to the present. The time to consider the
advantages and drawbacks of his decision was over and
it was time to act. Besides, he reminded himself,
even though he knew that he would be responsible for
his sister's torment, he still remained true to his
decision: it was time to wake her up.
He rested his hand against his sister's head.
*Forgive me, Leia,* he sent her, then looked up
and nodded to his father.
Vader lightly rested his fingers against Leia's
right temple; Luke felt his senses search for Leia's
presence. He followed him in.
Unlike the first time that they had contacted her,
they didn't have to coax down any wall. The dark
lord's spirit easily slipped inside Leia's mind.
However, he didn't establish contact with her healing
center this time ; instead, he focused his attention
on her center of awareness.
*Leia, daughter, hear me,* Vader called out in a
*Go away,* Leia answered, her mental voice devoid
of any emotion.
*Leia, you are a fighter, you can't let this
challenge destroy you,* he sent her.
Luke watched from a distance, as he had agreed to
*I can and I do; it is all your fault, dark
tormentor that you are,* she spat venomously in
Luke wanted to step in, to tell her that she was
wrong. Vader continued to try to make her rouse
*And if you don't fight back, you will loose. Do
you really want to loose, Princess?* he asked her.
*I don't care...* she answered, once again drawing
away from Vader's presence.
*You might lie to yourself in this state,
daughter, but deep down, you know that you want to
*Prove it,* she reflexively challenged him.
Vader was more than glad to prove her wrong. He
pushed a jolt of adrenaline in her system, rousing
her from her deeply inactive state.
Luke reintegrated his senses just in time to hear
his sister's gasp of shock and surprise as she
recovered her own senses.
Then, she began to scream.
Not a weak scream, nor one of pain, but one of
"NOOOOO, NOOOOOO, it's not true!!!!!!!"
she wailed in horror, weakly trying to draw away from
the Dark Lord's presence.
Luke instantly understood what was going on; she
had indeed become aware of her family's secret,
exactly like her father had told him she would.
Coupled with her conscious torment, it had to be
horrifying; he hurried to comfort her.
The dark lord also tried to soothe her.
"Leia, calm down, you will only---".
She only screamed louder and continued to writhe
away from her father. Behind the observation window,
Han was forcing himself to remain where he was
instead of dashing inside the room.
Luke finally took hold of his sister's free hand
and leaned closer to her still laying body.
"Leia, it's okay, sssh... calm down..."
he crooned as he tried to keep her from hurting
Even his best efforts didn't soothe her except for
the fact that Leia took hold of his lapel, aware that
she wasn't alone with the dark lord anymore. However,
her level of fear remained alarmingly high.
Sadly understanding that his father's presence
wasn't helping her, Luke threw him a serious look.
"Leave us, Father," he told him. His
request seemed to surprise the dark lord. He repeated
it. "Wait outside," he instructed him over
his sister's muffled cries of anguish and despair.
The dark lord finally noticed the way that the
weak woman was clutching at her brother's clothes as
if she would never let go, how she was burying her
tear- streaked face against his shoulder. He nodded,
then turned away and left without a word.
Once they were alone, Luke turned his face to see
his sister's tears' streaked features. He gently
wiped her tears with his fingers, careful to not
touch her scars.
"Ssssh, Leia, it's okay, you're safe now,
She didn't open her eyes ; she continued to sob.
"Luke, please don't tell me that it's true--- he
can't be---" she whispered.
"I wish that I could lie, dear sister,"
Luke sighed, " but I can't... I'm sorry."
"No...," she moaned, then clutched
Luke's medical suit with her surprisingly strong
Luke, who had no choice but to loom over her as if
he were bodily protecting her, took hold of it in his
own right hand, enveloping it with the warmth of his
hand. "Leia..." Luke half-whispered,
searching for a way to help her cope with the truth.
"I want to die, Luke..." she whispered
listlessly. "I'm tired to hurt, to be
"Leia, you 'are' loved," he told her
earnestly. "You are more loved than you could
She opened her beautiful brown eyes to look at
"I hope that you will forgive me for not
telling you about our father before... and for waking
you up, sister, but I love you... and so does
She meant to tell him that he wouldn't love her
anymore; Luke didn't give her the chance to argue.
"He already knows about the truth, about our
secret, Leia. His love for you hasn't changed since
I've told him." He smiled at his sister.
"In fact, I think that it has redoubled."
His exhausted, pain-afflicted sister gazed at him
with her half-closed eyes, then she resumed her
This time though, they were tears of joy. Luke
carefully leaned close enough to hug her while not
adding to her pain.
"We all love you and care for you, Leia.
Don't ever doubt the depth of our feelings for you,
princess Leia Organa, sister of Luke Skywalker,...
daughter of Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader."
Leia's strong right hand clutched his clothes as
strongly as she could while she sobbed in relief.
"I was so afraid... that you wouldn't---"
she hiccuped through her sobs.
"I know, Leia, I know exactly how you
feel," he comforted her, sending her warm
feelings through the Force.
When he felt her recover a somewhat cooler
composure, he slightly drew away from her.
"That was why you were so holed up..."
she reflected weakly as she referred to what he had
hinted at in his last comment.
"Yes..." he nodded, "I didn't want
to tell you; I was afraid to hurt you worse than he
did aboard the Death Star... I didn't want you to
bear this knowledge, even after I discovered the rest
of the truth about ourselves."
"Luke... you know you could---" she
said, barely shaking her head in exhausted annoyance.
"Have trusted you? Yes, I know. Do you
forgive me?" he asked her.
"Yes..." she whispered.
"Even for waking you up in this state?"
"It was your decision?" she asked him
with a slight frown.
"Yes. I knew that even though it would hurt
you... that it was the only option that we had left
to truly heal you," he answered softly.
Her eyes brimmed with tears once again. Luke
gently rubbed her cheek dry.
She took a deep breath, then brought her hand from
his shoulder to his own hand. "Yes,
brother, I forgive you. I needed to know that you and
Han still loved me," she told him in a breathy
"Father does too, you know?"
"Yes. Well, it is more exact to say that he
cares, but he has done everything he could to help
you, and if you let him, he will do so until you're
back to your feet."
"Vader?" she asked again in bemusement.
"Yes... Some things have changed in his life,
Leia, and while he isn't the epitome of a father, he
is not too bad. He is demanding, coolly disposed, but
underneath his mask, he cares about us."
"Has he hurt you?" she asked him, slight
worry piercing her weakened state.
"No. He has made me study all kinds of stuff
to be able to read the books in his library, but
otherwise... he hasn't pressured me in any way."
"Han and Chewie are fine too, but I'll let
Han tell you that himself, okay?"
He gently pried himself loose from his sister's
hold, then motioned toward the observation window.
Han didn't wait for more incentive and rushed toward
the preparation room.
"He's here?" Leia asked him, some
eagerness creeping into her still weak voice.
"Yes, and I'd say that he's more than eager
to see you again," Luke smiled at her.
"I'll come back later on, okay?" he
Luke had almost reached the door before she spoke
"Luke?" she whispered.
He turned around toward her. She forced her eyes
to remain open.
"If... Vader wants to see me... can you come
with him?" she asked him.
"Yes, I will," he promised her.
It was a first step, he reflected. Instead of
completely refusing to see their father, she had
decided to slowly make acquaintances, but not without
her brother's presence.
There was hope.
The door opened to reveal the worried/relieved
features of his friend.
"She's waiting for you buddy," he told
him, then left him alone with his sister.
Chapter 12: Family
Han entered Leia's room almost timidly, as if
afraid to wake her up, then sat by her bed.
"Hello, sunshine," he told her in a very
soft, almost never-heard- before register of voice.
"Hi." Her voice was small too.
"Han, I..." she began hesitantly.
"Luke told me..."
Solo leaned closer and delicately touched her
right hand in reassurance. "Yes, I know, he also
told me everything. No need to worry, Princess,"
he smiled gently.
"Don't you care?" she asked, her voice
Han raised an eyebrow. "That you have a
much-less-than-ideal parent?" he queried.
Leia's nod was barely perceptible.
Han shook his head. "That doesn't matter,
Leia. Not for me." He smooched her knuckles with
his lips, rendering her speechless.
"I... Thank you," she barely managed to
They gazed at each other for a few moments.
"How are you feeling?" Han asked her
"Like.. being walked on by a kraat," she
told him, her tiredness now creeping back into her
"That has got to be uncomfortable," Han
tried to joke.
Leia barely creased her lips in a ghost of a
smile. "Yes, it is," she agreed.
"Han?" she asked next.
"Am I... ugly?" she queried, the shadow
of fear slowly reappearing in her restored eyes.
Her beautiful eyes.
Han looked at her ruined face and smiled.
"Well... You're slightly in need of some makeup,
but beside that.. Everything will be all right."
Han nodded in assurance. "We've been solemnly
promised by the medics here that you won't see the
difference once the treatments are finished," he
"Oh... And where is 'here' ?" she asked
him although she already knew the answer.
"Coruscant... in Vader's castle," he
answered, then, when he noticed that she was
beginning to panic once again, hastened to add:
"It's a long story but everything is okay."
"Okay? Aren't we--- prisoners?" she
asked in confusion.
"No," Han shook his head. "Vader
insisted that we would be his guests; that's why we
accepted. Don't worry, things are going very smoothly
for the moment. Besides, you are in the best
medical center in the Empire, or so it seems. Luke
knew that things would turn out this way, and we
simply couldn't let this occasion pass by, could
we?" he finished in a lighter tone.
Leia smiled slightly. "I missed you so
much..." she whispered faintly.
"I badly missed you too, my love," Han
told her, gently squeezing her right hand, the only
part of her body that seemed to be healed enough to
be touched and held. "Don't worry, Leia,
everything will be all right. I promise," he
reassured her, kissing the back of her hand once
"Thank you..." she said sleepily, her
head slightly lulling sideways to rest deeper against
She fought to stay awake; Han noticed it.
"Sleep, Leia. I'm not going anywhere," he
"You'll stay with me?"
"For the rest of our lives if you want, my
princess," he answered with all his love.
"I'm tempted to say 'yes'," she smiled
"Then say it," he smiled gently, his
voice and heart filled with love for this unique
woman who meant the universe to him.
"Yes..." she answered, finally feeling
at peace with herself since... since the last time
that she had been with her lover and brother.
A minute later, she was deeply asleep.
------Two levels down, Luke searched for his
He hadn't meant to kick him out of his sister's
room, but he had had no other choice even though he
himself knew that deep under Vader's armor, way past
the dark figure of their arch enemy, lay a being who
still felt emotions.
He cared about his children, he wanted to help his
daughter... And he probably resented being expelled
from her room---
*Not really,* the dark voice commented in his
Luke whirled around, surprised while pleased that
his father would finally reveal his whereabouts to
him. He walked closer to the door nearest to him,
then stepped inside as it opened.
He stopped in his tracks when he saw where his
father had found refuge.
It was a dark room where an holo of the whole
galaxy and more was lighting the whole room. It was
hard to miss the dark shape of his father as he stood
in front of the awe-inspiring, three-D holo.
"How is she?" his father asked him
"Huh... she's okay. Han is with her at the
"Good. Has she aggravated her injuries before
you calmed her down?" he inquired diligently.
"No. She's come to accept the truth without
raging over it, but I doubt that she will truly
become comfortable with it," he told him as
diplomatically as he could while he stepped closer to
the mesmerizing holo.
"That wouldn't surprise me, Luke," his
father retorted wisely, turning his imposing
silhouette toward him. "The opposite would,
"Father,---" Luke began.
"Son, be realistic for once," he
suddenly 'almost' snapped at him. "No matter
what happens, Leia will never accept me. I've hurt
her and her friend--- her brother, even worse than
anybody ever has... I am responsible for the death of
too many people to be forgiven, especially by her who
has sworn to fight me to her last breath."
"Father," Luke interrupted earnestly,
"I too once made that promise, and I changed my
mind. I can see that there is more to you than a Dark
Lord of the Sith."
Vader whirled back toward him at that, as if
greatly angered by his statement.
Luke bravely continued, not allowing himself to be
unsettled by his father's now-familiar intimidating
attitudes. "There is within you a human being
who is willing to help others the way he can. If this
doesn't warrant redemption or at least forgiveness,
then nothing does."
For long minutes, father and son sized each other
up, then the dark lord turned away, chuckling
slightly as he did so.
"You truly are naive, Son," he commented
in mild reproach. "If I were as evil as the
Emperor were, you wouldn't have resisted me for long.
You're too easy to manipulate."
Luke flushed red at that.
"Human beings are not black or white, pure
good or pure evil, Son. Our souls are a perpetually
shifting pattern of grays. It's a price for the
absolute liberty of choice. Even you have some
darkness in you, my dear son of the Light."
"I know," Luke admitted. He remembered
fits of anger that he had pulled sometimes, and how
he had killed other beings... No matter if they had
been enemies or not, they had been living before he
had pulled the trigger or pushed a button...
His father continued to speak. "Because I am
of the darkness, Leia will not accept me." Luke
meant to argue; Vader silenced him with a warning
finger. "Even 'you' can't change anything
to this, Son. I will always be apart from everybody
else... that is as it is... A price for power.
Perhaps, it was meant to be," he finished more
"What do you mean, meant to be?" the
young Jedi suddenly frowned.
"The prophecy of the Balance," his
father shrugged slightly. "Have you heard
"Well, I've read about it," Luke
shrugged slightly. "It's about a Chosen one that
must come to bring balance to the Force, which is
disturbed by Great Wars, right?"
"I am the Chosen one," Vader answered
It was Luke's turn to gape at his father.
"For years, I didn't care about the prophecy,
the rumors; I simply followed my guts... right into
Palpatine's hands. Thankfully, the Circle found me
then. If not for it, I would have been consumed by
him. The Chosen one," he continued more
seriously, "was conceived by the Force to bring
back stability in our world... Once the Sathed had
been eliminated, and the Jedi order shone, the Jedi
began to," he hesitated visibly on his next
word, "to alter the ways of the Force, to
corrupt it... and it was up to the Chosen One to
restore the balance... It was up to me..."
Luke couldn't believe his own ears. "But they
were fighting for goodness!" he interjected in
"Yes, they were," his father agreed
coolly, "but their ways were also dangerous, too
set in false beliefs and made-up traditions that led
to the unalterable instability that ensued. 'That' is
why they were destroyed."
"The Jedi Purges?"
"Yes. It was quite an ironic shift of destiny
that the prophecy that had been made by the Jedi
implied the destruction of the Jedi Order, not that
of the Sith..."
"But," Luke objected reflexively,
"it was Palpatine who ordered you to begin the
purges, wasn't he?" he asked, still trying to
make sense of this strange accounting of the past.
"No," Vader shook his head. "He
liked the idea, but the beginning was mine."
"What?! But," he choked on his own
disbelief, "that was inhuman!" Luke accused
him despite himself.
"Yes," his father agreed, "but it
"You decided that it was!" he shot back
angrily. "How could you---"
"No," Vader interrupted warningly,
taking a step closer to him; Luke understood the
implicit, serious threat and quickly subsided.
Whether his father cared for him or not, he was
suddenly wary of him once again. "The Force
itself decided, Son. It was not my delusions. Ask
it," he instructed him. "It will tell you
"But the Force can't..." Luke's voice
died as he felt that his father was, once again,
telling him the truth.
The death of the Jedi Order had been the way of
"But it was..." he half-whispered in
"Inhuman. Evil. Necessary. I don't think that
it can be forgiven- at least here, and by our
"But how can the Force...?" he wondered
again, still unable to process what he knew and what
he had just been told.
"The Force is not good nor evil, Luke,"
his father calmly explained, having recovered his own
coolness as well. "It's neutral. 'I'
accepted to do it's bidding. I, and only I, did the
evil, by my choice," he finished neutrally.
"But if it was your destiny, that it seemed
inevitable, couldn't you refuse it?" he
inquired, this time in hope.
"I don't know," his father shrugged.
"I didn't try. But now that I look back in time,
yes I think that I could have. Nothing can take away
one's liberty of decision. It was purely my choice to
obey the will of the Force. Now try to remember
it," he sternly advised him, "while
searching for the good in me."
Luke was silent for some time.
"I want to restore the Jedi Order" he
finally said seriously.
"I know," his father nodded.
Luke swallowed hard before asking his next
question. All of a sudden, he was 'really' worried
about his father's goals once again. "Will
you... eliminate me too?"
A tensed moment ensued his query, the silence of
the Dark Lord worrying him more than any word that he
might have answered him at the moment.
Finally, his father spoke up again.
"No," he stated with finality. "Not
you," he reassured him, "Your eventual
students...perhaps, but not you."
"My students?" Luke frowned, feeling
both reassured and unsettled once again. He
would not train new Jedi if his father were to
"Only if they restart the old path,
Luke," Vader commented, having once again read
right through his mind. "Otherwise, if they
follow your new path, I will not intervene in their
"I see." Luke nodded shortly. He did not
like what was hinted at in their conversation, nor
how easily his father could still read his mind
despite the training that he had given to him. If he
could do that, then he probably also knew how
suddenly afraid to fail he was, how uncertain he felt
about his project, and duty, to restore the Jedi
"That's why you're learning," his father
commented in the silence, "It is your destiny to
find a new way to use the Force and not blindly trust
the ways of necessity and 'traditions'," he
finished with a sneer. "When you will leave, you
will be ready for this new beginning."
Or else his students would be killed someday. He
pursed his lips in anxiety. Unless, he then
reflected, he asked his father to not let him leave
Suddenly aware of the word that his father had
used, Luke paused to think about, then became aware
that with this last comment, his father was
wordlessly telling him something that he hadn't
noticed earlier. "Father?" he queried.
"Why are you trying to push me away from
Vader turned toward him, looked at him for some
time, then said in a calm voice: "Because I
don't want you to suffer even more than you already
"I will not suffer," Luke assured him.
His father sighed wearily. "I can't give you
what you desire, Son. I can't give you the
lighthearted father that you dream about and are
trying to find in me."
"I'm not trying to find anybody in you!"
Luke defended, his temper rising once again.
"Really?" his father surly challenged
him. "Then why don't you accept that I 'am' the
Dark Lord of the Sith? A Sith by choice, and not a
lost and manipulated Jedi Knight?" Luke was
speechless for a moment; Vader continued. "Why
can't you accept that Anakin Skywalker is dead?"
"I understand all this," he finally
answered. "I accept it!"
Luke wanted to say "Yes", but somehow he
It was not true. The man before him had nothing to
do with the father that he dreamt about.
Nothing 'at all'.
He looked at Vader as if for the first time.
Did he really accept him? he asked himself. Did he
really care for him? Could he really ... see in him
something that he could care for? But then, how could
he care for the inhuman monster who was the Dark Lord
of the Sith?
The darksider didn't even regret his horrible
actions. He accepted that he was evil, that he was a
monster. It was, he realized, as if it were just a
fact for him.
Just a choice.
A choice to damn his soul, he seethed as he
finally began to come to grips with the choices that
his father had made for himself. A choice to kill
millions of people just because it was needed. Just
because somebody had said that it was necessary.
Somebody that he had blindly trusted.
Just like he himself had.
He gazed once again at his father, with new eyes.
"Yes," he answered steadily. "Yes,
father. I really accept it... Now, and I," he
swallowed, "I'm sorry, for trying to judge you.
I have no right. I'm a monster too," he finished
His father whirling on him was the last reaction
that he had expected from the stoic giant, let alone
him resting his large hand on his two shoulders in
"No, Luke!" he scolded him warmly.
"You are not a monster. You are gifted with true
Light, something that I don't have and will never
have. It is a most precious gift," he continued
in a gentler tone. "Don't lose it. Make it your
guide in the ways of the Force."
Luke was at a loss for words.
"I--- I'll try..." he whispered, unsure
as to how he should take his father's words.
Down to a T, or figuratively speaking only? And
what did he mean exactly? "So.. do 'you' care
about me?" he asked him instead.
"And for Leia?"
This puzzling answer brought him back to the
beginning of their argument. "Then why do you
keep your distance with us?" he asked again.
His father let go of his shoulders, then took a
step away and began to pace the room. "I'm a
loner, Luke. Always was, always will be," he
began. "I'm too dangerous for anyone to be
Luke shook his head. "You aren't alone now,
Father. I'm here."
"For the moment, Luke, but once this will be
over, you will return to your life, and I to
mine," his father said matter-of-factly.
Luke couldn't answer to this. True, he hadn't
exactly entertained the idea of staying with his
father afterward, but at the same time, he wasn't
exactly opposed to it either.
"I don't know that yet, Father, so neither
can you," he retorted as lightly as he could.
Vader remained silent.
"Leia asked me to be present in the room when
you speak to her," he informed him next in the
Still no answer.
"She is at least willing to speak with
you," he lightly rebuked his father's pouting
"When she does speak with me," Vader
answered seriously, "it will be when she will
ask for me," he finished, then swiftly exited
the room, leaving his bemused son in his wake.
On his way to his private chambers, Vader
reconsidered the last minutes of his conversation
with his son.
Long ago, he had promised himself to never let
feelings invade his heart ever again. He had always
held true to this promise, even since he had forged
an alliance with Luke and his friends... but today...
His boy had challenged that promise.
He had tried, he had really tried to keep his icy
barriers up around his heart, but the boy's
suggestion that things might be different afterward
had begun to make them melt under his warmth.
No, he couldn't hope for anything, he rebuked
himself, couldn't even imagine what it would be like
to finally have his children home... because he knew
that it would never happen.
There were too many things between the three of
them to ever close the gap.
Luke was naive, that was all, he was still
daydreaming instead of facing reality as it was.
Leia would always hate him, yet he did hope that
she would let him help her.
Luke would always try to save the whole galaxy and
make his delusions come true.
He... would always be a dark lord of the Sith... a
loner with a dark soul, without any God but the Past,
and without any light, except for his love for these
children of his cursed blood.
Children that would always be strangers to him.
That was it.
And now he had some work to do. He headed for his
office where stacks of reports on the rebels were
waiting for him.
Four days passed during which Leia's status
Luke often visited her while Han stayed with her
almost all day. She also made acquaintance with her
medics and accepted the treatment that they proposed,
but she didn't see even the shadow of Vader.
For the first two days, she didn't complain about
this fact, but on the third day, she began to wonder
what he was waiting for.
On the fourth day, she breached the subject with
"He is waiting for you to make the first
move, Sis," he told her simply.
His answer stumped her. Since when did Vader wait
for anybody's convenience, let alone interest to see
him before he barged in whichever place he wished?
"He will wait forever then," she
growled, "I will never ask him to come."
"Are you sure?" Luke queried seriously.
"Of course I'm sure," she told him
earnestly. "I'm not going to tolerate his
presence around me like you do, Luke. I am not
interested at all to be friend with him."
Luke's eyes became slightly hurt. "I am not
friend with him," he defended. "I am just
taking advantage of what he's offering me."
"That's exactly what I mean, brother. You've
claimed your place as his son."
"I have not."
"Yes, you have," Leia argued with a
little more strength than before. "If you
hadn't, we wouldn't be here."
"And you wouldn't be with us," he
defended with some animosity. "Don't you
understand, Leia?" he continued more earnestly.
"Without him, we would have lost you. I had no
choice but to contact him, to go along with him, but
I don't intend to become Vader's son."
"Then why don't we leave now?" she asked
"Because you aren't completely healed yet. We
still need his help."
"No. I will not let him---" Leia stated
"Only he can restore you to your former
health and beauty, Leia..." Luke sadly pointed
out. "Do you really want us to leave this soon,
to perhaps fall into Mothma's trap once
No, she didn't want that, but she didn't want to
be within a thousand yards of the dark lord either.
"Leia," Luke said, taking her right hand
in his own, "we need his help if we want to be
safe once again. Why not take what he has to offer
for the moment?"
Because it would be like betraying Alderaan, she
wanted to tell him. But then, she remembered the data
that she had found that had proved that the selection
of Alderaan as the Death Star's target had been the
Emperor direct order. The Emperor's doing, not
Vader's... not her father's...
And her capture by him had been due to Mon's
betrayal, Mon's subtle manipulation... because Mon
had known what would happen to her... except that she
hadn't counted on a reckless farmboy and a dare-devil
pilot to ruin her perfect plan to take control of the
Vader had merely been a tool... A tool which could
hurt... or heal...
She knew that she wasn't healed yet, and yes, she
wanted to recover her former attributes.
She sighed in resignation. "All right, tell
him that I'm ready," she informed her now
smiling brother, "but you have to be present
with me when he comes," she reminded him.
"I will be with you, don't worry," he
promised her. "Now get some rest, sweet sister.
There's no need to fight for the moment."
As if lulled by his words, she almost instantly
Chapter 13: Daughter and Father
When Leia woke up, Luke was still with her. He
waited for her to awaken completely before he
informed her that the Dark Lord was waiting for her
convenience to see him. "Let's get this over
with," she sighed in answer.
To her surprise, Vader almost instantly stepped
through the doors; he had indeed been waiting for her
convenience, she noted. He slightly bowed his head to
her, then sat on the usual place of the medic, by her
left side. Luke remained on her right side.
"I trust that my medics are taking good care
of you, Your Highness," he commented coolly.
"Yes, my Lord, thank you," she answered,
Luke couldn't help but shake his head at his
sister/father interplay. Leia could deny her link to
their father, he reflected wryly, but she had
inherited his pride.
"Luke told me that you were ready to see me,
Your Highness. What can I do for you?"
"Well, first," Leia began regally but
with a slight, fatigue-induced tremor that gentled
her voice, "I want to thank you for your help,
Lord Vader. You didn't owe us anything, yet you
helped; despite our differences, I appreciate this
part of our actual situation."
"It was a pleasure to assist the last
princess of Alderaan," Vader answered in kind.
"My other reason isn't so kind though,"
she warned him meaningfully. "I want myself and
my friends to be free, right this moment," she
said in a voice that left no place for argument.
Vader still found some place for it. "You and
your friends are my guests, Your Highness," he
reminded her coolly. "You are already free, but
for your safety, you are confined to my castle."
The young woman openly snorted in disbelief this
time. "Since when does Lord Vader treat the
leaders of the Rebellion as his guests, let alone
offer them shelter?"
"Since these leaders were betrayed by the
said Rebellion and happen to be my children,
Princess," the dark lord answered, slightly
Luke noted that no matter how much his father was
impervious to any kind of feeling, he was vulnerable
when himself and his sister were concerned.
"I see," Leia commented coldly. "I
haven't asked for your care, Vader. If you are doing
it in hopes that I will turn to your side, you can
forget your plans to use me," she almost spat.
"I was betrayed by Mothma, and by Mothma only.
This doesn't change anything to my commitment to the
goals of the Republic."
Luke tightened his hold on his sister's hand,
trying to calm her down. *He's only trying to help,
Leia,* he reminded her through the Force. *Give him a
His sister turned her annoyed glare toward him,
then refocused on the sitting dark lord.
"My plan, Princess, is, yes, to use you only
against Mothma, but only if you want to take part to
it. As for yourself and your friends, if you really
wish to leave, then you are free to do so right this
Upon hearing this, Luke felt Leia's shock, then he
saw her narrow her eyes once again in suspicion.
"What about our condemnation to death, Lord
Vader? Aren't you digressing Imperial laws by
sheltering us then letting us go?" she asked him
"Your death marks have been lifted years
ago," Vader answered with what felt to Luke like
a shrug of carelessness.
Although he was beginning to feel like he knew his
father, even Luke was stunned by this new
information; he hadn't known about that at all. Oh,
he had noticed that he wasn't being chased anymore,
but he had never thought that his father had
completely lifted the bounties on his and Leia's
"After Bespin, right?" he asked
Vader only nodded.
Leia gaped at her brother, then her father.
"But the Emperor would never accept it---"
she began to object, trying to reason her brother
back to his more defiant senses.
"The Emperor is out of the game now,"
Luke commented seriously.
She turned toward the Dark Lord, asking him to
confirm this statement. "He doesn't decide
anything anymore," he nodded. "He is
"So you took his place!?" Leia suddenly
understood in shock.
"Unofficially," Vader answered simply.
"The medics, as well as other people who have
been involved with the operation, have kept this
information secret. However, it seems that Mon
Mothma knows about the Emperor's illness, but I do
not think that she suspects its true extent."
"So she's preparing the offensive... "
Leia mused to herself as a piece of her puzzle added
itself to what she had already gathered 'before'...
before, she decided coldly. She did not want to
remember her captivity.
"Yes," Vader nodded in agreement.
"Her ultimate plan is to take the throne, so
she's removing anyone who can be a possible danger to
this plan. You were the most dangerous, Luke was the
second one to be hurt, I have proof of it now."
Luke whirled toward him, stumped. His father had
found proof that he would have been a target too had
he remained in the Rebellion...?
"I knew that she was trying to make a bid for
power in the Rebellion," Leia reflected out
loud, "but not with the Empire as well."
Their father sighed, then continued. "There
is no limit to this woman's lust for power, Princess.
Ever since I've taken control of the Empire, I have
had to delay some of my plans because of Mothma's
constant harassing of honest populations. I can't let
my guard down because 'she' is still in power."
She looked in this black mask, then sighed
forlornly. "All right, let's stop this
game..." she swallowed, "Father."
"As you wish."
Luke noticed the discreet look that he threw in
his direction, as if sharing a small victory with
him; there was progress, he smiled back.
"What do you really plan to do with us?"
Leia inquired tiredly.
"Besides healing you and taking care of Mon
Mothma, I don't have any plans, Leia."
"This is hardly believable," she
commented harshly, annoyed that the other would
continue to lie to her now that she herself was
willing to put an end to their cool face-off.
"I am not hiding anything from you, quite the
opposite," he warned, throwing yet another look
in Luke's direction. "I want to crush Mothma's
Rebellion, and I'd really like to destroy Mothma
herself," he admitted truthfully. "Your
help would be welcome, but not necessary," he
"Well, I will not help you!" Leia
answered almost instantly.
Luke, though, displayed a great deal of
indecision; it greatly surprised the other two who
were present in the room.
"Good," Vader finally answered his
"Good?!" Leia gaped, abandoning her
study of her brother. "You mean that you can do
it alone?" she inquired worriedly.
A small silence, which Leia spent seeking her
brother's eyes; he was lost in his own thoughts. She
turned back toward her father. "I will never
forgive you for what you've done," she stated.
"I understand, but will you accept my help
for your healing?" he inquired coolly.
"Haven't you heard what I've said?" she
scolded him hard. "I will never forgive
"I'm not seeking your forgiveness,
Leia," Vader countered calmly. "Nor your
love nor care. I only want your acceptance of my
"Huh, you mean that my forgiveness does not
matter to you now?" she frowned in confusion.
"It does," the black-clad giant nodded,
"but I'm not asking for it," he added
wistfully. "I never ask for the
"I see..." she mumbled, seeking her
brother's opinion once more.
Luke refocused on her.
"Will you accept my assistance or not?"
her father asked her once again.
"Can you make me walk again?" she
queried as she studied her brother. As she took note
of his unusual behavior in front of Vader, she
decided that she would have to speak with him.
"Yes," the dark lord nodded soothingly.
"Then I accept."
"Very well. I will heal you completely,"
the dark lord stated as he stood up to leave.
"Thank you," she told him, then added.
"but you'll never have more than that from me,
Vader," she reminded him.
"As I said, Your Highness," he repeated
on his way around the bed, "I never ask for the
impossible. Good night, Princess. We'll begin
tomorrow morning. Luke," he then said,
addressing her brother for the first time in minutes.
"I will be working in the library. Feel free to
"Okay," her Jedi brother nodded as if in
She suddenly tightened her hold on his hand,
silently warning him to not leave just yet.
Leia waited until they were alone before she spoke
up again. "Luke," she began almost
rebukingly, "what's wrong with you? You are not
going to help him, are you?"
"Why not?" he scolded at her patronizing
attitude. "Mon Mothma has betrayed you, has
fomented plans to also get rid of me, why shouldn't I
help him?" he inquired with sudden animosity.
"Because he will destroy the galaxy's last
hope for freedom," his sister reminded him
sternly. "As a Jedi, you must defend it,
not destroy it."
Luke took a deep breath as he fought once again
the battle that he had become familiar with lately:
his heart, or his head? "Perhaps 'he' is the
last hope," he finally muttered grimly.
"What?? After what he's done, you'd---"
"Yes, after what he's done, and what he
hasn't done," he argued earnestly.
"Leia, I took a look in his office while he was
tending you. He has done unspeakable things, I agree,
but he has also saved millions of lives, especially
since the Emperor has 'stepped' down."
His sister naturally fumed at him at this.
"Hasn't it ever occurred to you that he's
prepared all that just to lure you to his side?"
Here we go again, Luke thought humorlessly.
"Yes, and no, he isn't pretending," he
answered inarticulately, then shook himself into a
more coherent mental pattern. "Look, you might
not accept him as your father... but I do," he
admitted after a moment of silence. "There's
more to him than a Dark Lord, and that little extra
is not destructive at all."
"But the rest is..., Luke," she
continued more gently, "you've never had a
father before, you've yearned to have one for
years..." she tried to remind him without
upsetting him. "Vader is simply filling this
hole in your heart. It's normal, but not
Her new approach with him didn't work; he jumped
to his feet in annoyance. "Yes, he is
filling my heart," he nodded in agreement,
"but only that. He is not filling my mind with
delusions, nor is he lying to me. I will never claim
the name of Vader, but he is my father, and yes, I
will help him to avenge you and the years that we all
lost in pointless strife."
Leia was speechless. Luke knew that she was
probably convinced that he was turning to the dark
side, much like Han was believing... but he knew that
He had just finally come home... where he
"Look," he told his stunned sister in a
gentler tone as he became aware of how upset they had
both become, "just trust me, okay?" he
offered her. "I know what I'm doing ; everything
will be all right."
Leia stared at him for a long while, then, she
finally nodded slightly and closed her eyes in
acceptance of his decision. She refocused on
him, softening her eyes; he also relaxed.
"Tell me what he's planning when you'll know,
okay?" she demanded.
"No problem... that is if Han doesn't beat me
to it," he finished with a smile.
She returned his smile; he kissed her eyebrow in
sign of their truce and surviving love, then left her
A week passed.
Leia now felt much better. She hated to admit it
but her father's treatment were doing wonders to her.
Still, she hadn't spoken with him very often, and
when she had, it had only been to ask to have a
reading terminal in her room. Vader had agreed with a
nod, then had continued her treatment in silence.
His attitude toward her, she had to concede, was
exactly as if he were a professional medic versus a
Cold, distant, and efficient.
Somehow he had even managed to make his presence
completely non disturbing. She barely noticed his
dark shadow anymore. Instead she spent most of her
time with him lost in her thoughts, simply obeying
his requests when he needed to test her
He was just another medic, she would remind
herself. Just a tool to heal her. Just a stranger.
Hence, there was no necessity to speak with a
stranger. No necessity to feel something for him.
On the other hand, as a stranger, she could not
hate him anymore either.
Besides, she shrugged, her body would not support
the fire of this feeling, and mere thought that she
could have any kind of feeling for him disgusted
her. Thus, she felt nothing.
Nothing at all.
Strangely enough though, she felt betrayed when
she read about one of his inhuman orders on her
A small city was being ravaged by an epidemic
virus, and his order was to burn it to the ground.
She should have expected it, she reminded herself.
She knew that he was a monster.
So why did she felt betrayed?
Because of Luke, she decided. Because of his blind
trust in this tyrant.
When the monster came in for the another
treatment, she was ready. She was sitting on her bed,
her back held straight, her face hardened.
"Lord Vader," she began without
preamble. "I want an explanation."
He looked at her, apparently surprised for a
couple of seconds, then finally nodded. "On my
decision considering the epidemic virus on
Sargad?" he offered.
"Exactly," she nodded coolly although
she was shocked that he knew what she had in mind.
"It's too long to explain, Princess,"
the dark lord answered simply, "but I assure you
that we cannot do anything else to save the
"But you can't burn all these people! They
are living beings! " she exclaimed, outraged.
"Not for long, I'm afraid," he shook his
head. "The virus that has escaped from the
laboratory is lethal. No treatment is known."
"But they are not all ill!" she argued.
"There must be another solution, you--- you just
don't want to find it," she then accused him
"And why would I do that?" he answered,
recovering some of his colder edge under he continued
"It was your laboratory! Your project!"
she pointed out accusatorily. "You only want to
eliminate the witnesses."
"First," he began seriously, almost
warningly "almost all research projects are, as
you say, 'mine'."
Leia was speechless, thanks to both her sudden
unease with the dark lord as well as his admission of
"Second: the elimination of the dangerous
population cannot be done without burning towns to
ground. Third: If you find another solution I will
gladly accept it. You have two days maximum. Is that
Despite her growing worry, Leia noticed that
Vader's voice was rushed.
"You will really accept it?" she asked,
bemused by the darksider's explanation while
recovering her own composure as she understood that
the other did not mean to hurt her again.
Instead, he too had a body language when he
argued, and especially when he was arguing about
painful truths. She had to conceded that she had not
expected him to admit the reality of the situation.
As if reading her mind, Vader sighed. "It
might surprise you, but I don't enjoy burning
towns," he commented in a weary voice.
"I'll authorize you highest level access to all
data. If you discover that I've made an error-
good," he clipped.
"Huh," she gaped wide-eyed at him.
"You mean that you can accept to be wrong?"
she asked, thoroughly confused now.
"I always did, and considering the
situation," he added more conversationally,
"it would not surprise me in this case."
"Too much work," he answered evasively.
"I 'could' have overlooked something vital. You
have two days."
"You will have your answer," she
answered with determination. "You will
"Very well," he nodded. "Can we
proceed with the treatment now?"
"I'm ready," Leia nodded, putting an end
to one of her rare conversations with the man who was
her biological father.
Two days later.
She hadn't slept. She almost hadn't eaten. She had
read, and read, and read.
First with anticipation.
Next with determination.
And now with cold dread.
The virus was lethal and was transported by air,
ground and water. The concerned town was small. It
was in a valley that was calm but for the wind
Which was beginning the next day.
While winds would not represent any problem
normally, in this case, they meant that the virus
would be carried to the megapolis that was nestled at
the end of the valley.
Some five hundred millions inhabitants.
The small, infected town was already blocked, of
course but nobody could stop the wind.
There was no solution, she finally admitted in
None at all.
It couldn't be, she thought for the thousandth
time since beginning her study, it simply couldn't
The only answer to this planet's problem was to
burn the small town and the virus with it.
And some two hundred inhabitants.
The work on the treatment was progressing well,
but the wind season... If not for it, they could wait
for it to be ready.
But the wind season was beginning in less than
twelve hours, and even the Empire had not found a way
to control the winds yet...
Megapolis. Five hundred millions inhabitants.
Her blood turned to ice when she understood that
she had already made her decision. She could wait,
she told herself, she could pretend that she hadn't
reached a decision, that it was still up to him...
that she wasn't also condemning two hundred people to
She called him at the last possible moment.
"Lord Vader," she began shakily,
"I... I approve your order," she
half-whispered despite her dry throat, then broke the
She buried her face in her hands and wept for all
her worth. She simply wanted to die once again.
She too had become a monster now.
Luke stormed into Vader's office.
His father barely acknowledged his presence,
intently listening to some man on his screen. Since
he had to wait for the communication to finish, his
anger kept growing with each passing minute.
"Calm yourself," his father finally
commented, switching the communicator off.
"What? Calm? How can you..." he began
"You spoke with Leia," his father stated
"Yes, I did," he confirmed grimly.
"How could you?"
"How could I what? Give this order?" the
dark lord asked his righteous son.
"No," Luke shook his head. "Involve
Leia in it."
"She insisted," the darksider answered
coolly. "I gave her the chance to change the
"Which could not be changed and you knew
it," Luke pointed out. "So why?"
"I repeat," Vader answered, his voice
becoming strained under the barrage of questions and
baseless accusations. "She insisted. She wanted
"But you knew that it was impossible! Why did
you let her do it?"
"Do 'what'? " the older man finally
inquired, this time letting out some of his own
frustration break into his voice.
"Approve this... this monstrosity," Luke
finally managed to spit. "You want to break her,
don't you?" he accused him defiantly, "To
taint her with your darkness? Why?"
"Taint her with my darkness?" Vader
repeated, this time slightly incensed by his son's
rude behavior. "Corrupt her? Make her
A cold, icy wind brushed over the room. His anger
was now perceptible in the Air and the small room in
which the two of them stood.
Luke's words died on his lips even as his eyes
widened in slight fear. He had forgotten who his
father was, he realized.
The Dark Lord stood, turned his back to him, and
stepped closer to the large window. He was silent for
some time, trying to calm himself.
His son also remained silent.
Once their anger was drained from both their being
and the room, Vader spoke again.
"Luke, she wanted to try," he explained
regretfully. "Do you think that I could deny it
to her? By what right? Everyone has a right to
He heard his son take a deep breath, then Luke
answered: "But you made her approve..."
"'I' made her?" he asked, whirling
toward his boy.
The young Jedi couldn't help but cringe away from
his stormy silhouette.
Upon seeing this, Vader forced himself to calm
down again. "She made her decision alone,
Son," he explained more gently. "It's very
easy to remain pure, good and clean while making no
decisions or choices. But what value will have this
goodness? And will it be goodness at all?"
Luke remained silent, thoughtful.
"She made a decision, an evil one, yes, but
the only one that was possible."
"It made her suffer," Luke pointed out
"Yes, because she knows that it was evil, and
because she knows that she approves it. Perhaps she
will now see the darkness that lies within her."
Luke raised his head again, obviously about to
retort to that, but Vader didn't let him.
"It's the first step to overcome it, Luke.
You can't defeat an enemy if you don't know that it
is there. You yourself have been through that
fire," he reminded him more gently. "She
has yet to do it."
The young Jedi could only nod, all too familiar
with the fight against his own darkness. He had found
peace with himself when he had finally accepted that
he was Vader's son, if not by philosophy, then at
least by flesh.
Just like his own father had come to grips with
his own darkness by taking over the Empire and
turning it into a fairer government, but a government
all the same.
Yes, he nodded to himself, Vader wasn't Light, nor
Dark. He was only... a human being... who had been
through hell and back.
"I'm sorry for my outburst, Father," he
apologized earnestly. "It was uncalled
His father stepped closer to him. "No, I
understand your emotions. But if you want to be a
true Jedi, Luke," he told him more seriously,
"you will have to learn to not judge too
quickly, and to set aside your own strict definitions
of Light and Dark because you will have to both save
and destroy every single being of the galaxy."
Luke looked up in confusion.
"Everyone carries both Light and Dark in
their hearts. No one is pure Light or Darkness."
"Then how will I know?" he asked,
confused about his heritage.
"Follow the Light, Son," his father
advised wistfully. "Believe in it, and
everything will be alright."
"Light? But you've just said that there was
no Light and Dark..." he reminded him in
"No," Vader shook his head. "I
said, that you can't find human beings of pure Light
or pure Darkness. However, the spark of Light that I
am talking about is in your heart and you can follow
it if you manage to see it in spite of your own
assumptions of what must be. Call it Love if you
prefer," he then simplified for him. "That
is the true god of the Jedi as well as the true Light
and hope of this galaxy. A pity that the old ones
forgot it and made the Force their god."
"Because the Force is neutral?" Luke
inquired, trying to understand what his father was
trying to teach him this time.
"Yes. It's like... a road," Vader
explained. "It can lead to the Light, or the
darkness. You'd be stupid to make your god a road
instead of the goal, don't you think?"
"Yes..." he agreed carefully.
Somehow, he had always known that, but... he had
always thought that he had been confusing things
since his teachers had always talked about the Force,
not his heart... well, not that way anyway.
Once again, he realized that the Dark Lord of the
Sith was right. Before he could say so though,
another call came for his father.
While the other answered it, he himself silently
bade him good night, then was gone.
Chapter 14: Making Plans
Two days went by.
The treatments continued, then Leia was
transferred from the medcenter to a personal room.
The chosen room was large and sunny, furnished in
cream whites and light brown. Large, high windows
were allowing her to take in the astonishing view of
Coruscant even from her location in her bed.
At the moment though, she was not looking at it.
Instead, she was sitting in bed, silent and pensive,
her legs covered by her blanket; she didn't seem to
be even aware of her father's presence with her.
Eventually she broke her wall of silence. He had
completed the usual treatment and was standing up to
leave when she addressed him: "Father?"
"Yes?" he answered, as coolly as ever.
"I have been thinking a lot," she began
hesitantly, "and I am wondering... What does the
Empire represent to you?" she asked him
"Everything," he answered simply, then
walked toward the nearby windows. There, he watched
as the evening slowly overtook the city.
"Everything," he repeated more
thoughtfully, "my whole life," he explained
with a few extra words.
"... would you say that you consider it as
you do your children?" she inquired uncertainly.
He nodded somberly, keeping his back turned toward
her, "In some ways, yes, I do."
It was her turn to nod slowly. "I think that
I understand what it means to you then," she
commented as she reluctantly made a parallel between
herself and her father. "You want to change it,
"I don't want to destroy it," he
finished for her as he turned back toward her.
Leia unflinchingly met his cool gaze. "I feel
the same way about the Rebellion," she
explained, admitting for the first time in her life
that she had a point in common with her genetic
Like her father, she did not want her 'child', the
Alliance, to disappear completely. She absolutely
cherished the goals and ideals that she, and all her
comrades in arms, had come to embrace with a fervency
that allowed them to overcome any type of obstacle.
And yet, she conceded glumly, it was dead---
No!, she decided adamantly, she wouldn't let it
die. She wouldn't let it wither so that the deaths of
their heroes would have been for nothing. Instead,
she would make their death worthwhile.
As if reading her thoughts, her father spoke up.
"I understand your point of view, Leia, but I
will not let Mon Mothma, nor anyone, destroy the
Empire. I will not let anybody profane all the
sacrifices that countless have made in its name. Do
you understand?" he inquired seriously.
"Yes, but you must also understand that I
will be against every plan that you have in mind to
use her betrayal in order to eradicate the Rebellion.
The countless men who have fought in this war... who
have suffered and/or lost their lives..." she
continued, her throat tightening as the poignant
memories assailed her mind. She locked her determined
gaze with her father's. "I will not allow you to
make their lives and deaths meaningless. Do 'you'
understand?" she inquired grimly.
Her father didn't answer this. Instead, he changed
the topic by mentioning the traitor once again.
"Don't you want her to be judged?"
"Yes, I want her to be judged and punished,
but..." she commented more sadly, "at
the same time, I don't want it."
"This knowledge would kill the Rebellion and
everything that I and the others had been living for,
Father. I told you that I---"
"What do you live for exactly,
Princess?" her father interrupted, taking a step
closer to her bed.
Mildly chilled by his involuntarily threatening
movement, the rebel leader took a second to not lose
her composure before she answered him. "I want
the galaxy to be a better place," she declared
solemnly, defiantly. "I want to give people the
right to choose their lives, their religion, their
education, everything." As she spoke, she
visualized her dream in her mind and loved what she
"Good," her father commented, breaking
through her reverie.
"Good?" she frowned in confusion as she
refocused on him.
"I want the same thing," he answered
simply as an almost shrug seemed to move his broad
That stumped her. "Really?" she asked in
"Yes," the Dark Lord confirmed once
again. "I want what you mentioned, but," he
raised his right index in warning, "I don't want
it to happen through the destruction of the
Empire," he specified. He continued more coolly:
"I think that it can be done without it."
"Huh," Leia began inarticulately,
"so you mean formally the Empire... but
functionally the Republic?" she summarized in
quickly growing disbelief.
"Exactly," he nodded in agreement, then
seemed to smirk a little. "Think of the Emperor
as a life-long president."
Leia couldn't help but smirk too. "And I
thought that 'I' was an idealist," she teased
him before she turned more serious. "Do you
think that it's truly possible?"
"I never ask for the impossible," he
reminded her. "Not from the others, nor from
"I see..." she commented as she began to
consider the situation from her father's point of
view. "Since Palpatine will probably not be
alive for much longer, you will become the next
emperor, right?" she said with a mild note of
displeasure in her voice.
"Yes," the black-clad giant answered,
ignoring her sign of distrust.
"And after you?" she began more
unhappily? "Will you corrupt Luke---"
"Well," her father interrupted her
rising tirade once again, "I was thinking about
a certain princess from Alderaan..." he offered
as he stepped closer to the head of her large bed.
Leia felt her jaw hit the mattress as she stared
at him. "Me???? Are you crazy?"
"Not at all," Vader commented seriously,
shaking his head.
"Why not Luke?" she asked despite
herself. She couldn't comprehend how her father could
think of her as his successor instead of her brother.
After all, 'he' was a Jedi. She wasn't... and her
brother had already joined his side, whereas she
"He is a Jedi," he agreed with her
silent thought, "not a politician, and you're
one of the best that I have ever seen... Not to
mention that you are very charismatic."
"You're crazy," she repeated, unable to
react in any other way but defiance. "I will
never accept it."
"You have some time to think about it,"
her father openly shrugged this time, "I am not
planning to die just yet."
Leia looked at him in bemusement, then chuckled
despite herself at the other's surprising dry humor.
"Honestly Father, this is... Can you imagine Han
as a royal consort? He would die of shock simply upon
hearing this," she suddenly smiled wryly.
"He will survive, don't worry. He is rather
resistant," he pointed out.
Leia realized that her father was dead serious
about his offer. "Father..." she tried
again, more somberly when the humoristic approached
failed, like the defiant one had.
"As I've said," he shook his head in
refusal of her argument, "you have time to think
about this proposal."
"The answer will still be 'no'," she
told him adamantly but with less strength in her
voice than she had first planned to use.
"I'm not asking you to decide now," her
father reminded her, thus making it clear once again
that he wasn't accepting her actual answer.
She pursed her lips at that.
"What have you decided about Mothma?"
the dark lord inquired, bringing them back on their
first topic of discussion.
"I ... I don't know," she admitted.
"I want her to be judged, but I don't want her
betrayal to become public knowledge."
"I see. Who, in the Alliance, would you trust
"Any general except Madine; he is with
her," she explained, her eyes becoming harder at
the mention of that name.
Vader didn't seem to notice; he nodded in
agreement. "Five for the Republic, Five for the
Empire... Good. I think that we can do it."
"How? By presenting proofs to the
Alliance?" she offered him, then shook her head,
"I have no doubt that she destroyed all evidence
right after you destroyed the pirate's base,"
she reminded him.
"She did," her father confirmed grimly.
"I have already ascertained it. What I had in
mind though was to make them see her for who she
really is. It will be a long, twisted game..."
Vader commented, and Leia reflected that he sounded
"What game?" she frowned, not sure that
she understood what was going on in her father's head
"Will you help me with it?"
Leia still wasn't sure that she could trust the
Dark Lord of the Sith, but she knew that she wanted
revenge against Mon Mothma. "Only if her
betrayal will not be publicly known," she
finally stipulated, "nor used for the
destruction of the Alliance."
"Agreed," he nodded. "If I had
wanted to use it," he then commented, "I
would have already done it."
"What?? You waited for my approval??"
Leia gaped once again at her surprising father.
Now she understood what her brother had meant by
unpredictable. He was truly surprising her at every
"No, but the Alliance is less stable at the
moment. If I had wanted to destroy it with the truth,
it would have been the best moment to strike,"
he explained seriously; Leia was speechless. Her
father continued. "If I used that against them
though, the result would most probably be chaos, and
I can't afford chaos right now."
"So you keep the Alliance alive for purely
political reasons," she observed, suddenly
"Yes, I do," he asserted. "Now, do
we have a deal, daughter?" Vader inquired,
offering her his hand.
Leia looked at the black glove that had once
tormented her even in her nightmares, then leveled
her gaze to study the masked man. She could trust
him, she reflected... she could somehow feel it...
and he had promised her not to destroy the Alliance.
She took his hand in hers. "Deal," she
"Thank you," he bowed in a formal way.
"Good night, Princess."
"Good night, Father," she answered, and
for the first time since she had woken up after her
ordeal, she felt safe from even the Dark Lord.
He truly was her father, she admitted to herself
as she went to sleep on her new pillows. He was not
like Bail, she thought dimly as she let her tiredness
pull her into restful sleep, but he cared like the
"Come in" the deep voice said from the
other side of the door.
Luke lowered his hand; he hadn't even had time to
knock, he thought ruefully. He chuckled in
slight amusement and entered his father's favorite
working room. Vader set the datapad on the table and
turned toward him.
"A good attempt at shielding," he
commented. "You make progress."
"But you felt me," he answered, slightly
dejected. Just how powerful was his father?, he
wondered yet again.
"Only when you came by the door," his
father replied smoothly. "It was a good
"Thank you," he smiled shyly. "Am I
disturbing you?" he then inquired seriously as
he looked around them to gauge in which activity his
father had been absorbed before he had come in.
"Not really," his father reassured him.
"Take a seat."
Luke complied. "I have a question," he
said matter-of-factly. "I need to know
"I know. Go ahead."
Briefly surprised by his father's cold certitude
about his own mindset, Luke hesitated briefly before
he plunged in. "... How did Anakin Skywalker
die?" he finally inquired, a tremor of
incertitude and reflexive wariness inhabiting his
Vader looked at him for sometime in silence, then
lowered his head again to refocus on his datapad.
"Painfully and slowly," he answered coldly.
"It happened when Palpatine showed me what I
really was, and what had created me."
"The Dark Side," he specified coolly.
"What?... what do you mean, the Dark
Side?" Luke stuttered slightly, unsure that he
had been right to ask this question to his father.
"I thought that there was only the Force and
that our hearts defined---"
"I was created in a goal of destruction,
Luke," he interrupted him, looking up from his
chosen read to lock his hidden gaze with his. "I
was given life by the side of the Force that the Jedi
Order call 'Dark'."
Even though he had been ready for a painful
accounting, Luke couldn't help but feel his jaw hit
the table, then floor in stupefaction. It couldn't
"I am blind to the Light Side, Luke,"
his father continued more gently, as if feeling his
sudden discomfiture. "That is why I became Sith-
the Jedi path was the way to Hell for me."
"But..." Luke began hesitantly,
"you were a Jedi, weren't you?"
"If you define Jedi as 'one following the
teaching of the Jedi Temple', yes, I was," his
father confirmed. "However, this way was one
that required blind trust in the Force as well as the
need to bow to different kinds of insane traditions
that don't mean anything to the Force. It was not for
me, Son. I was dying there," the dark lord
explained simply. "The only true path for me to
live with the Force was the aggressive side, the Dark
side. Only then... could I grow, accomplish myself,
and fulfill my Destiny."
Luke swallowed hard, trying to moisten his
suddenly dry throat. "And the Circle?"
"It doesn't impose anything on me... It gave
me a possibility to see all my possible choices, to
see what the Light and the Dark are. I admit that
this knowledge was second-handed since it came from
others' memories," he then conceded, "but
it was better than nothing."
"But you do feel the Light that you talked
about the other day..." Luke frowned
uncertainly. "You care and love... You loved our
mother, didn't you?"
"I think so... I hope so," Vader
answered earnestly after a brief hesitation.
"I do hope that it was love and not a mad desire
That literally floored the younger man. "You
mean that you don't know?" he whispered, feeling
less and less sure about anything anymore.
"No, I don't," his father admitted
truthfully. "Anakin loved her, but Anakin
himself was just an illusion. As for me, I simply
don't know. What I do know is that I, as Darth Vader,
would give anything just to see her again." The
dark lord then gave him some time to digest this. He
slowly stood up from his chair and walked closer,
then Luke felt his hand on his shoulder. "I know
that I care for you and your sister, Son. If this
'is' love, then you are right and I know what Love
So gentle, Luke thought, yet the other didn't feel
any regrets for what he had inflicted upon others,
himself included. Never had Luke thought that he
would someday encounter such a strange demon... let
alone his being his father... "So you don't see
the Light in yourself..." he reluctantly
summarized in a chagrined voice. As he did so, he
dimly reflected that it was just a last ditch attempt
for the orphan in him to save his dream.
Deep down, he now knew that Vader was Vader, not
Anakin Skywalker... And he was his father.
"I don't," his father agreed with his
last statement, "But I see it in others... and
especially in you, my Son."
Yes, Luke thought forlornly, a father indeed...
one that he could count on, one that wanted to see
him well and happy... a being who was trying to
restore freedom in the galaxy,... yet he was also a
Sith lord who was made of darkness, nothing else.
Luke slowly understood that he had to accept it,
or else forget him forever. "You
know," he said, not considering his father's
last comment, "I'd like so much to see your
"That mask is my face," was the suddenly
curt reply even as the other removed his hand from
its perch. "What you see is how I really am. As
for the flesh, it's burned and scarred; I don't look
like a human anymore."
Luke flinched in compassionate pain at the mention
of what was underneath the mask.
Vader continued. "Nothing is left from Anakin
Skywalker, Son. He died a painful death, but he is
dead and better left that way."
Luke raised his head at this and locked his gaze
with his father. "Something has been left,
Father. 'I' was left. I am his child," said
Left in this galaxy, and left in the care of
guardians who had never replaced his lost parents...
"No, Son," Vader slowly shook his head
as he rested his hand on his shoulder once again.
"You and your sister are mine. When you were
conceived... he had already been dead for a
year," he informed him gently, "at least
mentally so if not in the flesh."
Luke cast down his gaze to keep his father from
seeing the shadows of tears that were threatening to
flow from his eyes.
His father, Anakin, was truly dead... and had
resurrected in Vader. Gathering his courage, he
looked up at the mask; he dimly noticed that the
pattern of the overhead light on it was giving him
the impression that the black faceplate was smiling
softly, almost fondly.
"You cannot flee your inheritance, Son,"
his father told him gently yet seriously. "Even
if you want to."
"I will not flee," he answered his
father, "But you scare me sometimes."
"You have nothing to fear from me," his
father reassured him even as his mask seemed to take
an even more caring composure.
"I know. It's not that..." Luke
explained, then turned away from him, slightly
drawing away from his hold. "Perhaps who I'm
really scared of is myself," he muttered.
Afraid to become like him, he acknowledged for the
first time ever since he had been told the truth on
"You will never become like me," his
father stated adamantly. "You will be a great
Jedi. I will never let you fall in the Hell that I
live in," Vader's hand touched Luke's. "You
have nothing to fear."
"I hope so," Luke said glumly as he kept
his back turned to his father. "I really hope
A week later, Leia made her first steps out of
bed. Ten days afterward, Palpatine died in his
As everyone expected, Vader was declared Emperor.
What was less expected though was that he immediately
contacted the Rebellion to set up peace talks; a
peace conference was quickly organized and scheduled.
Then, the four ex-rebels began to see Vader's plan
set itself in motion.
"'What' did they ask for?!" Leia growled
in unpleasant disagreement. She was sitting in a
chair in a small conference room, wearing a large
cream-white gown that made her look like an angel.
An angry angel, Luke reflected.
"They want me to return Luke and Han,"
their father explained. "It seems that their
arrival here was seen by spies, as I feared."
Leia exchanged a gaze with her brother and lover,
then turned back toward her father. "We are not
giving them back to Mothma," she stated with
finality. "Ignore that request,
"I can't," he answered her. "It's
the price for the peace conference: both sides must
return every war prisoner."
"Then tell them that they are dead," she
"Leia!" Luke rebuked her. He couldn't
believe that she was lowering herself to such vile
manipulations in order to keep them with herself.
"What?!" she scowled back, then
refocused on their father. "You could have
killed them, couldn't you?" she inquired.
"Yes," he conceded with a nod of his
head, "but we really need allies on the Alliance
"Allies! But they will be in danger there
with Mon!" she exclaimed, sitting more upright
as her energies seemed to return to her.
"No. She will need them now. As," the
Dark Lord bowed his head a little, this time in
amusement, "living proofs of my cruelty."
"As if she needed more proofs..." Solo
Luke winced at Han's words, but his father
"Very true, captain," he agreed, then
continued. "Second, she will most certainly need
a Jedi ally to control me. Third, without you,
Princess, your friend and brother aren't any threat
for her, or at least not an immediate one."
"Not immediate, that's right. But..."
"And last," Vader interrupted his
daughter, "they will be protected, as will you
Luke gaped at that; he hadn't expected to leave
with any kind of protection other than his own
abilities, which his father had carefully honed
throughout the past months.
"Protected?" Leia frowned. "By
whom? Your... er.. stormtroopers?" she sneered,
the irony of her voice cutting in Luke's senses like
a knife would.
"No. Alkahrak," the Dark Lord said in
the air, "you may reveal yourself."
Luke, Leia, Han and Chewie gaped in utter shock at
a gray-skinned, wiry alien appeared in a corner
as if out of the thin air. A Noghri, they identified,
the three of them having seen their newest spies the
day that they had joined their side... but not all of
them, Luke reflected even as he searched his father's
mask for implicit explanation. Meanwhile, the alien
bowed intricately at Vader's feet. "What is thy
bidding, my Lord?" the alien mewed, keeping his
face against the floor.
"You may rise, Alkahrak," Vader
instructed coolly yet not completely haughtily
Luke thus understood that his father cared about
his loyal servant.
"I need your assistance to protect my
children and family."
Luke, who hadn't expected Vader to talk about
them, let alone identify them as his heirs, continued
to gape in confusion and shock as the imperial Noghri
turned toward himself and his sister and bowed again
in front of them.
"It is an honor to meet you, children of the
The twins exchanged a bemused look, then
simultaneously turned toward their father. He
silently invited them to answer the alien servant.
"I... uh, it's an honor to meet you too,
Alkahrak," Luke began while he made a note to
himself to remember that not all Noghris had joined
the Republic yet. He had never suspected
anything about the Noghris before, but as he gazed at
Alkahrak's figure, he 'felt' that it was the truth.
"Thank you for your help," Leia added
The average-tall alien straightened once more,
bowed his head to them, and then refocused on his
"How may I serve you, my Lord?" he
"My son, as well as my son-in-law,"
Vader began seriously--- Han gasped aloud as
the other's words settled in his mind.
"will go to the Rebellion in a highly
dangerous mission," he continued as if he hadn't
noticed Han's reaction. "They'll need
"The clan of Areshetar will be honored to
protect them," the Noghri mewed respectfully.
"My daughter will also stay alone in the
castle for a while. She must not be seen by anyone
from the Republic," he instructed him.
"Yes, my Lord. She will be safe."
"Good. Before the conference I'll give you
instructions concerning my own protection as well as
the ...mistakes in it, " he commented
"Yes, my Lord," Alkahrak said once
again, although in a slightly disapproving tone.
"I know that you would have done better,
Alkahrak, But it's known that you are under my
"This ..skarlt 's too young. Ash't aha
lert," he then commented in a somewhat
"Ash leht erta, Alkahrak.
Shart'astkara," his father replied in the alien
The Noghri bowed in obedience. "Yes, my
"You may go."
"Ah, if I may," Leia interrupted the
alien's imminent departure.
The Noghri looked at Vader, who nodded yes.
"How may I serve you, daughter of Lord
"I was wondering... How many of your people
are still at the service of my father?"
Alkahrak appeared surprised. "My whole people
is serving Lord Vader, my Lady."
"No, I mean now. After the Republic
discovered that the imperial installations on your
planet had poisoned it, your people allied yourselves
with the Republic."
"All of us are serving Lord Vader," the
Noghri repeated simply.
"But what about the ones who joined the
Republic?" she inquired, and Luke could feel her
"They are serving him too, of course. Lord
Vader saved us."
"He didn't save you!" she exclaimed with
slight animosity. "You were betrayed, we proved
"No," the alien creature gently shook
his massive head. "We always knew of the
poisoning. Our Lord had told us about it. The Emperor
wanted our people dead, but Lord Vader saved us. Now,
our planet is healing."
"But... When the Republic discovered..."
Leia fell silent and gaped at Vader. "A game, is
that it? " she inquired in awe. "You
manipulated us to welcome the Noghris in order to
gain allies inside the Republic while
protecting your spies?"
"And my children," Vader nodded amiably.
"Yes, of course."
Even Luke, who was beginning to grow familiar with
their fathers genius, admitted that these were
amazing news. He had never, ever suspected that their
new spies were still working for his father.
"All those people were involved in a plot?"
he inquired in a half-whisper.
"Crazy..." Leia commented in awe.
"I would never have thought that it could be
"Are you satisfied with this
protection?" their father asked both of them.
"What? Oh, yes," Luke agreed.
"Completely," Leia added, then she
noticed that the Noghri was still there. "Thank
you for your help, Alkahrak."
"It's an honor to serve the daughter of Lord
Vader," he answered, then disappeared almost out
of thin air.
"Well, that is settled, Han commented
in obvious satisfaction, but there's still
something that I want to ask you, your
Lordship," he added more warily.
"Why did you call me..."
"My son-in-law?" Vader finished for him.
"Exactly. As far as I know, I'm not married
with your daughter."
"It can be arranged," the Sith shrugged
as if it were the least of his trouble at the moment.
It was not exactly reciprocal as far as Solo was
concerned. "Ww-w--what?!" he gaped in utter
confusion and disbelief. Luke, who was
witnessing Hans complete loss of composure,
tried hard not to double over in a spasm of silent
Leia, for her part, looked at her lover and
smiled. "Yes," she told him earnestly.
"Yes?? Han gaped in worsening confusion
"Yes in answer to the question that you
haven't asked yet. Yes, Han Solo, I will marry
Chewie couldn't contain his own chuckle after
that, which earned him a glare from his partner.
"Con.." breathed Luke, trying recover
his own composure although he couldn't stop but smirk
at Han's discomfiture. "Congratulations,
"Do you refuse my daughter, Captain?"
Vader inquired seriously.
"No!" Han hurried to answer. "Of
course not. But... Oh, hell. Thanks, Luke."
"And when will we marry?" Leia smiled
sweetly at him after she pecked his cheek in
"You want a great marriage, don't you?"
"Oh, no. I always wanted something small. You
know, a family thing," her smile grew predatory.
She focused on her father. "Could you arrange it
tomorrow? In secret?"
"Of course," Vader nodded in a so
constricted voice that Luke had no doubt that he was
also laughing silently.
Han opened his mouth to speak--- but no sound came
out. For a moment he looked at everyone with
protruding eyes, then after a moment, joined their
"Tomorrow. Oh boy, what can I say... I can't
wait for it!"
And so it was that Han and Leia were married the
next evening in Vader's castle in the most perfect
Two days later, Luke, Han and Chewbacca departed
for the Alliance.
Chapter 15: Lies and Truths
"We are so relieved to see you three
alive," Mon said with a most sincere
smile."We missed you much." She then
sobered visibly. "Sadly though, I have bad
news for you..."
"What it is?" Luke inquired, then
frowned knowingly. "Leia... It has something to
do with Leia, right?"
"Unfortunately..." she nodded, mimicking
a sadness that she didn't feel at all.
"It's difficult to explain," she continued
mock-sorrowfully. "but we have
unfortunately received irrefutable proofs that she's
"No!!" Han exclaimed as he stood up from
his chair in apparent despair. "It's
"I wish that it were not true, Captain."
Mothma shook her head gently. "I know how hard
it is to hear this truth. Our reports informed
us that she was captured by pirates, but before we
could rescue her, their base was destroyed by
"Vader," Luke muttered with
mock-palpable hatred. "It's him. I'm sure that
it was him."
"Probably," Mon sighed once again, as if
in compassion. "And now, it appears that he
wants peace. Even if he did kill Leia, I cannot turn
down this offer."
"You must not believe him," Han shot,
suddenly putting an end to his worried pacing.
His unshed tears were glistening in his eyes.
"He is a liar, a monster, a torturer..."
His last word caught Mon's attention.
"Has he questioned you?" she inquired
And probably fishing for proofs to demolish Vader,
"Tortured? No, not me..." Han
defended. "Nothing much anyway," he
then amended, "But he has not held himself back
Mon turned worried/interested eyes toward the
young Jedi. "Is it true?"
Luke tried to pretend that he was still reeling
from bad memories of pain and agony instead of ones
of sharing and understanding. "He
attempted to turn me," he finally half-whispered
as if in psychological torment.
"But he didn't succeed," Mon smiled as
"He came really close though..."
Mon walked around her desk and laid her hand on
his shoulder. Luke forced himself to not cringe
under her touch.
"It's all over now," she reassured
him. "Everything is over."
"Will you still negotiate with him?"
Solo inquired, trying to draw her attention away from
"I have to. But," she smiled
cryptically. "that too will be over some
That day came on the fifth day of the Peace
talks. The government of the coalition had
already been established and the peace treaty were
That day, Luke knew what to expect.
Thus, he wasn't truly surprised when the
'assassination' took place. Even then though, he only
saw a swirl of black and red cloak, like a body of
flame that assailed his father's throat before it
disappeared almost immediately from sight without any
logical explanation as to its vanishing.
What most people really saw though was a flash of
color, then Vader collapsing on the floor.
"I certainly wouldn't want to face such an
assassin," Han muttered under his breath as he
watched the scene of panic that unfolded in front of
Chewie moaned an agreement.
"Do you know who it is?" Solo inquired
with his new brother-in-law.
"A young Noghri," Luke barely whispered
while he kept his eyes locked on his father's prone
form; he hoped that he was all right.
Finally, Mon took the direction of the conference
in her capable hands and stopped the panic.
That allowed the medics to pass through to examine
He was alive, to the dismay of Mothma, but nobody
but a Jedi could know this about her feelings.
To everyone else, she appeared to be genuinely
worried about the suddenly 'benevolent' Dark Lord of
She sighed in mock-relief when the medical team
transported him to the nearest medical center for
A few days later, after the capture of Vader's
'attacker', it was announced that Lord Vader had
survived the assassination attempt but had entered a
Nobody knew if he would came out of it someday.
Mon Mothma was unanimously elected as the chief of
the government and, provisionally, the chief of
Or more technically, the new Empress, but with a
new, less worrying title. Safely hidden in her
father's castle, Leia warily watched the proceedings.
Luke entered the medcenter.
Officially, he was here to check for Mothma the
status of the Dark Lord, as well as savor his
In fact though, he was merely visiting his father.
Vader's body was on the bed, attached to external
life support system. His whole armor had been
removed, thus allowing him to see him without it for
the first time since he had met him.
His skin was even paler then the pristine medical
sheets, and his face was almost completely covered by
an opaque respirator, but what was left uncovered
allowed an extrapolation that he had never had a
chance to indulge in before.
What he quickly noticed was that his father hadn't
lied. He did not have a face anym---
"My gods" Luke breathed in horror even
as he refrained himself from bolting toward the
closest 'fresher to relieve his stomach. In a
way, he had known what to expect, except that he had
not believed his father.
Vader's mask was really more his face than his
*Father* Luke called. *Can you hear me?*
The reply came almost immediately. It was weaker
then usual, but calm and coherent. *Good
*Did I wake you?*
*You did, but it doesn't matter. I have plenty of
time to sleep now,* Vader answered tiredly.
*Dr. Forester must be happy,* Luke cracked
lightly, referring to his father's personal
medic. As he had quickly found out upon
entering his father's world, the man's personal
crusade was to make the Dark Lord sleep as much as he
*Ecstatic. At last I'm under his complete power,*
his father answered in kind.
*How are you?* Luke inquired more worriedly.
*Good. In a month I'll 'need' to maintain coma
*And the medics? What will they do?* he asked in
relief. *Won't they become aware of the
*No, only of the healing of my injury... and the
need to replace some of my implants. When they
will do so,* he then warned him, *I'll be Force-blind
for some days. I'll tell you beforehand though,* he
*Ok.. So,* he inquired uncertainly, *will you be
*Yes. I'm a Sith,* he reminded him coolly.
*Being here doesn't matter. Besides, I finally have
some free time to listen to the Circle.* The
feeling of a smile caressed Luke's mind. *How are
you? And Leia?*
*We are all right,* he reassured his father.
*The plan is proceeding smoothly. Leia is gathering
all the information that we need via your spy
network, as agreed. I think that she is really
*She is a born politician,* his father mentally
nodded in agreement, *like your mother.*
*I agree. By the way, the Nohgri are doing
an admirable job protecting her,* he added in genuine
awe. *The castle was searched but they never
found Leia, nor your real archive for that matter.*
*Good. And you?*
*Well... Han, and myself are in the 'imperial
council'. Mon is just 'great',* he commented
sarcastically. *She's managed to gain all the
Emperors' privileges and power without alerting the
Alliance. She is wonderfully balancing at the
edge at the moment.*
*It will not last long,* Vader commented
knowingly. *When the ecstasy of the end of the
war will be over, the planets will ask for the
promised reforms, which I don't think that she will
be able to honor. The absence of respect of those
engagements will pull the Alliance apart.*
*Why? She's managed the Rebellion so far,* Luke
*Because she was leading a war against a common
enemy, and she had the help of your sister,* his
father reminded him more sternly. *Now though,
she's alone, and, as you yourself have once
complained, the managing of power is more a dull
everyday work than a thrill-filled ride. This
is something that she does not know how to
handle. Hence, she will always want more power
to keep herself from falling into a tedious
routine... She will follow in Palpatine's tracks.*
*I see,* Luke nodded in grim understanding.
*How much time then?*
*Six months at the most. I don't think that more
will be necessary.*
*That long?* Luke gaped, dumbfounded. He had
not expected this kind of answer at all.
*Patience, Son,* his father wisely counseled him,
then seemed to smirk at him.*Consider it as a good
practice for you to strengthen this aspect of the
*Okay,* he reluctantly accepted, then tilted his
head as he felt something enter his Force
senses. The guards at the door were beginning
to wonder what was taking him so long. *I must
go. I've already spent too much time here.*
*Take care, Son,* his father sent him warmly.
*You too, and see you soon,* he bid him
earnestly. Six months, he then thought to
It would be an eternity, he whined in an
unjedi-like fashion, but he didn't care. He
already missed his father's presence around him.
------Six months passed, gradually filling
themselves with the boring tedium that Vader had
mentioned... and things began to go wrong in the
Now that the war had ended, pleas for pacification
came from some still besieged planets... and went
ignored by the new government.
At first, nobody noticed anything wrong in regards
to those... But after a while, pleas for the reforms
also went ignored, then the only thing that the
government seemed to do was talk.
Then the taxes were increased.
Next, some rising resistance simply vanished
without a trace --- until their Leaders were found
some time later... Dead.
Then, a general of the old republic disappeared
too. It was said that he had contradicted
Mothma. After this incident, nobody dared speak
against her anymore, silently accepting her slowly
growing reign of terror.
Later on, some planets decided to leave the
Alliance while the construction of some scientific
station near Endor was announced. This
announcement went unnoticed--- but for four people
who were waiting for such a blunder to take place.
The woman's lust for power needed to be quenched
for good now.
Thus, during a session of the council, Luke
requested the permission to speak. He naturally
obtained it without any arguments. He was their
'trustee' Jedi advisor now.
"I want to inquire about the scientific
station that was announced yesterday," he began
somberly. "I simply wonder what kind of
scientific station can cost some two-hundred millions
credits," he stated, locking his defiant gaze on
Mothma, then sent his information to personal screens
of each councilor that was present to this
meeting. They all gazed at their screen, then
gaped back at him upon seeing the station's financial
Mothma paled, then tried to interfere, but
surprisingly couldn't. She wasn suddenly forced
to muteness. Luke continued.
"The plans of that station are also
peculiarly interesting," he commented with a
hint of sarcasm in his voice, a sarcasm directed at
The woman began to glare daggers at him as Luke
loaded a datadisk in the main holoprojector of the
conference table. The plans of a Death Star
appeared above the middle of the table. The
councilors' eyes widened in horror, then The men
began to mutter between themselves in earnest.
Beside Luke, Han closely monitored Madine who was
giving them signs that they couldn't trust him
Luke released Mon from his control.
"This is ridiculous!" she exclaimed.
"You're mad, Skywalker. Who would give an order
like this?" she demanded, gazing at her
"But you of course," said a new, yet
familiar and long-heard voice.
Everybody turned toward the direction of the
mellifluous voice--- and saw an angel-like lady
Organa who had seemingly appeared out of thin air.
The ex-princess smiled serenely as she slowly
advanced toward the woman who was responsible for her
torture and her near death. "Hello, Mon.
Did you miss me?" she inquired with a concealed
sneer that only Mon Mothma could detect since she was
facing only her at the moment.
However, her even voice resounded throughout the
whole room, calming the distraught Councilors while
it captured their complete attention.
Mothma was still gaping at her in disbelief.
"L--- Leia??" she inarticulately blurted
"Yes. You didn't expect to see me
again, did you?" she asked her former ally.
"I thought that you were dead," she
admitted with the slightest edge of hatred in her
voice. "How did you escape Vader?"
she then inquired as kindly as she could manage.
"How I have escaped your mercenaries you
mean?" Leia corrected. "How have I
recovered from the cruel beatings and punishments
that you have ordered them to accomplish
"Where do you get such ideas, Leia?" the
other hurried to defend herself, "I would
"Correction," a deep voice stated from
behind the petite brunette before the black form of
Darth Vader appeared behind Leia's white silhouette,
definitely out of thin air this time. "You would
have, and you did."
While the gathered councilors definitely backed
away upon witnessing the apparition of what they
thought was a ghost, Mothma stood her ground, but not
as convincingly as she intended to.
"How-how can you--- You are in an incurable
coma----" the woman of state stuttered in utter
"Your bid for power is over, Mon
Mothma," he declared darkly, pointedly ignoring
"What bid?" she asked, desperately
trying to recover some kind of control on the quickly
Luke saw her throw a nervous look at the
councilors that were gathered at the other end of the
table, then he saw in her features and senses that
she had realized that there was no going back after
this latest surprise.
She had lost their blind trust.
"The bid that made you betray Princess Leia's
location when she retrieved the Death Star
Plans," Vader explained seriously.
"The bid that made you kill the population of
two whole cities on Brummuri in order to fuel the
animosity of your rebel troops once I kept the Fleet
away from your ships." The rebel
councilors began to express their distrust in their
up-to-now irreproachable leader. "The lust that
made you want to kill me so that you could take the
throne," Vader finished darkly. "And
of course, that very same lust that made you attempt
the construction of a new Death Star."
"You can't prove anything!" the
almost-Empress suddenly spat vehemently, giving up
any pretense that she wasn't guilty.
Luke, who was closely monitoring the cornered
woman, saw in her mind that if they didn't win, they
were all dead.
"Oh, but I can," his father answered
suavely. "I can prove most easily your
ordering of the Death Star construction. I have three
witnesses of this deal. As for proving that you
organized my demise is simple; the Noghri who has
been arrested is 'my' agent, not yours as you thought
When all the colors drained from Mothma's
features, Luke knew that they had won. She was whiter
than her robe.
In front of the young Jedi, Madine, was as red as
a beet. Luke shifted his concentration from one enemy
to the other. The general was the most
threatening danger now.
"No" Mothma finally shook her head.
"A game? This whole Peace Conference was only a
game to draw me out?"
"You were more perceptive before, Mon,"
his father observed critically.
"Why? I thought that we were... at least
friends," she commented, obviously trying to
gain the pity of the Dark Lord.
His father remained unmoved while the Rebellion's
generals looked at her in disgust.
"Friends?" Ackbar stuttered." What
does it mean?"
"Mon Mothma has tried to win the game of
power, Admiral," Vader explained coolly, his
gaze never leaving the red-headed woman.
"This war, as well as the Rebellion, were merely
tools for her to reach the throne of the
Madine suddenly drew his weapon, but Luke was
ready. Even before the other had cleared his
holster, he himself had grabbed the man with the
Force and hurled him above and away from the meeting
table. The man crashed against the far wall,
then fell on the floor in an unconscious heap.
The young Jedi called his blaster to his hand, then
refocused on the wide-eyed, frightened faces as he
set it on the table beside himself.
"Skywalker?!?" Dodonna breathed in
fright and uncertainty.
"He was her secret lover," he explained
simply, "her sole accomplice in this
scheme of hers... and the one person behind all the
murders and the supposedly kidnappings of the past
"What?!" the aging general whispered,
whirling toward the newly revealed monster.
"Is that true?" Ackbar inquired wearily.
"No need to lie," Vader commented almost
gently. "You're beaten, Mon."
"It does appear so." she smiled without
humor, then sighed in defeat. "Yes, everything
is true," she admitted coldly, not giving any
sign of regret for her machiavellian
manipulations. "I created the Rebellion to
dethrone the Emperor and take his place; I also tried
to kill the Princess in order to achieve this
Her hateful glare pinned Leia, who didn't flinch
in the least. She equally glared at the woman
of state. "How I hate you, Leia," she
muttered, then refocused on the dark lord.
"I wanted to take Palpatine's place, yes, but I
am different from him for one thing: I know how to
She slowly walked around the end of the table and
approached her enemy, who was now standing near
Luke's seat. The councilors swiftly moved
further away from the table, obviously afraid by the
upcoming, final face-off.
Once beside the dark lord, Mon brazenly glared at
him. "Why have you gone to so much trouble
to get your revenge? Was it for the pleasure of
the game? Your own cravings for power? Or the
throne?" she inquired, intently looking at him.
"If I had only wanted the throne," the
Sith lord began calmly, "I would have dealt with
you alone. My revenge was based on purely personal
reasons, which have nothing to do," he looked at
her and Mon dropped her gaze, "with what you
The defeated woman smiled a little.
"I'm disappointed, while not surprised. What it
is then?" she inquired, raising her head
once again to meet his gaze. "I don't think that
there is anymore need to keep this secret. As
you've said," she glared askance at Leia and
Luke, "you've won."
"Remember what you have discovered ten years
ago?" Vader answered her seriously. "What
has been promptly denied and banned from discussion?
It's true, and I care."
She gaped at him, then at Luke and Leia.
"I... see," she nodded in Understanding,
then briefly bowed her head, as if in respect.
"Congratulations. It was an excellent game and
it was an honor to have you for an opponent."
"Entirely my pleasure," Vader answered,
bowing a little in return.
The two opponents gazed at each other for a little
longer, then everything became a blur.
Mothma dove for the blaster that was lying on the
table beside Luke, then she grabbed hold of it before
she turned around.
The young Jedi had barely begun to focus on
stopping her from aiming at either him or Leia---
when she fired at her own head.
He turned away in horror, clenching his eyes and
trying to not register the awful after image of what
he had just witnessed. Behind him, the
distraught councilors muttered in terror, then one of
them called for security.
Then, he felt his sister's hand touch his cheek;
he opened his eyes and gazed into her understanding
eyes. *It's over, Luke,* she sent him
reassuringly. *Let's get out of here.*
He nodded wordlessly, then raised his head to gaze
at his father.
He too nodded in agreement. He saw him throw
a last gaze at the woman's body, then he turned and
exited the room. His children and their friend
followed him, leaving the chaos behind themselves...
for the time being.
As Vader had promised to Leia, no one except the
present councilors were told about what had happened
in the small meeting room; the present men had also
agreed that this horrifying truth was better kept
secret and forgotten.
Mothma was thus reported dead after having
suffered from a heart attack. The Empire
rejoiced in the miraculous reestablishment of Emperor
Lord Vader, who quickly set the wrongs right and
listened to the pleas that had gone unheard for too
The unifying process between the Empire and the
Republic began anew.
On the family side, things were not so clear
Leia had finally made her peace with her father,
but she still wanted her freedom. She didn't
want to have anything to do with the Force, the Jedi
Knights or the Sith, except for her ability to mind
talk with her brother.
Since the Rebellion wasn't needed anymore though,
at least, for the moment, she didn't have a cause to
Hence, she only had a few options.
She could either remain on Coruscant and become
involved in the new government, or else, she could
leave and travel all around the galaxy with her new
husband. One thing was clear for her though: she
wanted to make sure that no more injustice, such as
the ones that the Emperor had brought upon the
galaxy, would ever happen again.
Luke for his part couldn't decide whether to stay
with his father, or to leave with his friends.
Whatever he chose, he knew that he would be leaving a
part of his family, something that he had always
wanted in his life.
He couldn't imagine abandoning Leia, his dear
sister who could understand him so much better than
anybody else... who was the strength that he didn't
have when times became rough...
On the other hand, he also couldn't imagine
leaving his father, the man who was helping him to
become a man instead of a perpetual teenager, the
accomplished Force User who was guiding him toward
the completion of his training... the father he had
always wished for and had finally found... albeit in
a completely different 'format' that what he had
He was pondering this difficult choice yet again
when his sister and friends joined him on the large
balcony of his chosen quarters.
"Hey, Kid, still rummaging those thoughts of
yours," Han teased him.
"Still," Luke nodded as he turned toward
them to greet them. "What about you? Have
you made your decision yet?"
"I've decided to stay on Coruscant for a
while," Leia answered him after exchanging a
quick hug with him. "I want to make sure
that everything will be fine... You know, no more New
Order?" she winked at him.
"Yeah, I know," he nodded in
agreement. *Will you live here, in Father's
palace then?" he inquired next.
"Well, hmmmm, we'll see," Han commented,
his unease with the dark lord still obvious in his
physical demeanor and voice.
While the two men had come closer than Luke had
ever thought possible for those two, his friend still
felt quite uncomfortable when the idea of living with
Vader came up---
"And you?" Han queried, pulling him out
of his thoughts.
He sighed wearily as the need to made up his mind
'assailed' him once again. "More and more,"
he finally admitted honestly, "I think that I'll
stay here too for a while. I might leave later
on, but for the moment, I think that my place is
here, with him."
As he shared with his true intentions with his
friend, a most welcomed feeling of peace settled
within him. This was where he had to be for the
moment, he realized.
"Or his place is here, with you, learning
from you," Leia commented, as if reading his
"Perhaps," Luke shrugged while he
exchanged a knowing gaze with her.
Chewie crooned some warning at him though.
Luke shook his head at the tall wookiee.
"Don't worry, Chewie," he reassured his
very old friend. "I will not learn Sith
teachings. I just want to complete my basic
"Yeah, and whatever other knowledge he can
provide you with, right?" Han ribbed him in the
Luke couldn't help but blush as if he had been
caught with his hand in the cookie jar. "Well,
hmmm, I must admit that I'd like to get through his
whole library, yes" he admitted ruefully.
"By the Force," Leia shook her head as
if in disbelief, "if you do that, you'll still
be here in a thousand years," she smiled wryly.
"I know, but if it's the secret of a very old
life," Luke quipped, then sobered a little, as
did his friends. "Nah, seriously though,
I'll try to read as much as I can."
"Well, then," Han smiled
lopsidedly, "I'd say that it's settled for
all of us now. How about telling him?" he
Luke, who had slowly grown aware of his father's
friendly presence around them, concentrated to listen
to what he wanted to tell him, then shook his head,
smiling. "He already knows, Han," he
informed his friends, "and he agrees with our
"He already knows?" Han frowned,
"It appears that he has known for days,
before even we knew what we truly wanted," the
youth shrugged while he wondered just 'how' wise his
"Then he should have told us," Leia
"And cut our fun at the moment, nah,"
Luke teased her. "By the way, if you are
interested, he offers you to live on one of the
unoccupied level of the castle.He says that you can
transform it whatever way you want."
Leia and Han exchanged a surprised glance, then
"Tell him that we accept," she told her
brother, then turned toward the landscape of
Coruscant. As she gazed at it, she consciously
identified it as her new home for the first
time. Ever since she had awakened in her
father's medcenter, she had never thought about it as
more than her prison world. But not anymore.
She was free now, and she had chosen to help in
the creation of a new, fair government.
Just like Luke knew that his place was at his
father's side for the moment, she could feel that her
destiny was here.
Hence, she made a note to herself to fix her
'home' the way she wanted because she could feel that
she'd probably be living here for a long, long while.
Beside her, Luke studied the same landscape,
wondering what the future had in store for him
now. The red-gold tinted sky seemed to be
talking to him, but so were the flying aircrafts, the
populated city, and the Force.
When he failed to decipher what the present moment
was trying to tell him, he decided that he would
simply wait... and see...