Left Guardian Welcome to Bast Castle
Right Guardian
 

Home Fiction Art Mail List Staff Links

Title: Masquerade
Author: Cyranothe2nd (Cyranothe2nd@hotmail.com)
Rating: PG-13
Catagory: Drama

Disclaimer: I do not own Vader, Luke, or any other Star Wars charecters. I only play in Lucas' world.

Summary: Someone is masquerading about the galaxy under the name of “Anakin Skywalker.” Eventually both Luke and Darth Vader hear about it through Imperial and Alliance networks. A Luke/Vader challenge fic.




Masquerade

Part One

The man woke with a start, sweat sheening his body, his breath coming in hard gasps. The darkness still pulsated with the scream that ripped from his throat and woke him.

"Lights," he rasped, and the automated lights sprang up, blinding him. The terror receded like dune sand upon the wind of his waking. He sat up slowly, swinging his legs off the bunk and onto the cold metal of the deck. He could feel the floor thrum through the soles of his feet. They must have just left hyperspace, which meant they were close. He rubbed at his tired face with both hands. The right one-the mechanical prosthetic-looked real enough but lacked the sensory perception of the original, pressing too hard into his cold-chafed skin.

He pushed off from the bed and padded to the monitor on the small desk opposite. Yes, only a few hours away now. Soon, very soon he would be there and this nightmare would end. Soon there would be no more sleepless nights. Soon enough the murderer would pay...


If there was a funeral service for a Jedi Master Luke did not know it. He closed his eyes, feeling his ignorance keenly. Yoda had said his training was complete but there was so much he still didn't know. And now he would never have the opportunity to find out. He was the last Jedi...the only Jedi.

He was alone.

Luke stumbled out of the hut and into the misty night, the tears burning the back of his throat finally breaking forth.

I'm not ready, he thought miserably. I don't know nearly enough. Master!

He fell to his knees outside the door, his grief and loss overtaking him. Alone...always alone.

Luke? He felt the tentative brush on his mind and grabbed at it with all the strength of a lone man in a sandstorm.

Ben?

No, came the flat reply. No, it did not feel like his old teacher. The Force presence felt too strong to be from one already dead. But who-

Luke gasped as he realized, standing quickly.

You!

Yes, my son.

Don't call me that!

There was a long silence. Very well...Luke.

What do you want?

I felt you call to me. You are in pain. It wasn't an answer but it was the only thing he was likely to get.

Master Yoda is dead.

Yes, I felt his passing. He was completing your training?

Luke considered his answer. It would do no harm to admit the truth.

Yes, he Sent.

There was a long silence and Luke thought that he had gone. He had just turned back to the hut when he heard the voice sound in his head once again.

I am sorry for your loss.

A thousand thoughts floated through Luke's head-Why? Wouldn't you have killed him if you'd had the chance? - but they were unworthy of a Jedi and he gave them no voice. He broke their contact and went back inside.

The hut seemed smaller and darker without it's eccentric occupant. Luke's eyes roved over the sturdy, short-legged chairs, the knobby Gimer stick standing by the door, and the tiny bed, all empty and absent. Luke sighed and gathered his things. It seemed wrong that so vital a being had ended life on this swampy rock; it seemed to mock Yoda's life, to make it meaningless. Luke shook his head and took his black flight-bag outside.

Mist hung from the dripping trees. Twilight was coming on fast and the cold was coming with it. Luke shivered, feeling the chill seeping into his bones, into his heart. He walked back to where his ship rested on the damp ground. Artoo met him with a brief whistle. Luke threw his flight-bag into the cockpit and sank down onto a fallen tree limb, his head in his hands.

"I can't do it. I can't go on alone."

"Yoda and I will always be with you."

Luke started up, sure of whose voice he had heard this time.

" Ben!" He turned swiftly to see the shimmering image of Obi-Wan Kenobi standing behind him. And suddenly all his grief and loneliness turned to anger. "Why? Why didn't you tell me the truth? You told me that Darth Vader betrayed and murdered my father!"

The image of Ben had the grace to look chastened. "Your father, Anakin, was seduced by the dark side of the Force. When that happened he ceased to be Anakin Skywalker and became Darth Vader. The good man that was your father was destroyed. So what I told you was true...from a certain point of view."

"Certain point of view!" Luke repeated the words incredulously. The betrayal that he had felt when the Force had told him Darth Vader was, indeed, his father was nothing compare to hearing Ben cavalierly explain away his lie.

"Luke, you will find that many of the truths we cling to depend greatly on our point of view." His voice was filled with his customary gentleness but Luke turned away, unable to let go of his hurt just yet.

"I don't blame you for being angry," Ben said. "If I was wrong in what I did, it certainly wouldn't be the first time. You see, it's my fault that your father turned."

Luke turned back to his one-time Master, eager to hear anything about his father.

"When I first encountered you father he was already a great pilot." Luke remembered the TIE fighter that had dueled him above the first Death Star. He had suspected that it had been Vader; now he was sure of it.

"But I was amazed at how strongly the Force was with him," Ben went on. "I took it upon myself to train Anakin in the ways of the Jedi. My mistake was thinking that I could be as good a teacher as Master Yoda. I was not." Ben paused, gazing into the middle distance. Luke felt his anger fade as he saw the sorrow and regret in Ben's eyes. Ben smiled again, a wry, self-deprecating smile.

"Such was my foolish pride," he said. "The Emperor sensed Anakin's power and lured him to the dark side. My pride had terrible consequences for the galaxy."

Luke sat in silence, reflecting on the times he had met his father, from that first firefight above Yavin to the conversation they had had barely an hour ago. He didn't kill me, Luke thought. On Bespin he had the opportunity and yet he didn't.

"There is still good in him." Luke said slowly.

Ben shook his head remorsefully. "I also thought that he could be turned back to the good side. It couldn't be done. He is more machine, now, than man- twisted, and evil."

I t was Luke's turn to shake his head. "I can't do it. I can't kill my own father." Even as he said it he felt a ripple of the Force, the same buzzing sensation that had filled him when Vader had declared himself Luke's father. It was as though he was trying to remember something just on the periphery of his consciousness.

"Then the Emperor has already won," Ben said sadly. "You were our last hope."

The feeling was growing stronger, clearer. "Yoda spoke of another."

"The other that he spoke of was your twin sister." Luke startled to his feet, opening his mouth to ask but Ben held up a restraining hand, "To protect you both from the Emperor you were separated at birth. The Emperor knew, as I did, that one day Skywalker's offspring would be a threat to him. For that reason your sister has remained safely anonymous."

With an almost audible -snick- the truth clicked into place. Luke sat back down heavily.

"Leia! Leia is my sister."

Ben's smile grew warm. "Your insight serves you well." Luke smiled back, a thousand feelings tumbling through his heart. Gratitude, companionship, and love...love most of all. He finally had a family. A fractured one, but a family nonetheless. He felt the joy of that thought fill him.

"Bury your feelings deep down Luke," Ben's stern voice cut across his thoughts. "They do you credit but they could be made to serve the Emperor."

Luke nodded, realizing the implications of what Ben was saying. If the Emperor knew that there were two Skywalker children he could use the one to insure the other's cooperation. "He will try to turn her too," Luke said aloud. He couldn't let that happen. He had to protect his sister. "Ben, I-" he looked up but Ben was no longer standing in front of him.

Luke stood up. Ben? he Sent.

But there was no answer. Ben was gone.

Luke stood there for a long time, watching the light fade and pondering all that Ben had told him. Was it really his destiny to kill his father? It felt wrong; an evil to punish an evil. He did not know if he was capable of such a thing.

And then he thought of Leia and the threat that would hang on her if he failed.

There must be another way, Luke thought desperately. I have to find it, that's all.

Artoo trundled over to him, whistling a warning.

"Yes, you're right. I don't want to spend another night here either."

Luke climbed into the cockpit of his X-wing. He powered up the thrusters as he heard Artoo settle in behind him. The ship began to vibrate as the power built up in the engines and then the small craft jumped up, slipping free of gravity and ascending towards the sky. Soon they were skimming the tops of the trees, flying higher and higher until they broke the stratosphere and were suddenly among the stars.

"Artoo, plot a course for Sullust." Luke heard Artoo humming behind him as he charted a course that would have them rendezvous with the Rebel fleet. Luke glanced down at the instrument panel, mentally calculating how long it would take them to meet up with the fleet, and with Leia and Han.

Sister, Luke thought, staring into the starry void. My sister. Mine.

A light on his console was blinking. He'd been so distracted by Ben's revelations that he'd missed it. Luke frowned at his own carelessness. He punched the button, thankful that it was only a missed message and not something much more important, and routed the audio to his helmet.

As though in answer to his thoughts, Leia's voice came over the comm. "Luke, I don't know how to tell you this, but I thought you should hear it from me. You're father has been located. He is on Tatooine right now. I'm sending you the information picked up by our informant there. Go and find him Luke. Bring him back with you, if you can. Meet us at the rendezvous point as soon as you can. Leia out."

Luke opened the attached file on his console. It consisted of a report from Nal Pelidin, a Twi'lek mole that kept the Rebellion informed on the movement of the Hutts. It was amazing what one could find out if one watched where the Hutts put their money. The rapid reinvestment of several million credits presaged the rebuilding of the Death Star and tipped off the Rebellion long before the Bothan spynet had been put in place. And it was her information that had helped Luke and the others gain access to Jabba's palace.

Luke looked over the report and the included picture, a flat image of a man with dark eyes and a gaunt, lined face. Could this man be his father? Could Yoda and Ben have been wrong? Was it possible that Vader had tricked them somehow? But it hasn't felt like a trick.

Ben? Luke Sent out the thought. There was no answer. He tried again.

Father?

Yes, my son? The deep drawl of Vader's mind voice immediately answered back. Luke backed off, severing the connection quickly. Artoo hooted at him, telling him to prepare for the jump to hyperspace.

"Artoo, change course. We're going to Tatooine."

Part Two

The Sur' Jet was the biggest dive in Mos Eisley- and that was saying something. It didn't have good booze, like the Paradise. Nor was it backed by a spaceport like the Blockhouse. In fact, the only thing it had going for it was that its scummy clientele were all either too drunk or too spaced to notice anyone coming or going.

And that suited Ash just fine. She wasn't here to make friends. All she needed was to finish this one job and then she could fly off this Sith-cursed rock. She hated Tatooine, hated the heat and the wind and the Hutts that controlled it all with an iron fist. She'd like to find the man who killed Jabba and give him a medal. She'd like to plunge into the freezing waters of home and not come out until her skin was blue. She'd like to see her son's smiling face again.

But wishing wasn't going to make her five million credits, so she pulled her cloak tightly around her body and drifted casually into the cantina. She appropriated a drink from a waiter's tray and slid into a seat in the shadows next to the door.

"Where the hell have you been?" the man seated opposite her whispered furiously.

She shrugged. "Streets are hot, Imps all over. I heard Vader was here."

"Yeah, and the Emperor's showing up next week," her companion said sarcastically. "Do you have it?"

"Of course." Ash snorted contemptuously. She pulled a small cube out of a pouch hanging at her side and showed it to Ellifrit. He reached for it but she snatched it back and returned it to her pouch.

"What's the plan?"

Ash would normally never let a tri'vek, particularly a male, tell her what to do. She worked alone and liked it that way. But Ellifrit had offered her a share in the bounty if she could get the item for him and Ash needed that money. She watched him now, as he outlined him plans to her. He had the wild eyes and fervent voice of a fanatic. Stars, why did I agree to this? Ash asked herself for the millionth time. But she knew why. That many credits could buy a lot of medicine. It might even buy a cure for Hylen. She would do anything for her boy, anything.

"Fine," she said when he finished. "Just make sure you keep your end of the bargain."

"Five million credits," Ellifrit said, baring yellowing teeth at her. Ash stood up, revolted.

"I'll meet you at the hanger at the arranged time."

"Don't be late," Ellifrit warned her retreating back.

Necessity makes you pick strange bed-partners, Ash reflected as she walked into the bright Tatooine sun. Still, it wouldn't be too much longer.

Then I'll be home. Then I'll be with Hylen, she promised herself.


Darth Vader stepped into the throne room and approached his master, who sat regarding the pale green moon of Endor out of the viewport window. The Emperor gave no sign of acknowledgement, though he must have sensed his apprentice's presence; he just sat gazing out at the vista beyond him. Vader knelt behind his master's chair and waited. He did not mind waiting. It gave him a chance to open himself to the powerful Force-energy that swirled around his master like electricity around a conduit. It was darkness of the densest sort, a black hole of power, and Vader longed to immerse himself in it, to dispel the doubts and confusion that lurked in the corners of his soul.

But he dared not. He was not ignorant of his master's plot to capture his son, to turn the boy himself and replace his old apprentice with a newer one. He was not hurt by this knowledge; loyalty was an alien emotion to a Sith. But he must be on guard. He dared not lose control, for to lose control was to lose power and a loss of power now, at this critical junction, would be worse than reckless. It would be suicide.

So Darth Vader buried his disquiet deep down and waited.

And waited.

It was he who broke the silence first. "What is thy bidding, my master?"

He had been careful to keep the impatience from his voice but the Emperor heard its echo nonetheless. He turned his chair slowly to face his apprentice, a small smile playing on his thin lips.

"Send the fleet to the far side of Endor. There it will stay until called for."

"And what of the reports of the Rebel fleet amassing near Sullust?"

The Emperor made a negating gesture. "It is of no concern. Soon the Rebel fleet will be crushed and young Skywalker-" Vader tried not to flinch at that hated name, "-will be one of us. Your work here is finished, my friend. Go out to the command ship and await my orders."

"Yes, my master." Vader rose and exited, striding down the corridors to his shuttle. In short order he was back on the Executer. He made his way to the command deck and stood gripping the handrail and staring into the infinity of space. He had hoped that he would be given permission to go after his son again. He knew, as the Emperor did, that the boy was too powerful to be left to his own devices. He must be turned or destroyed. And yet Vader found a strange comfort in the boy's defiance. It had been a very long time since he had faced an equal in combat. Now that the boy's training was complete, well...

"Lord Vader?" The Dark Lord turned to see a junior officer rushing up to him, holding a data pad.

"Lieutenant Florin."

The man fumbled mid-step, surprised that his superior knew his name. Vader felt himself smile beneath the mask. It wasn't as though he had either the time or the inclination to memorize the named of all the officers under his command; he had simply plucked it from the man's mind.

"My Lord," Florin said, recovering quickly. "Command has just received a communiqué from the unit commander on Tatooine. It contained a name on your flagged list, sir. Here are the details." He handed Vader the data pad.

Vader scanned the contents, his eyes stopping on the name -Anakin Skywalker.

"Lieutenant." The vocoder did not allow the snarl in his voice to make its way through. It didn't need to. The junior officer paled. "Who is the commander of the base on Tatooine?"

"Ensign Madrick, sir." Vader's eyes narrowed. An ensign?

"Very well. Ready my shuttle. And inform Ensign Madrick that I will be arriving shortly."

"Yes sir." Florin rushed away to do his commander's bidding, leaving the Dark Lord alone to contemplate his fury. Vader had never thought to visit Tatooine again. He hated that place and the memories it evoked. To think of someone in that place using that name was intolerable. He would have to go there himself to deal with the interloper.

Oh yes, Vader vowed to himself. The pretender will pay for this outrage.


Leia Organa put her head in her hands and rubbed her temples, trying to get rid of the headache that had plagued her for days. She had arrived at the rendezvous point four days ago and the problems had been non-stop. Preparing a fleet of this magnitude for battle was a massive undertaking, and Admiral Ackbar had relied heavily on her organizational skills. Mon Mothma had informed her on her arrival of the capture and subsequent torture of a half dozen of their Bothan spies. General Madine was worried about a prison break that had occurred nearly a month ago from the Alliance prison on Zanabar. They had hoped to use the captured Imperial officers as hostages in an exchange for the Bothans, but Zanabar was an ice world and all the escaped officers were lost and considered dead.

And then there was Luke. Leia knew that Luke would act on the information that she'd given him; he would follow his father to Tatooine. Leia did not blame him. He had dreamed for so long of his father, the brave Jedi who had been a hero in the Clone Wars. But time was running short. They needed him and his abilities for this battle. She needed him.

It was strange how close she felt to him. There were times that she almost thought she could hear him speaking in her dreams. In waking moments, she knew this was foolish. She was no Jedi. Luke had a power she did not possess and could never understand. But sometimes...sometimes she felt something, a strange buzzing on the periphery of her consciousness. And right now she felt that buzzing like a ship beacon in an asteroid field. Something was wrong.

Leia sighed. It would do no good to worry about Luke. He would join them when he could. She just couldn't get past the feeling that he was in danger somehow.

"Hey Princess, have you seen-" Han broke off as he came around the corner of the rec room and saw her. "You okay?" he asked uncertainly.

"I'm fine," she said, lifted her head and giving him a wan smile.

"You don't look fine. You look tired." Leia gave him a look that clearly said drop it and changed the subject.

"General Madine was looking for you earlier. What is that about?"

Solo managed to look embarrassed. "Nothing. Just something we're working on. No big deal."

She gave the smuggler a skeptical look. "Uh-huh." She turned back to the data pad in her hand, which showed Mothma's plan for the attack force on Endor. The lines of text swam in her vision. Leia switched the pad off and set it back down on the table with another sigh. She felt strong hands on her shoulders, gently massaging.

"Han?"

"Shhh," he said softly. He increased the pressure on her sore muscles and Leia felt her tension ease, her tired body finally relaxing. She allowed her eyes to fall closed. Those magic hands were pulling her back into Han's body and she did not resist. She felt his arms come around her, holding her tightly. She sat in the circle of his arms for a long time.

Luke was gone. The fleet was not ready. But it didn't matter. Nothing could touch her here. The Princess allowed herself to be soothed and finally fell into a deep sleep.

Part Three

Ensign Madrick was a fat, balding man with slovenly dress habits and even worse manners. He had obviously made some effort to clean up his office but it still smelled of stale hooka smoke and alcohol, even to Vader's dulled senses. The man was not in his office when Vader arrived, an insult he had killedmore powerful men for, but arrived shortly after, huffing apologies.

"My Lord, so sorry to keep you waiting, the Hutts are restless, they've heard of your arrival." He gave Vader an ingrating smile. "I trust Lancer was able to brief you?"

Lancer was the ensign's aide, a compact, efficient man who had met Vader's shuttle at the port. The man had snapped a smart salute and reported at once.

"The man calling himself Anakin Skywalker got off a shuttle in Mos Eisley three weeks ago. He traveled under the name Tannin Cortin, an identity we have since learned is false. He has spent the last two days in a hotel in the city's south district." He handed Vader a data pad.

"Is he being followed?"

"Yes, we've had a man on him since you contacted us, sir."

"Good. Make sure he is tracked at all times. I want to know where he goes and what he does, but he is not to be engaged. Is that understood?"

"Yes, sir."

"My Lord, is it true what they're saying?" Ensign Madrick was saying now. "Do we really have a rouge Jedi on Tatooine?"

Vader fixed the Ensign with a hard look.

"Anakin Skywalker is dead," he said.


Luke landed his X-wing in the desert. He had learned from experience that spaceports were hard to get into and out of in a hurry. Not that he expected trouble, but there was something not right here. He could feel it.

His first stop was the water shop that their informant, Nal Pelidin, owned.

"Heya, wamprat," she greeted him. She was quite the most beautiful woman Luke had ever seen. Her blue skin was dusky from the sun and a loose-fitting caftan shrouded her lithe body. Her dark eyes were warm and the easy smile on her face made her beauty less intimidating, somehow.

"Heya," Luke greeted, strolling casually over to her stall. The shop was open-fronted and during daylight hours the counter was tilted out into the street. "I'm looking for a friend of ours, goes by the name of Rao. Have you heard from him?" It was a well-known joke on Tatooine; the name Rao was so common that if you yelled it in a bar, half the men would turn their heads.

Nal leaned closer. "Sure. I heard he was hanging out over at the Sur' Jet." She bent down behind the counter, and her low voice drifted up to him. "Imps are nervous. Something's going down. Be careful." She straightened and handed him a water stick.

"Thanks," Luke said. He passed her a credit chit and left.

Luke walked down the dusty, sun-striped streets of Mos Eisley, contemplating the same question that had plagued him the whole way here. Could this man be his father? Could Vader have lied? The Force told him it was not so, but hadn't the Force failed him before? He had met Yoda, a Jedi Master, on Dagobah and spent an hour in his company without sensing a thing. If Yoda could hide his presence so well wasn't it possible that Vader could manipulate the Force somehow, making him believe things that were not so? Luke knew so little of the dark side and what it could do. Wasn't it possible that Vader had fooled him, fooled even Ben and Yoda?

Luke's brow furrowed, knowing that something was wrong here. He expanded his Force-sense, searching. If his father were here he would feel it, wouldn't he?

Not if he's trying to hide from the Empire, Luke thought. Still Luke kept his senses wide open, scanning the crowded streets and the speeders that flitted past. A scatter of thoughts came to him in a half-dozen languages and Luke sifted through them, seeking.

Suddenly a presence bloomed in his brain, a Force-infused aura, and vivid red in a sea of watercolors. Luke narrowed his focus, grasping onto the presence.

Luke.

Luke pulled back into his own mind, snapping up his walls. Vader! He turned his head to see the Dark Lord of the Sith striding up the street towards him, his cape flaring in the wind, his black form seeming to soak up the sunlight. Luke did not hesitate. He darted down the nearest alleyway, listening hard for sounds of pursuit. Sure enough, he could hear the clatter of stormtroopers behind him. Vader must have seen him. Stars!

Luke wove in between refuse bins and piles of trash before jumping over a dividing wall into the street behind.

They won't find me, Luke thought confidently. I grew up here.

So did I, Vader's amused voice drawled in his head. Luke clamped down hard on his errant emotions, furious with himself for allowing Vader access to his mind. He turned down the street, Jedi-quick reflexes sending his soaring over passing speeders and flashing through small gaps in the crowd. Luke circled around until he was standing in the street where the Sur' Jet stood. He flattened himself into the shadowed doorway of the bar and forced his mind to calm. He heard no more signs of pursuit. Luke sent out a tendril of awareness. Yes, the troopers had lost him about six blocks back and their commander was furious.

Good, Luke thought.

The door behind him opened and a couple of Jawas shuffled out. Luke ducked into the cantina. He needed to find Anakin Skywalker. But Vader's presence here complicated things. The Jedi sat down at a table in the back, careful to face the doorway. He sent out a command via the Force-don't notice me- and the customers blithely ignored him.

Luke sat in the bar until the first of the two suns had set. He could wait no longer. He had no wish to spend the night inside the city and his ship was far enough away that it would take him until dark to reach it. He hoped the stormtroopers had moved on, but either way he'd have to chance it.

He stood up. A human was just entering the bar and Luke started, recognizing his face. It was Anakin Skywalker. Luke sat back down slowly, watching as the man ordered a drink. He was tall, taller than Luke, but with a heaver build that had been muscular in youth but had thickened with age. His dark hair was threaded through with silver and his blue eyes were sunken and faded.

A woman joined him and they sat for a few minutes in silence before they both got up and exited the cantina.

Luke pulled his cloak around him and followed.


Lord Vader stood in the late Ensign Madrick's office, impatience in every line of his body. His son was here. What did it mean? Did the boy really believe that this imposter was his true father? If that were true then the boy was more deluded than he had thought. Still, the possibility that Luke believed that he had lied, that Vader was not his father, bothered him more than he cared to admit.

One thing at a time. He would deal with the pretender first. Then, his son.

"Lord Vader?" The newly promoted Ensign Lancer interrupted his thoughts. "We've found Skywalker, sir."

Part Four

Ash trotted to keep up with Ellifrit's longer strides. "He's following," she said, glancing back over her shoulder.

"Good." Ellifrit headed for the abandoned hanger that they'd scouted out earlier. They walked inside the dark building, taking their places. The Jedi followed.

"That's far enough." Ellifrit's voice rang out. Skywalker's head snapped up, taking in Ellifrit standing on the catwalk above him. Ask stepped out from behind the door, her blaster pointed at the Jedi. He paid her no mind, his whole attention focused on the man above.

"Skywalker." Ellifrit's voice was triumphant. "I've waited a long time for this." He nodded at Ash and she took the cube out of the pouch at her side and switched it on, throwing it on the ground near the Jedi's feet. Nothing happened for a moment, then the cube began to glow a deep red. The Jedi's face twisted into a grimace as the dampener's light began to pulse. Luke felt the moment it began to work. He could feel the Force slipping away and for the first time in years he felt cut off, adrift without that reassuring power at his command.

Father! Luke Sent one last desperatecall through before the dampener cut him off completely from the Force.

Ellifrit grinned, jumping down from the catwalk and strolling up to the Jedi.

"What is this? Who are you?"

"My name is Sellin Ellifrit. I'm the man who's going to kill you."

"Kill?" Ash repeated, her brow furrowing. "But you said that we had to take him in alive to get the reward. That was our deal."

"I'm changing the deal."

"The hell you are!" Ash countered. "Give me my money now."

"Very well." Ellifrit's hand drifted to his blaster. With a lightning fast motion he drew it and shot Ash through the chest. She fell slowly, her blaster clattering out of her lifeless hand.

Luke stared from the dead woman to the man standing over her, now pointed his blaster at the Jedi.

"You don't want to do this," Luke said. He reached out for the Force, tried to gather it, to influence the man's mind but it was no good. Whatever that cube was, it was dulling his Force-sense, making it impossible for him to access his power.

"Missing something?" Ellifrit sneered.

"Why are you doing this?" Luke struggled to keep his voice under control, to keep his fear in check.

Ellifrit's eyes took on a crazed look. "Four years ago you blew up the Death Star. I was the captain of one of the command carriers that was destroyed in the blast. It cost me my hand." He held up his gloved right hand, clenching it into a fist. "I rotted in an Alliance prison for four years. The Emperor didn't want me back. I was considered a traitor."

Luke stared at the man. "I'm- I'm sorry."

Ellifrit glared at him, his rage breaking over. "You will be sorry! My son was on the Death Star. You murdered him! You ruined my life!"

His anger was the distraction Luke needed. He stepped forward, angling his body away from the blaster as he punched Ellifrit hard in the gut. Ellifrit grunted but the blow did not have a Jedi's strength behind it. He straightened, bringing his arm around to shoot but Skywalker dodged, grabbing his left arm with both hands and bringing his knee up. With a sickening crunch the bones broke and the blaster fell out of his nerveless grip. Ellifrit screamed in rage, kicking out and catching the Jedi in the stomach.

Luke staggered back a few steps, the wind knocked out of him. Ellifrit dived for the blaster and Luke rushed forward, kicking it away. Ellifrit's face twisted in hatred and he jumped on Luke, his greater weight bearing him to the floor. Luke took a hard left to the face before he managed to roll away, regaining his feet.

He had to destroy that dampening device! But Ellifrit was charging him again. Luke jumped out of the way but without his Jedi-senses he was slower and the larger man's shoulder clipped him in the chest, sending his staggering backward.

Luke twisted away from Ellifrit, plunging across the room and scooping up the glowing red cube. He threw it onto the floor and brought his heel down on it. With a pulse of red light the device was smashed into pieces.

Suddenly the door burst open. Ellifrit whirled, his eyes widening unpleasantly as he saw the dark-clad figure standing silhouetted in the moonlight.

"Vader." Ellifrit choked out. Then he turned and ran.

"After him. Leave Skywalker to me." The stormtroopers rushed to obey, pelting after Ellifrit.

The Dark Lord stepped into the empty hanger, his eyes on Luke.

"Father."

"Son."

A small smile lifted the corners of Luke's mouth. It vanished as he saw the unlit lightsaber in Vader's hand. His eyes flicked to his father's masked face.

"Did you believe that manto beyour father?" Vader asked.

Luke shook his head. "No. Not really. I just hoped..." He shrugged. "It would be nice to have a father that didn't try to kill me whenever I met him," he said ruefully.

Vader said nothing to this, but Luke felt his focus shift to the destroyed dampener at Luke's feet.

"A lock box," Vader identified it.

"You know what it is?"

Vader inclined his head. "It is a Sith device, used for training."

"Nice."

Luke's eyes fell on his father's unlit lightsaber again.

I do not wish to fight you, he Sent.

And, fantastically, he felt his father's agreement, his reluctance. Luke stepped forward, his heart beating like a trip-hammer as he walked past Vader and out into the cool night.


"Oh Luke, I'm so sorry." Leia's hand was warm and soothing on his arm.

"It's all right. I just-" Luke shook his head. "I just can't help feeling that Ellifrit was my victim. I created him."

"He created himself." Leia said. Luke wasn't so sure. He turned to the viewport and stared out into space.

Is that how my father turned? Luke thought. Did grief and betrayal twist a good man into Darth Vader? And yet he had not killed Luke when he'd had the chance. Luke had felt the conflict within him, the good struggling to overcome the hatred and darkness.

There is still hope for him, Luke realized. He reached out with his mind, felt that dark presence immediately there. Luke withdrew slowly, not wanting to alert his father to his presence just yet.

I cannot do it. I can't kill my own father.

But perhaps there was another way. And in Luke's mind a plan formed.

I will not abandon you, Father. I will come for you, he promised into the starry night.


The man woke, the nightmare receding as the lights sprang up. His mechanically regulated breathing came in quick gasps, tearing out of his chest.

Not Luke! his mind screamed. He was still half in the nightmare, still seeing his son's body racked with pain, his Force-presence bleeding away as he died. Vader shook his head, forcing the dream from his mind. It would not happen that way. His son would live. His son would turn. He would train the boy himself and the two of them would kill the Emperor and rule the Galaxy together.

But a still small voice in his mind told him that it was not so, that his son would never turn to the dark side, and that he would have to be destroyed.

I don't even know you anymore, Anakin. Padme's words echoed over and over in Darth Vader's brain.

He pushed her voice away, getting up. He struggled back into the suit and made his way to the lower deck of the outpost, gripping the railing and looking out at the lush vegetation of Endor. The sun was just breaking the horizon and Vader stared out at the forest, considering the dream.

"Sir?" A stormtrooper captain broke into his musing. "This morning's patrol came across a Rebel who surrendered to us. What shall I do with him, sir?"

Vader regarded the captain for a moment, expanding his senses, drawing in his son's presence.

"Bring the Rebel to me," he said finally.

THE END

----------------------------------------------------------

Author's Notes: This fic was too long to post as one chapterand so I decided to break it into four parts.

Nal Pelidin, Ash and Sellin Ellifrit are my own creations. A "tri'vek" is a word that means "off-worlder". I have not read any of the books (except the novelizations of the movies), so forgive me if I break with canon.

Please review and let me know what you all think. This fic is posted on Fanfiction .net and is my very first crack at Star Wars. Hope you all enjoy it.


Home Fiction Art Mail List Staff Links


Graphics by Alicorna