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Possibilities of If May Be
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A Round Robin by:
Selinthia Avenchesca [Imperial Vaders sections]
&
Valerie Vancollie (valeriev84@hotmail.com) [Dark Jedi's Palpatine, Vader, and Luke sections]
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Emperor Vader strode down the corridor, his son at his side, speaking to the servant who hurried along after both Royals.

"The delegation will be arriving in the Imperial Hall in short hours. Make sure the Hall is readied for them."

The man nodded in agreement and ran off quickly, already planning, even as Vader turned to Luke and said,

"Senator Organa has been raised to her Father's post," there was no emotion in his voice, but a sense of expectation hung in the air.

"Really?" Luke said in mock surprise. "No one saw that coming," he muttered.

"Indeed," Vader replied, "The Alderaanian councilors have been plotting for some time to raise her. They believe she shall be more pliable than Bail."

"She's too idealistic," Luke noted.

"That is true. But idealism has caused much trouble indeed, many times. It was the rise and fall of the Republic."

"Yes, well, at least the smugglers free reign along the space ways will be aborted," Luke said, pointing out a positive note to things.

"Han Solo has been chosen as their representative for this gathering," Vader spoke sourly. "A former Imperial Lieutenant. He was discharged for freeing a Wookie slave."

"Bloody traitor," Luke mumbled as they reached the doors leading into the Throne Room.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke Skywalker looked up sharply as he felt a disturbance in the Force. He immediately identified it as anotherís Force presence, but he also knew that it was neither his father's nor the Emperor's.

There were only two people it could be, as there were only two Jedi that his father hadn't taken care of yet. And since it was a human presence it had to be Obi-Wan Kenobi.

Just the thought of the man sent a blinding rage through Luke. His father had often told him of the Jedi's failed attempt to keep him hidden from his father and to raise him as a Jedi. Not only that, but it was also Kenobi who was responsible for his father's injuries.

Luke turned around, took his lightsaber from his belt, and started walking east through the forest. Before he had felt Obi-Wan's presence he had been heading for his TIE fighter hidden in a clearing further into the forest. He had just finished a mission for the Emperor, but he knew his master wouldn't mind if he was late because he had killed Kenobi.

Then he focused his attention at the matter at hand as he felt Obi-Wan sense him. He quickly moved forward and soon he reached another clearing. To the left of the clearing a river ran down some rocks and to the right there was a patch of warsperries bushes.

And right in front of him, standing at the opposite end of the clearing, stood an older man dressed in the robes of a Jedi, a lightsaber at his belt.

"Obi-Wan," Luke stated as he stepped into the clearing, activating his emerald-green lightsaber.

"Luke," Obi-Wan replied instantly recognizing the sixteen year old boy.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Gathering in the Imperial Hall was full to bursting. Vader surveyed them with a sense of both satisfaction and disgruntlement. They were here, which was something, but the meetings would be long and tiresome, of that there was no doubt. Luke was mingling with the as yet unseated crowd, greeting guests that he found interesting or amusing enough to mingle with.

There was Princess-Senator Organa, looking aristocratic and self-righteous, as usual. Her eyes opened wide in both irritation and indignation as Luke approached her with a mocking smile, greeting her as though she were his best friend.

There, of course, was the Representative from the planet Gerw with his attendance, sneering as his peers, thinking himself above them. So long as he did not think himself above Imperial influence, Vader did not care how much the man sneered, professionally.

Personally, however, aristocrats annoyed him.

A woman smiled as she saw him, laughed and approached with a smile, perhaps hoping to acquire some points with the--widowed--Emperor.

Vader grimaced inwardly and awaited her approach. Ever since his wife had met her end, various noble women across the Galaxy had tried for the eligible, and handsome, Imperial Emperor. Vultures, one and all.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As Luke approached him Obi-Wan reluctantly took his own lightsaber from his belt and activated it. He didn't want to fight Luke, it wasn't Luke's fault that he was dark. It was his fault.

Luke represented two failures to Obi-Wan, his failure to train Anakin properly and his failure to keep an innocent baby whose only fault were his genes safe from the evil ambitions of the greedy Emperor. If he had been able to keep Luke safe then the boy would have been able to grow up happily and free. Now instead he had grown up in darkness, grown up as a slave to both Palpatine and the dark side.

Standing but a few feet in front of Kenobi Luke raised his lightsaber, making ready to attack. Obi-Wan reluctantly raised lightsaber, he had no idea what he was about to do but he knew that he wouldn't be able to bring himself to strike down Luke, no matter how dark the boy was.

At that moment Luke lunged forward and caught Obi-Wan off guard. Obi-Wan quickly backed off and set up a defensive position. They fought for a little, Luke delivering blow after blow while Obi-Wan retreated not even trying to return Luke's attack.

"What's wrong?" Luke asked after a short while, disgusted by Obi-Wan's refusal to fight him.

"I won't fight you," Obi-Wan replied. "I'm not going to kill my friend's son."

"Father isn't your friend old man," Luke said as his eyes blazed with anger. "Friends don't push each other into lava pits."

Obi-Wan flinched at the accusation and backed away as Luke once again lunged forward.

"Lord Vader isn't your father," he replied as he concentrated on blocking the boy's blows. "Anakin Skywalker was, but he is dead. Your father is dead."

"No," Luke replied. "Anakin is dead, but my father isn't."

With this Luke quickly changed tactics and nearly managed to take off Obi-Wan's arm, almost. Obi-Wan quickly changed back as he realized that he was going to have to do something or be killed. But suddenly the image of last time he had been in the same position rose to his mind.

He had been fighting Luke's true father, Anakin. He had just turned to the dark side and he was trying to get his student back. But Anakin had refused to listen him and he had been forced to strike his student down or be killed himself. So he had struk Anakin down, but when he had done so Anakin had slipped and fallen into a pit full of cooling lava.

Now there were no pits of lava, but Obi-Wan wanted to make sure that he didn't hurt Luke any more then was necessary. But just as he was deciding on what to do Luke managed to get past his guard and cut his lightsaber hand off at the wrist. He called out in pain as he looked at his served arm.

Luke looked at him, a slow, cold smile spreading across his face. He then brought his lightsaber up under Obi-Wan throat.

"It is time for you to join the other Jedi in death," he stated coldly but with a sense of pride. "But first, where is Yoda?"

Obi-Wan just looked at the boy he could have saved and trained. As he saw the pride and triumph in the boy's eyes he closed his own eyes in sorrow. This was all his fault, he had failed and Luke had paid the price. Anakin had fallen to the dark side too, true, but Anakin had had a choice in that decision, Luke hadn't. You are what you are raised to be.

"Where is Yoda?" Luke asked again, an edge to his voice.

"I wouldn't betray Yoda," Obi-Wan replied opening his eyes. "And I'm sorry I failed both you and your father."

At this Luke's anger boiled over the top and he instantly brought his lightsaber down on the man he hated more then any other in the galaxy.

****

As soon as the elevator door opened Luke Skywalker stepped out of the elevator and into the throne room. He then approached and ascended the stairs to find both his father and his master waiting for him.

As soon as his son stopped at the top of the stairs Vader saw the second lightsaber hanging from his belt. As he looked at it he recognized it to be the lightsaber of his former master and friend, Obi-Wan Kenobi. So his son had met with and defeated the Jedi, good.

Sitting in his throne Emperor Palpatine also noticed the second lightsaber at his apprentice's belt.

"Kenobi's?" he asked looking expectantly at the boy standing before him.

"Yes, my master," Luke replied as he unhooked the lightsaber from his belt and stepped forward to hand it to his master.

"Good," Palpatine praised as he looked at the lightsaber in his hands.

This meant that there was only one Jedi left, namely Jedi Master Yoda. But Palpatine wasn't concerned with the creature, he was an old Master and one who didn't even use a lightsaber. Besides he had the most powerful person in the galaxy standing right in front of him, ready to obey his every wish.

>From the moment Vader had brought his new-born son before him, Palpatine had known the boy was strong, stronger then even he was. Most people would have had the boy killed on the spot once they learned about his potential, but Palpatine was not most people. He had known that given the right training and upbringing Luke wouldn't even think of trying to over throw him.

And so it had been done, he had trained Luke with an iron fist, not allowing the boy even a chance to think of double cross. And it had worked. Luke followed his every command without ever complaining and he was in direct competition with his father when it came to running the Imperial fleet.

As he put Kenobi's lightsaber on the armrest of the throne Palpatine once again studied Luke. And, as he had often done since the day he had decided to keep Luke alive, Palpatine smiled to himself knowing that he had made the right decision.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"My leige, it is good to see you well," the woman cooed at Vader.

"And why would I not be, Lady Fer," the Emperor inquired archly.

"Why, Majesty, I have heard of the recent assassination attempt. Awful, my Lord. Simply awful! It seems that the Rebels have not been completely destroyed."

"Indeed. Sometimes it is not necessary to look for a defeated Rebel faction in such incidents. There are more than they who would see me dead. Contenders for the throne, for instance."

The woman's eyes opened in shock--supposedly. No one could live at Court and not know the mechnications of power and nobility. It was very possible, considering that she had brought the subject up, that she had sent the now deceased assassin, herself.

"Horrors, Majesty," the woman simpered now.

"Yes, horrors. I am sure you would never have thought such a thing possible."

The woman spoke as though she did not know she was being mocked, when she very well did know. "No, Emperor. It is an awful thing!"

"Yes. If you will excuse me, my Lady," Vader said, tiring of the pathetic game, as he always did, usually sooner than later.

"Yes, Majesty," the woman said in that same annoying simpering tone, batting her eyelashes in a pitiful attempt to be enticing.

Walking away, Vader tugged at the black silk of his fine coat, ice blue eyes flickering in annoyance. Luke was speaking still with the Princess, smiling mischievously at her anger. The match was becoming a contest of snarls upon her part, jabs upon his. Luke seemed to enjoy these gatherings far more than Vader did, mainly because Luke had been raised to the Court and it's machinations. Outwardly, though, Vader's face showed nothing of his feelings, a blank mask as much as though he carried steel over his face.

There was something odd about that though. . .almost familiar. Though why that should be, Vader could not tell. For a single moment, he felt a stifling covering over his face, confining him, suffocating him. He had to resist the urge to claw at his head. And then it was gone. But Vader was not one to ignore these type of incidents. Perhaps it was prophecy. . . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Three days later Luke Skywalker was once again in the Emperor's throne room. Only this time he was there to continue his training, for although he had beat Obi-Wan he still hadn't completely finished his dark side training. Right now he was practising against his father with his lightsaber, his favourite part of the training.

Palpatine watched as they fought. He could see improvement every time they practised and knew that it wouldn't be long before Luke would be beating his father. Even now it came close at times, but Vader always managed to get the upper hand in the end, but it was beginning to get more and more difficult.

Palpatine silently wondered what Vader's reaction would be the day Luke did win. He couldn't be sure, but whatever it was it would be most interesting to watch.

Luke kept his eyes on his father, letting the Force, the dark side, guide his hand as they fought. He had just gotten the upper hand in the battle when, suddenly, he wasn't in the throne room anymore. He was in a room full of people all dressed up, but, try as he might, he couldn't see the faces of the people, they were all blurry and unfocused.

Vader, not knowing anything was wrong, brought his lightsaber up and swung down towards Luke. At the last possible moment he realized that Luke wasn't going to respond and he quickly double pressed the button on his lightsaber. His ruby-red blade disappeared seconds before it would have hit Luke in the neck.

"Luke?" Vader asked, angry.

But Luke didn't hear him. As Luke looked around he could see the details of one person clearly. It was a tall man, with blonde hair and he was dressed in a fine, silk suit. Slowly the man turned around, and Luke kept his gaze on the man as he turned, unable to look away.

Palpatine had known there was something wrong with his apprentice even before Vader had, as Vader had been busy concentrating on Luke's movements and not his Force aura itself. But he had been. And suddenly Luke's Force aura had changed, he couldn't be sure how, but it had.

"Skywalker?" Palpatine said as he approached Luke, but he got no response.

Vader looked up as his master approached and then he looked back at his son. Luke stood frozen in place, his eyes clouded and unfocused, it was almost as if he were looking at something he couldn't see.

"Luke?" he repeated.

Slowly but surely the man in the crowd turned. Luke quickly looked around at the other people in the room, but none of them came into focus. Then he turned his gaze back to the one man who did come into focus. He saw the face of the man for a second before everything disappeared, but a second was all he needed.

"Luke?" Vader repeated starting to get irritated.

Suddenly Luke's head snapped up, he dropped his lightsaber to the floor and he took a step backwards, all in the space of a second.

"What?!" he asked startled and confused.

"What happened?" Vader demanded as the Emperor came up and stood before his son.

"I...I'm not sure," Luke replied shaking his head again. "One moment I'm fighting you and the next moment I'm in a room full of people."

"A room full of people?" Palpatine demanded.

"Yes," Luke replied looking at his master and nodding his head. "I seemed to be among a delegation of sorts, but everybody in the room was blurry."

"Nobody was clear enough for you to recognize?" Palpatine demanded, still trying to figure out what had happened.

"Well..." Luke began and looked at his father.

"Well what?"

"There was one man, who first had his back to me, that I could see clearly," Luke explained.

Listening to the conversation Vader stood silently, lost in thought. He had no idea what had happened to his son, but he hadn't liked the look Luke had given him when his master had asked if hadn't recognized even one person.

"He had his back to you at first?" Vader asked.

"Yes," Luke replied looking at his father and the back to his master. "While I stood there he slowly turned around and faced me, I got a look at his face just before everything went black and I returned here."

"And who was this man?" Palpatine ordered.

"He...well....I think," Luke stammered.

"Well?" Palpatine demanded with an edge to his voice, he didn't like the fact that he was unable recognize what had just happened to his young apprentice.

"He looked similar to me, but he was older and had blonder hair."

Vader froze at this, him! Luke had seen him, without a mask and armour! Palpatine, too, instantly knew what Luke was thinking without actually voicing it. He quickly turned around and headed back to his throne, Luke and Vader followed him.

"You will tell if this happens again," Palpatine ordered once he was seated in his throne.

"As you wish my master," Luke replied bowing his head.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Princess Leia Organa's face was so red it could have competed with a beet for pigment. Prince Luke Vader was on the verge of laughing aloud in hilarity and contempt.

She was so easy to bait, he thought derisively.

"Do you have a purpose in speaking to me?" Leia inquired icily.

"Why, a conversation between friends, of course," Luke replied.

Leia knew well that to insult Luke would be extremely dangerous, through both personal and political means. However, her temper did not want to be held.

"I do believe that I have had more than enough of your overbearing attempts at humour and subtlety. If you have nothing relevant to say, I suggest that you leave my side. Now," the Princess snapped, summoning every inch of royal haughtiness within her being.

Luke's eyes narrowed in a tenuous mixture of disdain, annoyance, and amusement, and he opened his mouth to speak. Just then, however, he caught a glimpse of his father, walking by, dignity and power in his step, as ever. But though his face revealed no emotion, there was cast a shadow over it, and for a moment, Luke almost thought that he could see a mask. Black, metal.

What?! wondered the Imperial Prince.

A moment more, and the room seemed to sway. And then his father was surrounded by a gaggle of Nobels, merchants, Senators, and various other dignity's. The strangeness was gone. But Luke was concerned. This must mean something.

"Your highness seems to have become distracted," Princess Leia's voice was very near a sneer at the moment, distracting Luke. Turning away from his father, Luke once more turned his eyes upon the Princess.

So predictable, he mused. Insisting that I leave, and yet reaching for my attention when I ignore her. So transparent. Always needing to be the centre of attention.

Indeed, that was how she had always been, as long as Luke could remember. Though Leia lived upon Alderaan, she often visited Coruscant with her father, the--now retired-- Senator Bail Organa. Luke had encountered her many times while growing up, and in this, the year in which both would reach their twenty fifth birthdays, she had not once changed. Still had her nose in air. Luke chuckled and said,

"Why Princess, I was simply taking a moment to admire the astonishing angle of your nostrils. Positively admirable!" he exclaimed, awaiting her reaction with glee, forgetting for the moment about the vision shrouding his Father.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

It wasn't often that Lord Darth Vader removed his mask and the last time he had looked in a mirror had been so long ago that he couldn't even remember when it had been. But now he found himself in front of a mirror, ready to remove his mask. His son's vision had made him start to wonder, could it be that Luke had seen the future?

No, he had hired all the best doctors in the galaxy and they had all told him the same thing, there was no way he'd ever live without his breathing mask or armour, ever. But then where had Luke's vision come from? Someone as well trained in the Force as his sixteen year old son wouldn't just see a vision like that when it meant nothing, but the big question was WHAT did it mean?

Slowly but surly Vader began to take off his helmet. Once the helmet was off he placed it on a table next to the mirror in the air regulated room and then he took a deep breath before he started to remove the mask itself. Once he had the mask was off he held it up in front of him, blocking the mirror, before he lowered it to the table and looked up into the mirror.

A scarred and extremely pale face looked back at him. Since he hadn't looked in the mirror for so long it was only now that he noticed the Luke had inherited his eyes, sure he had noticed the colour similarity before, but there was something other then that....something, but he couldn't place exactly what.

Then, suddenly, everything in his vision but the mirror went black. Startled he looked around, but no matter where he looked the mirror stayed right in front of him. He looked at the mirror, wondering if this was the same thing that had happened to his son.

And as he watched the mirror seemed to stretched out, it was almost as if the mirror had turned into the entrance of a short tunnel. Then, slowly but surely, his image in the stretched out mirror changed. It happened so slowly at first that Vader didn't notice that anything was wrong until the dark smudges under his eyes started to fade before disappearing completely.

Astonished Vader watched as his image started to grow hair and attain a normal skin colour. By the time the image stopped changing he saw an older version of what he had looked like before his accident, just the way Luke had described. Then, as soon as he came to this conclusion, the image disappeared in the blink of an eye and he was once again standing in his room, his own reflection in the mirror.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Imperial Hall was called to order in short order, indeed. Emperor Vader was most irritated, plagued as he was by the annoying intricacies of Court life. There were many times in which he wished that he was simply a pilot again, sailing through the blackness, grazing the stars. But the responsibility, and the glory, and hardships, all three, were his now, and there was that.

But nothing was so simple as "that was that" sounded. The representatives from factions, organizations, and nobility the Galaxy over were crowding the hall were here to present their cases, their offerings for favour, and to discuss the new order of the Galaxy. Vader had been Emperor for some seven years, since the death of Palpatine in the last Rebel uprising, but it had been a long while before the Empire was reasonably calmed down, and longer still until things were reorganized. Over the last year and a half, meetings with various factions, which Vader invited to discuss their concerns, in a show of good faith. The Empire was still the ultimate power over them all, but there was no need to repeat Palpatine's mistakes. Vader's philosophy was to give the people an inch, and then reach out and grasp hold of them--hard--so they never had the chance to reach for mile.

Taking his throne, the Emperor nodded to the man standing at the bottom of the dais, who banged the gaffel on the marble floor, and called the gathering to order. Luke, standing at Vader's right hand, smiled mockingly at Princess Leia. Vader inwardly sighed. Luke's game with the Princess-Senator was becoming irritating.

"His Majesty, the Keeper of the Peace, the High Imperial Seat, the Face and Hand of the Imperial Empire, Emperor Vader, calls this gathering of the representatives of the multi-cultured factions of the Galactic Empire, to order. By the Emperor's grace, you may sit."

"By the grace of the Emperor," came the murmured response from the crowd as they took their seats, a smoothing of clothing and shifting of perches echoing throughout the room until silence reigned completely.

Vader's vision, though, blurred for a single moment, as he saw not the gathered crowds, but a darkened room, in which an old man in robes who looked much like Palpatine had at the time of his death, a slight young man with his back to Vader, and a dark clad giant dwelt. They were shadows amidst shadows, and seemed there only for an instant, but the instant was enough for Vader's eyes to meet the eye sockets of the dark giant, and in that moment, he was sure that the dark armoured man saw him, as well. And then it was gone, and he was left with the crowd before him staring at him, and Luke shaking him, trying to stir him from the stupor that had apparently lasted far longer than it seemed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Palpatine waited in his throne room as he felt Luke and Vader approach. Last night he had felt the same disturbance in the Force as he had felt when Luke had had his vision, only this time it had been stronger and shorter. As soon as he had tried to reach out and touch it had disappeared.

Then the elevator door opened and Luke and Vader stepped into the room. They walked up the stairs and stood before him, waiting.

"Young Skywalker, since Viceroy Bail Organa has not done his best to keep his people under control and suppress the tales of the Old Republic and the Jedi you will go to Alderaan and bring his daughter back to Coruscant. Make it look like a normal kidnapping, without any signs of the Empire's involvement," Palpatine ordered.

"As you wish my master," Luke replied bowing slightly.

He had seen Princess Leia Organa on holos when he had last gone to Alderaan, she had seemed like a normal Princess, namely a pampered, snobby, and stuck up brat. He also knew that she was only slightly younger then him, maybe a by a couple of months, but in character she seemed like she ruled the galaxy. He'd have fun with this mission.

Vader caught the slight smile on his son's face and shook his head. He was about to say something when, suddenly, he thought he saw the man from the mirror again. Only this time he felt like the image saw him too. But, to his surprise, he saw the man, him, sitting on a throne and an older version of Luke stood to his right.

"Lord Vader!" Palpatine demanded as he felt the disturbance again.

Vader was startled out of his vision by his master's voice.

"Lord Vader, what did you see?" Palpatine demanded as Luke looked at his father.

"The same as Luke saw yesterday, only Luke was in it as well, an older version of him anyway," Vader replied not wanting to say anything about the fact that he had been sitting on what looked like the Imperial throne.

Palpatine regarded him for a moment as he thought. The fact that Vader and Skywalker were seeing the same thing meant that there was something going on, but what? Quietly he went over all the information in his mind.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Emperor Vader swayed in the his perch, meeting his son's concern filled eyes. Luke subtly reaches with a hand and steadies his father in his seat.

"Are you are all?" Luke inquired in a low voice.

Vader took a deep breath, counted to ten in his mind, and nodded, cautiously.

"Yes, I do believe I am. However, this is a problem. It has a recurring bout of strange visions of a sort. Have you noticed anything?"

Luke hesitated for a moment, and then nodded. "I think so. It was a few hours ago. You were walking by, and there seemed to be a dark metal mask completely covering your face. The room swayed, and then it was back to normal. I sort of forgot about it. I was distracted."

"You were taunting the Princess."

"Like, I said," Luke grinned, "I was distracted," a moment more, however, and the mirth slipped from his face. "What do you think it is, Father?"

"I do not know. However, there is an entire gathering here to tend to," Vader noted, 'And I've no time to wonder about visions. The Force will have to wait."

"Ha! That's what I've been saying for years," Luke said, just as quietly as he had been, but more pointedly. Luke, though well trained and talented in the Force, had many interests outside of Sith and Dark Jedi traditions, holding various ideas for the skills he wished to perfect. Though it was certain that he would be Emperor when Vader died, he was not so sure he wanted to be Dark Lord of the Sith. His interests stretched in other directions.

"Indeed you have," Vader said.

A moment more, and the Hall was being reassured that all was well, everything was fine, the Emperor was quiet in good health. A number of them, not surprisingly, looked disappointed. There were always those who looked to profit from the death of a ruler, especially one so high as the Emperor.

Vader, though, kept the thought of the visions close to him. This did indeed bear investigation. And soon.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Sitting in the cockpit of a small but fast cargo ship Luke Skywalker thought. He was on his way to Alderaan to kidnap the Princess, but even though he liked the mission his mind was elsewhere.

In the last few days both he and his father had been getting these weird visions and he was worried about them. Neither he nor his father had any control over them, so he was worried that he might get one of those visions when he needed to concentrate on other matters.

Like if he got one of the visions while he was on Alderaan there was the chance of him being discovered and failing in his mission, which would mean that he'd be punished by the Emperor. And if his father got a vision at the wrong time then he might be embarrassed in front of the command crew of his ship.

Luke was then pulled out of his thoughts as the hyperspace timer beeped. Luke sat up, reached for the hyperspace levers, and pulled them back when the timer reached zero. His ship immediately jumped out of hyperspace and he then approached the blue-green planet of Alderaan.

"Kowalski's Pride, we have you on our screens now, what is your purpose and destination?" a voice over the com asked.

"I'm here to visit some family of mine at Aldera," Luke lied.

"Very well, do you want any information?"

"No," Luke replied rolling his eyes.

Alderaan was known as the heart of the galaxy, but Luke thought that it was one of the more pathetic planets. Weapons of any kind were forbidden to the population and no visitor was allowed to carry one either. They believed in peace and freedom, thus the problem with eliminating the foolish Jedi ideals.

Luke smiled to himself as he thought about the uproar Leia's disappearance would cause, no one living on Alderaan would even think it possible that someone would even think of kidnapping their precious Princess. It would be a real wake up call to them, until now they had gone about their lives pretending that the Empire didn't exist, ignoring it and continuing their lives as they had done during the Old Republic. But now it was time for them to submit to the Empire, and if they didn't Luke was sure his master would find an appropriate way to punish them.

He then landed his ship at the spaceport and went to the back of his ship. Although he was not yet a Lord he had appeared several times with his father on board the Executor and other places, so his face had become known to many. So just before he let down the ramp he used the Force create a fake image around him, this way anyone looking at him would see a well-off thirty year old man. The Force image also disguised his clothes and his lightsaber.

As he walked down the ramp to the weapons check he reached out with the Force and took control of the man sitting behind the control panel, because he couldn't use the Force to affect the machine itself. He walked through the machine and although it beeped he was allowed to pass.

Quickly he headed for the palace, forgetting the strange visions he and his father had been receiving as he concentrated on his mission.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Emperor's blade made a sharp crackling sound as it met with extreme force against the blade opposite him. Vader and Luke had a standing appointment to engage in these practice sessions once every week, making room for them in all but the most unworkable situations. They kept them in shape when they were not engaging in actual battles, something that Vader had never stopped doing, even after he took up the duties of the Throne, and Luke had grown up with war in his own right. It was graven in their bones, the both of them. But that did not make these battles any less *fun.* Luke laughed as he skipped back, his slighter built allowing him to move at a quicker pace, thus avoiding his father's blade effectively. Luke's gold blade hummed as it skipped back from the crimson one before him, darted forward again, under, reaching for Vader's throat, and was batted backwards in a rush of strength and speed from the other man. Before more than an eyeblink could pass, Luke found his blade parried, and his back on the floor. His Father had tripped him to the ground. Vader grinned down at him.

"Well, it seems that I have won."

"I'd say so, but then you have greater experience. Being older," Luke smiled innocently up at the older man, who gave an incredulous snort, and heaved him up by his right arm.

"You should get to your own feet, young one," Vader said. Luke gave a scowl. He'd always hated that particular form of address.

"Okay, okay, we're even," he muttered.

"Even? I seem to recall you being on the floor," Vader retorted.

"Oh, whatever! Besides, we both know you can't play the piano, and I can. So, I guess I am better at you in something," Luke said lightheartedly.

Vader rolled his eyes in mock exasperation and said, "We both know you're better at other things as well. Such as making the faces of dignitaries turn bright red."

"I know," Luke lamented, "I'm sure you are dissatisfied with your own talents in that area. After all, you can only make them shake in their boots!"

Vader, getting into the banter, was about to reply, when suddenly, a strange tingling swept over him, bringing him deeper into the visions than ever.

* * *

The ebony armoured man swung about, cape flaring about him, demanding to know what was going on, the small, twisted, Palpatine-like man appeared in the corner of the scene, laughing, the younger, dark clad version of Luke was in a ship, flying through space, and then Vader saw once more the man in armour. Their eyes met. He was sure of it. Speaking was like running in jelly, but he managed it, the feeling stretched, surreal.

"Wwwhhhhhhhoooooooooooooo aaaaaarrrrrrrrrreeeeeeee yyyyyyyyyoooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?"

And then the vision disappeared, and he was once more in the training room, empty save for himself, and Luke, when he fell over on his face.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vader was once again standing before the throne and his master when suddenly his entire vision went black. For a moment there was nothing but blackness until suddenly the ruby-red glow of a lightsaber just like his appeared and was shortly followed by the appearance of a gold lightsaber.

"Lord Vader!" the Emperor demanded snapping Vader out of the vision. "What did you see?"

"At first nothing, but then I saw two lightsaber blades one ruby-red the other gold," Vader replied a little angry that his master had snapped him out of the vision, there was more to it then just the lightsabers, he was sure of it.

"Gold?" Palpatine questioned knowing that the ruby-red one probably belonged to the older version of Anakin Skywalker, but a gold one?

"Yes my master," Vader replied just as mystified. "Maybe....."

"Lord Vader!" the Emperor demanded again as he felt the disturbance, but this time Vader didn't respond.

He was back in the dark room with himself and at the edge of the vision he could make out the vague shape of Luke. Once again his eyes locked with those of the man and for the first time Vader could actually sense the confusion radiating from the man.

"Wwwhhhhhhhooooooooooooo aaaaaarrrrrrrrreeeeeeee yyyyyyyyyoooouuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuu?" the man asked just before the vision disappeared and Vader found himself facing an angry Emperor.

"Well?" Palpatine demanded.

"I saw him, me, again, and Luke stood to the edge of my vision, just so I could tell he was there. Then I felt the man's confusion before he asked me who I was," Vader replied, feeling just as confused as the man from his vision.

Palpatine just nodded as he tried to sort this new information.
 
 

*****




Luke looked in both direction before he knelt down and used the Force to jump to the top of the wall around the palace that was home to Viceroy Bail Organa and his family. At the top of the wall Luke looked around and saw that there were no guards in the garden.

"They definitely need a lesson," Luke said to himself as he jumped off the wall and into the gardens.

He quickly made his way to the palace itself and was just approaching an open window when he sensed someone approaching. Quickly he got behind a tree and waited for the guard to pass. As he did so Luke took at look at the weapons he had, a blaster that was set on stun and a vibroblade at his belt.

Luke snorted silently as he thought of the force pikes the Royal Guards of his master had, that and they were all fully trained in several hand-to-hand combat techniques. This was going to be an easy mission, even without the Force it would have been easy, the hardest part would be keeping the Princess quiet.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"We need to deal with this. Now," Vader's voice was decisive, his famous "Now means now" voice. Luke did not even try to object. He'd grown up with that voice, and knew what it meant.

Vader pulled himself into a cross legged position on the floor, and Luke followed suit.

"Look into my eyes," Vader spoke briskly, "We'll try the traditional methods first. Mind probes."

Luke nodded and concentrated on the blue of his father's eyes, mirroring his own perfectly.

"Okay," his voice was already falling into the serenity that came over him when submerged in the flows of the Force.

Crystal corridors stretched out before them both, sparkling, twisting, glittering, drowning them in calm.

*Concentrate upon the visions, upon all possibilities,* Vader's words were not spoken aloud this time, or even heard in the mind, but rather, felt in the soul.

Luke acknowledged the other without words. All possibilities. . . .

 * * *

There was a younger version of himself, walking across a brightly lit docking bay. He recognized the place. The spaceport in the capital city of Alderaan. His younger self was dressed in the somber, monotonous black that Luke remembered Palpatine always wearing, when the old Emperor was alive. The lightsabre at his hip was designed differently, as well. The young man moved with a grimness and purpose that was off-cast by the slight grin on his face. He looked like a Dark Jedi. Luke, watching, grimaced. This was what he did not want to be. Caught up in the "dark destiny" tripe that he had always found so annoying. Luke preferred to be his own person, rather than a living metaphors. The young Luke, around 8 or 9 years younger than the watching Luke was, let out a low chuckle, walking on. Luke's eyes followed the younger self for sometime, tracking his progress through the city. But it seemed blurry, and the next thing he knew, the strange Luke was in what the watching Luke recognized as the gardens of the Royal Palace.

And then Luke was running into a mental wall, and the younger man spun about, and let out a horrified scream, as though in agony. And he passed out onto the grounds. Luke saw some Alderaanians running up to him, and noticed a faint shimmer about him, as though something were fading away. Perhaps to do with the Force? He didn't know. And then he was crashing into another wall, and agony was consuming him.

* * *

Vader's head was tossed back in incredible pain, and screams emerged from his lips. Luke heard those screams echoing his own. They had no answers, only more questions.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke awoke with a start as one of the Alderaani guards touched his arm. He quickly rolled about only to come face-to-face with the end of a blaster mussel. The guard holding the blaster gasped as he saw Luke's face and Luke instantly realized that his Force generated image was gone.

He quickly reached out and took control of the minds of all three guards around him, it was difficult, but he had to keep them from calling anyone else. For if they did he'd be in real trouble, both with the Viceroy and with his master. He winced as he thought of what his master would do if he failed.

"What?" one of the guards exclaimed as Luke's influence over him was lost.

Then the guard's eyes once again fell on Luke.

"Skywalker," he said recognizing the boy. "What are you doing here?"

And although the guard seemed calm and controlled Luke could feel the man's fear of him. He had been seen in the company of Lord Vader, the most feared man in the galaxy, so the guard knew he was dangerous. The guard's fear finally showed on his face when he saw the blank expressions on the faces of the other two guards.

His eyes opened wide and his hand went for his com. He picked it off of his belt, brought it to his mouth, and dropped it as Luke's emerald-green lightsaber sliced through him, killing him instantly. Luke looked down at the two pieces of the guard's body before he turned around to face the other two guards.

He was about to use the Force to make them forget what had just happened when he had an idea. His master had said that he wasn't to leave any signs of the fact that the Empire had been involved, so what better way to do that then make it seem as if some bounty hunter or pirate had done it? Smiling to himself he approached the other two guards and killed them both by slicing them in half.

The marks the lightsaber left behind wouldn't be recognized for what they actually were as nobody had any knowledge about lightsabers. Anyone examining the bodies would say that it was some new kind of weapon, which would make it look like a bounty hunter had done the kidnapping as they were constantly inventing new weapons to help them collect their prey.

Luke then used the Force to hid the bodies so that no other guard would stumble across them before he left the palace. He then stood where he was for a moment, wondering what had happened to him, he had just stepped out of his hiding place when he had felt a pain so great that he had screamed out loud before passing out. He had no idea as to where the pain had come from, but he figured it had something to do with the visions he and his father had been receiving.

He then cast his thoughts aside as he remembered his mission, the Emperor would already be displeased with what had happened, the last thing he needed to happen now was for him to be discovered again. Quickly he scanned the area with the Force before he walked back to the window and climbed in.

As he looked around the room he found that he was in a study. He then used the Force to make sure there was no one in the hall before he opened the door and headed for the Princess's chamber, putting up another Force generated image as he went.

Silently Luke opened the door to the Princess's chambers and stepped in. He looked around and saw that he was in the bedroom itself. He also noticed the door at the other end of the room and the light that showed through the space between the door and the doorframe.

Silently he went up to the door and waited next to it, sensing that the Princess was in the room by herself. A few moments later the door opened and Princess Leia walked out into her bedroom without noticing Luke.

Luke was pleased to see that she hadn't changed into her nightdress yet, it would have been a bother to drag her around in it. He stepped forward and reached out placing one hand over her mouth and pinning her arms to her body with the other. He felt her surprise as he took her from behind and smiled as she tried to break free from his grip, it was pathetic the way she struggled, it was all uncoordinated and Luke instantly knew that she had never been taught any self-defence.

"If you don't stop struggling I'll break your neck," Luke lied whispering softly, but threateningly, into her left ear.

Instantly she stopped struggling and remained frozen in place.

"Good," he said as he laughed softly just before he took control of her mind.

He then stepped back and headed towards the door leading to the hall. He stood still for a moment, sweeping the hall with the Force before he turned back to the Princess and ordered:

"You will silently follow me."

"I will silently follow you," Leia repeated, a blank expression on her face.

Luke smiled as he left the room and headed back to the study, Leia following him silently. They only ran into one person on their way out and since Luke had sensed the servant coming he had taken control of his mind before he had even seen him and the Princess. They then made their way to the study, through the gardens and over the wall.

Using the Force Luke made Leia look like a non-descriptive woman whom nobody would notice or remember. They then made their way back to the spaceport and onto Luke's ship. Once on board Luke made Leia go into a cage he had on board and once she was in the cage with the door safely locked he released her from his influence.

"What...?" Leia asked confused.

She looked around, wondering how she had gotten here and then her eyes fell on Luke. Her mouth opened and closed several times as her eyes widened in surprise and terror. But then she seemed to regain control of herself and spoke:

"Skywalker, what is going on?" she demanded using all the Royal haughtiness she had within her. "Let me out of here this instant!"

Luke just raised an eyebrow and smiled, amused. Seeing this caused the Princess's face turned a bright red and, for a moment, Luke had another vision. It was barley a second long, just long enough for him to see it before it disappeared. For an instant he saw the older version of himself standing across from an older version of Leia whose face was just as red if not redder then the face of the Leia in front of him. Then he was back on board his ship.

"You'll be sorry when my father is through with you!"

"We'll see, we'll see," Luke replied heading for the cockpit. "Although I doubt your father would be fool enough to stand up to the Emperor."

He then entered the cockpit and left Alderaan, heading back for Coruscant. Leia kept up a constant racket and when they were in hyperspace Luke got up and stormed into the chamber with the cage, no longer amused.

"If you don't shut that Royal hole of yours I'll shut it for you!" Luke warned nearing the cage.

Leia immediately closed her mouth and backed away from the bars as Luke approached. Satisfied Luke went back to the cockpit and fell asleep in the pilot's chair.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Princess Leia slipped along the corridors, silently following the white velvet clad form of Prince Luke. He seemed distracted, and Leia, who harbored no illusions about the quality of her skills in comparison to him, did not think that she otherwise may have followed him unnoticed. But it was strange. Ever since the Emperor have frozen in the Hall, the delegation had been abuzz with rumours as to what may have happened. Both Vader and Luke seemed distracted, though the Emperor did not reveal any emotion in regards the situation, as usual. Luke, though, seemed concerned, and Leia, though she was not fond of the Imperials, grudgingly admitted that they were human, and that the Imperial Price had every right to be concerned about his father. Still. . .the Rebellion had been defeated years ago. Leia had to admit that ever since the death of the old Emperor, Palpatine, things had been steadily improving throughout the Galaxy. Vader seemed to care about what happened, if not so much about the beings he ruffled, and hurt during his reforms. There really was no need for a Rebellion anymore. But Leia had grown up on tales of the Republic, and it's end. She remembered vividly one of the only times she had actually had a serious conversation with the Imperial Prince. She had lost her tongue in a moment, and put on a speel about how the Republic was so much *better* than the Empire. Luke had eyed her flatly as said that he may not have been there, but that there were two sides to every story, that the Republic was no glorious dream, but a government, like any other. Leia had exploded that, if he had not been there, how was he to know. Luke had asked her how did she know it was, and then, without waiting for her answer, said,

"History teaches us this. The Republic was rotting from the inside out. If it wasn't, it would never have been so easily replaced."

The argument went on for some minutes after that, but that statement remained in Leia's mind long after the rest had faded. Grudgingly, she admitted, to herself only of course, that there was something to it. Blind faith and historical worship really had no place now that history, as it were, had moved on.

Leia, caught in her thoughts, looked up just as she realized that Luke had turned around, and was eyeing her directly.

"Lost your way, Princess?" he asked her, the accustomed look of mischief she was used to gone, replaced with grim anger.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

As soon as Luke descended the ramp of his ship on Coruscant three guards stepped out of the docking bay and moved towards him.

"Bring the Princess to the detention area," Luke ordered.

"I'm sorry Sir," one of the guards replied. "But we have orders from the Emperor to bring her before him."

"Very well," Luke replied and picked up his pace as he headed for his master's throne room.

As he entered the elevator he wondered why his master wanted to see the Princess. He then got out of the elevator and ascended the stairs to stop before his father and his master.

"What happened?" Palpatine demanded looking at the youth standing before him. "Rumour has it that three guards were killed during young Organa's kidnapping."

"Yes my master," Luke replied nervously.

"Well?" Palpatine demanded impatiently, his yellow eyes drilling into Luke.

Vader, standing silently to his master's right, wondered if the dead guards had anything to do with the overwhelming sense of pain he had picked up from his son while he was on Alderaan. But no matter how hard he studied Luke he couldn't see any wounds.

"I was just approaching a window through which I could enter the palace when I suddenly felt an overwhelming sense of pain for no reason. I must have passed out, for the next thing I knew there were three guards around me and I was lying on the grass," Luke explained, avoiding his master's gaze.

There was a moment of tense silence during which Palpatine considered this. But then he decided to let it pass as the guards bodies had started up a set of rumours that suggested Alderaan's Princess had been kidnapped by a bounty hunter looking for money.

"And you have no idea as to where this pain came from?" Palpatine said looking at Luke.

"Not for certain my master," Luke carefully replied. "I'm guessing it has something to do with the visions, but I'm not sure. I also had another vision while I was on Alderaan."

"What of?" Palpatine demanded.

"I had just locked the Princess in her cell and she was yelling at me, her face bright red, when, just for a second, I saw an older version of myself dressed in white standing across from an older version of Organa who also had a red face. And then I was back on my ship."

"Organa didn't notice anything?" Palpatine asked.

"No my master, she was too busy telling me how sorry I'd be when her father found me." Vader smiled behind his mask as he heard this, it was exactly as he had imagined the Princess would react. Then the elevator door opened and the three guards stepped into the room with Princess Leia at the centre of the triangle they formed.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

The Emperor sat in his throne as various parties came forward to present their cases. Members of the delegation, Imperial nobles not part of such, merchants, and commons. All were welcome during the weekly audience. The next supplicant, however, was one that displeased Vader, though he did not let it show to the man himself.

"Your Highness," the smuggler Han Solo bowed, managing to make even that gesture of deference seem cocky.

"Speak your business," Vader's deep voice rang calmly through the throne room.

"Majesty, we're all loyal servants, you know this," the leader of the smuggler's party in the delegation, expert pilot and Imperial traitor lied bald faced, "But we all have our places in the scheme of things as well. I know you mean to crack down on the smuggling business, and me just being here puts that business in jeopardy, so out in the open. You seem to be forgetting, though, that it *is* a business with as much part as a weapons smith's works, a farmer's produce, or a merchant's silks."

"Pretty words, Solo," Vader replied flatly. "Smuggling is illegal. It has, however, existed for as long as there has been trade. And so if I cannot abolish it, I will control it's flow. And should you disappear, Solo, your people will simply raise another representative. That is the way the Galaxy is, for smuggler or commoner, or Emperor. All things change."

Solo looked annoyed and dismayed at once, no doubt looking to protest, when a scream of fear and outrage rang from the corridors. A serving woman rushed in, and a crowd poured close to the doors, trying to overhear what may be said. The guards, flustered, looked to the Emperor. The serving woman was too upset to request permission to speak.

"Majesty," she blurted, "Majesty, the Prince! He has gone mad!"

"What?!" Vader roared, standing to his feet in a deadly swift motion. The crowd went deathly silent, and the servant whimpered in terror, but continued.

"The Princess Leia was arguing with him, and he started screaming who are they? though there was no one there but her, and no they whoever they are. And she was angry, but curious, and asked what was wrong. And he screamed at her, and--she just flew threw the air, smashed against a wall, Majesty! And the Prince, he fell to his knees, I tell you! His knees. The Prince should kneel to no one save for you, Majesty, but he was on his knees in pain, screaming at the air! You must help him, Majesty! I know you will. He is your son. You can help him!" the woman was hysterical now, screaming. Vader gestured to the guards.

"Take her to her chambers and make sure she has all the comforts she needs. Make sure she calms down," he ordered. The guards nodded, gently urging the woman out of the Hall. Vader drew a deep breath, and hurried out of the chamber by the back exit. He had no doubt that this was to do with the visions. Or perhaps he did. Perhaps he simply refused to believe his son mad. Perhaps. . .perhaps they both were.

* * *












The guards brought Leia up the stairs and stopped before the throne, where Luke had stood until he had moved to the Emperor's left. Palpatine looked at the Princess for a moment before he turned to the guards.

"Leave us," he demanded.

The guards bowed and immediately left the room. Leia looked up at the Emperor and Lord Vader in fear, wondering what was going to happen next. Vader eyed the Princess, pleased to see that she at least knew that she was under him and the Emperor, even if she didn't realize she was under Luke too.

"Princess Organa," Palpatine stated after a few moments. "I have had you brought here as your father has not done his best to suppress the tales of the old Republic and the Jedi on Alderaan."

"What are going to do with me?" Leia asked as he eyes drifted to Luke.

"That depends on your father," Palpatine replied. "Until then you will remain here.....as a guest."

"You mean as a prisoner," Leia spat before she could stop herself.

Palpatine glared a her and Leia involuntarily swallowed, mentally kicking herself.

"You may consider it whatever you wish to, but unless you show some respect to those above you, you will find your stay here to be most unpleasant," Palpatine stated icily.

Leia nodded her head as she made a mental note of being respectful even when she didn't feel like it. She then looked at Vader and Luke, mentally laughing at how silent they were in the presence of the Emperor, not nearly as intimidating as when they were the highest ranking people in the room.

"Skywalker, take the Princess to her room," Palpatine ordered.

"As you wish my master," Luke said as he stepped forward and motioned for Leia to turn around and descend the stairs.

Leia, knowing that there was no use in resisting, descended the stairs and entered the elevator with Luke following closely behind her.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke did not know where he was. He felt the cool marble of the Palace halls under his cheek, smooth and soothing, but the sensation was detached. He saw that darkened room once more, those three people, and one more. A girl dressed in white. Her face was hidden, but he recognized the clothing. The uniform of an Alderaanian Senator. The manner in which her hair was bound, the haughty angle of her chin, the profile of her nose, the slim built and diminutive stature, all were familiar. Leia. It was the Princess who had been added to his visions. But who were they all? How were they in his head? How was Leia in two places? How was Palpatine there? He was sure it was Palpatine. He was sure. The ebony armoured warrior. He seemed familiar, but completely unfamiliar at once. There was nothing there that he knew, and everything that he knew! Luke sobbed as the visions bombarded his mind, scouring at his brain, rushing through his veins! Stop! Oh please, stop! He screamed. Who are you!?

There was a face in front of him, contorting in the horror he himself was feeling, the face of the slim young man of the visions. The face of himself. years younger, completely different, and yet, the same. Luke Vader. The brow before him crinkled in confusion, and the thought echoed.

Luke Vader?

No, Luke Skywalker.

I'm Luke Vader, Imperial Prince. Who are you?

Imperial Prince?

My father is the Emperor Vader.

The Emperor?! But what of Emperor Palpatine?

He is dead. He has been dead for years. Rebels.

Rebels! the younger Luke spat venomously, even as he screamed.

They were both screaming, he knew. But he couldn't stop. It hurt for them both. Agony, oh agony! But they could see each other, they could speak.

A hand slap into him, a slim white hand, and a slim white hand was reaching for the other Luke. They both screamed warnings to each other at the same time. Flows of Force essence stopped Princess Leia from moving in both realities, stopped her from. . . whatever she would do. Something. They couldn't think.

Who are you?

I'm Luke. Luke Skywalker. Third of the Empire. Well, I will be, soon.

How old are you, finding his royal command even in this desperate situation, his command and right to rule over even this other self.

Sixteen.

A boy, the Prince noted. Barely more than a boy.

How old are you, the other Luke asked, barely hearing the Prince's derisive statement.

Twenty four.

How long has he been Emperor? the other Luke asked.

Seven years. How much longer until Palpatine dies?

Forever. He will never die, it seems like it.

He will ruin the Empire. Only Father can rule it, the Prince sighed. I do not look forward to the day when I must take his place, though I know that I can do so when it is necessary. But Father is meant to rule. He was born to do it.

He wasn't injured, the other Luke said.

Injured? Father has been in many battles.

No. Crippled. Put in a dark suit, a living statue he is. Never to escape.

The dark warrior! The black mask! the Prince exclaimed in sudden comprehension.

Yes, so he is know, amongst other things.

I saw him. . . .Father saw him. The mask was smothering him.

Luke the younger screamed again, and Luke the older screamed with him.

Vader had arrived on both sides, pulling both minds apart, trying to save their lives, make them live, preserve their energy, and tear their souls.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vader gripped his son's shoulder as he tried to sort through the Force jumble that seemed to have connected itself to the boy's mind. When he had first touched it, it had seemed like there was a hole universe there, and Luke's Force presence was almost twice as strong as normal. He carefully tried to find where his son's presence ended and where whatever it was began.

He had been with his master in throne room when he had felt a tremendous pain coming from Luke. He had immediately gone looking for his son and found him lying on the floor of the hall, the Princess frozen next to him, trapped in some Force flows. Luke had been screaming in pain and his eyes were glazed, just the way they had during the first vision Luke had had in throne room.

Then he found what he thought was the end of his son's mind and slowly, carefully he began to push, to separate Luke's mind from what he now realized was another's mind, someone whose mind was astonishingly similar to his son's mind. The older Luke! he realized with a start, it had to be.

Suddenly he saw another vision, it was of the uninjured him and he was doing exactly the same as he was doing, bending over the older Luke who was also screaming. Then the other man looked up, and their eyes met.

"Pppppuuuuuuuuussssssssssssshhhhhhhhh!" Vader ordered, knowing that he had to get his son's mind detached from the other Luke's.

The man looked at him for a moment before he nodded and turned back to his Luke. Vader did the same and pushed, suddenly he felt the two Luke's mind separate as the other man also pushed from his end.

Vader stepped back and Luke stopped screaming as he looked around in surprise, breathing hard as he did so. He looked at the Princess, still frozen in the Force flows, before he looked up to find his father standing next to him, looking down at him, confusion and concern radiating from him.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke stood, wobble legged, accepting his father's hand in aid.

"This has gone too far," he whispered. "What could be causing this?"

Vader was about to reply when a messenger ran up to them both.

"Your Majesty, Prince," he nodded to them both, "There is news."

"Speak," Vader said.

"A violet star has exploded very recently, and very near to your Majesty. The vibrations it sent out are apparently disturbing, however briefly, the fabric of reality itself. You would be well to be on guard of any unusual happening, Emperor," man reported, neutral concern lighting his voice. Genuine concern, Vader noted with an unreal feeling. Luke was sagging again, looking about wildly as though to see what was around him, yet not seeing. Well, at least he had his answer. The reverberations from the star could disturb reality. But how to stop it. Briefly in the time of a star could mean years to a carbon life form.

"Thank you," Vader nodded, "It is well that I know this. You are dismissed."

The man nodded, relieved, almost as though now that Vader knew it, the man believed all would be well. Vader sighed. If only it were that simple.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Standing in the elevator to the Emperor's throne room Vader stood next to his son, lost in thought. Luke hadn't spoken about what had just happened, but Vader could guess, and he also knew that it was time to clear out this whole mess, what would have happened if Luke had been somewhere else when it had happened, or what if he had had something like what Luke had just while on the command bridge of the Executor?

Suddenly Luke swayed on his feet and collapsed to the floor. He just sat there for a moment before he blinked and slowly shook his head, disoriented. Vader looked down in surprise before he reached down and helped Luke to his feet just as the elevator door opened. He kept a hand on his son's back for support as they got out of the elevator and ascended the stairs.

Palpatine looked at his young apprentice for a moment, noticing the paleness of his skin, the slightly dazed look on his face and the way he seemed unsteady on his feet, swaying ever so slightly. He then turned his attention to his servant when he noticed that Vader had not come to stand next to him the way he usually did. It was then that he noticed that Vader had his one hand behind Luke's back.

"What happened?" Palpatine demanded looking back to Luke.

Luke looked at him for a moment, then he shook his head trying to clear it.

"Well?" Palpatine demanded more forcefully this time.

"I.....I was bringing the Princess to her cell when..." Luke began as he tried to remember what exactly had happened and in what order, but it all seemed to jumble up. "When suddenly I felt like I ran into a wall."

"A wall?" Palpatine asked incredulous.

"Yes," Luke replied nodding his head and instantly regretting it as it made him dizzy. "Then my vision went black before I felt this incredible pain from nowhere. I then saw several visions each so short that I could only make out that there was a delegation of sorts in a room that looked like the Imperial hall."

"A delegation," Palpatine repeated. "Like the one in your first vision?"

"Yes," Luke replied. "Then I suddenly saw the older version of myself, and he too was lying on the floor, screaming in pain. Suddenly he seemed to see me and then he asked me if I was Luke Vader."

Vader looked at his son at this, Luke Vader? He had wanted to give his son his new last name at birth, but Palpatine had insisted on Luke having the name Skywalker, why he didn't know.

"He also said that he was twenty-four and...." Luke hesitated wondering how his master would react to that fact that Vader was the Emperor in his vision.

"And what?" Palpatine ordered, picking up on Luke's unwillingness to tell him.

"He said he was the Imperial Prince," Luke quickly said.

"Imperial Prince?" Palpatine repeated, his voice not showing any emotion.

"Yes," Luke continued reluctantly. "He said his father was Emperor Vader."

Vader looked up sharply at this, he was the Emperor in wherever? He then quickly turned to his master, wondering how he would react, would he get mad and punish Luke? There was the possibility, which was probably why Luke was so reluctant to speak.

"Did he tell you anything else?" Palpatine just continued as if this last bit of information didn't bother him, while it greatly disturbed him.

"He said the you had been killed by the Rebellion seven years ago," Luke continued nervously, the fact that his master showed no emotion was not a good sign. "He also said that he had been having visions as well, at one point he saw what seemed to be a mask on his father's face. And Leia was my vision as well."

"Organa?"

"Yes, she reached out and slapped the other Luke on the face just as Leia reached out to do the same with me here," Luke said.

There were a few minutes of silence during which Palpatine thought, the fact that the older Luke had been having visions as well meant that this other Luke existed and wasn't just a figment of the Force, unless young Skywalker had imagined the whole incident which was highly unlikely considering his training.

"It seems that the visions you have been having are glimpses of another reality," Palpatine stated.

Vader looked up in confusion at this, glimpses of another reality? Just then, for no apart reason, Luke sagged against his arm, unconscious.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"We're too close to them, " Luke said, giving a hollow laugh as he stared at the wall of the chamber. Luke and Vader had retired to a private room to discuss recent events. Luke looked extremely tired, weary and despairing.

"We're too close to them, and they're too close to us. We need to push the realities apart, strengthen the wall between us," the Prince continued, "But how? We'll all be destroyed," he chuckled, and Vader frowned in concern. Luke was taking this very badly. Not that he himself was pleased, but they both needed to keep a level head in the situation. It was difficult, yes, and no doubt doubly more so for Luke, who's mind had *fused* with his counterpart. To be torn apart. . . . Vader remembered the masked warrior, who's built had seemed so like his own, who's deep voice carried the same tones, who's concern for the other Luke mirrored Vader's concern for his son. He sighed.

"The masked warrior is myself, in that reality, no doubt," he spoke aloud.

Luke blinked and then said, "Yes. Yes, that is what he said. The other Luke. The other Vader was very badly injured, apparently, and was incased in that suit and mask. Palpatine is still alive there, ruling. And the other Luke's name. It was Luke Skywalker."

Vader stared. Skywalker?

"Does that mean something to you?" Luke pounced upon Vader's incredulous look.

"Yes," he said. He wondered if he should tell Luke about this. It was quite a few years ago, but he also sensed that the time had come for Luke to know. The right time.

"Yes," he repeated, voice firm. "My name was not always Darth Vader. Once, I was a Knight of the Order, and my name was Anakin Skywalker. Times changed though, and they declared me a renegade for following my beliefs . . . ." And as he continued to speak, Luke's expression went from amazed, to outraged . . . .
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Vader quickly grabbed his son and gently lowered him to the floor, but by that time Luke was already coming to.

"What?" he asked looking around, confused.

"The after effects of your mind fusion with the other reality," Palpatine stated as he got up.

Vader looked at his master in confusion, he seemed to know what was happening here. Palpatine regarded Luke for a moment before he looked at Vader.

"Somehow our two realities are moving closer together," Palpatine explained. "They're merging and if we can't stop it we'll be merged together with our doubles from the other reality and then anything could happen."

Vader froze as he looked at his son, so that was what had happened to Luke, for some reason it had effected him first, him and the other Luke in the other reality.

"How?" Luke asked, his voice shaky.

"Nothing has happened here that could have triggered such a disturbance, so it must have been triggered from their side," Palpatine said as he went and stood before the view port overlooking Coruscant.

Vader looked back at his son as Luke shook his head and placed an arm on the floor to steady himself. After a few seconds some of the colour returned to his face and he slowly got to his feet. Luke briefly wondered if the other Luke was taking this as badly as he was and somehow he knew the answer was no. At this he once again shook his head, wondering if he had completely separated from his double.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke sighed and leaned back, eyeing his father, who was watching him with an unusually expectant look.

"How come no one recognizes you?" he asked then.

Vader nodded and said, "I had thought you would ask that. The Republic's remnants were thoroughly swept away, but some memories were bound to linger. The Jedi, of course, have been destroyed, so they are not here to recognize me. I have appeared upon holos and such in the past, but those were destroyed, and the masses tend to quickly forget such things. A successful Jedi Knight, a skilled pilot, a Republican warrior. All of these things can be quickly forgotten. However, some do recognize me. Bail Organa, for one, had met me upon several occasions before the Empire rose. Those people, however, have the sense to keep it to themselves, for the most part."

"I suppose they would," Luke murmured and then asked, "What are we going to do?"

"We need to put some distance between our realities. Which, unfortunately, will mean that we must draw them closer together, so that we may work with our counterparts."

"Work with them?" Luke asked, panic rising. "No, we'll merge with them. I know we will. We're too close!"

"It is the only way, Luke. It is our only hope."

"Where is Senator Organa?" Luke asked.

"The Princess has been confined to her guest chambers until further notice," Vader said.

"Good. If we must do this, I'd rather she not stand around slapping me, this time," Luke laughed again. He felt like laughing forever. What was wrong with him? His physical weariness had disappeared, but his mental weariness was overwhelming. He felt like his mind was ready to explode. Was he going mad? What was happening? And now this. . . they must deliberately seek out the other reality. Deliberately seek it out, and enter it. Leave their own reality, and enter one where they had no power. . . .He let out a sob, mingled with a despairing chuckle, falling from the chair he sat in, to his knees on the floor.

"Father," he whispered, "We're nothing to eternity. Nothing to it all. We could be consumed, and it would make no difference in the long run."

"To give up is to surrender any victory you may have!" Vader flared, "Get a hold of yourself, Luke. Stand up!"

Luke stood, but the despair lingered.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

After several minutes of silence Palpatine slowly turned around to face Vader and Luke.

"Skywalker, when you particularly merged with your double, did it just happen or did you do something to make it happen?" Palpatine demanded.

Luke thought for a moment before he replied:

"I was just walking down the hall when it happened, as far as I know I did nothing to cause it."

Palpatine nodded and went to sit back down in his throne, thinking. Since the disturbance had been caused by the other reality there was nothing he could think of to do, if it had happened from this end then he would have had some more control over the situation, but now, now he had absolutely no control over the situation, he hadn't even had any visions.

He hated the fact that things were out of his control, he wasn't used to it and he had no idea as to how it would end. For the first time in years he was in real danger and he didn't have the power to stop it. Before he could have crushed the threat or weeded it out, but now, now.....

"We must find a way to communicate clearly with the other reality," Palpatine stated after a short, tense silence.

Luke lifted his head at this and for the first time in a long time he felt genuine fear grip his heart. Vader caught the fear and looked at his son in surprise.

"How?" Luke asked, his voice betraying his fear.

Palpatine regarded him for a moment and instantly decided that he wouldn't even try to make mental contact with anyone from the other reality, for he had trained Luke and he knew the boy wasn't scared easily, and yet here he was terror in his voice. When Palpatine didn't respond Vader hesitated but then decided to speak:

"Master," he began. "When I was separating Luke from the other Luke I briefly made contact with my own double."

"What?!" Palpatine demanded looking at Vader. "Why didn't you say anything before?"

"I forgot about it," Vader replied. "But unlike what happened to Luke I saw a vision and when I spoke it was like running through jelly, my words were all slurred and distorted. Perhaps we can make contact without getting close enough to merge."

Palpatine looked at his servant, wondering. Perhaps, but it was risky, what was close enough to merge and how close did you have to get to make any contact? Those were all questions that needed to be answered before they could attempt to make contact and he had no idea as to where to get the answers.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

"In order to contact this reality, we must first ascertain the path to it," Vader said.

"The path?" Luke asked.

Vader nodded and answered, "All realities are possible. However, to all realities, some possibilities remain more probable that others. In order to make a relatively safe contact with this one, we must determine the differences, and locate the paths to join with them."

"Join with them?" Luke questioned warily.

"Not merge. Meet," Vader assured.

"How are we going to do this?"

"First, we must catalogue the differences. I was injured in the other reality. Though I've been through many potentially deadly situations, one of the most likely for the injuries sustained would have been my battle with Obi-Wan. I wonder what would have happened had I not killed him then? Perhaps the other Vader is the answer to that question. Now, the differences between names. Palpatine once suggested that I give you my old name, but I refused to consider it. You are my present, not my past. Perhaps he won the argument in that other reality, however. The other reality is also younger. I wonder if that Palpatine will die there at the same time that he died here? There is a still a year left to them. The other Luke, you said, is a Dark Jedi. At that young age, he must have been very interested in the entire process. Much more so that you are, to have obtained the skills so young."

"You're not disappointed, are you?" Luke asked suddenly as Vader paused for breath.

"Pardon?"

"I know you wanted me to become a Dark Lord, eventually. Are you disappointed that I won't be? I won't, you know. I wasn't sure, but these visions have decided me. I will learn the Force methods as best and skilfully as I can, but I will not follow the rules of any order. I am sorry if that upsets you, Father, but I have made up my mind."

Silence reigned in the room for a long moment, until finally Vader spoke.

"I would be lying, if I told you I was not disappointed. But I am also not surprised. I have been almost certain of what you would decide for some time now. I also understand. The Orders are dead. I am the last of the Jedi, the last of the Sith, the last Dark Knight and Lord. When I die, both orders will truly perish. Perhaps it will soon be time to finally and forever let go of the past that I cannot, because I was a part of it. You are the future, my son. And it is your decision, as you well know."

Luke nodded thoughtfully. "Thank you, Father. That means a lot to me, that you understand. Now, how are we going to use these differences to connect the realities?"

Vader said, "Back to business, then. I suggest that we create ropes or ties of a sort with the Force, both of us, reach out through the weakness in the walls of space, and connect to the differences, pull with them. Perhaps it will bring us close enough. Perhaps it will even work."

Luke eyed him warily and muttered, "Perhaps indeed."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

There was a short silence in the room as Palpatine thought. After a while Luke, who was physically starting to feel better, lifted his head.

"Master," Luke began. "What is keeping our two realities apart?"

Palpatine looked intently at his young apprentice for a moment.

"A wall of sorts," Palpatine finally replied.

"A wall?" Luke asked curiously.

"Yes," Palpatine replied absently. "Tell me, when you passed out on Alderaan, did it feel like you ran into a wall that wasn't there?"

Luke looked at the Emperor in confusion for a moment before he closed his eyes, using the Force to enhance his memory. He remembered jumping off the wall and stealing through the gardens, he then remembered hiding from the guard before he slowly approached the window. Then he ran into something hard and fell to ground, after turning and screaming as he did so, and the next thing he remembered was waking to find the guards next to him.

"Yes," Luke replied slowly nodding his head as he opened his eyes. "I think I did."

"That confirms it then, there is a wall between our realities that for some reason unknown to us had been weakened by the other end," Palpatine stated glad that he could finally answer one question.

"But master," Luke continued. "I didn't do anything to make the wall appear."

"Perhaps the older Luke did," Vader suggested. "Perhaps they were messing around, trying to figure out what the visions they got meant, and in doing so they might have pushed against the wall and therefore pushed it against you."

Luke looked at his father at this and Palpatine nodded his head.

"That would be a reasonable explanation," Palpatine agreed.

"Would this wall have a door or window through which we might communicate freely with the other reality without being fused with their minds?" Luke suddenly asked.

Vader and Palpatine both looked over at Luke.

"Perhaps," Palpatine replied. "Perhaps."
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

Luke closed his eyes, pulling upon his connection with the Force, taking in all he could hold. His heart was pounding, his blood was rushing, his brain was throbbing. Now. . . reach! Touch. His link with his father was swirling with intensity, and he grabbed onto that as well, weaving in the various mental directions into one thick rope-braid. Picture it, now . . .reach it. Now, go forward. . . A wall. It's a wall. Picture the wall, now don't go forward yourself, but touch it with the braid. Sudden impact! Smashing, pain even with this, but not nearly as much pain as before. Right . . . now, reach, push intensity, push through the wall. Picture it not as burning, fiery glass with the strength of the strongest steel, but as jelly. Stiffen the rope, make the rope of minds steel. His mind, his father's mind, reaching out, probing the wall, not, like a lance . . . Push through! Jelly parting before a lance. Now . . .push further . . .and suddenly, they weren't pushing anymore. Suddenly, the lance was pulling them along, through the wall. Luke tried to scream, but met jelly before his open mouth, he was suffocating, he was dying! He had no breath, he had nothing! No! No! No! And then they were falling. Falling, and the world was falling around them. Into darkness, into light, into grey shadows.

There were surprised exclamations all around them, and the Prince, looking up, started to laugh with the intensity of the truly mad. They had not gone halfway. They had parted the realities themselves, which closed solid behind them. They had completely immerged, whole and themselves, and in the flesh, not just the mind, in the other reality. The living Palpatine, and the strange Luke and Vader were staring down at the Prince and his Father, in absolute shock.

To the next part
 


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