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Ascent to Hell (RotJ)

by Tiershon_Fett

Disclaimer: This all belongs to the Flanneled One.

Luke sat uncomfortable in the manacles onboard the shuttle. He was being taken to the Emperor! *Yoda, give me strength. Focus!*

Luke forced his mind to the present. He looked at the blinking panels, heard the crew's soft voices. It was very hot, to him, in his black wool garb.

Luke was aware, keenly aware, of his father's intense presence. He could feel the intimidation of him in the officers. He could hear his rhythmic breathing behind him. Getting closer. Luke blew out a deep breath. A moment later, Vader silently sat next to Luke on the other hard bench.

Staring Luke down, Vader put his large hands on his knees, leaning forward with curiosity, Luke knew. For this was the first time he had gotten a clear look at his son, without distraction. Luke looked his feet.

*Who do I look like, Father?*

*You will go nowhere with such questions.*

*You think I have no right to ask?* His eyes bore into the mask.

Vader looked down. He started, then quietly, *Both of us.*

Luke's emotions surged. *Why Father, why?*

*Enough!* He got up and strode to the cockpit, filling out the entire door.

Luke knew that time was short, so he cleared his mind, though his gaze never left his father's back.

Suddenly, he was six-years-old. He was sitting on his father's shoulders, squealing in awe of the height, riding on his back. Crawling all over his father, giggling, as he was tickled. Feeling safe in his father's presence, because he was so big, and so strong in the Force, that nothing could hurt him. Full of pride, because that was his Daddy. Laughing with his siblings.... Careful, Luke.

Then he was over the first Death Star, careening fast through the trench. With Biggs. Father had shot him down. With Wedge. He's coming too soon! His friends. His father. Leia. Han. Their vicious cycles, all the years. Luke sighed, very deeply. It would all end today.

*Your thoughts betray you, Son.* Vader turned to watch him.

Luke glared at him. *My thoughts are that you abandoned us. My mother and me. Did you ever care? Did you ever love her, Father? Is it all worth it?*

*I suggest you stop this now.*

*No. I will not fight you. I will not join you. If you decide to kill me, I want you to think of my dead mother watching you do it! Everyone who ever believed in you, that you let down. They'll be watching.* Luke felt so helpless, he didn't want to do this, but he wanted to say it. It was what he had been fantasizing about for a year.

*LUKE!* Vader shouted into his mind.

A loud clang and hiss signaled that the shuttle had docked. Luke stood with dignity. He was steady, and calm, for he had felt his father's despair, and shame. It was very deeply hidden, but it was there. He knew his father would not kill him.

Vader strode next to his diminutive son. He was in torment. He wished he hadn't come. That he would have let Luke by without a word. He should've.... What was happening to him? He focused on his anger, and felt a bit better.

They stepped in unison into the elevator. Vader could feel his doubts vanish, mostly, near his Master's presence. Reassurance.....

*Father, I choose to ....forgive.*


Luke then felt the other shockingly strong presence. Coldness. Dread. Evilness. Death. He almost felt overwhelmed by it. This was it. The ascent into hell.

*I will not turn......*

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