(January 1999) Note: Luke and Leia are not twins in this story. Leia is really the daughter of Bail Organa. This story appeared in the Luke fanzine "Another Sky."
Lightsabers clashed as Vader desperately tried to block Luke's blow. It worked, but the pressure Luke put on his saber forced Vader backward. Luke then blocked one of Vader's blows, and added one of his own. He forced Vader back onto the gantry leading to the elevator. On both sides he could see the long drop down. Immediately an image of his last battle with his opponent rose to his mind. Back on Cloud City they had also fought on a gantry, only that time he had been the one retreating. But not now, no, now it was his father who was retreating. The thought of his embarrassing defeat at Bespin made his anger rise even more, and he released it on Vader, his father. He forced Vader to his knees and then, imitating a trick Vader had used on Bespin, he ripped his father's lightsaber out of his hand and sent the saber clattering over the edge of the gantry.
Vader fell back as Luke ripped his lightsaber from his hand. Luke used a trick he had used on Bespin, a trick Obi-Wan had taught him, Obi-Wan. This was all his fault, if he hadn't taken Luke away from him at birth this wouldn't have happened. Luke would have been brought up and trained in the ways of the dark side from as soon as possible. As he looked into his son's eyes he saw the anger and hate glowing there. He hadn't seen such anger in anyone's eyes since the last of the other Sith had died. Not even in the eyes of the Emperor, for the Emperor made sure not to show any emotions is his eyes, just to keep them ice cold all the time.
"Good, good," came the Emperor's voice as he walked down the stairs towards Vader and Luke. "Your hate has made you powerful, now fulfill your destiny and take your father's place at my side," he tempted as he stopped a couple of stairs from the bottom. From here he was still taller than Luke.
Vader looked from his master to Luke. It was as he thought, the Emperor would sacrifice him in order to get Luke totally under his power.
Luke seemed to hesitate, though. He looked down at his father, at the evil monster that his father had become. He wanted to kill this monster, this monster that had committed horrible crimes against the galaxy and him. As he thought of this he looked down at his artificial right hand. Vader was responsible for this, as well as for the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. Luke wanted to kill this monster, this monster that was evil and that was.....him.
Suddenly realization slapped Luke in the face like ice cold water. He suddenly realized how much like his father he was becoming. No, he would not kill Vader, for if he did he would become no better than Vader.
Vader looked around, desperately looking for a way to save himself. But there was nothing he could do, his life now lay in his son's hands. A son he had hurt and tried to destroy. Vader prepared himself for the endless terror and chaos that was the dark side, when he suddenly sensed a change in Luke. He looked up to see realization dawn on his son's face.
"No," Luke said as he suddenly turned off his lightsaber. "I'll never turn to the dark side." As he said this he hurled his lightsaber away into the dark depths of the throne room and turned to face the Emperor. "You've failed your highness, I am a Jedi like my father before me."
As Luke spoke these words Vader felt something inside of him change. Luke had had the chance to kill him and yet for all the pain and suffering he had brought on Luke and his friends he had not. 'A Jedi like my father before me' those words rang in his ears as he struggled to get up. 'A Jedi, by the stars what have I done? What have I done?' he thought.
The Emperor's evil glee turned to pure hatred at those words. "So be it, Jedi," he pronounced this last word with all the anger and hate he felt. "If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed." He said these words as he came down the last few steps. Once at the bottom he raised his hands and shot bolts of blue Force lightning directly at Luke.
Luke hadn't been sure what to expect from the Emperor, but this lightning came as a complete surprise. He raised his arms out of reflex, but it was no use. The bolts of pure dark side energy slammed into him with such a force that Luke was knocked back against the railing. He clung desperately to the railing to prevent himself from falling over the railing and into the dark depths beyond. As the lightning assault continued Luke's knees gave out and he fell to the floor screaming in pain.
Vader watched as the Emperor unleashed his anger on Luke. Luke was flung back and then onto the floor. His son's screams of pain ripped him free from the dark side's ice-warm embrace. The Emperor was killing Luke, his son. He couldn't allow it, he wouldn't allow it. He knew that Luke couldn't take much more Force lightning before being fatally wounded. So he pushed himself to his feet and made his way to the Emperor, as if to take his normal place at his side. Luke must have seen it, for he called out to him:
After that Luke fell back to the floor and his body became still. Vader chose that same moment to grab the Emperor from behind.
The Emperor had been enjoying Luke's screams of pain so much that he hadn't even noticed that Vader was back on his feet until Luke had called out to him. 'Foolish boy,' he thought 'Your father is mine. If you chose to die rather then serve me, so be it.' At that moment he felt strong hands take hold of him from behind and, before he could react, he was picked off of his feet and hoisted into the air.
"Vader!" the Emperor cried out suddenly realizing what was happening. "Lord Vader, put me down right now! Lord Vader I command you!" He arched his Force lightning over backwards, desperately trying to hit Vader. But it was no use, Vader had him held over his head and he just couldn't hit him with enough Force lightning to do any good.
Vader walked towards the railing of the gantry, careful to keep the Emperor in a position from which he couldn't really harm him with his Force lightning. "Yes," he informed his former master. "You controlled Lord Vader, but not Anakin Skywalker." With this he hurled the Emperor over the railing and down into the seemingly bottomless abyss. He stood there looking down for a moment, just long enough to see the dim glow of an explosion, then he turned around and walked towards the still form of his son.
Luke lay in a daze, not sure what was happening, all he knew was that the lightning had stopped. He didn't know how or why, all he knew was that it had stopped. His vision was cloudy and unclear, all he could make out was the bare outlines of objects and their color. Suddenly something big and black appeared before him. It reached out and touched him on the shoulder. Luke instinctively tried to pull away, but he was too weak to move.
Anakin noticed his son's weak attempt to pull away. It caused a great wave of guilt to wash over him, this was all his fault. If only he hadn't given in to the Emperor then he would have been there to see his son grow up, and to train him in the ways of the Jedi. "It's all right Luke. You were right about me, son, you were right about me." The words sounded lame, even to his own ears, but the words seemed to reassure Luke and Anakin could feel Luke's muscles ease under his hand.
"Father?" Luke finally managed to say.
Luke, although weak, felt the change in Vader's Force aura and tried to dig deeper, just to make sure it wasn't some kind of elaborate trap.
Anakin felt Luke enter his mind and instead of putting up his mental shields he let any shields he had left crumble. He was determined to reassure Luke that he really had turned back, even if that meant letting Luke know his deepest, darkest secrets. Secrets he had held inside him and never talked about to anyone. But Luke didn't dig down into the private part of his mind, he just reassured himself that it wasn't a trap and then he withdrew himself, letting Anakin keep any secrets he wanted.
Once he knew for certain that it was safe Luke relaxed and completely opened himself to the Force. The last thing he felt before he drifted off was his father using the Force to summon something, his....lightsaber. Luke tensed a bit but he couldn't sense any danger so he just drifted off.
Anakin felt his son tense ever so slightly as he summoned the lightsaber to him, but then Luke relaxed again, and then he let himself go. Anakin looked at the lightsaber he now held in his hand and, as the Emperor had noticed earlier, it looked a lot like his. Suddenly he felt a ripple of danger through the Force and he immediately let the Force guide his mind to the source of it.
Suddenly, through his mind's eye, he saw part of the space battle. However he found that the tide had turned: the Rebels, no the freedom fighters, had brought down the deflector shield and they were now winning the battle. He had to get Luke out of here before they destroyed the Death Star. He looked down at his son laying before him. He quickly fastened Luke's lightsaber to his belt and then he gently slid his arms under Luke's shoulders and knees. Then he stood up and, carrying Luke in front of him, he walked over to the elevator and got in.
Anakin wasn't sure what to expect from the Royal Guards when they saw him carrying Luke out of the Emperor's throne room, but he was determined to get Luke to safety. He had prepared himself for a confrontation, but nothing had prepared him for what he saw as the elevator doors opened: chaos. There were storm troopers and fleet crew running back and forth through the hall and only one Royal Guard remained outside of the elevator.
The Royal Guard straightened at the sound of the elevator door opening. He felt uncomfortable standing out here with everyone running around while the Emperor was inside with a prisoner. It wasn't that he didn't trust the Emperor's judgment, it was just that he had never liked Lord Vader very much. And now to find Lord Vader coming out of the elevator with the prisoner in his arms, it was just all too suspicious. But Anakin cut him of before he could say or do anything:
"The Emperor wishes for you to return to your normal post inside the throne room."
The guard hesitated for a moment, but then he looked down at the boy in Vader's arms. Although he had never seen it happen, he had seen people leave the Emperor's throne room in similar condition. So he just dismissed the whole incident as a normal happening and got into the elevator.
As Anakin made his way through the halls of the Death Star to the main docking bay Luke came around briefly, just long enough to hear the sound of lots of people hurrying about and to feel the strangely comforting and safe presence of Vader, his father.
Anakin sensed Luke coming to briefly, but continued to make his way to the docking bay. His previous sense of danger was back, only this time it was much stronger and it didn't go away. Once in the docking bay he made his way to the nearest shuttle and boarded it. He put Luke down on one of the bunks and made his way to the cockpit. He started up the shuttle, without even doing a flight check, as there was no time to do one, and lifted off heading for the safety of space.
He got out of the docking bay just as the whole Death Star went up in flames. "Good," he said to himself. "Good riddance." Then he pointed the shuttle at Endor and set her on auto-pilot. After which he hurried over to Luke's side as he felt his son's life force start to disappear. He looked down at Luke as he unfastened his left glove and touched his hand to Luke's forehead. He called upon the Force to project some of his own life force into Luke, to strengthen him and keep him alive. He relaxed as Luke unconsciously accepted the help and used it to bring himself away from the jaws of death.
He resealed his glove and sat by Luke's side for a couple of minutes looking at his son. He placed his left hand on Luke's shoulder as he wondered what to do. Luke was safe for now, but he would need medical help soon or he could become seriously ill. Anakin knew the after effects of Force lightning, and they were not pretty, especially considering the amount Luke had received. He would have to take Luke to his friends, it was the only option he saw. He couldn't, wouldn't, go back to the Imperials and he knew of no other place to go. The Alliance would take care of Luke, he was after all one of their Commanders. As for him, well he would receive the proper punishment for all the atrocities he had committed.
"I'm sorry Luke," he said out loud. "I'm sorry for all the pain I've ever caused you and I'm sorry for not being there to watch you grow up."
Anakin then got up, with tears in his eyes, and made his way to the cockpit to land the shuttle on Endor. He decided to land in a clearing about three kilometers south of the Ewok village the Alliance used as a temporary ground base. He knew that if he landed any closer he'd probably be shot out of the sky for being in an Imperial shuttle. Besides he wasn't quiet ready to walk into a base full of people who wanted him dead for the things he had done while under the influence of the dark side and the Emperor. Plus he also wanted to apologize to Luke, and preferably without two dozen guards around.
He landed the shuttle smoothly and shut it down. As he got up he felt his muscles complain from the small amount of Force lightning he had received. He'd have to need some medication as well, but it wasn't urgent. Ignoring the pain he went back to check on Luke. Seeing that his son hadn't been affected by the landing he left him and went forward to let down the ramp. Then he walked down the ramp and into the Endorian twilight. He looked around admiring the beauty of the moon for the first time. He silently wondered how many other places he had visited without seeing the true beauty they beheld.
He quickly stopped himself from thinking about the past, it was the past and there was nothing he could do about it no matter how hard he wished he could. Besides Luke needed him now, and he was determined not to let the boy down this time, he had done that all too often in the past.
He turned around and boarded the shuttle.
Luke moaned softly as he gently lifted him off the bunk. Anakin then carefully made his way off the shuttle. Once again outside he headed in the direction of the Ewok village. He walked as fast as he could through the dense undergrowth, stopping occasionally to make sure he was heading in the right direction, or to chose the best way around a particularly dense patch of vegetation.
After two hours of walking Anakin stopped and gently lowered Luke to the ground. The boy had barely made a sound during the whole trip and Anakin wasn't sure if that was a good or bad sign. He desperately wished for Luke to come around, if even for a few moments, just long enough for him to ask Luke's forgiveness. He knew that all that he had done wouldn't be forgotten with just a couple of words, but he wanted Luke to know that he regretted doing it and that he would do almost anything to be able to turn back time and change what had happened.
He looked down at Luke and then he stretched his complaining muscles. His own pain had been steadily increasing but he had accepted the pain without complaining, for he knew that it was nothing compared to the pain he had brought to others. He reached out with the Force, trying to see how much further it was to the Alliance base, and found to his surprise that it was only a fifteen minute walk away. He then searched the surrounding area for any guards the Alliance might have about, but found none. "Of course," he told himself. "Why would they have any guards out? They had nothing to fear, the only Imperials on the moon were the storm troopers at the landing platform and they would have taken care of those first thing."
Anakin turned back to Luke and was just about to lift him when the boy came to.
"Father?" Luke asked feeling Anakin's presence.
"Right here, Luke."
"W...where are we?"
"We're on Endor," Anakin informed his son.
"Endor?" Luke repeated looking around and seeing a greenish blur next to the vague black outline of his father.
"Yes," Anakin confirmed, preparing himself for Luke's possible refusal to forgive. "Luke?"
"Yes," Luke replied picking up on his father's serious tone. "What is it?"
"Luke, I'm sorry for all that I did. I'm sorry for not being there when you needed me, I'm sorry for bringing you before the Emperor, and I'm sorry for..." Anakin stopped as he closed his eyes at the thought of what he had done. "I'm sorry for cutting off your hand."
There was a moment of tense silence during which Anakin saw Luke form a fist with his artificial right hand, he also picked up on a new undercurrent of pain that washed over Luke. Anakin knew all too well that this new pain wasn't coming from the effects of the Force lightning, but that it was pain from old emotional wounds. For a moment he wondered if he was hurting Luke even more by bringing it up, but then the moment passed and Luke looked up at him with unfocused eyes.
"That wasn't you," Luke finally replied, hoping that he was looking up at his father's face for he couldn't be sure with the after effects of the Force lightning. "That was Darth Vader, not Anakin Skywalker."
Anakin let go of the breath that he had unconsciously been holding in, he didn't know what he would have done if Luke hadn't been able to forgive him. His boy was good, he was everything that he was not and would never be.
"No," Luke replied sternly as he heard he father's thoughts. "No. You renounced the dark side, and both Obi-Wan and Yoda said that that was practically impossible. You had enough good in you to overcome and drive out the darkness that had been in you for over twenty years!"
"Thank you, my son, thank you," Anakin said as he felt tears run down his cheeks, Luke had just restored part of his self-confidence and he knew that he would need every ounce of it to face the Rebels.
"Where are we going?" Luke asked after a few moments just as he felt that the pain was about to pull him back into unconsciousness.
"I'm taking you to your friends. They can give you the medical treatment you need."
"But who knows what they'll do to you?!" Luke exclaimed, trying to stay conscious.
"They wouldn't do anything that I don't deserve," Anakin pointed out.
"Father," Luke begged. "Isn't there another way to do this?"
"No, if you don't get help soon you'll get even sicker and then you'll probably need bone transplants. I know the after effects of Force lightning, Luke, and they're not pretty," Anakin informed his son.
Luke shuddered at the thought of getting a bone transplant. He was still trying to figure out what to do when everything went black and he fell into unconsciousness once more. Anakin looked down at his son as his mind raced, he had felt the determination in Luke just before he had drifted off and he knew that Luke wasn't about to leave it at that. He wondered what his son would do, but decided to just wait and see, for it was really starting to get dark and he didn't want to trip over roots while carrying Luke. So he once again picked up his son and continued towards the Ewok village.
As he neared the village he could hear the sound of voices mixed in with laughter and singing coming down from the tall trees as well from the forest floor in front of him. He reached out with the Force to find Luke's friends and was greeted with an almost overwhelming sense of joy and grief. Joy at the destruction of the second Death Star and the death of the Emperor, and grief for friends lost during the battle.
It took Anakin a few moments before he was sure that Princess Leia Organa and Han Solo were among the Rebels on the forest floor ahead of him. As he briefly touched their presences he felt their worried anxiety for Luke, he also felt it radiating from three others next to them. Two of those minds were human and one was alien, the alien mind was probably the Wookiee Solo had as a co-pilot and one of the other minds felt like that of Lando Calrissian. So he had made up with Solo, Anakin was pleased that despite his interference that that friendship hadn't been destroyed. He couldn't tell who the last mind belonged to, but he felt that he and Luke were close friends. Anakin smiled as he headed towards the group, Luke sure did have some good friends.
Luke stirred briefly as Anakin finally saw the light from the bon fires, but other then that he stayed silent. Anakin looked at his son and then he looked up and scanned the Rebels for Luke's friends, he would have to get as close as possible to them before leaving the protective shelter of the forest. There would probably be twenty blasters trained on him the instant he appeared from the forest, if they didn't die from shock first. As soon as he spotted the Princess, Anakin made his way towards her, careful to stay hidden.
Anakin stopped as he came to the edge of the area bathed in light from the bon fires. Here he looked around and saw that there were only two Rebels in-between him and Luke's friends. He also noticed that Solo had his arm around the Princess and that she was leaning against him. A princess and a smuggler, who would have thought? But he didn't have time for that now, no. He looked around to see how many Rebels were carrying firearms, for he didn't want Luke to take a blaster bolt intended for him. He knew that once they saw that he was carrying Luke that they wouldn't fire, but it was pretty dark and both he and Luke were dressed in black, so it might be a moment before the Rebels noticed that he was carrying Luke. But a moment was all it took for some people to draw their blaster and fire, Solo included. Which was why he was happy to see Solo with his arm around Organa, it would slow him down.
Anakin saw that there were only six or seven people within firing range, not including Luke's friends, but that was still seven people too much. 'Come on, get on with it you coward,' Anakin thought to himself. He was just about to step out into the open when he saw two people join Luke's friends. He immediately recognized them as Mon Mothma, leader of the Alliance, and Admiral Ackbar, leader of the Alliance space assaults. He waited for a moment until he saw that they wouldn't be going away any time soon.
"Just as well," he said to himself. "This way I'll know straight away what'll happen to me."
With this decided he stepped out of the protective shadows of the forest and into the light of the bon fires. One of the female Rebels noticed him immediately and screamed. At this everyone spun around and suddenly Anakin found that there were seven blasters trained on him. 'Great,' he thought to himself. 'The worst just had to happen.'
"Wait!" Leia called out before anyone could fire. "Don't fire!"
As soon as she said this the others noticed Luke cradled in Dark Lord's arms.
"Luke!" Han exclaimed as he too noticed Luke. "What have you done to him?"
Han started forward and stopped, unsure of what Vader would do to Luke if he moved closer. Although they had several blasters trained on him Han knew that Vader was still in charge of the situation since none of the Rebels could fire without fear of hitting Luke. Even if they aimed low Vader could still place Luke between himself and the blaster bolt. And Han knew from experience that Vader had good reactions.
"I did nothing to him," Anakin replied still eyeing the blasters and wondering if any of the Rebels would fire despite the fact that he held Luke.
"Of course you didn't," Han replied, his voice full of sarcasm. "That's why he's in your arms."
Anakin felt another wave of guilt wash over him as he looked down at Luke. Solo was right, if he hadn't brought Luke before the Emperor then this wouldn't have happened. Anakin started to feel desperation creep up on him when Mon Mothma spoke:
"What do you want Lord Vader?" she asked, confused by Vader's sudden appearance, for she couldn't see any Imperial storm troopers nearby.
"He needs medical attention," Anakin replied nodding down to Luke.
"I think we can see that," Lando replied, finally finding his voice.
"No," Anakin continued. "You don't understand. He needs to see a human doctor right now."
As he said this he lifted Luke a little higher and away from himself indicating that he meant that they should come and get Luke. He felt the confusion radiating from the Rebels as they tried to find the trap behind all this. He just hoped that they considered Luke was worth the risk, otherwise Luke would pay the price. He remained where he was, unmoving, as Solo took a hesitante step forward. He looked back at the Princess and then up at him and then his eyes finally came to a rest on Luke cradled in his arms. Anakin felt the sudden change in the smuggler as he came closer still.
"Wait!" one of the Rebels called out. "He's got a weapon!"
At this Han froze. He knew it! Vader wouldn't just bring Luke back for medical attention when he was the one who had probably caused the wounds in the first place. But, try as he might, he couldn't detect any physical wounds or blood on Luke. This worried him for there was definitely something wrong with Luke. Suddenly a thought entered his mind: Luke could already be dead! They had no way of knowing. Han didn't want to believe it, but he wouldn't put it past Vader to pull a trick like that.
"It's not my lightsaber," Anakin said as he shifted Luke so that he held his son with one arm. He then slowly dropped his other hand to the lightsaber at his belt. "It's Luke's lightsaber."
"Don't move," Admiral Ackbar suddenly ordered as he saw Vader's hand go for the lightsaber. He was confused by Vader's actions however for, although the Dark Lord was reaching for a weapon, he was doing so in clear sight of them, plus he had just shifted Luke so that they had a clear shot at him.
"If that's Luke's lightsaber then where is your lightsaber?" Wedge asked as he came to stand next to Han.
"It's space dust now," Anakin informed Wedge as he nodded towards the sky, indicating where the Death Star had been.
"You never go anywhere without your lightsaber," Mon Mothma said. "Why would you leave it behind on the Death Star this time?"
"I didn't leave it behind. Luke sent it clattering down the elevator shaft in the throne room," Anakin replied as he remained frozen in place.
"What?!" Han exclaimed not believing a word of what Vader was saying. "The throne room?"
"That is correct," Anakin responded and immediately winced at the line, it was a line he had often used when threatening Imperial officers.
"Why should we believe you?" Leia asked, her mind going back to when Luke had left.
Luke had told her that as long as he remained with them he was endangering the group and their mission. He had said that he needed to face Vader for Vader could feel when he was near. There had been more to it then just that, Leia could tell by the way he had avoided eye contact, but he had refused to tell her what else was bothering him.
"There isn't exactly much I can do is there?" Anakin pointed out. "You've got seven blasters pointed at me, and you've got a straight shot. I'm also offering to give you Luke and his lightsaber. What is there that I could possibly do?"
While he said this Luke moaned and shifted slightly in Vader's arms. Luke's moan was all the encouragement Leia needed, Luke was obviously in pain. Besides Vader was right, there was nothing he could do, unless he dropped Luke and blocked seven blaster bolts before they killed him. Leia doubted that even Darth Vader was capable of that.
Mon Mothma was about to stop Leia from going to Vader when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned around to see Admiral Ackbar looking at her.
"Let her try," he suggested. "He's right, there's nothing he can do."
Reluctantly Mon Mothma nodded and turned back to find that General Solo was also approaching Vader. Together they carefully walked to him, watching for the slightest sign of a trap. But they saw none and Vader didn't move a muscle.
Leia stepped forward, still unsure of what was going to happen next. She slowly, carefully, extended her arm and took the lightsaber from Vader's belt. As she looked at it she saw that it was indeed Luke's lightsaber. Whatever had happened Vader seemed to have changed, it was that or some extraordinarily elaborate trap. Which she didn't think it was, it just wasn't the Imperial style, nor Darth Vader's for that matter.
Han watched as Leia took the lightsaber from Vader and then he stepped forward and reached for Luke. He looked up into the Dark Lord's helmet as he slid his arms under Luke and lifted him out of Vader's arms. Then, just as he was about to step backwards, Luke's left arm shot out and gripped Vader's right arm just above the wrist.
Han froze and he heard Leia and some of the other Rebels gasp. He looked down at Luke and saw that his friend was awake. Luke's face was twisted in pain, but his eyes were open and Han could see that he was trying to say something. He looked up at Vader and saw that Vader was watching Luke, so he bent his head down a little.
"What is it Luke?"
"H... h... he... he saved... me," Luke stuttered in pain.
Anakin had felt Luke awaken a split second before Luke had grabbed his arm. 'So this is what he had planned,' he thought to himself. As he watched Luke talk to Solo he could plainly see that his son's condition had gotten worse. He only hoped that Luke wouldn't need any bone transplants.
"He what?" Han asked astonished. 'Vader must have some kind of control over him,' he thought to himself as he listened to Luke.
"He...s..saved me," Luke winced as he swallowed. "D...don't...h...harm him. P...please... Han." he added as he felt Han's doubt. "F...f..for me."
Han looked at Luke, about to ask him why, but Luke had already drifted off again. Whatever was wrong with him, it was bad. Han quickly made his decision, no one but Luke and Vader knew what had happened and since Luke had said that Vader had saved him he decided to ask Mon Mothma to wait before she did anything drastic.
Now that Luke's hand was no longer holding Vader's arm he stepped back and Leia followed him.
"Take Lord Vader away," Mon Mothma said as soon as Han and Leia were away from the Dark Lord. "Bring him up to the command ship and have him interrogated."
"Could I ask you something, Mon Mothma?" Han asked just as the Rebels moved towards Vader.
"Yes, General," Mon Mothma said as she approached Han.
"Could you wait before you interrogate Vader?"
"Excuse me?" Mon Mothma asked surprised.
Han noticed that the others had heard him as well and he was now in the center of attention.
"I would like for you to wait before you do anything to Vader."
"And why would you want us to do something like that?" Admiral Ackbar asked as he came up next to Mon Mothma.
"Luke said that Vader saved him and he asked me not to harm him," Han explained as he looked at Vader.
Anakin noticed Solo was watching him and thought of how much the pirate trusted Luke. He had done all kinds of unimaginable crimes, both against the Princess and Solo himself, and yet he was about to forget it all on something his friend had said.
"Luke asked what?" Wedge exclaimed astonished.
"He asked me not to harm Vader. He even asked me to do it for him."
Mon Mothma frowned as she thought of what Han had just said. Commander Skywalker was a respected and very reliable officer, so he must have his reasons for asking something like this. Or it could just be that he was delirious with pain, for why would he want Darth Vader alive? Vader had after all cut off his hand on Bespin, but then Vader didn't seem like himself ever since he had appeared with Luke in his arms. She quickly made her decision, there was after all no harm in delaying the interrogation.
"Very well," she said aloud. "We shall wait and see what Commander Skywalker has to say and then we'll decide what to do with him."
"What?!" exclaimed one of the Rebels. "I say we should just kill him now and get it over with. He doesn't deserve to live, he's killed millions!"
Admiral Ackbar was about to agree with the man when he noticed Vader flinch at the accusation. 'He has changed, somehow,' he thought to himself. 'Maybe we should wait.' "I agree with Mon Mothma," he said aloud. "There's no harm in waiting, besides it'll leave Lord Vader sometime to think of what's in store for him."
Anakin looked up as the three guards entered his detention cell. His strength had finally given out on his way to the detention cell and the Rebels had instantly known that something wasn't right with him when he had leaned against the wall for support. After a few minutes he had been able to continue on to the detention area, but not without using the wall for support from time to time.
Now as the guards entered he knew that they were going to take him to a chamber where the air was adjusted to what he could breath without his mask. There he knew they were going to have him reveal his face to them. They would also see what was wrong with him, he knew this because he knew they wanted to keep him alive until Luke told them exactly what had happened.
Luke. As he got up to follow the guards he reached out for his son's mind. He could feel that Luke was still out, but at least he was healing now. Anakin took strength in this and tried to walk as steadily as possible. He managed to walk all the way to the chamber without needing to stop, but the pain was getting worse with every step he took.
One of the guards opened the door and they all entered the chamber. Anakin heard the guards' sharp intake of breath as they breathed the pure oxygen. It wouldn't do them any harm, but it was just different and they had to get used to the change.
As soon as they entered the room the two doctors inside got up and motioned for Anakin to come forward and sit in an available chair. Anakin complied as he felt the doctors' fear and determination. Fear of him and of what they might find under the mask, but determination to succeed in their job.
"You are able to breath pure oxygen without trouble?" Dr. Subik asked just to double check.
"Yes," Anakin replied as he nodded.
"Good," Dr. Liskanaa stated as she looked at the mask. "Everything that happens in here will be recorded and monitored," she said indicating the guards at the door.
"Very well," Dr. Subik responded. "Now take off your mask, Vader."
As he reached up to take of his mask Anakin noticed that neither of the two doctors had any real anger or hate for him. Someone had obviously tried their best to avoid any unwelcome confrontations. As he lifted his helmet off he could feel the anxiety of the doctors. Then he had the helmet off and he placed it on the table next to him. He then adjust a knob on the panel at his chest before he reached up and took the mask itself off.
Dr. Liskanaa gasped before she could stop herself. She hadn't known what to expect, but the bald, pasty white, face with dark ringed light blue eyes wasn't what she had expected. And down the left side of Darth Vader's head was a big, ugly, scar.
'He looks so horrible,' she thought to herself. 'And yet there's something almost kind about those eyes. They're not the kind of eyes I expected him to have.'
Anakin heard her gasp and felt the horror coming from both her and Dr. Subik. He looked at them for a moment and then he turned his face away. He knew how horrible he looked and wished, not for the first time, that there was some way he could change it. He had tried to heal his face, and his body, but he had found that he just wasn't strong enough to do it.
Dr. Subik, being the first of the two to recover, noticed the way the Dark Lord turned away from them at their reaction. 'This isn't the Darth Vader that commanded the Imperial fleet and destroyed Alderaan,' he thought. 'Perhaps he's acting different because we're seeing a part of him no one else has seen.'
"Can you breath without difficulty?" Dr. Subik asked remembering that Mon Mothma had told him that they needed Vader alive and well.
"Yes," Anakin replied as he turned his head back to face the doctors. But while he faced them he avoided direct eye contact.
"Do you have any idea what is wrong with you?" Dr. Liskanaa asked as she looked at his eyes. The eyes were old, full of pain, and sorrow; not the eyes of a ruthless and uncaring murderer. This surprised Liskanaa, especially considering the Dark Lord's reputation.
"Yes," Anakin said looking down at the floor. "Minor calcification of my skeletal structure."
Dr. Liskanaa lifted an eyebrow in astonishment, the patient normally said what his symptoms were and it was then her job to figure out what damage had been done and to heal it. Vader however seemed to think that he knew exactly what was wrong with him.
"Why do you think this?" Dr. Subik asked.
"Because I know the effects of the electricity I came into contact with," Anakin replied.
"Very well," Dr. Subik said knowing that Commander Skywalker was also being treated for calcification. "We'll check you for calcification."
At this Dr. Liskanaa walked past Anakin to a second door and left the room.
Anakin remained quiet as he looked up at the guards by the door. They had been standing there, patiently and quietly, but constantly alert.
"Do you know what Luke's condition is?" he asked, suddenly turning back to face the doctor.
"Commander Skywalker?" Dr. Subik asked as he wondered at the use of the Commander's first name. "He has a severe case of calcification."
"How severe?" Anakin asked worried. "Will he need bone transplants?"
"No," Dr. Subik replied his eyes narrowing with puzzlement as he noted the concern in the Dark Lord's voice. 'Why would he care about Commander Skywalker?' But no matter how hard he tried he just couldn't come up with a reason. 'I'll just have to report this to Mon Mothma.'
Then Dr. Liskanaa came back into the room with a scanner and some medication. She then walked up to Anakin.
"Stand up," she ordered and then activated the scanner once Anakin was standing. Seconds later a report flashed up on the view screen. "Skeletal calcification all right," she said as she noticed that the Sith Lord had a prosthetic right hand. "The exact same kind as Commander Skywalker, only much less serious. Nothing that won't heal with time and the right medication."
Dr. Subik looked over her shoulder and then took the medication from Dr. Liskanaa. He looked at the label for a moment, just to double check, and then he opened the bottle of pills and got two out.
"Take those and rest," he stated giving the pills to Vader.
Anakin nodded as he swallowed the pills. Then he reluctantly picked up the mask, put it on and replaced the helmet on his head. He wished he didn't have to wear them, or that he could at least get something else, something that didn't stand for fear and terror.
"Thank you," he said softly. "Thank you."
"Y...your welcome," Dr. Liskanaa stuttered in surprise.
Then the guards opened the door and led Anakin back to his cell.
Two days later,
Luke Skywalker awoke to find himself in a bed in the medical center on board the Rebel Star Cruiser Liberator.
"Hey kid," Han said as he saw Luke open his eyes. "You feeling all right?"
"Not all right, but I'm feeling better then before," Luke replied as he smiled at his friend.
"Good. But now you've got to promise me that you'll stop visiting the medical center wherever you go, okay?" Han asked returning Luke's smile.
"Oh," Luke complained jokingly. "But I like visiting the medical centers, they're so interesting."
"Yeah, well I don't," Han said as Leia entered the room. "Hey Leia, look who finally decided to wake up."
"Finally?" Luke asked suddenly wondering how long he had been out.
"Yes," Leia replied sitting down on the bed next to Luke. "You've been out for two days."
"What?!" Luke exclaimed in astonishment. Then he remembered what his father had said about bone transplants. "Did I need bone transplants?"
"No," Han replied giving him a funny look. "But you almost did. The doctor said that you came this close to needing it," at this Han held his index finger about two inches from his thumb. "How did you know about the possibility of bone transplants?"
"Fa...Vader told me," Luke said as he reached out with the Force and touched his father's mind. Anakin immediately acknowledged him and Luke could feel his father's relief at the fact that he had finally woken up.
"Vader?" Leia asked wanting to ask a million other questions all at once.
"Yes," Luke replied while he nodded. "You didn't do anything to him did you?"
"No," Han replied. "Except give him the same medical treatment we gave you. His strength suddenly gave out on the way to the detention area and the doctors said that he had the same condition as you, only less severe. What happened to you anyway?"
"It's a long story, and one that I don't think you'll understand straight away," Luke informed his friends as he suddenly felt pain tear through his whole body.
"Well whatever the story is, it'll have to wait," Dr. Little said as he entered the room. "Right now you need your rest Commander Skywalker, for although you're doing fine now your condition could still get bad if you don't take it easy and rest for at least a few more days."
"All right," Luke said just before he drifted away into unconsciousness.
Three days later,
Luke Skywalker reached out and touched his father's mind as he walked towards the conference room. He had just been released from the medical center and he was to report to the conference room straight away. Mon Mothma and the others wanted to know what had happened between him and Vader the night the Death Star had been destroyed.
'Luke?' his father's voice drifted into his mind.
'Yes,' he spoke mentally to his father.
Are you all right?'
'Yes,' Luke sent. 'They just released me from the medical center. Have they done anything to you?'
'They gave me some medicine earlier and now I'm in an air regulated room,' Anakin replied. 'Guess they wanted to see my face.'
'What?' Luke asked as he realized that he had never actually seen his father's face.
'You don't want to see me without my mask,' Anakin replied hearing his son's thoughts. 'I look horrible.'
'It doesn't matter to me what you look like,' Luke responded. 'You're still my father.'
He then rounded a corner and stood before the door to the conference room.
'I've got to go now,' he sent. 'I'll come to you once I'm done here.'
'Okay,' Anakin replied before breaking the connection.
Luke took a deep breath before entering the room. What he was about to do was going to difficult, he had to explain the Force to people who couldn't feel or touch it in any way. He also had to make them understand how the dark side could consume and change people, and finally he had to make them see that his father, Anakin Skywalker, was no longer under the dark side's influence.
"Luke," Leia said as she rushed up to him and gave him a hug. "Are you all right? Dr. Little wouldn't let us back in to visit you."
"I'm fine," Luke replied as he returned her hug.
"It's good to see you up and about, Commander Skywalker," Admiral Ackbar said as he gestured towards an empty seat. "If you could now explain to us what happened to you and why you didn't want us to harm Lord Vader."
"Certainly," Luke said as he sat down and nodded a greeting towards Han and Lando. "But first I have to tell you that Lord Vader is dead."
"What?!" Mon Mothma asked confused. "I'm not sure I follow, Lord Vader is being kept in a special room even as we speak and now you're saying he's dead?"
"Yes," Luke replied nodding. "That is not Lord Vader you're holding, he was once Lord Vader, but Lord Vader doesn't exist anymore."
"Then who are we holding captive?" Lando asked wondering what Luke was talking about.
"My father," Luke replied looking Leia straight in the eyes.
"There was a stunned silence in the room as everyone stared at Luke in disbelief.
"Your father?!" Leia finally managed to ask.
"Yes, Anakin Skywalker."
"I thought you said your father was dead?" Han asked wondering if Luke had hit his head somewhere on Endor.
"That's what I thought, until I learned the truth on Bespin."
Leia's eyes suddenly grew wide as she remembered Luke's funny behavior after they had rescued him from Vader. 'Good skys, he didn't know and Vader told him shattering any images Luke had of his father. No wonder he acted so distracted and absent.'
"Are you sure of this?" Mon Mothma asked.
"Yes," Luke replied nodding. "He told me himself and I've checked with two other people."
"Who, if I may ask, are those two other people?" General Madine inquired.
"General Obi-Wan Kenobi and Jedi Master Yoda."
"Kenobi?" Han asked confused. "But you just said that you didn't know until Bespin and the old fossil's been dead since the day we first met. Besides I thought that it was Kenobi who said that your father was dead."
"Everything you say is true Han," Luke started. "But it all makes sense once you understand it."
"Well why don't you explain it to us so that we can understand it?" General Madine asked skeptically.
Luke nodded and took a deep breath before starting:
"I know some of what I'm about to tell you will sound weird and maybe even crazy, but just hear me out. First of all you must know that the Jedi get their powers from an energy field called the Force. Now the Force can only be felt by certain people including me and my father, as the ability to touch the Force is inherited. The Force is created by all living things and has two sides to it: the light side, which is what the Jedi use, and the dark side, which is what the Sith use."
"Namely Lord Vader," General Madine stated.
"Yes, Lord Vader did use the dark side," Luke replied calmly. "As did the late Emperor Palpatine."
"Palpatine used the Force?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Yes," Luke confirmed. "That is one of the reasons he managed to grow so popular in the Old Republic Senate, he used the dark side to manipulate people's minds. The thing with the dark side and the light side is that it is easier to go from the light side to the dark side than it is to go the other way around. To turn to the dark side all you have to do is to give into your anger and/or hate. Your anger or hate then consumes you and the dark side strips you of your conscience letting you commit horrible crimes without feeling any remorse."
Luke paused a moment to let what he had just said sink in.
"Now the first time I fought Vader on Bespin I didn't know he was my father until he had me cornered with no where to go except down, which was almost definitely a suicidal move. He then tried to persuade me to turn to the dark side and join him, but I was too stunned with what he had just told me to even think straight. All I wanted to do was get away from him, in any way possible, even if it meant death, so I jumped. Somehow I survived the fall and ended up on a weather vane underneath Cloud City. There I reached out with the Force and spoke directly into Leia's mind."
"Princess?" Mon Mothma asked looking over to Leia.
"That's true," Leia confirmed before turning back to Luke. "I've always wondered how you did that."
"The Force," Luke stated simply. "Anyway, after we rescued Han, I went back to Dagobah, which is where I went to continue my Jedi training after Hoth. There I spoke with my teacher, Yoda, and he confirmed what Vader had said and what I somehow knew to true: Lord Darth Vader was my father. Yoda died shortly after."
"How?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Old age," Luke replied. "He said he was nine hundred years old."
"What?!" Lando exclaimed in disbelief. "Nine hundred Standard years old?!"
"Yes," Luke replied.
"That's impossible," Han mumbled.
"No wait," Mon Mothma said. "I remember Jedi Master Yoda, he was one of the Jedi Council members. His kind always lived to be eight or nine hundred years old."
"Why couldn't I be that kind of being?" Lando mumbled.
Luke smiled briefly as he tried to picture Lando as Yoda, somehow the image didn't quite fit.
"Now before I go on you need to understand that people who can use the Force can do a lot of things you might consider superstition or magicians tricks."
"Such as?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Such as being able to lift objects without touching them, such as being able to pull things out of other people's hands while standing several feet away, such as sensing someone's actions or thoughts sometimes even before the other person realizes that they'll do or say it."
"Could you demonstrate this to us?" Mon Mothma asked skeptically.
"Sure," Luke replied as he concentrated on the water pitcher standing in the center of the table. "Anyone want some water?" he asked as he picked up the pitcher with the Force and held it two feet above the table.
"Yes," Leia replied eyeing the pitcher curiously.
Luke moved the pitcher over Leia's cup and poured her another glass without even spilling a drop.
"Impressive," Admiral Ackbar agreed. "Now what am I thinking about?"
Luke put the pitcher back down and concentrated on the Admiral's mind. It took him a moment, as he had never entered a Mon Calamari's mind before, but after a moment he had it. The Admiral was thinking about the briefing before the Battle of Endor.
"The second Death Star briefing," Luke replied.
"Correct," Admiral Ackbar replied astonished and awed at the same time.
"After Yoda died I went outside and found Ben's, Obi-Wan's, spirit waiting for me," Luke began.
"His spirit?" General Madine asked.
"Yes," Luke replied. "He looked exactly as he had when he was alive, except that you could see through him and that there was a blue glow around him."
"How did he 'appear' to you like this?" Mon Mothma asked.
"Any Jedi can anchor his spirit to another Jedi's mind if he feels the need to do so. In my case he did so to help me and to make sure I'd get to Dagobah. Anyway when he appeared to me he explained to me that he had lied to me to protect me, for he knew that Palpatine would want me to turn to the dark side and serve him, and he also knew that I longed to know my father. If he'd told me the truth when we'd first met I'd probably have gone looking for him, for at the time I didn't know a lot about the Empire or the Alliance."
"If he lied to you once, then why couldn't he have lied to you again?" Han asked.
"Why would he lie about Vader being my father?" Luke pointed out. "Besides I can feel, through the Force, that Vader, Anakin, is my father."
"If I understand all this correctly, then you're saying that Vader has now turned to the light side?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Yes," Luke replied. "After Vader told me that he was my father I felt a spark of light in him and I knew that he could be redeemed. So when I felt his presence on Endor I went to him. We talked a little before he stated that I was wrong and that the Emperor would now be my master. I was disappointed, but there was nothing I could do and he brought me before Palpatine in his throne room. Palpatine then tried to make me angry enough to turn to the dark side by revealing his plans. He almost succeeded, almost. He got me angry enough to attack him, but Vader blocked me and I ended up fighting Vader. After a few minutes I was able to send Vader's lightsaber down a reactor shaft. Palpatine then urged me to kill my father and to take his place, it was then that I realized what was happening. I deactivated my own lightsaber and threw it away telling Palpatine that I wouldn't turn. This made him angry and he said if I wouldn't turn I'd be destroyed, with this he used Force lightning on me."
"Force lightning?" Leia asked.
"Yes," Luke replied nodding. "It's like real lightning only it's generated by the Force and it comes from a person's finger tips. Palpatine would have killed me then and there if father hadn't suddenly picked him up and thrown him down the reactor shaft."
"Vader did what?!" Han exclaimed.
"He threw the Emperor down the reactor shaft," Luke replied.
"Why?" General Madine asked.
"To save me," Luke replied. "As I had seen earlier there was still good in him, it was buried deep down, but it was still there. Just before Palpatine would have killed me he managed to break free from the dark side and save me, which was when he got hit with the Force lightning."
"So you are saying that Lord Vader, Anakin Skywalker, is no longer on the dark side?" Mon Mothma asked after a moment of silence.
"Yes, I am."
"How can you be sure?" General Madine asked.
"Well for one thing he killed the Emperor and saved me," Luke began. "Another way I'm sure is that I can feel it and lastly think of the way he's been acting ever since he got here."
"I must admit he hasn't been acting like the Darth Vader we're used to," Admiral Ackbar agreed.
But we have to be sure," General Madine added hastily. "I suggest we compare your DNA to that of Vader and that we ask the doctors what they think of Lord Vader's character."
Mon Mothma looked over at the General in surprise, she didn't have to be a Jedi to know that he didn't really believe what Luke had just told them. But to some extent she had to agree, they had to be sure about everything before they made any decisions.
"Very well," she said out loud. "I shall call the doctors in and we can talk to them. Is that all right with you Commander?"
Luke nodded his head while he remained silent. He didn't like this, but if it would help them to decide on what to do he wasn't going to interfere.
"Lieutenant," Mon Mothma said as she pushed the com button.
"Yes, Madam," came the reply.
"Could you please send Dr. Subik and Dr. Liskanaa down here, and tell them to bring a sample of Lord Vader's DNA along with a sample of Commander Skywalker's."
Mon Mothma then turned off the com and sat down. There was a silence in the room as everyone awaited the two doctors. While they were waiting Leia reached out and squeezed Luke's hand, he looked up at her and smiled. Then the door opened and Dr. Liskanaa entered the room.
"Dr. Liskanaa," Mon Mothma stated getting up. "Where is Dr. Subik?"
"He is busy with a patient right now," Dr. Liskanaa replied.
"Very well, you'll do. Did you bring the DNA samples?"
"Right here," Dr. Liskanaa replied holding up a special datapad.
"Could you please compare Lord Vader's DNA with that of Commander Skywalker," Mon Mothma ordered.
"Certainly," Dr. Liskanaa replied punching the command into the datapad. "What am I looking for?"
"You'll know if it's there."
A few seconds later there was a beep as the small computer finished the operation.
"Well let's see..." Dr. Liskanaa started as she scanned the datapad.
Suddenly she paled and looked up at Luke, her eyes wide. Luke returned her gaze and nodded.
"And?" Mon Mothma asked already knowing the answer.
"The DNA samples say that Commander Skywalker is... is Lord Vader's son."
"Thank you," Mon Mothma said as she turned her head towards General Madine. "Satisfied?"
"Yes," General Madine replied. "Dr. Liskanaa, could you please tell us what your opinion was of Lord Vader and his behavior?"
"Certainly," Dr. Liskanaa replied, remembering her first meeting with the Dark Lord. "To tell you the truth I've been very surprised with his behavior."
"Surprised?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Yes, he's been very kind and polite, always doing as we ask and thanking us when we're done. Also there...." she began, hesitated, then stopped.
"There what?" General Madine inquired.
"Well," Dr. Liskanaa began. "Dr. Subik and I both agree that there seems to be something friendly and kind about his eyes."
"His eyes?" Admiral Ackbar asked.
"Yes," Dr. Liskanaa replied. "People always say that killers and evil people have eyes as cold as steel, but that's not true with Lord Vader. His eyes are different, they're like...like Commander Skywalker's."
Luke lifted his head an inch at this, he had his father's eyes? Suddenly he wanted to go to his father, go to him and see him unmasked.
"Also," Dr. Liskanaa continued. "Neither Dr. Subik nor I had known what to expect to see when he took his mask off. But what we saw startled us so much that it must have shown on our faces, because he turned his head away in shame."
"Why?" Mon Mothma asked.
"Well his skin is a pasty-white and he has dark rings around his blue eyes. He's also bald and he's got a long scare running down the left side of his face."
"So you'd say Lord Vader has changed?" Mon Mothma finally asked.
Luke held his breath as he knew that Dr. Liskanaa's reply might very well cost his father his life.
"Yes, I've never met Lord Vader before, but he definitely does not seem like a man who can ruthlessly kill innocent people. If he hadn't been wearing the armor or mask and nobody had told me who he was I wouldn't have know he was Lord Darth Vader, he seems like a different man."
Luke slowly let out the breath he was holding, relieved. He couldn't have hoped for a better answer then what Dr. Liskanaa had just said.
Mon Mothma nodded her head and was silent for a moment.
"Thank you Dr. Liskanaa," she finally said. "You may go."
"Just one more thing if I may?" Dr. Liskanaa asked and continued when Mon Mothma nodded. "I don't know if you'd think it useful, but I've taken a medical scan of Lord Vader and I've found that all his injuries, with the exception of the breathing impairment, could be healed with proper treatment."
"What?" Luke asked looking directly at the doctor.
"The external injuries your father has have been cured in 95% of the patients inflicted with them."
Luke nodded his head and turned back as Dr. Liskanaa left the room. 'His father could be partially healed?' This was good news indeed.
"Luke?" Leia whispered quietly.
Luke looked up straight into her eyes and Leia could see the sparkle in his eyes. He smiled at her and then turned his attention to Mon Mothma.
"Commander Skywalker, if you could leave us for a while so that we can discuss what we will do next."
"Of course," Luke replied knowing that he had done all he could. "May I go see my father?"
"Yes," Mon Mothma said as she reached for a datapad and quickly wrote something on it. "Here, take this and give it to the guards, that way they'll let you in alone."
"Thank you," Luke replied knowing that Mon Mothma was only doing this because she trusted him.
Luke nodded to Leia, Han, and Lando and then left the room, his hopes high.
As Luke approached his father's cell the two guards snapped to attention.
"Commander Skywalker," one of them said as he stopped before them.
I'd like to see Lord Vader," Luke stated. "Alone."
I'm sorry Sir, but we were given orders not to allow anyone in without us," the other guard replied.
This should take care of that," Luke said as he handed over the datapad with Mon Mothma's signed approval.
Very well," the first guard replied as he read the datapad. "Just call if you need any help."
That won't be necessary," Luke replied with a smile as the second guard opened the door.
Whatever you say, Sir," the first guard replied skeptically before the door closed behind Luke.
Do you think he'll be all right?" the second guard asked the first.
I don't know, but we can't argue with a signed permission from Mon Mothma."
Anakin rose from the bunk as Luke entered and father and son stood looking at each other in silence. Luke, seeing his father's face for the first time, studied it closely. He immediately noticed the long scare Dr. Liskanaa had mentioned, he also saw the kind look in his father's old eyes. Anakin also studied Luke's face, for it was the first time that he actually got to see his son without his mask on.
After a few moments Luke walked up close to his father and unexpectedly he hugged him, feeling tears in his eyes. Anakin stood frozen for a moment, surprised, but then he returned his son's hug. After a moment he pulled away and looked down straight into Luke's ice-blue eyes as he placed his hands on Luke's shoulders.
"My son," he whispered softly as he too felt tears in his eyes. "I'm sorry, I'm really sorry."
No," Luke replied shaking his head. "You've already apologized."
There is no way that I can apologize enough for what I've done, whether to you or to the rest of the galaxy," Anakin replied as a single tear ran down his cheek.
"That was Vader," Luke stated firmly. "You're different, Mon Mothma had Dr. Liskanaa come into the conference room and she said that if she hadn't known who you were she wouldn't have been able to guess."
Anakin smiled slightly at this. Luke saw the smile and felt how it hurt his father to smile.
"What..." he began but stopped as he knew his question might bring back unpleasant memories.
"What?" Anakin pressed seeing his son's hesitation. "What do you want to know?"
"What... how did you end up with the armor and the breathing mask?" Luke asked quietly as he sat down on the bunk.
For a moment Anakin had a flash back, he could see Obi-Wan's horrified face as he fell off the rock and down, down into the lava pit. He remembered the pain as he hit the lava and the smell as his skin was burned.
"Father?" Luke asked worriedly as his father's eyes seemed to look past him and into space.
What?" Anakin asked snapping back to reality. "Oh yeah."
It's okay," Luke said as his father sat down next to him. "If you don't want to talk about it."
No, no, I just had a flash back, that's all," Anakin explained. "It happened after I had already turned to the dark side, Palpatine had managed to make me really angry at Obi-Wan and the next time I saw him I wanted to kill him," Anakin began and stopped as he remembered Obi-Wan's face just before he had killed him on the first Death Star.
Luke quietly reached out and put a reassuring hand on his father's shoulder. Anakin looked up as he felt Luke's hand on his shoulder.
Our duel took place in an underground cavern on Dassein, a volcanic planet. It was a close battle, Obi-Wan had better lightsabering skills then I had, but my great anger and hate made up for my lack of skill. In the end he was forced to strike me down or I would have killed him then and there," Anakin explained as he reached up and touched the scare on his face. "His blow alone should have been fatal, but somehow it wasn't. It was enough, however, to knock me off balance. I dropped my lightsaber as I tried to regain my balance, but it was no use and I fell down straight into a pit full of cooling lava."
Luke's eyes widened in horror and sympathy as his father stopped.
How did you survive that?" he asked curiously.
"I don't know, I quickly passed out from the pain and when I woke up I was in a bacta tank on Coruscant and two months had passed."
"Yes," Anakin replied. "The doctors told me that they hadn't expected me to live, but that Palpatine had ordered them to keep me alive. He probably didn't want to lose his only apprentice."
There was a moment of silence during which Luke suddenly remembered what Dr. Liskanaa had said.
"Father, Dr. Liskanaa said that with the proper treatment they can heal everything but your lungs."
"What?" Anakin asked looking up in surprise. "But I was told that was impossi... Palpatine must have told them to lie to me!"
"Probably," Luke agreed. "He must have thought that you inspired more fear into people with your mask and armor. But you'd still have to wear a breathing mask."
Anakin hesitated slightly at this, but decided to remain silent. Luke, however, caught his father's hesitation.
What? What is it? Do you know of another way?"
Well..." Anakin began reluctantly.
Tell me," Luke urged.
Okay," Anakin replied looking into his son's eyes. "I've often tried to heal myself through the Force, and I've even managed to breath without my mask for several minutes, but I'm just not strong enough to completely heal myself."
But, perhaps, together we can," Luke stated realizing what his father was talking about. "Why wouldn't you tell me?"
You've already done so much for me," Anakin replied. "I couldn't ask you to do this too."
"Of course you can," Luke instantly replied. "You're my father, naturally I'd help you."
Anakin looked at his son and smiled.
"Do you think we'd be able to heal you?" Luke asked hopefully.
"I'm pretty sure that we'd be able to do it together," Anakin replied as he finally dared hope that one day he might be able to go around as a normal person again, if they didn't kill him first.
Suddenly his thoughts were interrupted as Luke's com beeped.
"Yes?" Luke asked as he brought the com to his mouth.
"Luke, we're ready, could you come back?" Leia asked over the com.
"Sure," Luke said looking up at his father. "I'm on my way."
"Okay, we'll be waiting for you," Leia said before she cut the connection.
Luke turned off the com, put it away and looked at his father. Anakin smiled at his son as Luke got up and then left the room.
"Sir," the guards said as Luke exited the cell.
Luke looked at them, smiled, and nodded before heading towards the conference room.
"What do you think happened in there?" the first guard asked the second.
"How am I supposed to know?"
"I don't know," the first replied. "But he just met with Lord Vader!"
"Commander Skywalker," Mon Mothma stated as Luke entered the room and sat down. "We have discussed what you have told us and we have talked about Lord Vader's behavior. After some arguing we have all agreed that Lord Vader does seem to have changed for the better."
Luke quietly let out the breath he had unconsciously been holding.
"We have also decided that as a Jedi Knight you must know what you're talking about when it comes to the Force. We also talked with Dr. Subik while you were away and he basically said the same things Dr. Liskanaa said," Mon Mothma paused temporarily to catch her breath. "We all believe that we could trust Darth Vader, excuse me Anakin Skywalker, but we have one big problem: How do we explain this to the people? They would all still see him as Lord Darth Vader, Dark Lord of the Sith, how are we to explain our decision to them?"
Luke was silent for a moment as he closed his eyes and let relief flood him. He had been really worried that Mon Mothma and the others would have been unable to understand what was going on and that they would have ordered his father's death as a result. But they had understood and he already knew the answer to their problem. Slowly Luke opened his eyes and looked around.
Leia smiled at him as she could see the relief on his face. Han and Lando nodded their heads at him and they each gave him a reassuring smile.
"Commander Skywalker, do you have any suggestions for us?" Admiral Ackbar asked after a few moments.
"I have one solution," Luke began. "But I don't know what you'll think of it."
"Well why don't you tell us and we'll see?" Leia suggested.
"Dr. Liskanaa said that they would probably be able to heal father, with the exception of the breathing mask. Now while I was with father he said that working together we'd probably be able to heal him through the Force."
"Is this possible?" General Madine asked.
"I don't know, but he said that using the Force he's been able to heal himself enough to be able to breath without any help for several minutes," Luke replied. "If he did this on his own then together we would probably be able to fully heal him."
"And if you succeed no one will know he was once Darth Vader," Lando finished.
"That's right," Luke replied.
"That would save us a lot of trouble," Mon Mothma agreed. "But I don't know if that's fair to the people."
Luke looked at her and he could feel that although she had agreed to let his father go she still had some doubts.
"The healing will work, but it will take a while," Luke replied. "So you'd be able to observe father while he heals. If you still think that there's a risk by the time he's healed then you can tell the public, but if you're totally convinced that he's good then you know just as well as I do that it would be a lot easier to just keep his past a secret."
"The Jedi is right," Admiral Ackbar suddenly stated using Luke's new title. "Telling the people would only cause a lot of unnecessary trouble, they wouldn't understand."
"General Madine?" Mon Mothma asked looking at the General.
"Me too," Leia said as Han and Lando nodded their heads.
"Well I guess that decides it," Mon Mothma declared. "Anakin Skywalker is free once he's healed."
Thank you," Luke replied standing up. "Thank you very much."
One year and six months later,
Luke sat on the bunk in his father's room as he used the Force to help heal his father. It had been painstaking work, as they had to heal one cell at a time, but they were finally nearing the end. Just a little more and....done!
Luke opened his eyes and relaxed as his father did the same. They looked at each other for a moment, knowing that they had done it. Anakin smiled as he ran a hand through the graying thick blond hair that now covered his head.
"Here goes," he said as he got up and walked to the control table.
He pushed a few buttons and suddenly the air vents stopped bringing in the pure oxygen and started bringing in normal air. Luke sat still on the bed as the air in the room slowly changed. Anakin stood absolutely still as the monitors on the control panel showed how much normal air there was in the room. 25% of the air was now normal, 30%, 40%, 50%, 60%, 70% the last time he had needed to stop here, but not now, 80%, 90%....100%. He slowly took a few big breaths and let them out without coughing or experiencing any other kind of difficulty.
Anakin turned around and faced his son, smiling. Luke smiled back at his father and felt the bond that had developed between them strengthen. They had done it! They had finally done it!
"Come on," Anakin suddenly said. "Let's get out of this room."
"Okay," Luke said as he got up, knowing how long his father had waited for this day.
Together they left the room and walked around the Alliance base. The war against the Empire was still going on, but the Alliance was slowly but surely driving the Empire back. Several people looked at Luke and his father as they walked by, but otherwise they didn't attract any special attention. No one knew, no one but the Alliance leaders, Dr. Subik and Dr. Liskanaa, both who had willingly sworn not to say a word.
"Why don't we go see Dr. Liskanaa?" Luke suggested remembering how much faith she had had in his father.
"Good idea," Anakin replied and Luke led the way to her office.
Dr. Liskanaa looked up as they entered her office and froze in surprise.
"Anakin Skywalker?" she asked in disbelieve.
"Yes it's me," Anakin replied smiling.
"I don't believe it," she whispered. "You actually did, you actually healed yourself."
"I couldn't have done it without Luke's help," Anakin stated looking at his son.
You've got one hell of a son Anakin," Dr. Liskanaa stated.
"I know," Anakin replied proudly as Luke looked uncomfortable with the compliment. "I know."
Suddenly Dr. Liskanaa's com beeped.
"Dr. Liskanaa," she replied smiling at Anakin and Luke.
"Doctor we need you down in the emergency room," the Nurse at the other end replied.
I'll be right there," Dr. Liskanaa replied before turning off the com. "Well I've got to go, see you later."
"Bye," Luke and Anakin said as she left the room.
"Well I guess we have to go see Mon Mothma now," Anakin said as he and Luke left room.
"Probably," Luke replied and together they headed to the conference room.
They arrived just as a meeting ended and they managed to enter the room while several Commanders left.
"Jedi Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker," Mon Mothma said as she noticed them.
Leia, who had just been gathering her stuff together, looked up in surprise. And there standing by the door she saw Luke and his father, without any breathing apparatus.
"You did it!" she exclaimed as he walked towards them, smiling.
"Yep," Luke replied as he hugged her. "I told you we'd do it."
"That you did," Leia replied as she shook Anakin's hand.
"Your Highness," Anakin said.
Leia's smile just broadened as she returned to her place and sat down.
"Are you all healed now Mr. Skywalker?" Mon Mothma asked.
"Yes," Anakin replied pleased. "I've been outside of my room for a little over an hour already."
"A miracle come true," Admiral Ackbar said silently shaking his head in astonishment and awe.
"Well I guess you're free to go," Mon Mothma said as she looked around and received a nod from the others.
"Thank you," Anakin replied. "Thank you."