Come With MeAuthor :
jedinemoRating and disclaimer :
Rated PG-13.The Star Wars Universe belongs to George Lucas and Lucasfilm Ltd, and I have gained nothing but satisfaction from this fanfic.Summary :
On a landing platform on the moon of Endor, a decision is made. AU. Some events referenced are detailed in The Vader Chronicles
"Artoo Detoo, you're just going to have to admit that we're lost," Threepio said."I've never seen a ship so big."
Artoo brapped a reply without slowing down.
"We haven't seen a trace of Master Luke or Princess Leia," Threepio said. "They probably left without us and we're doomed to a life of serving the Empire."
Artoo turned his photoreceptor away from Threepio and gave a double raspberry.
"I just don't understand why you won't stop and ask for directions," Threepio said."There's a computer terminal every fifty meters."
A twitter of chirps rose in pitch then fell off with a resigned whistle as Artoo headed towards a computer outlet. After plugging in and accessing the ship's central computer he swiveled his dome towards Threepio and beeped his confusion.
"Well, of course there's no Anakin Skywalker in the directory," Threepio said. "I told you that wasn't him."
Frantic whistles escaped Artoo as he rocked back and forth in response.
Threepio extended a golden hand to Artoo's dome."Calm down. If that is who's inside there, that's not the name he's using. Try Darth Vader."
A triumphant whistle rang from the astromech droid.
"Conference room twelve fifty-seven. See, was that so hard?" Threepio said."At least now we know where we're going."
Dead. Because he'd failed to keep his word, failed to give the help that his father had been counting on, his father was dead. He remembered the last words his father had said to him : Wait for me
. What kind of a son was he?
He felt numb. And he knew he couldn't afford to be numb, not when the Emperor still stood before him. He stared at the Emperor's metal cloak pin to avoid looking into the eerie yellow eyes.
"Skywalker, with the loss of your father I have a position available among my personal staff. I would hope that you would accept it," the Emperor said.
He looked up in disbelief."I am a Jedi. I would never join you."
"Details," the Emperor said. "Are you really going to maintain the homage to that extinct philosophy? If you learned all the ways of the Force, you could fulfill your father's destiny and become as powerful as he was meant to be, before Kenobi struck him down."
The mention of Ben only added to his churning emotions."I'm not interested in power."
The ends of the Emperor's mouth tilted upwards."Pity. Then I shall take your sister instead. Admiral, I've changed my mind. You may
take Skywalker to the detention center. Then schedule his execution. I have no use for a Jedi."
The red cloaked guards lowered their electrostaffs to either side of Leia, and his hand immediately went to his lightsaber. As he went to swing it forward, Piett grabbed his arm.
"Easy, son," the admiral said in a low voice. "Not the right time."
Anger broke through his numbness as he looked at Piett, but the admiral's expressionless face and calm presence in the Force allowed him to regain his self-control. Maybe Piett was right. If he was to defeat the Emperor he would have to be fully focused and aware, and he was far from that now. He began to understand why his father had trusted Piett enough to reveal their relationship.
He watched without protest as a stormtrooper placed binders around Leia's wrists, but he held her gaze, hoping she could see in his eyes that his inaction was not betrayal. The two Royal guards guided her with their staffs to a position behind the Emperor, and the entourage began to move away.
Piett's comlink chimed and the admiral's brow furrowed as he listened to the man on the other end.His voice was crisp when he spoke. "Your Highness, the Rebel fleet has dropped out of hyperspace and they are approaching the Death Star. Shall we engage them?"
The Emperor paused."No, not yet. I will inform you of the proper time."
Piett spoke into the com."Hold our position and stand by for further orders."
Han. Chewie. Lando. The rest of the Alliance. All carrying out their mission even as he had become mired in his own personal matters. Even worse, he had accomplished nothing of what he had set out to do. When Piett's hand pushed him in the middle of the back, he moved forward without resistance.
"After I secure this prisoner, your Highness," Piett said to the departing Emperor,"I will return to the bridge and await your command."
He walked silently at Piett's shoulder, the simple act of following a way to draw focus from his pain. When they came upon a stretch of empty hallway, he turned to the admiral. "Are
you taking me to the detention center?"
Piett kept walking."Of course not. Your father would be quite displeased with me if I had you executed."
A smile escaped him before reality intruded."But the Emperor said he was dead."
"We don't know if that's true," Piett said.
The idea brought him some comfort and he suddenly had the thought that he wasn't the only one hoping that his father was still alive."But if it is
true, why would you help me?"
"Because your father asked me to protect you if he was unable," the admiral said.
"Yeah, I'm sure it's impossible to refuse his
orders," he said.
Piett's voice aquired an edge."You didn't hear me. I said he asked
He lowered his head, ashamed for the way he had minimized the courage of Piett's actions.
The admiral looked up and down the hallway before pulling him into an alcove."This is probably none of my business, but it seems that the two of you don't know each other very well. In case you never have that opportunity, I think you should know that it is considered a mark of distinction to have served under your father. Only those who demonstrate superior performance succeed. It is not an easy assignment, but he never asks the men to do anything he wouldn't do himself. The men respect him for that. As do I."
Piett was right; he didn't know his father at all. Otherwise he would have never doubted him. This man wasn't talking about the Anakin Skywalker of the past, but rather the Darth Vader of the present and still his father had earned this man's loyalty. More than ever he wanted the chance to speak to him again.
"And one more thing about him," Piett said,"he doesn't give up. So don't you."
He'd never received a better pep talk from an Alliance commander. The enemy wasn't supposed to be like this. The Empire was supposed to be oppressive and unjust, not compassionate and inspiring. He finally understood what his father had said : it wasn't so much the Empire that was wrong as the Emperor.
Piett's comlink chimed again, and in the closeness of the alcove he couldn't help but overhear the message. "The Emperor's shuttle is being prepared to depart for the Death Star."
Piett was right; he couldn't give up.He interrupted the admiral's conversation."Thank you, but I've got to go. I can't let her get on that shuttle."
He headed back towards the hangar, breaking into a run before Piett could stop him.
"Oh, I don't like the looks of this at all," Threepio said as he and Artoo approached room twelve fifty-seven. "Maybe we should turn around."
The astromech droid kept on going, chirping a response.
"All right. We can at least look inside." Threepio said, leaning down to peek through the hole in the door."Oh my. There seems to have been a fight in here."
Artoo whistled as he tried to angle his photoreceptor through the hole.
"Exciting is not the word I would use," Threepio said. "Anyways, the room appears to be empty. We can leave."
Artoo beeped disparagingly.
"Take that back! I'm not programmed for battles like you are," Threepio said."Fine. We'll go in."
Threepio pressed the outside control and the door slid open slowly, catching for a moment on the out-turned edges of the hole. He felt Artoo bump him in the back of the leg. "I'm going, I'm going!"
Threepio carefully picked his way around the jumble of overturned chairs, pausing when he came to the slice that almost divided the table in half. "I think we've seen enough. There's no one here."
Artoo rolled around to the other side of the table and began whistling with great urgency.
"What is it?" Threepio said, walking over towards Artoo.His photoreceptors focused on a fallen black shape."Oh dear."
Artoo whistled hopefully and gently nudged the still figure, but there was no response.
"I'm sorry, Artoo. If he was a droid, I'd say he'd been...deactivated," Threepio said, putting a hand on his counterpart."Although, some of the lights are still functioning. But it is my understanding that humans require more than just a power source."
A thin arm unfolded from a compartment in Artoo's body and the droid carefully inserted a diagnostic card into the chest plate of the armored suit.After a few moments another arm reached to the controls on Vader's belt and began making adjustments.
"What are you doing?" Threepio said."You're not an Emdee.You don't know anything about repairing organics."
Artoo's own lights flashed rapidly and the droid flipped two of the toggle switches on the chest plate. Almost immediately the cycle of rushing air from the helmet quadrupled in frequency. When the sequence of lights on the chest plate took on a regular pattern, Artoo withdrew the diagnostic card.
Threepio looked from Vader's unresponsive form to the astromech droid."You did your best, Artoo. Don't blame yourself for something that's beyond your programming. I'll be sure to tell....aaahh!"
One great arm had lifted and a black gloved hand was reaching up to feel the front of Artoo's body. The helmet slowly rolled from one side to the other before centering itself, and Vader's chest expanded with an enormous breath.When he spoke, his voice was as deep as ever. "Artoo, is that you?"
Artoo's whole body vibrated as he whistled repeatedly.
Vader took two more large breaths and then sat up."I need you to fix my helmet, Artoo. I can't see. Check the power cells at the neckpiece."
The droid maneuvered towards Vader's back and extended a grasping claw to the rear of the helmet. With a twist he reseated the power cells.
"Much better," Vader said, turning to survey the room. His gaze fixed on the protocol droid. "You're being unusually quiet, Threepio."
"Why, yes, I..I'm simply astounded by your return to functional status," Threepio said.
"You won't be the only one," Vader said.
"I am glad that you're all right, Master...Anakin," Threepio said.
"Yes, but you cannot call me that," Vader said. He removed the right shin guard and pulled off his boot to reveal his gleaming prosthesis. "Artoo, test the circuit in my leg."
The astromech droid produced an electrical probe and stimulated the activation points in the prosthesis. Artoo chirped when the leg didn't move.
"I agree. Blown fuse, or maybe a relay," Vader said. He turned to Threepio. "I need to borrow some of your parts. And I'll need some for my left leg as well."
"Why, certainly I would be glad to donate them," Threepio said. "But Artoo, you'll have to remove them. I can't bear to watch."
He wasn't sure what
he was going to do, but he would do whatever it took to save Leia. If his father had the courage to face the Emperor alone, then he would too.
Even from a distance the red armor of the Emperor's guards stuck out against the gleaming charcoal floor of the hangar. As he came closer he could make out Leia and the Emperor walking between the guards. He was no longer ahead of her, but instead at her side. Every now and then he saw the hood lean towards her and then she would twist her head away from him.
The guards made a rapid about face when he came close enough that the slap of his boots revealed his approach. He paused to ignite his lightsaber and they crossed their electrostaffs protectively behind the Emperor.
Leia had turned at the sound of the lightsaber, her face showing a mixture of hope and concern. The Emperor was the last to turn towards him, which he did with a slow, deliberate motion.
"Skywalker, you've returned," the Emperor said. "You must have reconsidered my offer."
"I'm here for my sister," he said, taking another step closer to the guards.
"Of course you are," the Emperor said. His voice took on a hard edge. "Guards, leave us."
As he watched the six Royal guards move as a unit towards a lambda
shuttle that waited in the foreground, he realized he was in almost exactly the same situation he had been in earlier. He with his lightsaber drawn, and the Emperor seemingly unarmed and unprotected. And once again the Emperor was not afraid, had even made himself more vulnerable.
"You have come to exchange places with her, then," the Emperor said, leaving Leia's side and stopping just short of the reach of the lighsaber.
"No," he said, "but she's still coming with me."
"Your bravado is amusing," the Emperor said."But I will have one of you. And if you're thinking you can stop me I would remind you of your father's fate."
"I won't let you take her," he said, raising his lightsaber into attack position.
The Emperor smiled."You're not strong enough to defeat me. And after you fail, she will still be mine."
Leia came forward."Luke, in the cabin, the lightning that hit you was from him. Be careful."
The Emperor's lip curled and he gave a curt swat of his hand towards her. His hand touched only air, but she gasped and tumbled off her feet, her bound hands unable to break her fall.
His heart jumped when she hit the floor. How dare he strike her? Anger flushed through him in a scalding torrent."Don't you touch her!"
"You see, the only way to help her is to take her place," the Emperor said. "Give in to your hate. Can't you feel its power?"
It did feel powerful.The Force crackled through him with an intensity that meditation had never been able to provide. Maybe he would be able to defeat the Emperor if he gave in just this once, just long enough to kill the Emperor.
Leia groaned and his eyes became riveted to her as she struggled to her feet. Just when she regained her balance, the Emperor's hand pushed the air and her head snapped back and she fell to the floor.
"Stop it!" he growled, the Force surging in alongside his anger.
The Emperor crept closer."Only you can make it stop. Give yourself to me and I will let her go."
His gut churned as he thought of Leia as a servant to the Emperor. It was a future he couldn't allow to become real. All he could do was agree to the exchange, so that she would be free. Then he would follow the Emperor, follow him until the moment when he would overpower him and make everything right. Dark. Light. He couldn't see the line anymore, only Leia's face.He hung his head as he deactivated his lightsaber.
"It is your destiny," the Emperor said with a silken voice."As your father turned to the Dark Side to save your mother, you have turned to save your sister."
A chill ran through his body.For once he was certain the Emperor was telling the truth. This was how it happened. On the knife edge of a decision involving the highest stakes, his father had chosen life over death. Love over loss. Dark over light. Just as he was doing now.
He froze as he thought of the outcome of his father's choice.The destruction of the Jedi Order. A life dominated by loss and suffering, a prison of his own making. Ben was wrong. Darth Vader hadn't destroyed Anakin Skywalker, Anakin Skywalker had created Darth Vader.
His mind became clear even as his heart ached. He finally understood what his choice had to be, and the knowledge only deepened his pain.He tossed away his lightsaber to punctuate his decision."You've failed, your Highness. I'll never turn to the Dark Side.I am a Jedi, like my father before me."
Tears were streaking down Leia's face as she nodded and gave him a faltering smile.
The Emperor's expression became even more grim."So be it, Jedi. If you will not be turned, then you will be destroyed."
His breath sucked out of him when he hit the deck, enveloped in surging bolts of Force lightning. He curled himself protectively against the attack, but there was no escape. His only hope was that the end would be quick.
News always traveled fast on a Star Destroyer and this time had apparently been no exception. His crew's startled expressions told him that word of his demise had already spread. But he had never felt more alive.
He reached for his comlink."Admiral?"
The surprise in Piett's voice carried over the com."Lord Vader! But the Emperor said you were dead."
"He was obviously mistaken," he said. "Where is he now?"
"His shuttle is about to depart for the Death Star," Piett said."And you'd better hurry. Your son has gone after him."
Luke alone against the Emperor. The thought should have given him a chill; the boy was no match for Palpatine. Instead he found himself thinking of course
, a profound sense of destiny rolling through his mind.
"What about Organa?" he said.
Piett's voice was flat. "The Emperor took her with him."
He clicked off the com without replying. Artoo chirped at his heels as he increased his pace down the main corridor leading to the hangar.Through the Force he sensed roiling waves of emotion : anger, fear, despair. Waves that only grew stronger the closer he came to the hangar, and he followed them to their source.
From the entrance to the hangar Luke and Palpatine appeared only as dark blots until he used the zoom in the helmet to bring them clearly into view. Luke's back was to him but he could see the snarl on Palpatine's face.
He didn't need the zoom to see the first bolt of Force lightning; even in normal mode the blue white zig zag of energy flashed brilliantly against the dark floor. When it struck Luke he flinched, the echo of pain from his son reigniting the agonizing fire in his own memories. Despite the pain, his emotions were strangely cool, his mind calmed by a growing feeling that he was on a path that had been set before him.
Even when Luke collapsed from Palpatine's continued assault, his only reaction was to lengthen his stride and close the last thirty meters that separated him from his son.
Leia was the first to notice him, Luke being unable and Palpatine being utterly consumed in his attack. She was on her knees, though he saw no wounds, with her hands bound in front of her. With a wave of his hand he released her binders and turned to face the Emperor.
Palpatine saw him at last, and the flow of lightning ceased.Disdain was evident in his voice."You survived."
He spared a moment to look at Luke, who was groaning senslessly on the floor. When his gaze returned to Palpatine, he found no retort poised on his tongue.The time for words was long gone.
A gleam came into the Emperor's eyes. "Just as you were moments too late to save your mother and your wife, you are moments too late to save your son.But you are in time to watch him die."
At the edge of his vision he saw that Artoo had rolled to Leia's side and that a compartment had sprung open on top of the droid's dome.As she reached her hand inside, the Force brightened around him and he watched the future unfold. The destiny he had been born to fulfill was almost upon him.
Luke screamed when the blasts of Force lightning resumed, and he let his son's pain pass through him. He ignited his lightsaber and moved to bring Palpatine within its reach. Genuine confusion flickered over the Emperor's face at his approach and then the Emperor shifted to refocus his attack.Forks of lightning launched towards him and he deflected them with the crimson blade.
Just as he knew it would, a bolt from Leia's blaster struck Palpatine's arm, and the Emperor turned to clutch his wound.He saw the lapse in Palpatine's defenses and unleashed a full-length swing. As the arc of the lightsaber swept forward it felt like a dream, but then the blade met the slightest bit of resistance as it passed through flesh instead of air, and in the characteristic manner of all headless bodies, the Emperor's corpse sank to the floor.
He reflexively shut off the lightsaber and stood motionless, his mind swirling in disbelief. He could barely remember a time when Palpatine's influence had not loomed over him, and had never known a time when he was his own master.
Leia's voice calling Luke's name jarred him back to the present and he turned away from Palpatine's body to see her kneeling at Luke's side. He grabbed his comlink. "Send a medical team to the main hangar at once."
When he knelt down opposite her, she leaned away from him. His gloved fingers swept away Luke's hair and he pressed his palm to his son's forehead. He sensed a glimmer of consciousness stirring in Luke's mind. "He'll be all right."
She stared into his lenses and he noticed a bruise darkening under her cheek. He lifted his free hand towards her face and her eyes grew wary, but as he traced the outline of the bruise, her expression softened. "You're injured."
She lowered her eyes without moving away from his hand."It's nothing. Is he really going to be okay?"
"Yes," he said, cupping his hand against her face."Everything will be all right."
She looked into his lenses again."So, when will he be well enough to travel?"
He withdrew his hand and his eyes narrowed."What?"
"We were trying to leave," she said, then swallowed hard."He...we...want to go back to the Alliance."Chapter Eight