: Come With MeAuthor
: jedinemoRating and disclaimer
: Rated PG.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
It wasn't very Jedi-like, but he felt a smile start to crease his face, and he knew he blinked at least a couple of times. He had been right to take this gamble.He felt like he could almost see through the black armor, now that he had pulled his father from the Emperor's grip. All the feelings that had crossed the void of space between his father's Star Destroyer and the Millennium Falcon
, the connection his father refused to release after their duel at Cloud City, the way that his father had knowingly allowed the Tyderium
to pass through Imperial security, all of that was genuine. He was right about him.
The deep growling voice of his father interrupted his internal celebration.
"You do have a plan ?" Vader said.
He raised his eyes to meet the mask. It was a little embarrassing to admit to a man who commanded Star Destroyers, nevermind that that person was also his father, that no, he didn't really have a plan. It had seemed so unlikely that his father would actually turn back that he hadn't thought that far ahead .
"It is not safe to stay here.The Emperor is waiting for both of us, " Vader continued.
He nodded. "We'll have to get back to the camp. I've got friends there."
"My shuttle is on the upper platform," Vader said.
His father made a small gesture and the binders released from his wrists, clattering on the duracrete of the walkway. As he stretched his arms in relief, a glint of metal caught his eye and he realized Vader was extending his captured lightsaber to him.
"Try not to lose it," Vader said as he slapped the saber into his son's hand. "This weapon is your life."
He clipped the lightsaber on his belt and cocked his head upwards, unsure if his father was serious or laughing at him. It had never crossed his mind that Darth Vader might have a sense of humor.
Vader turned and headed down the walkway, and he guessed that was his cue to follow. The last time they had met he had jumped down a reactor shaft to get away from him, so it felt a little surreal to now be willingly following after him. Maybe Ben was
right about that certain point of view.
Two stormtroopers waited outside the elevator at the end of the walkway and he heard Vader say to them : "You will not report anything you've seen here," as two black gloved fingers traced an arc in the air.
He thought his father was merely issuing a command, but then one trooper leaned his helmet towards the other and said," We won't report anything we've seen here."
He kept his jaw from dropping and walked with his father past the stormtroopers and into the elevator. He waited until the doors shushed closed before he spoke. "The Jedi mind trick ?" he said, looking straight into the mask.
Vader was unperturbed. "It has its uses."
He smiled to himself, and realized how comforting it was to be back in the presence of another Force-user, someone who could understand him, who didn't view his abilities with just as much fear as wonderment.
When the elevator doors opened at the top level of the platform, he looked overhead to the sky, suffused with the soft light of pre-dawn, and thought it was a fitting metaphor to describe what had just happened.Since Vader apparently made no such assessment of the morning sky, he found that his few moments of hesitation made it necessary for him to jog to catch up to his father.
Once inside the lambda
shuttle, he took the co-pilot's seat, as Vader had already taken possession of the pilot's seat. On Bespin his father had seemed frighteningly powerful, inhuman and relentless, but as he watched him today all he could think was how competent his father seemed, so willing to take charge of the situation. He watched his father's hands flick rapid-fire over the controls of the shuttle, the same controls that had made Han pause before he flew the Tyderium
away from Sullust.
He also noticed the faint whirr of electrodrivers when his father's hands moved, and his mind turned to his own black gloved hand.
"It functions well for you ?" Vader said, the volume of his voice lower than usual.
He had forgotten what it was like being around someone who could sense his thoughts. "It felt strange at first, but I don't think about it much anymore," he said,his eyes lowered.
"You get used to it,"Vader said, again with a softer tone.
Tension hung in the air, and he didn't know what to say.
The ventilator cycled several times before Vader spoke again. "I did not intend to injure you, Luke. It was reflex."
His eyes welled a little, and his throat felt thick. It had taken a long time to get past the impression that his father was an unfeeling monster who could maim his own son without concern. It was a relief to know that rejecting that idea had been right and not just a way to make himself feel better.He drew in a breath and calmed his emotions.
"I got used to it, " he said quietly.
Vibration from the ship's repulsors traveled through the deck and he felt the shuttle lift off from the landing platform.Next to him the sound of his father's ventilator maintained its even rhythm.On Bespin the sound had seemed so menacing and ominous, but as he listened to it now, over and over, it was just breathing. A mechanical compensation for injured flesh, just like his prosthetic hand.
He wondered what had happened to his father, wondered if he would hear the story now, if he kept his mind open and revealed his curiosity. But if his father sensed his thoughts, he was refusing to pick up the hint, because the next thing Vader said was all business.
"You have the coordinates for the camp ?"
"Actually, I'm not sure.But I was heading west when I was picked up by the Imperial walker," he said.
"You must know where you set down that stolen shuttle," Vader said.
He blushed at the reference."The camp isn't near the shuttle. We were captured by, uh, Ewoks."
The helmet swiveled until the mask was staring at him straight on. "Ewoks
? But they're three feet tall and you have a lightsaber."
He kept his eyes fixed on the viewscreen to avoid the intensity of his father's gaze."I didn't see any need to hurt them. We let ourselves be captured."
"They've actually given us good intel on Imperial positions," he continued, trying to shake his father's disapproving stare.He pointed at the screen."There's trees dead ahead."
The shuttle rose gracefully over the treetops and swung eastward without the helmet ever turning back to the viewscreen. "Hmmph," Vader finally said, turning his attention forward again.
"Don't do that," he said."It makes you sound like Yoda."
"Small and green, I am not," Vader said,"but tell me, how did you escape your mighty captors ?"
"We're all friends now," he said," after Threepio..."
"Threepio ?" Vader interrupted. "A protocol droid ?"
He was puzzled by his father's interest. "Well, yes. You know him ?"
"Know him ? I built him," Vader said, " when I was a boy on Tatooine. Later on I gave him to your mother."
He was stunned.Fussy, pain in the rear Threepio had been a gift between his father and his mother ? Threepio knew what she looked like, the sound of her voice, the things she talked about ? He had set out to save his father, but instead he felt like he had saved himself. Regained his history, his family, his sense of belonging.At last there was someone to tell him the truth, to explain who he was. He took a chance. "I think I saw her."
The helmet turned towards him, but did not meet his eyes.
"From what I know, that is not possible," Vader said.
"No, not in person. In a vision," he said."When I touched something you left behind, at home, on the moisture farm."
"I don't recall leaving anything at the Lars homestead."
"But you were
there.When I first found it I showed it to Owen, and he said it was the broken shifter from his old swoop bike. I didn't understand it then, but when I went back home last year,after Bespin, I found it again. The Force let me see what you saw, feel what you felt. I recognized your mind.You have a certain...intensity."
His father shrugged. "You are not the first to say that."
He swallowed and took a deep breath."When I held it I saw a girl dressed in blue, and I could feel that you loved her."
Vader was silent for several moments. "Was she more beautiful than anything else in the Galaxy ?"
He did not expect those words. "She was ...very beautiful. Was that her ?"
An almost imperceptible motion from the helmet indicated yes, but the only sound that came through the mask was the unending cycle of ventilator driven air.
He swiveled his chair to look at the black figure, his eyes traveling from the boots to the helmet.Nothing about the armor seemed foreign anymore and the impression of the machine like monster that had haunted him since Cloud City was entirely gone.He remembered the maelstrom of emotions that had come from holding the shifter, the bubbling pot of love and determination and heartbreak and despair, felt the fine thread of sadness that escaped his father's mental shielding now. He wanted to hear everything, to understand what had happened, to really know the man his father was.
He looked directly at the helmet, though his father was now resolutely facing the viewscreen."I'm glad you decided to come with me, to join the Alliance."
At the moment his forehead almost came in contact with the instrument panel, he regretted not fastening his flight harness.As his body then reversed direction and slammed backwards into his seat, he realized his father had abruptly cut the airspeed of the shuttle. He felt like he had accidently walked behind the exhaust of a fully throttled X-wing engine, such was the blast of mental energy that came from his father.
"I never said I was joining the Rebellion. Is that what you think ? Did they send you here ?" Vader thundered.
If he hadn't been so concerned about being caught in the crosshairs of his father's attack he might have admired the way Vader was keeping the shuttle suspended in the air without using the repulsors, carefully manipulating the drive flaps and the throttle to keep the shuttle from falling to the ground.
"No, no, it was my decision to come after you. I've told almost no one," he said, wondering how that sense of family could have evaporated so fast. "But you chose to come with me, and you know I'm part of the Alliance."
"I chose to come with you, and you alone.Are we not joining together so that we can overthrow the Emperor and restore order to the Galaxy ?" Vader said, activating the repulsors and stepping up from his seat.
"I was trying to bring you home, to bring you back to the right side," he said, rising to his feet as well.
"The right side ? There is nothing wrong with the Empire that cannot be fixed by removing Palpatine," Vader said. "The Rebellion only creates chaos in the Galaxy."
That made no sense at all. "The Alliance wants to bring democracy back to the Galaxy, to restore the Senate, and the Republic. How is that chaos ?"
The repeating cycle of air from the helmet suddenly sounded ominous again."Perhaps I should turn this shuttle around..."
He had no answer for that, only questions for himself.What had he been thinking ? What kind of man was he bringing to Han and Leia ? How could he have ever thought this would work ?
He realized his mistake the moment he let his mind drift into thought.
"You want to know who you are bringing to your friends ?" Vader said. "The man who led the assault on the Jedi Temple, who brought the Order to its knees."
So, the stories were true.He felt queasy, and wondered why his father was trying to provoke him.Just a few minutes ago, they had seemed so close. Could everything have really changed so quickly ? He reached out with the Force, hoping to gain a glimmer of understanding, and was surprised to find his father's mind open to him.
There was no sense of pride, no mocking amusement, only, unbelievably, remorse. He closed his eyes to focus his mind, to make sure he was understanding correctly. The statement wasn't a boast, it was a confession.
He stepped closer, turned his face upwards to the helmet, and prepared himself for another lashing. "But you regret doing so."
The storm that had flashed previously did not reappear.
"The past cannot be undone," Vader said simply.
He felt emboldened by the calmness of the reply. "But if you had it to do over..."
"There are many things I would change," Vader said.
He moved another step closer."And that's
what I feel in you. That's
why I'm here."
The helmet sagged downwards, and he felt relief pour from his father's presence. Black gloved hands grasped his shoulders and he had the feeling that if the helmet hadn't been in the way his father would have touched his forehead to his own.After a minute the helmet raised up, but the gloved hands remained gently atop his shoulders.
"Then help me defeat Palpatine. If you only knew what he has stolen from your life, and from mine, how he has manipulated the Galaxy.None of us will ever be free until he is gone."
He could feel the pain in his father's mind, and the desperation that accompanied it. Maybe it just had to be done. Afterall, wasn't it the reason the Alliance had sent them here, the timing determined by the Emperor's presence on the Death Star ? Wouldn't working with his father in this way also benefit the Alliance ?
He looked up into the dark lenses. "Okay. I'll help you."
The gloved hands dropped off his shoulders, and his father extended one arm towards the pilot's seat."Then take us to the camp, son, so that we may begin."Chapter Three