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
Even as he stepped back his eyes remained fixed on the hooded figure who stood in the doorway. He reached out with the Force but the figure's presence was so matte that it seemed to simply absorb the energy, leaving nothing to return to him.
"Be careful, Luke," Leia said from beside him. "That is
The yellow eyes seized fiercely upon Leia, but the voice was all silk. "The former Senator Organa. What an unexpected pleasure."
"What do you want?" he said, sliding smoothly between his sister and the Emperor, his fingers twitching around his unlit lightsaber.
"I should ask you the same thing," the Emperor said. "Except that I already know the answer."
He glanced at the Emperor's wan expression. Somehow with all the warnings he had received he had expected more than this wrinkled, frail looking man who didn't even appear to be armed. One swift blow from his lightsaber should be all that was required to accomplish Ben's wishes. And his father's, and those of the Alliance. Still, there was something about the old man that made his scalp prickle and his mouth go dry, a steady current of malevolence that flowed from within the cloak.
The Emperor moved closer. "You want to kill me, don't you?"
He swallowed hard. To hear the act stated so plainly, and by the intended target nonetheless, made the sense of justice that had carried him this far fade away. A Jedi uses the Force for knowledge and defense. Never for attack
. He shifted the lightsaber in his hand, his intent tempered by his conscience.
The Emperor glided around him to engage Leia. "Now you, my dear, you are more of a puzzle. And why have you joined Lord Vader?"
"I haven't joined with Vader," she spat.
An amused smile spread across the Emperor's face. "Well, if you're not with him, than he's treating you better than any other prisoner I've seen. No cell, no guards." He reached a hand down and took hold of her wrist. "Not even any binders."
His thumb activated the lightsaber even as she wrenched her hand from the gnarled fingers. Now it was defense.
The blue glow of the saber reflected in the Emperor's eyes. "So much like your father. Your anger flashes just like his. Are
you going to kill me?"
His jaw tensed and he dropped the blade of the saber between Leia and the Emperor. "I should. For everything you've done."
"Someone's been feeding you stories," the Emperor said, not retreating even a millimeter from the pulsing lightsaber."Did your father ever tell you about the time he stood before me exactly as you do now?"
"No," he said warily, pushing his way in front of Leia, the forward movement of the saber at last making the Emperor move back.
"I thought not," the Emperor said."He was about your age, a Jedi Knight already, lightsaber drawn, trying to decide whether or not to kill me. Of course, since I'm still here we know what choice he made, but you, you have real anger. You might actually do it."
He licked his lips. He had more anger than his father? He might violate the Code where Vader had not? The saber burned in his hand like it was the Dark Side itself.
In the moment he took to deactivate the lightsaber, something smacked him so hard it felt like ten Gamorreans had rushed him at once and he flew backwards against the wall of the cabin. As he picked himself up off the floor he heard Leia scream his name and then it hit him again, a bolt of energy that enveloped him, producing both excruciating pain and extraordinary weakness. With his nose buried in the carpet he felt strong hands grab him by the arms and hoist him up, and there was nothing he could do about it.
"Lord Vader? Lord Vader, are you all right?"
The rising volume of Piett's voice brought him back to the present, and he pulled himself away from the wall that had held him upright. The agony of Force lightning had filled his mind, but it hadn't been his body that was struck; it had been Luke's."I am fine, Admiral. But the Emperor is on board Executor
Piett fiddled with the comlink on his belt. "I have no messages announcing his arrival, m'lord."
"Nor have I," he said. "Nevertheless, he is here. We must retrieve the captives."
"I'll dispatch a squad to their room immediately," Piett said.
"No. The Emperor will be watching for such activity," he said. "We must go alone."
Piett nodded. "As you wish, m'lord."
She liked her anger. It banished her fears and gave her focus, made her stronger. So she thought about how angry she was to be locked in this room, to not know where Luke was, to have no way to communicate with the Alliance. It kept her from looking at the door every few minutes, wishing that Luke would come throught it. Or even Vader. As unbelievable as it seemed, she'd be damned happy to see that shiny black helmet right about now.
Or Han. She didn't know if he was still on Endor's moon, or if the moon even still existed. Anything could have happened while she had been on board this ship. But that couldn't be the last time she would see him, without a real goodbye. It just couldn't be. She drew in a breath and found anger could serve another purpose : to disguise sadness.
She turned her thoughts back towards the room, looking upward to the ceiling. Maybe that ventilation outlet wasn't as far away as it seemed. If she stacked a chair onto the conference table and climbed up on the chair, maybe she could reach the edge of the grate. Once she'd pushed aside the cover, she only had to pull herself up into the duct.
She sighed when her fingertips remained many centimeters short of the grate. She wasn't Luke and one of his athletic leaps just wasn't going to happen. As she brought the chair down off of the table she heard activity outside the door. Not knowing whether to be hopeful or afraid, her breath caught as she waited for the door to slide open. She stiffened when she saw it was not her brother but simply another target for her anger.
"What have you done with Luke?" she said, striding towards the Emperor.
The Emperor deflected her aggression by making a slow circle around her. "He's recuperating. He'll be fine. It was for his own good, really."
"Getting shocked with that...that lightning was for his benefit?" she said. "Didn't look too healthy to me."
"Attacking the head of state is known as treason," the Emperor said."Punishable by death in most places. I was saving him from himself."
"And just when did you become so interested in his welfare?" she said.
"And just when did you decide to betray the Alliance?" the Emperor countered, stopping directly in front of her.
"I have not betrayed the Alliance," she said indignantly, then wondered if she should have answered at all.
"But you have aligned yourself with Vader and Skywalker," the Emperor said."If they destroy me, do you really think Vader will simply hand over the Empire to your Rebel Alliance?"
She hesitated.This was dangerous ground, an area in which she didn't know the answers herself.
"Please, sit down," the Emperor said, pulling out a chair for her."We should talk, Senator to Senator."
"You disbanded the Senate, or don't you remember?" she said, taking a seat, but not the one he offered.
"I had no choice. The assaults by your Rebellion on the security of the Empire necessitated a tight command structure." He looked down. "I recall my terms as a Senator with great fondness and I would look forward to a time when the Senate could be reconvened."
She leaned back in her chair. "Really? A Senate representing only the planets you hadn't blown up with that thing
He shook his head."If you sat atop the Empire, you would understand. But then, perhaps that is why you are here, to bypass Mothma and the Alliance structure and ensure your place at the top of an Empire run by Vader."
She was aghast."No...I'd never..."
The Emperor extended an arm across the table towards her. "But what do you think will happen if they kill me? Vader will seize control of the Empire, that son of his will become his apprentice, and together they will finish off the Alliance. Whereas I understand the need for diplomacy and discussion, Vader is a brute. His punishments for even slight infractions are legendary throughout the Imperial Navy. As you have personally experienced his methods, surely you can appreciate the truth in what I am saying."
Her brow tensed in concentration. Was that the future she was helping to create? One in which the Alliance would be destroyed and Luke would be lost to Vader? Was it a future that was unfolding even now? Luke's face came to her, that resolute optimism shining in his eyes as he first told her of his plan to save Vader. She had to talk to Luke, stop things before they went any further. There must be a way to convince the Emperor to take her to him.
She looked to the Emperor, her mouth part way open, but the words failed to come out, silenced by the Emperor's half-lidded expression, his face awash with pleasure. She dearly hoped she had nothing to do with it.
Suddenly the yellow orbs focused on her, and triumph floated in his voice. "No, I suppose you wouldn't, because your feelings are so strong for the Alliance, and for its members, especially for your... brother
She squeezed her eyes closed trying to block a presence that she couldn't feel."Get out of my head!"
The Emperor chuckled."Not likely. Not when you're carrying secrets as good as that one."
She sought to empty her mind of thoughts as she had done on Vader's shuttle.
"Nice try," the Emperor said, leaning closer."Did your father teach you that?"
"I have nothing more to say to you," she said.
The Emperor rose from his chair, his gaze fixed on her. "I don't know why I didn't figure this out sooner. Afterall, you're just like your mother."
She found herself staring at him, wishing he would say more.
"Oh, you don't know?" he said, moving to her side."She was a Senator, too. Strong willed. Smart. And very beautiful."
His thin fingers caressed her cheek and she slapped his hand away, her stomach churning. But however frail he looked the hand that grabbed hers had lost none of its strength to age. He held her wrist tightly as the fingers of his other hand traced over her palm. He bent his head down and she could feel his breath on her neck.
"It's all right. You can tell me," he said softly."You crave power. You want to be part of your family's dynasty. There's nothing shameful in that."
She peeled his fingers from around her wrist and rose from her chair so swiftly that it fell over. "No. I crave freedom. For the entire Galaxy."
The bright glow of his eyes increased. "Then you'd better reconsider the company you're keeping. If don't intend to follow Vader's plan, then I must warn you that he doesn't deal well with betrayal. I wouldn't want you to suffer your mother's fate."
Her eyes followed him as he exited the room. How had she allowed herself to get in this situation? She had to either believe the man who kept the Galaxy enthralled by fear, or trust the father who might have hurt her mother. Great.
She bit her lip in concentration. There was one more choice. Find Luke and get the hell off this ship.
His gloved fingertips followed Luke's slide down the wall of the cabin. Visually there was only a slight smudge, but in the Force he could feel where his son's body had impacted the wall. He knelt to the floor and spread his hand wide over the short pile of the carpet. Luke had lain here. He searched the floor for scorch marks and was relieved to find none. Perhaps the boy had not been badly damaged.
He rose to his feet and noted Piett's perplexed expression.
"Do you see something, m'lord?" the Admiral asked.
"Not see, Piett, feel," he said."The Emperor has been here. He is the one who took the captives."
"Pardon me for asking, m'lord, but why would the Emperor need to steal prisoners?" Piett said.
He looked into Piett's face. The truth would be revealed soon enough. "Because that boy is my son."
Piett blinked rapidly. "Oh."
"Spare nothing for his protection if I am not the first to find him," he said.
Piett still looked stunned."Of course, m'lord."
"Send your most trusted men in search of him and report all information to me," he said, heading for the corridor.
"Right away," Piett said, as he moved to the com unit on the cabin's desk.
Always he had felt respect, and often fear, in Piett's mind, but now there was something different, something akin to admiration. It had been so very long since that emotion had been directed at him, he had almost forgotten the feeling.
He closed his eyes, twisting his head to one side and then the other, but the soreness that resided in his neck and the rest of his body was not impressed by stretching.He would have gotten up to test the door , but he'd already tried that too many times. Even his attempts to use the Force on the guards he could sense outside the door had fallen flat. The room didn't look like a detention cell, more like a meeting room with a table and several chairs, but it was serving that purpose since he was locked inside without his weapon. And without Leia.
He vaguely remembered being hauled down corridors, his legs stumbling underneath him, but he couldn't say how far he had been moved from the original cabin. On a ship the size of Executor
there would be thousands upon thousands of rooms, probably all as monochromatic as this one. His hand fell once again to the empty spot over his hip. What he wouldn't give to have his lightsaber back, so that he could escape this room to find Leia and warn his father.
He could still feel his father's presence, though less clearly than before, as if a shadow had fallen between them. Beyond that, his sense of the future was clouded, as if something was physically interfering with his connection to the Force. At the moment, it felt like that something
was drawing near.
He rose from his chair when he sensed a stirring in the guards outside the door and then he detected the flat, unrevealing presence that he had come to recognize as the Emperor. When the door slid open he got his first glimpse of the guards he had sensed, scarlet armored figures who moved aside so that the Emperor could enter the room.
"I see you're feeling better," the Emperor said. "I apologize for the overzealousness of my guards.They are trained to protect me from any threat."
He narrowed his eyes. Is that what had happened? He remembered being thrown against the wall, but not seeing that distinctive red armor.
The Emperor pulled something from within his robe. "I'm sure you'll want this back. It's a very fine example."
He reached forward to take the lightsaber from the Emperor's hand. "Thanks. I made it myself."
"Being a Jedi must be very important to you," the Emperor said with a hint of a smile.
"Why do you say that?" he said, clipping the saber back on his belt.
The Emperor swept a hand in front of him."Your appearance. Your demeanor. Your weapon. You have modeled yourself after the Order despite there being no one left to be your guide."
"I had help," he said.
"Ah yes," the Emperor said, pulling aside a chair and sitting down. "Obi-Wan Kenobi, as I recall. I'm surprised he didn't entrust you with the last mission of the Order. His mission, in fact."
"What are you talking about?" he said, lowering himself into a seat opposite the Emperor.
"Kenobi was supposed to kill your father. Didn't quite get the job done," the Emperor said, leaning back in his chair."Almost, though. After their battle your father was missing three limbs and burned to a crisp. Took a fair amount of surgery to save him and he still needed that awful suit. Anyways, I would have thought that Kenobi would have sent you to finish the task."
His gut felt tight. Ben? Ben had done that? He brushed away the images that swarmed his mind. "I won't kill my own father."
The Emperor's smile deepened."Then you reject the Jedi agenda . As your father did."
"No," he said defiantly."I will
follow the path of the Jedi."
"And you think your father will allow you to remain one if you work togther?" the Emperor said."You do know that he was the one who led the assault on the Temple."
"Only because you made him," he said accusingly.
The Emperor raised his eyebows. "You've met the man. No one can make
him do anything. No, he did it of his own accord - killed not only the Masters and the Padawans, but even the younglings
. No wonder they sent Kenobi to destroy him. In fact, after I learned of what he had done, I knew my duty would be to keep him in check."
He stared into the yellow eyes, thinking of the blistering heat that rolled without fail from his father's presence. How much truth was there in the Emperor's story? What did he really know of his father's life?
"You have thought of that, haven't you?" the Emperor said."Over the last twenty five years only my presence has contained him. If you destroy me, are you prepared to take responsibility for releasing him unfettered?"
"There's good in him.I can feel it," he said, reminding himself.
The Emperor snorted."Good is a point of view. The question is, can you bring him to your point of view, or will he bring you to his? That you are here on this ship and not with your Rebel friends tells me which way it will be. How much more of yourself will you give up to remain at his side?"
"We understand each other. He hasn't asked me to change anything," he said.
"Do you?" the Emperor said, a new smile twisting his face."Do you truly
understand who's underneath that mask?"
"Yes," he said, using faith to steady his voice."Anakin Skywalker, my father."
"Hmmph," the Emperor said as he rose from the table."That person no longer exists."
"Wait," he said, getting up to follow the Emperor's retreating form."What have you done with Leia?"
The Emperor paused. "You mean your sister? She is quite safe. That is, unless your father finds her."
He hoped the startled jump of his heart had not revealed itself on his face. "What are you talking about?"
"With her lack of training, she is the obvious choice to bring to the Dark Side, not you," the Emperor said.
"He won't do that. He doesn't even know about her," he said.
"Oh, but he will," the Emperor said, passing through the threshhold."He will. And then you will be forced to choose. Jedi
He let the door slide shut and the Emperor's presence fade away. Oddly enough, it felt as though the guards had left with the Emperor. Even if they were there, he could no longer wait for his father, wasn't even sure that he should.
With one swift plunge, he sent the blue plasma of his lightsaber straight through the door.Chapter Six