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Changing Fate

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Anakin Skywalker groaned as he pushed himself up off the floor, blinking away the heavy tiredness that weighed him down. He stared around him at the room in a confused daze, not recognizing the rather dull gray room he was being kept in.

The only thing he could remember before waking up was Obi-Wan's distinct voice shouting at him to stop as he reached forward to grab something, but he couldn't quite remember what he was reaching for.

"Obi-Wan?" he called out, his voice hoarse. When he got no reply, he gently reached out into the Force but soon found that he could not locate his Master anywhere. He growled in annoyance at the prospect of not being able to find Kenobi, especially while being held prisoner, by whom he had no idea.

He slowly rose from the makeshift cot that he had been laying on and tried to contact his Master once again. And once again he came up completely empty.

He felt a sudden flash of fear as he felt only emptiness where he should've felt his Master. There was nothing but an empty void where the presence of the older Jedi should be and it felt Anakin feeling cold. It was almost as if-

Anakin huffed in annoyance as he ran a hand through his short blond hair and fiddled with his Padawan braid, a habit he often did when he was nervous. He didn't know why he was unable to contact his Master and he was starting to get irritated at the prospect of being by himself without any connection to the older man.

"Stay calm," he muttered under his breath. There had to be a logical explanation as to why Kenobi was currently unreachable.

Anakin was about to try again when he sensed a presence coming towards him. He instinctively reached over for his lightsaber but found that it was no longer hooked on his utility belt as it always was. Whoever his captors were, they must've confiscated his weapon when they took him into custody.

Obi-Wan was going to kill him.

The door to his cell opened and a rather tall man in a dark gray uniform stepped into his room with armored guards, their white armor vaguely reminiscent of Mandalorian styled armor, but different. The design was all wrong and it made him uncomfortable.

Something was very, very wrong.

"I see you are awake," said the man stiffly as he pulled his hands behind his back and puffed out his chest indignantly.

"Where am I?" demanded Anakin as he inspected the man's uniform, which was a deep gray with red and blue rank insignia's as well as pants that flared out dramatically before disappearing into black leather boots.

Anakin could not recognize the perfectly coiffed uniform and he knew that it was not Republic in origin, but it was intimidating nonetheless.

The man gave Anakin a pointed look as he raised his eyebrow indignantly in obvious disdain and distrust that would've made Master Windu jealous.

"I am Commander Alric of the Vigilant, and what I would like to know is how you got here Jedi."

The man practically spits the word out as if it was acid in his mouth and this caused Anakin to tilt his head in curiosity as he carefully observed the uniformed Officer in front of him. He didn't have to be a Force Sensitive to tell that there was an unmistakable level of hostility in his voice at the mention of the word Jedi.

"I was hoping you could tell me that," quipped Anakin as he tried his best to the diplomatic, something that did not come naturally to him.

He was curious as to what sort of explanation he would get.

Anakin honestly had no idea what he was doing here or where here even was. The last thing he remembered was being on a mission with Obi-Wan on the Outer Rim planet of Setauri V to investigate alleged reports of an ancient Sith shrine located deep in the planets natural volcanic caves.

He remembered being in the caves and then he had woken up here as a prisoner and without his Master and he would be damned if he didn't get an explanation as to what was going on.

He knew that something was off just by observing that which was around him. The only logical conclusion was that he had somehow been captured, but he had no idea who his captors were and he was certain that they were not apart of the Republic.

Why would they hold a Jedi Padawan against his will? Neither he or Obi-Wan had done anything to warrant an arrest and even while the Jedi had sworn to protect the Republic, they still did retain autonomy and were not under the jurisdiction of the Republic. To arrest a Jedi illegally was political suicide, which was why Anakin doubted that the Republic were the ones behind this gross act of negligence.

No, there was no way that the Republic would jeopardize their stable relationship with the Jedi in such a way.

The man ignored Anakin's remark as he pulled out his lightsaber from the folds of his military jacket and began to carefully inspect it under the light. Anakin eyed the weapon that was his life and was seriously contemplating just taking it back by force when the Commander addressed him once again.

"Possession of such a weapon is illegal," said Commander Alric as he handed it over to one of the guards, "only those whom the Emperor has designated may use one."

"The Emperor?" asked Anakin slowly, not quite comprehending what he was hearing.

"Yes," said Alric as he squared his shoulders, "the Emperor will be most pleased to discover that another Jedi has been found and apprehended."

Anakin ignored his strange statement, "you still haven't told me how I got here."

"You appeared on my bridge," he said as he placed his hands behind his back once again, "from where I do not know but I intend on opening a full investigation on the matter. I have already informed Lord Vader of your mysterious appearance as well as your status as a Jedi. As of right now, he is on the way here to deal with you personally."

"Lord Vader?" asked Anakin slowly as his stomach churned uncomfortably at the name, which was undoubtedly a Sith name.

Alric paused at the blatant confusion on Anakin's face, "you don't know who I'm talking about, do you? Surely someone of your status has heard of him before."

Anakin shook his head truthfully. He did not know who Lord Vader was and this seemed to genuinely confuse the Commander.

"Sorry to disappoint," said Anakin as he shook his head, "but I honestly have no idea who you're talking about right now."

The Commander quickly hid his confusion behind a stony scowl, "it matters not, boy. You are a Jedi and therefore a criminal and Lord Vader will deal with you and your kind accordingly."

"I didn't know being a Jedi was a crime," said Anakin humorlessly as he did his best to remain calm. According to the Commander, he had just appeared on the bridge of this ship out of nowhere and apparently being a Jedi was enough to have him thrown into the brig and threatened without explanation.

What in kriffing hell was going on here?

Anakin had no idea, but he figured it was high time he got out of there as soon as possible. They had failed to put a Force inhibitor on and he wasn't sure he wanted to stick around to see who this Lord Vader was.

He was done playing this game.

Anakin concentrated on the Force and used it to push the guards back and then he quickly delivered a hard kick to the Commanders chest before calling his lightsaber into his waiting hands. He ignited the blue blade and used it to block the guard's blaster shots that were being rapidly fired at him.

The Commander looked up at Anakin with a mixture of pain and surprise from where he sat on the floor before he started yelling orders to his armed escort to capture the Jedi, who was already half-way down the corridor.

"Get him!" he yelled as Anakin quickly disappeared down the adjacent corridor, his face flushed with anger and embarrassment as he rose to his feet.

Anakin tuned out the frantic yelling as he ran down the corridor before he finding a small alcove tucked away in the wall, the perfect place to hide from the fast approaching and heavily armed guards. He turned his lightsaber off as he held his breath, waiting for all of the armed guards to pass by his hiding place and silently praying to the Force that he would not be detected. The sound of their feet clamoring against the metal floor was enough to drown out the sound of the blaring alarms which warned of his escape.

None of the white guards stopped to look in the tiny compartment where Anakin had decided to hide as they all disappeared down the corridor, leaving Anakin in their wake.

He silently weighed his options as he reached out with the Force and felt he nearby presences, not sure if he could successfully escape without them noticing.

The would be the hard part.

He knew that he was onboard a ship and he knew that he needed to get off said ship before he was caught, or worse. But he was unsure of the layout of the vessel and he knew that he would have to go off blind instinct if he was to ever find the hangar. There, he would need to commandeer a ship and somehow find his way back to Setauri V.

Commandeering a ship would be easy, getting to the hangar would not be.

Anakin took a deep breath as he poked his head out from the alcove to check if the coast was clear before making his way down the winding corridor. He stayed alert for any people he might run into and dodged certain hallways where a confrontation would be inevitable. He could've just used a lightsaber to force himself through, but that would only leave a trail for his captors to follow.

He needed to be stealthy if he was going to make it off this ship if one piece.

The hangar was a refreshing sight until Anakin actually saw what sort of ships were in it.

He had always prided himself on his piloting abilities as well as his knowledge of the all the different types of ships in the galaxy as well as how to pilot them. It was something that he had excelled in his classes at the Temple and his talent was widely known amongst the other Jedi.

But the ships he saw in the hangar were totally and completely unrecognizable to him and it made his confusion grow even more.

Surely these ships were not in commercial use seeing as Anakin had never seen them on any recognized Republic hyper lane or trade route. They must've been from some small, relatively unimportant planet in the far reaches of the Outer Rim, but even then one would think the design for these ships would be archived in the Temple Library.

He would have to ask Obi-Wan if he had ever seen such a design and where it had originated from, but for now, he had much bigger problems to worry about.

"Hey, you!" cried an armed guard from the far end of the hangar, bringing Anakin out his stupor.

A small group of guards began to fire at him and Anakin took immediate defensive actions. He ignited his lightsaber and blocked the blaster shots that were headed his way with precision and agility as he ran for the nearest ship.

The vessel was nothing more than a spherical cockpit with two strange flat panels on each side of it. It was a bizarre design and Anakin could only hope that the ships control systems were more familiar to him than the outside was.

Anakin continued to fend off the shots as he used his other hand to yank the hatch up before he jumped down into the cockpit and turned his lightsaber off. He inspected the controls and was more than thankful to find that the system in front of him was familiar enough to navigate on his own.

The joystick was not what he was used too, but he would have to make due.

Anakin started up the engine and was about to leave the hangar when the ship rocked dangerously to the side. He could see and hear the blaster shots that were being aimed at him and he knew that his ships had been hit from the group of guards that had amassed in the hangar, and there was nothing he could do about that.

As soon as Anakin cleared the hangar, the ship had turned its phaser cannons on him and started firing, which forced Anakin to swerve and dodge the oncoming attack. It would've been more difficult if he didn't have the Force to rely on, which allowed him to sense where the shots were coming from before they hit him, providing him ample time to maneuver the vessel out of the way.

He also noticed that the ship he had just escaped from was currently in orbit around an orange, dusty looking planet and he knew that he had no choice but to land there. The strange little ship he had commandeered did not have hyperdrive or a sustainable life support system and he had already sustained heavy damage from the blaster shots, which meant he would have to take his chances on the ground.

He could only hope that it was a planet capable of sustaining human life.

Anakin huffed out in annoyance as he dodged yet another shot and got a glimpse of the ship that he had just escaped from was undoubtedly a heavily armored battle cruiser with full hyperdrive capabilities. The design looked extremely similar to earlier Republic warships, but there was no way that could be. There was no need for the Republic to use battlecruisers and those specific designs had not been in commission for centuries.

Anakin had been so certain that it was not the Republic that had taken him prisoner, but he was starting to have serious doubts as he eyed the ships in front of him and racked his brain for an explanation.

But while Anakin was distracted, a single blaster shot hit his starboard side and the ship spiraled out of the control and plummeted towards the planet in front of him.

He was coming in hot and Anakin could only trust in the Force as the planet drew closer and closer.

Chapter Text

Luke Skywalker awoke from his deep slumber with a jolt. He sat straight up in bed and looked around his quarters in search of the disturbance that had startled him awake, but found that he was entirely alone.

There had been a disturbance in the Force unlike anything else that he had ever felt before but as soon as Luke reached out to find the source, it had disappeared. It had been there one second and then it was gone, leaving Luke confused as he tried to reach out and find the source of the powerful disturbance but grasped only empty air.

The disturbance had been powerful and Luke was positive that he was not the only one who had felt it. But Luke had no idea from where it had originated and so there was really no way of investigating what sort of thing could cause such a powerful disturbance.

Luke sighed as he rubbed the sleep from his eyes and pulled himself from his bed and stretched his tired and achy joints. He ran a hand through his moppy blond hair and frowned at the strange feeling that coursed through his new prosthetic hand at the sensation. He still was not used to using it and while the hand looked like his own flesh, Luke would always know that it was not.

The wound was still fairly fresh and Luke could still feel the pain that had come with having it cut off. He could still feel the throbbing and burning of sensation even though his hand was no longer there and Luke had been told that it was something called phantom pain, something that amputees often times felt.

But even more painful than having lost his hand on Cloud City was the revelation that came only seconds later from the man whom he had considered his number one enemy. Ben had told him that Darth Vader had killed his father in cold blood and Luke had believed him wholeheartedly.

But Ben had lied to him.

Luke could feel that Vader had been speaking the truth that he was indeed Anakin Skywalker and Luke could not deny it. Luke hadn't believed him at first, but he had searched his feelings and had found that it was true and it had left him devastated.

Darth Vader was Anakin Skywalker.

Luke pushed the painful thoughts from his mind as he threw on his clothes. He had more important things to worry about than the identity of his father, like the disturbance that he had just felt. He could sense that something important had just happened and he knew that the Force was calling to him.

"Come on Artoo," he said as he patted the droid's dome, "let's go see if we can find the Princess and get some breakfast."

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Darth Vader stood on the bridge of the Executor as he stared out at the blue hyperdrive waves that surrounded the ship, his mind reeling from the disturbance that had resonated through the Force earlier that day. It had brought him out of his meditation and he had desperately tried to reach out to investigate the cause, but as soon as he had refined his senses it had disappeared.

But not before he got a sense of the location where it had originated from. The disturbance had come from somewhere in the Ben'alli system but from which planet he had no idea. The system contained four planets that were capable of sustaining life and the Empire did maintain a presence there, albeit not a large one.

There was a Star Destroyer that was currently stationed in that system, the Vigilant, which had been scouting for any possible Rebel bases. The Alliance was also setting up bases on remote planets and the Ben'alli system was just about as remote as they got.

The Emperor had contacted him immediately after that and had ordered him to the system to investigate and that was exactly what Vader was doing. The Executor had been orbiting Imperial Center when the disturbance had occurred and the Ben'alli system was at least a two-day travel, which gave Darth Vader plenty of time to meditate and think.

"Lord Vader," said Firmus Piett as he made his way over to the towering Sith, "we've just received a transmission from the Vigilant."

"What did it say?" said Vader with a tilt of his helmet.

"Apparently they found an unidentified Jedi stowaway onboard," said Piett.

Vader paused as he contemplated the meaning of what he had just been told. There was no doubt in his mind that this Jedi had been the source of the disturbance, he could feel it through the Force and it would explain what was happening.

But who was this Jedi? And why stowaway on an Imperial ship?

"Tell them to lock him up and to put a force inhibitor on him," said Vader as he uncrossed his arms, "I will deal with this Jedi myself once we arrive in the Ben'alli system."

"Of course, Milord," said Piett with a nod of his head before returning to his duties, leaving Vader to himself once again.

Vader once again returned his gaze to the blue hyperdrive waves as his mind began reeling from this new information. He could feel the force whispering to him as if it was trying to tell him something, something important but what he had no idea.

If this person was really a Jedi, then he would deal with them like he did the others. But what didn't make sense was what a Jedi had been doing on an Imperial ship in the first place.

There was something going on that he didn't know and it irritated him.

But he would soon find out.

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Anakin frowned as he stared out at the vast horizon as he assessed the unforgiving terrain of the planet that he had just crash landed on. His strange ship was nothing more than a smoldering heap of scraps half-buried in the deep red sand that stretched endlessly from each side of him until it disappeared into towering rock formations and the green shrubs that littered the ground.

It was just Anakin's luck to crash-land on a desert planet. He still had no idea where he was, but he knew enough to know that he was not on Tatooine. This desert was much more colorful and had a little bit more of a rugged feel to it- so unlike the plain rolling dunes of Tatooine that he was so familiar with.

No, this planet may have been a desert but there was only one sun, unlike Tatooine's twin suns that scorched and devoured anything that its rays touched. Nonetheless, Anakin knew that he had to find water and shelter and get out of the heat before his captors caught up with him.

They will undoubtedly send search parties down to the surface to find him and that means that he will have to find some way off of this planet and find his way back to his Master, and if he couldn't find Obi-Wan then he would go back to Coruscant where this whole mess would hopefully be resolved.

Anakin shrugged his cloak off of him and reached out with his senses to see if he could find any sort of civilization where he could get water and food, and hopefully a comlink so that he could contact Obi-Wan or the Jedi Council on Coruscant.

They would not be pleased with this sudden turn of events, but they needed to know that there was some sort of rogue Republic faction kidnapping Jedi and holding them against their will.

It was the only explanation that he could come up with and yet Anakin had a hard time believing that it was the truth. It just doesn't feel right, but it was the only feasible explanation to this strange predicament.

But that idea did not take everything into account. That man, Commander Alric, had made it sound as though he was a part of an independent government system that had apparently been hunting down Jedi as though they were common criminals. He had talked about someone called the Emperor and Anakin did not have any clue as to who that was or Lord Vader.

There were many worlds that were not members of the Republic and there were Empires scattered all across the galaxy, but none of them would dare to violate the Republic or the Jedi in such a way.

Nothing made sense and it irritated Anakin. He knew that he was missing something but what that something was he had no idea.

All he knew was that he needed to get off this planet.

If this Emperor had been hunting down Jedi then this would be a direct violation of the Republic and would undoubtedly be considered hostile and even possibly a declaration of war. The Jedi would take direct offense to this faction illegally detaining one of their own.

Commander Alric had said that this Lord Vader had captured other Jedi and Anakin could sense that the man had been telling the truth, but if that was the case, then wouldn't the Council know if their own were being captured? And what happened to those who were captured?

Anakin had a feeling that he wouldn't like the answer to that question.

He groaned as he took his boot off and turned it upside down so the sand that had accumulated there fell to the ground and he did the same to the other boot. He continued to walk in the direction of where he had felt the unmistakable presence of a settlement, teeming with life and not far from his current location.

His throat was parched and he knew he needed to find water and shelter before the sun went down and he was caught out here with nothing to survive on.

So he walked until his feet hurt and still he continued on. Through the desert with the sun beating unforgivingly down on him and still he pursued.

He was a child of the desert and he was accustomed to the heat and dryness that came from the unforgiving terrain and while he knew how to survive, not even he was immune to the dangers that came with being in the desert.

He was tired and he was thirsty and he didn't know how much more he could take. This whole situation was not expected and the last thing he had expected upon waking up that morning was to be taken prisoner and to crash land on an unfamiliar desert planet with no food or water.

The settlement was so close and yet so far away as Anakin shrugged himself onto the nearest boulder so that he could take a breather. He wiped the sweat from his forehead and opened his Jedi tunics to let the slight breeze tickle his hot skin.

He was wearing his black robes and it was a well-known fact that one should not wear black in the desert, had he known that his day would end up like it had he would've opted for lighter colored clothes.

Anakin calmed his haggard breaths as he gently expanded his sense so that he could see if he could reach his Master but again he could finally emptiness where Kenobi's presence should be. Anakin felt anguish at the void and he could feel that the Master-Padawan bond that they had shared for the past eight years had somehow been severed.

Obi-Wan just simply was not there.

Anakin growled as he decided to see if he could reach any of the other Masters on Coruscant and gasped when he found that their presences, which had once shown bright in the force, were gone just like Obi-Wan's was.

Anakin desperately tried to reach out to each and every one of them and again but only found that he could sense one presence. One presence that was familiar and yet somehow different, as if the passage of time had somehow changed the very nature of the person.

He recognized it as Yoda's presence but he was being blocked and there was no way Anakin would be getting through to the old Master, not with the type of shield the little green Jedi had put in place.

It was obvious that Yoda did not want to be found judging from the way he had barricaded himself in the force, but why?

Why was Yoda hiding himself in such a manner?

His presence was there nonetheless and it brought Anakin comfort to be able to sense something familiar, even if there was no way to contact him.

Anakin took yet another deep breath as he refined his senses and reached out for anything that was remotely familiar and was greeted in the same manner as earlier.

There was nothing that was immediately recognizable but there was something there in the void that was calling out to him. The Force whispered to him as he slowly and gently reached out to prod the bright and shining presence that he was being inexplicably drawn too.

The presence was vaguely familiar but at the same time, Anakin was positive that he had never met the person who he was trying to reach out too. Their presence shown brightly in the Force and was untainted by the darkness, which reassured Anakin that this person was not a Sith.

The presence drew back in surprise but was not hostile at the sudden connection. Anakin quickly drew back so as to not be intrusive but he maintained his presence as he ever so slightly reached out to assess what sort of person he was contacting.

They were strong in the force but he could sense that they did not have much training in it. Yet this person seemed to be naturally adept at utilizing the force and Anakin suspected that they had received a little bit of training seeing as they were perfectly capable of using mental shields. The Padawan could feel the presence, but he could not sense where they were in the galaxy.

The other presence reached out curiously and they too gently prodded at the unfamiliar and brightly shining presence that had reached out to them in desperation. For some odd reason, Anakin felt as though he could trust the person that he was reaching out too.

The Force reassured him gently as he slowly strengthened the natural bond between the two of them and sent out one clear message.

Help me.

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Elsewhere across the galaxy, Luke Skywalker received two words through the Force from the person who had contacted him.

Help me.

Chapter Text

"Wait, what?" asked Leia as whipped her head around to stare at Luke, her brown eyes wide and questioning as she waited for him to explain himself.

Luke sighed, "I need to borrow the Falcon for a few days."

Her eyes narrowed suspiciously as she set whatever report she had been reading through down and turned around to prove Luke with her undivided attention. It was obvious that she would not like the idea of Luke taking the Millennium Falcon to go gallivanting across the galaxy for some stranger, but he had really no option. The Force was beckoning him to help whoever it was that had contacted him and who was he to disobey the Force?

"Why?" she asked.

"Someone contacted me earlier today," he said, "They need my help."

"Do you know who this person is?" she asked in all seriousness. Leia had always been a suspicious person and she was well within her rights to be so. She was a leader of the Rebellion and she had to be alert at all times for suspicious activity.

"Well no," admitted Luke sheepishly, "but they're confused and scared and they called out to me-"

"And where is this person right now?" said Leia as she crossed her arms.

When Luke had received the message, he had gotten a general sense of where it had come from and although he didn't know exactly where, he was certain that it had come from somewhere in the Outer Rim territories near Dathomir. He had pulled up a Star map and looked at all the neighboring systems before the Force had directed him to two separate star systems not far from Dathomir.

The message had either come from the Ben'alli system or the Mogaru system, each containing a handful of planets that were capable of supporting life.

Luke would simply have to trust in the Force to direct him to the right planet.

"Either the Mogaru system or the Ben'alli system," he said awkwardly as confusion spread over her soft features, "they're near Dathomir."

"Dathomir?" she said with surprise in her brown eyes, "that's about a days travel."

"Yes, and I need to leave as soon as possible," he said with pleading eyes as he stared down at the Princess. This person was scared and confused and they needed his help and Luke could tell that they were in danger, but from what he had no idea.

"Well I guess I can't stop you," she said as she pulled herself up to her feet, "and I suppose that if you're going then so shall I."

"Leia-" he began before she interrupted him.

"No Luke," she said as she placed her hands on her hips adamantly, "either we go together or we don't go at all."

Luke sighed as he shook his head. Leia had a way of getting what she wanted because of her adamancy and determination, and if she wanted to go come along then there was nothing that could stop her from doing so.

Leia was perfectly capable of handling herself and it might be a good thing to have someone else with him in case they ran into danger.

"Fine," he said with a small smile, "be ready in fifteen, I'm going to go get the ship ready."

"I'll go inform Mon Mothma," she said as they both walked out of the room that she had been using as an office for the past few weeks since Bespin. She had practically buried herself in her work ever since the events on Cloud City and losing Han had taken its toll on her.

She was busy trying to find a way to rescue him from Jabba the Hutt and it showed. She had large bags under her eyes and it was obvious that she wasn't sleeping as much as she should be, nor was she eating as much either.

Luke wasn't in a much better state himself and he too was tired and still reeling from the physical and emotional trauma that had been inflicted by his own Father. But at the end of the day, he and Leia had escaped and they would continue to fight, no matter how hard it had gotten.

Luke could always depend on Leia to have his back and vice versa.

Luke made his way into the hangar and walked over to where the Falcon was in all its Correlian glory and he smiled lightly at the memory of Han and how much pride he put into it. This was Han's ship and it just didn't feel right having it here without him or taking it without his permission, but Solo wasn't here and they needed a ship.

"Hey Lando," said Luke as soon as he spotted him and Chewie working on a few minor repairs to the ship.

"Luke," said Lando in greeting as he pulled himself away from his work and smiled up at the blond man, "what can I help you with?"

"I need to borrow the Falcon for a few days," he said, "Leia and I are going on a small mission."

"Where too?" he asked as Chewie roared out.

"Either the Ben'alli system or the Mogaru system depending on where the Force leads us," he said with a small shake of his head, "you ever been to either of those systems?"

"I've been to the Ben'alli system before but there isn't much out there. Just a few settlements and a couple trade routes, nothing big. What are guys hoping to find out there?" he asked with curiosity.

"There's someone there who needs my help," said Luke as he shifted his weight to the other foot, "at least I think there is."

"How do you know they need your help?" asked Lando with raised eyebrows.

"I can sense them," said Luke confidently.

It felt silly trying to explain the mysterious will of the Force to someone who was not sensitive to it or who had never felt its callings. Some people understood, but there were those who did not and believed the Force to be some sort of hokey religion. There was so much that was unknown about the Jedi and their ways and a lot of people across the galaxy had all but forgotten about the mystical religious sect who had once defended the Republic. It was easy to do so after so much knowledge was destroyed by the Empire as well as the fact that there had only been an estimated ten thousand Jedi in the Order when the Republic fell.

Lando nodded in understanding before a large smile appeared on his face and he clasped Luke on the back, "Well you two be careful, ya hear? If Han ever found out that something bad happened to the Princess then he'd have my head for sure."

Chewie roared in agreement and glowered down at Luke as if warning him to protect Leia or else. Luke would never let anything bad happen to the Princess, but at the same time, he knew that Leia could easily handle herself in any situation.

She was a Rebel through and through.

"Don't worry Chewie, I won't let anything happen to her," he said to reassure the Wookiee.

"Watch out for Imperial scout ships," said Lando in warning, "these last few years they've increased their presence in more remote systems, including the Ben'alli and the Mogaru system. They're looking for Rebel bases and if they find you there-"

"We'll be fine, Lando," said Leia as she came to stand next to Luke, her eyes lingering in distrust on Calrissian. It was obvious that she was still bitter about the events on Cloud City, but even she knew that Lando didn't really have much of an option.

"I've just informed Mothma that we're leaving," she said as she diverted her attention to Luke, "we have four days before we are expected back."

"Long enough to get there and find whoever contacted me."

"Do you have any idea who this person is you're going to find?" asked Lando, "I mean you've never met them before, who's to say they don't have bad intentions?"

"They don't," said Luke confidently, "they're scared and confused, but I felt no hostility from them. They didn't even know who I was and the Force is telling me I can trust them."

"Well who am I to question the Force?" said Lando as he picked up Leia's bags and walked up the ramp to the Falcon and placing them down.

Leia rolled her eyes before grabbing the Wookie in a hug and saying her farewell to Chewie and the rest of her friends in the hangar before joining Luke onboard the Falcon, her eyes lingering over Artoo.

"You're taking him?" she said as she motioned towards the R2 Unit

"Where I go Artoo goes," said Luke as he patted his domed friend.

"I still don't understand your attachment to that droid," she said with a playful smile as she took her seat in the co-pilots chair.

Artoo beeped as he bumped into Luke's leg and Luke smiled down at his small friend. He didn't know why he felt such an attachment to Artoo but ever since he had found him on Tatooine they had been inseparable. The Droid was loyal to him but he had no idea why, but he was thankful that he could always depend on him.

"Artoo is more than a droid," said Luke as he revved the engine and made his way out of the hangar, "he's my friend."

Leia said nothing as she leaned back in her seat and stared out at the blue hyperdrive waves that surrounded the ship, her eyes occasionally coming to stare at Luke. She could tell that he was anxious to get to whoever this person was so that he could help them and she couldn't blame him.

Somehow, Leia could sense that Luke was telling the truth when he said that this person was scared and confused, but she was still suspicious. She wasn't like Luke who could just feel and depend on the Force all the time, and she knew that she would never be able to do so like him.

Then again she had heard him on Cloud City. She had felt his pain and his calls to her from where he hung without his hand and in emotional distress.

It had felt so natural and right being able to feel him and it was a feeling that Leia would never forget.

"So where do you think this person is?" asked Leia as she broke the silence between them. She knew that Luke didn't know exactly where the message had come from and that he was blindly trusting in the Force to lead him to the right place.

Luke shook his head, his blue eyes looking far-a-way and Leia could tell that he was reaching out in the Force to find the answer to that question.

"I think they're in the Ben'alli system," he said after a few moments of silence, "but I'm not sure which planet in the system that they're on."

"How many planets are there that are capable of sustaining life?"

"Four," said Luke as he swiveled his chair around, "from what I've been told, it's a remote system with a few settlements and trade routes, but not much else."

"I've never even heard of the system before," said Leia absentmindedly, "I hope this person will be smart enough as to not draw much attention to them, especially if there is an Imperial presence in the system."

Luke nodded in agreement, "it's obvious they have had Force training and I think they may be a Jedi, but I can't be sure."

"If it is we need to bring them to the Alliance," she said as she thought about what it would mean for the Rebellion to have another Jedi in their ranks, "that is if the Empire doesn't capture them first."

"Let's hope that doesn't happen," said Luke as he looked over the navigation panel, "we should be arriving in the system within the next ten hours if all goes well. In the meantime, I think I'm going to go meditate."

"That's fine," said Leia as she began digging around in her bag, "I think I might go read one of my holo-novels."

Luke shook his head playfully as Leia pulled out one of her holo-novels that she passionately loved. The Princess was a bookworm and could always be found with her nose buried in one when she had free time and Luke admired her for that. Luke liked to occasionally read but his passion lied in flying and as of recent he could be found meditating and practicing moves with his saber then he could be found with a book.

Luke made his way into the interior of the ship before settling down on a blanket on the floor and slowly tuning out his physical senses. He opened himself up to the Force and let his mind wander out into the sheer vastness that surrounded the galaxy.

He slowly reached out to the mysterious force user through their bond and waited to see if he would get a response from them. It was strange that they seemed to have a natural bond between them when they had never met each other and Luke wondered why their connection had been so spontaneous.

"Luke," came a familiar voice, forcing Luke to open his eyes and break the connection between him and the mysterious Force user.

"Ben," breathed out Luke as he looked up at the familiar blue figure of his former Master, "what are you doing here?"

"I came because there has been a disturbance in the Force," said Ben as he began to stroke his chin as his face got a far-away look, "a powerful disturbance."

"I know," said Luke, "I felt it."

"I doubt there were any Force users who didn't," chuckled Ben before his face got serious again and he returned his stare down at the blond haired man sitting on the mat.

"Someone contacted you," it was not a question but a statement.

"Yes someone did. I think they're the reason behind the disturbance," said Luke as she uncrossed his legs and leaned back on his hands.

"And now you're going to go and find them," said Ben as he stroked his chin thoughtfully.

"Do you know who it is?" asked Luke hopefully.

Ben paused for a moment before he nodded his head, "yes, I know who he is."

Ben's face twisted in pain and grief for a moment before becoming stoic again and Luke got the sense that this person had once been a close friend with Ben at one point. It was obvious that the thought of this person brought the older man emotional pain to just think about and it made Luke wonder just how Ben knew this person.

"A friend of yours?" asked Luke softly.

Ben nodded, "once upon a time, yes."

"Do you know where he is?" asked Luke.

"He's on Ben'we, the third planet in the system," said Ben, "he's alone and confused. I would go to him but it would only confuse him."

"I could sense that he was," said Luke, "does the Empire know that he's there?"

"Yes," said Ben with a shake of his head, "Darth Vader is searching for him as we speak."

"Vader?!" asked Luke in shock as he scrambled to his feet, "we need to get to him before Father finds him!"

"Indeed," agreed Ben, "you cannot let Vader find him before us, or I'm afraid it will only spell disaster."

"Just who is this person?" asked Luke as he ran an agitated hand through his blond hair, "and what did they do to cause such a disturbance?"

Ben pursed his lips, "I can't tell you who he is, but I can tell you that he is someone who you can trust. He is alone and confused and in need of your help and it is imperative that he is not found by Vader."

"Because Vader will kill him?"

"No, if Vader knew who he was he would not kill him. He would try to corrupt him, but he could not kill him."

"Why not?" asked Luke.

"Because Vader's existence depends on this Jedi. He wouldn't dare kill him."

Luke shook his head, "I don't understand."

Ben shook his head sadly, "the Force works in mysterious ways, Luke. The Force has seen fit the correct the mistakes that were made in the past by showing him the future. But I don't understand why they chose to bring such a young version of him here. He hasn't even completed his trials-" said Ben as his words started to fade away, his mind going deep into thought.

Luke had no idea what Ben was talking about and he could sense that there was more to the story that Ben wasn't telling him and he was slightly angered at the prospect. Ben was known to keep secrets from him and it was something that Luke did not appreciate of the old Master.

"I must go speak with Yoda," said Ben as he finally snapped out his reverie, "he would know why the Force would do such a thing."

"What are talking about? What did the Force do?" pleaded Luke as he tried to make sense of what the old Master was saying.

"I will tell you in time, but for now, you need to find this Jedi and protect him. Whatever you do you must not let him fall into Vader's hand or I'm afraid everything will be lost," said Ben as his figure started to fade away.

Luke stared at the spot where his old Master had once stood and exhaled as he got his emotions under control. Whatever it was that Ben was hiding from him he would soon know, but just what was it that he would find out?

He could sense that something big was about to happen and he wished that Ben would stop being so secretive with him. It was annoying and irritating and Luke was still angry with Yoda and Ben for lying to him about his own Father and he would be lying if he said he wasn't feeling betrayed by them.

Luke shook his head as he stared down at the mat. His mind was far too busy to return to its meditative state and he could only roll the mat up as he made his way into the lounge to see if he could find anything to eat.

Whoever this Jedi was, Luke would find him.

But he had a feeling it wasn't going to be easy

Chapter Text

The sound of mechanical breathing filled the corridor as Vader made his way through the ship and onto the bridge of the Vigilant. Everybody stopped what they were doing to stare at the Dark Lord himself as he paraded menacingly onto the bridge, his black cape billowing behind him ominously.

He had just received word that the Jedi that they had captured had managed to find a way to escape by stealing one of the Tie fighters and he was far from pleased. He had given them explicit orders to put a force inhibitor on the Jedi and if they had done their jobs then the Jedi would never have escaped in the first place.

Someone would pay dearly for this mistake.

"Which one of you is Commander Alric," he said as he addressed the group of Officers.

All of the Officers looked around at each other with composed fear as they heard the foreboding tone of the Sith. It was always hard to tell with his respirator what sort of tone he was emulating, but the anger and fury in his voice was crystal clear as he stared at them through his black lenses.

"That would be I," said a tall human as he stepped forward, the fear in his eyes evident as he tried his best to stay composed. He held his hands behind his back and his posture was rigid as he stared up at the right-hand man of the Emperor.

"You were given explicit orders to secure the Jedi and yet I see that your brig empty," he said as he placed his hands on his hips.

"He escaped," said Commander Alric as a drop of sweat made its way down his temple.

"I can see that," said Vader with a sneer, "and he took one of your Tie fighters with him. But what I am most curious about is why there was no force inhibitor on him. You failed to do as I ordered you to do and if you had done your job accordingly, then we wouldn't be involved in a planet-wide manhunt."

"I'm sorry Lord Vader I-" he began but was cut off as the Dark Lord raised his hand and cut off the oxygen that had been flowing to his head.

He got a surprised look on his face as he started to scratch at his throat, trying to fight off the invisible force that was slowly killing him. The other Officers could only watch as their Commander was being choked to death, unable to do anything in fear of being on the receiving end of Vader's anger.

His face turned blue and it was only a few seconds later that he fell to the floor and his movement ceased.

His mistake had cost him his life.

"Fool," Vader sneered as his black lenses stared down at the corpse at his feet.

He glanced back up at the other crewmen that had stopped their activities to stare at the scene, their faces full of fear and dread. For some of them, this was their first time meeting the Dark Lord and it was quite obvious that he had made an impression on them.

They knew of Vader's reputation of being ruthless but never before had they actually witnessed it.

"Who can tell me where this Jedi has escaped too?" his voice was thunderous and it seemed to bring everybody out of their stupor.

"His Tie fighter was heavily damaged," said a young Lieutenant, "he would've crashed landed somewhere in the Huo'Nabbi desert on the planet below."

"And I assume that you have arranged for search parties to travel down to the surface?"

This Jedi could not have gotten far on his own, especially if he had been injured in the crash. Although Vader was unfamiliar with this remote planet, he knew that being in a desert would be a disadvantage for this Jedi.

It would mean that he would have to find the nearest settlement so that he could get food and water and shelter from the elements. It was this Jedi's only choice and that gave them an advantage.

"Yes Milord," said an another Officer, "we just sent down three separate search parties as well as issuing a reward to anyone who finds this Jedi."

If what he had heard about the locals, they were always desperate for money seeing as the planet was desolate and economically unstable. They would be scrambling to find this Jedi if they knew there would be a substantial reward.

"What can you tell me of this Jedi?" he asked after a few moments of silence.

"Well he just sort of-," began the Lieutenant, "appeared. Out of nowhere."

"Explain," stated Vader with a tilt of his helmet. Judging from the looks of all the crewmen, it was quite apparent that not even they knew where this Jedi had come from.

How interesting.

"Well, one minute we were running scans of the planet below and the next he was just there. We don't know where he came from or how he got onboard but somehow he just- showed up. He was unconscious and we didn't know what to do with him so we locked him up in the brig and that's when we found a lightsaber on him."

"And that's when you contacted me," said Vader as he processed what he had just heard, "most interesting."

The Jedi had somehow found a way onboard, but nobody could seem to figure out how. Had he stowed away onboard or was it something else?

Vader had heard about scientific research that was being conducted that had to do with transporting matter from one location to another, but that was highly theoretical and had yet to be done. It was only in the experimental phase and was wholly impossible to accomplish, let alone with a sentient being.

No. This Jedi had somehow found a way to stow away, but why?

"What else?"

"He was young," said an older Officer with graying hair and a mustache, "couldn't have been older than twenty. He was wearing Jedi robes that I recognized from the Republic era and he had a sort of braid behind his ear-" he said as he motioned to a patch of skin behind his hair.

"A braid?" asked Vader, his curiosity intensifying.

This Jedi wore a traditional Jedi braid that denoted his status to Padawan. It was outdated and not something any sensible Jedi would do if they didn't want to be recognized. Why would any Jedi in hiding wear a braid? Most all of the Padawans who had escaped Order 66 had chopped theirs off to blend in, but this Jedi had kept his?

If what the Officer had said was true, then this young man would not have been old enough to be a member of the Order. Was it possible that he had been found and trained by a rogue Jedi who had him grow out his hair in the traditional braid?

"Yes, I used to see some of the Jedi youth wear them when I lived on Imperial Center during the days of the Republic. That's how I recognized it as being Jedi in nature," said the older Officer.

"Indeed it is," said Vader as his eyes lingered over the planetary map. He momentarily paused his train of thoughts so that he could try and reach out with the force to try and feel the presence of this young Jedi, but found nothing.

The Jedi was masking his presence but Vader knew that he was down there. Somewhere he was there and Vader would find him like he did every other Jedi.

"He crashed landed somewhere in this vicinity," said the Lieutenant as he pointed to a spot on one of the southern most continents, "it's fairly remote compared to the rest of the planet."

"How many settlements are there near this region?" asked Vader.

"About two major ones, but the planet is not unified under one centralized government. This region of the planet is primarily composed of city states and each one has their own set of laws and monarchs."

What a primitive planet to not be centralized. It was no wonder why this planet was not a part of the Republic or the Empire seeing as how the people had not gotten over its differences to unite for the greater good.

"I want Stormtroopers posted in every settlement that's within twenty miles of this vicinity," he said as he motioned towards the map. "I will take a landing party down to the surface to locate the Jedi."

"What if my men find him first?" said the older Officer, whose name was Garreck if he remembered correctly.

"On the off chance that your Stormtroopers find him first, I want them to capture him instead of killing him. I want him alive to that I may interrogate him and see if I can't find anymore rogue Jedi."

"I will inform my men," said Garreck as he nodded at the Dark Lord before making his way over to the communications console.

Vader nodded before he crossed the bridge so that he could stand before the viewport and stared down at the dusky red planet below. He was slightly irritated that he could not feel the pesky Jedi's force presence, but he could feel the way the Force seemed to accumulate on the planet below. It was as if something big had occurred there and there was residual force power still lingering about.

Whatever the disturbance had been, it had been strong enough to temporarily disrupt the natural flow of the Force. It was hard to explain, but Vader could sense it nonetheless. The pulsing and erratic tendrils that mysteriously called out to him, as if to tell him that something amazing had just occurred.

It made Vader uneasy.

He would discover what was happening and he would capture the rogue Jedi. Not necessarily in that order but he would accomplish both in due time.

And he would discover how the two were connected.

It was only a matter of time.

Chapter Text

Are you an angel?

What?

An Angel. I've heard the deep space pilots talk about them. They live on the moons of Iego, I think. They're the most beautiful creatures in the universe.

You're a funny little boy. How do you know so much?

I listen to all the traders and star pilots who come through here. I'm a pilot, you know, and someday I'm going to fly away from this place…

 

 

Anakin grimaced as he felt something cool push against his face and a soft feminine voice sooth him out his dreamful sleep. He groaned at the nice feeling of something damp on his face and a small smile graced his lips as the memory of Padme came to his mind. He had been dreaming about when he had first met the Queen of Naboo in Watto's shop all those years ago.

There hadn't been a day since then that he hadn't thought about her.

"Shhhhhh," came the female voice, "you're okay."

Anakin found himself leaning into the soothing hand, the touch reminding him all too much of his mother. How she would run her fingers through his hair and how she would dab a damp cloth over his face when he was sick and talk to him soothingly.

He found himself almost believing that it was his mother, but it couldn't be. His mother was back on Tatooine where he had left her all those years ago with the promise that he would come back and free her, but that promise remained unfulfilled.

His blue eyes snapped open and stared at the dark figure of a woman as she smoothed a hand through his blond hair and continued to dab a cold washcloth over his sunburned face. As soon as she saw that he was awake, she placed her hand on his shoulder in a calming manner.

"W-who are you?" he asked hoarsely as he stared around at his unfamiliar surroundings. He was laying on a hard bed in a small and dimly lit room, but he could tell that it was daytime from the light that streamed out from behind the tapestries that covered the windows.

"Where am I?" he asked the older woman, who had been staring at him with large inquisitive brown eyes that were framed by her long gray hair.

"You are in my home," she said in a thick accent as she motioned around the hovel that was her home, "my son found you passed out along the road last night and he brought you here. Good thing he did, or you would've died."

Anakin did not remember having passed out, but he was glad that someone had found him and was kind enough to help him. The only thing that he had remembered was how he had been trying to make it to the settlement that he had felt through the Force, but apparently, he didn't make it there before his dehydration and exhaustion had caught up with him.

"Here," she said as she pulled out a canteen that was covered in some sort of animal hair and handed it to him, "drink."

Anakin took the canteen and held it up to his parched lips and let the refreshingly cool water run down his throat greedily. He hadn't had anything to drink in almost a day and he was thankful to have finally gotten ahold of water.

"Thank you," he said as he used his sleeve to wipe away the water that was running down his chin before handing the canteen back to her.

"What were you doing in the desert all by yourself? With no food or water?" she asked as she sat the canteen down, her questioning eyes coming to rest over his appearance. As soon as Raji had brought the boy home, she knew from the poor boy's appearance that he had been wandering through the desert and that he did not have food or water, which was a must have in the desert.

The boy had been in such bad shape when Raji had found him and Nayeli had felt responsible for the young man, who could not have been older than eighteen. He was young and also unusually dressed and obviously confused. It was easy to tell that he was not a native to Ben'we.

He was also dressed unusually as well as having a long braid that hung down onto his shoulders and had red and blue beads, not something that Nayeli had ever seen anyone do to their hair.

"I crash landed here," he said as he slowly pulled himself up into a sitting position and placed his feet on the dirt ground, his eyes lingering over his robes which sat in a pile on the mat by the door.

"You crash landed?" asked the woman with wide eyes as she searched his form for any sign of injury. He didn't seem to have any deep lacerations or broken bones, which was surprising if he had managed to survive a crash landing.

The great spirits must have been watching out for him if he had managed to walk away from a crash with no major injury. And then to have walked through the desert unharmed with no food or water was just as miraculous. The Huo'Nabbi desert had many vicious creatures who liked to stalk their prey and attack them before eating them.

But this boy had not been preyed upon and the heat had not killed him.

He must be have been favored by the Letan'ii, the desert spirits who liked to devour the souls of men by sand and the sun. It was rare that they allowed safe passage through their sacred domain unharmed.

"Yes and I have no idea where I am," he said with a hint of agitation.

"You're on Ben'we," she said as she made her way over to where his dark robes had been laid out. Nayeli had taken them off of him and had mended them as well as washing them so that when he woke up he would be able to wear his clothes again.

They were still a little damp but at least they no longer stunk of sweat.

"I don't know what system this is?" he asked as he accepted his robes.

"Most people don't," she said with a sigh as she took her seat, "you're in the Ben'alli system."

"I've never heard of it," he said as he shrugged his robes back over his undershirt but opted not to put the leather vest back on because of the heat it would attract.

Nayeli watched him silently before getting up and making her way over to the table where she had laid out some food for the boy when he awoke from his sleep. She knew that he would be hungry when he woke up and so she made sure to prepare something for him as well as Raji, would be returning from the marketplace soon.

"Where are you from?" she asked curiously as she started to cut into the bread.

"Coruscant," he said absentmindedly as he started to slip his boots on.

Nayeli paused at the name that the boy had given her but shrugged it off. Some people still referred to Imperial Center as Coruscant and Nayeli didn't particularly care what people called that place. She had never been to Coruscant but she had had the pleasure of visiting a few of the other planets in the galaxy, such as Jedha and Stewjon. Her father had been a trader and he would sometimes take Nayeli and her sister along with him, but after her sister had been taken by slavers, Nayeli could not bring herself to leave the safety of her home planet.

Her sister was probably dead by now or a slave on some outer rim planet beyond the reaches of civilization. It pained Nayeli to think of her lost sister and she knew that she would never see her again until they died and reunited in the heavens above, but until then there would always be an ache in her heart.

"What's your name?" she asked over her shoulder as she tried to take her mind off of her sister.

"Anakin, you?" he asked as he stood up and made his way over to the table.

"Nayeli," she said as she noticed him staring down at the food. His stomach gave an audible grumble and she let out a little laugh as his face twisted in slight embarrassment. She had raised a son of her own and she knew how hungry teenage boys could get.

"Here," she said as she handed him the bread along with a bowl of mush that reminded Anakin of the porridge that the Temple cafeteria would serve.

"Thank you," he said as he accepted the food and he started to chew away at the bread. He could tell that Nayeli and her son did not have much food and that them sharing what they had was a big deal.

He knew what it was like to not have much and he was thankful that she was willing to share with him what she had.

Anakin was in the middle of eating when the door opened and slammed and a man walked into the house, his huge frame filling out the entire room and making everything appear a lot smaller than it actually was, including Anakin.

"Raji," said Nayeli as she walked over to greet her son, "how was the market today?"

"Fine," he said gruffly as he dumped his bag on the floor and pulled out a piece of paper before stomping over to where Anakin was.

"Is this you?" he asked as he shoved the piece of paper in the teenagers face, his voice low and menacing.

Anakin took the paper out of the older man's hand and stared down at the grainy picture of him that had probably been taken from one of the security cameras onboard that ship. The picture was grainy and Anakin barely recognized himself, but he knew that it was him.

They had given out his physical description as well as identifying him as a Jedi and offering an award to anyone who could contact the Empire about his whereabouts.

"Raji!" said Nayeli in a chastising tone, "don't speak to Anakin like that!"

Raji ignored his mother as he glared down at the Padawan and crossed his beefy arms across his chest. He wanted to know whether or not he and his mother were harboring a fugitive of the Empire or not and whether this boy posed a danger to him and his family.

Anakin stared down at the poster and looked at the amount that they were offering to pay anyone who found him and cringed when he realized that Nayeli and her son could easily turn him in and receive enough money to buy them a nice house and feed them.

"Answer me, kid!" said Raji harshly, the anger on his face evident.

Anakin didn't know what to say as he stared down at the poster with his information on it, his mind trying to work out what his next course of action.

It wasn't right to lie to people, especially those who had taken him in and cared for him.

They had a right to know if their lives were in danger by his mere presence.

Anakin solemnly nodded, "yes, it's me."

There was a pregnant pause as Anakin and Raji stared at each other from across the room while Nayeli shook her head in confusion.

"What is going on here?" asked Nayeli as she stared at her son and Anakin.

"He's wanted by the Empire," said Raji as he took the piece of paper from Anakin and handed it over to his mother. "There are Stormtroopers all over Yanasia and Ra'lli. They're searching every home and building for a Jedi."

"A Jedi?" asked Nayeli after a few moments of silence, her eyes traveling over to where she had placed Anakin's lightsaber before looking back at the young man. She had not been as old as she was now when the Galactic Republic had fallen and she had clearly remembered the Jedi. They had been guardians of peace and although Nayeli had never had the pleasure of meeting one, she had respected them nonetheless.

But the Jedi Order was no more and those that had survived the Purge had gone deep into hiding and the rest of the galaxy had been told that they were traitors and had tried to overthrow the Chancellor.

And now seeing this boy, this Jedi with his strange clothes and braid who was lost and alone on an unfamiliar planet Nayeli could not simply abandon because of the Empire. But at the same time, she did not want her son or his wife and children to get hurt by his presence.

Nayeli knew what happened to those who had harbored Jedi from the Empire, but at the same time, she knew in her heart what had to be done.

The boy had been lead here for a reason whether it be by the great spirits or by the mystical Force that Nayeli knew so little about.

"What did you do?" asked Nayeli, "did you escape from the Empire? Is that why you crash landed here?"

"They took me against my will!" said Anakin, almost defensively.

"So you ran?" asked Raji in disbelief, "and you brought them here? Do you have any idea what you've done?!"

"Raji," said Nayeli as she placed her hand on her son's bulky bicep, "he's just a boy. You know what the Empire does to Jedi! They would've killed him!"

Raji let out an angry puff of air as his dark eyes came to rest on Anakin, who was standing completely still with a rigid posture. He could sense the hostility coming from Raji and he wasn't about to let himself get into another potentially dangerous situation.

Raji took a few large breaths before he finally seemed to calm down, his eyes softening when he too saw that Anakin was just a boy. This Jedi was just a boy who had barely reached manhood running away from the Empire only because his life depended on it.

Had he not escaped, they would've killed him like they had so many others.

"Who is this Empire you keep mentioning?" asked Anakin after a few moments of tense silence, his curiosity getting the better of him. He wanted to know what the Empire was and why they were capturing and killing Jedi, and why the Council on Coruscant seemed to be oblivious.

Nayeli let out a short laugh, "you must've hit your head in that crash. Everybody knows who the Empire is. Are you not a Jedi?"

Anakin tilted his head to the side in confusion. He knew he had not hit his head in the crash and he most certainly did not know who the Empire was, despite him being a Jedi Padawan.

"I'm a Padawan, I haven't completed my trials to become a Jedi Knight yet but that doesn't change the fact that I have no clue what this Empire is."

Nayeli dipped her head to the side before staring up at her son, who also had a confused and perplexed look on his face. How could a Jedi not know about the Empire?

"You should know," said Raji, "they've been hunting your kind down for the past twenty-two years like animals."

"What?" asked Anakin. He had never heard of an Empire hunting down Jedi and the way these people talked it was if they were from a completely different time period. Or maybe they had been living under a rock for a few thousand years, either way, this did not bode well with Anakin.

Mostly because he could sense the truth behind their words.

"The Jedi Order was destroyed," said Nayeli. "They were purged and those who did survive have been in hiding ever since."

"No," said Anakin as he vehemently shook his head, "no such thing has happened. I was just on Coruscant less than three days ago and the Order was still there. You must be mistaken."

Nayeli shook her head sadly, "no Anakin. We're not. We may live on a remote planet in the Outer Rim, but even we know what happened to the Jedi."

"That's impossible," said Anakin in irritation as he once again reached out in the Force to try and feel the presences of the Jedi, but just like all his previous attempts, he found nothing. He could sense the truth behind their words but refused to believe it.

It was simply impossible.

The only explanation was that he was somehow in a different time period, but that was utterly impossible. Time travel was an absurd concept that had become a popular literary tool in many holo-novels and movies, but outside of fiction it just wasn't possible.

Was the Force even capable of manipulating time? There was no known record in Jedi history or teachings that suggested the possibility, but then again there was still so much they did not know about it.

"W-what year is it, exactly?" said Anakin as he licked his dry lips, dreading the answer even though deep down he already knew the truth.

Raji and Nayeli shared a worried look but Anakin didn't care how crazy he sounded. He just needed to know.

"How many years has it been since the Treaty of Coruscant?" asked Anakin. There were so many calendars in the galaxy and most people within the Republic counted up the years since the Treaty had been signed.

The year it was supposed to be was 3629 ATC and the year that Nayeli had given him was wrong compared to the date that Anakin had been in before this whole mess had started.

If the year really was 3656 ATC, then Anakin was somehow twenty-eight years in the future.

Kriffing unbelievable.

Even the Force was telling him that it was true, that somehow he had been plucked from his own time and flung into the future.

The future for Force sakes!

Anakin's breathing became labored as he let his control on his emotions gradually slip away. He was starting to panic at the notion and he was having a hard time controlling his fear and confusion.

He was in the future, and the Jedi had somehow been destroyed, but how?

Had it been the Sith Lord that the Jedi had been trying to locate for years? Had he been the one to destroy the Jedi? Was that why Anakin had been brought here? To prevent the destruction of the Jedi?

Anakin had never asked to have the prophecy of the Chosen One placed on him. It wasn't something that he wanted but had been given to him regardless of his feelings by the Council.

He had lived years within the Order, under their scrutinizing eyes as they waited to see whether or not he would fulfill the prophecy or screw up and It made Anakin feel uncomfortable. Like he was some sort of science experiment that they were observing, waiting for him to either fail or succeed.

It wasn't fair to be held to such high standards and to have so much expected of him when for years they had looked down upon him as nothing more than just an ex-slave from the uncivilized reaches of the Outer Rim.

He had remembered the way his fellow Jedi would silently mock him when he did or said something that did not align with the ideology of the Order. To them, he had been an outsider who had not been raised in the prestigious Order but had instead grown up a slave.

And to some degree that would always be true.

But was this a part of the Prophecy? For him to come here to this time of all places? To witness the future so that he could return to the past to change it?

Anakin did not know and nor did he want to find out. He just wanted to go back to his own time and find Obi-Wan and forget everything that had transpired over the course of the last twenty-four hours.

And if the Jedi had been destroyed and he could no longer feel his Masters presence, did that mean-?

Anakin shook his head in grief and denial as the Force confirmed the death of Obi-Wan Kenobi. He didn't need to be told by anyone, he could already feel it in his already shaking body.

There were no words to describe the empty cold feeling that seemed to hover over Anakin, only that it brought him physical and emotional pain that seemed endless and eternal. He just wanted something to hold onto, something familiar to anchor him down to the reality that he was faced with.

But there was nothing. Nothing familiar except for that bright and shining presence that Anakin felt connected to, somehow-

And even now, he could feel that presence, shining brightly in the Force and steadily growing closer and closer and brighter with every passing second, but that presence was not the only one. There was something else that was also drawing closer and closer, but unlike the other presence, this one was shrouded in darkness. The presence was tainted and poisonous and it gave Anakin a clear picture of who the presence belonged too.

Someone who reeked of the Dark Side.

It was obvious that the lighter presence could feel his sudden panic through the strange bond that they shared and they tried to calm him down by sending him soothing waves through the Force, but Anakin ignored them.

The Force muttered a warning to Anakin, telling him to control his raging and unrestrained emotions before they got the better of him. He could feel the urgency through the Force and he knew it was because of the dark presence that was heading this way. If he lost control of his emotions and let his shields up, they would be able to feel his presence and know where he was.

So Anakin took a deep breath as he tried his best to calm his emotions and strengthen his shields, which had begun to wane under the pressure of Anakin's emotions.

"It doesn't matter what you believe, it's still true. And now the Empire knows you're here and they're looking for you. We have to get you off this planet before they find you."

Nayeli's voice was soothing as it seemed to ease Anakin out of his Force-related stupor and back into the present situation. They wanted to get him off the planet before the Empire found him, but Anakin was unsure if he should further endanger Nayeli and her family. This Empire did not sound friendly and Anakin feared what their fate would be if they found out they were harboring him.

Anakin nodded solemnly, "I wouldn't want you or your family to be put in danger because of me."

"Nonsense," said Nayeli, "we know someone in Yanasia who can help get you off the planet, but it won't be easy."

"No," said Raji in agreement, "by now the Empire has probably called for reinforcements to set up a blockade around the planet and they have Stormtroopers posted in every major city from here to Tanesh."

"So what do you plan to do?"

"We can get you into Yanasia but we cannot help you anymore at that point," said Raji as he shook his head. "I will not endanger the lives of my family anymore today. I'm sorry but I'm sure you understand that the consequences would be dire."

Nayeli sadly nodded her head in agreement, "Raji is right. The Empire has no mercy."

"I understand," said Anakin truthfully, "I will not ask you to endanger your family any more than you already have today."

Besides, Anakin shouldn't have too much trouble in the settlement. He could always use Force tricks to get out of any potentially dangerous situation, but even then there were no guarantees.

Nothing was certain.

"Once you get into the city, you'll need to find a man by the name of Philio. He owns a cantina in the lower parts of the city. Just tell him that Raji sent you and he should be able to get you off the planet, no questions asked. And if he does give you grief, just tell him that he owes me a favor."

Anakin nodded, "where will he take me too?"

"Just tell him you want to go somewhere with as little Imperial presence as possible. Philio will know where to go."

Anakin was unsure whether or not this was the right decision. Should he stay on the planet or should he take his chances and leave? Could he trust this Philio person to get him off the planet safely? Or should he stick around and see if that presence would come and find him? And what of the dark presence? What if they reached him first?

Anakin did not know what to do, and the Force was being strangely silent on the subject, leaving Anakin at a loss for what he should do.

Should he stay? Or should he go?

Chapter Text

“Here,” said Nayeli as she handed Anakin a tan colored tunic, “it might be a little big but it should help you blend in.”

Anakin accepted the light tunic and slipped it on over his undershirt while Nayeli helped wrap a white scarf around his neck and showed him how to use it to cover his head so that it would protect him from the sun and from being easily recognized.

She had told him it was called a Baten’ii, a sort of scarf that was commonly worn by the men on Ben’we while women wore a Naten’ii, which was basically the same except that the women’s were adorned with beads and were worn in different styles to symbolize their marital status or dowry.

“It used to be Raji’s,” she said as she took a step back to observe the teenage boy in the traditional clothing of her home planet and felt a sense of pride at how well she had managed to make the boy look like a native to the planet. But even Nayeli knew that no amount of traditional clothing could hide the fact that his attitude, his accent, and even the way he carried himself was not of Ben’we.

He would have to be extremely careful as to not draw attention to himself seeing the way he naturally stood out.

“Does it fit?” she asked as she observed his tall frame, noting that the clothes appeared to be well formed to his lean and muscular body. He was just a boy and already he towered over her with his height to the point where Nayeli had to sometimes crane her neck just to stare up at him.

Anakin nodded his head as he took his utility belt and wrapped it around his waist before clipping his lightsaber on it and using his tunic to cover up the cylindrical metal before slipping on the jacket that Nayeli had given him to protect his arms from the sun. Nayeli watched him quietly as he slipped his boots on before she turned around to start packing him some food and water for the journey as well as stashing away his dark robes in the animal skin pouch so that he wouldn’t lose them.

As soon as Anakin slipped his boots on, his gaze traveled to the window where he could see Raji preparing their speeder for the journey ahead of them. The older man had agreed to take Anakin into Yanasia but from there he would be on his own as was part of their agreement.

“You ready, kid?” asked Raji as he poked his head through the door, his eyes traveling over the worried ones of his mother.

“He’ll be ready in a moment,” said Nayeli as she stuffed the last of Anakin’s robes into the bag. “Go wait by the speeder, I want to talk to Anakin.”

Raji nodded his head and whispered something under his breath before disappearing down the muddy road to where the speeder was parked.

“Here,” said Nayeli as she handed the younger man the bag, “I packed you some food and water as well as your robes.”

“Thank you,” said Anakin as he took the pouch from her and slung it over his shoulders.

“I’m sorry that we could not help you any more than we already have,” she said with guilt lining her large brown eyes that reminded Anakin of his own mothers. “I feel so bad about leaving you by yourself in an unfamiliar city. Promise me you’ll be careful, okay? If anything were to happen to you I don’t know if I could forgive myself.”

“I’ll try,” said Anakin with a small smile as he tried to lighten up her dark mood, but Nayeli’s eyes only darkened.

“When you go into Yanasia,” she said as she smoothed out the shoulders on the tunic, “you should avoid speaking to anyone unless you have to. The Empire isn’t the only threat you need to worry about, there are countless Bounty Hunters that will gladly capture or kill you for the standing bounty on Jedi. There are also the slavers to worry about. They take anyone they can get their filthy hands on. My sister Shmi was taken by them when she was just a little girl and we never saw her again. Please, Anakin, do not let that happen to you.”

Anakin froze at the mention of his mother's name, his blue eyes narrowing as he took a step back. Her sister had been taken by slavers and Anakin was starting to wonder if this was just a coincidence that her sister’s name had been Shmi or if this was his very own Aunt he was talking to.

The more he looked at Nayeli the more of his own mother he could see and he wondered how he could not have seen it before. Nayeli looked like an older version of his mother and he could feel the truth ringing clear in the Force.

“My mother’s name is Shmi,” he said softly, his voice barely above that of a whisper.

He had never known much about his mothers past, only that she had been captured and sold into slavery at a young age. She had never liked to talk about it much and had once told him that she had a sister, but Anakin had never thought that he would ever get to meet this Aunt.

To Anakin, the notion of his extended family had always been an inanimate concept. It had always just been him and his mother and that was it.

Nayeli’s eyes widened as she clutched her chest, “Is-? Please tell me… Is her last name Skywalker?”

Anakin nodded his head, “yes, and so Is mine.”

Nayeli cried out as tears of joy spilled down her face, “where is she? Is she alive?”

Nayeli looked up at her nephew, silently pleading to know where her long lost sister was and where she had been all these years. She was just so happy and relieved to be finally getting some answers that she didn’t even question how it was possible that her sister’s son would somehow find his way back to them.

Out of all the planets in the galaxy, he had crash landed on this one. His mother's birthplace and the home of all the Skywalker’s to come before them.

Was this the works of the spirits? Or of the mysterious Force?

It had always been said that the deserts of Ben’we beat in all of its children's hearts and that some way or another, they would always find their way home. Had the spirits seen fit to lead Shmi and her son back to them? Had Ben’I, the Great Sky spirit who walked the heavens, chosen this boy to reunite Nayeli and her sister?

Nayeli did not know but her heart was overjoyed nonetheless. She would not question what omnipotent power had brought her nephew to her, or whether or not it was true that he was indeed Shmi’s son because she knew in her heart that he was.

She did not know how, but he spoke the truth.

“The last time I saw her she was on Tatooine,” began Anakin slowly, “but that was eight years ago, I-“

He looked so helpless standing there, with bewilderment in his sky blue eyes as he thought back to the last memory he had of her. He hadn’t realized if before now, but he was not sure what had become of his mother.

A lot could happen in twenty-eight years, a lifetime of sorrow or happiness could have taken place in that amount of time and Anakin was just at a loss. He would like to think that he had made good on his promise and that she was no longer a slave, but nothing was certain.

“Is she- Is she still a slave?” asked Nayeli. If Anakin was not a slave, then hopefully Shmi had gained her freedom, but there were so many extenuating circumstances to consider.

“I-I don’t know-,” said Anakin as he shook his head, “I mean I hope she isn’t but I haven’t been in contact with her for years.”

“Why not?” asked Nayeli in confusion. What son would leave his mother behind to live a life of slavery?

A pained expression came over his face and his eyes fell to the floor in shame and guilt. He had left her there while he had gone away to learn the ways of the Jedi and there was a part of him that would always feel guilty about how he had just walked away from her.

He missed his mother so much and it was moments like this that threatened to break his heart.

“Hey,” said Raji as he stuck his head through the door to stare at his mother and Anakin, “are you ready yet?”

“Yes, he’s ready,” said Nayeli as she straightened up and looked over to Anakin with a longing look in her eyes. She wanted him to stay so that she could get to know him better so that he could tell her of the life her sister had been living. But at the same time, Nayeli knew that he could not stay.

He had to leave for the sake of his life and theirs.

Nayeli quickly wrapped her arms around the boy, who she already felt so protective of and leaned up to whisper in his ear.

“Contact us when you get somewhere safe,” she said before pausing, “I will see if I can hire an investigator or something to see if they can find your mother. I only have a few credits but Raji will be able to get us more if necessary.”

Anakin licked his lips before nodding, “thank you for everything you’ve done for me, Nayeli. I hope I’ll be able to one day repay you for your kindness.”

Anakin bowed his head in respect before he turned and made his way over to the speeder where Raji was seated in the driver's seat. It was strange to think that this older man with his dark curly hair and broad shoulders was his cousin, but Anakin could see that he was every bit Nayeli’s son as he was Shmi’s.

“So, you’re really Aunt Shmi’s son then?” he asked out of the blue as his eyes swept over the teenager with skepticism and disbelief. His Aunt would’ve been seventy-five years old if she was still alive, which was certainly too old to have a child who was Anakin’s age.

His mother may have had a weird way of looking at things, always trusting her heart instead of her brain and this may have been one of those instances.

But Raji was not like his mother. He was always suspicious of people and wary of things he didn’t know or understand, and he didn’t like it when people tried to mess with his family. This boy came into their lives and endangered them with his mere presence and now he was claiming to be the son of his long lost Aunt?

Raji could feel that there was something this Anakin was not telling him and he didn’t like that.

Anakin merely stared at Raji, as if he could sense the hostility behind his cousin's words and decided it would be best at the point to keep his mouth shut. He understood the older man’s confusion and he knew that Raji was not dumb.

Time travel meant that his mother would currently be seventy-five years of age and that just did not coincide with Anakin’s age at all. She would’ve been too old to be his mother when he had been supposedly born, and Anakin wasn’t about to go spewing about time travel and what not.

They would think he was nuts if he did.

“I’m not sure if they’re the same Shmi,” he said simply. It was a statement meant to infer that this could all be coincidence and that somehow there were two Shmi’s in the galaxy who had been sold into slavery. It wasn’t a very good one though and Anakin could still see the suspicion in his cousin's dark eyes, but Raji said nothing as he revved the engine and pulled out onto the road.

Anakin said nothing as the hut where Nayeli stood watching them from the door faded away from view.

He knew that he would be back here one day and that this was not the last he had seen of Nayeli. The Force had brought him here for a reason and he believed that this was a sign that he would free his mother and reunite her with her sister.

Why else would he have fallen into the arms of his long lost family?

They traveled in the speeder for a short amount of time, the both of them remaining completely silent as Raji drove and Anakin stared out at the vast and desolate terrain that he had hiked through only hours ago. He recognized the rock formation with its ancient pictographs where he had stopped for a short while before continuing south where he had been certain the settlement was.

“That’s where I found you,” said Raji as he pointed to an enclave of rocks once they were further down the road. Anakin squinted at the place as he tried to remember passing out there but found nothing in his memory to indicate that he had ever been there. The desert was known to play tricks on those who dared to cross through its domain with mirages and hallucinations that could make a thirsty man or woman do anything just to acquire a little bit of water.

The desert was a cruel place full of restless spirits and tricksters and it seemed that even the people of Ben’we believed it just as the people on Tatooine did.

“You were suffering from heat sickness when I found you. You didn’t even stir when I picked you up and put you in the back on the speeder,” said Raji. “You’re lucky I decided to travel this route last night or you would probably still be there.”

Anakin nodded his head, “I never got the chance to thank you for that.”

Raji let out a rough breath, “don’t thank me, kid. If I had known you were wanted by the Empire, I might’ve just left you there.”

Anakin narrowed his eyes at the older man as he surmised that he was speaking the truth to the younger boy. Anakin quickly looked back out at the horizon, glad that Raji had not known at the time that Anakin had been wanted.

Surely Raji would not have just left him there to die when he could just turn him in and get a reward from the Empire, which would’ve still gotten Anakin killed either way.

It was only a few minutes later they came upon a small valley that had previously been hidden behind a rock formation that Anakin had vaguely remembered seeing while he was hiking, but it had been too far away at that point for him to reach on his own.

Raji took the speeder down a dirt road until they reached the bottom of the hill and the settlement became visible to them. The settlement of Yanasia was surprisingly larger than Anakin imagined with its large wall that surrounded the city and towers that barely peeked out from behind them. It was more of a city than an actual settlement.

“The rest of the city is underground,” said Raji, “it was built that way so that the ancient tribe who built it could easily hide from their enemies as well as find shelter from the heat. When they left, it sat abandoned for years until settlers recolonized it and added more onto the city. They then turned it into a trading post.”

“What happened to the people who built it?” asked Anakin out of slight curiosity.

“They mysteriously disappeared,” said Raji. “No one is sure what happened to them.”

“Oh,” said Anakin as he hopped out of the speeder and followed Raji up the path that led into the city. He knew that Raji had only agreed to take him as far as the city gates before Anakin would be left on his own to find this Philio person to take him off world. But Anakin was not so sure that he would go through with finding this Philio person, not when he could feel that bright and shining presence growing closer and closer by the second.

He still was unsure about what he should do and the Force remained quiet on the subject. He could also feel that dark and foreboding presence growing closer and closer as well and he wasn’t about to take his chances when it came to them.

He didn’t want to cause a scene and he didn’t want to fight them unless it was absolutely necessary, but that didn’t mean Anakin was unequipped to do so if push came to shove.

Raji covered his head with his Baten’ii and motioned for Anakin to do the same when they came upon the crowd of people on the road that were either carrying trading goods or just trying to get past the long caravan lines.

“I guess this is it,” stated Anakin as they both came to a stop in front of the entrance into the city.

“Head down this street until it comes to an end, then turn left and walk until you see a sign for Travelers Cantina. Keep your head down and ask for Philio, tell him that Raji Skywalker sent you and that he owes me a favor. He should be able to get you off the planet no questions asked and if he doesn’t then give him this,” he said as he handed Anakin a small coin.

“It’s an ancient Nirubian coin, a very rare archaeological find here on Ben’we. Philio likes to collect them so he’ll appreciate it.”

Anakin nodded as he stashed the coin into his pocket where he knew it would be safe until he could give it to Philio.

“Be careful out there kid. The people here are dirt poor and probably wouldn’t think twice about turning you in for the reward.”

“I’ll be careful,” said Anakin as he watched two white guards walk by him. Raji had called them Stormtroopers and Anakin knew that they were here because of him. They were scouring the crowds for him, ready to take him into custody if they managed to find him. He could also see the posters that depicted his grainy picture as well as his physical description. The picture somewhat looked like him, but at the same time, Anakin highly doubted that anyone would be able to identify him from it.

But that was no reason to not be cautious.

Raji nodded, “you better be, especially if you really are Aunt Shmi’s son.”

Raji gave Anakin a hard look before he turned around and made his way down the path back towards where the speeder was. Anakin watched him until the older man disappeared into the dense crowd, leaving Anakin completely on his own.

Anakin made his way into the entrance, careful to not make eye contact with anyone as he passed under the arches before he set off in the direction that Raji had pointed him. Anakin was more than capable of finding his own way through foreign and unfamiliar places due to his time with Master Kenobi on missions, but he knew that Raji and Nayeli just wanted to make sure that he would be okay without him.

He walked through dirty streets that were lined with vendors, each one full of exotic foods, jewelry, clothing, and other goods that the native people were trying to sell. It vaguely reminded him of Mos Eisley and how the people would try to sell anything just to make something. There had been an older woman on Tatooine who made her own jewelry and every day she would sit out on her mat and sell it to anyone that was interested. She had always been kind to him, giving him some of her homemade snacks and asking him how he and his mother were doing.

Anakin hadn’t thought of her for years, but he suddenly found himself missing that nice old woman.

Anakin turned left when the road ended and made his way down the cobbled streets, careful to avoid the screaming children as they chased each other through the streets while their mothers sat together chatting as they weaved baskets and clothes. The children waved at him with large toothy smiles and Anakin waved back to them before continuing down the street, his eyes wondering over the various establishments before he finally spotted the Travelers Cantina.

He was about to walk in when he spotted a group of Stormtroopers turn the corner, their blasters drawn and ready. Anakin was not sure whether or not they had recognized him or if they were simply asking anyone if they had seen the rogue Jedi, it was hard to tell considering no one could see their faces behind those strange looking masks.

“Halt!” said one to Anakin and a few other people that had been walking by, all of whom paused at the command.

“Have any of you seen a person matching this description?” he said as he held out the wanted poster for all to see. Anakin made sure to keep his head down and not make contact with any of them for fear that they would somehow recognize him. The people looked at the picture for a few moments as if they were trying to decide if they had seen someone like that in the hundreds of faces they had probably seen today.

“No,” said all of the people as they shook their heads.

Anakin held his breath as he shook his head and was about to turn away from them when one of the Stormtroopers approached him.

“Hey, you there. Have you seen this person?” he said as held out the poster for Anakin, who held his head low and shook his head. He was about to walk away when a huge gust of wind hit him in the face and spread his light jacket wide open so that his lightsaber was visible to everybody who was looking at him.

Anakin realized his mistake almost instantly and quickly tried to button it up not before the Stormtroopers got a clear look at it. It was pretty obvious that these Troopers had been trained to spot Jedi because Anakin would’ve thought most people wouldn’t recognize the hilt of a lightsaber and just assume it was something else.

Anakin was surprised that they could recognize one, and even more so when he found the end of multiple blasters pointed in his direction.

Just kriffing wonderful.

“Jedi!” they yelled as they started firing at Anakin, who at that point already had his lightsaber drawn and ready.

He easily blocked their shots as the people around them started screaming and running away from the blaster shots and the swinging of Anakin’s blue lightsaber. They had already called for backup at that point and Anakin knew that there would be a large number of troopers already closing in on their position.

Anakin did not want to cause a slaughter and already he was making quite the scene. He just wanted to get off the planet, not have to fight off these troopers when he had been so close to escaping. It was infuriating how this had played out when he had been standing in front of the very place that would’ve helped him get off this damned planet. Somehow, Anakin was starting to believe that this may have been the will of the Force, for him to not go with Philio but to instead wait for either of those two presences to catch up with him.

He held back a shudder at the thought of meeting that darker of the two presences and the Force churned violently around him as if to tell him that his intuitions were true. He needed to stay as far away from that presence as possible, no matter what happened.

But he could sense that that would not be an easy task.

He hadn’t realized it till now, his mind having been so occupied with trying to find the Travelers Cantina that he hadn’t realized how extremely close the dark presence had gotten. They were here, on this planet and making their way in his direction and Anakin was worried at how close in the vicinity they were.

He could feel the dark and tainted presence even clearer now and he had to fight back nausea from how sickening their mere presence was. But there was something about the presence, something almost familiar-

Anakin swiftly blocked a blaster bolt as he started to slowly back away from them, hoping that at some point he would be able to turn and flee down one of the alleys so that he could try and throw them off his trail. He knew he needed to get out of there as soon as possible before that presence caught up with him and he would have to act fast if that was to be accomplished.

By then, even more troopers had appeared and Anakin wasn’t completely sure that he would be able to hold them off much longer. He would have to go on the offensive if he was to get out of this alive.

Anakin used the Force to push a few of them away and in their surprise, he sprung forward and started using his lightsaber to incapacitate them one by one. Obi-Wan had always told him that in these certain circumstances that it was either them or Anakin and that sometimes one must take drastic measures to protect themselves.

Force, he could use some help right about now!

“Hey!” yelled a new voice from somewhere behind Anakin, “watch out!”

Anakin whipped his head around to see a Stormtrooper that had been knocked down had raised his blaster and was about to use it on him while Anakin was distracted. The Force blared in alarm as Anakin raised his lightsaber and blocked the blaster bolt before using the Force to throw them back against the wall, effectively knocking them out.

By then, a new person that Anakin did not recognize had run up next to him and had drawn their lightsaber and they too started blocking blaster bolts and using the Force to incapacitate the troopers.

Another Jedi! Anakin could feel that this was the person whom he had reached out to with the Force!

Anakin briefly looked over at the new person and saw a man who didn’t appear to be much older than him with moppy blond hair that reminded Anakin of his own hair when he was younger and living on Tatooine. He too looked over at Anakin with an unreadable expression, both of their blue eyes meeting for a split second before returning to the current situation at hand.

Anakin didn’t know what it was, but something strange had just happened and he knew that they could feel it too. He didn’t even know this person, but he could not deny the familiarity of him and how this person just felt right to Anakin. It was almost as if they had known each other for years with how strong their connection had been and even the Force seemed to agree.

There was something about this person, something strange that Anakin just could not put his finger on.

The blond Jedi was not alone. He had brought a companion with him, a woman with dark hair who was currently using one of the alleys as a cover to protect herself from the blaster shots. From there she would poke her head out and fire back at the troopers with such precision and accuracy that Anakin was impressed.

She reminded him of Padme with her intricately done hair and the blaster in her hands.

“Hey,” said the other Jedi casually, “how are you?”

I’ve been better,” mumbled Anakin. “Thanks for coming by the way.”

“No problem,” he said with a coy smile. “I’m Luke, and you are?”

“Anakin,” he said deciding to leave his last name out. He didn’t know why, but the Force was warning him that it was best to leave the last name out, at least for now.

Luke almost seemed to stiffen next to him before he quickly regained his composure, but not without Anakin noticing.

“Kriff!” yelled the woman as she narrowly dodged a stray bolt. “Luke there’s too many! We need to get out of here!”

Luke nodded, “agreed,” he said as he gave Anakin a hard look, communicating with the younger Padawan what their next move should be.

Anakin nodded his head in understanding as they both reached their hands out and let the Force surge from their fingertips, knocking every single Stormtrooper back with their combined power. As soon as they had done that, they all turned and ran and down the street as fast as they could go.

“Where’s your ship?” said Anakin as they ran down the dirty streets, trying not to knock screaming people or vendors over in the meantime.

“It’s parked at one of the shipping bays,” said Luke over his shoulder as he pointed to the dome-like building where people usually paid to keep their ships if they were visiting. “Sorry, we’re a little late! We had a little trouble getting past the Imperial scouts!”

“A little?” said the brunette woman sardonically.

“Okay, a lot of trouble!” said Luke with an annoyed look on his face.

They were about to run down a side alley when they came across another group of Stormtroopers, all three of them quickly ducking behind the wall as the rain of blaster fire began again. It was beginning to look as if they would never get off the planet with how things were going.

“So this was your rescue plan?” asked Anakin from where he was plastered against the wall. “To just come in with blasters a blazing and hope you made it off the planet in one piece?”

Force he was beginning to sound like Obi-Wan! But then again he had been hoping to get out of here without causing too much of a scene but seeing all the destruction that they had caused, he knew that it was already too late.

“We wouldn’t have to if you hadn’t managed to gain the attention of all the Stormtroopers here!” said the woman snidely.

Anakin was about to open his mouth to respond to her little comment but was interrupted by the older blond man, who was trying to deflate the tense situation as much as he could. It was probably a good thing he did too, or Anakin would’ve probably said something he would’ve regretted later on.

Anakin had always had a way of clashing with people, and it seemed as though he and this woman would be doing a lot of that in the future.

She may look like Padme, but that personality was something else entirely.

“Hey!” said Luke, “both of you calm down. We’ll find a way out of this, okay?”

“I hope we do before Vader shows up!” said the woman, her hair swiveling around her head and coming undone out of their intricately done braids, the stray pieces coming down to frame her pale and delicate features.

Anakin shot Luke a look, “is that the Sith presence I’ve been feeling?”

“You bet it is,” said the woman, “and you better hope you aren’t on the receiving end of his red lightsaber when he shows up.”

As much as Anakin was always willing to put his lightsaber skills to use, he wasn’t so keen on doing it with a powerful Sith in a place like this. He had already caused so much damage with his mere presence and he knew that the locals were being put in harm’s way with everything that was going on.

“I agree with her,” said Anakin pointing at the woman, “I don’t want to be here when that Sith shows up.”

“Will both of you shut up?” said Luke tensely. “Vader isn’t going to find us so just calm down.”

“Don’t tell me to calm down!” said Leia as she hit three Stormtroopers with her blaster before ducking behind the wall again.

“Just hear me out,” said Luke as he deflected another shot, “I have an idea that hopefully won’t get us killed.”

“Great, we’re all ears,” said Anakin sarcastically. He didn’t intend to be rude to his rescuers, but his sarcasm always had a way of manifesting itself in situations like these.

The situation was tense and all formalities had gone out the window by that point.

“I’ll hold them off while you two make a run for it,” he said.

Leia shook her head, “No, we’re not leaving you behind.”

“You have too,” said Luke urgently, “I’ll be right behind you.”

Anakin looked over at Leia, “it’s the only chance we have. Either we stay and wait for Vader to show up or we get off this planet in one piece.”

Anakin didn’t like it any more than this woman did, but he was able to recognize that it was their only chance for survival. He could already tell that this older Jedi was more than capable of handling himself with a lightsaber, although he had noted earlier that his technique was a little sloppy around the edges but good enough to hold an army of troopers off.

“Don’t worry,” said Anakin as he drew his lightsaber and looked down into her brown orbs, “I won’t let anything happen to us.”

She seemed unsure but quickly made up her mind as they both ran out from behind their protected spot and into the open where the Stormtroopers were. She led the way as Anakin deflected any blaster shots that came their way while Luke had also come out and was charging into the group of Troopers so as to provide a distraction for the other two to escape.

“Come on!” yelled Leia as soon as they were out of the blaster fire, Anakin followed closely behind but was on high alert for any potential threats they might encounter on the way. By then, Luke was following them as well as keeping the white guards at bay, which was proving to be a tedious task.

Anakin and Leia ducked into the port and ran over to where a Correlian YT-1300 was parked in all of its rustic glory. This ship looked old and a little bit worn out, but it was obvious that whoever its owner was they took good care of it. Anakin could appreciate an owner that took care of their ship, especially one like this.

“Can you pilot?” she asked they both ran up the ramp and into the bowels of the ship.

“Yes, I can pilot,” said Anakin as he ran to the pilot's chair while Leia waited for Luke to appear.

He had always been a natural when it came to piloting so he wasn’t worried about flying this ship, which was way more familiar to him than that little thing he had escaped the Vigilant on.

Anakin revved the engine, “what course should I plot?!”

Leia quickly rattled off coordinates as Anakin set the course and turned back just in time to see the brunette woman and a tired looking Luke run in.

“Go!” said Leia as Anakin shot out of the port and into the sky before going into hyperdrive, the planet of Ben’we disappearing completely from view as the blue waves surrounded the ship.

Anakin swiveled the chair around to face his two rescuers, who were staring at him with unreadable expressions. He knew that they wanted an explanation and Anakin was not sure how he was going to go about doing that. He wasn’t even sure of the whole story himself.

Anakin let out a heavy sigh.

This was not going to be easy.

Chapter Text

"I guess I have some explaining to do," said Anakin as he shifted awkwardly in his chair as he stared at his two rescuers. He knew this would not be easy and he wasn't sure if he should tell them everything, or if they would even believe his strange story and that he was from the past.

He knew that Luke would be able to sense the truth, but Anakin wasn't so sure about the woman. He could feel that she was Force-sensitive but that her abilities were severely diminished, probably because she had received no training in it at all. There was no question that she had the Force, but she was not strong in it like those who were trained and Anakin could only guess it was because she was subconsciously shielding herself.

Her presence was subtle and quiet compared to her companion but Anakin could feel it nonetheless, but was she able to utilize it without training? Some people were capable of doing that and others were not. The Force affected every person differently and everyone tended to feel its presence differently.

"Yes, you do," she said as she crossed her arms over her chest, not in anger but in mild curiosity. Her hostility had seemed to dissipate at that point and she was no longer making snide remarks to Anakin or Luke, but she did expect an explanation from the strange boy that they had picked up. Her tone was authoritarian, but calm and patient at the same time.

"What were you doing on Ben'we in the first place?" asked Luke, "and how did you manage to gain the attention of the Empire?"

"I was captured by the Empire, but I'm not sure how," said Anakin as he recalled the events. That Commander had said that he said just appeared on the bridge and it was the only thing that seemed to make sense. He didn't even remember what he had been doing before he woke up in the brig, all he could remember was walking through the caves on Setauri V with his Master but everything else was just blank.

"You're not sure?" asked Leia with skepticism.

"I-...I can't remember," mumbled Anakin, "I was on Setauri V with a companion and then I just woke up in the brig."

"And then you broke out?" asked Luke as he and Leia shared an unreadable look.

Anakin nodded, "they didn't use a Force inhibitor so I escaped and took one of their ships but I crashed it."

Anakin could tell that they were trying to get a sense of what had occurred and he didn't blame them. There were so many details that were missing or that didn't make sense, and he hadn't even told them about the time-traveling part yet, something he wasn't entirely sure that he should share with them.

"So how do you think you ended up on the Vigilant?" asked Luke after a few moments of silence, his piercing blue eyes that mirrored Anakin's stared at the youth with an indecipherable look.

"The Force?" asked Anakin, unsure of even himself.

Luke said nothing as he leaned back in his chair, his blue gaze never once leaving the boy who was seated in front of him. It made Anakin feel uneasy as the silence felt heavy and permeated the air around them as Luke tilted his head in a curious manner, but said nothing as he narrowed his eyes at the strange youth.

"The Force?" asked Leia with a slightly puzzled expression, her perfectly shaped eyebrows scrunching up in confusion as she looked over to Luke for some sort of confirmation, even though she knew that it was the truth.

Luke remained strangely silent as he examined the teenager, who seemed so familiar to him but at the same time he knew that he had never met this boy before in his life. He was familiar but in a strange sort of way. It was almost as if he should already know who this boy was, but Luke had no idea.

Maybe it was because this boy shared the same name as Anakin Skywalker, but Luke knew better than to draw comparisons between two completely different people.

But no matter how mysterious and enigmatic the boy was, he had told them the truth. Luke could sense the truth behind Anakin's words and he wasn't about to question the will of the Force.

"I believe you," he said after a few moments of silence.

"You do?" asked Leia, her question directed to Luke while Anakin suddenly became fascinated with his lap. He was having a hard time reading the woman and her tone gave no hint as to whether or not she believed his story at all.

"I can sense that he's telling the truth," said Luke with no further comment to his female companion.

Leia opened her mouth to say something but decided against it and instead pursed her lips into a tight line, her eyes traveling over to the angst-ridden teenager who was staring between the two of them with suspense.

"Okay," she said after a few moments of silence. There was no question in her voice anymore and she trusted Luke and his mystical Jedi powers, unlike Han who had mocked the Force and still continued to have his doubts. But Leia had seen the extent of the power and she had been on the receiving end of the power when Vader had interrogated her and had tried to force his way into her mind, but Leia had been strong enough to keep him out. It was her conviction to the Rebel cause that had saved her from his probing thoughts and she knew that she would rather die than let the Empire get their hands on those plans.

Not when so many brave Rebels had been slaughtered on the beaches of Scarif.

"So where are you from, Anakin?" asked Luke as he leaned back in his chair, interested in where this peculiar boy was from.

Anakin paused, hesitant as to what he should tell them about his origins. There was so much he didn't know about this specific time period and he didn't know how him being from a planet like Tatooine would be received by his two companions. Anakin had learned to be careful who he told about where he was from because of the scrutiny and judgment he would face from those who held themselves higher than the savages from the Outer Rim, especially when it concerned a planet like Tatooine. It was a lesson he had learned the hard way, that not everyone was as accepting as they claimed to be.

It was ironic how so many who held themselves in high regards when it came to cultural relativism and how accepting they were of all people no matter their background were usually the first ones to judge him based on the fact that he was from Tatooine. Anakin was no stranger to being looked down upon by those who were supposed to be advocates of equality, which was one of the reasons why he valued his friendship with the Chancellor so much. Palpatine had never once judged him and had been nothing but kind the youth ever since he had come to Coruscant all those years ago.

But he knew that this was not the case with his two rescuers. He may not have known them well, but he could sense that they were not judgmental.

Anakin twiddled with his thumbs absentmindedly, "Coruscant, but I grew up on Tatooine."

Both Luke and Leia seemed to recoil in surprise and shock that made Anakin feel foolish. They were obviously surprised from something that he had said, but Anakin didn't know it was that made them so shocked.

"Coruscant? You mean Imperial Center?" asked Leia, "what in sithspit were you doing there?"

"I-...I uh," began Anakin, trying his best to hide his nervousness as he could feel Luke's eerie and questioning gaze on him. Luke remained silent, but Anakin could feel the churning of the Force around the older Jedi and he knew that he was trying to figure him out.

"I mean I haven't lived there recently," began Anakin as he did his best to make his story sound more plausible. "I left when I started my training."

Anakin wasn't usually one to lie but at the same time, he didn't want them to think he was crazy. He could pretend that he belonged in this time and since there were no Jedi left, that he had received his training from a rogue force user instead of the truth. The Force did not agree with his tactic of deception and Anakin wasn't sure if Luke was buying into his story or not. The older Jedi had erected sturdy walls that hid his emotions from Anakin and his eyes narrowed in distrust as soon as the words had been spoken.

Luke could feel that Anakin was not telling him the truth, or at least only partial truths. But Luke decided he would not push the boy any further and respect his privacy, but he could make no guarantees for Leia, who was staring at Anakin with suspicion and distrust.

Luke had a feeling that Leia was not buying into the youth's story, but she remained silent to his surprise and instead focused her attention to the blue hyperdrive waves with a pensive and contemplative look in her eyes.

It seemed as though neither of them would further question Anakin about the legitimacy of his story, but that didn't stop the gears that were beginning to turn in Luke's head and he was starting to get a sense of what was really was going on. He had a suspicion that revolved around what Ben had told him earlier about the boy, but had seemed strange and vague at the time. Ben had mentioned something about time, correcting the mistakes of the past by revealing the future. Luke had simply brushed the comment off as Ben just being eccentric, but even now he could feel the blatant truth behind the man's words.

Anakin said that he lived on Coruscant, or Imperial Center as it was being called these days, but that simply was not possible. There was no way a Jedi could survive going to Imperial Center much less living there, not anymore that was. But he could sense that Anakin did indeed live there, just not in this current time period.

The Force had really outdone itself this time. Time travel had always been nothing more than a fantasy to Luke, but now it was a reality and he now understood. The boy was not from this time but had been sent here from the past so that he could be shown the future.

The Force churned in excitement and anticipation, agreeing with Luke about the nature of Anakin's presence. But there was something else- something more that the Force wanted Luke to know.

This Anakin shared the same name and planet as Anakin Skywalker, the man who was currently running around the galaxy, using fear as a tactic to further the Empire and crush those who would dare to oppose him. Luke didn't want it to be true, tried his hardest to ignore the absurd idea and instead returned his attention the mere child who sat in front of him, twiddling his thumbs and anxiously bobbing his leg to and fro as he stared at him with wide and innocent blue eyes, which made him seem so much younger than he actually was.

It was just a coincidence, mere speculation and maybe just a tad bit of hope. Hope that if it were possible, that Luke could change things for the better. That maybe, just maybe this was the Force's way of apologizing for dealing Luke such a crappy hand, and not in the literal sense. Although Luke had to agree that the Force had screwed him over in both aspects.

But was it possible?

Was it possible that he could save his father from the darkness that had consumed him?

"Tatooine, huh?" asked Luke calmly and nonchalantly, ignoring the flabbergasted stare of his companion. "I grew up there."

"Really?" asked Anakin, surprised to find another individual who was from the same planet as him. He had detected a slight Outer Rim accent from the other Jedi, but it was faded and he hadn't been sure from which planet it had originated.

A lot of accents carried over from planet to planet so pinpointing where someone was from could be difficult at times, unlike the Core Worlds where accents tended to be more pronounced and posher sounding than what Anakin was used to. It was also common for people in the Core Worlds to use proper basic, which had always seemed to set him apart from most of his fellow Jedi. He had a strange accent that was a combination of inner and outer rim that made him stick out like a sore thumb around his peers and no matter how hard he tried to emulate the smooth and crisp dialect of those around him, it just made him sound stiff.

Luke chuckled, "yes, I lived there with my Aunt and Uncle until I was nineteen."

If Anakin really was from Tatooine, then Luke wouldn't need to explain why he no longer lived there.

"I left when I was nine," said Anakin with a shudder, "and I've never been back since."

"You don't have family you visit there?" asked a curious Luke as he pressed the boy. He had a distinct feeling that there was something about this kid that he should know, but he couldn't quite figure out what.

"My mother is still there, or at least I think she is," said Anakin tensely, which did not go unnoticed by Luke.

"And she didn't go with you when you left?" asked Luke, the Force starting to swirl around him in both agitation and anticipation, which made him even more interested in what the boy had to say.

Anakin shifted in his seat as he tried to decide whether or not Luke would be accepting of his former status. Even though he was no longer a slave, there was still a social divide between the free-born and the former slaves and he didn't know whether Luke would accept him or shun him when he found out. But Anakin also knew that he could not lie to Luke, not after everything the older Jedi had done for him.

"My mother and I were both slaves. I ended up gaining my freedom but she did not."

Luke's eyes widened for a fraction of a second as he observed the boy before him, a former slave from Tatooine who's name was Anakin.

Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru had told him of his fathers early days on Tatooine, how he and his mother were both slaves and how at the age of nine, his father had somehow managed to gain his freedom and had left Tatooine to become the captain of a spice freighter. His grandmother Shmi had remained in slavery for a few more years after that before she had married Cliegg, only to die a few years later.

Was it a mere coincidence though, to meet a powerful Jedi with the same name and past as his father?

Luke didn't want to believe it. It was impossible and absurd that this child was the same Anakin Skywalker, the man that would become Darth Vader, one of the evilest men that the galaxy had ever known.

And yet he could sense the truth behind it all.

Kriffing hell.

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Vader kicked at the dirt beneath him as he stared down at the Stormtroopers bodies, some of them having been killed by blaster shots and others cut down with a lightsaber. His ominous black mask hid a particularly nasty snarl as well as his eyes, which were undoubtedly yellow from rage.

He had been so close!

So close to finding the pesky and enigmatic Jedi that had been giving him so much grief as well as his own son, Luke Skywalker, whose presence had shown brightly in the Force, serving as a beacon for him to follow. He had been surprised at first to feel the boy's presence, here on some backwater Outer Rim planet that wasn't even on most planetary maps and barely offered anything of value to the Empire. But there had been no mistaking that presence.

As soon as he had felt Skywalker's presence, Vader had quickened his pace so that he could reach the boy before he did something foolish, but he had missed him by a few minutes and already he could tell that Skywalker, along with his companions was no longer on Ben'we.

His son had managed to escape him yet again.

They had escaped numerous Stormtroopers and had managed to get past the Imperial blockade with little to no trouble, either a testament to their skill or the Empire's weakness.

"Milord," came the soft spoken voice from behind him.

Vader whipped his head around to stare at the Lieutenant from the Vigilant, the sun reflecting off of his lenses as he focused in on the lanky man with fiery red hair that was neatly gelled back and styled in the standard Imperial Officer haircut.

"What is it?" he asked, his mechanical voice low and stoical.

"There are a few witnesses," he said as he motioned over to where a father and daughter were being held by Stormtroopers, the fear on their face evident as they stared at the Dark Lord himself.

"They claimed to have seen the whole thing from their apartment," said the Officer as he pointed up to a room on the second level that had a window that faced down on the street where the altercation had taken place. Vader already had a clear picture of what had taken place, but it would not hurt to see what they had seen.

"Did you question them already?" asked Vader, his patience starting to wane.

"Yes, they said that there were two Jedi who were accompanied by a woman. They identified one of the Jedi as Luke Skywalker and the woman as the former Princess of Alderaan. They do not know who the third Jedi was, but they claimed he matched the description that we issued."

He was not surprised to hear that the incorrigible Princess had been here with his son, it seemed as though the two were inseparable these days. Vader wondered if it was because his son held feelings for the former Senator, which seemed plausible but at the same time, not something Vader would ever approve of. The Princess was nothing more than a royal menace and Vader somewhat regretted not having gotten rid of her when the opportunity had arisen. He had always had disdain for the girl ever since he had met her when she just a child, no older than seven years old when her father had taken her to the Senate so that she could observe the inner workings of politics, something Vader had doubted a child of her age would ever be able to understand. But she did and she had thrived in the political affairs of the Empire, and even having the audacity to later betray the very system that she had learned from.

Eventually, the Princess would be taken care of and she would no longer be there to influence his son with her beliefs in democracy and the Republic, which were nothing more than a fleeting hope for the Rebels. The days of the Republic were gone, but some just refused to accept it.

"Did they see what he looked like?" asked Vader as he refocused his attention on the mysterious Jedi who kept a Padawan braid.

"They said he had his head covered with a scarf but that he was a white human male either in his late teens or early twenties."

There were billions of people who matched that description, which was no help to Vader. Even the grainy picture that they had managed to extract from the holo-security feed was of no help and did nothing to help identify the Jedi.

"Very well," said Vader with a wave of his mechanical hand, "you are dismissed, Lieutenant."

"Yes Sir," said the young man before making his way back over to where the two witnesses stood staring at them with wide, dark eyes.

Vader returned his gaze back to the bodies that were strewn about the dirty street, his breathing slow and methodical as he clenched his fist dangerously as he reigned in his hot anger that was threatening to take control of him. He stood silently to the rest of the world, but the Force flared dangerously around and none could feel the raging tempest that accumulated around him.

It was simply unacceptable that he had once again been outdone by his own son and the Princess, who had managed to escape with the rogue Jedi, who would undoubtedly align himself with their cause now and join them. Two young and powerful Jedi against him and the Emperor made him uncomfortable for some reason, and he did not enjoy the feeling.

The glass window next to Vader started to crack slowly but steadily as the fissures spread up the window before stopping suddenly, but the window did not break from the pressure of Vader's anger. His temper had been reigned in and he instead decided to direct his fury into something more productive. He would find his son and his two companions if it was the last thing he did and they would be sorry that they had run from him in the first place.

"Lieutenant," came Vader's booming voice as he turned to face the young Officer who could not have been older than twenty-five at best. "Clean this up then report back to me. We have work to do."

"What sort of work, Lord Vader?" asked the Lieutenant as he jogged to keep up with the cyborg's fast pace.

"You will see."
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Luke stared out the viewport of the ship, his mind completely occupied by the series of strange events that had happened within the last few hours. He was alone and his thoughts were still reeling from the peculiar conversation he had had with Anakin, a boy who was strong in the Force and was undoubtedly from the past.

It was strange to comprehend, but Luke knew that there was something about Anakin. The Force seemed to converge upon the boy as if waiting in anticipation for him to do something. Luke wasn't sure what, but he could sense that Anakin was going to change everything here very soon.

And even while Luke knew that there was something about the boy, there was also something else that he did not want to think about. Something that he wished was not true but deep down he knew that it was.

He tried to convince himself that it was just a coincidence, a mere happenstance with no real connection, but Luke knew not to place his trust blindly in things that he could only hope for.

To encounter a young man who was quite possibly from the past with the same name and home planet as the man who had once been known as Anakin Skywalker seemed too serendipitous to be true.

But Luke could still hope that the connection was not real, that this was all just a figment of his overactive imagination and there was nothing more to this story.

But it was true.

The Force spoke the truth and that truth was that the boy that they had picked up on Ben'we was indeed Anakin Skywalker from the past. Luke had been oblivious at first, but he was not stupid and he could feel the way the way that he and Anakin had connected. They had already formed a bond, something that rarely happened unless there was something more to the relationship, more specifically a relationship between a parent and their child. The bond between father and son was a strong and instantaneous one and Luke thanked the Force that Anakin did not know the true nature it.

The Force hummed sadly around Luke and he could feel that there would be a day when it would all have to be confronted and all the pain that would be brought with that revelation. Luke just wished that he could walk away from it and not have to burden the boy with sins he had not yet committed, and a small part of him told him that it wasn't worth it.

It seemed selfish and a little asinine to want to walk away from it all, to walk away from Anakin, but Luke could not deny that he was scared and that a part of him wanted nothing to do with the man who had taken so much from him. That man who had tortured Leia, cut off his hand, and had taken Han from them as if he had the right to make their lives miserable.

Luke was being given the chance of a lifetime, but that didn't change the fact that Luke wanted none of it.

For once in his life, he just wanted someone else to take care of the problem that was his father and go back to living a peaceful life while someone else did all the dirty work. He wished that the war that had taken the lives of countless of people would just end and that peace could be restored to the galaxy so he could run off like he had always wanted to do.

He hated to admit it, but after all these years of fighting, Luke was beginning to see the appeal in farming again.

"Hello Luke," came Ben's solemn voice from behind him.

Luke turned around to see the blue hue of his former Master, a heavy look crossing his face that made him seem even older than he actually was.

"Ben," said Luke in acknowledgment.

"I see you found Anakin," said Ben, his eyes lingering over to the corridor that led to the quarters where the teen was currently sleeping away the exhausting day.

"It wasn't easy," commented Luke sullenly.

"No, I imagine it wasn't," said Ben with a heavy sigh. "Especially when it comes to him."

There was a moment of silence before Luke finally pushed his chair away from the console and turned to face the old Jedi, his face pensive and frustrated.

"Why didn't you tell me who he was?" asked Luke with no anger, but sadness that Ben hadn't trusted him yet again.

Luke wasn't a fool. He knew exactly who Anakin was and why he was here, he just didn't appreciate the surprise of being confronted with his teenage father from the past.

Ben sighed, "I wanted you to be able to meet him before I told you so that your first impression of him wasn't tainted so that you could have a glimpse of the person that I once knew and loved."

"A warning would've been nice," said Luke sardonically before he rubbed a hand through his hair and sighed, his frustration and anger slowly fading away.

"I'm sure it came as quite the surprise," remarked Obi-wan. "I thought I was going to have a heart attack when I found out what the Force had done, but now I am able to see the benefit of what this could bring. To think, he is being given a chance to correct his mistakes before he even makes them," said Ben with a faraway look in his eyes. Luke could've sworn there was hope in his eyes and he knew how much Anakin had meant to Obi-wan, how much he still meant to him to this day even though he had fallen from grace.

Luke had never realized it before, but Obi-wan had practically raised Anakin and that he had lost much more than just a friend and a former apprentice that day. Luke couldn't imagine the pain that he had been in all these years, and then to be presented with the opportunity to prevent that tragedy.

It was more than Luke could even imagine.

"What am I supposed to do?" asked Luke, feeling lost and forlorn at the looming situation. How was Luke supposed to handle this? How was Luke supposed to keep his father from falling without giving the poor boy an aneurysm?

How was Luke supposed to tell a boy who hadn't even reached adulthood yet that he would one day fall to the dark side and destroy the Jedi? Much less that Luke was his future son that had yet to be born. He didn't know which would be easier, telling someone they turn into a mechanical monster or that they had met their future child.

Luke dreaded both, but he knew that one day all would be revealed. He just knew that it would happen.

"He needs guidance," began Ben, "he needs someone to help him navigate this new time and I'm afraid that my services will be quite limited."

"What should I tell him about Vader? About me?"

Ben smoothed a hand over his face thoughtfully at the question then frowned before returning his eyes back over to an expectant Luke.

"Do not tell him anything about who Vader is or who you are. He's not ready for that information, at least not yet that is."

"But he's going to find out eventually. I can't keep that a secret forever and you know he'll get suspicious," said Luke.

"Oh I don't doubt he will, but we have some time before he starts putting the pieces together. He needs time to adjust before we burden him with his future, but in the meantime what he really needs is guidance. Your guidance, Luke."

"I'm not sure that I'm ready to do that," said Luke as he shook his head at the notion. "I'm not sure that I can guide him knowing who he is and what he'll do."

"I think you'll find that you're more capable than you think," said Ben pointedly. "I know that this is daunting for you, but you won't be alone. There is another who will need to guide Anakin and show him the consequences of his actions just as much as you will have to."

"Who?" asked Luke in curiosity but forgot about his question when he heard rustling coming from the bunkers where Anakin had been sleeping peacefully. He heard the shuffling of feet on the floor drawing nearer until the groggy-eyed boy popped out from behind the wall to stare at Luke with a sleepy smile on his face.

Luke shot his head back over to where Ben had been standing just a moment ago to find that he had disappeared into thin air, leaving Luke's question completely unanswered.

"Who were you talking too?" asked Anakin curiously as he made his way over to the co-pilots chair and plopped himself down.

"What?" asked Luke.

"I heard you talking to someone just now," said Anakin, "or at least I think that's what you were doing."

"I was sending out a holo-message," said Luke.

"Oh," said Anakin with a nod of his head as he looked at the console with curiosity, his eyes zeroing in on the navigation computer.

"Where's Leia?" asked Luke.

"She's in the lounge reading a holo-novel," said Anakin with a shrug of his shoulders. "She looked pretty engrossed in it so I didn't want to interrupt her."

"Probably for the best," chuckled Luke, unsurprised at what she had been doing these last few hours.

"Hey, can I ask you a question?" asked Anakin.

"Sure," said Luke, "fire away."

"That droid you have," he said as he referred to Artoo. "Where did you get it?"

"On Tatooine," said Luke, interested in Anakin's interest in his droid. "My Uncle bought him from some Jawas. You wouldn't believe how much trouble he's given me ever since. Why?"

Anakin shrugged his shoulders nonchalantly, "just wondering. I once knew a similar droid."

But Anakin was positive that the droid he had seen rolling around the ship and beeping was not the same droid that once belonged to Padme. This droid acted strangely as soon as he saw Anakin, squealing loudly and rolling as fast as he could away from the boy as if Anakin had done something to offend or scare the domed astromech.

He had seen the Droid only a few times since then, watching him closely from the shadows and observing his every move. As if he was waiting for him to do something bad.

"Well he's an old droid, so maybe it's the same one," said Luke in all seriousness.

Anakin's head shot up to stare at Luke, his eyes surprised and questioning at the same time. He could feel the underlying statement behind Luke's words and even the Force seemed to churn uneasily around them.

"Now I was wondering if I could ask you a question. What year are you from?" asked Luke as he made it known that he knew Anakin was from the past.

Anakin's mouth opened to form an O before he quickly shut his mouth and replied, "How did you find out?"

"I know a lot," said Luke with a friendly smile to show Anakin that he meant no harm. "You're obviously a well-trained Jedi and you mentioned having lived on Coruscant, all of which is uncharacteristic for this particular time period. Coruscant is now known as Imperial Center, the capital of the Empire. If you had lived there, you would've been found and probably trained to be an Inquisitor or something like that."

Anakin nodded his head in resignation, "I'm from the year 3629 ATC and I'm not a full-fledged Jedi, at least not yet. I'm a Padawan," he said as he pointed to the strange braid that hung down on his shoulder, "an apprentice to Master Obi-wan Kenobi."

So that's what the braid had been for. Luke hadn't been sure if it was something Jedi related or just a horrible fashion statement.

Luke whistled, "twenty-eight years is a pretty big jump. How'd you find out you're in the wrong year?"

Anakin shrugged, "from some people on Ben'we. Thought I had hit my head in the crash because I didn't know what the year was."

"I bet you were really surprised."

"I still am," said Anakin as he shook his head. "It's strange, you know? To find out everything that's happened and to wonder why. I wonder what happened to me in all these years, whether or not I survived the purge or if I'm –... dead."

Anakin had never thought about it till now, instead opting to busy his thoughts with that of the Empire and the fall of the Jedi. It was completely normal to wonder what had happened to him in these last twenty-eight years, but Anakin wasn't sure that he would want to know. He could very well be dead at this point in his life and if that was the case then he wouldn't want to know how or when.

Luke fought back a cringe, "maybe you shouldn't dwell on your own future. You may not like what you find."

Anakin sighed, "I suppose so. It's just that there's so much that has happened and I don't understand. How did this Empire come about? What happened to the Republic?"

"I'm not completely sure," said Luke shaking his head in dismay. "There's so much that I don't know either being from the Outer Rim and considering how much history the Empire destroyed. But what I do know is that there was some sort of attempted coup that ended up failing, which caused the Emperor to seize control of the Senate and declare the Jedi an enemy of the state. From there he formed the Empire and the Jedi were purged," said Luke as he did his best to recall everything that Aunt Beru had taught him during his home lessons. There was probably much more to the story, but the Empire had sanitized a lot of it in their favor.

"So this Emperor was a Sith?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence. He was confused as to how the Emperor had gotten control of the Senate, or how he would've managed to destroy the Jedi without help. Two Sith against the entire Jedi Order just was not possible, which led Anakin to believe that there was something missing in the story that he didn't know.

"Yes," said Luke as he nodded his head, "he and his apprentice, Darth Vader were the ones to carry this out."

"But how? Two Sith isn't enough to destroy the Jedi!" said Anakin in confusion and anger.

"It wasn't just the Sith," said Luke before pausing, contemplating how he would describe the part that the Clones played in the grand scheme of everything. "They had an army of Clones that helped them."

Anakin shook his head, "but wouldn't the Republic have known about an army of Clones? Why didn't the Republic do anything to stop the creation of this army?"

"Because the Republic created the army," said Luke with an exasperated sigh. The story was complicated and one that he didn't really know, much less Anakin, who looked beyond lost as Luke's explanation.

"The Republic created the army that helped destroy them? What purpose would the Republic have for creating an army in the first place?"

"There was a war going on during that time that required additional manpower. There was a group that was trying to separate from the Republic and they had their own army," said Luke, starting to regret not paying attention to his history studies with his Aunt Beru. He wasn't sure, but he remembered droids being mentioned and what not, but then again, history was not his strong suit.

Anakin shook his head, the confusion still present on his face. He didn't understand what the Clone Wars was really about, but Luke knew that there would come a day in his life when he would live through the War.

"When did this take place?" asked Anakin in morbid curiosity.

"From 3631 to 3634 ATC."

Anakin did the math and came to the conclusion that the war would start in two years from his time, which meant that this war was already well on its way to happening. Which meant that the Republic only have five years left in his own time, which was a very short amount of time.

Anakin hadn't realized it yet, but the Republic had already started to fall, even in his own time.

"And the Jedi fought in this war?" asked Anakin in surprise. "The Jedi are defenders of peace, we try to remain neutral in Republic conflicts like these. We would've tried to find a peaceful solution first before we ever took up arms against someone."

"Moral obligation?" asked Luke with a shrug, "The Jedi did swear to protect and serve the Republic. I'm guessing that when the Republic went to war, the Jedi were inevitably dragged into it. Plus, not defending the Republic and saying no to the Senate would've been bad for publicity. Either way, it was a no-win situation."

"I guess," said Anakin. He wasn't sure about all the politics that were involved in getting the Jedi to fight in a war for the Republic, but he could sense that there was something fishy about the whole situation.

He wondered briefly if he had fought in the war along with his fellow Jedi and how many of his fellow friends and mentors had perished in the war. Is this how Obi-wan died? Fighting in this so-called Clone War or did his Master die in the purge that subsequently followed?

Did he die in the Clone Wars or in the purge as well?

Anakin shuddered at the thought and decided that ignorance was probably best case scenario and that knowing his future was best left to the imagination.

Luke patted Anakin on the back sympathetically, "I wouldn't worry about it if I were you. I mean, isn't that why you are here? To go back and prevent this all from even happening in the first place?"

"I suppose. But it sure is a weird way to fix everything, don't you think?"

Luke smiled brightly at Anakin, "oh you have no idea how weird this situation is."

The poor boy really had no idea.

Chapter Text

Anakin kept his posture steady as he used his left foot to step back and used his lightsaber to strike down, the blue of his saber cutting through the air with precision and accuracy before he did the same thing from his right stance. He was light and graceful as he practiced the lightsaber sequence that he had been practicing for years and had already mastered at this point, but his mind was busy and he needed something to occupy his chaotic mind, so he decided to practice all the saber forms that he knew starting with Shii-Cho.

His thoughts were spread far apart and had little coherency to them. By then, he had already accepted the infallible truth that he was in the future but his time-traveling mishap was not what was currently ruling over his thoughts and emotions.

He had had a dream.

A dream that he did not understand nor could he comprehend it, but he could feel that there was a level of importance to it that was of great importance. It felt as though those hazy collage of images and feelings were more than dreams, that perhaps they were visions that the Force had given him.

It wouldn't be the first time that that had happened.

He had dreamed of another life, one that was fictional but realistic at the same time and that stirred emotions in him that were powerful and misunderstood. It felt as though he had been there, lived through it and experienced the flurry of emotions first hand.

He had dreamed of his Master, the feeling of friendship and brotherly affection that came from the both of them. The feelings were deep and raw and not ones that were easily ignored seeing as it was already branded on Anakin's heart.

But the images had changed so fast that Anakin barely had time to understand what he had just seen before it would ripple and disappear before yet another took its place. It was as though he had been underwater trying to listen and watch all that that was going on around him, but there were instances that he would always remember.

How joy had turned into sorrow, but he did not know why. One moment he had been with his Master and the next he was holding his mother in his arms, her face sad and bloodied as she stared up at him with nothing but love in her eyes.

The image had only been for a second before being replaced by that of a woman in a blue dress, her back turned to him as she stared out the window at the fire that consumed the skyline. Her sobbing was all that Anakin could hear, the heartbroken sound escaping from her mouth was enough to make Anakin's stomach churn uncomfortably.

He wished that he knew why she was so sad but he hadn't the time to stick around before he sucked away and found himself on a fiery planet surrounded by lava and molten rock, his lungs burning with every breath and a searing pain in his limbs before everything the flames had devoured him.

It was then that he had awoken from his sleep, his breathing labored and his body shaking. He had stayed like that for a few minutes before he had gotten up and gone to find Luke, who had been in the cockpit talking to someone. He had put on a brave face and had hidden his discomfort before going in to talk to the older Jedi about what had happened to the Republic and the Jedi Order.

He didn't like what he found out and he was far from satisfied with the answers that he had been given, still not understanding everything and the events that had led to the fall of everything he had sworn to protect and serve.

Nothing made sense and the Force did nothing to help him understand.

Have patience. The Force knows better than you.

Anakin huffed as he swung around and used his left foot the step forward before thrusting his lightsaber forward before swinging it over his head, creating a deadly blue arc in the air before he proceeded to do the same but with his opposite foot.

"Impressive," said Luke as he leaned against the bulkhead, where he had been silently observing the teenager for the last few minutes undetected.

Anakin stopped his lightsaber midair to look over at Luke before he dropped his stance and deactivated his weapon before clipping it to his utility belt. He hadn't realized that Luke had been watching him the entire time. If Obi-wan had been there, he would've scolded Anakin for letting his guard drop enough not to feel when another presence was in the room, but it no longer mattered.

Obi-wan was dead.

"Did you learn that at the Jedi Temple?" asked Luke curiously as he walked into the lounge.

"Yes," said Anakin as he shrugged his leather vest along with his belt off and set it down on the table. "It's called Shii-Cho, or form I. There are seven different forms of lightsaber techniques, each one designed and practiced differently so as to utilize the strengths and weaknesses of those using them."

"I've heard of them, but I only know a few," said Luke with a small laugh. "I never really got that much lightsaber training from any of my Masters. My first Master taught me a little but I ended up learning more from the journals he kept while in exile."

"Masters? You had two Masters?" asked Anakin curiously as he tried to get more a sense of who Luke really was.

"My first Master died," said Luke sadly, "he was cut down by Darth Vader and after that, I went to Yoda to finish my training, which I have yet to do."

"Grand Master Yoda?" asked Anakin as he remembered that the older Jedi's presence still remained but had been hidden from everyone so that no one could find him.

"Yes, he's still alive but I don't think for very much longer."

"Oh," said Anakin as he thought of the very old Jedi. Yoda was almost a thousand years old, but that didn't mean he was immortal.

"Who was your first Master?" asked Anakin as he tried to divert the conversation away from the eerie topic of Yoda's imminent death. "I might know him or at least have heard of him."

It was possible, but there were about ten thousand Jedi in Coruscant and Anakin did not know them all. But names tended to travel through the Temple or it was possible that he knew Luke's first Master as a fellow Padawan. They were talking about time-travel after all.

"I knew him as Ben, but his real name was Obi-wan Kenobi," said Luke carefully, deciding that it would be okay to reveal that information even though he knew that Kenobi had been his father's Master. He saw no point in lying to Anakin about who his first Master was.

Anakin's reaction was sudden, his blue eyes widening in surprise and shock as he restlessly shifted his weight from one foot to the other.

"Obi-wan Kenobi trained you?" he asked, his voice strained and unbelieving.

Luke nodded his head, "yes, he did."

"And he was killed," stated Anakin softly, "by Darth Vader?"

"About three years ago on a space station called the Death Star. He fought with Darth Vader before he was cut down and became one with the Force. He still likes to hang around though, as a Force ghost of course."

"Force ghost?" asked Anakin, unsure of what he had just heard. There were no such things as Force ghosts. Everyone who died lost their individuality to become one with the Force and were unable to communicate with the living, and there was no known way to keep one's identity after death.

Luke nodded his head, "it is possible for a Force user to deny the will of the Force and maintain their individuality and become Force ghosts."

Anakin shook his head, "I've never heard of a Force ghost in all my years with the Order."

"Well, death is sort of tricky thing. How would any of us know what lies beyond the realm of the living? The Jedi don't know everything about the Force."

Luke didn't intend to be rude by questioning the knowledge of the Jedi Order, but even Ben had told him that the Jedi had been flawed. They had misinterpreted the Force in many different ways and there had even been something in Ben's notes that had mentioned the Prophecy of the Chosen One and how the Jedi had been wrong about what they thought would happen.

He just merely wanted to question some of their beliefs that he knew to be wrong.

Anakin thought about it for a few moments, "I guess it could be so, but I've just never heard of such a thing before."

"Neither had I," said Luke as he nodded his head in understanding. "I know it's a strange concept to you, but it's real. His spirit has appeared to me on multiple occasions after his death."

Anakin said nothing as he stared down at the floor and found himself believing what Luke had to say about life beyond death. There had been nothing in the Jedi archives or teachings that mentioned time travel before and yet here he was. So maybe there really were such things as Force Ghosts.

Which meant that maybe Obi-wan was still hanging around even after his death by a Sith Lord.

Darth Vader, the man who had killed his Master in cold blood was the same man who had aided in the destruction of the Jedi and the Republic, everything that Anakin had sworn to protect and serve.

Anakin hoped that he could one day meet this infamous Darth Vader so that he could run his lightsaber through him personally for everything that he had ever done. He didn't know Vader, but he already hated him with a burning passion even though he knew that hate was not the Jedi way.

Hatred led to the Dark Side, but Anakin could not contain his anger and fury at the Sith.

He wanted to see this Darth Vader pay for everything that he had done.

He wanted Darth Vader to die.

"Hey you two," said Leia as she popped her head around the corner to stare at the two blond men. "We'll be rendezvousing with the Rebel fleet in a few minutes."

"Okay, thanks, Leia," said Luke as they both watched her disappear down the corridor before turning to face each other.

"So this Rebel Alliance that you and Leia are a part of-," began Anakin, "when was it founded?"

He was curious to know more about these Rebels, these soldiers who were bringing the fight to the Empire in hopes of restoring democracy to the galaxy. Luke had told him a little about them in the cockpit a few hours after they had talked about the Jedi Order and what growing up on Tatooine was like for the both of them.

Anakin was happy to know that there were people out there who were willing to stand for what was right no matter the consequences and he imagined his future self possibly being in the fight with them. It was the only plausible future he could see for himself if he had not perished in the Purge.

Anakin couldn't imagine what else he would be doing when the galaxy was in such turmoil.

"The same year the Republic fell I believe, but it was only officially reorganized a few years ago. Leia knows more than I do, maybe you should ask her more if you're curious about the Alliance's history."

"Maybe I will," said Anakin as he and Luke began to make their way out to the cockpit, where Leia was seated at the controls along with the blue astromech droid that reminded Anakin of R2-D2. But Anakin was positive that it was not the same droid, or at least the same droid with its memory wiped because of how strangely it acted around him.

The droid beeped shrilly but did not move back as it always did whenever it saw Anakin, instead it just stared up at the teenage boy silently before he rolled over to Luke to nudge his leg. Anakin could understand binary perfectly but the droids refusal to talk to him made it difficult to understand why he seemed to avoid him.

"Stop that Artoo," said Luke as the droid nudged his leg again. "His name is Anakin. He's not going to harm you."

The droid let out a shrill beep that was akin to a scoff before he rolled out of the room, all three of their eyes on him as he disappeared down the corridor.

"What's that droids name?" asked Anakin as he returned his gaze over to Luke and Leia.

"R2-D2," said Leia as she swung her chair around to face Anakin. "He's a funny little droid that Luke has quite the attachment to."

"Artoo is more than just a funny little droid," said Luke defensively.

Anakin's eyes drifted over to the droid, who was peeking out at him from behind the door as if he was trying to spy on the teenager. As soon as the droid saw Anakin looking at him, he let out a small beep before rolling up to him slowly and with such caution that reminded him of a timid animal.

He was certain at that point he was the very same droid that had belonged to the Queen all those years ago. It seemed ludicrous that he would run into the same droid all these years later and for him to be in relatively good condition despite his age.

Anakin tilted his head to the side, "Artoo?"

His voice was barely above that of a whisper as he held his hand out to show the droid that he meant no harm.

Something immediately seemed to change in the droid as he let out a shrill and excited beep, confirming that he was the very same droid from Naboo. Artoo rolled over to where Anakin was and nudged his leg as he bent down on one knee and placed his hand against the dome of the droid as he remembered blowing up the Trade Federation ship at the age of nine. It only felt like yesterday that he was soaring through space with Artoo, jumping up and down in his seat in excitement as he joined in the Battle of Naboo.

It had only been eight years to him, but in reality, it had been thirty-six years since that had happened.

By then, Luke and Leia had stopped arguing and were now staring at Anakin and Artoo with funny looks on their faces. It was quite obvious at that point that Anakin and Artoo knew each other and both were curious as to how.

"Do you know Artoo?" asked Luke.

Anakin nodded his head, "I met him when I was nine when I was living on Tatooine. He belonged to a girl I knew from Naboo."

He had decided to leave his explanation at that. There was no need to mention that Padme had been a Queen or that he had met Artoo during the Crisis of Naboo, which he had helped diffuse when he blew up the Trade Federation ship.

"What a coincidence," said Leia under her breath with confusion disbelief. Artoo had been her father's droid longer than Anakin had even been alive, so there really wasn't any possible way that the boy could know the Droid much less its previous owner.

But there was no denying that Anakin and Artoo knew each other.

There was no denying that Artoo was loyal and that was one of the reasons why her father had sent the droid on many assignments across the galaxy. It was quite possible that Artoo and Anakin had met on Tatooine during one of these assignments, but then who was the girl? One of her father's many agents?

"How did you get Artoo, again?" asked Anakin, failing to notice the strange look Leia was giving him.

"My Uncle Owen bought him from the Jawas to help us out on the farm. That was three years ago," said Luke with bewilderment in his eyes as he stared over at Artoo. "Of course, it was because of Leia that he was on Tatooine to begin with."

He couldn't believe that Artoo had known his father and that he hadn't mentioned it to Luke.

"And she belonged to a girl from Naboo?" asked Leia in curiosity as she tried to delve deeper into the strange tale. "What was she doing all the way out on Tatooine?"

"Her ship needed repairs so they stopped in the shop where I worked," said Anakin casually. "She ended up going back to Naboo and I haven't seen her since."

She hadn't expected him to know much seeing as it was probably an undercover mission, so she decided not to pursue his knowledge of the droid or the girl from Naboo anymore.

Leia nodded her head, "I once accompanied my father on a diplomatic mission to Naboo when I was fourteen. I remember how lovely it was there."

"It really is," said Anakin with a large smile as he remembered the rich culture of Naboo. "I visited there when I was nine during one of the celebrations in Theed."

"Oh really? Is that before you went to Imperial Center?" she asked with a tilt of her head.

"Yes," said Anakin curtly as he dipped his head down as he remembered how careful he needed to be to not give himself away. He didn't want Leia thinking that he was a raging lunatic talking about time travel and what not.

Luke only stared between the two of them with a platonic expression, interested in what they had to say to each other. He was keenly interested in knowing more about his father's past and he was being given a rare opportunity to learn more about Anakin Skywalker.

He had already learned more about his father in the last day than he had in his entire twenty-two years of life. Owen and Beru had been uninformed about much of his father's past, only telling him the basics and nothing more because they simply did not know. They had only met his father once and the circumstances were less than ideal for getting to know one another.

For instance, his Aunt and Uncle had never mentioned how his father had gained his freedom or that he had ever visited the planet of Naboo before going to train on Coruscant. They had only told him that his father had left and that was that.

But then again there was still so much to learn from this young man. Nothing that Anakin had said or even his behavior had once constituted the reason for his downfall and Luke could only guess that this was because his father was untainted at this point in his life.

The boy was deeply rooted in the light to the point where it seemed almost impossible that he could ever become Darth Vader, but the past in that point in time had already been written.

But then again, Anakin being brought here must mean that the past could be rewritten.

Maybe there didn't have to be a monster at the end of this story.

"So you are a politician?" asked Anakin awkwardly after a few moments of silence, his voice hinting at curiosity and-

Was that a hint of disdain?

"Yes," she said with a smile before her face fell and her eyes became downcast, "or at least I was."

Anakin seemed to feel her sudden change in mood and felt the sudden need to comfort her, his blue eyes catching her brown orbs which had become laden with sadness.

"What planet did you represent?" he asked.

"Alderaan," she said with a far-away look in her eyes. "My mother was the Queen and my father was the Viceroy and Elected Representative before I took up his Senatorial duties when I was sixteen."

"So you're the Princess of Alderaan?" asked Anakin as he remembered how young Padme had been when she had gotten into politics. It seemed as though Leia and Padme were similar in that manner and something told him they probably would've been good friends if they had ever met each other.

"Was," she said curtly. "Apparently you haven't heard. There is no Alderaan to be the Princess of anymore."

Luke turned his head sharply to look at Leia, his blue eyes wandering over to a confused looking Anakin before he took a step forward and placed his hand on Leia's shoulder in a comforting manner.

"No Alderaan? What do you mean?" asked Anakin as he noticed the pain that flashed through the Princess's eyes as well as the stoic expression that Luke was giving him, as if he was trying to warn Anakin.

"Alderaan was destroyed three years ago," said Luke dryly. "The Empire wanted to demonstrate the destructive capabilities of their new Death Star, a space station with the technology to wipe out an entire planet."

"Bastards," sneered Leia with hatred in her eyes as she averted her gaze over to Anakin, who sat silently in shock. "They silenced an entire planet for nothing more than a power demonstration."

"They destroyed Alderaan?" asked Anakin, his voice heavily strained. "An entire planet?"

"Yes," said Luke as he shook his head, "And it wasn't only Alderaan. They destroyed Jedha City and they also targeted Scarif."

"And what of the weapon?" asked Anakin as he ran an agitated hand through his hair. "Please tell me they no longer have that sort of power at their fingertips."

"No," said Luke with a shake of his head. "Some brave Rebels sacrificed their lives to retrieve the plans from an Imperial base on Scarif. We destroyed it during the Battle of Yavin a few years ago."

Anakin shook his head, "I just can't believe that they could have- "

He said, trailing off of his intended sentence to stare over at Luke with a baffled expression that spoke on an entirely different level that Luke did not have to be a Jedi to recognize.

Luke knew exactly what was going on in the youth's troubled mind.

How did it ever come to this?

It was a simple question that had haunted Luke ever since he had buried his Aunt and Uncle and set off for Alderaan with Ben. Before, he had just been a naïve farm boy ready to join the Imperial Navy if it meant getting off of that barren rock they called Tatooine.

But now he was older, hardened by war and tainted by revelations.

Tainted by the truth.

"I know it's a lot to take in," said Luke in a soothing manner, "I'm sure it's quite a surprise for you, considering how you've been away for some time, haven't you?"

News of Alderaan's destruction had spread through the galaxy like wildfire and there were very few people who had not heard of the planet who's royal family had dared to speak out against the Empire. A lot of people on Alderaan had opposed the Empire, but of course there were quite a few there who did support the Imperial cause but in the end suffered the same fate as everyone else that day.

"Yes," said Anakin gravelly. "I am sorry to say that this is the first I have heard of Alderaan's demise. I've been in hiding and I'm not as up to date on current events as I should be."

He said this specifically to Leia before he bowed his head as a sign of respect to the Princess, as was customary for Jedi to do when showing formalities. He wanted to show her that he was truly and deeply sorry for the loss she had suffered at the hand of the Empire and that he had her support.

It was about the only thing that he could for now. But he knew that there would be more for him to do in preventing this tragedy when he went back to his own time.

"I am so sorry for your loss, Milady. Alderaan was a lovely planet and I hope that those who aided in its destruction will be brought to justice."

Alderaan had truly been a lovely planet with its classical beliefs and influences that had helped shape the Republic as well as serve as an important symbol of democracy.

He had only been there once when he was about eleven or twelve with his Master but he remembered the snow-capped mountain ranges and the crystal clear lakes as well as the forests that had littered the terrain of the planet. It held a classical beauty that was, in its own way, unique and inspiring just like Naboo had been to him.

He still couldn't believe that it was gone.

"Thank you, Anakin," she said as she put on a brave smile. "I agree and hope one day that the people of Alderaan may finally rest knowing that they have been avenged."

It was her final duty to her people, to be their voice just once more.

Once the Republic had been restored, she would see to it personally that every person involved in the genocide of Alderaan would be labeled as War Criminals and given their due.

Anakin was about to reply when there was a beeping from the console, warning them that they were approaching their destination and would need to drop out of hyperdrive soon. Luke beat Anakin over to the pilot's chair, much to the dismay of the teenager, but he soon got over it as they dropped out of hyperdrive and the Rebel fleet became visible to them.

Anakin stared out the viewport at the cluster of ships, his blue eyes falling on the command ship as they drew closer and closer to the enormous vessel.

"There they are," said Luke with a smile as he noticed Anakin's stare. "The Alliance fleet in the flesh."

"You guys don't have ground bases?" asked Anakin out of curiosity.

"We did," said Leia from her spot next to Anakin, "but we've had to evacuate them as of recent due to the Empire locating us."

"The last base was on Hoth," said Luke, "but we had to abandon it a few months ago when the Empire found us and attacked."

Anakin simply nodded his head in interest as they drew in closer while Luke got permission to land in one of the shuttle bays on the larger ship.

The next few minutes happened in a blur as Luke flew the Millennium Falcon into the densely crowded shuttle bay as Anakin looked out from where he sat in the co-pilots chair, the uniforms of the some of the Rebels catching his eye, especially the bright orange jumpsuits that he could only guess were their flight suits.

The ships that were lined against the far wall also caught his wandering eye as he stared at the design, his mind racing with thoughts of possibly flying one in the near future. He was an excellent pilot and his skills could be put somewhere useful while he was here instead of just sitting around doing nothing.

The three of them made their way down the ramp, the younger of the two trailing behind as he watched a few people make their way over to Luke and Leia to greet them. He watched a Wookie and a tall dark skinned man start up a conversation with the two, their faces bright and smiling.

Anakin averted his eyes back to the ships, his mind curious at the mechanical layout of such a vessel. He had never before seen a ship of this particular design and of course, he was more than eager to get a look at the inside.

No one seemed to pay him any attention as he made his way over to one and walked around to get a full image before making his way back to the front again, careful to not get in anyone's way.

"You ever flown one?" came a gravelly voice from behind him.

Anakin turned around to see a tall young man who could not have been older than thirty at least who was staring at the boy in front of him with curiosity.

"No," said Anakin as he shook his head. "I've never flown one of these, but I've piloted my fair share."

"Really?" he asked as he surveyed the teenager in front of him. "How old are you, kid?"

"Seventeen," replied Anakin honestly, "but I'll be eighteen soon."

That was an exaggeration of course but Anakin was interested in possibly learning to pilot one of these and joining one of their squadrons, but he had only just turned seventeen a couple of months before he found himself here.

"You new to the Rebellion? I've never seen you here before."

"I'm new here," said Anakin casually, "there's really no other place for me to go so I figured I might as well join the cause."

"Really? Where are you from?" asked the older man as his eyes trailed over the cylindrical weapon that was clipped to Anakin's utility belt before averting his eyes back to the blues of the boy's eyes.

He said nothing, but he recognized the weapon as the same one that the Jedi carried. The same one that Luke Skywalker carried with him and the robes that the youth wore were reminiscent of the ones that the Jedi wore before they were Purged.

Anakin noticed the older man's gaze on his lightsaber and he discreetly used his robes to hide the hilt of the weapon before answering his question: "I'm from an Outer Rim planet called Tatooine."

"Is that so? There's a guy here named Luke who's from there. Have you met him yet?"

Anakin nodded his head, "Luke was the one who brought me here."

The older man nodded his head, "he's a great guy you know. A very talented pilot and we're lucky to have him."

Anakin nodded his head nonchalantly as his eyes traveled back to Luke, who was chatting a few people up, not having noticed what the younger man was up too.

"So you interested in learning to fly one of these? We could always use pilots here you know," he said with genuine interest in the teenager. "Of course you'll have to wait till you're eighteen to fly with a Squadron, but I could go ahead and show you a few tricks beforehand."

Anakin nodded his head, "I'd be interested if you're willing."

Of course, Anakin knew that he would not need much help in learning to fly one considering how fast he picked up how to pilot a new vessel. It was always just something that came naturally to him.

Across the hangar, Luke finally seemed to notice where his young friend had disappeared too and made his way over to where Anakin was chatting up Wedge Antilles. He had wanted to introduce Anakin to Mon Mothma and the others so that he could explain to them who Anakin was and that he was a Jedi before he started mingling with the Rebel personnel, but he had been so caught up with talking to Lando and Chewie that he had momentarily forgotten about the presence of his young father.

"There you are," said Luke as he placed his hand on Anakin's shoulder, who stiffened immediately upon the touch. "I see you've already found the ships."

"I was just talking to him about the possibility of him joining one of our Squadrons," said Wedge as he motioned to Anakin. "He's interested in learning to fly an X-Wing and he says he's a pilot."

Of course, Anakin Skywalker was a pilot and a pretty damn good one from what Ben had told him, and he had heard of Vader's legendary piloting skills in passing so it did not surprise him to find the teenager was interested in joining one of the Squadrons. But Luke wasn't entirely sure if it was something that he should let the boy pursue while he was here.

Being a Rebel pilot was a dangerous job and would undoubtedly put the boy at risk.

The Force scoffed at Luke's reasoning and understandably so.

Who do you think you got your piloting skills from?

But it didn't matter anyway. Anakin was not eighteen yet and that was the minimum age for all combat pilots in the Rebellion, no exceptions what so ever.

The Rebel Alliance did not believe in the use of child soldiers and while there were plenty of young men and women within their ranks that were currently being trained, none of them were to be sent out on the front lines. Seventeen was certainly old enough to go on training missions, but not old enough to fly with the Squadron into aerial battles.

Eighteen was the magic number that didn't require training from the Rebellion. If you were decent and of age, then you could fly into battle, but the Alliance didn't just take anyone.

Of course, there were other Rebel cells that were not a part of the Alliance that enlisted the use of children as well as using extreme military tactics that were a little too out there for the Alliance's taste.

Luke had heard stories of the Partisans, led by the late Saw Gerrera before his death a few years ago during the weapons test on Jedha City. Leia had spoken of their terror tactics as well the tactics of other Rebel Cells such as the Zarraban who were led by Jeyng'Yu, a Rebel fanatic who was not afraid to target civilians instead of military posts.

Many of these cells had been ostracized by the Alliance and fought on their own volition and principles.

Luke tilted his head to stare at Anakin, who was staring at him with hope shining in his blue eyes and it was obvious that this was something that the youth wanted to do.

Which made would make it even harder to say no to him.

"We'll talk about it," said Luke curtly to Wedge, not sure what else to say to either of them as he begun to lead Anakin away from the Corellian.

"See you around Luke! You too kid," said Wedge before he returned to his duties while the two Jedi made their way out of the hangar.

"So that's what you pilot? What's the name of your Squadron?" asked Anakin with great interest as he followed Luke through the corridor, ignoring the wondering glances of all those who passed them by.

"Rogue Squadron," replied Luke as he looked over at Anakin, who was staring at him with eagerness and excitement.

There was no doubt that Anakin was passionate about flying.

"How long have you been a pilot with that Squadron?"

"Since I was nineteen," said Luke as they turned the corner, Anakin trailing closely at his heels. "My first time flying one was during the Battle of Yavin a few years ago."

"And that's when you guys took out the Death Star?" asked Anakin slowly, his eyebrows scrunched up as he stared at the older man with a blank expression.

Luke stopped as he stared at Anakin, absently noting that the boy was only seventeen and already a good two inches taller than him. He wasn't sure what to tell Anakin about his desire to fly with the Squadron and he wasn't even sure if it was a possibility.

Luke tilted his head to the side, "yes, it was. Anakin- do you really want to fly with the Squadron?"

The youth shrugged his shoulders, but Luke could see the burning desire in the boy's eyes that reminded him of Ben's stories of how great a pilot his father had been. Ben had gone on and on about how great Anakin Skywalker had been and how impressed he had been with his piloting skills.

Even the Force seemed to confirm this fact.

"I'm here for a reason, aren't I? I have to help somehow and I know how to pilot," said Anakin pointedly. "And besides, this wouldn't be the first time that I've piloted in an aerial battle."

Luke paused for a moment as he truly thought about his father's time with the Jedi Order. He hadn't thought about it till now, but there was no doubt that his father had been in his fair share of conflicts starting from a young age.

It was so easy to forget what Anakin was when he looked so young and innocent, but at the same time, he carried an air of confidence and the maturity that came with being a Jedi.

How many missions had he been on to help establish peace in dangerous planetary conflicts? The Jedi were peacekeepers, but they were also warriors who knew how to command armies and use force when necessary.

Suddenly Anakin appeared older than he was and it made Luke internally shudder as he felt the power that his father possessed, the Force swirling around him like a large cat that was ready to pounce on its prey. The power clear and present, but tame and patient at the same time.

Something that hid in the shadows, but was always present and ready to attack.

"I-I'll see what I can do," said Luke softly, ignoring the strange look that Anakin was giving him.

Anakin could sense Luke's sudden change in behavior and mood and he wondered briefly what the cause for the older Jedi's turbulent emotions. It seemed as though the older Jedi couldn't keep his emotions in check and it made Anakin wonder why that was.

Usually, Jedi, at least a few of the ones that Anakin knew, could be cold and emotionless, making them resemble machines rather than sentient beings and it had always bothered him how they could forego such things as love but use compassion as a replacement sentiment.

But Luke did not personify that state of emotion, or lack of it if Anakin had any say.

It was unfamiliar to Anakin, but he liked it- how refreshing it was that there was another Jedi out there who was like him in so many ways- but so different at the same time. Luke was not typical and Anakin was certain, after observing him for some time that it was because he had been forced to adapt to being a Jedi in this time.

"Thank you," said Anakin as a large smile overtook his face, a genuine and kind smile that Luke couldn't help but return, albeit not as bright or as merry as the youths. Luke just couldn't bring himself to, not after what he had just felt through the Force, the power and yearning that came from the boy. The potential that Anakin possessed was thick and heavy laden, raw talent and skill at his fingertips and yet here he was, smiling at him brightly with not a clue as to what having that sort of power meant for his future.

Luke shuddered involuntarily but remained composed.

Careful. The Force whispered to him and he knew that Anakin did not need that sort of burden placed on him. He was just a teenager, susceptible to stress and feelings of inadequacy if Luke remembered anything about those hard years.

"No problem," said Luke with a shrug as he motioned for Anakin to follow him. "Come on, I'll show you where your quarters are and then we can go get some grub from the cafeteria."

"Food sounds good," said Anakin, perking up at the mention of food.

"And then after that, I'll have to introduce you to Mon Mothma and the others and we have to give a briefing of what happened on Ben'we."

"We do?" asked Anakin as his expression turned slightly sour, his teenage mind already bored at the notion. However, the name Mon Mothma sounded vaguely familiar to Anakin, possibly the name of one of the many Representatives that served in the Senate during the days of the Republic but he wasn't sure.

He had, of course, studied politics at the Jedi Temple but his attention during the class had been focused elsewhere other than what Master Sjo Kentu had to say and it was a miracle that he had managed to pass the class at all. There were far too many Senators and Diplomats to keep track of all their names and accomplishments, and most of them were not people that Anakin would honestly want to remember anyways. It seemed as though most of them were stuck up aristocrats who got their positions not by their hard work, but by their wealth and privilege.

And many were willing to do whatever it took to remain in power, their corruption subtle and sugarcoated with promises of a more stable economy and equality for all, but in reality, it was all just a rouse to stay in office.

There were only a few Representatives that Anakin had bothered to pay any sort of attention too, a certain newly elected Senator of Naboo being one of them. It was only a month before Anakin had found himself here that Padme Amidala had been elected to Represent Naboo in the Senate, her position as Queen having been handed to a young woman by the name of Jamillia.

"Yes, we do," chuckled Luke. "But don't worry, they'll be most happy to know that they have another Jedi in their ranks."

"Jedi Padawan," murmured Anakin.

"A minor detail," said Luke as he led Anakin through the corridor. "Padawan, Master, Knight it's all the same to them. What matters is that you know how to use a lightsaber in combat, which is always a plus in the eyes of the Rebellion."

"There's a lot more to being a Jedi than just being able to swing a lightsaber," commented Anakin with a grin.

"Yes, but it's what Jedi are known for isn't it?"

Anakin couldn't argue with that logic and had to admit the defining detail of a Jedi was their lightsaber, to most of the galaxy that was. Wherever Anakin had gone in the galaxy, people had always been captivated not by his robes or even his abilities, but by his "laser sword."

It seemed as though this captivation extended to the leaders of the Rebellion as well.

"I can't argue that," said Anakin as he raised his hands in submission, an amused smile pulling across his face as he followed Luke through the hallway.

The Force hummed in content and peace as the laughter of the two men rang through the corridor.

But it would not last.

Chapter Text

Leia sighed as she sat down in one of the empty chairs in the mess hall, her eyes surveying the blob of food in front of her. She was tired and in need of a shower but she wouldn't get the chance to relax until after the briefing with the Council, which would be taking place within the hour. They would have to recall what happened on Ben'we as well as introduce Anakin to them and explain his situation to them and hopefully find him a place here in the Rebellion.

She had briefly seen him looking over the X-Wings in the hangar and she thought that maybe the youth would be interested in becoming one of their pilots, and of course, there were also other things that he could do around here.

"Your Highness," said Lando as he took his seat next to her, his lips pulled back in his famous smile that made a few women around here swoon.

Leia nodded in greeting before returning to her food, but her lack of conversation did nothing to deter him.

"So where did you and Luke end up going?" he asked as he started to pick at his food as well.

"Ben'we," replied Leia tersely as she watched Luke and Anakin make their way into the mess-hall, the younger of the two following behind Skywalker as he looked around curiously at his surroundings. He looked out of place as he trailed behind Luke and it was obvious that everybody's attention was fixated on him, which was something she could tell made him even more uncomfortable than he was.

It reminded her of when Luke first arrived with the Alliance, but he had quickly adjusted to life as a Rebel and he had become quite popular after destroying the Death Star. But despite Luke's popularity, he had still struggled to adjust to life with the Alliance after having lived his entire life as a moisture farmer on Tatooine.

"And I assume that's where you picked up him?" asked Lando as he pointed over to the lanky teenager, who had begun to pile food onto his plate, obviously just as hungry as she was. Anakin noticed her attention on him and shot her a brilliant smile before returning to piling his plate up with some sort of meat that Leia had decidedly skipped over when she was in line.

Leia nodded as she wiped the edge of her mouth with a napkin before returning her gaze back over to the former smuggler, who kept looking back at Anakin with an unreadable expression that made her both uncomfortable and curious. She could tell that there was something about Anakin that seemed to make Lando interested, and she didn't know whether or not that was a good thing.

"What?" asked Leia after a few moments of silence, curious as to why Lando seemed too interested in the boy all of the sudden.

"It's just that-" began Lando before he shook his head, "he just looks familiar."

"How so?" asked Leia as she watched Anakin and Luke start to make their way over to their table.

Lando simply shrugged and leaned back in his chair as he smiled up at the two newcomers as they both took their seats across from each other, her question seemingly forgotten as Lando leaned forward in his chair to greet the youth.

"Hello," he said as he extended his hand for Anakin to shake, his smile brilliant and friendly. "I'm Lando Calrissian, but you can call me Lando."

Anakin bowed his head in greeting as he grasped the older man's hand, "I'm Anakin."

Lando tilted his head at the reply, "Anakin, huh? I think I've heard that name somewhere before."

"You might've," said Anakin with a friendly smile as he unfolded his napkin. "But it's not a common name."

"Probably not," remarked Lando as he leaned back in his chair once again, ignoring the curious looks of both Luke and Leia as he continued the conversation. "So where are you from?"

"I'm from Tatooine," replied Anakin.

Lando's eyes lit up, "no kidding! Luke, isn't that where you're from?" he asked as he focused his attention back to Luke, who had been sitting in his chair quietly as he listened to Lando and Anakin talk with great interest. He too had noticed the way that Lando had looked at Anakin and it had occurred to him that maybe Lando had heard of his father during the Clone Wars and that's why he seemed to recognize the youth, but of course, he was the only one who knew that.

"Yeah," said Luke quietly as he used his fork to push the food on his plate around before he finally took a bite.

Lando seemed to notice Luke's uneasiness but ignored him as he smiled back over to Anakin, who had been too busy shoveling food into his mouth to notice anything else.

"So how did you end up on Ben'we?" asked Lando as he further inquired into the youths past.

Anakin finished swallowing his food before replying, "I was captured by the Empire and I managed to commandeer one of their ships, but I ended up crashing on the planet."

"You stole one their Tie Fighters?" asked Lando in utter and complete surprise. It wasn't every day that you head about people escaping the Empire much less a teenage boy.

"Is that what they're called?" asked Anakin as he wiped the corner of his mouth with his napkin, his interest obviously peaked at that point. "They're kind of funny looking, aren't they? Didn't even know if they were even flyable when I first saw them."

"I've never had the opportunity to fly one myself but I hear those little suckers can sure move," said Luke as he picked at his food, his blue eyes looking over at Anakin before his face broke out into a grin.

"They sure can," said Anakin as he returned the grin, "but of course I only got to fly it for a few seconds before the Empire shot me down."

"I can't imagine a crash landing in one of those would be fun," said Lando as he joined the flow of the conversation, his dark gaze never once leaving Anakin's as he leaned forward in his seat, eager to hear more about the peculiar youth's story.

The kid had no apparent injuries and drawing from past experience, Lando knew that it was impossible to escape from a crash like that unscathed.

Anakin shook his head, "It wasn't."

"So you crash landed on Ben'we and then what? Surely the Empire would have sent down search parties to find you?"

"They did," said Leia, "but we managed to find him in the nick of time, didn't we Luke?"

Luke grinned, "Yeah, all we had to do was follow the sounds of blaster shots."

Anakin shook his head as he smirked over at the older boy, "I was just warming up for when you two showed up."

"Right," laughed Luke before he went back to eating his food, the grin on his face disappearing as soon as he saw the perplexed look on both Lando's and Leia's face, who had been staring at the two blond boys talk as though they were the best of friends.

Leia remained completely silent as Lando broke out in a smile, "quite the story you have there, Anakin. You'll have to tell me more about how you came to be captured by the Empire, but I'm afraid I have other arrangements that require my attention at the moment."

"You're leaving?" asked Luke.

"Now that you're back with the Falcon, Chewie and I might as well finish the repairs we were making to it."

"Repairs?" asked Anakin as his head shot up in interest. "What sort of repairs?"

"Just some minor modifications to the hull plating," said Lando as he stood up, "you interested, kid?"

"I'd be willing to lend a hand if you needed," offered Anakin.

"You any good at mechanics?" asked Lando.

Anakin smirked, "I'm decent enough."

"Well if that's the case, maybe you could come down and take a look at it?" challenged Lando with a smirk as he waited for Anakin's response.

It was obvious that the boy wanted to do it, but unfortunately, they had a debriefing to attend so the repairs would have to wait.

"Unfortunately," said Luke with a pointed look, "we have a debriefing to attend in a few minutes."

Anakin's face immediately fell and a small but discernible groan escaped from his lips as he shook his head and sent Lando an apologetic smile that spoke of disappointment.

"Raincheck?" asked Anakin.

"Sure kid," said Lando as he patted the youth's shoulder before departing from the group to join the Wookie.

"Sorry to disappoint," said Luke as he stood up from his chair and gathered up his waste before dumping it in the trash, Leia, and Anakin doing the same before they started to make their way out of the mess hall.

Ben Kenobi had once mentioned to Luke that his father had been an excellent mechanic, always getting his hands dirty in some droid or repairing ships and Luke would be lying if he said he wasn't curious as to how good Anakin really was.

"It's fine," said Anakin, that same bright grin appearing back on his face as he followed behind his newfound friends, his wondering eyes taking in all the sights.

They made their way into the briefing room where a group of people stood around a table, obviously awaiting their arrival. The first thing that struck Anakin was how regal and solemn everybody looked, so unlike the rest of the personnel he had seen around the base, their faces ceremonious and dour as their sharp gazes were directed to the three people who had just entered, most specifically on Anakin.

It was in that moment that the Force flared up in agitation and warning, as though Anakin had just walked into a potentially dangerous situation. But Anakin saw no danger here, at least not in the physical form as he slowly walked up behind the two older Rebels.

It was obvious that the people in the room knew who Luke and Leia were, and there was no doubting that there was a level of respect and familiarity between everybody, but Anakin was not so lucky. They did not know this strange boy and he did not know them, and it unnerved him.

Luke sent a reassuring smile at the boy but Anakin ignored the older man, his eyes choosing instead to inspect all of the people who were staring at him as well. He recognized none of them, but still, the Force whispered to him, warning him of something that could be potentially disastrous.

Anakin pursed his lips as his gaze fell on an older woman with red hair, her eyes growing wide and a small gasp escaping from her lips that was just loud enough for everyone in the room to hear.

Anakin did not recognize her, but she seemed to recognize him as she slapped her hand over her mouth as soon as the gasp had escaped her, those piercing blue eyes never once leaving him.

Of course, Anakin was not the only one to notice her strange reaction as Luke and Leia both looked at each other before looking back at Anakin, both looking extremely confused and curious at the same time.

"Are you okay, Mon?" asked an older man with greying hair in concern as he put a hand on her shoulder.

"I'm fine," she said in a clear, cool accent as she smiled reassuringly at him, "I'm perfectly fine thank you. Now where were we?" she asked as she focused her attention back to Luke and Leia, who had been standing silently and patiently the entire time.

"About to give a briefing about what happened on Ben'we," said Leia.

"Yes, of course. Do tell us what you found there," she said as she motioned for them to continue.

"We arrived in the system to find a small Imperial fleet in the process of a planetary manhunt for an escaped prisoner," said Leia as she nodded in Anakin's direction. "We landed on the surface and managed to find the prisoner, who just so happens to be a Jedi," she said as she motioned for Anakin to step up, everybody's eyes zeroing in on him once again.

A few whispers broke out at the mention of him being a Jedi and it was obvious that this bit of news seemed to surprise a few people as they looked him over with newfound curiosity, as if they were trying to decide if this young man could be of use to them.

"And this is the Jedi?" asked Mon, her voice drowning out the whispers that were being spoken of him.

"Yes," said Anakin softly, the weight of his lightsaber feeling suddenly heavy against his thigh.

"What's your name, son?" asked another older man, his arms crossed sternly across his chest as he gave Anakin an austere look that reminded him all too much of Master Windu.

"Anakin."

Anakin did not fail to see the look that came across the red-headed woman's face as soon as he said his name and there was no doubt that this woman had known him in this future, and for once Anakin thought of the possibility that she might know what became of him in this strange and perilous time, but something told him not to go down that road, at least not yet.

"And would you mind telling us, Anakin, how exactly you managed to get captured by the Empire?" asked another older man.

Leia had told him that his name was General Madonna? No, Dodonna. Yeah… Dodonna. Not Madonna.

"Anakin?" asked Leia, her voice concerned as she brought the youth out of his train of thought.

"Oh sorry, what was the question?" he asked, slightly embarrassed that he had allowed himself to get sidetracked.

"We would like to know how you managed to get captured by the Empire," supplied Mon as she reiterated Dodonna's earlier question that had gone unanswered.

"That's the thing," said Anakin, "I don't remember being captured."

He did remember going into the caves and finding something, but he couldn't remember what it was that he had found there. He just remembered how his Master had yelled at him not to touch it before he had woken up in that kriffing cell onboard the Vigilant.

Both Dodonna and Mon looked at each other with raised eyebrows before looking back at Anakin, who stood silently as he waited for their response. He had done this many times before, having appeared before the Jedi Council but none of those meetings had made him this nervous. It was only a small consolation that none of them were Force Sensitives and were unable to feel his agitation through the Force.

"What exactly do you remember?" asked Mon, her eyes boring into Anakin.

"Last thing I remember was being on Setauri V with a companion and the next thing I know I'm waking in some brig with some lunatic in a uniform going on about Vader," he spoke truthfully, having decided against lying and exaggerating the truth. Small lies always tended to explode into bigger lies and it was always better to stick to the truth, even if you had to twist that truth just a little for convenience's sake.

"Setauri V is on the other side of the galaxy and you're telling us you have no memory of how you managed to travel this far?" asked Dodonna.

Anakin shrugged, "I must have amnesia because I don't remember anything at all."

The comment was slightly sarcastic but true at the same time, he had no kriffing clue how he ended up onboard the Vigilant twenty-eight years in the future and the Force was absolutely no help.

"He is speaking the truth, Mon," said Luke as he stepped forward in Anakin's defense. "He doesn't remember anything about being captured."

"Interesting," said Mon. "Please, tell us how you managed to escape."

"They didn't use a force inhibitor on me so I escaped," began Anakin. "I managed to make my way into the hangar where I commandeered one of their-?"

"Tie Fighters," said Luke.

"Where I managed to commandeer one of their Tie Fighters. However, I did not make it far before I was shot by one of their torpedoes. I crash-landed on the planet and then they found me, and the rest is history."

The room grew silent as they all looked over at each other, their faces strangely blank as they processed everything that Anakin had just told him. Anakin knew that the story was slightly preposterous, but it was the truth nonetheless and there was nothing else that he could do.

Mon shook her head, but not in disbelief. Anakin could sense that she believed him wholly and completely, but there was something else in her eyes that spoke of familiarity.

She was not surprised by his strange tale.

"Of course," she mumbled under her breath before she pulled Dodonna aside to whisper something in his ear before she returned her focus to Anakin.

"Luke, may I speak with you for a moment?" she asked as she finally tore her eyes away from Anakin's.

"Of course," said Luke as he started to follow Mon out of the room, his eyes going back to Anakin, who stood silently as he watched them disappear out of the room.

Mon led Luke into the hallway and checked to make sure that they were completely alone before she rounded on Luke, her eyes wide and determined as she stared him down.

"Would you care to explain who that boy is?" she asked in a raised and almost fearful tone as she motioned to the room where the rest of them were.

"His name is Ana-"

"-Anakin Skywalker yes I know," she said as she shook her head, "but there's no way that that can be him. I knew Anakin Skywalker during the Clone Wars and he was older then, not-"

"Young?" said Luke calmly, although he was surprised to know that Mon had once known his father.

Mon said nothing as she stared up at Luke silently for a few moments before she stepped away and placed her hands on her hips.

"I always suspected that he was your father, but I never knew for sure until now."

Luke nodded his head solemnly, "I was raised by my Aunt and Uncle on Tatooine, but I've always known who my father was. It was only recently, however, that I discovered the truth about who he was. Owen and Beru had always told me that my father had been the captain of a spice freighter, but Kenobi told me the truth."

"Did he also tell you what truly became of your father then?" asked Mon Mothma slowly, obviously hinting about his turn into Vader without directly saying it in case Luke did not know.

She and Bail had been close friends and partners for years, and what he had told her about the true fall of the Republic had been sparse, always sticking to the main points and never delving deeper than that.

It was only a few long years after the rise of the Empire that Bail divulged that information to her over a glass or Correlian ale as they sat in his office, the holo-news displaying the Imperial parade to commemorate the sixth anniversary of Empire Day. He had been a little bit more than tipsy when he had spilled the beans, his regal mask having finally come off while in the privacy of his dear friend and colleague. They had been forced to display a mask of celebration for the Galactic Holiday as well as for little Leia's birthday, which just so happened to fall on the infamous day.

It was, perhaps, the first time that Mon Mothma had ever seen the Senator cry so freely as they both relived that day. He had told her of Anakin's fall to the dark side as well as the surprising information that Senator Amidala and Knight Skywalker had been in a secret relationship, but the topic of their unborn child was something Mon never chose to think about often. Senator Amidala's baby had died with her and it was a great tragedy, but Mothma never questioned the validity of the story nor did Bail ever make any indication otherwise.

It wasn't until she met Luke, a farm boy from the very same planet that Anakin had hailed from, who had the Force, the Skywalker surname, and those piercing blue eyes that Mon realized that Padme's baby may or may not have survived.

She was never one hundred percent sure and that's why she had never said anything, but as of right now, in this very moment that she knew the truth behind Luke's parentage.

"You mean his fall to the Dark Side," stated Luke pointedly.

Mothma shook her head in shame, "when?"

"Bespin. We dueled and then he told me the truth," said Luke distantly.

"I'm so sorry, Luke. I can't imagine what it must be like for you- to have him as a father-"

She trailed off, unsure as to whether or not she should continue with her tirade against the Sith Lord or whether or not Luke would appreciate her talking about his father in such a manner. But Mothma just couldn't believe how someone as evil as Vader could've ever produced someone like Luke. It just didn't make sense to her and she couldn't wrap her mind around the fact that they were even related.

But then again even Anakin had been a good person, one that Mothma would've trusted with her life.

"I'm managing," said Luke curtly, not sure what else could be said about the shocking revelation that had occurred.

"I'm sure you are," said Mothma, "but that doesn't explain who he is," she said as she nodded towards the door, where the subject of their conversation was waiting for them to return.

Luke let out a long sigh, "now that is an interesting story."

Mothma said nothing but urged him to tell the story nonetheless as she waited patiently for him to begin his story, ready to hear how someone- especially Anakin Skywalker could be here now, and somehow magically younger than he should be.

"The Force brought him here-" began Luke, "-here from the past."

"You mean like time travel?" asked Mon, her eyebrows raised and her face stoic.

"I know it's a bit- out there, but it's the truth. He's here to witness the future and hopefully prevent it if he can."

Mothma considered his words for a few short moments before she returned her gaze to him before drifting back to the door, her emotions ranging from scared to nervousness.

What was she supposed to do with the knowledge that the very enemy that they sought to destroy was here, right now, parading around as a teenager? Part of her wanted to kill him and be done with that monster, but logic dictated that she could not. He didn't know and he hadn't yet done all those awful things, and maybe this way he never would.

He was innocent, just a young boy who was untouched by the harsh reality of war. She knew from that braid he wore that he was just a Padawan and she could tell that the Clone Wars hadn't yet happened for him. He looked so innocent and young and it made her heart ache to finally realize how much the war had really changed Knight Skywalker.

The war had been brutal for those who had to fight in it and she knew that it had changed people.

It had changed Anakin Skywalker into the very monster he had sworn to destroy.

"Does he know?" she whispered softly, "does he know what he'll do? Who he'll become?"

"Not yet," said Luke as he shook his head, "I was hoping that I wouldn't have to tell him for some time yet. He's just gotten here and he should have time to adapt before he learns of that."

"But he will have too," she said hastily, "if he is to ever prevent this from happening he must know, Luke. Now is not the time to be protecting him or coddling him like a child."

"I'm not," said Luke defensively, "I just don't think that now is a good time to spring that on him."

"Will it ever be?" she asked pointedly.

Her point was valid, but Luke was stubborn. He would let the boy hold onto his innocence, even if it was only for a short amount of time, it was the least that he could for the youth.

But there was also a part of him that didn't want to tell him despite the circumstances because that would mean telling Anakin that he was his son and Luke was hardly prepared to do that. He just wanted to get to know Anakin Skywalker for who his father really was and not have their relationship complicate things.

It was selfish, but Luke couldn't help it.

"No," admitted Luke in defeat. "I will tell him, in time that is. I just don't want to have to burden him any more than he already is."

"I understand that," she said as she crossed her arms across her chest, "but don't let your feelings cloud your judgment. He may be young, but don't let that fool you into thinking he's weak."

"I know that now," said Luke in dismay.

It was easy to look at the kid and not think much of him, but Luke knew better. He knew the power his father possessed and he knew that Anakin had already been exposed to the harsh reality of life, his formative years being shaped by slavery and then being sent the Temple on Coruscant to become a Jedi.

"I know you do, Luke. Just promise me that you'll be careful. I know why he's here but that doesn't make the fact that he still is- or will become Vader any different."

"I will be, but trust me I don't think he'll be personifying his older self anytime soon," pointed out Luke.

"One can only hope," she said coyly before moving past him towards the door, where everybody else was waiting for them.

Luke was about to follow behind her when he stopped, his mind finally registering something important.

An important detail that had momentarily escaped his chaotic mind was that Mon Mothma had known his father during the Clone Wars, and he had to wonder what else the former Senator knew about his family.

Luke was almost too hesitant to ask even himself if it was possible that she had known her, the mother that he had never known.

"So you knew my father?" he asked, extremely curious as to how they had met and how long they had known each other. The older woman had never before indicated that she had once known Anakin Skywalker, or that she even knew who Vader really was and that he knew, he was curious.

"When I was serving as the Senator for Chandrala during the Clone Wars. Our paths crossed more than once but it was only a few years ago that I learned of his fate," she said from the doorway.

"Huh," said Luke as he tilted his head to the side, "what a coincidence. I don't suppose you would happen to also know who my mother was, by any chance?"

"I did know her, but I'm afraid that story will have to wait, Commander," she said before walking into the conference room, leaving a stunned Luke behind.

Chapter Text

Anakin stood silently as he watched Mon reenter the room, her face eerily blank as she stared at him from the doorway before she looked away, her eyes refusing to meet his as she made her way back to the table. Luke followed closely behind her, his eyes refusing to meet Anakin's as he made his way back to where he had been previously standing, his posture rigid and his hands clasped tightly behind his back.

Anakin had no idea what they had been talking about, but he could tell that something was troubling the older Jedi. He had no idea seeing as Luke had his shields held tightly in place, his emotions completely masked behind a fortress that would never be broken.

"What's wrong?" whispered Anakin in sudden concern.

"Nothing," replied Luke tersely, his eyes lingering over the youth before he sharply turned his head away, his eyes refusing to look at the boy any longer.

Anakin recoiled slightly, the sudden feeling of rejection hanging in the air between them as he felt the older Jedi's dismissal of him through the Force.

But it was more than just that. Anakin could see the pain in his eyes and wondered just what had happened to make him so downcast and despondent all of the sudden. Luke looked miserable standing there next to Anakin and it made the younger man extremely uncomfortable.

It was obvious that whatever they had talked about had upset the older man greatly and somehow Anakin had a distinct feeling that he had most likely been the center of their conversation, which annoyed him a great deal. He could sense the older woman's hostility towards him and Luke's sudden indifference, which made him extremely curious as to what they had been talking about.

It was as if they knew something that he did not.

Anakin said nothing as he squared his shoulders and focused his attention elsewhere, unsure of what exactly was going on.

He knew that Luke was hiding something from him and he could tell that the older woman seemed to also know, but it appeared as though they would not be letting him on the secret, which was upsetting because he knew that it was about him.

Anakin pursed his lips tightly as he crossed his arms behind his back so as to hide his anger and annoyance, which he managed to keep contained but it was still present nonetheless.

"Thank you for sharing your story, Anakin," said Mon, her piercing gaze set on the boy in front of her. "It has been extremely- illuminating, to say the least."

Anakin nodded as he took a bow, "It was my pleasure, Milady."

"We are glad you are able to join our ranks. Welcome to the Rebellion, Anakin."

She smiled at him but he could tell that it was strained, forced and uncomfortable for her. Anakin couldn't tear his eyes from her as Luke ushered him out of the room and into the hallway, Leia following closely behind as she straightened out her white jacket.

"Well that went well," she said as she looked between the two Jedi.

"Yeah," said Anakin sardonically as he turned to look at Luke, "better than I thought."

His voice was low and distrustful, but not totally unfriendly as he hinted to the older man that he knew there was something else going on that he was not privy too. It irked him a great deal that Luke was hiding something from him after Anakin had been nothing but truthful to him.

Luke inhaled deeply, his eyes still downcast, "Mon and I had some issues to discuss. It had nothing to do with you."

Liar. It had everything to do with me.

"Really?" asked Anakin with raised eyebrows. "Then what did you discuss?"

Luke shrugged, unsure exactly what to say to the youth as to why it went better than he had originally anticipated. However, he could not mention his conversation with Mon or the reason why she was suspicious of him.

"Nothing that concerns you," said Luke as he pushed past Anakin, not in hostility but rather in weariness and fatigue, too tired to explain anything to the youth. The boy was far too inquisitive for his own good and easily irritable, something which Luke would have to be careful not to provoke in the near future seeing what reaction it had elicited from the youth.

"I'll be in my quarters if you need me," said Luke before retreating down the corridor, leaving Anakin and Leia behind.

Anakin said nothing, his nostrils flared as he felt the other man's presence draw further and further away from him.

How dare Luke just brush Anakin off like that. He knew that Luke was lying to him, he could feel it through the Force and yet the older Jedi refused to acknowledge his blatant dishonesty.

It made Anakin's blood boil when people treated him like that.

Leia placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, sensing his anger and pain.

"Come on," she said as she started to guide him away from the Council room, "let's get you some clothes and then I'll show you to your quarters."

Anakin let out a deep breath as he allowed her to lead him away, her gentle hand upon his shoulder in a calming manner that almost made him forget about Luke.

He would find out what the older man was hiding from him, no matter the consequences.

###

He was nervous, his hands tingling at his sides and his breath hitching in his throat as he made his way into the apartment, his eyes immediately zeroing in on the elaborately dressed woman. He didn't need to be told who she was, even with her back turned to him as she looked out on the horizon.

They were not the only ones in the room at the moment, but it felt like it as she turned her head to look at him, her brown orbs meeting his own.

"Senator Padme!" cried Jar Jar as he led them into further into the apartment. "Lookie lookie, desa Jedi have arriven!"

She started to make her way over to Obi-Wan with a large smile on her face, barely acknowledging the young Padawan as his Master greeted her with a bow.

"It's a great pleasure to see you again, Milady," said Kenobi.

"It has been far too long, Master Kenobi."

Her voice was just as soft as he had remembered it and he couldn't help but stare at her, amazed by her beauty and grace that had only grown tremendously since he had last seen her.

She seemed to notice his unwavering attention on her as she turned her head to look at him, her eyes widening in recognition and shock as she stared up at him.

"Ani?" she asked, a smile gracing her lips, "my goodness, you've grown."

Be smooth, Anakin.

"So have you, grown more beautiful… For a Senator, I mean."

What in Sith hells did he just say-?

He mentally cursed himself for saying it even though he was unable to stop himself. He had no control over his body or his tongue, forcing him to watch the whole spectacle as it played out and cursing himself for being so awkward.

Force this was playing out like a bad holo-novella! It was awful just to watch!

She only smiled at his pathetic try at flirting, her head tilting to the side as if she could sense his anxiousness.

"Ani, you'll always be that little boy I knew on Tatooine," she said before turning away from him.

Ouch… That hurt.

He was about to follow her to the couch when everything around him started to fade away, that strange sensation of being underwater taking him over before he found himself falling into nothingness.

The apartment and everyone in it faded away until he found himself in a darkly lit room, the only source of light coming from the fireplace as the fire cackled and burned, its orange flames illuminating the room around him. Padme was there too, dressed in black as she sat on the sofa facing him, her hands splayed in her lap as she tapped the side of her thigh nervously.

"I can't. We can't. It's just not possible," she said as she shook her head.

His heart ached at her words and he had no control over his actions as he leaned in forward to say something to her. He did not know what he was going to say, but the words flowed easily out of his mouth as if they were meant to be.

"Anything is possible, Padme. Listen to me-"

"No! You listen. We live in the real world, come back to it. You're studying to become a Jedi I'm- I'm a Senator. If you follow your thoughts through to conclusion, it'll take us to a place we cannot go. Regardless of the way we feel about each other."

"Then you do feel something!" he accused.

"I will not let you give up your future for me."

You are my future-

"You are asking me to be rational. That is something I KNOW I cannot do. Believe me, I wish that I could just wish away my feelings, but I can't."

Anakin may have been just a spectator in these events, but those feelings! They were real, raw and untamed. They were more real than anything he had ever felt before which confused him because he didn't even know what was going on or why he had these feelings.

What he was experiencing wasn't even real, he hadn't seen Padme in eight years and he had most definitely not lived through this before.

Was this his future he was seeing?

"I will not give into this," her voice was harsh and affirmative, totally and completely unwavering as she stared him down.

He stood up and paced the room, his emotions guiding his words and his actions with no real rationality- so unbecoming of a Jedi but he didn't care.

"Well you know, it wouldn't have to be that way. We could keep it a secret," he said after a few moments of silence as he turned to look back at the Senator, anxiously awaiting her response.

"We'd be living a lie. One we couldn't keep even if we wanted to. I couldn't do that. Could you, Anakin? Could you live like that?"

What he wanted to say was yes, but he found himself saying something that was far from the truth.

"No. You're right. It would destroy us."

And just like that, he was falling again. The scene exploded into an array of color as he was violently tossed into the void of nothingness that bridged his visions together mercilessly.

"No!" he cried out as he tried to hold onto that moment, but instead found himself in the Temple on Coruscant.

The first thing that he noticed was the screaming. It was deafening and maddening at the same time, but there was nothing. The Temple was eerily empty as he looked around frantically for the source of the screaming, but he was completely alone.

"Stop. Please stop," he begged as the screaming started to become too much more his ears. "I don't understand!"

The screaming only intensified, forcing him to his knees as tears started to pour freely down his face.

"Anakin!" came the sharp tone of his Master through the screams.

"Master?" asked the boy as he opened his eyes to see the older man standing in front of him, his lightsaber in his hand as he stared down at the boy with sadness in his eyes.

"Anakin," whispered Kenobi as he shook his head. "Why did you do it?"

"Do what?" he asked as his lungs started to burn within his chest. "I didn't do anything!"

Kenobi said nothing as he kneeled down to look at Anakin as he placed a tender hand on the boy's cheek, his face scrunching up in pain and betrayal.

"I'm so sorry, Anakin. I couldn't save you."

"Save me? Save me from what?" cried Anakin as Kenobi stood up, his face hardening into something that terrified the youth.

"Master please-" begged the boy as he choked on his own tears.

"I couldn't save you from yourself," he said as he raised his blue lightsaber in the air and brought it down upon the boy.

"No!" cried Anakin as he jolted up in his bed, his breathing labored and his sheets soaked in sweat.

He panted heavily for a few seconds as he searched his unfamiliar surroundings frantically before recognizing that he was in his quarters on the Rebel ship.

He pulled himself into a seated position as he let his feet touch the cool floor beneath him as he stared out the window at the stars, the only source of light in the dark room. He ran a hand through his short hair, wiping away the clear sheen of sweat that had formed before looking down at the clock for the time.

It was the early hours of the morning but he knew that there would no more sleep for him as he stood up and threw on one of the shirts that Leia had been as nice to give him before he had gone to bed. It was strange to wear clothes that were not his usual Jedi robes, but he found himself liking the new attire, the tunic vaguely reminding of the one his Aunt had given him on Ben'we.

He hadn't thought of Nayeli or her son ever since he had arrived with the Rebellion, but he did remember the promise that he had made her. He needed to contact her when he arrived somewhere safe and he felt ashamed that he had not done it sooner.

She was probably worried out of her mind for him.

He grabbed his comlink and turned on the lights before taking his seat at the small desk that was in the corner. She had given him their com frequency and he had memorized it by heart as he entered it into the device before leaning back in his chair, hoping that she would answer.

He did not know the day cycles on Ben'we and whether or not she was awake or asleep at that moment, but she was indeed awake as her face appeared before him.

"Anakin!" she cried out in delight, her accent as thick as he remembered it. "You're okay!"

He nodded, "I'm sorry I did not contact you sooner."

"I was worried sick you degni. We heard that there was a confrontation between you and the Stormtroopers and we didn't know if you were okay and you didn't contact us-"

"I'm okay," he said reassuringly. "I managed to get off the planet before the Empire caught up with me."

"Where are you?" she demanded.

"I'm with the Rebel Alliance," he said.

Her eyebrows raised in surprise, "really? You're with them right now?"

He nodded his head, "I was rescued by another Jedi who just so happens to be a member of the Rebellion."

"Another Jedi?" she asked in surprise as he squinted her eyes.

"His name is Luke," said Anakin as he tried to find the words to describe the older man.

Nice? Blond? Friendly?

Out of all the possible words, only one seemed to come to mind.

Distrustful.

"But he's nice, no?" she asked with hope shining her eyes.

"Nice enough," replied Anakin distantly.

"Ah," she said as she leaned back in her chair, the blue hue of the visual wavering around her.

There was an awkward moment of silence between the aunt and nephew before Nayeli spoke again, this time of his time as a slave.

"May I ask you a question, Ani? About your time in slavery, I mean?" she asked timidly.

The question came out of the blue, but he could tell that this had been something that he had been wrestling with ever since she had found out that Shmi was his mother. She wanted to know and after spending almost all of her life wondering what had happened to her sister she deserved to know, no matter how much it pained him to talk about it.

"Sure," said Anakin as he prepared himself to answer any question that she could possibly ask. Normally he wouldn't talk about his time in slavery to just anyone, but Nayeli was family and he trusted her.

"Were you treated badly? I mean- were you and your mother-?"

She was almost confused about her own question and she probably already knew the answer to her question but she wanted to hear it from him. He understood where she was coming from so he was not mad that she was curious.

"We were property," he began slowly as he searched for the right words. "We lived our lives under the constant threat of death as well as the fear of whether or not we would be separated from each other like so many other slave families-"

He bit out the last phrase with difficulty as he remembered seeing so many other families get separated and most of the time, those families never saw each other again. His mother had done everything in her power to make sure that they would both remain under the ownership of the same person, but it was hard and at the end, they were separated anyways.

"We had chips implanted in our necks that would detonate if we ever tried to run away," he continued, his voice growing softer and softer. He had only ever told his Master of his time in slavery, and the subject never really came up between them so this was the first time in a long time that he was actually talking about it. "I once saw one detonate when a slave tried to run away. He was trying to get back to his family when-"

His words drifted away, letting his silence speak what he had not.

Nayeli gasped as her hand came over her mouth, her anguish for her sister and her nephew present on her face.

"Oh Ani," she whispered, her heart aching for the boy as she wished to gather him up in her arms.

Anakin shook his head, "there's so much more than just that though. I still have scars from the beatings and my mother had a bad hand because one of her previous owners had broken it and it healed wrong. She was not able to work as much because of that so I had to, every day from sunrise to sunset. And then there was the sex trade. Men, women, and children sold into sexual slavery until they're owners grew tired of them and they passed them onto someone else," sneered Anakin, his anger growing more and more volatile by the second.

His mother and he had never been sexually abused, but he knew most were not as lucky as they.

He shuddered to think what would've happened if he had stayed a slave.

"That's- Ani, that's-"

There were many words that could be used to encompass what he had just told her.

Deplorable. Disgusting. Awful. Horrific. Terrible.

But Anakin only needed one word to describe what his life had been like before he had been freed.

Real.

It had been his reality and it had been his mother's too. That's why it pained him not to know what happened to her, whether or not this was still her life or not. Whether or not he had kept his promise to her all those years ago.

Nayeli had tears running down her face as she shook her head in grief and guilt.

Guilt that her family hadn't looked harder for her sister. Maybe if they had looked harder they could've found Shmi and her son so that they could bring them home, but her father had given up, choosing to spend the rest of his money and life drinking his sorrow away. He had left Nayeli by herself in the world with no inheritance and no family, her life in perpetual poverty until she had managed to find a man that was willing to marry her despite her lack of a dowry.

Kush had been a good man, he had provided for her and had given her Raji, but when he had died he had left them in the same predicament that her father had.

Shmi being sold into slavery had destroyed her family and had left her in poverty, but none of that compared to the life they had endured all those years.

It made Nayeli realize how truly blessed her family was. They might've been living in poverty, but at least they didn't have to experience and witness what this poor boy had.

It broke her heart.

"I'm so sorry, Ani," she said at last as she tried to regain her composure, "I knew that slavery on Tatooine was awful, but I never imagined it to that extent."

"No one does," said Anakin. "In fact, most people don't even know its happening."

"The Inner Rim can often times be disconnected, never realizing what's happening beyond their safe and privileged life. They only know of things that are relevant to them and somehow when they do find out that stuff like this is going on, they act as if they know exactly what should be done to fix it and most often they just cause more problems," she said shaking her head. "It is the same with the Empire. They brainwash their own citizens into not seeing what's really happening around them, only allowing them to see what they want them to.

Anakin knew what she said to be true, even more so in this time period.

So many people in his own time who lived within the safety of the Republic were so stuck in their own bubble, refusing to open their eyes to the injustices happening in the galaxy. They even refused to open their eyes to the slavery that was happening within the Republic, sex trafficking and prostitution.

The Empire was even worse.

"It is what it is," he said.

She shook her head, "I wish it wasn't so."

A moment of silence passed between them before Nayeli finally broke the silence with her soft voice.

"Raji and I are going to see if we can find the money to hire a private investigator from off-world to see if they can find out what happened to your mother. I've already contacted one on Mandalore, he's willing to see if he can find anything about what happened to her."

"Do you have the money for that?" asked Anakin, worried that she would spend all of her money on this.

"We're working on that," she said with a sigh, "some people owe us money and Raji just took a job as a fisherman. That on top of his earnings at the market should be enough to pay most of the bill."

"Nayeli-" began Anakin before she interrupted him.

"Oh and I've been weaving blankets and selling them at the marketplace on the weekends. I'm actually making a lot of money doing that and a lot of people like them," she said proudly.

"Really?" asked Anakin as he recognized her pride and happiness in weaving blankets for people.

"Oh yes, no worries Ani. We'll have the money to find your mom soon."

Anakin leaned back in his chair, the prospect of finding out his mother's fate starting to become a reality.

"Woah," he said as he rubbed a tired hand over his face. "I guess I'll be finding out soon then."

"Hopefully," said Nayeli as she started to yawn.

"I should go, you look tired. What time is it there?" asked Anakin as he noticed how tired she looked.

"It is late, about midnight here," she said.

"Well, then I'll let you go to bed."

"You'll com me again? Not wait so long next time?"

"I'll contact you when I have time," he promised her, his eyes drifting to the door where he could hear two people talking softly as they walked by his door, which was common considering that the base never closed down for the night.

"Okay then, nightie night Ani," she said before she turned off the com, leaving Anakin by himself.

The boy sighed as he shoved the comlink aside and fell into his hands on the table as a large sighed escaped his lips. Despite how tired he was, he didn't- no couldn't go back to bed.

Those dreams were just so vivid and real and he just wanted them to stop so that he could get a decent night of sleep, not having to see the things that he did. He didn't understand much of what was going on, the feeling of being underwater present in every vision as though he was drowning.

He had no control of over he did or said, the dreams controlling him and making a spectacle of him.

Anakin sat back up in his chair and looked back at the time to see that it was 0300, which meant that Luke and Leia were probably sleeping peacefully in their beds. He reached out gently to their presences and found that only Luke was fast asleep while Leia was wide awake.

Her shields were strong and impenetrable, which had been surprising when he had first met her considering the fact that she was untrained in the Force, but it seemed as though she had a natural talent when it came to shielding herself.

Anakin got up from the desk and put his shoes on before he made his way out of his quarters and made his way to the mess hall, where he could feel her presence humming softly in the Force. It was strange how familiar her presence was, or how it seemed to have a calming effect on him just like Luke's did.

It was strange but Anakin didn't question it as he made his way into the mess hall and spotted her seated at a far table, hunched over a datapad, her brown hair loose and cascading down around her face and shoulders as she read. There were only a few other people in the room, but as soon as Anakin had walked in her attention had immediately gone to him, as though she had sensed him enter the room.

She looked surprised to see him as she set her datapad away and beckoned him over, a soft smile gracing her lips as she pointed to the seat across from her. Anakin returned the smile as he made his way over to her, his head tilted in the customary Jedi greeting.

"What are you doing up?" her voice sounded tired as she watched Anakin take his seat.

"Couldn't sleep," he said shaking his head.

"Me neither," she said as her eyes drifted over to the data pad.

Anakin couldn't sense her feelings but he could tell that she was sad as she looked over at the datapad, which displayed the holo picture of a man that Anakin did not recognize.

Leia noticed his attention on the picture and smiled sadly at the youth, "that's Han."

"A friend of yours?" asked Anakin, something telling him that he might've been more than just that judging from her sadness.

"More or less," she said as she pursed her lips, "he was- is a really good friend to Luke and I."

Anakin noticed the strained use of her tenses when she talked about him, as though she couldn't decide whether or not to use past or present tense. He got the distinct feeling that this man might be dead or something, and it was obvious that it caused Leia pain just talking about it.

"Did he die?" asked Anakin bluntly but with sympathy at the same time.

She shook her head, "no, but it sure does feel that way. He's frozen in carbonite."

"Carbonite? How'd that happen?"

"Darth Vader," she spit out in anger, "he captured us a few months ago on Bespin. He tortured Han and then froze him right in front of me-" she paused as she took a deep breath.

To watch as someone you cared about get taken away was painful and judging from the look on her face, she didn't just care about him.

"You loved him," stated Anakin.

"Yes, I loved him very much and I never got the chance to tell him until it was too late."

"Not too late," said Anakin, "he's still frozen, right?"

"Yes, but we have no idea where he is or how to rescue him," she said.

"You have no idea where Vader took him?" he asked.

"No, not really," she said distantly.

"I'm sure you'll find him," said Anakin as he did his best to comfort her, her sadness making him feel the strong need to comfort her.

He didn't know where it came from and it gave him a strong sense of déjà vu, a tingling feeling that made him uneasy. He didn't know what it was about Luke and Leia, why they felt so familiar to him as if he had always known them.

But there was also an unspoken level of familiarity between them that held nothing more than sorrow, pain, and suffering that went almost undetected.

Force this was strange. He didn't even know what to feel about any of these strange emotions that he was feeling for anything. It was all just a complicated mess that was completely unsolvable.

Leia smiled at him, "thank you, Anakin. It means a lot to hear someone say that."

"Glad to be of service, Milady," he said as a small smile crossed his face before he felt his smile fall away from his face, his eyes falling down to the table.

"So this Vader seems like quite the character," he said as he breached the subject of the infamous Sith Lord he had heard so much about. Everybody seemed to have something to say about him and none of it was good. Both Luke and Leia had mentioned him and of course, he knew about Kenobi's demise at his hand, but other than that he really knew nothing.

He had heard some personnel talking about him earlier in one of the corridors, their voices low and quiet as a young man talked about how he had survived an encounter with the Sith. He had mentioned something about how Vader had slaughtered almost an entire Rebel ground team only a year ago by himself and how he had barely managed to escape the massacre.

The Story had sent shivers up his spine and Anakin knew that every word the Rebel had said was true, the sheer power and fear that the man held was more than real and it made Anakin wonder just who this Sith was.

He had felt Vader's presence, dark and tainted and yet somehow familiar. It annoyed Anakin to know that he had felt the Sith's presence before but he just couldn't place where he had felt it before, or from whom he had felt it.

Darth Vader was most likely a fallen Jedi, his younger self probably running around the Temple in Anakin's time just waiting to be seduced by the Dark Side.

Who are you?

The Force was silent, not giving any indication as to who this Vader was.

Leia paused, her posture going rigid as she brushed a stray strand of hair away from her face.

"He's an animal," she said at last, her voice strong and affirmative, not allowing for any question to her statement. "He's murdered countless people on behalf of the Empire, aided in the enslavement of billions of people, and that's not even half of it."

Anakin had no words to say to that, there just simply was nothing that he could say to the Princess that would provide any sort of consolation to her. Her pain was real and raw and it was taking everything for her to keep her composure and not break down into tears.

That wasn't even mentioning the things that Vader had done to her personally, torturing her and standing by while genocide was committed against her people. Her culture, her religion, her people, and her family all gone while he stood by and watched, his arms holding her in place so that she could watch the spectacle.

"I hate him," she muttered under her breath, "him and the Emperor. They're both evil and they don't care about anyone or anything but themselves."

Anakin agreed with her on that sentiment despite years and years of being told that hatred led to the Dark Side, which he knew it did but there was nothing he could say to her on that issue. Her hate wasn't without good reason and he too hated Vader and the Emperor, maybe he didn't know as much about them or what they had done, but he knew the basics and that enough to get him riled up.

It was because of them that the Republic and the Jedi were gone, it was because of Vader that Obi-Wan was dead, and it was because of their Empire that Alderaan was gone.

"Only the weak submit to evil," he said as he quoted his Master. "It takes strength to oppose it, and those who do are more powerful than they will ever be."

He didn't know why he said it, but it seemed appropriate in that very moment to do so.

Leia nodded, "did your Master teach you that, or did you come up with it on your own?"

"My Master once told me that a few years ago," said Anakin, "he was very wise when it came to resisting the Dark Side."

"He sounds wise," she commented.

"He was," said Anakin distantly as thoughts of his Master crossed his mind.

He missed Obi-Wan and if what Luke had said was really true then he was still around as a Force Ghost, and yet his old Master had yet to appear to him like he appeared to the older Jedi. It made Anakin wonder why Obi-Wan hadn't appeared to him and he was just a little bit hurt at the fact.

Leia and Anakin continued to talk for the next few hours until finally, the morning shifts started and people started to immerge from their quarters and relieve the night people of their duty. Anakin didn't know what he would be doing that day, but what he really wanted to do was seek out that Rebel pilot that he had met earlier that offered to show him the X-Wings.

Leia went back off to her usual duties while Anakin stalked off to the hangar, eager to get a closer look at those X-Wings before Luke caught up with him. He wasn't sure where the older Jedi was nor did he care at that moment, his thoughts only of finding that Rebel pilot and seeing if he wasn't too busy to show him the interior of their ships.

He made his way into the hangar, his eyes traveling over the ships and at the various people who were going about their duties, not paying him any attention.

"Hey you!" came a distinctly female voice from somewhere to his left.

Anakin looked around, failing to find the source of the voice and was about to keep walking when she called out yet again.

"Hey, you with the braid! Mind giving me a hand?" asked a woman who was lying on the floor under one of the X-Wings, a few tools spanned around her as she inspected the under-belly of the ship.

"Sure. What do you need?" asked Anakin as he made his way closer to her, his eyes meeting her large brown orbs.

"Hydrospanner please," she said, barely acknowledging him as she wiped the grease off of her forehead and wiped it on her tan jacket.

Anakin looked around for the toolbox for a few seconds before he found it and pulled out the tool before handing it over to her, his eyes curiously observing the repair work she was making.

"Thank you kindly," she said as she began to work on the manifolds, her work a bit sloppy but efficient.

"You a mechanic?" she asked as she worked, her brown eyes traveling to his own before going back to the work at hand.

"Have been since I was a kid," said Anakin as he took his seat on the floor next to her, "made my first droid when I was nine."

She whistled, "what kind of droid?"

"A Protocol droid. I made him to help my mom around the house."

Actually, he had built C-3PO because he knew how lonely his mother could get sometimes and he wanted her to have a friend, and the added work was, of course, a benefit. He just wanted his mother to have a friend, even if it was in the form a droid. He too had wanted the droid to be a friend, seeing as he didn't have very many friends himself growing up.

"That was nice of you," she said as she set the hydrospanner down. "I should've done that for my mom. Force knows she could've used the help."

She paused for a second, her eyes traveling over to him once again before she raised her greasy hand for him to shake, which Anakin didn't mind one bit as he happily took her hand, happy to have possibly made a new friend.

"I'm Danika Pava, but you can call me Dani."

"I'm Anakin," he said as he introduced himself to her, a smile gracing his lips.

"Nice to meet you Anakin. Where are you from?" she asked as she scooted herself out from below the ship before standing up to face her new friend.

"Tatooine, you?" he asked.

"Dandoran," she said as she put the hydrospanner away, her silky black hair falling down around her face as she bent over.

The planet sounded vaguely familiar, but Anakin wasn't sure seeing as there were too many planets in the galaxy to keep track of. Billions of different planets with their own culture and beliefs, only a fraction of which belonged to the Republic or the Empire.

"So Tatooine, huh? That's where Commander Luke is from. Do you know him?"

"Yeah I know Luke," said Anakin, leaving the topic of Luke short and simple.

"He's pretty great, huh? He's got to be one of best pilots I've ever seen," she said with an air of awe and inspiration for the former farm boy.

"Well I've never seen him pilot before but I'm sure he's good," said Anakin with a shrug.

"He's better than good, especially considering he was the one who blew the Death Star up," she said with a chuckle as Anakin paused.

Luke had mentioned that the Rebel's had destroyed the Death Star, but he hadn't mentioned that he had been the one to deliver the shot. It sounded like an impressive feat that Anakin would've liked to have seen, but for now, he would have only stories to count on.

"How'd he manage that?" asked Anakin, his interest peaked.

She only shrugged, "I don't know. But from what I've been told, it was a one-in-a-million-shot."

The Force probably helped him out on that one, but he was in way doubting the piloting abilities of the older Jedi. Luke seemed like an extremely talented man and his mastery of the Force was enough to make Anakin jealous of him because he knew that he had never possessed that level of calmness or serenity when it came to the Force. His ability to keep his emotions in check was impressive and Anakin knew that he struggled in keeping his emotions, especially anger and fear, under control.

"I would've liked to have seen that," mentioned Anakin.

"You and me both," she said pointedly before her focused drifted away from Anakin to a dark-skinned human that had just entered the hangar. She motioned for him to join them, a large smile spreading across her face as the young man made his way over to them.

"Sorry," she said to Anakin, "this is my friend Leandro. Leandro, this is Anakin."

"Pleasure," said Leandro, his accent cool and crisp as he stuck out his hand his hand for the youth to shake. His accent was distinctly Inner Rim, possibly Coruscanti if he had to guess where he was from. Even the way this man held himself screamed upper class and it made Anakin wonder how he had managed to find himself in the Rebellion.

"So are you new here?" asked Leandro as he dazzled the youth white a blindingly white smile that contrasted heavily against his dark skin tone.

"Arrived a few days ago from Ben'we," said Anakin as he noticed his two companions pause, their eyes widening.

"You're the new Jedi Commander Luke picked up on Ben'we aren't you? The whole fleet has been talking about you," said Leandro as he looked Anakin over with newfound curiosity.

"Are you really a Jedi?" asked Dani, her eyes searching for any indication that this kid was a famed Jedi that she had grown up hearing so much about.

"Uh yeah," said Anakin as he scratched his head, "I started my training when I was nine."

"Can we see your lightsaber?" asked Dani, giddy at the prospect of seeing the weapon of the Jedi. "I mean, you have one right? All Jedi have them don't they?"

"Yeah we all have them," he said as he pulled out his lightsaber, which he had stashed away in his utility belt with his jacket covering it. The metallic handle gleamed in the light as he held it up for the two of them to see before igniting it, the look on their face worth every credit.

Both Dani and Leandro looked at the blue pillar of light, they had of course seen Luke Skywalker's use his lightsaber but never before had they seen one up close before like this.

"Wait till Jase hears about this," said Dani, "he's always wanted to see one."

"He's always wanted to get his hands on one," pointed out Leandro.

Anakin de-ignited it before clipping it back on his utility belt, not failing to notice the curious eyes of everybody in the hangar as they stared at him. He ignored them as he covered the metallic handle with his brown jacket that he recognized as being Corellian in style. Leia had given him the clothes and if he had to guess, she seemed to have an affinity for the planets style.

"Hey, we were just about to go get a late breakfast. Want to join us?" asked Dani, her dark slanted eyes wide and hopeful.

Anakin smiled, "sure, why not."

"Great, and afterwards you can help us finish the repairs to the ships," she said as she led the two of them out of the hangar.

As they walked out of the hangar they ran into Luke, who was just making his way into the hangar as he talked with a few other people, his eyes latching onto Anakin as they disappeared down the corridor.

Chapter Text

Anakin cursed in Huttese as he pulled back his braid, frustrated by the fact that it kept getting in his way while he was trying to repair the relay manifolds. His language was colorful and despite the fact that no one around him actually knew what he had said, the impression was quite clear.

"Having difficulties, braid?" asked Danika with a snicker as she looked over at him from her own work, her nickname for him both taunting and innocent.

Anakin shook his head in frustration, not failing to notice the amused look in her eyes as she observed him.

"Why do you wear that thing, anyway?" asked Jase Toneri, a fellow Rebel from Christophsis that Danika and Leandro had introduced to him the other day.

"It's tradition for a Jedi Padawan to wear it," said Anakin as he subconsciously ran his hand over the long braid, a symbol of a time long past. He doubted that the wearing of Padawan braids would survive in this era, with most of the old Jedi Order having been destroyed and forgotten. There was really no reason for him to have it now seeing as it was nothing more than a vestige, but even then he knew that he would return to his own time where the braid was both customary and mandatory.

"Must all Padawans wear them?" asked Leandro with great interest.

Anakin paused, "well, during the Old Republic they did."

"Then why do you wear it?" asked Danika. "Doesn't that make you recognizable as a Jedi?"

"I suppose so," said Anakin, "but I won't cut it off if that's what you're insinuating."

Danika only shrugged, "hey, it's your choice, kid. I was just curious."

"It's fine," mumbled Anakin as he returned to his work, his mind going back in time to when his Master had first braided his hair into the traditional haircut.

He had detested the haircut at first and to a degree he still did, but he had grown used to it over the years and had accepted its meaning. He was well on the way to becoming a full-fledged Jedi Knight, something he was proud of and he knew the importance of wearing his hair in such a way.

But still, a part of him believed that it was a means to mark him. A way of showing that he still belonged to something even though he was no longer a slave, and a part of him would always resent that.

Anakin continued tinkering away, his mind returning to the present when he heard the unmistakable voice of the Princess as she strolled past him with the former Senator of Chandrila following in tow, the both of them talking in low voices with their hands behind their backs.

Anakin observed them quietly, his eyes wondering over the two of them as he worked, his gaze lingering over the Princess as she smiled at something the older woman had said. There was just something about the Princess that tugged at him endlessly, but he couldn't quite place what drew him to her in the first place.

Leia didn't notice him at all, her attention completely focused on Mon Mothma as they continued their discussion, but the same couldn't be said for the older woman, who had not failed to notice the teenager staring at them from behind the large piece of machinery that he was working on. Her blue eyes never once leaving his as they strolled past him, her gaze tearing into the youth with such animosity that it made Anakin look away.

By the time he had the courage to look up at them again, they had already strolled past him and were making their way towards the exit, the older woman's attention having gone somewhere other than him. He didn't know why she seemed to detest him so much seeing as he had never once done anything to offend her, except being here of course.

His very presence seemed to threaten her and he wondered just exactly what she knew that he didn't.

Both she and Luke seemed to know something that he did not and it vexed him greatly. He could see the way that they looked at him, Luke with pity and Mothma with resentment.

Anakin shook his head as he got to his feet, his attention going somewhere other than the two of them as he made his way over to where he could get something cold to drink, his throat parched and in desperate need of water. He made his way out of the hangar and over to where the water dispenser was and was about to lean over when he heard the familiar chirp of Artoo from behind him.

"Hey Artoo," he said as he turned around to greet the Droid, his thirst temporarily forgotten as he leaned down to pat his domed friend.

Artoo chirped in greeting as he rolled closer to the Padawan, happy to see his former Master whom he had served for years, unknown to the boy of course. It had taken him awhile to understand what had transpired to allow Anakin to be here, but now that he knew the circumstances, things were different.

"How's it going?" asked Anakin as he listened to droid begin to talk in binary, a language he understood perfectly.

The Droid replied casually that he was good and that it was good to see him again, before asking how Anakin was enjoying the Rebellion.

"It's okay," he said as he shrugged, "it's just not exactly what I thought it would be."

The Droid beeped, asking Anakin whether or not he was bored at the tasks that he had been performing, and whether he would like to do more to help around.

"I think I would eventually like to learn how to fly an X-Wing. It would be a lot more fun than just sitting around helping with repairs, besides one of the Pilots said he would show me the ropes if I was interested. But I don't if Luke would be okay with that," he said with a sigh.

/ Since when is Luke in charge of you?/ asked Artoo, his binary tone indicative of something more than Anakin understood. / If you want to fly, don't let Luke stand in the way. He's not your Master/

"Well he's technically my superior," said Anakin, but something inside of him wholly agreed with what Artoo had said. Luke was not his Master and technically Anakin was older than him, and his training far more advanced than his was. But even then he knew that Luke was just as powerful in the Force as Anakin was, and at the same time he did not want to get into a disagreement with him.

But Luke seemed to think that Anakin was his responsibility if the last few days had shown him anything. Even though Luke had managed to keep his distance from him to a degree, he could still feel that the man was strangely wary of his actions in a way that almost reminded him of Kenobi. There wasn't a moment when Luke wasn't watching Anakin carefully and it was annoying, to say the least.

/ Luke's a good person, Anakin, but he's not being one hundred percent truthful to you. There's something he's not telling you that you should know/

The Droid seemed conflicted at that moment and Anakin knew that there was something that he wanted to tell him.

"What is it?" asked Anakin, his heart suddenly feeling heavy within his chest as a sense of dread came over him, the Force starting to hum dangerously around them.

Artoo was about to reply when a golden protocol droid rounded the corner, his attention focused completely on the domed droid.

"There you are, Artoo!" he said as he shuffled over to them with his arms raised in the air. "I have been looking everywhere for you!"

Anakin squinted at the familiar looking Droid who looked different from when he had last seen him, but he knew it was Threepio from the moment he laid eyes on him.

"Threepio?" asked Anakin as he got back to his feet, whatever Artoo was about to tell him temporarily forgotten.

"Yes? I am C-3PO, human-cyborg relations. How might I be of service to you?" asked the Droid, no hint of recognition for his creator as he made his way over to the Padawan.

"Threepio, what are you doing here?" asked Anakin, not deterred by the fact that the droid didn't seem to know him.

"I do not know what you mean, sir. You seem to know who I am but I have no idea who you are. Have we met before?"

"Of course we've met before," said Anakin, "I built you!"

The Droid looked confused and a little bit offended as he looked over the teenage boy, deciding that Anakin must be wrong.

"Excuse me, Sir. But I can say without a doubt that you were not the one to create me. You are far too young to have made me seeing as I am much older than you are. Besides, I think I would remember my maker."

Artoo beeped up at the golden plated droid in confirmation as to what Anakin was saying, but it seemed as though Threepio would have none of it.

"That's preposterous that this boy could be my maker! I have never before seen him in my entire life. Really Artoo, I think something must be wrong with your circuitry if you believe that."

"I think something's wrong with your circuitry, Threepio," said Anakin as he eyed the plate on his head where the Droids memory relays were stored. Someone must've wiped his memory and Anakin knew that there was a possibility that the memories were not completely destroyed, but instead shut off.

But he couldn't be sure unless he got his hands on the Droid, something he knew Threepio would surely resist.

"I could take a look at your relays if you want," offered Anakin.

"Thank you for the offer, but I am afraid that that will not be needed, Sir. I can assure you that all of my memories are in fact undisturbed and that my circuitry does not need repairing. If they were, I would much prefer Master Luke to fix them."

Anakin shrugged his shoulders, but his mind was not deterred. He would fix Threepio when he had the opportunity to do so in the near future, but he had more important things to take care of at the moment.

He was about to ask Artoo to continue what he had been about to tell him when Luke rounded the corner, his eyes landing on the trio. Anakin didn't fail to notice the bright orange flight suit that the Jedi was wearing, the same one that the pilots wore during their flight missions.

"There you are," he said to Anakin as he made his way over to them, "I've been looking for you."

"Why?" Anakin asked with a raised eyebrow, something that Luke didn't fail to notice.

"I just wanted to check up on you, see how repairs were going."

"They're going fine," said Anakin as he looked down at Artoo, who had earlier warned him that Luke was indeed hiding something from him.

"Good, I see you've been making friends," commented Luke as he and Anakin began to make their way down the corridor.

"Yeah, why?" asked Anakin vacantly.

Luke shook his head, "no reason. It's good you're integrating into the Rebellion."

"Yeah well there are other ways to integrate," commented Anakin.

Luke looked over at Anakin with an unreadable expression. He knew exactly what Anakin was referring too and he knew how much Anakin wanted it, but he was still unsure.

"I know you want to fly," he began slowly, "and I've given it some thought."

"And-?" asked Anakin.

"And I think that you would make one helluva pilot, Anakin, but-"

"But what?" asked Anakin as they both came to a stop, their eyes engaging in an intense stare that could only end in a stalemate.

"But you have to understand that it's dangerous. Do you know how many Rebel pilots have died in the line of duty, Anakin? And besides, you're not even eighteen yet," pointed out Luke. The Rebel Alliance had issued that rule and it was there for a reason.

"I'm almost eighteen," said Anakin as he ground his teeth together, his annoyance at Luke growing steadily. Anakin was not his Padawan and he was not his responsibility so he saw no reason why Luke was acting like this. He was not a child for Force sakes!

"It doesn't matter, Anakin. Even if I let you, do you really think the Alliance would?"

"They don't know how old I am," pointed out Anakin, "you're the only one that does and you know I can pilot."

"Of course I know you can pilot," said Luke calmly as he let out a long sigh.

He was truly conflicted about whether or not he should let Anakin pilot. According to Ben, his father had been one of the greatest pilots there ever was, but he also knew how dangerous these battles could get. He knew the kind of things that came with being a pilot and he didn't know whether or not he should submit Anakin to that, but something told him that Anakin could handle it.

Or at least he hoped Anakin could take it. He knew his father must've already seen some serious bantha shit seeing the type of life he had been living under the Order, but he still had his qualms.

He didn't even know why he was being like this, and he knew it wasn't earning him any brownie points with the youth.

"Fine," said Luke after a few moments of silence, "I don't like lying about your age, but if you really want to try your hand at it then you can."

Anakin nodded his head, understanding that he was asking Luke to lie on his behalf, something he knew was wrong and against the Jedi way, but he knew that he could really help the Rebellion this way. It was better than just sitting around making repairs, which was fine but Anakin knew that he could do more.

"Thank you, Luke," he said as he bowed his head.

"Don't thank me," said Luke, "I don't this and all I can say is you better not do anything stupid out there, or I will make sure you never sit in another X-Wing, you understand?"

"Perfectly," mumbled Anakin as he followed after the Jedi, trying his best to not make a snide comment.

Luke was probably one of the most interesting people that Anakin had ever had the pleasure of meeting because Anakin couldn't decide whether or not he liked or detested the man. From the moment that Anakin had met him, he had liked Luke in a strange but natural way but at the same time, he disliked Luke for a great deal of things.

Luke was far too protective for Anakin's liking and he seemed to have no qualms against keeping secrets from Anakin, despite the fact that he had just told him that he didn't like lying. He was a complicated individual and it was hard for Anakin to truly get a sense of his character. He could sense that Luke had been touched by the Dark Side and that this encounter had left him changed. He used his head more than he did his heart, which Anakin had a feeling may not have always been the case.

He was powerful in the Force and his use of it was more serene than Anakin's had ever been, his calmness something that Anakin envied. Anakin had always been a rash person, ready to jump head first into dangerous situations with no thought, but Luke wasn't like that.

It was hard to describe the differences between them and of course those differences were to be expected. They came from different time periods, and from different upbringings that made them so radically different from each other. It was true that they were both from Tatooine, but Anakin had grown up in slavery while Luke had been a moisture farmer. Both were Force-sensitives, but Anakin had been taught under the shelter of the Order and had begun at a much younger age than Luke had, and of course, Anakin had never had to face the horrors of the Empire like Luke had.

And while Anakin respected Luke for that, he still did not appreciate the fact that Luke was keeping things from him while he had been nothing but truthful to him.

It tarnished his image of the Jedi, despite everything else that Luke had done.

He was not a child, therefore there was no reason to treat him as such.

Luke noticed the sour look on Anakin's face and he knew that the younger man was not entirely happy with him, and Force, Luke wasn't entirely happy with himself. He knew that there were better ways to handle everything that was going on and he knew that Anakin deserved better than how he had been treating him the past few days. Things had been going so great between the two of them, but then it had dawned on him that Anakin was becoming suspicious of him and that the time when he would have to tell Anakin everything was coming soon. And then there was the matter that Anakin was being given an opportunity of freedom outside of the Order, probably the first time in years was he being allowed to operate on the sort of level that being a Padawan had not allowed him and he knew that Anakin was going to use every bit of it.

Who wouldn't?

He would have to keep an eye on the kid and make sure that he didn't do anything reckless because that was something that could not be afforded at this time. If something bad happened to Anakin, then that might affect the outcome of this entire situation and not to mention the fact that Anakin had to return to his own time so that Luke could be born.

A prospect that scared Luke the more he thought about it.

"Listen, I'm not trying to be a wet blanket, but I just want to make sure that you know what you're getting into. Being a pilot is dangerous work and I don't want you to get hurt."

"I know it's dangerous," said Anakin shaking his head. "But I've been doing it since I was a child. My Master knew I was good, so he had me compete in pod racing tournaments despite my mother's wishes. I built my first pod racer when I nine from salvaged parts from the shop where I worked and I raced with it in the Boonta Eve Classic. I was the first human to win it, and I also won my freedom. So yes, I know it's dangerous but I also know that I can do it."

"You won the Boonta Eve Classic?" asked Luke, latching onto that piece of information. His Aunt and Uncle had never mentioned that, Luke definitely would've remembered if they had.

If he remembered correctly, there had only been one human to win the race and that had been years before his birth, but Luke had still heard about it from time to time but he had never known that that kid who had won it had been his father.

"Yeah, that race was my ticket off that dust-bowl."

"I've heard of that race before, some people talked about how a human had won it," said Luke with a small grin. "Unfortunately, the Empire outlawed pod racing across the galaxy and because of their stringent enforcement, the sport became almost nonexistent on Tatooine."

"Really? I'm sure the Hutts loved that," said Anakin sarcastically. It wasn't like the Hutts were ones to obey the law anyway, so he had no doubt the sport was still alive in secret.

"Pod racing still happens, especially in the Outer Rim and the unknown territories. But so far they've managed to escape Imperial intervention."

"I figured," said Anakin as he crossed his arms over his chest as he looked over at Luke, waiting for his reply to his earlier statement.

Luke noticed this and sighed, "I'll talk to General Dodonna about you joining one of the Squadrons and then we'll figure it out from there."

"Thank you, Luke," said Anakin.

Luke smiled, "you're welcome, Anakin."

With that, Luke made his way into the hangar to meet up with the Rogue Squadron for their training exercises, something Anakin hoped he would be participating in soon. Anakin tore his gaze away from the group of men and women dressed in their orange jumpsuits and started to make his way back to where Danika and Leandro were working. Leandro, although not a mechanic by trade, was decent enough to help Danika and him with repairs even though his job was working in the Intelligence section of the Alliance.

"What are you still doing here? Asked Anakin with a grin as he went back to his repairs. "Don't you have data to analyze?"

"Someone had to help Danika seeing as you were too busy smooching up to the Commander," joked Leandro as he handed the Jedi back his toolbox.

Danika shook her head as she turned her attention back to Anakin, curious as to what he and Luke had been talking about.

"What were you guys talking about?" she asked as he smoothed a strand of her hair off her face.

"He's going to see if he can get me in the cockpit," said Anakin as he grabbed the hydrospanner, his eyes never once leaving his work.

"Really? I didn't know you were a pilot," said Leandro.

Anakin shrugged, "there's a lot you don't know about me."

"We figured," said Danika as she looked over to where the pilots were standing, talking amongst themselves before they each headed off towards their own ships. Anakin could've sworn there was a look of longing on her face before she quickly masked it with her typical smirk.

"You're lucky," she said with a soft and encouraging smile, "they don't let just anyone fly."

"Luke told me," said Anakin as he pursed his lips, his gaze lingering over Luke as the Jedi climbed up into his seat in the cockpit.

"Are you a pilot?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence.

"I was," she muttered under her breath. "My father was, so he taught me when I was about eleven or so. But I ended up developing an incurable eye disease when I was about sixteen and my dream of flying in the Rebellion went down the drain. I haven't flown in years and I never will."

"I'm sorry," said Anakin quietly, not quite sure what he would do if he was in her position. Flying meant so much to him that he couldn't imagine not ever doing it again.

"It's okay," she said with a pained smile, "besides, I'm fine doing mechanics."

"You're pretty good at it," commented Anakin truthfully. She was one of the best mechanics he had ever seen and he had seen quite a few in his short life so that was saying a lot.

"Damn right I'm good at it," she said with a smile. "So are you."

Anakin smiled, "I learned a thing or two on Tatooine about mechanics."

"Well yeah, it's Tatooine," said Leandro as he cut his way into the conversation, "everybody there is either a farmer, a criminal, a pilot, or a mechanic."

"You've been there?" asked Anakin.

"Once when I was nineteen. My family had to stop to refuel there when some runaway kid tried to pickpocket my wallet. Good thing I figured out what he was trying to do before he took off with it, or else I would've been screwed."

Anakin shrugged, "that's pretty common on Tatooine. Everybody there knows you don't carry your wallet out in the open, especially if you have a lot of credits in it."

Number one rule for visiting Tatooine. Don't flaunt your wealth.

"Wish I knew that then," said Leandro as he crossed his arms across his chest. "So how long were you there for?"

"Until I was nine," said Anakin as he shrugged his jacket off.

"Huh, don't suppose you ever met Commander Luke there?" asked Leandro, his curiosity about the teenager growing.

Anakin shook his head, "no, can't say that I ever met him while I was living there."

Probably because Anakin had left years before Luke had even been born, which was strange to think about seeing how much older Luke looked than him. In all technicality, Anakin was older than Luke, who couldn't be older than twenty-three from the look of him. Anakin would be about forty-five in this time, old enough to be Luke's father for Force sakes!

And yet Luke treated him like the child.

"Just cause two people are from the same planet doesn't mean they know each other," pointed out Danika. "Just look at me and Sasha, we're both from Dondoran and we only just met a month ago."

"I just thought it might be worth asking," said Leandro. "I mean Tatooine isn't that populated."

"It isn't," confirmed Anakin, "but I never met Luke until a few days ago. And trust me, I would've remembered him if I had."

"Well you know him now," said Danika as she stood up and brushed her pants off, "now it's way past lunchtime. You guys hungry?"

"I'm always hungry," said Leandro with a grin as he followed Danika.

"Hey braid, you coming or not?" asked Danika as she waited patiently for him to reply.

"You two go ahead, I'll catch up in a few," said Anakin as he motioned for them to leave. He wanted to find Artoo and see what it was that he was about to tell him before Luke had interrupted them, something inside of him was curious as to what the little Droid had to say.

"Sure, see you there," said Leandro as the two of them made their way out of the hangar, leaving Anakin to his own devices.

Anakin carefully placed the tools back into the box before standing up and shrugging his jacket on, not minding the dirt and grease that had accumulated on his clothing as he made his way out of the hangar in search of his domed friend. Even though Artoo didn't have a presence in the Force, he was still able to find the little Droid in one of the corridors. It was just his luck that Threepio was no longer there and this would give Anakin ample time to talk to Artoo alone.

"Hey Artoo," he said as he waved to the Droid.

The Droid beeped happily as he rolled over to Anakin, who had bent down to address the AI with a smile.

"Sorry I had to leave. I talked to Luke about becoming a pilot here and he's going to talk to Dodonna about it. Looks like I might be in the cockpit here soon."

Artoo chirped, happy for the youth that he had finally managed to talk some sense into Luke as well as the fact that Anakin and Luke were talking civilly to one another.

"So what was it you were going to tell me?" asked Anakin.

/There's something about your future you should know. /

Anakin's face dropped as he tightened his lips into a thin line, unsure as to whether or not he should hear what the Droid had to say about his future or not. He was conflicted about wanting that sort of knowledge, his stomach churning restlessly as his heart seemed to drop within his chest in anticipation and dread.

Did he really want to know? Was it worth it?

"Wait," said Anakin as he held his hand up to stop the Droid before he said anything else. "Is it bad?"

The Droid paused for a few moments as if trying to decide whether or not it was or not, a sad chirp confirming Anakin's worst fears.

/It's not good, but you should know. /

"No," said Anakin adamantly as he shook his head. "If it's bad then I don't want to know. I would rather go back to my own time not knowing than knowing that something bad was going to happen. And if I do manage to prevent all of this from happening, then maybe whatever bad things that happens to me won't happen."

/But-/

"No," said Anakin firmly, "please Artoo, don't."

/You will need to know, one day. You can't hide from your future forever./

"Maybe one day, but not now."

/Don't you want to know what happened to you? To your mother? /

Anakin paused, his posture going rigid as he turned to face the Droid with raised eyebrows.

"You know what happened to her?" he asked quietly, the image from his dream of her bloodied and bruised face staring up at him.

He had been scared as to whether or not it was just a dream or if it was a vision, choosing to push it far back in his mind so as to not think too much about it. But he had never quite been successful in getting that image out of his head.

/I know. /

"Tell me," said Anakin firmly as he tried to prepare himself for whatever the Droid had to tell him.

/A few years after you left, Shmi was freed by a man named Cliegg Lars. They got married but a few years after that she ended up getting captured by Tusken Raiders./

"Tusken Raiders?" asked Anakin, fear and anger boiling inside of him. "Please tell me she was okay?"

/When you found out, you tried to rescue her. But you were too late. She died in your arms./

Anakin's heart fell and the breath was sucked right out of his lungs, causing him to clutch at his chest as a soft sob escaped from his mouth. It hurt more than anything he had ever felt before, the pain in his chest as if someone had just stabbed him.

He couldn't stop the lone tear that made its way down his face before he furiously wiped it away with the sleeve of his jacket. He had tried to save her but it had been too late, his failure resulting in her death.

For Force sakes where had her husband been? This Cliegg Lars was supposed to protect her, not let her get taken by Tusken Raiders!

"When did this happen?" he asked quietly, his face dangerously blank.

/About two years from your time. /

Two years was plenty of enough time to go back to Tatooine and save her. He vowed that the first thing he would do upon going back to his time was to go and save her and bring her back to Ben'we so that she and Nayeli could be reunited.

There was no need for her to die in such a disgusting and vulgar way, not when he knew how to prevent it.

/I'm sorry, Anakin./

Anakin said nothing as he rose to his feet, his face still dangerously blank as he turned and stalked out of the corridor, his appetite completely gone as he made his way back to his quarters. He needed in that moment to be alone so that he could process what he had just been told.

If his future was worse than his mother dying, then he was perfectly fine not knowing.

As soon as Anakin closed the doors to his quarters, he fell onto his bed and let the tears flow, unashamed and freely he sobbed into his pillow for his mother. It wasn't fair that she had died like that, it wasn't fair that he had to leave her in the first place! If she had gone with him to Coruscant in the first place this wouldn't have happened. But no, the Jedi were so against attachment that they had made him leave her behind, not even bothering to grant her her freedom.

"I'm so sorry you had to find out like this, Anakin," came the familiar voice of his Master.

Anakin lifted his head off of his pillow to stare at the blue apparition of his dead master, his eyes red and wet as he looked into his Master's sad eyes.

"Master," he greeted blandly as he sat up. "You're blue."

Of course, that would be the first thing Anakin would notice.

"Obviously my very young Padawan," said Kenobi with a hint of a smile on his face before his features dropped, his eyes growing sadder upon seeing the state of the boy. "I know you're hurting, Anakin. Talk to me."

Anakin inhaled deeply and looked away, "my mother died and I wasn't able to stop it."

Kenobi sighed, "but you will have the chance to save her when you go back."

"I intend too, but you know the Jedi will not allow it," said Anakin, "you know the rule about attachment."

"That doesn't change the fact that she was your mother, Anakin. The Jedi don't understand that kind of love between a parent and a child and they never will. You will always have an attachment to her no matter how hard they try to break that connection."

"What are you saying, Master?" asked Anakin as he sat up straighter, interested in what his Master had to say.

"I'm saying follow your heart, Anakin," said Kenobi as he placed his transparent hand on his Padawan's shoulder. "The Jedi don't know everything, if they did we wouldn't have been fooled by the Sith like we were."

"Are you saying to leave the Order?" asked Anakin as he scrambled to his feet, not quite sure what he was hearing.

"If that's what you wish," said Kenobi, suddenly looking older than he was. "Either that or there needs to be some sort of reform within the Order as well as the Republic."

"Reform? What sort of reform?" asked Anakin as he crossed his arms across his chest.

"There are quite a few things that probably need to be changed," said Kenobi looking over at Anakin, "I'm sure you know what I'm talking about."

Anakin sighed, his mind already addressing the things that he knew needed to be changed. The indoctrination of children from infancy, forcing them to grow up in a loveless environment with no parents or family. An almost unwillingness to accept people who were different from them, something he had been told was not true but to him, an outsider who had grown up a slave under the care of his mother, he could see it as plain as day.

The Jedi were also ignorant of the Dark Side, warding it off so much that they could barely understand what it was they were fighting. How were they to fight an enemy they knew nothing of?

They also seemed to have a nasty tendency of thinking but never acting. For years the Council had been discussing methods for finding the Sith Lord, but they had yet to act on those ideas.

And then getting involved in a war? The Jedi were not soldiers, they were peacekeepers who did everything within their power to maintain composure in any situation they were faced with. A Jedi did not draw their lightsaber lightly, so then why were the Jedi fighting a war on behalf of the Republic?

A war would only distract them from what the Sith was truly doing and it would inevitably weaken them to the point where they could be overtaken.

Maybe the Force wanted Anakin to find a way to prevent this Clone War from ever happening, which he knew would inevitably end in the destruction of the Jedi and the Republic.

His Master seemed to know what was going on through his head and replied accordingly.

"The Sith Lord we were looking for was hiding under our nose all those years, becoming more and more powerful. He orchestrated the entire war as a means to divide and conquer, the Republic and the Order having grown weaker and weaker until he was able to strike."

"Who is this Sith Lord?" asked Anakin. "Who is that he could hide like that for years without our knowledge?"

His Master arose to his feet and placed both of his transparent hands on either of Anakin's shoulders, his eyes boring into Anakin's in a way that made the Padawan almost scared to know the identity of the Sith.

"Chancellor Palpatine is the Sith Lord, but now he goes by Emperor Palpatine."

Anakin's eyes grew wide in disbelief, "Chancellor Palpatine? No, it can't be. He's not like that- he's my friend! He wouldn't do that! Master, there has to be some sort of mistake-"

"There is no mistake, Anakin. It is true, he is a Sith."

"But how?" asked a lost Anakin. "Surely we would've known? He isn't even a Force-sensitive!"

"He fooled us all, Anakin. The Sith are Masters of deception and unfortunately, we all fell for his charade."

Anakin inhaled deeply, the truth ringing clearly through the Force, leaving him no choice but to believe his Master. Anakin had been visiting with the Chancellor for years and he had trusted him with his deepest and darkest secrets, his life in the Order, his longing for his mother, and so much more. And he had trusted him wholly and completely, never once had he had reason to be suspicious of the kind older man that Anakin had viewed almost as an adoptive grandfather.

"He managed to get the Senate to grant him emergency powers during the war," began Kenobi, "and when the Jedi finally caught wind of what he really was, we tried to organize an arrest for him, which ended up failing and giving him the upper hand. He seized control of the Senate and painted the Jedi in a bad light for all of the galaxy to see, changing the public opinion of us drastically."

"But what about the Jedi? Luke mentioned something about order 66 and clones," said Anakin as he listened intently to what Kenobi had to say.

"It is true that the Republic used a Clone army during the war, hence the name Clone War. It was not our brightest idea and now thinking back on it, I see how immoral and wrong it was to use the Clones like that. Another thing the Republic compromised its morality on, a sign of our descent into the political turmoil that gave rise to the Empire."

"But there was something wrong with the Clones," said Anakin as he pressed his Master to continue.

Kenobi stroked his beard as he nodded his confirmation, his face firm and deep in thought.

"Some years prior, Master Sifo Dyas ordered the creation of the Clone army, believing that a war was imminent within the Republic which would require additional manpower to fight in. What Master Dyas did not know, however, was that Sidious had found out what he was doing and had managed to secretly gain control of the army, implanting Order 66 into their chips. And when the army was presented to us at the very start of the war, we did not question it as we should have. We fought with those Clones, for three years through hell and back and never once did we imagine that they would end up turning on us, Anakin."

"But it wasn't just the Clones," said Anakin, "Darth Vader assisted in the destruction of the Temple too."

"Indeed he did," said his Master with sadness and pain etched onto his face. "A Jedi who betrayed us and submitted himself to Sidious, allowing himself to be consumed with darkness."

"Who is he?" pressed Anakin. "Who is the bastard that did this?"

Kenobi smiled sadly, his gaze falling away from the Padawan to rest on the window at the passing stars as a large sigh escaped from him.

"I can't tell you who he is, Anakin."

"Why not?" demanded Anakin impatiently.

"You'll know soon enough, my very young Padawan, just not now."

"Why not now? Please, Master! I need to know who did this. I need to know who killed you."

"So you can avenge me?" inquired Kenobi.

Anakin didn't say anything as Kenobi sighed, his blue hand coming to rest on his face as he looked over at the boy thoughtfully.

"Revenge is not the Jedi way," he said softly after a few moments of silence. "You know that, Anakin."

"Whatever happened to an eye for an eye, a hand for a hand? Do you think that neither the Emperor or Vader deserve to pay for what they've done with their lives? Let the punishment fit the crime," said Anakin, anger boiling inside of him.

"Just because they've done all these terrible things does not justify murder, Anakin. Once you go down that path, my very young Padawan, there is no returning. Your actions always have consequences, and they will always stick with you no matter how far you try to run."

"But-!" began Anakin before he was silenced by his Master.

"The road to hell is paved with good intentions, Anakin. Do not start down that road thinking that what you are doing is righteous."

How can you not hate them, Master? How can you not want them dead?" asked Anakin, feeling defeated.

"Your hate for them is not righteous. No matter how much you try to convince yourself that your hate is righteous and justified, in the end, it is still hate and hate leads to the Dark Side. Wanting someone dead makes you no better than them, Anakin."

"They still need to pay for everything they've done," mumbled Anakin.

"Oh there's no doubt about that," said Kenobi as he yet again started to stroke his beard. "There will come a day when they must pay for what they have done, but hopefully upon your return to your own time, things will correct themselves."

"What's that supposed to mean?" asked Anakin.

Kenobi merely smiled at him with that sad look on his face that made Anakin's stomach churn uncomfortably, and there was no doubt in his mind that his Master was also keeping something from him. But something told Anakin he didn't want to know whatever it was.

"You'll know soon my young Padawan," he said looking back out the window, "it's not my place to tell you, but have faith, Anakin. All will be revealed in time."

"Is this what Luke has been keeping from me?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence, his voice sounding a lot smaller than normal.

Although Anakin had been suspicious of Luke for whatever he was keeping from him, he wasn't so sure he wanted to know what that secret was anymore. He didn't know if he could handle another tragedy like that of his mother's.

"Luke has his reasons for keeping information from you, Anakin. Luke is a good person and trust me when I say that he has your best interest at heart, but he is not perfect, my young Padawan."

Anakin nodded solemnly, knowing that what his Master was saying about Luke was true. There was no doubt that Luke had his best interests at heart, but the way he was treating Anakin was still something that had caused a rift to form in their friendship.

"Do you understand everything that I have shared with you?" asked Kenobi.

"Yes Master," said Anakin as inhaled deeply and straightened his posture, his eyes still red from the tears.

"Good," said Kenobi with a small smile as he patted Anakin's shoulder with his transparent hand. "Just have faith, Anakin. Everything will be okay."

"I know it will be, Master. It's just not easy."

"Nobody said it would be, but you're strong enough. The Force wouldn't have sent you here if you weren't."

Anakin didn't feel strong. He felt weak and shaken, like waves from the sea, he was constantly being battered and it felt as though he was drowning under the weight of it all. He felt so tied down he didn't know if he could take another step without collapsing from it all.

But his Master seemed to believe that he could do it and he was right, the Force knew what it was doing when it sent him here and there was obviously a reason behind it all.

Anakin swallowed shallowly before nodding, his mouth dryer than the deserts of Tatooine and his heart heavier than a Bantha.

"Thank you, Master."

"You're welcome, Anakin," said Kenobi as he started to slowly fade away until there was no one else in the room but Anakin, who suddenly felt abandoned as he stared around at the sterile and barren room that the Princess had managed to secure him.

He sighed as he got to his feet, his eyes catching his haggard reflection in the small mirror that was hanging up in the fresher. His face looked pale and his eyes were bright and red-rimmed, a tell-tale sign that he had been crying.

He splashed some cold water on his face, trying his best to mask the pain that shown in his eyes before he ran a comb through his hair, replacing the ponytail at the back of his head before he shrugged his jacket back on and made his way out his quarters, his stomach having finally caught up with him.

He was about to turn the corner when he ran into the Princess, both figuratively and literally. He hadn't even felt her presence so it came as a shock to him when her face had suddenly appeared in front him, the surprise on her face quite evident too.

"Oh I'm sorry Anakin, I didn't see you there," she said as she shifted her bag further up her shoulder, her brown eyes looking up at him intently, as if she could sense the pain he was trying to hide.

"I didn't see you either, Milady," said Anakin curtly before he tried walking away, not really in the mood to talk to anyone at the moment.

"Wait!" she called back to him.

"Yes, your Highness?" he asked, not bothering to turn around to face her.

"You're good at mechanics aren't you? I mean I've seen you working on some of the ships in the hangar with Ms. Pava and Lieutenant Favreau so you obviously know a thing or two about mechanics-"

"What is it?" interrupted Anakin as he took a tentative step towards her, his height dwarfing her tiny frame as he stood next to her.

"Recently I came across one of my father's old Droids that he used to store transmissions that he had sent to his operatives, but I can't access them due to a failsafe that was put in place so the Empire wouldn't be able to get their hands on them."

"And you want my help in accessing them?" asked Anakin.

"If you would be willing too," she said smiling at him.

"I wouldn't mind taking a look at it, but I was about to go get some lunch right now and then go and finish up the repair work," he said gently.

"It doesn't need to be done right now," she said shaking her head, "really whenever you have the time would be fine with me. It's not urgent."

Anakin nodded, "I'll tell you when I'm free. Is that all you wanted to talk to me about, Princess?"

"Oh yes, you can go get your lunch," she said with an awkward smile.

Anakin nodded his head, not quite in the mood to return the smile as he turned on his feet and started to make his way down the corridor to the mess hall.

"Oh, and Anakin?" she called after him, stopping him in his tracks with her soft voice.

"Yes, Princess?" he asked, again not bothering to turn and face her. He wasn't trying to be rude or anything, he was just emotionally spent and her company, or anyone's company for that matter, was just not something he wanted to deal with. He just wanted to grab something to eat before he had to contact his Aunt and tell her what had happened to his mother and to not waste her credits on hiring a private investigator. That money should be put towards helping Nayeli and her family, not investigating a dead woman.

"You can call me Leia."

Anakin nodded numbly before he disappeared down the corridor, leaving the Princess in his wake.

###

Anakin stared down at the comlink numbly, trying to find the strength within to pick it up and contact his Aunt. He could only imagine the sort of pain that this would cause her, to know what cruel fate his mother had suffered on Tatooine.

To find out what had happened to her sister only to lose her yet again and in such a way.

It wasn't fair. Not one bit.

Anakin swallowed as he finally plugged in the frequency, his hands shaking ever so slightly as he set it down, waiting for her to receive the signal. He hoped she wouldn't answer, just this once he hoped she was too busy or fast asleep but his silent prayer went unheard as her smiling face appeared in the blue hue of the link.

"Ani," she greeted as she sent him a toothy smile, her eyes bright and twinkling as she addressed her nephew. It pained him how much his Aunt resembled his mother, from her smile right down to the color of her eyes.

She seemed to notice the despondent look on his face, his blue eyes downcast and his mouth pressed into a thin line, the very same look that Shmi had given her when she had been sad. She instantly knew something was wrong, her smile fading away gradually and her features growing worrisome.

"What's wrong?" she pressed.

"I-I found out what happened to my mother," he said blandly, his chest tightening.

"What? What did you find out?" pressed Nayeli, her eyes widening in sudden fear and dread. She already had a sense of what the boy would say, but she wanted him to say it.

"She passed away a few years ago," he said taking in a deep breath, "I'm sorry, Aunt Nayeli. She's gone."

His Aunt clutched at her chest, but she made no noise as she looked down at the floor, not even a tear escaped from her eyes. After a few moments of silence, she finally looked back up at Anakin, her face full of unspoken pain as she shut her eyes tightly and let out a deep breath.

"How?" she asked softly.

Anakin debated on what he should tell her about the manner in which his mother had passed. Should he tell her that she had been captured and tortured, eventually succumbing to death in his future counterparts arms? Or should he lie to her? Tell her that his mother went peacefully in her sleep or something like that.

"She-uh she was killed by Tusken Raiders," he said, leaving it at that. There was no way he was going to go in depth with that, neither he nor Nayeli would be able to handle that.

He knew what the Raiders did to those they captured and it was not something he wanted to actively think about, not now not ever.

"I have no idea what Tusken Raiders are but I can only hope that it was quick," said Nayeli shaking her head, "I hope she wasn't in any pain."

"She wasn't," said Anakin, the lie slipping easily out of his mouth. "It was quick."

"Good," said Nayeli, "thank you for telling me Anakin, but I have to go make dinner now."

"I'll talk to you later," he said as she nodded her head, not quite all there in the present from the looks of things.

"Goodnight, Anakin," she said as she switched the comlink off.

Anakin sighed as he leaned back in his chair, running an agitated hand through his hair before he set the comlink aside. He could tell that Nayeli had not taken the news well, her grief process radically different from his own and her countenance painfully blank and emotionless.

People handled grief differently and he knew that she was hurting just as much as he had, she just showed it differently.

Anakin pushed the chair back, his eyes zeroing in on the makeshift cot that was calling to him. He was tired, the day having taken a lot out of him but he knew what it would mean if he went to bed.

He didn't want to sleep if it meant that he would have another dream, or vision- whatever the kriff they were. Thinking back on it, he probably should've asked Obi-Wan about them, but his mind had been too focused on his mother and of what had happened in the past to ask his Master about them.

The dreams had been coming to him nonstop at that point, each one more vivid and real than the last. And each one terrified him more and more and there was no escaping them, no matter how hard he tried.

Last night he had dreamed of Padme again, her face appearing to him in his sleep begging him to save her over and over until it had driven him mad. He had tried so hard to ask her what he was supposed to save her from before she had faded away and he had once again found himself consumed by the flames that were ever present, his screams loud and present before another scream had joined his. But he could've sworn it was the cry of an infant, a strange addition to the dream that was unexpected, to say the least.

It had been then that he had awoken, his heart racing and his mind just as confused as always as he had searched around his cot frantically as if he was trying to find the baby. It was ridiculous but there was something there, calling to him and tugging on his heart.

Anakin had, of course, pushed the dream to the back of his mind before heading out to finish the tasks he had been given for the day, but now the dream echoed throughout the reaches of his mind, making him afraid to see what that night's dream had in store for him.

He didn't want the flames to consume him anymore and he absolutely did not want to see Padme in that much pain either, screaming and begging for him to save her.

He had tried his hardest over the past week not to think of her, but he could only push her out of his head for so long before her angelic face reappeared. He knew that most of his dreams tended to revolve around her and he wondered why this was.

If these dreams were visions of his future, did that mean that their futures were intertwined? The way that she had acted around him, even the way that she had looked at him in those dreams indicated that they were romantically involved, but was this to be in his future?

That vision revolving the fireplace scene had been more than real, his emotions stirring wildly inside of him as he tried to get her to see things his way. They could make it work, the both of them if she was only willing to give him her heart as he had given her his.

There was no doubt in his mind that whatever he had seen was real and had actually happened, and he wasn't quite sure what to think about that. He knew the Code and he knew that if he had engaged in a relationship with her in the future that it would mean that he had broken his vow, but something told him that that sacrifice was one that he had been willing to make.

But there was more to it than just that, it was what came after those precious moments with her that scared the Bantha shit out of him. Every dream ended the same, with him being consumed by the flames and her begging him to save her.

Were the flames a vision of how he would die? Consumed by fire and smoke as he tried to save the woman he loved?

Anakin didn't want to know, choosing to remain ignorant rather than in pain.

This was why he refused to let Artoo tell him of his future, seeing as he already knew that his future was a sad one. He just saw no reason to know and he was perfectly fine with that.

"What you don't know won't kill you," he mumbled under his breath as he let out a large yawn, his eyes still lingering over his cot.

He couldn't evade sleep forever. But he could hold it off a little bit at the least, which was what he had decided to do as he sat down on his bed, his entire body facing the window in front of him as he assumed a meditation pose and started to clear his mind out.

Meditating was not something Anakin particularly liked doing, the idea of clearing out his chaotic mind seeming like far too much work for him. But nonetheless, he started the meager process of allowing his mind to enter completely into the Force, which was a better alternative than falling asleep only to have another nightmare.

If only his Master could see him now. He would probably faint if he could see his Padawan actually meditating willingly and without instructions to do so.

Anakin had to crack a grin at the thought of his Master feinting, and in the process of doing so lost his concentration.

He sighed as he allowed his mind to once again enter into the Force until eventually, he managed to find himself in a trance, his slow and deep breaths the only thing that could be heard in the eerily silent room.

Chapter Text

It had been a few days since he had found out about his mother's death and Anakin still felt as numb as the day he had been told. Everything seemed to pass him by in a blur that didn't feel as real as it should. His motions were mechanical, his days spent in an endless cycle of repetition as he went through the motions.

He continued his repair work, throwing himself into his tasks and spending less and less time with his friends. They seemed to catch on that he wasn't in the mood for their shenanigans seeing as they were all leaving their distance between them, something Anakin didn't mind one bit.

It had only been three days, but it felt like a lifetime to Anakin as he tried his hardest just to get through the day without his emotions raging on inside of him, which was something that was unavoidable but controllable.

Both Luke and Leia seemed to notice his need for privacy seeing as they had both given him a wide berth these past couple of days, but both had made their support known to him, which was something he was grateful for.

They both could sense his silent pain through the Force, there was no way that either of them hadn't with their Force abilities and Anakin had not tried to hide this fact from them.

But even then, there was no avoiding one another completely on a ship and Anakin had already made prior arrangements with the Princess to take a look at her father's Droid, which was how he had found himself leaning over a red trimmed R4 Unit Droid as he did his best to try and find the hidden transmissions that Leia's father had hidden inside the little guy.

She had dropped him off earlier, clearly trusting him with her father's Droid before she had disappeared into the bowels of the ship to go to a Council meeting or something like that. He wasn't exactly sure what she did around here, but it must've been important seeing her status and the way people around here respected her.

He could easily see why this was and even he could not deny that he too respected her for her strength and courage. He didn't know very many Politicians or Princesses that would be willing to get their hands dirty in something like this, a Rebellion of this sort of scale. He could very easily see how many aristocrats would benefit from an organization like the Empire while the lower classes suffered the most from the tyrannical actions and laws that had been put in place.

But apparently, not even the Aristocrats were not safe from the watchful eye of the Emperor. He had heard about what had happened to Alderaan all because their ruling family had spoken out against the Empire, and it made his blood run cold.

This was why the Princess reminded him so much of another Politician that he had met all those years ago on Tatooine, and it wasn't just because of their similar looks.

Anakin didn't know why his mind seemed to keep making parallels between Leia and Padme, but he wasn't wrong that there seemed to a strong connection between the two women.

Both of them worked in the same field and both of them were some of the strongest women that he had ever met, save his mother who was, in his opinion, the strongest woman he had ever known. Her ability to raise a child alone in slavery and still have the amount of love and compassion that she had possessed was enough to make her a Saint in Anakin's opinion.

Anakin shook his head as he tried not to think of his mother, a stab of sadness tugging at his chest as he did his best to return his focus to the Droid in front of him.

Bail Organa had done a marvelous job of hiding those transmissions, but they could not stay buried forever, especially when Anakin was the one trying to locate them. He wasn't sure what was on those transmissions, but it must've been damn important seeing how he was having a hard time retrieving them from the bowels of the Droid.

But Anakin would find them, it was just taking him more time than he'd expected.

He worked for at least another fifteen minutes before he finally hit the jackpot as the familiar blue hue of the holo-recorder projected the solemn face of the deceased Senator, his face older than when Anakin had seen him in the Senate during the days of the Republic. He remembered Bail Organa seeing as Alderaan had been an inner core world and of course, an important member of the Republic.

But the man staring back at him was not the same man that he had seen at the Senatorial addresses that his Master had forced him to watch because, according to Obi-Wan, being aware of the politics at play was important. Of course, it had all been rubbish to Anakin at the time, his attention on anything other than the holo-receiver.

No, this man was old and weary, the passage of time evident on his face even though the timestamp displayed a date that was only, give or take eleven years from Anakin's time, but it looked as though the Senator had aged nearly twenty years.

"Master Kenobi, I know you told me not to contact you unless it was an emergency and I wouldn't be sending you this message unless it was not," began Organa, his voice tired and pleading at the same time.

Anakin's head shot up at the mention of his Master's name, his eyes zeroing in on the man before him, his curiosity getting the better of him as he set down his tools and scooted in closer to the recording. He knew that it was wrong to listen to the recordings seeing as they were the property of the Princess, and were, of course, private messages that had been sent in confidentiality, but he had no intention of turning the message off.

"I hope you are doing well, Master Kenobi. These last few years since the fall of the Republic have been- turbulent, to say the least," he said as clasped his hands behind his back, his gaze falling to the floor as if in deep thought before returning to look at the holo-recorder. "I scarcely can believe that it has already been six years since- well since it happened, and we have both been busy with our own- responsibilities, which is why I am contacting you."

Senator Organa paused, his ambiance falling into a more depressing state that seemed to drag him down even further than he already was. The man looked absolutely nervous, his entire countenance holding an air of fear that went deeper than the teenage boy watching him could understand.

"I fear that my daughter is starting to develop her-" he paused, uncertain how to phrase his next few words, "-I fear that she starting to develop her Force abilities, Obi-Wan. I can tell that she is getting stronger and I fear that the Emperor and Vader may or may not start to notice. I fear that Vader may start to sense the connection if he does not already."

Senator Organa and his Master knew each other? Anakin could not recall that either of them had ever met before, but of course, times were different and it seemed as though they had come to work together in the years that had taken place.

But then why was the former Senator contacting his Master about Leia? Was it because she was a Force Sensitive?

"He's seen her, Obi-Wan. She marched right up to him and told him his suit looked funny," he said with a look of absolute horror on his face. "I was scared that he had sensed something about her and I have no idea what to do about her Force sensitivity. Seeing who her-… who he was, I would not be surprised at her level of Sensitivity. I am sure the same holds for the boy, the one you took with you. Has he started to develop his abilities?"

Anakin stared intently at the holo-recording, his chest tightening with anxiety that had originated from kriff knows where. He had the distinct feeling that he was watching something that was not meant for his eyes, which of course he knew it wasn't, but this went much deeper than that.

This had been a secret message between his Master and the late Senator, one that was not meant to get out into the general public. This was supposed to be something strictly between them and Anakin was currently invading the privacy measures that had been intended for this message, and strangely he didn't feel as bad about it as he should have.

For some strange reason, he could not bring himself to turn the recording off, the Force seethed restlessly around him, subtle but definitely present and constant.

"I'm sure he has, but at least he has you if there were ever a point when he would need the guidance of a Jedi Master as yourself, but I am afraid that we are quite alone in that respect. Maybe I am being paranoid, but I'm you can understand why. To be raising a child such as herself in the very heart of the Empire, right under their noses. I have tried my best to keep her away from them, but I cannot hide her away forever seeing as she will be the future Queen of Alderaan-"

It was at that moment that the message started to flicker, the Senator's voice growing muddled and distorted as the message finally shut off, leaving Anakin alone as he tried to restore the message.

"Oh come on," he muttered under his breath as he tried to find the message in the jumble of wires and cables but only managed to display a different message, a message that was not directed to Kenobi but someone named Fulcrum.

Anakin only half-listened to the message as he went back to trying to restore the previous message, which yet again resulted in the new message flickering out before another one took its place and so on, much to the dismay of Anakin.

It was as though something external was hiding the message, which was ludicrous. He had dismantled the failsafe at that point so he should've had access to all of the messages that were being kept on this Droid.

But he could not find that kriffing message, which was disappointing, to say the least.

Anakin sighed dejectedly as he placed his hand on the dome of the red-trimmed Droid before he stood up and brushed his pants of the dirt that had accumulated on the tan fabric.

The little Droid beeped, asking if there was anything that he could do to help, but unfortunately, that was impossible seeing as the Droid didn't even have access to those recordings, a safety measure that the Senator had seen to for confidentiality's sake.

At least he had unlocked all of the other messages, and that meant that his job was done and now the Droid could be returned to the Princess, who was probably already out of her Council meeting by now.

"Sorry little guy," said Anakin as he shook his head, "I don't think there's anything you can do. Why don't you go back and find Leia, huh?"

The Droid beeped happily as he rolled out of the room and went on his way to find the Princess while Anakin put the tools back into the box. He was in the process of doing so when he sensed someone else in close vicinity to him, a small and moderate warning through the Force that he was not alone in the room that he had been utilizing for his repair work on the Droid.

Anakin turned around to see a man at the far corner of the room, a large box in his hand as he sat in down in the corner along with the rest of the boxes that had been lined up against the room. They were both in a storage facility, one that not very many people traversed through which was why Anakin had chosen it. But it came as no surprise to see someone else in there.

"Oh hello there," said the redheaded man as he straightened up and flashed Anakin a bright, pearly smile. "I didn't see you there."

"Hi," Anakin said softly as he closed up his toolbox before picking it up.

"You doing repair work in here or something? I saw you talking to that Droid earlier and I didn't want to interrupt," he said as he tilted his head, his gaze both thoughtful and contemplative as he observed the Jedi Padawan in front of him.

"Yeah, just fixing up a Droid for a friend," said Anakin with a friendly and bland smile as he did when conversing with someone he did not know.

"Ah I see," said the man as he placed his hands on his hips and looked around the storage room and sighed. "Sorry to intrude but I need to find a few data-files that I was told were in here, somewhere," he said with a short laugh as he looked around at the shelves that contained the data-chips that had all been meticulously organized into alphabetical order. It shouldn't be too hard to find the data-files, at least, in Anakin's opinion.

"What sort of data-files?" asked Anakin as he gave the man a suspicious sideways glance.

"Just a star map of the Chommel Sector," he said as he started looking through the data chips.

"Do you uh- do you need any help?" asked Anakin.

"No, but thanks for offering," he said with a smile before returning his attention to the data chips.

"Sure thing," said Anakin nonchalantly as he picked up his toolbox and his discarded jacket, which was becoming increasingly dirtier as the days went by, which was probably because he kept leaving it on the floor. He would soon have to make a trip to the laundry room to wash his clothes, which he was pretty sure had permanent oil and grease stains on them now.

Anakin was about to walk out of the room when he paused, a small flare in the Force alerting him to something- at least he thought that's what it was. There was just a small nagging somewhere in the back of his mind, a small almost indiscernible flicker.

He turned around slowly, his gaze falling on the redheaded man who was too busy sorting through the data chips to notice his attention on him. There was something strange about the man that Anakin couldn't quite put his finger on, but it was there nonetheless.

The Force was trying to tell him something, but he couldn't quite figure out what.

Anakin tilted his head to the side before he turned around and walked out of the room, the small nagging in his mind drowned out by the rest of the Force atmosphere that was always present in the back of his mind.

It was strange but Anakin gave it no further thought as he made his way into the hangar and set the toolbox on one of the many shelves along the side, seeing as it wasn't actually his property but the property of the Alliance. Every tool that was taken out of the hangar for repair work had to be returned eventually so that other people could use them.

Anakin was fine with not keeping it anyways seeing as he much preferred his own tools that he had left lying in his room at the Temple, strewn across the floor much to the chagrin of his Master. When he gets back, he would undoubtedly be instructed to pick them up and clean them all the while receiving a lecture from his Master about the importance of cleanliness.

Anakin had been working on one of the Temple Droids that were used to train the younglings that he had inadvertently damaged- well in all actuality it wasn't him who damaged the Droid but an enthusiastic and slightly sadistic little girl who had decided to try out her new saber technique on the poor thing.

Saber techniques that he had shown her, admittedly. But he had never intended for her try it out on one of the training Droids.

She had done that all on her own volition.

Master Jido had then declared that the Droid was far too damaged for anyone to repair it and had decided to throw it out when Anakin had offered to take it, his guilt driving him to try and salvage it.

He should've kept a closer eye on the little girl, but he had been temporarily distracted by the screaming and crying of the other younglings as well as one little boy's inability to control his bladder, which of course had fallen to him to take care of.

He didn't know why Master Jido thought he would be good for the job when she asked- no, forced him to help out with the younglings training sessions once a week. He usually didn't mind children, but a large group of rowdy ones made Anakin glad that he would never have to raise one.

He would certainly have to keep a closer eye on Initiate Veleri seeing as the seven-year old seemed to like hacking things with her little practice saber, including the other younglings.

Anakin still could not wrap his mind around the fact that a seven-year-old girl of her size managed to do the damage that she did. He couldn't help but cringe at the thought of her with a real lightsaber.

After making repairs to it for a little over four days, Anakin had come to the conclusion that Sheila Valeri was evil despite her innocent red pig-tails and freckle riddled face. It was a shame that he and his Master had been called to Setauri V right in the middle of the repairs, the little Droid having been left on his bed with no plating and no sensors, but safely out of reach of any sadistic younglings.

"Anakin," said Luke as he waved at the Padawan from across the hangar, an orange jumpsuit in his hand that Anakin did not fail to notice as he smiled back at the older man.

"Hey Luke," said Anakin as he made his way over to the Jedi, his eyes gazing over the orange suit in his hand with hope fluttering inside of him at the sight of it.

Luke suddenly tossed the jumpsuit into the air and into Anakin's surprised hands, a small grin spreading across Luke's face as he watched Anakin stare down at the fabric in his grasp.

"Suit up and we'll see how good a pilot you really are," said Luke as he nodded to one of the X-Wings on the far wall, the one that Dodonna had given Anakin permission to use for the next training exercise that he was to participate in, courtesy of Luke.

Anakin looked over at the X-Wing before looking down at the jumpsuit in his hands, a grin slowly spreading across his lips before he looked up at Luke, who had been staring at him silently with a small smile.

"You can thank me later. For now, let's see how that suit fits and then we can get you into the cockpit. What do ya say?" asked Luke.

Anakin nodded as he started to make his way out of the hangar in search of the locker room so he could change, but before he could do so, he saw Danika looking at him from her spot on the floor, her dark eyes gazing over the jumpsuit before she turned away from him and went back to her repairs. Anakin could tell that she was upset even though she managed to hide it behind a stony expression, her brown eyes refusing to look anywhere but on her work.

Anakin knew that she wasn't mad at him but it didn't make him feel any better as he made his way out of the hangar, the jumpsuit in his grasp suddenly feeling heavier in his hands. He was lucky that he was being given this opportunity and he was thankful that Luke had managed to do it, but he also knew that this was not something to be squandered.

The jumpsuit fit him perfectly and he looked every inch a Rebel pilot as he stared at himself in the mirror. If only his Master could see him now, in a flight suit about to become a pilot for a Rebellion.

He'd probably reprimand him for his reckless piloting.

Anakin turned away from the mirror to look over at where the helmets were all lined up on the back wall, his gaze falling on each one as he gingerly reached out and grabbed one and smoothed his hand over the front of it.

Anakin stared down at it for a few seconds before shoved it under his arm and placed his discarded clothes into one of the nearest lockers before making his way out into the hangar where he could see Luke and a few other pilots, all of them wearing their own jumpsuits and standing in a circle laughing amongst themselves.

Luke motioned for Anakin to make his way over to the group, who all looked over at Anakin with curiosity and newfound interest but with friendliness as well as the newcomer made his way over to them.

"Guys this is Anakin, he's going to be joining us for our training exercise today," said Luke as he patted the younger man on the back.

A chorus of hello's echoed throughout the room before they all returned their attention back to the discussion at hand, the new guy already forgotten about as they went over the plans for the training session at hand. Anakin listened intently to the plans for the exercise, his mind going over the calculations and trajectory at a fast pace.

"Hey, new guy. You ever flown one of these before?" asked a man who honestly did not look that much older than Anakin, his dark eyes observing the newest addition to their Squadron.

"No, but I've flown plenty of other ships. I'll be fine," said Anakin.

"He's alright," said Luke, not bothering to look up from adjusting the strap on his helmet. "He grew up pod racing back home on Tatooine, so managing an X-Wing shouldn't be that difficult, right Anakin?"

"I wouldn't think so," said Anakin with a grin.

"Well, we'll see how you do this run and if you're any good like Luke says you are, then we'll be lucky to have ya," said another man as he winked over at the older Jedi.

"Hey, what are the chances that two people from the same planet would both end up being pilots in the Rebellion? Is that all you people learn to do on Tatooine?" asked the same man.

"That and we learn how to play a mean game of Sabaac," retorted Luke with a sly grin plastered all over his face as he stared the other man down.

"Is that a challenge, farm boy?" asked the man in faux indignation as he pulled himself up to his full height, which was more equal to Anakin's own rather than to Luke's smaller stature, but this did not seem to deter Luke at all and it was quite obvious that they were only teasing one another.

"Don't challenge him, Kenan! He wiped the floor with Torren's ass the last time we played," said another man as he punched another man on the arm.

"Huh, that's funny. I seem to remember that being the Princess," said Kenan as he scratched his head in fake perplexity.

"Well, Torren? Who was it that beat your ass into the ground?" asked Kenan over to a rather short man with pitch black hair that had been slicked back.

Torren shook his head before leaning into cough into his hand, "-The Princess-" before masking it behind yet again another cough, his dark eye looking over to meet those of Luke's, who pointed an accusing finger at him.

"Torren you son of a bitch. You know Leia wouldn't have gotten those cards without me!" said Luke as he clutched at his middle in betrayal, a chuckle trying to force itself out of him as he did his best to mask his laughter.

"Sorry Commander, you know how intimidating the Princess can be when she plays the game."

"She looks about ready to murder someone when she plays that game," said Luke with a chuckle, "but let's not forget who taught her how to play in the first place."

"You sure that was you or Captain Solo?"

"You know, Han wasn't the only one around here who knew how to play the game. In fact, I've won a fair amount of games against him," said Luke with a small smile, a hint of sadness flashing across his features before it was once again masked by his signature smile.

"Yeah, but I think we can all agree he was the King when it came to Sabaac," said Torren solemnly, which caused the previously bright atmosphere around them to lighten considerably, all of the pilots faces dropping in remorse as they remembered their old friend.

"Agreed," said Luke softly as he looked over at Anakin, who had grown strangely quiet over the past few seconds. He was unsure how to react to the situation around him seeing how silent and awkward it had grown since the mention of Han, who was obviously missed by his friends and comrades judging from their suddenly solemn and long faces.

"So what do you say, Kenan? You think two runts from Tatooine could beat you?" asked Luke after a few moments of silence as he nudged Anakin's shoulder.

"I don't know, we'll have to see won't we?" asked Kenan with a smug grin. "What do you say 1900 hours in the storage room on the fourth deck?"

Anakin wanted to join in the game, but he knew that it would a gambling game and he didn't have much to bet with as it was. He had no credits and something told him that this would be game in which credits would be used to bet on, leaving him in a rather awkward position.

"You know what," said Anakin as he shook his head, "I think I'm going to have to sit this one out, I don't have anything to bet with."

Anakin was a pretty good player at Sabaac, his younger years on Tatooine having taught him the ins and outs of the game fairly well. He had learned at a very young age as most people did on Tatooine, but like almost all slaves who knew how to play, he was not allowed to keep his earnings. Watto took it all, only giving Anakin back a fraction of what he had actually won, and that was if his older Master was in a good mood.

Years later Anakin had, without the knowledge or consent of the Masters, arranged secret Sabaac games with a fairly large group of other Padawan's who also knew how the game worked. They had all met in secret, usually late at night when their Masters were fast asleep and the night-life of Coruscant was at its peak.

Of course, they hadn't used credits to play the game seeing as Jedi did not earn money, the Republic having given them everything that they needed from tax payer credits. Plus, the Jedi weren't technically supposed to earn or handle credits seeing as wealth and possessions were a gateway to the Dark Side, so when they had played Sabaac, they played with chips and nothing more.

Of course, a group of Padawans sneaking out of their quarters late at night had not gone entirely unnoticed by the Masters around the Temple. It was, of course, a rule that Jedi were not supposed to gamble, but he knew for a fact that there were a few Masters who had simply turned a blind eye to their mischievous behavior. Plus, it wasn't gambling if they weren't using credits.

He even had a sneaky suspicion that Obi-Wan may or may not have known about his little side entertainment, but if that was the case, his Master certainly had never approached him about the situation. He would have to ask his blue Master the next time he decided to pay him a visit.

But despite his earlier shenanigans at the Temple, Anakin knew that he would have to wait this round out. He had better things to do then to bet with credits he didn't have, and he happened to know that Luke had his own credits so he was in a position to gamble it.

"You sure?" asked Luke inquisitively.

"Yeah," nodded Anakin. "Sorry, maybe next time."

"We'll keep a seat warm for ya in case you change your mind, how bout' that?" asked Kenan as he shot Luke a toothy grin.

"Sure, you do that," chuckled Anakin under his breath as he turned his focus back to Luke.

"Alrighty, now that that's settled, why don't we get this training exercise on the road," said Luke as he motioned for Anakin to follow him over to one of the X-Wings that was parked on the far end of the hangar.

"She's all yours for this training exercise," said Luke as he patted the side of the ship before he started to make his way up the ramp only to swing himself onto the far side of the tiny cockpit so as to make room for Anakin, who he would be showing the ropes of the control panel. However, the moment Anakin got a good look of the interior he knew that he would not be needing any assistance in learning the layout of the ship.

His mind had already mapped and memorized where every single control was and there was absolutely no doubt in his mind that he would be able to pilot it without any foreseeable difficulty.

"You think you can manage?" asked Luke, sensing that the younger man already knew the layout of the ship.

Anakin nodded his head, "yeah, I got this."

"Great," said Luke as he swung his legs over the side of the ships before looking back to address Anakin once more. "Your temporary call sign, for now, will be Rogue Alpha. It will change in the near future depending on whatever Squadron you're assigned too or whatever call sign Dodonna assigns to you."

"Gotcha. Anything else I should know?" asked Anakin as he put his helmet on and tied the strap beneath his chin.

"Yeah, follow orders and don't do anything stupid, you understand Alpha?" asked Luke.

"Loud and clear, Rogue Leader," said Anakin as he watched Luke slide down the ship, his feet hitting the hard deck with a large clunk before he made his way over to his own X-Wing, but not before he stopped and turned to face Anakin, his hand coming into a mock salute, to which Anakin responded with a two finger salute as the glass windshield came down around him.

"Good luck," came a whisper through their Force bond.

"You too," replied Anakin as he revved the engine and did a quick over of the control panel in front of him to make sure that nothing was out of order, to which nothing was. Everything was in top shape and nothing was out of the ordinary.

"This is Rogue Leader, can everybody read me?" came Luke's voice over the transmitter.

"Loud and clear, Rogue Leader!" came Kenan, whose call sign was Rogue five.

The rest of the team replied including Anakin, who could only watch as the hangar door opened to reveal the black void of space that made Anakin feel giddy just looking at it.

"Prepare for launch," came Luke's voice over the intercom as the rest of the X-Wings started to levitate off the ground, including Anakin's as he slowly piloted his over to the hangar door before he found himself zooming through the vacuum of space, two X-Wings on either side of him as they all kept pace with one another.

The craft glided smoothly and without any hitch as Anakin maneuvered his craft alongside the rest of the team, a feeling of freedom and pure exhilaration overtaking him as it usually did whenever he was flying. He had never felt so free as when he was piloting, even as a slave. Piloting had always been his escape whether it was from his slave duties or his responsibilities as a Padawan, his love for flying also providing him a temporary way of getting away from his problems, if only for a short time.

"How you holding up, Rogue Alpha?" came Rogue four's voice over the intercom, Torren if Anakin wasn't mistaken.

"Fine, Rogue Four," replied Anakin as he slowly let up on the throttle and allowed his craft to raise a tad bit higher.

"Good, Rogue Four out."

"Copy that," said Anakin as a large grin spread over his face.

They circled over around the ship a few times, each rotation providing Anakin with even more time to familiarize himself with the ship, its speed, its maneuverability, and everything else there was to learn about a ship.

The more Anakin became familiar with the ship, the more he put the pedal to the metal as he tested the limitations of the craft he was currently piloting. This, however, did not seem to go unnoticed by the others.

"Someone's having fun," commented the other pilot that Anakin had not remembered the name of.

"Just familiarizing myself with her," said Anakin as he looked out the viewport to see Luke's craft somewhere below him on his starboard side.

"From the looks of it, you've already more than familiarized yourself with it but go ahead and see what she's got," said Luke over the com.

"Sure thing, Rogue Leader," said Anakin as he pulled the throttle towards him and basked himself in the feeling of his ship twirling through the void before he really stepped on the petal, allowing his craft to zoom past the rest of his team as he replaced Luke at the front of the party.

Anakin probably had the biggest grin on his face as he allowed his craft to veer off dramatically to portside, to which the rest of the X-Wings followed as they did their own little stunts as well.

They were only in space for maybe a half-hour before Luke finally started his descent towards the ship, his own craft heading towards the hangar.

"Okay, I think that's enough for one day. Prepare for landing," said Luke.

"Copy that Rogue Leader," said Rogue Two as the team veered back towards the ship and into the hangar.

All six of the pilots followed Luke into the hangar as they landed in their own designated spots.

Anakin landed his craft with no difficulty before allowing the hatch to release, a huge grin plastered to his face as he tore off the helmet, not minding the sweat that had accumulated in his hair and around his forehead. He jumped down the ramp and eagerly made his way over to Luke, who was in the process of taking his own helmet off.

"Not too bad, eh?" asked Luke as he smoothed a hand through his floppy blond hair, the sweat making it stick back off his forehead.

"Nah," said Anakin.

"Thought so," said Luke as he clasped Anakin on the shoulder before he unzipped the top of his jumpsuit, allowing the slightly cool air to ventilate the thick and heavy outfit while Anakin did the same.

"Not too bad for your first time, newbie. But we'll have to see how you do when you've got Tie Fighters on your ass," said Kenan as he made his way over to the two blond men.

"I'm sure he'd do fine, Kenan. Unlike you who almost choked the first time you ever saw a Tie Fighter," said Luke.

"Touché," said Kenan as he stuck a toothpick in his mouth and grinning over at Luke and Anakin before making his way back over to his own ship to finish securing it, as was procedure for all pilots to do after a flight session.

"So what's his story?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence before they both turned away and went back to finishing up on their own ships.

"Kenan's?" asked Luke as he looked back over at the older man briefly before looking back over at Anakin and pursing his lips. "Before he came to be in the Rebellion, Kenan and his family lived in a farming community on Dantooine. The Empire came by one day trying to track down an Imperial defector that they believed to be hiding out in the town. They searched everybody's home and those who did not comply with the mandatory search were shot and killed, his parents included."

"What about Torren and the others- I forgot their names. How'd they come to join the Rebellion?" asked Anakin, his voice lowering an octave.

"I think Torren's only here because he got rejected from the Imperial Academy and I'm not sure about the others. I know Jensen, Rogue Two, joined because of what happened to Alderaan but that's all I know."

"Oh," said Anakin as he left it just at that. There wasn't much else he could say about the entire situation or about these men's past and drove them to join the Alliance, whether it was by vendetta or out of spite for being rejected by the Empire.

"Yeah," said Luke as he closed the hatch before they migrated over to Anakin's ship and began securing it as well. "I think you'll find that most people in the Rebellion have a past that most of the time tends to revolve around the Empire."

"I've noticed," said Anakin simply.

Luke said nothing as he closed the hatch on Anakin's X-Wing, his eyes traveling over to the entrance where a small group of pilots made up from two different Squadrons had accumulated, their loud voices echoing throughout the hangar.

"Hey, Luke!" shouted Wedge from across the hangar. "How was it?"

"Good!" replied Luke. "Looks like we have another pilot joining us!"

Wedge grinned, "I had a feeling that might happen!"

With that Luke made his way down the ramp and headed into the locker room, Anakin in tow as they both changed out of their jumpsuits and into their normal attire before making their way out into the corridor.

"There's nothing else scheduled for today and I have a Council meeting to attend with Leia," said Luke as he looked back at Anakin. "You're off duty so you're free to do whatever you want."

"I think I might go back to my quarters and get a shower," said Anakin as he begun to turn in the other direction.

"Okay," said Luke as he turned around to leave but stopped short to call back to Anakin. "Oh, I forgot to tell you, we have a Council meeting of 0800 tomorrow in the Control Room. Don't be late."

Anakin gave the older man a thumbs up before he disappeared down the corridor and back into his room, which was starting to look messy after all his time with the Rebellion. He considered cleaning it but decided that showering was more of a priority as he stripped himself of his clothes and stepped into the shower, allowing the hot water to spray down his face and hair.

He closed his eyes as he leaned against the wall as he scrubbed himself with the small bar of soap that he had picked up in the commissary the other day as well as other needed utilities. He was about to reach for the shampoo when he felt something reaching for him, a small tingling sensation at the back of his neck that sent shivers up his spine.

His eyes shot open, not minding the water that was seeping into them as he took a deep breath, his mental shields immediately going up in place for his own protection.

He did not recognize this new dark presence that was currently trying to connect with him through the Force, but he knew whatever it was that it was evil. It was not the same presence as before, the dark one that had tried reaching out to him on Ben'we. No, this new presence was even darker than the last one and yet familiar as well.

Even though the presence had changed over the course of the last few decades it was still one that was recognizable to Anakin, despite the new aura of darkness.

It was Palpatine's presence, a much more twisted and sadistic version but him nonetheless.

How long had the Sith been prodding him before he had even realized it? His presence had been so slight and so delicate that if Anakin had been any less attuned or sensitive to the Force he would not have even felt it, which disturbed him greatly.

Anakin strengthened his mental barriers even more as he forced the presence completely out, his breathing becoming labored at the surprisingly strenuous job. It was only a few seconds later that the Sith finally let go and slipped away, a distinct feeling of glee and anticipation emanating from him as he disappeared.

Anakin scowled as he quickly finished up washing before he shut the water off and stepped out onto the mat to stare at his reflection in the mirror, which now had micro-cracks running through it that were undoubtedly from him.

He was angry that Palpatine now knew about his presence here in the future and that he had the gall to try and reach out to him like he did, and then trying to invade his privacy and spying on him was definitely not okay.

It was only a few minutes after that the Anakin had dressed himself and found himself making his way into the empty storage room from earlier, his lightsaber in his hand as he shrugged off his jacket and tossed it in the corner.

He needed an outlet for his anger, and practicing his forms seemed like a good way to do so as he ignited his lightsaber and stepped into the position for Form V, Djem So.

He had studied this particular Form and it was probably his most well-mastered Form out of them all, and also his favorite because of the intensity and the aggression that came from it.

Anakin closed his eyes as he exhaled, his blue eyes snapping open only a second later as he tore his blue lightsaber through the air in such a rapid motion that it looked as though the blue blade was in two places at once as he sliced at the air. It was a good thing that there wasn't anything in his vicinity that he could damage, or any people for that matter as he let his rage flow through him and into his lightsaber.

He hadn't really thought of the implication of Palpatine being a Sith Lord ever since Obi-Wan had told him, choosing rather to not think about it than to allow himself to be consumed with feelings of betrayal and anger. But if he had his doubts even then that his friend had truly been a Sith, he certainly had no apprehensions anymore, not after feeling that dark presence.

Palpatine had earned his trust and had pretended to be his friend for years, never once leaving him with any suspicions to his true identity. And now looking back on everything, Anakin couldn't help but feel as though he should've been warier of the old man, but he hadn't been.

Palpatine had been his friend. One of his only friends so, of course, Anakin would not have suspected anything, his want for a friend probably overpowering his judgment.

Anakin stopped his movements in a sudden, graceful movement as he inhaled deeply, his dark eyes snapping over to an empty crate as he reached out and levitated it off the ground and force pushed it over in his direction before he cut in in half with his lightsaber, the whirring sound of his weapon slicing through matter echoing through the room as he did the same with the other ones.

He did this until he was out of breath and all that remained of the crates was a burned and sliced mess at his feet. He felt mildly bad about destroying Alliance property, but his anger out won his guilt as he kicked a discarded piece of crate into the wall with a grunt before he heaved himself down on the floor, his hands coming up to cradle his head as he sat his lightsaber down beside him.

His mother's death, his Master's strange words, his friend's betrayal, the Empire, none of it was making any sense and no matter how hard he tried, he just couldn't figure out how to handle all of it.

He couldn't even explain half of what he was feeling, his emotions running wildly around him at such a fast pace that he just couldn't seem to catch up. He had been so happy earlier, piloting an X-Wing and earning his spot on the team with Luke, but now-

Now Anakin wasn't sure what he was feeling.

He sighed as he sat up straighter, his hand reaching back for his lightsaber before he stood up and clipped the weapon to his utility belt, his jacket flying across the room and into his hands before he put it back on. He was starting to get hungry and it was nearing dinner time. He decided that if he went to the mess hall early and grabbed something to eat, he could make it to see the game that was being held that night.

He needed a distraction from what had just transpired and there was nothing better than eating and watching a Sabaac game, even if he wouldn't be the one playing. He still had to wonder where Luke had managed to get his credits from seeing as being a member of the Rebel Alliance didn't pay zilch, but despite that, Anakin was still looking forward to seeing just how good a player Luke really was.

Anakin made his way out of the storage room, his heavy boots pounding against the hard floor as he found his way into the mess hall and loaded his tray up with suspicious looking food. He looked around the partially filled mess hall, his eyes zeroing in on the dark-skinned Smuggler and his Wookie companion, whose name he remembered being Chewie. He hadn't talked to Lando in a few days, his schedule far too busy to go and talk to him or anyone else for that matter.

If he ever did have any free time, he would have to track the man down and see if he needed any help repairing the Falcon, which Anakin had been excited to take a look at.

"Hey kid!" yelled Lando from where he was seated alongside Chewie, who let out a ferocious roar at the sight of Anakin, his big furry paws coming down on the table.

"Hey Lando," said Anakin as he made his way over to the older man, "hey Chewie."

"So how's the Rebel life been treating you?" asked Lando as he leaned back casually in his chair.

Anakin nodded, "it's fine, I guess. Not as intense as I thought it would be."

"Yeah, things have been kind of slow for the past month. It's kind of surprising, you know? It's been kind of nice but off-putting at the same time," said Lando as he watched Anakin start to eat his dinner. "Makes me wonder what the Empire has up its sleeve."

"What was it like before I got here?" asked Anakin as he swallowed his food.

"Pretty much the same, I guess. I only recently came to be in the Rebellion, but I've heard a few stories. You ever heard of Rogue One during your time here?"

Anakin shook his head, "No, why? What is it?"

"Not it, they," corrected Lando as he leaned forward in his seat heavily. "It was the group of Rebels that were responsible for stealing the Death Star plans."

Anakin paused, his food temporarily forgotten as he leaned forward in his seat, a distinct feeling of curiosity coming over him as he waited for Lando to continue the story patiently.

"It was led by a woman named Jyn Erso, who just so happened to be the daughter of the Scientist who engineered the Death Star. From what I've been told, her father managed to hide a flaw in the design of the station so that the Rebellion would have the opportunity to destroy it. The Alliance heard about this, but decided not to try and steal the plans out of fear. But this woman, along with Captain Andor and their team went Rogue and attacked the facility where the data for the Death Star was being held on Scarif."

"What happened?" pressed Anakin.

"Both the Empire and the Alliance figured out what was happening and both had a confrontation above the surface of the planet. The Rebel fleet had to take down the shield gate so that the data could be transferred to the Rebel ships."

"How'd they manage that?" asked Anakin.

"They crashed two Star Destroyers together and the debris destroyed the gate so that the ground Rebels could send the data files up."

"They did what?" asked Anakin with an incredulous look on his face. He tried to imagine it, but something told him it was much more epic in real life.

Lando let out a small laugh, "don't ask me how they managed to pull that one off because I still don't know. But from what I hear from the Rebels who were there, it was really something."

"Okay, but what happened to the ground team? They got the data files up, right?"

"Oh they got the data-files up, but unfortunately there was really nothing the Alliance could do to save them. The Death Star came out of hyperspace and destroyed the citadel, killing the Rebels and their own all for the sake of not letting the plans escape."

"So they all died?" asked Anakin, his eyebrows scrunching up as he looked over at Lando for confirmation.

Lando nodded his head solemnly as Chewie, who had been silent the entire time let out a sad whine, "they died heroes."

Anakin remained silent as he stared down at his lap for a few moments before looking up at Lando, who was staring at nothing, his mind also lost in deep thought and mourning for a group of people he had never met before, but respected.

"What about the plans?" asked Anakin, his voice considerably softer than it had been a few minutes previous.

"The Rebel fleet received the plans and they were passed off to Leia, who was using her status as Princess and Senator of Alderaan as a guise for her transporting the plans. She managed to get the plans and escape, but Darth Vader caught up with her."

"Then what happened? How did she hide the plans from him?" asked Anakin.

"She hid the plans in Artoo and jettisoned him and Threepio out in an escape pod, which crash-landed on Tatooine-"

"-Then Jawas found it and Luke's Uncle bought the Droids," said Anakin as he finished up the story, finally finding the correlation between the two stories he had been told.

"But what happened to Leia? I mean I know Luke mentioned having rescued her, but how?"

Lando sighed as he leaned forward, his voice dropping an octave, "listen, kid. I couldn't tell you everything they did to the Princess in there, but I know enough about the Empire to know it wasn't good. She was interrogated and tortured for information but she didn't break, not even under Vader's influence. Then Luke and Han rescued her and brought the plans to the Alliance."

And his Master had perished at Darth Vader's hand. The more he heard about Darth Vader, the more he wanted to drive his lightsaber into him, but he knew that that option would not be wise, no matter how much he wanted to do it.

Hatred led to the Dark Side, even hatred for a Sith.

But no matter how much Anakin tried to reign in his anger, he still wanted to see Vader die for all that he had done.

"Then they destroyed the Death Star," said Anakin, finishing the story, his appetite suddenly gone as he stared down at his half-eaten tray of food.

"That's the shortened version of it, but yeah. Pretty much a shit-show, don't ya think?"

"Pretty much," mumbled Anakin under his breath as he pushed his tray of food away from him.

Chewie roared in agreement, his long sharp teeth fully displayed as he tipped his head back and let it all out, a sad and painful sound emanating from him.

"Chewie would know. He helped rescue the Princess too, didn't ya buddy?" asked Lando as he patted the Wookie's back.

The Kashyyyk native let out a whine of confirmation as he yet again banged his hands on the table, almost causing Anakin's water to spill, but simple use of the Force caused the cup to stop tipping over as it returned to its upright position.

It was only after a few moments of silence that Lando spoke up yet again, his eyes looking over at the cup that had just returned to its upright position all by itself.

"You know, kid. You look really familiar. Have we met before?"

Anakin definitely would've remembered meeting a person like Lando, but of course, there was a whole twenty-eight years of his life that were unaccounted for so he wasn't entirely sure that that was the truth.

"I don't think so," said Anakin shaking his head. "I definitely would've remembered if we had."

"Huh," said Lando leaning back in his chair again, a perplexed look coming over his face as he looked back over at Anakin. "Maybe I'm just imagining things, but you really look like this guy I saw on the holo-news a few times when I was younger."

"Really?" asked Anakin with a raised eyebrow and a grin. "Well, maybe I just have a look-alike."

"Maybe," said Lando quietly in a tone that said the opposite as he folded his hands over the table, his eyes going over to Chewie, who had grown strangely silent over the last few seconds before letting another roar.

Anakin wasn't sure if it was a roar of agreement to him looking familiar or if he was roaring at the possibility of a look alike.

Anakin felt like shrinking in his seat from the sheer awkwardness of it all before he locked eyes with the Princess, who had just entered into the hangar with a few female friends of hers. As soon as she had seen him, she had politely excused herself before making her way over to him, a small smile on her face as she took the seat next to Lando.

"Hey guys," she said as she folded her hands on the table.

"Hey," said Anakin as he returned her smile. "You going to watch the Sabaac match later?"

"Of course, who isn't?" she said with a grin as she looked around the mess hall before returning her attention to the two men and the Wookie at the table.

"Did you get your Droid?" asked Anakin as he took a sip of water.

"I did. Thank you for doing that by the way," she said smiling at Anakin.

"You're welcome, Leia," said Anakin as he shrugged. "I'm just glad that I could be of service."

"You fixing up the Princesses Droids now?" asked Lando, injecting himself into the conversation.

"I asked him," said Leia. "It was one of my father's old droids that he used during the earlier years of the Rebellion."

"Oh, you find anything of interest?" asked Lando.

Leia shook her head, "I really haven't had the chance to go through the messages yet. But I'm sure there is quite a bit of information stored in it."

"Your father was really active in the earlier years of the Rebellion, wasn't he?" asked Anakin, his curiosity about the formation of the Alliance growing.

"Well yes, seeing as he was one of the Founders."

"I think you've mentioned that before. So was it just him and Mon Mothma who founded it?" pressed Anakin.

"Oh no, there were a few other Politicians who were key in the development of the Alliance. In fact, it was during Emperor's term as Chancellor during the Clone Wars that the seeds of the Rebellion were planted by a few Senators who felt as though the Chancellor was being granted too many emergency powers. They signed a petition calling for him to give up his emergency powers after the end of the war, but it was only shortly after that the Republic was demolished," said Leia as she recounted the history that her own father had taught her.

"Do you know who the Senators were?" asked Anakin.

"My father, Mon Mothma, and a few others. I do believe the Senator for the Chommel Sector at the time was one of them but I'm not sure what her name was."

"Was it by any chance Padme Amidala?" asked Anakin slowly.

"Yeah, I think that was her name. Anyways, it wasn't until after the fall of the Republic that my father and Mon Mothma started collaborating in secret to overthrow the Empire as Rebel Cells started to emerge around the galaxy, all of them in opposition of the Empire. It wasn't until about six years ago that the Rebel Alliance was reorganized."

So Padme had played a role in the Rebel Alliance, having been one of the Senators who had planted the seeds of Rebellion and Anakin was not surprised that she had had a role. She was not the type of person who would just sit back and watch as the Republic was destroyed before her very eyes. No, she definitely would've had done something.

He wondered whether or not she was still playing a role in the Rebellion, possibly working in the shadows or maybe she was someplace else overseeing a different division. And if his visions were true, then it was possible that maybe she was his future self, doing whatever they were doing.

He liked to think that was where he and the former Queen were doing during this turbulent time in history, but then again Artoo had told him that his future was not good, which was probably a reason why he shouldn't be speculating on such matters.

Plus, he had the distinct feeling that there was more to that simple conclusion he had come up with so he decided it probably wasn't best to focus on the unknown as he pushed it to the back of his mind.

"Do-do you have any idea what happened to Senator Amidala?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence. He very well did not need to know his own future, but he was curious as to the sort of activities the Senator had been up to these past twenty-eight years.

"Senator Padme Amidala of Naboo?" asked Leia biting the inside of her lip as she racked her brain. "I don't remember, why?"

"I was just wondering," said Anakin nonchalantly, "I remember hearing about her when I was younger."

"Well there are a lot of Senators, I'm afraid I don't know them all," said Leia as she pursed her lips in concentration, as if she was trying to remember something from a long time ago that was just barely out of reach.

"What I do know about her is that she was a Senator during the days of the Republic and she and my father were probably acquainted, but that's it."

"It's fine," said Anakin, "I don't expect you to know what happened to every Senator in the Republic. I'm sure I could probably find something about her in the records."

"Maybe," said Leia as she tapped the table with her fingers, "but I don't know if you'll find much. The Empire purged a lot of information and sadly there isn't much we know about the Republic that hasn't been tampered with or corrupted over the last few decades. Then again, if you're looking for information on her, Mon Mothma might know."

Anakin was a little surprised by the Princesses lack of knowledge, but then again it was possible that her father had not shared that sort of information with her. If that earlier message had been any indication, it seemed as though Bail had been keeping things from his own daughter, things that weren't meant to be known by her or anyone else for that matter.

And he was not about to looking for Mon Mothma on information about Senator Amidala, choosing ignorance over the cold and stony glares of the older woman. She did not like him, that much was noticeable and Anakin would much prefer to keep his distance, for now.

"Maybe later," mumbled Anakin under his breath.

"I'm sorry I couldn't be more help, Anakin. There's so much that my father didn't tell me."

"It's okay," said Anakin as he reassured the older woman. "I'm sure I'll find something on her."

Leia smiled apologetically at the younger man, obviously sensing his frustration from behind his usual sunny smile that he had offered her.

Anakin was about to say something else when he saw Luke enter into the mess hall with a few friends of his, the lot of them laughing at something as they made their way over to their table.

Chewie roared at the sight of Luke, who clasped the Wookie on the back before he plopped down in the seat next to Leia.

"So I hear Anakin flew his first X-Wing today. How was it?" she asked looking over at Anakin, a small grin creeping over her face.

"It was great," said Anakin as he bobbed his head up and down.

"He did pretty well for his first time in one," said Luke.

"First time?" asked Lando. "So you're officially a pilot, now?"

Anakin didn't answer the question as he looked over at Luke for his answer. Only Luke would know if he had been placed on a Squadron or not.

"It's official. You're now a member of Rogue Squadron."

"Well, would you look at that," said Leia as she turned to give Anakin a congratulatory smile.

"How does it feel to be a top shot Rebel Pilot?" asked Lando.

Anakin shrugged, "same as always, I guess."

"Well, you won't be thinking that when you're flying into battle with twenty TIE's riding your ass," said Lando as he picked up his glass of ale that had been sitting untouched and raised it in Anakin's direction.

The next few minutes were spent with Luke and Lando telling them stories about incidents that had happened when flying while Leia merely just rolled her eyes at their stories, occasionally pointing out that they were over exaggerating the story before cracking into a grin.

Lando told them a story about his younger days smuggling days with Han Solo and how they had gotten into trouble more than once, whether it be with the Empire, Hutt's, or scorned girlfriends. Anakin thought he would bust a gut listening to some of the stories and other times he was impressed with the stories that Lando had.

Even Luke and Leia were on the verge of tears as Lando finished the story, the laughter taking a while to die down before any of them could even speak again.

"Oh Force I can't believe that happened," said Anakin.

"I have no idea how you managed to get out of that one," said Luke.

"Neither did we," said Lando into his drink while Leia shook her head.

"I bet you anything Han has a different version of what happened," said Luke.

"Well, of course, he would considering how drunk he was," said Lando.

Anakin chuckled as he finally finished the rest of his food before turning his attention over to Luke.

"Hey, you ready for your game tonight?"

"Yeah," said Luke nonchalantly as he rapped his knuckles against the table. "You coming to watch?"

Even though Anakin wouldn't be playing, he still wasn't about to miss out on the chance to watch a few rounds of the game that night. He was curious as to just how good a player Luke claimed to be as well use this time to get to know some of the other pilots, seeing as he was himself a pilot too now.

"Yeah, but I have things to take care of first, if you'll excuse me," he said as he stood up, taking his tray with him over to the trash can and dumping the waste before making his way out of the mess hall.

He made his way back to his quarters and pulled out his comlink so that he could try and contact Nayeli, but he could not get ahold of her. She was probably busy or sleeping or something like that or she hadn't noticed her comlink going off.

Anakin had wanted to talk to her, to see if she was alright seeing as how their last conversation had gone. She hadn't tried to contact him since then, probably using this time to mourn the death of his mother as per the culture of Ben'we dictated. He had remembered something being mentioned about customary mourning and fasting after the death of a loved one as well as a few other complicated cultural rituals, something that Anakin felt she was entitled to after all these years.

It made him briefly wonder what his mother's funeral had been like, or if she had even been given a proper one. Typically slave owners did not give their slaves funerals or burial rites, it did happen from time to time but it was practically unheard of.

Usually, it was up to the slaves to bury their own, a tradition that had spanned back hundreds and hundreds of years. There used to be a time when the slaves had not been allowed to bury their own, which had forced them to steal the bodies away so that they could hold funerals in secret. If they were unable to steal the body, as was often times the case, then they would bury what few possessions the person had owned in life, the ceremony still remaining much the same.

But times had changed over the past few centuries. Now, slave-owners didn't care if the slaves wanted to bury their own and allowed them to do so, but still the traditions that had formed during a time when it had to be done in secret remained.

Slave funerals were always held at night and it was tradition for everyone in attendance to wear black, not out of mourning but out of rejoicing. The deceased was no longer a slave, their souls having gone up into the heavens where they would be free forever.

Black was a symbol of freedom on Tatooine because to them, it represented the safety of the night. With night came the cool winds and the chance to be free, a chance to escape the hot suns under which they were forced to toil from dawn to dusk.

They were typically buried in dark shrouds and everyone participated in the burial, each of the slaves covering the body with sand until the burial process was over.

Then each of them would grab a handful of sand and say their farewells.

There was a saying on Tatooine. The slaves buried their own.

So it made Anakin wonder, seeing as his mother had died a free-woman, what sort of burial she had been given? It was possible that she had been given the funeral rites of a free person, and Anakin wouldn't have minded if that had been the case.

Anakin sighed as he shoved his comlink away, the thought of his mother's death becoming all too much for him to handle at the moment. His mother was dead, but that would not happen when he got back.

As soon as he got back to his own time, he would leave the Temple and go back to Tatooine and return her to Ben'we. He would free his mother and reunite her and Nayeli so that they could be happy again.

They would never have to wonder what had happened to other anymore and they could be a family again, all of them.

Anakin looked over at the clock, which said that it was almost 1900 hours, just a few minutes until the Sabaac game started. Anakin had promised that he would be in attendance that night, but he was no longer in the mood to go.

"Sorry Luke," he mumbled to himself as he sat down on his bed. "Maybe some other time."

With that, he leaned back on his bed and stared up at the ceiling.

He let out a bored huff as he kicked his boots off and turned on his side, his hands coming beneath him to readjust the pillow until he was comfortable.

He stayed like this for what seemed like hours, but was in reality only a few minutes before he finally drifted off into a peaceful, dreamless slumber.

His streak of dreamless sleep, however, would not remain.

Chapter Text

Luke Skywalker fought back a grin as he stared down at his cards, trying his hardest to keep a straight face but he was finding it increasingly difficult the more he looked over at Kenan, who was staring at his own cards with a composed look on his face, but Luke could sense his elation through the Force.

Kenan must've been dealt a good hand, but Luke knew for a fact that his hand was unbeatable.

"I hate to be the bearer of bad news, gentlemen," said Kenan as he leaned back in his chair and threw his cards down for everybody to read, "but I'm afraid this round goes to me."

Torren groaned as he threw his cards down and watched sullenly as Kenan raked in all of his earnings for the round, a large smile playing on his lips as he stared down at his winnings.

"You can declare me the winner," said Kenan as he took a sip of his Corellian ale.

"Now just wait a minute," said Luke finally, a small grin spreading across his face. "I'm afraid that those belong to me."

He pointed to the large stack of credits that sat next to Kenan, who paused his counting to stare over at the younger man.

"You got something better than this?" he asked as he gestured to his cards.

Luke grinned as he laid his own cards down on the table for everybody in the room to see, a chorus of cheering and laughing erupting throughout the room as Kenan's face fell considerably.

Torren let out a chuckle as he took a sip of his own ale, his hand coming to clasp a defeated Kenan on the back.

"Sorry Mate looks like you aren't the champion of this round."

"You son of a bitch," mumbled Kenan under his breath as he watched Luke collect his earnings. "You were using your wizard senses, weren't you?"

"Wizard senses?" asked Luke. "I'm afraid you've mistaken me for a magician."

"Jedi, Wizard, same kriffing thing," muttered Kenan as he finished his ale before standing up with his empty glass and heading over to where the bottle sat.

"So, who's up for round four?" asked Luke as he started shuffling the cards, his eyes scanning the room for any takers.

"I'm afraid that that will have to wait, Commander," said a familiar voice from behind Luke.

The Jedi recognized that voice as belonging to Captain Rex, a Clone who served in the Clone War and who, subsequently, knew and fought with his father during that time. Captain Rex had known the name Skywalker, so when he heard about a young Pilot who blew up the Death Star and who bore the last name of his former CO, the old Clone had put two and two together.

He had asked Luke what he had known about his father and Luke had told him everything, the both of them coming to the conclusion that their Anakin Skywalkers were the same person. Rex had told Luke that he was glad a part of Anakin Skywalker lived on, and Luke had never bothered to tell Rex the truth about what had happened to his father.

He wanted to preserve the name Anakin Skywalker, the good man his father had once been.

"Captain Rex," greeted Luke as he looked back to see the Clone. "I thought you were stationed on Mortak."

Luke had not expected Rex to be back here at all and he feared that the old man would recognize Anakin, which would force Luke to explain the situation to him. Well, at least part of the situation.

It was probably a good thing Anakin had not come to watch the match.

"I was," said the older man, "until I was deployed to the Ord System to investigate suspicious Imperial activity there."

"Oh, did you find anything?"

"Yes, and we had a few of our informants checking it out. In fact, that's why I'm here."

"Ah. So how long have you been here?" asked Luke as he swept his credits into his pocket before standing up to face the Clone Captain.

"My division and I just arrived about an hour or so ago," said Rex as he looked past Luke at the table where they had been playing, which was littered with cards and half-finished alcoholic beverages.

Luke ignored the look that the Clone had given him as he crossed his arms over his chest. "What are you doing here, Rex?"

"We have a situation," said Rex sternly. "Our informants that were dispatched to the Imperial facility in the Ord System were discovered."

"Have they been interrogated yet?" asked Luke, his whole demeanor suddenly growing cold.

"We think so," said Rex. "But that's something we need to discuss with Mothma and Dodonna, which is why I took the liberty of arranging an emergency Council meeting."

Luke nodded, "let me finish up here and I'll meet you there in a few."

Rex smirked despite the severity of the situation as he looked between Luke and the Sabaac cards on the table, his mind going back in time to another Skywalker who was a lot like the Commander.

"Sure thing, Skywalker," said Rex as he turned on his heels and started to make his way out of the room, a long sigh escaping his lips as he looked over at the young man before he walked out the door.

#

Luke was in the Council Room within ten minutes of Captain Rex's visit. He was one of five people crowded around a star map as they evaluated all of their options for the dire situation at hand. According to Rex's Intelligence, the Empire was maintaining a weapons development and munitions factory around Ordun, the second planet in the system. They were in the process of developing weapons of mass destruction and new technologically advanced blasters.

It was a scary prospect, especially considering the two informants that had gone undercover in the facility were suspected to have been discovered.

"They were sending us regular reports," began Rex as he looked down at the star map. "Everything was going smoothly until about two days ago."

"What happened two days ago?" asked General Dodonna from across the table.

"Nothing major, really. But the codes within the reports changed all of the sudden. We thought it was strange until we detected a secret message in the codes. They warned us that they had been compromised and were being forced to continue the messages in hopes of luring the Alliance into the Ord System."

"A trap?" asked Luke quietly as he briefly looked over at the Clone before.

Rex nodded, "we're lucky we found the codes when we did."

"Indeed," said Mothma softly from where she stood at the head of the table. "Those two informants were brave to do so."

"Is there any chance they are still alive?" asked Leia, her hand coming to touch her absentmindedly as she looked over at the Clone with worry in her eyes.

"We're not sure," said Rex shaking his head. "They will undoubtedly be tortured before they are terminated, whether they talk or not."

"How long have they been compromised?" asked Luke.

"We're not sure, but we think no more than a few days from the looks of it. They could very well be alive and if they are, I would like to put together a rescue mission. Lt. Barra and Captain Kaipov are two of the best Intelligence Officers we have and I have no doubt that they will continue to do their duty until the very end."

"Of that, we have no doubt," began Dodonna solemnly. "But you must consider the chances that they are even alive at this point in time. You know what an Imperial Interrogation entails, Captain."

"But they could still be alive," said Leia closing her eyes, her eyebrow twitching ever so slightly. "And if they are, don't we owe it to them to at least try to save them?"

"In any normal circumstances, yes. But this situation is less than ideal, Princess. We would be walking into a trap and there is also the fact that the weapons must be stopped from being fully developed. Our number one priority should be the weapons and the facility."

"General Dodonna is right," said Mothma after a few moments of silence, her pale face growing more and more solemn as she bowed her head. "The weapons are our number one priority at this moment. We cannot allow the Empire to have such weapons, no matter the cost."

Leia opened her mouth, as if she wanted to say something before she snapped her mouth shut, a look of anger coming across her face before it was hidden behind a diplomatic and stony expression.

Luke remained silent as he stared down at the Star Map, his eyes tracing the layout of the Imperial Fleets current position in the System as well as the flight paths they had taken. Ever since the codes had been sent out by the informants, there had been an increased Imperial presence there.

They had forced the informants to send out the message saying it was safe to strike. Now, they were lying in wait for the Alliance to walk in on their crafty little trap, unbeknownst to them that they already knew that Lt. Barra and Captain Kaipov had been discovered.

He knew the situation was less than ideal, and he knew that the weapons were their number one priority, but a part of him was angry that they were willing to throw two of their own Officers away, not even willing to attempt a rescue mission.

Rex sighed, "I see. When shall we start preparations?"

"As soon as possible," said Mothma. "We must act quickly if we are to stop these weapons from falling into the hands of the Empire."

"I will call a Council meeting with all of the Squadrons tomorrow," said Dodonna. "We will go over the battle plans before the mission."

"Very well. I shall also call a meeting with the rest of my Generals to discuss the plans. I would preferably like to hit the facility by noon tomorrow if that is at all possible."

Luke nodded, "we can do that. I'm guessing it will be up to the Starfighters to take down the facility?"

Dodonna nodded, "I will need your help Commander in formulating the flight plans if you don't mind."

"Not at all, General. Will you be sending out the call to arms to the other Rebel Cells within the vicinity?"

"Yes," said Mothma. "We will be needing all the help we can. Which reminds me, Commander. Will your friend be participating in this mission?"

Her gaze was unwavering as she stared over at Luke, who shuffled his feet awkwardly at the look she was currently giving him.

"He's a member of Rogue Squadron now, so yes I would assume so," said Luke as he ignored the confused looks of the other people in the room.

"I would ask that you keep a close eye on him. If I remember anything about him, it's that he has a knack for getting himself into sticky situations."

She clearly still did not trust Anakin. Rightly so, but still-

Luke nodded, "you have my word that he won't be getting himself in any sort of situation, Mon. I'll make sure to keep my eye on him the entire time."

"That is all I ask," she said as she looked away from Luke and over to Rex, who had been looking between Luke and Mothma.

"Captain Rex, thank you for bringing this information to us. I am sorry we could not do more for your two informants."

She truly was sorry about the Informants, but Mothma was a leader and she knew how to prioritize. She had the sort of mentality that tended to favor the safety of the group rather than the individual, which was something that was not without its merits.

Sometimes hard decisions had to be made and this was one of them.

"As am I," he said, a hint of resentment in his voice. "They were two fine Officers. They will be missed greatly."

Mothma nodded, "as all who die in the line of duty are."

"Are we done here?" asked Leia, her voice slightly irate as she finally spoke for the first time in a few minutes.

"Yes, I believe we are," said Mothma as she gracefully stepped away from the table, her white robes flowing behind her. "This meeting is now adjourned."

Mothma made her way out of the room promptly, leaving the other four behind in her wake as he went to retire to her own quarters.

Mothma was a Master at hiding her emotions, but Luke could sense her dismay at the severity of the situation as well as the decision that she had come to concerning the Informants. She did not enjoy making that decision and she did not do so lightly.

"Commander Skywalker, I need to go over the flight plans with you first thing in the morning," said Dodonna as he turned to look at the younger man. "I will also need the help of Captain Antilles as well."

"I'll talk to him tonight," said Luke crossing his arms. "How does 0400 hours sound to you? Is that early to formulate the plans?"

"Ah, that should be plenty of time. We'll go ahead and reschedule the lecture on in-flight safety for another day."

"Very well. Is that all, General?"

"Yes, I think so. You all get a good night's rest tonight. I have a feeling tomorrow's gonna be a shit show."

Luke could not argue that statement because he could sense that it wasn't going to be pretty tomorrow. The Force gave no further indication as it swirled uneasily around him, a sense of anticipation and urgency spreading out from his fingertips to the rest of his body.

The entire thing made him uneasy, but what made him most nervous was Anakin.

It would be his father's first time flying into battle with the rest of the Squadron, and although Luke had every bit of faith in the younger man's piloting skills, he was still nervous.

He would have to faith that Anakin would come out unscathed. He had to trust that the Force would be diligent in making sure that nothing happened to the time-traveler, the one meant to change the past and prevent this future.

"Are you going to be ready for tomorrow?" asked Rex as he pulled the younger man out of his reverie.

"I think," breathed out Luke, his gaze traveling over to the old Clone. "What about you? You gonna be cheering us on from the Control Center?"

"Wouldn't miss it for the world, Commander," said Rex with a short laugh, not at all offended by the subtle remark at his age. In reality, he was not that old, but Clone aging was a lot more rapid than that of a human, which meant he was nearing the end of the line. His combat days were long behind him, his arthritic joints and his lungs far too old and worn out to ever step into another combat position ever again.

The glory days with Kenobi, Skywalker, and Tano were long behind him, a piece of his past that he had been forced to hang up, as sad as it was.

"Good, I have a feeling we'll need it," said Luke before stopping to look back, finally realizing that Leia had disappeared during their little conversation.

Rex nodded as he followed after the younger man as they made their way down the corridor.

"So what's this I hear of a new Jedi joining our ranks?" he asked after a few moments, his curiosity finally getting the best of him.

Luke paused momentarily, his blue eyes meeting those of Rex's before he looked away, as if the topic was not something he was in the mood to discuss.

"Yeah, found a straggler on Ben'we and brought him here. He's now a member of Rogue Squadron. Why?"

Rex shook his head, "I'm surprised you managed to find him before the Empire did."

"Me too. I'd hate to think what they would've done to him, especially since he's just a kid."

"I'd think you'd be surprised at just how resourceful Jedi can be, even the younger ones."

"I'm sure you would know more about that, Captain. You knew the Jedi, perhaps even better than I do," said Luke, referencing his time spent fighting with the Jedi during the Clone War, his father having been one of them.

"Oh I don't know about that," said Rex as he placed a hand on his aching back, wincing slightly at the pain before he composed himself, which did not go unnoticed by Skywalker. "I may know a few things about them, but I'm afraid it's not that much. However, if you're wondering what sort of soldiers they made, then I could write a whole kriffing book or two."

"What were they like? During the war, I mean," asked Luke.

"Well, as I'm sure you know, war tends to change people. I never had the pleasure of knowing any of the Jedi before the start of the war, but they sure did make good Generals. It was an honor to fight alongside them, but they weren't perfect."

"They sure didn't make the best of decisions nearing the end of the war," commented Luke thoughtfully.

Rex shook his head, "no, they didn't. But can you really fault them? They were being played the entire time. They never even realized what was happening until the end, and even if the Republic had not fallen, I am fairly certain their reputation still would've been destroyed."

Luke nodded in agreement, "it was a no-win situation."

"Exactly," said Rex as his eyebrows scrunched up. "I only wish that things had been different, but I suppose there's no going back, is there?"

The question was meant to be rhetorical, a reference to an impossible occurrence in which the past could be changed. But Rex had no idea that it could actually be changed, and the one to bring about that change was currently snoozing away in his bed not even a few meters from where they stood staring at each other.

Oh, the irony.

Luke only looked away as he stuffed his hands into his pockets, "I suppose not."

Rex smiled sadly as he clasped Luke on the shoulder, "I wish you could've met him, Commander. You remind me of him and I know for a fact that he would've been proud of you."

Luke smiled sadly, "you think?"

"Absolutely," said Rex.

The way that Rex talked about his father made Luke almost forget that masked monstrosity that had once been Anakin Skywalker, a fact that Luke had decided to keep from everyone, especially people who knew his father personally like Rex did. A part of him wanted to preserve the man that his father had been, a war hero and a kindhearted person who would've done anything for his friends.

Then there was also the fact that a younger, untainted version of Anakin Skywalker was here in this time. Luke knew that the man that Rex was talking about was neither of the two, but something in-between them.

He tried to imagine a combination of the two, an older Anakin with darker tendencies brought on by loss and by war, but it was almost impossible to comprehend.

Luke nodded, "I should get to bed here soon, as should you. It's getting late and I have to be up by 0400 hours as it is."

"Of course, Commander," said Rex. "I think it's about time I retire as well."

They said their farewells before they both headed off in their own separate directions, nothing but sleep on both of their minds. Luke was tired and he knew he needed to get some sleep before tomorrow, which would require him to be alert and at his best at all times.

Luke could feel that Anakin was already deep in the throngs of sleep, the soft hum of his force presence glowing softly, but less vibrant than usual seeing as he was fast asleep.

Luke had no idea how he was going to keep Anakin away from Rex, or what he would do if the Clone saw his young father. He would undoubtedly recognize him, and then he would be interested in what exactly he was doing there.

That would be quite the story if that ever did happen.

Luke let out a yawn as he finally walked into his quarters, the door swishing shut behind him as he practically threw himself on his cot.

He would have to figure out what to do about Anakin and Rex tomorrow, his tiredness suddenly becoming far too much for him to handle as he closed his eyes and laid his head on his pillow.

###

When Anakin awoke that next morning, he was pleasantly surprised that he had not had another vision that night, in fact he hadn't dreamt of anything at all. For the first time in weeks, his night had been peaceful and he had actually awoken refreshed and ready to conquer the day.

He let out a yawn as he stretched his sore muscles and swung his long legs over the side of his cot, his feet hitting the cold durasteel floor beneath him as he wiggled his toes, his eyes going over to the lunar clock before he stood up and made his way into the refresher.

He couldn't describe what it was, but he could sense apprehension through the Force, as if something big was about to happen but he didn't know what, or if it was even something that he should be worried about.

He decided after a few moments that it wasn't something to be worried about as he splashed some cold water on his face and running a comb through his hair before redoing his braid, which had partially come out during the night.

He quickly dressed, remembering Luke's message to come to the Council room first thing in the morning as he shrugged his boots on before putting his jacket on. He decided that breakfast would not be a priority that morning as he made his way into the Council room, his eyes gazing over the various people that had accumulated there, including a few pilots from a few different Squadrons, including his own.

Yet again he could not escape the stony expression that Mon Mothma gave him as he entered into the room, but Anakin didn't even acknowledge the older woman as he came to stand next to Luke, who strangely seemed a bit shorter than Anakin remembered as well as the Princess, who was busy at one of the consoles with another crewmember.

"What's this all about?" asked Anakin in a hushed tone as he leaned in slightly to the older man.

"Mission briefing," said Luke stiffly as he looked over to where a few of the Generals were all crowded over a star-map, their hushed tones offering no hint over what the mission was about.

"What sort of mission?" asked Anakin, his curiosity suddenly peaked.

Luke leaned in even further, "not too long we received information from two of our informants in the Empire that there was an Imperial munitions factory orbiting the planet of Ordun. There are reports that they are developing prototype weapons that are far more technologically advanced than the normal blaster. We had a few spies on the inside but we lost contact with them."

"Where they discovered?" asked Anakin, his mind already going over the implications of what such a things could mean for them.

"We know for a fact that they've been compromised," began Luke. "When the Empire discovered them, they forced them to keep sending mission reports saying that it was safe to strike. However, the Informants managed to hide secret codes within the reports warning us of the situation."

"So then what?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence.

"Now we only have one option," said Luke solemnly, "we destroy the facility and the plans, and then we figure out who designed the weapons and deal with them."

Assassination. Luke was referring to assassination, which somehow did not really bode well with Anakin.

"What about the Informants?" asked Anakin, his mind already going back to the missing spies.

"I'm not sure," said Luke shaking his head solemnly, "the Empire would undoubtedly torture them for information which could compromise us. And once they're done with the interrogation, then they would no longer be of any use."

"You're saying they're already good as dead," said Anakin with a sigh.

"What I'm saying is that we don't know the situation and even they were alive, there's really nothing we can do for them."

"Well we should at least try," said Anakin pointedly.

"I'm not saying that we shouldn't, but Anakin you have to understand how things work here. We can't save everybody. Our first priority is the mission, we have to make sure that these weapons are not completed and in the hands of Empire first and foremost."

"I know," mumbled Anakin under his breath. The mission always came first and right now the Alliance was more concerned with weapons of mass destruction than they were of a few hostages that would undoubtedly be killed by the Empire anyway, but it was hard to think that way.

"Let's just see what Mothma and Dodonna say, shall we?" said Luke, sensing Anakin's churning emotions through the Force.

Anakin said nothing as the quiet commotion that was taking place around the star map as the Rebellions next mission was being coordinated before everything fell silent.

"We thank you all for coming," said Mon Mothma as she addressed all of the pilots in the room. "We shall commence the briefing presently. Please take a seat."

They all took their seats, their eyes focusing on the Generals that were all standing at the front of the room, their solemn long faces glancing over the crowd before them before the debriefing finally went on.

"Pilots," began General Dodonna, "we have recently received intel reports of a science laboratory in orbit around the planet Ordun in the Ord System. Our informants had informed us that the Empire is in the process of developing new and advanced weaponry that would be capable of mass destruction if implemented."

Soft murmuring erupted around the room before it was silenced by the Generals loud and commanding voice.

"We were in the process of monitoring the situation when the intelligence reports stopped. We were concerned that our informants had been discovered when we started receiving more reports telling us that it would be to our advantage to move in. But not long after that, we discovered something about the new data files that not even the Empire had known about. There were short, encrypted messages in the files from our informants, warning us that they had been compromised."

"What do you mean compromised?" said Kenan.

We can only assume that the Empire has discovered our informants and has been using them to try to lure us into a trap. There have also been reports of increased Imperial activity in the Ord System as of a few days ago."

"So they're hoping that we'll mount a rescue mission?" asked one of the pilots that was seated near the front of the room.

"That or they're hoping we'll try to sabotage the station," said Anakin suddenly as he injected himself into the discussion.

"But we have no choice but to sabotage the station. We can't let these sort of weapons get into Imperial hands. How far are they in the manufacturing process?" asked one of the few female pilots in the room.

"If our reports are true, then they have not been completed, yet. But they will be soon, which means that we must take action now," said Mon Mothma.

"Then we'll just be walking into a trap," said Torren solemnly.

"We already know that," said Luke. "But we have decided to move in anyways."

"In essence, we will be springing the trap," came a new voice from the door.

All heads in the room turned to look at the newcomer, an old man with a white beard and tan skin that was marked with the passage of time. Anakin didn't know why, but this man felt-

Familiar somehow.

Luke shifted in his seat uneasily next to Anakin, his blue eyes darting uneasily between Anakin and the newcomer. Anakin gave Luke a questioning glance but received no answer as Luke merely sunk down in his chair, his arms coming across his chest.

"Captain Rex," greeted Mothma as she motioned for him to step up to the front. "Please join us."

Captain Rex gave her a slight smile as he began making his way over to where she stood, his eyes flitting over the sea of orange before he stopped dead in his tracks, his eyes widening as they took in the form of Anakin, who was seated somewhat near the front.

Captain Rex looked like he was in the throngs of shock as he stared at Anakin, who seemed to shrink under the strange man's scrutinizing stare. He briefly looked over at Luke, who had averted his eyes from the scene as he stared over at the exit quite intently.

Anakin looked back over to the old man, whose face had paled considerably in the last few seconds of their little impromptu staring session.

"Captain Rex?" came Mothma's soft tone as she brought the man out of his strange reverie. "Is everything all right?"

"Yes," said the man as he gained his composure, his feet bringing him to stand next to Mothma and Dodonna. "My apologies, Ma'am."

"It's quite alright," she said as her gaze briefly flitted over to a very confused Anakin before looking back at Rex, an understanding look coming across her features.

"Who is that?" asked Anakin as he leaned over to address Luke, who refused to meet the younger Jedi's eyes.

"I'll tell you later," said Luke under his breath.

Anakin blinked at Luke before he returned to his chair, his eyes centered at the front of the room and anywhere but the old man who was still staring at him as though he was an apparition.

"Well, the Empire doesn't know we know it's a trap," said Torren from he sat with his legs crossed on the front row. "So then I say we give it all we've got and make sure those weapons and the plans don't fall into the wrong hands."

"But what about the scientists behind it? Even if we destroy those plans, they will still be able to re-engineer it again," pointed out the female pilot.

"Our mission isn't just to destroy those plans," began Mothma. "Our mission is to take out the whole station. It is the only way to ensure those plans are destroyed as well as the Imperial minds behind it. It is our only option."

"But what about the informants?" asked Jase Toneri, finally speaking up for the first time since the debriefing had started.

"We have to assume that the Empire has already started to interrogate them and we know it won't be long before they start talking, and once they do that they won't be of any use to the Empire anymore. We must remember that the mission comes first. Saving the hostages is not our number one priority in this case," said Dodonna.

"I don't like this," muttered Anakin under his breath to Luke. "We should at least try to rescue them."

"I know," said Luke in understanding. "It's not a good situation and we're already at a disadvantage seeing as we will be walking head first into a trap. We can't do everything at once, but we'll see what we can do."

"How many informants were there again?" asked Anakin as he leaned in further.

"Two. Lieutenant Barra and Captain Kaipov. According to Captain Rex, they're some of the best-damned Intelligence Officers the Alliance has had in a long time."

"Two people shouldn't be that hard to mount a rescue for," said Anakin pointedly.

His Master and he had mounted plenty of rescues in the past, his time as a Jedi having taught him ins and outs of rescue missions as well as hostage situations. He had seen his fair share in short life.

Luke only seemed to give Anakin a pointed stare that probably meant that Anakin was out of his mind for saying that, and maybe he was being a bit naïve.

"-We'll need all available hands to get the job done. It is without a doubt that the rest of the Imperial Fleet will respond and that means that we will have to divide our attention and resources among the different ships. Blue Squadron, Gold Squadron, Ace Squadron, and Green Squadron, your mission will be to hold off the rest of the Imperial Fleet. Red Squadron, Rogue Squadron, Purple Squadron, Yellow Squadron, and Tiger Squadron, your mission will be to destroy the station. Also, be advised we will also have more Squadrons joining us from other Rebel Cells," said Dodonna.

"May the Force be with you," said Mothma as she clasped her hands together, her head bowing slightly as she looked over the crowd of men and the few women there were, knowing full well that not all of them would be returning.

With that all of them rose out of their seats and started to file out of the room, each of them heading off to the hangar before meeting up with their own Squadrons as Anakin ducked into the changing room to put his jumpsuit on before heading out to meet up with his own Squadron.

He didn't know whether or not he should be excited or fearful of the upcoming mission. It would be his first mission as a part of the Rebellion but something told him that this might turn into a bloodbath from the looks of it.

"You guys heard what Mothma and Dodonna said. Keep your eyes and ears open and you should do well," said Luke as he addressed the men. "May the Force be with you all."

"And may it be with you," said Anakin to Luke.

Luke looked over at Anakin and nodded grimly as the two of them reassured each other silently through their strange bond, a sense of fear and anticipation emanating from them both as well as hint of elation at the prospect of kicking some Imperial butt.

Anakin gave Luke a long look, a strange feeling of protectiveness washing over him before he swatted it, as if it was an annoying fly zooming around his head. He didn't have time to dwell on that strange and alien emotion as he climbed into his X-Wing and pulled the hatch down around him before he revved the engine, his eyes scanning the controls around him as he made sure everything was in good shape.

He shoved his helmet on as he flipped the communications button on, allowing the feed from all the pilots to pour into the cockpit.

"Oh, Anakin, I forgot to tell you your new call-sign is Rogue Six," said Luke over the channel to him.

"Copy that," said Anakin as he flipped on the navigation before he reached down and slowly brought the throttle to him, allowing the craft to levitate off the ground.

"This is Rogue Leader. Does everyone read me?"

"Loud and clear, Rogue Leader," came Kenan's voice as the others also gave confirmation.

"Copy that, Rogue Squadron. Prepare for launch," said Luke as the Squadron began to line up in flight formation in front of the hangar doors. They sat there for a few seconds before Luke's voice came over the com again.

"Commencing launch in Three…Two…One…"

With that each of the pilots stepped on the accelerator and flew out of the hangar, all of them in formation as they flew away from the Rebel Ship, each of them preparing for the jump to hyperspace.

"Rogue Squadron please give confirmation that your coordinates have been set," said Luke.

"Affirmative, Rogue Leader," said Anakin as well as the others.

"Copy that. Prepare jump to hyperspace. Rogue Leader out."

It was immediately after that they each of the craft made the jump, the blue hue of the hyperspace waves surrounding the ships. It would only take, at best, twenty minutes for them to reach Ordun. They would be one of the first ones to arrive, the Rebel fleet and the other Squadrons close behind them.

According to Luke, the Alliance had made a call to arms to other Rebel Cells who were near Ordun, which meant that they would be receiving aid from other ships and Squadrons as well. They were not about to spring a trap without lots of back-up.

"Rogue Leader, what is our ETA?" asked Anakin.

"Approximate ETA is 12:31, Rogue Six."

"Copy that, Rogue Six out," said Anakin as he leaned back in his seat and stared out the viewport with nothing more than silence as his companion.

The twenty minutes it took to reach Ordun went by a lot faster than Anakin thought it would as they finally reached their destination, a huge space station staring at them through the viewport as they flew towards it at full speed, two more Squadrons falling out of hyperspace next to them along with a few Mon Calamari Cruisers, some Y-Wings, and a few A-Wings. The rest of the Fleet followed suit as they all amassed in front of the station, all of them prepared for battle.

They must've made quite the sight.

"Target confirmed. Move into attack position and proceed with the assault," said Rogue Leader as he took the lead, his craft swooping down with the rest of his Squadron in formation behind him.

"Let's take these motherkriffer's out," came Kenan's enthusiastic voice over the com. Judging from his tone he was probably talking more to himself than he was to them, but Anakin had to admit that he held the same sentiment.

"Please be advised, Rogue Eight. We can hear you," said Rogue Leader with a slight chuckle.

"Copy that, Rogue Leader," came Rogue Eight's voice.

It was only seconds after that the station had its torpedoes locked and loaded on them, a hail of blaster fire exploding around them as they swerved to avoid it before returning fire on the station. They only had a few seconds before the TIE Fighters were deployed and a few minutes at best before the rest of the Imperial Fleet came to defend the station, which was a lot bigger than Anakin had expected it to be as it seemed to grow larger and larger before his eyes.

And yet Anakin couldn't help but grin at the prospect of it all.

"Here come the TIE's, Rogue Squadron."

"Now the real fun begins," said Rogue Eight as he fired the first shot at the fast approaching swarm of TIE Fighters, which still looked comical to Anakin despite the fact that he had flown one before and he knew just how capable the little ships actually were.

Anakin couldn't help but let out a grin as he started firing at the tiny black ships, the Force guiding each of his shots as he tore through the vacuum of space. He narrowly avoided one shot as he veered off to starboard before getting a few of his own shots in before pulling up, his eyes traveling over to where the Imperial Fighters were pouring out of the station, all of them shooting at the wide variety of ships that were present with the Alliance, who of course did not hold back either as they fired into the swarm.

"Rogue Two, Six, Eight, and five follow me, the rest of you fall back and make sure none of those TIE's comes anywhere near us," said Rogue Leader as the Squadron broke apart, the designated ones moving to the front of the formation while the rest of them fell back to defend the rest of them.

"Copy that, Rogue Leader," said Anakin as a TIE Fighter blew up not too far from his position, the craft exploding into a cascade of fire and smoke in his peripheral vision, forcing Anakin to swerve to avoid the flying debris.

"Kriffing hell," mumbled Anakin as he rejoined the formation.

It was at that precise moment that the Imperial Fleet dropped out of hyperspace, three large Star Destroyers suddenly appearing from out of nowhere as they began to fire at the Rebel Fleet, even more Tie Fighters pouring out of them and heading their way from the looks of it.

Anakin looked back at the ominous shapes before he returned his gaze to the viewport at the station and the planet that it orbited, which was almost completely covered in white swirling clouds. His stomach churned uncomfortably, his sense tingling as they warned him of something bad to come.

A group of TIE Fighters came up behind them and started firing at them, forcing them to split away in different directions as they turned around to face the TIE's that had amassed behind them, another Squadron quickly swooping onto the scene and firing on the Imperial Fighters before they too turned around to continue the assault.

"Thanks, Blue Leader," came Rogue Leader's voice over the com.

"Anytime, Rogue Leader. Blue Leader out."

However, the moment was short lived as one of the X-Wings behind them was hit by enemy fire, their craft spiraling out of control. It was Torren who had been hit, his frantic voice pouring over the intercom.

"I've been-!" he never got the chance to finish that statement as his ship crashed into another one of their own X-Wings, the both of them exploding into a torrent of smoke and fire as the heat quickly spread out from the epicenter.

It all happened all so fast and Anakin was far too close to the explosion to escape it enough time as he tried to maneuver his ship into a barrel roll to try and get away from it, but he couldn't stop the heavy, burning metal debris from hitting his ship as his craft rocked violently to the side from the impact, an explosion of smoke from his own vessel temporarily covering the viewpoint as his dashboard started to light up with warnings.

He was pretty sure in that moment he was screwed.

"Rogue Six, report, "came Luke's gargled voice over the com, which had apparently been damaged as well.

"Rogue Six come in!" said Luke frantically as he waited for Anakin to respond.

"I've been hit, Rogue Leader," said Anakin after he finally managed to get control of his vessel.

"How bad it is?"

"Bad enough!" said Anakin as the engine started to stutter, a loud clanking sound start to emanate from the bowels of the ship. "I need to land somewhere, Rogue Leader. This ship is going down."

As soon as Anakin said that, the situation took a turn for the worse as smoke started to flood into the cockpit, the life support systems were starting to fail.

The Force seemed to come alive at that moment as he felt a tingling sensation at the back of his neck as the Force started to guide him, his gaze falling to the station where a hangar was on the port side. The Force screamed at him and Anakin knew that it was his only chance of survival at that moment.

"Rogue Leader I got to put her down. There's a hangar near the port side of the station."

"Rogue Six you can't-!" came Rogue Two's gargled voice over the com as Anakin registered only half of the message. "-take out!" More static. "Won't be able too-"

"I really don't have any other options here!" yelled Anakin as he started his descent towards the station, the ship stuttering and rocking violently as he started to feel the engine start to go. Wherever that debris had hit, it had really done a number on his ship.

"Rogue Six-" came Rogue Leader's gargled voice over the com before everything else he said became incomprehensible. "-Rescue-"more static. "Get out-"

It was then that Anakin had lost communications completely, his eyes trained on the hangar that was steadily growing closer by the second, the shield around the entrance suddenly posing a problem for him. But Anakin barely had any time to dwell on this before Luke's craft swooped in and fired around the hangar, causing the shield to fall away just in time for Anakin's ship to come barreling into the hangar. His craft skidded on the ground, leaving a blazing trail behind him before his vessel finally came to a halt.

Anakin grabbed his lightsaber, tore his helmet off, and force threw the hatch open as he gracefully force jumped out and landed on the shiny black floor, his weapon already ignited and drawn as he took on a defensive position, his eyes scanning the shocked and confused ones of all the Imperial soldiers and a couple pilots in the room. The hangar was practically empty seeing as most pilots by then were already up in the air, leaving only the air control and maybe a few pilots who were in the process of getting their TIE's ready for takeoff. Taking them out would be relatively easy, however, Anakin could not have them calling for backup.

Half a second later, they finally managed to get their heads together as they started firing at Anakin, who seamlessly blocked each and every one with ease as he used the Force to disarm them, their faces growing fearful as their blasters were ripped from their hands and tossed behind Anakin.

"Now we can't have any of that, gentlemen now can we?" asked Anakin before he force pushed them against the wall, hard enough to knock them unconscious, but not enough to kill as the four men fell limp to the ground.

Anakin turned to look at the hangar, only noting two Lambda-Class shuttles parked against the far wall. He was about to make his way onboard so that he could get off the station before the Alliance blew it to pieces, but he stopped short as he slowly turned to look at the door that led out into the corridor of the station.

I can save them, I know I can.

He knew he needed to get off the station as soon as possible, but there was also a part of him that wanted to go find the hostages. The Force started to churn uneasily around him as he looked back at the Lambda-Class shuttle before he turned and ran out the hangar, his heart overruling his head.

The corridor was dark, except for the alarm which glowed red and was accompanied by a short wailing sound. There wasn't a soul nearby as Anakin slowly reached out his senses and used the Force to push his mind through the station as he finally came upon what he was looking for.

The two Rebel informants were alive, but one of them was growing steadily weaker by the minute and the other one seemed to be in shock if Anakin's senses were right. He could tell they had been tortured, their minds under the influence of whatever cocktail of drugs the Empire had submitted them too.

Anakin had a good sense of their general location, which wasn't that far from where he was then. If he moved quickly, he could save them both in plenty of time before the Alliance managed to destroy the station, which seemed to be proving harder than originally planned as the station rocked with a series of hits.

Anakin wasted no time as he sprinted into a full-on run, not phased at all from the jostling sensation of fire blasts as he kept his senses attuned to his surroundings in case he would need to use his lightsaber for anything.

He did run into a small group of Stormtroopers whom he easily took care of before they could even call for backup, their dismembered bodies lying in the middle of the floor as Anakin continued to make his way through the bowels of the station.

"All available crew personnel report to Deck seven. I repeat, all available crew members report to Deck seven for further instruction. Everybody else, maintain battle stations, this is not a drill," came a male voice over the intercom.

Anakin stopped short in the middle of the corridor as he heard the pelting of feet against the cold metallic floor, the distinct sound of a squadron nearing his position as he quickly ducked into a small alcove, his head slightly popping out to see a whole group of Stormtroopers and Officers run past him as they barked orders at each other. Anakin waited silently for a few seconds before he came out of hiding, checked both ways in the corridor before he made a run for it.

He finally made it into the prison-block of the station, which had been abandoned in the chaos of things. There were five cells altogether but only two of them were occupied by the two informants, who were in not good shape from the looks of things.

The woman was laying down on her side in one of the cells, her blond hair matted and caked with blood that had emanated from her forehead which held a deep laceration that was so bad, her skin was partially dangling off in parts and looked ripe for infection. Her eyes were swollen shut with yellowish bruises starting to form around them, dried blood caked to her pale and probably once beautiful face.

She was lying in a pool of her own blood, a limp hand resting on her side in a futile attempt to stop the flow of the red liquid.

She was unconscious from the beating she had obviously sustained, the soles of her feet were raw and bloodied and if Anakin had not been a Force Sensitive, he probably would've thought her dead.

The next cell contained a man in an Imperial uniform, but who was obviously not an Imperial as he sat against the wall staring at the bars blankly, a bruise around his left eye and cut lip, but nothing that even remotely compared to that of his female companion.

"Captain Kaipov?" asked Anakin as he made his way over to the control panel. "I'm Anakin, I'm here with the Rebel Alliance."

The man said nothing, only craning his head slightly in Anakin's direction only to stare at him for a few seconds before he jumped to his feet and made his way over to the bars, his green eyes wide as he observed the Rebel Pilot before him.

"You here to rescue us?" he asked weakly, his throat scratchy as he swayed a little bit against the bars.

"Yes," said Anakin as he released the lock on the doors, allowing them to slide open so that Anakin could make his way into the woman's cell as he carefully picked her up in his arms, a soft moan escaping her lips at the jostling movement.

"She took a really bad beating," said Kaipov as he stared down at the woman in Anakin's arms. She was light enough that Anakin could carry her without any problems and Kaipov seemed strong enough to make it out without too much assistance, his mind already starting to wake up from the drugs.

"What the hell did they do to her?" asked Anakin as he motioned for Kaipov to follow him, their pace a lot slower than what it should be as they began their trek back to the hangar.

"Lots of stuff. They tortured her to get me to talk, forced me to watch as they did," he said numbly as he stumbled after Anakin.

"What did you tell them?" asked Anakin as he readjusted her in his arms as the facility was jostled by another explosion.

"Nothing," said Kaipov. "She made me promise I wouldn't tell them anything."

Anakin was impressed at his ability to keep silent about the whereabouts of the Rebel Alliance seeing as he could sense that the man had strong feelings for this woman, who looked to be at the doorstep of death.

"If I had told them, she would've never forgiven me," he said as he kept pace with Anakin, his face growing sadder by the second. "She didn't tell them anything either."

"We were afraid that you had," said Anakin shaking his head. "It's a good thing you didn't. Now we have to get off this station before the Alliance blows this place to bits."

"What about the weapons?" asked Kaipov as scrunched up his eyebrows, "The Alliance isn't going to try and get a hold of them?"

"Our mission is to destroy the data and everything else with it," said Anakin.

"But I know where they are," said Kaipov. "We can grab some and have the Alliance reverse engineer them. There's also a whole bunch of other weapons we could use too, thermal detonators and blasters and what not. There's even a new type of detonator that the Empire is in the first stages of developing."

"What type of detonator?" asked Anakin, his curiosity suddenly growing.

"Some type of thermal detonator, but it's a lot more advanced than just the average one."

"Where are they?" asked Anakin as they came to a halt at the end of the corridor, his blue eyes determined as they looked over at Kaipov.

"The laboratory is only a few meters that way," said Kaipov as he nodded his head over to the adjacent corridor.

Anakin stared down the corridor for a few seconds, which seemed a lot longer than that as he came to the conclusion that he was going to at least get one of the prototypes for the weapons. The Alliance could reverse engineer them and at least level the playing field a little bit.

He bit his lip as he reached out with the Force to find Luke's presence still somewhere above them, a sense of fear and anticipation coming from the older man. He hadn't been sure what it was that Luke had told him back there, but he was sure it was something along the lines of get the hell out of there, which he hadn't done, not yet that was.

Luke could also sense that Anakin was still onboard and he felt a sense of urgency through their bond as the older Jedi tried to coax him off the station, but Anakin wasn't quite done with his own personal mission yet.

"Here, take her," he said as he handed Lt. Barra over to Kaipov. "Take her to the hangar, there's a Lambda-Class shuttle in there."

"What about you?" asked Kaipov.

"I'll go see if I can one of the prototypes. If I'm not back in five minutes then take her and go."

"You can't go alone!" yelled Kaipov at an already retreating Anakin.

"Just trust me! I know what I'm doing!" yelled Anakin back before he disappeared down the corridor completely. He had his lightsaber drawn as he followed his senses through the station, allowing the Force to guide him to the laboratory, which had been barricaded closed.

Anakin wasted no time as he plunged his lightsaber into the durasteel before pulling it down in a circular motion, which took a lot of his strength away before he finally finished with it. He Force pushed at the circular shape, allowing the durasteel to fall back before he climbed in through the circular hole, his feet hitting the cool floor of the sterile looking lab.

There was no one there, all of the scientists having retreated to somewhere else in the station as Anakin observed the room, the smell of antiseptic attacking his nostrils as he made his way over to the far wall where a series of glass containers sat. There were various weapons that were quite unlike anything he had ever seen before inside of them that Anakin wasted no time in smashing the glass and grabbing them.

He swung two over his shoulders and was about to make his way over to where the detonators were being kept when his gaze fell to where a few familiar looking crystals sat. They were undoubtedly kyber crystals, the gems that powered the Jedi's lightsaber.

Anakin grabbed as many as he could as he shoved them into his pockets, the heaviness of the crystals weighing his jumpsuit down before he finally made his way over to the detonators, which he could tell were not exactly like the average thermal detonator.

No, he could sense the raw potential power that they carried, much more deadly than the previous ones had been. Anakin grabbed two of them, deciding to leave the third one there as he started to formulate a plan which involved detonating them.

His five minutes were probably nearing an end, but Anakin knew that there were two Lambda-Shuttles in that hangar so if Kaipov left with Lt. Barra, he could still take the other one and get off the station before anything happened.

What he was about to do was dangerous- no, it was downright suicidal but he knew he had to do it. The Rebel Fleet seemed to be having a hard time destroying the station and Anakin knew that if he managed to pull this off, he could very well take out the station and possibly anything close to it.

He could sense that he was not far from the core of the station, a perfect place to detonate say something like a bomb. Anakin ran through the bowels of the station, not waiting any time in disabling any Stormtrooper and Officer he ran into. He just simply used either the Force or his lightsaber to incapacitate them, making sure that they could not follow him or try to stop him as he finally made his way to the point in the station that was the weakest, or technically nearest to the core of the station that he could possibly get

He stuck both of the detonators to the wall, out of sight from anyone that could potentially disarm them.

He was about to make his way out to the corridor when he felt the familiar burning sensation that came with being hit with a blaster. He had been so distracted with the detonators he had not sensed the presence of the Imperial that had found him and had fired his weapon at Anakin.

Anakin cried out as he clutched at his shoulder, which was burnt, the smell of burning flesh assaulting his nostrils as he looked down at the black skin.

"Rebel scum!" yelled the Imperial as he fired off another shot which Anakin dodged easily enough before he ignited his lightsaber.

The man's eyes widened as he tried to fire at Anakin once again, only for the Jedi to block all of them, an angry glare spreading over Anakin's face as his rage started to take control of him.

"I wouldn't have done that if I were you," said Anakin coolly as he used his lightsaber to cut off the man's hand that held the blaster.

The man screamed as he clutched at his arm, which had been instantly cauterized by his weapon, the stump of burning flesh all that he had left of his limb.

"Y-you cut my hand off!" yelled the Officer in shock as he looked up at Anakin with frantic rage in his dark eyes. "You bastard!"

Anakin said nothing as he simply waved his hand, sending the Officer flying into the wall with enough Force to effectively knock him out as he crumpled to the floor. Anakin stepped over the man before he ran off down the corridor, his arm burning and tingling painfully.

It was only a few minutes later that he ran into the hangar to see that Kaipov had followed his directions had taken one of the shuttles and had gotten off the station. Anakin ran up the ramp, dumping the weapons that he had accumulated onto the floor before making his way into the cockpit as he sat down in the pilots chair and revved the engine, quickly adding the Rebel frequency into the communications console so that he could warn the Alliance that he was one of them and not the enemy.

Anakin made his way out of the hangar and back into the black void of space, where the battle was still raging between both sides. Anakin breathed out a sigh of relief as he felt Luke's presence shining brightly near him, the older Jedi still in the middle of the fight.

He was about to turn on communications when his ship rocked to the side, having been hit by one of the Alliance Starfighters. They probably thought he was the enemy, which would mean he would have to rectify that before he took any more blaster fire.

"Rebel Alliance control, this is Rogue Six. I am currently flying a Lambda-Class Shuttle that I commandeered from the station. I am requesting safe passage and a cease-fire on my vessel."

He waited a few seconds before he got a response from the Alliance control center.

"This is Alliance control center, we read you loud and clear Rogue Six and we are aware of the situation and have warned the rest of the Fleet not to attack your vessel."

"Good," said Anakin. "Did the other Shuttle with the informants make it safely off the station?"

"Affirmative, Rogue Six. Captain Kaipov and Lt. Barra are onboard one of the Nebulon-Frigates and they are receiving medical attention as we speak. They are currently awaiting transport back to Home One."

"Copy that," said Anakin as he breathed out a sigh of relief. "You might want to tell the fleet to move as far away from the station as they can. The place is about to go up."

"Rogue Six can you repeat that?"

"Tell the Fleet to move away from the station. While I was onboard I planted detonators near the core of the ship, you need to make sure none of our ships are caught in the explosion."

"Uh, hold on a second, Rogue Six," said the man before the line went silent for a few seconds.

"Rogue Six," came a new voice, one that he recognized as belonging to that old guy that had been staring at him. "Can you confirm that you planted detonators near the core of the station?"

"Yes," said Anakin as he started to grow more and more impatient. "I'm not yanking your chain here, Control."

The man laughed, which was surprising to Anakin, to say the least.

"I don't doubt you, Rogue Six. I've put in the order to have all of our ships move to a safe distance."

"Good," said Anakin as he almost let out a sigh of relief, thankful that this Captain Rex had actually listened to him. "Rogue Six, out."

It was only a few minutes after that the all of the Rebel ships started to back away from the station, even the Starfighters began to retreat from the station to a safe distance. Although this did not stop some of the TIE's from pursuing them, but a vast majority of them stayed near the station and the ships.

He could feel Luke's confusion in the Force as to why they were being forced to move away from the station and from the Star Destroyers that had come in closer to the station so as to defend the facility better, unknowing to the impending destruction at hand.

Anakin made sure his vessel was safely away from the station before he closed his eyes and plunged his mind into the Force, reaching out to the detonators that he had left onboard. He used the Force to activate the energy inside of the detonators, the atoms inside of them started to speed up as the energy built until it was enough for the detonators to go.

It was only a few seconds later that a magnificent explosion overtook the station, the light from it so bright and hot that Anakin had to shield his eyes from it. The explosion single-handedly destroyed the station as well as the Star Destroyer that had been closest to it, the both of them erupting into a bright light as they were torn apart.

The Star Destroyer that had been hit broke into pieces, the debris hitting the other two ships hard as they both rocked violently to the side from the sheer force of the explosion. The Star Destroyer that had been hit the hardest by the debris lost engine power and propulsion as it started to be pulled down towards the surface of the planet, the ship starting to smolder from the heat of the atmosphere that would undoubtedly tear the ship apart.

Anakin could feel the shock that was emanating from the Rebel Fleet as they watched the destruction at hand, all of them frozen in place before Alliance Control finally broke the silence.

"Rebel Fleet, we are detecting a large number of Star Destroyers making their way here. Let's get out of here."

"Copy that, Control."

With that, all of the Rebel ships started to make the jump to hyperdrive until none of them remained.

Anakin sighed as he sat back in his seat. He had twenty minutes before he reached the main Alliance ship, which provided him with ample time to tend to his throbbing shoulder as he found a med kit in the back and started to apply bacta wraps onto the burned part.

He also grabbed a canteen of water that had been stored in it as he swigged the cool liquid down his parched throat before he shrugged his jumpsuit off which stunk of sweat and burned flesh as well as Lt. Barra's blood. His hair was drenched in sweat and so were his undergarments, but Anakin barely noticed as he finished bandaging his arm.

Once that was done, he sat back down in the pilot's chair as he blankly stared out the viewport. Everything had happened so fast and he was still in shock at what he had managed to do. He had done the same to the Trade Federation ship when he was nine, but this-this had been different than that.

Then he hadn't had to actually go in and rescue hostages by himself or plant detonators in the ship. This battle had been more intense than Anakin ever remembered the Battle of Naboo being, the casualties being substantially higher in this one.

At least two members of their Squadrons had been killed and that number could've very well gone up while he onboard the station, and not mentioning there were other Squadrons that had taken even more hits than they had while they had defended their position.

Anakin had also noticed on his return to the Fleet that there were considerably fewer ships than what they had started with, the Empire having taken them out. But there was also the fact that the Empire had lost more men, including the station and two of the Star Destroyers. It was a good thing they had left when they had, the rest of the Fleet finally having received the distress call and having arrived, too late to engage the Rebel Fleet.

They had done what they had come for and much more if the weapons in the back were any indication. Anakin didn't know if it was worth it taking them, but they had them now and maybe they could be of further use in the near future if the Alliance ever chose to reverse engineer them.

Anakin didn't know what they were capable of, but if those detonators were any indication than it was good that they were no longer in the Empire's hands.

He wondered what Luke would think of his little detour, seeing as it was not a part of their original mission. He had sensed Luke's fear and urgency through the Force back on the station when the older Jedi had discovered that Anakin was still onboard and the youth had a feeling that Luke would not be impressed with him.

But Anakin found himself not really caring what the older man thought about his actions. He had saved Captain Kaipov and Lt. Barra even though they were not a priority to the Alliance, and Anakin had no regrets about what he had done.

The console in front of him beeped, warning him that they were approaching the designated coordinates. He sighed as he pulled the ship out of hyperspace, the Rebel Ship appearing in front of him as the rest of the Fleet dropped out next to him, well most of it. The Rebel Cells that they had called for backup were already on their way back to wherever they had come from.

"Rogue Six come in," came Luke's voice over the com. "Rogue Six do you read me?"

"Loud and clear Rogue Leader," said Anakin into the com as he manually piloted his craft towards the open hangar.

"Nice to see you're alive, Rogue Six," came Luke's bland tone. "Some of us were sure you hadn't made it."

"I'm fine, Rogue Leader," said Anakin.

"Good, you're not injured, are you?"

Anakin looked down at his shoulder before going back to the com.

"Blaster burn on my shoulder, other than that I'm fine."

"We'll see to that when you land. Rogue Leader out," said Luke as his ship disappeared into the hangar, followed closely by Anakin's own shuttle.

He landed the vessel and lowered the ramp only to bombarded with excited Rebels and pilots who were all cheering at him with big grins on their faces as they patted him on the back and congratulated him.

Apparently, word had already gotten around about who was responsible for the destruction of the station, but Anakin didn't feel like celebrating as he pushed his way through the crowd, his eyes searching the crowded hangar for any sign of Luke.

He knew that Luke had escaped the battle without any scratches, but for some odd reason he wanted to make sure that the older man was okay.

"Excuse me," said as he shoved his way through the crowd, his elbows going out beside him so as to provide him with enough room to walk.

He caught a flash of blond in his peripheral and whipped his head around to see Luke standing at the edge of the crowd, his blue eyes boring into Anakin as he stood silently, his posture tight and rigid.

Anakin froze at the sight of him, unsure whether or not he should proceed with extreme caution or just run away altogether.

"Hey let's hear it for Rogue Six!" yelled Kenan as he grabbed Anakin's arm and hoisted it up into the air as the room erupted into a chorus of cheers. Anakin quickly yanked his arm down before finally pushing his way out of the crowd and making his way out of the hangar, Luke following closely behind him.

"Hey where are you going?" yelled Kenan after the two retreating forms before he shook his head and went back to cheering along with the rest of the group.

As soon as Luke and Anakin were out of the hangar, Luke rounded on Anakin with controlled anger as he addressed the youth in front of him.

"Explain yourself," he demanded as he crossed his arms over his chest.

Anakin didn't whether or not to be offended by the question. He had saved the hostages and he had destroyed the station single-handedly, so what gave Luke the right to be angry with him?

"What do you think I did? I saved the hostages," said Anakin defensively.

"No, explain what you did after you saved the hostages," said Luke as he lowered his tone. "You knew we were going to blow the place up, so why didn't you get off the station as soon you had the hostages?"

"Wait, so you're not mad about the hostages?" asked Anakin.

"No, this isn't about them. Anakin, do you know how scared I was? You could've died out there. Did you even think about that?"

"Yes, of course, I did," said Anakin as his tone became angrier.

"So then why did you do it? You were given orders Anakin, and saving the hostages, although was not a part of the mission was really kriffing heroic, but foolish at the same time. Just what were you thinking going in half-assed by yourself? Were you trying to get yourself killed?"

"I did what I did," said Anakin simply. "The station is gone, the hostages are safe, and I have a few of prototype weapons so what are you complaining about?"

"The fact that you decided to go traipsing through an enemy ship without any backup. Why didn't you tell me what you were going to do through the Force?"

Anakin paused as he realized that he could've at least given Luke a heads up through their bond, but instead he had just ignored the older Jedi when he could've had backup. In this situation, he could see why Luke was angry but Anakin refused to capitulate to the older Jedi.

"You know what, Luke? You're not my father and you're certainly not my Master, so why don't you get off my back for once?" said Anakin as he pushed past the suddenly quiet man, who did nothing to stop Anakin as he stormed away.

"Oh, and the prototype weapons are in the shuttle. You're welcome by the way," he called back to Luke before he disappeared around the corner. He wanted nothing more than to go to his own quarters, but there was something else he had to do before that.

He made his way to sickbay where he could see a large number of pilots who had been there all receiving medical care from the nurses and doctors that were on staff there. The smell of antiseptic and blood assaulting his nose as he looked around for any sign of Captain Kaipov and Lt. Barra.

"You injured, hun?" asked an older woman as she approached Anakin, her kind looking brown eyes assessing him before she caught sight of his shoulder.

"Oh," said Anakin, who had temporarily forgotten about his own shoulder as he looked down at the bandages. "Yeah, I guess I am."

"Come have a seat," said the woman as she pointed to a nearby bed. "We'll take a look at that shoulder, okay?" she said as she put some latex gloves on.

Anakin awkwardly took his seat as she gently pulled the bandages away to look at the charred flesh, her face growing more and more concentrative as she assessed the damage.

"It's not too bad. Nothing bacta and some bandages won't heal," she said as she smiled at him, her other hand reaching for some fresh bacta strips and some fresher looking bandages than what had been in the med-kit. She also sprayed it with some antiseptic before she bandaged it up again, hers a lot better looking than Anakin's had been.

"Do you know what happened to the two informants that were brought here? Captain Kaipov and Lt. Barra?" asked Anakin as he watched her.

"Captain Kaipov will be fine, but Lt. Barra was too injured. She didn't make it," she said shaking her head.

Anakin was crushed that she hadn't made. He had really thought that she would make it, but those kriffing bastards must've done too much damage when they tortured her. It was sickening to think about and Anakin would be lying if he said he didn't feel his stomach roll as he remembered the state he had found her in.

She could've talked, but she didn't and they had killed her for it.

"Oh," said Anakin softly. "I-I'm sorry to hear that. How is Captain Kaipov holding up?"

"We had to sedate him when he found out," she said nodding over to the unconscious form of Captain Kaipov, who was lying on the bed with his uniform jacket open and bacta patches lining his stomach, an intravenous line running out his arm.

He must've been injured during his escape with Lt. Barra and Anakin felt bad that he had left them in the first place. Maybe if they had been faster Lt. Barra would've lived, a thought that plagued Anakin the more he thought about it.

"A real shame isn't it?" said the Nurse. "Those Imperials are a brutal lot of people. I can scarcely believe what they did to that poor woman."

"Me neither," said Anakin numbly as he stood up and shrugged his undershirt back over his shoulder, the bandages making his arm look bulkier than it really was. He could imagine how Captain Kaipov would be upset over her death if his senses had been correct, the man had really cared for Barra. He didn't know if it was just a strong friendship or if there had been something else there, but it was tragic nonetheless.

"You have a nice day, Ma'am," he said to the Nurse before he padded out of the room, the sterile environment becoming all too much for him at that moment.

"You too," she said not even looking up at him as he left, her attention already focused on another patient.

Anakin inhaled deeply as soon as he out of that clustered room as he leaned back against the wall.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

He closed his eyes as the image of Lt. Barra's bloody and bruised face came to mind, the smell of her blood permeating the air around him as well as the smell of flesh burning, his own flesh if he wasn't mistaken.

"I'm so sorry," he whispered under his breath before he opened his eyes and started to walk towards his quarters. A few people smiled at him as he walked along with a few-

"Good job out there!"

"Way to show those Imps!"

"What you did was amazing-"

It wasn't flattering to Anakin and he certainly didn't feel like a hero as some of the people had referred to him as. When he had been nine he had enjoyed the attention he had gotten for his part in the Battle of Naboo, but now that he was older and more capable of understanding the consequences, he didn't find it as enjoyable.

As soon as he made it into his quarters, he was already undressing to take a shower before he went to bed. His appetite was quite frankly gone at that moment, the thought of food making him want to vomit.

In fact, he wasn't really in the mood to be doing anything that night. He just wanted to sleep without having any more of those wretched dreams that plagued his subconscious day and night, visions that he never really quite understood no matter how hard he tried.

All he knew was that he didn't want to have any more of them.

He turned the water on hot and let it flow over him, washing the sweat and blood away that had covered his body previously. He had never realized just how much blood Lt. Barra had lost, but staring at his clothes and the red water that was swirling around the drain, all of it having come off of his own body, it made him realize that she would've never survived as it was, no matter what he had done.

It did nothing to comfort him though as he looked down at the water-proof bandages, a small reminder of his own confrontation with an Imperial Officer. He hadn't realized it before, but if the blaster had hit him only a few inches to his right, it would've hit his heart and he would probably be dead, the shock of the blaster enough to send his heart into cardiac arrest.

He had been lucky, but Lt. Barra, not so much.

Once he was done scrubbing the last of the vestiges left over his body from the battle, he shut the water off and stepped out, his gaze falling on his own image that appeared over the foggy mirror. Somehow, looking at his own reflection, he felt-

Different. Older, somehow.

As if he had just aged a few years in a matter of only a few hours, his hair darker and longer and a faint scar running over his eye.

He blinked and the image was gone, replaced with his own familiar and youthful face that looked beyond exhausted, emotionally and physically.

He could've sworn, if only for a second-

The man in the mirror- was him.

Older him?

Anakin sighed as he looked away from the mirror, his hands reaching over to where he laid his robes down, the soft and warm material perfect for sleeping in. He dressed before he sat down on his cot, his hands coming up to undo his braid, allowing the long strand of blond hair out of its previous confines. He usually didn't like wearing his hair out of his braid, not out of tradition but because it looked kriffing stupid when it was loose.

He fell back on his cot, staring up at the ceiling as he used the force to turn the lights out, far too lazy to get out bed and turn them off himself. His hair was still wet, soaking the pillowcase beneath him but he didn't mind as he closed his eyes, scared to fall asleep but too tired to fight it as his breathing became softer and he fell asleep.

And then the dream started.

Chapter Text

"You know I've seen a lot of crazy things in my life, but I think this takes the cake," came Rex's voice from behind Luke.

Luke winced at the tone of voice that the Clone Captain held as he turned around slowly to face the older man, who was staring at him expectantly with his hands on his hips and his eyebrow raised as he waited for the Commander to explain what the kriff was going on.

"You're telling me," sighed Luke, not even trying to deny anything. Captain Rex was not stupid and he knew that Luke definitely had an explanation as to why General Skywalker, a man who had died years ago was here, and younger than Rex had ever remembered him.

He was stuck between the realm of impossibility and the fact that it was Anakin Skywalker, which always seemed to disregard the former. Impossible and Skywalker did not even belong in the same sentence… Ever!

"I hope you have a good explanation as to why your father is here and why he looks like he should still be in school."

"You wouldn't believe it even if I told you," said Luke with a slight chuckle.

"Oh really? I highly doubt that seeing as Anakin Skywalker has magically come back to life."

"Touché," said Luke as he ran a hand through his blond hair. "Would you believe me if I said it was time travel?"

Rex paused, taking in the information with a calm and composed attitude that really didn't make sense to Luke.

"Normally I would say kriff no, but since we're talking about Anakin Skywalker, I can believe it."

"Only cause it's Anakin?" asked Luke pointedly.

Rex simply shrugged, "seems like something that he would do to get the job done."

"Did he usually have this kind of stuff happen to him?"

"I have to admit that he's really outdone himself this time, but yes. He was always getting himself into the most ridiculous situations."

Luke couldn't help but chuckle because he could already sense that it was true. He may not have known Anakin as long as Rex did, but in his short time here he had already gotten himself into plenty of sticky situations.

"You don't know how good it is seeing him, Commander. When I first saw him, I thought I was seeing a ghost, or maybe I was finally losing my sanity. But I know my General, Luke. I knew it was him and I know he isn't the same man that I knew, but I am kriffing happy to see him again."

"You never got to say goodbye, did you?" asked Luke softly.

"No. There are so many people I never got to say goodbye to and I regret that. I never knew exactly what happened to your father, Luke. All I know is that he's gone and the only thing left of him is you."

Luke nodded numbly at the prospect, but deep down he knew he wasn't the only thing left of Anakin Skywalker in the whole universe. His father was alive, just buried deep within the Sith Lord to the point where it seemed as though he was truly was gone.

"Things will be different, Captain. When he goes back, he'll change things."

"One would hope," said Rex. "Does he even know what happened to his future self yet? Does he know that you're his son?"

"No," mumbled Luke guiltily. "I wanted to give him time to adjust to this new future before I went sharing that with him. He's young and he doesn't have the best control over his emotions."

"You're afraid he won't handle it well?" asked Rex slowly. "Well too bad, Commander. He deserves to know and you keeping it from isn't helping anybody."

"I know, I know," breathed out Luke. "I just don't want him to have to live with that, you know? No one should have to carry that sort of burden."

"I can see where you're coming from, but why else did the Force bring him to you, Commander? I don't think the Force intended for him to carry this burden alone."

Luke didn't say anything as he averted his gaze down to his feet before looking back up at Rex.

"I have to go arrange a funeral for Lt. Barra as well as the other Soldiers in my Division who lost their lives yesterday, but I would seriously consider thinking it over and then talking to him. If I know him, and I do know him, then he's already starting to put the pieces together and I don't think he'll be too happy with you when that happens."

"I don't think he'll be too happy either way," muttered Luke as he watched the Clone Captain start to make his way out the door.

"No, but telling the truth will be a lot better than him finding out some other way. Just trust me, Commander, Anakin will appreciate you telling him. Maybe not now, but in the future, he will."

"I hope so," said Luke under his breath as Rex disappeared down the hall.

He had no idea how to go about this and he knew that Anakin would be angry with him, which was something that he certainly did not want.

Luke let out a long sigh, a heavy weight on his chest almost making it impossible for him to breathe. He knew Rex was right about telling Anakin. The truth would hurt, but Anakin would heal from it, eventually. He would need to be equipped with that knowledge so that he could prevent it all from happening.

Anakin needed to know whether Luke liked it or not, which meant he would have to take time aside to meditate on the best way to tell the youth.

He knew there was no avoiding it as he dragged himself out of the hangar and into his quarters, where he sat down on his mat and opened his conflicted mind up to the Force.

Only the Force knew what was best at that point.

###

Anakin stood on top of the cliff that overlooked the Jundland Waste, the only source of light coming from the millions of stars that shone through the darkness of the night. It was a breathtakingly beautiful sight, one of the few things that he had actually found beautiful about Tatooine.

The cold nipped at him, but he didn't shiver or try to cover himself from it as the night breeze blew against his dark Jedi robes. The sound of wind echoed through the valley, a familiar and yet foreign sound that sounded more like wailing than it did mere echoes.

Anakin stood with his hands clasped behind his back as he stared up at the night sky, his head craned up and his breathing shallow as his blue eyes reflected the image that he saw.

He knew he was dreaming, but it was so beautiful that he never wanted to look away from it.

There, looking up at those stars and the gassy mirage that was the galaxy, he found true peace and serenity. Not even meditating could make him this relaxed.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" came a familiar voice from behind him.

Anakin closed his eyes, recognition flooding through him at the sweet voice of his own mother. He hadn't heard her voice in years, but it was still as he remembered it, right down to the slight accent she always carried, a vestige of her true heritage.

He turned around slowly to see her standing there, her arms folded across her chest as she stared up at the sky, a small smile on her pale and chapped lips before she looked over at Anakin, her brown eyes softening at the sight of her son.

"Ani," she said simply as she tilted her head, observing the man her son had grown into. Her heart swelling with pride at the sight of him as she merely opened her arms, beckoning him forward.

Anakin fell into her arms, soaking in her warmth and love as she wrapped her arms around as she had when he was younger, one hand running through his hair while the other rubbed his back.

Even her hands were just as he remembered, small and delicate, but at the same time calloused and rough from a lifetime of hard work.

"Mom," he whispered, his voice threatening to crack as he said the simple word that meant the world to him.

"Shh, Ani. I'm here. I'm right here," she whispered into his ear.

After a few moments he finally pulled away from her, but still held her at arm's length as he stared down into her dark eyes, a few tears falling from his own lighter colored ones.

"Oh Ani, look at you," she said as she wiped his tears away. "You've grown so much!"

He let out a laugh, a small spreading across his face. "Yeah, yeah I have."

"You may have gotten older, but you'll always be my little Ani," she said, her eyes sparkling with pure happiness before she gently pulled herself from his strong arms, her gaze going back into the heavens that hung above them.

"Mom?" he asked cautiously after a few moments of silence, the sound of his breathing and the echoes the only thing that could be heard through the dry valley.

She was strangely silent as she wrapped her shawl around herself, her hands tightening over the turquoise fabric so as to protect herself from the chilly air that accompanied the nights on Tatooine.

"You've come a long way, Ani. What are you doing here?" she asked after a few moments, her inquisitive gaze coming to face him.

"What do you mean what am I doing here?" asked Anakin as he came to stand next to her. "I'm here with you, isn't that enough?"

"No, not here, Ani. What are you doing here?" she said as she reiterated her question, her brown eyes merely staring at him as if he already knew the answer to that.

Which he was still in the process of trying to figure out.

She didn't mean here as in Tatooine. She meant here, as in the future.

Here, in a time he did not belong.

"I don't know," he said as his shoulders sagged slightly.

"Yes, you do. Now, why are you here?" she asked, her eyes burning deeply into him, pressing him for an answer that he did want to give.

"To witness the future and make sure that it doesn't happen," said Anakin as his gaze fell to his feet, which was covered in sand that was blowing gently in the wind.

"And what have you witnessed?" she asked.

Anakin shook his head, "suffering and pain. This future should've never happened in the first place."

"And what future is that?" she asked, her voice lowering inquisitively as she inspected her son. "What do you know of your life that is yet to come?"

"I don't know," said Anakin shaking his head. "Why are you even asking me this?"

"I have to ask you, Ani. This is why I was sent here, to talk to you, to ask you what you will not ask yourself."

"I have asked myself, mom," said Anakin defensively. "Every day I ask myself."

"Then why do you not know the answer that you seek?" she asked as she took a step toward him, her face determined and inquisitive. "The answer to everything has been in plain sight, waiting for you to acknowledge it and yet you don't. Why not?"

"Because I don't want to know," said Anakin in an affirmative tone. "I've already surmised that whatever my future is, it's not a good one."

"So you would rather live in ignorance than confront it?"

"Yes!" said an exasperated Anakin as his jaw tightened.

His mother said nothing, only staring at him with those brown eyes that made him feel as though he had said or done something wrong, which he hadn't, at least in his opinion.

"The little boy I knew was brave," she began. "He wasn't afraid to face his fears, and yet now you run away from the knowledge that would save the galaxy. How are you supposed to change the future, if you do not know what led to that future?"

"I don't know, mom," he said as he plopped down on the sand and grabbed a handful of sand before he let it slide through his fingers. "I don't know."

Shmi said nothing as she lowered herself down next to him, her hand coming to rest on top of his shoulder, her eyes drooping ever so slightly.

"I know you're scared, Ani. What has happened, what will happen, - it's a lot to take in and you have every right to be afraid."

"I'm not afraid," mumbled Anakin, who was feeling a lot smaller than he was in that moment.

Shmi let out a small laugh, the wrinkles around her eyes crinkling in the process, "I know you, Ani. And I know when you're scared. But trust me when I say there is nothing to fear. Everything will work out, eventually. You just have to have faith."

"I know," said Anakin as he buried his head in his knees. "It's just hard."

"I know, Ani, I know," she said as she rubbed circles on his back. "But you're not alone. You have Luke and Leia, two very special people who care about you."

Anakin let out a snort, "how do you know about them?"

Shmi only chuckled, as if she knew something that he didn't.

"I know a great deal about them, as do you."

"I don't know anything about them," said Anakin shaking his head. "I only met them a couple of weeks ago, and now Luke thinks he's my Master and Leia, well she-''

"-Is a very strong woman who has seen many hardships in her life," finished Shmi for him. "And Luke is a very caring man who is only looking out for your best interest, but you haven't exactly made that easy, now have you?"

"No," mumbled Anakin under his breath.

"Maybe you should try getting to know them better. I think you would be surprised to find out that their story is your story as well."

"I already know their stories," said a confused Anakin. "Leia's a Princess who lost her home planet and Luke's a moisture farmer from Tatooine."

"Well yes, that is true, Ani. But that's not all of it. Their stories go a lot deeper than that, much deeper than even they know," she said softly, a hint of sadness laced in her voice.

"I don't understand," said Anakin shaking his head. "What does any of this have to do with them and their story?"

Shmi pursed her lips together into a thin line, "something tells me that you'll be finding out the answer to that here very soon."

Anakin said nothing as he stared at his mother, his brows scrunching up in confusion as he looked back out at the dry valley beneath him.

He had nothing to say to that, and he knew he wouldn't get a straight answer out of her anyway. Cryptic dreams and what not could sometimes be a real pain.

"Now," began Shmi as she grabbed his hand, "I'm afraid our time is up."

"What do you mean?" asked Anakin, growing fearful at the prospect of her leaving him. "You can't leave me, not now."

His face scrunched up tightly as he did his best to hide the pain that was etched on his face but failed to do so.

"I'm not the one leaving," she said simply as she wrapped her arms around him once more, a few tears running down her face. "It's time for you to go, Ani."

"No, please don't make me go," he choked out, his voice soft and earnest as he felt her pull away from him, her hand coming to rest gently on his cheek.

"Oh Ani, I'm so proud of you," she said as she stroked her son's cheek. "No matter what you do, I'll always be proud of you."

"Mom," he breathed out as he watched his mother's face start to slowly fade in front of his very eyes.

"I love you," came her faint voice as she finally faded away from him, his hands reaching only to grasp the empty air in front of him.

"I love you too," he whispered as the dream around him too began to fade until he found himself staring up at the ceiling of his quarters, his breath coming out slowly as he grabbed the sheets beside him and closed it his eyes.

/Anakin?/ came the familiar beep of Artoo from his bedside. /Are you awake?/

Anakin cracked open an eye to see his domed friend staring at him from his place on the floor, waiting patiently for the human to get his lazy bones out of bed.

"Yeah," he said softly as he hoisted himself up and threw the covers off of himself, his feet coming to rest on the hard cold floor in front of the Droid.

/Are you alright?/ beeped Artoo.

"I uh, I'm fine," said Anakin as he wiggled his toes, not quite wanting to leave the warmth of his bed. "Why do you ask?"

/Well, you seem upset. Did you have a nightmare?/

"No," said Anakin shaking his head. "Wasn't a nightmare."

It hadn't been a nightmare or a dream. It had- been something else entirely.

It had been nice seeing his mother again, despite the cryptic message that she had left him. Of course, he knew it wasn't actually his mother that he talked too, but some aspect of the Force that had used his subconscious desire to connect with him, to leave him that message.

His mother was dead, her soul had become one with the Force, her conscience forever blended in with the beating life force of the universe.

/Well, okay./

"Artoo, what are you doing here? How did you even get in here?" asked Anakin as he stood up to his full height and let out a yawn.

/I was coming to check on you when I heard you crying out your mother's name from outside the door. I thought I would make sure you were alright./

"So you broke into my quarters to check on me," grinned Anakin as he patted the dome of his friend. "What did I ever do to deserve a Droid like you, Artoo?"

/Well lots of things, really./ beeped Artoo as Anakin made his way over to the sink and began washing his face. /But saving Milady's planet from the Trade Federation was probably the biggest one/

Anakin froze momentarily as he watched the water run out the faucet, an image of the Trade Federation ship blowing up only to be replaced with that of the Ordun Station. It had only happened yesterday, and the events were still fresh in his mind.

/Anakin?/ beeped Artoo as he begun to roll over to where Anakin was.

"What?" asked Anakin, finally coming out of his reverie to stare down at the Droid.

/You froze. I've called your name twice now. Are you sure you're all right?/

"I'm fine, Artoo. Stop worrying about me," he said as he shut the water off and dried off his face with a towel before running a comb hastily though his hair. He quickly redid the braid while Artoo beeped about something that had occurred between him and another Droid as well what the roster was for that day for the repair work. They would have a lot on their hands when it came to the repair work, seeing the damage that had been done yesterday and Anakin expected nothing less than a long day ahead of him.

/Leia will be filing casualty reports for the day and Luke will be overseeing the ceremonies for all the pilots that were lost yesterday as well as making sure that repair work goes ahead as planned./

"Great, seems like today will be busy enough," mumbled Anakin under his breath as he placed his red and blue beads back in place. "Will he be arranging the funeral for Lt. Barra as well?"

/No, seeing as she was a part of Captain Rex's division, he will be arranging her ceremony./

"Captain Rex was that guy at the pilot briefing yesterday," mumbled Anakin.

/Indeed/ beeped Artoo, a hint of familiarity in the Droids binary tone as well as anticipation.

"He seems familiar. Have I met him before?" asked Anakin, his curiosity getting the better of him.

/Yes, in fact, future you knew him quite well. He was one of the Clones under your command during the Clone War/

"Is that why he seemed to know who I was?" asked Anakin as he turned around to face the Droid, surprise emanating from him at that piece of knowledge.

/I doubt he could ever forget you/ beeped Artoo softly, a hint of artificial sadness manifesting itself in his binary language.

"Oh," said Anakin plainly, not sure what else he should say about that.

He felt awkward as he turned away from the Droid as he pulled on his leather vest over his dark robes, his eyes zeroing in on the person who stared back at him from the mirror. Somehow, he felt as though he had aged in these past few weeks, his face seeming a little bit older than he had last remembered, more angular and sharper looking but still young. He noted that he would soon be in need of a haircut, the shorter portion of his hair was starting to get to the point where it was starting to slightly curl around his ears.

"Artoo, is there anything else on the schedule for today?" asked Anakin as he tore his eyes away from the mirror to look at the Droid behind him.

/There will be a mission debriefing at 1100 hours in which you will be required to recount everything that occurred while onboard the station. You have also been summoned to the Control Center to speak with Captain Rex/

"When is that?"

/At 1400 hours/

"And what time is it right now?" asked Anakin.

/It is currently 0800 hours. May I recommend you grab breakfast before the mess hall closes in fifteen minutes? You will need sustenance for the day/

"Kriff, is it really that late?" asked Anakin as he clipped his lightsaber to his belt.

/You overslept. Another thing I must remind you of-/ beeped Artoo as he followed Anakin out of his quarters. /Princess Leia wanted me to ask you if you would be free later tonight. I believe she has a few questions to ask you about the repairs you did on her father's Droid/

"I'll get back to her on that," said Anakin abstractedly as he made his way into the mess hall, the little Droid following close behind him.

Anakin wasted no time in grabbing a plate and filling it up with food, which was starting to grow cold seeing as it had been sitting out for a while at that point.

"Hey Anakin!" yelled Lando from across the room as he motioned for the youth to join his table, which was chalk full of various Rebels and Pilots who were all conversing amongst themselves. "Over here!"

Anakin made his way over and plopped his plate down before he begun eating, but not in peace seeing as everybody around the table recognized him as Rogue Six, the lone pilot who had single-handedly saved the hostages and blew up the station.

It seemed as though all of them had something to say or some kind of comment about the events that had transpired yesterday.

However, all Anakin wanted to do was eat his kriffing breakfast.

"Hey, kid. What you did out there was amazing," said one of the pilots from the Blue Squadron as he patted Anakin on the back. "Captain Kaipov is a close friend of mine and I'm happy that he's alive."

Anakin nodded softly, "I'm glad he's alive too."

"Captain Kaipov will be fine," said one of the Rebels. "What I want to know is how the hell you managed to do what you did? Did you plant detonators or something?"

"Yeah, something like that," said Anakin blandly as he started to pick at his food.

"You know what? That really reminded me of when the Death Star blew," said another pilot from the Red Squadron.

"Yeah, looks like Commander Skywalker may have a contender," said Lando jokingly as he poked at his food, oblivious of the perplexed look that was spreading across Anakin's face.

Anakin froze, not quite sure if he had heard that right. Did that pilot just say Commander Skywalker? As in Luke Skywalker?

"Wait, what did you just say?" asked Anakin as he stared over at Lando, his blue eyes boring into the man as he waited for him to reply.

"Yeah, Commander Luke Skywalker. Why?"

Anakin felt as though a weight had just placed on his chest as he quickly stood up, his food long forgotten as he looked over at Artoo, who only beeped and backed away from him. The Force was screaming at him by that point, a sense of truth and anticipation permeating the air around him as he stormed off, determined to find Luke and demand answers.

His jaw tightened and his eyes narrowed as he reached out to find Luke's bright presence in the Force before following it, his boots clanking against the floor loudly. He was fuming at that point and everybody who was unfortunate enough to cross paths with him in that moment could tell as they hastily stepped aside for the young man.

Artoo beeped as he rolled after Anakin, struggling to keep pace with the furious teenager.

How dare Luke keep that bit of information from him? How could he not tell him that his last name was also Skywalker? Not to mention the fact that they were from the same kriffing planet!

He had no idea what this meant. Was Luke somehow related to him? Did his mother have another child after he left? Is that why Luke seemed so kriffing familiar to him?

Anakin's nostrils flared as he used the Force to push Luke's door open, much to the surprise of the older Jedi who had been in the process of meditating before being rudely interrupted by the youth, but Anakin didn't care in the least bit as he rounded on Luke, his face already turning red.

"How could you not tell me your last name was Skywalker?" he said as he pointed an accusing finger at Luke, who sat on the floor staring up at Anakin in shock and dismay.

Luke put his hand up defensively as he surveyed Anakin, who's eyes were ablaze with pure, red-hot anger was being directed his way.

Luke would need to diffuse the situation and fast.

"Anakin, calm down. Let me expla-''

"No!" said Anakin. "I don't have to calm down, not when you've been keeping something like this from me."

It was then that Artoo finally rolled in to see the two Skywalker's, or rather one Skywalker in a heated conversation while the other merely said nothing as he peered up at the other one, fear starting to grow inside of him.

He knew what his father's volatile temper was like, and for the first time since Bespin, he was seeing something in Anakin that reminded him all too much of Vader. A chilling reminder that they were the same person, just marked differently by time.

/Anakin, please don't be mad at Luke/ beeped Artoo as he carefully and slowly rolled over to Anakin, who lips were turned into a snarl and his blue eyes dangerously pointed at Luke.

"Did you know about this too?" said Anakin as he looked down at the Droid, betrayal tugging at his heart.

/I tried to tell you, but you wouldn't listen to me so now you need to sit down, shut up, and listen to what I have to say before you do something you regret/ said Artoo as he whipped out his little electrical prod, the sparks flaring dangerously as he pointed it at Anakin, who immediately decided he didn't want to be on the receiving end of that.

He slowly took his seat, but his anger still remained as he refused to look at Luke, who was staring at Anakin blankly, trying to formulate the best way to tell the younger man the truth.

"I'm sorry, Anakin," began Luke calmly. "I didn't tell you that my last name is Skywalker for several reasons, but I never intended to deliberately hurt you by doing this."

"Well you did," muttered Anakin with hostility. "So you better start explaining yourself. And don't even try telling me only half-truths. I can sense when you're lying to me."

His tone was threatening as he looked over at Luke, his jaw tight and his eyes wide as he clenched his hands to his side, trying his best not to send some random object flying through the room.

"That's the thing," said Luke shaking his head, "I don't know the full story."

/I do/ beeped Artoo simply as they both looked over at him.

"You do?" asked Luke, incredulously.

/Of course. I have known Anakin since he was nine and I have witnessed everything that is vital to the formation of the Empire/

"Well then why don't you explain the situation to Anakin?" asked Luke, semi-relieved that he would not have too.

/The answer is simply this, Anakin. Luke is your son/

Artoo certainly didn't beat around the bush on that one.

Anakin froze for a few moments, the Force suddenly growing eerily quiet around them as the boy tried, and failed to take in the information at hand.

Luke internally cringed at the Droid's bluntness, his gaze traveling over to the younger man who sat in complete silence for a few moments before he finally came out of his trance-like state, his demeanor suddenly growing more and more guarded. The Force around him started to churn dangerously as the truth began to reveal itself to Anakin, who had withdrawn into himself in such a way as to defend himself from the impossible.

"No," he said in a tone that was far too calm for Luke's liking. "That's not possible."

Luke said nothing as he looked over to Artoo, waiting for the Droid to elaborate on what he had just said to Anakin. He was still shocked that Artoo had just so blatantly said it before he even explained anything else to Anakin!

/No, Anakin. I'm afraid it's the truth, isn't it, Luke?/

Anakin's somewhat calm yet demanding gaze shot over to Luke, anxiously awaiting for the older Jedi to give his answer,

Luke was silent for a few seconds before he finally cleared his throat, "yes, it's true. I'm your son."

"B-but you can't be!" said Anakin, his tone rising steadily as the protective barrier he had erected around himself started to crumble away, the truth making itself completely known.

His mouth fell open in shock and confusion as his eyebrows knitted so tightly together that it looked as though he had a huge unibrow.

But it just wasn't possible!

A son? A kriffing son?

The Force started to churn violently around Anakin as he stared at Luke, his mouth opening and closing like a fish out of water as he observed his son, who was kriffing older than him!

He shuddered at the thought, the severity of the situation seeming ludicrous and strange all at once as Anakin looked into Luke's blue eyes, so much like his own. Anakin tore his eyes away from Luke when he realized that he was subconsciously making comparisons between the two of them.

This was why he and Luke seemed to have a natural connection through the Force, it was the sort of connection a father had to his son. It was no wonder why Anakin had felt a strange sort of- bond with Luke! A feeling of familiarity the first time they had met as if Luke was just-

-Meant to be.

"H-how?" croaked Anakin softly.

/I guess I should start at the beginning with this one/ beeped Artoo as he rolled closer to Anakin. /About two years from your time, you and Obi-Wan will be sent to protect Senator Amidala after an assassination attempt on her life./

"Assassination attempt?" asked Anakin, his mind deciding to focus on the former Queen rather than his son, which was too much to completely process at that moment. "Who tried to assassinate Padme?"

/The Separatists. You see, Senator Amidala was on her way to Coruscant to sign an opposition to the Military Creation Act, which would've created an army for the Republic due to the seceding systems that had formed the Confederacy of Independent Systems. But as I'm sure you already know, Palpatine was the one who was leading the Separatist movement as well as the Republic, his motives were to start a war./

Anakin shook his head, "how does Padme tie into- Oh."

He stopped and looked over at Luke, who was had been silent the entire time, his blue eyes looking between Anakin and Artoo as he listened to the story of the woman he could only presume was his mother.

"Oh," said Anakin as he realized just what sort of role she played in all of this, his eyes quickly averting from Luke as he looked back over at the Droid. He couldn't even look at the man anymore, not now that he knew the truth.

Force he hadn't even thought of that! He had been too focused on the Son part to even comprehend the other details that came with that. The more intimate details, which caused his cheeks to turn slightly pink at the thought.

He vaguely wondered how he hadn't realized it until now seeing as his visions had given him quite the indication. He should've realized it the moment he knew the truth about Luke.

/Yes, Anakin. I'm sure you know exactly how she fits into all of this. As I was saying, Palpatine's motives were to start a war as a means to divide and conquer. But that wasn't the only reason that they wanted Padme dead. It was because of Nute Gunray's grudge against her for his failed Blockade on Naboo, and he demanded her death as a condition for the secession of the Trade Federation from the Republic."

"Of course he would, that stinking-" began Anakin before he was interrupted by Artoo.

/And as the story goes, you and your Master were sent to protect her/

"And I'm assuming we did?" asked Anakin, his eyes refusing to meet those of Luke's.

/You did. However, there was no preventing the start of the Clone War, which occurred on Geonosis when you and Senator Amidala went to rescue Kenobi/

Okay, Anakin vaguely remembered something like that happening in one of his dreams, but the vision had only lasted a few seconds at most. Not enough time to get a true sense of what was happening.

"Okay, so what next?" asked Anakin.

/During this time, you and Padme had fallen in love and after the Battle of Geonosis, the two of you were wed on Naboo/

"We were married?" asked Anakin as he tilted his head. He had really disregarded the code, hadn't he?

/Indeed/ beeped Artoo as he displayed a blue holo-vid that showed a slightly older Anakin and Padme standing on a balcony, the both of them leaning in to kiss. Padme was wearing a white lace dress while Anakin was wearing his Jedi robes, probably the same ones he had on now.

But Anakin wasn't the only one staring at the recording. Luke was leaning in as well as he observed his parents wedding, his eyes falling on that of his mother, who was breathtakingly beautiful.

This was the first time he had ever seen her, or rather an image of her seeing as she was dead. But it meant the world to Luke to finally be able to put a face with a name.

Anakin said nothing as he watched them finally pull away from each other, the both of them turning to look out at the lake behind them before the video finally shut off.

/You two kept it a secret, even when you were off fighting the war/

Anakin nodded numbly, "the war, it lasted only three years, right?"

/Yes, and you two were apart for much of it. Nearing the end of the war, you and your Master had been recalled to Coruscant to rescue the Chancellor, who had faked his own kidnapping by the Separatists/

"Weasel," muttered an annoyed Anakin under his breath.

/You two managed to rescue him and you were able to return to Coruscant, where Padme was waiting for you. It was then that you discovered she was pregnant, already in her third trimester at that point/

Anakin closed his eyes as he gave Artoo a little nod, encouraging him to continue

/It was then that you started to have Force dreams of Padme dying in childbirth, just like you had dreamed of your mother's death

"I dreamed of her death before it happened?" asked Anakin referring to his mother, a sense of foreboding overtaking him at the thought. If he had dreamed of his mother's death, and it had occurred, did that mean-?

/It pained you a great deal that you were never able to save her/ beeped Artoo solemnly /you confided in Kenobi about your dreams, but he didn't understand. He felt guilty about not listening to you, even more so now/

Anakin inhaled deeply, "but that obviously didn't happen to Padme. I mean-'' he trailed off as he motioned to Luke, still refusing to say it out loud. "She couldn't have."

Artoo beeped sadly, an action so tiny but one that seemed to weigh heavily on Anakin.

It couldn't be-

No, it didn't happen, it couldn't have happened-

/You wanted to find a way to prevent her death before it even happened, so you went to Yoda for advice, but he didn't understand the situation so he didn't give you the help you needed. That, and being asked to spy on the Chancellor, who you considered a good friend at the time as well as being allowed to sit in on the Jedi Council but not being given the rank of Master became all too much for you/

From the way Artoo was telling the story, it sounded as though Anakin had done something, something really really bad.

"What did I do?" asked Anakin quietly.

/Palpatine took advantage of your dilemma and offered you a way you could save Padme, but the knowledge that he offered only came from the Dark Side/

Anakin shook his head vehemently at the vulgar though, "I would never willingly use the Dark Side, Artoo. That sort of practice always comes at a price, you know that."

"Are you sure about that? Asked Luke quietly from where he sat, finally deciding to speak up for the first time in minutes. "Even if you thought it would save her?"

"You don't know me, Luke," said Anakin as he glared at the older/younger man. "I would never turn to the Dark Side! I would never-"

He trailed off, his face paling considerably as his lower jaw went slack. He looked so confused and lost at that moment as he squeezed his eyes shut, as if he was willing himself to wake up from a terrible nightmare.

"I couldn't have," he said quietly as he finally looked back over at Luke, guilt, and hurt spreading over his face as he took in the sight of his son.

/-But you did/ beeped Artoo sadly. /You allowed yourself to be consumed with darkness and from that moment on you ceased to be Anakin Skywalker, instead taking on the mantle of Darth Vader/

Anakin had been in denial before, but now his anger started to build inside of him like a raging fire as he tried his best to control his labored breathing.

"No," said Anakin slowly, his face twisting and contorting until his anger was completely unleashed and displayed for all to see. "NO! I would never, I mean I couldn't have- it-it's not possible!"

At this point in time, the Force started to swirl violently and dangerously around at Anakin as things started flying around the room at such a velocity that Luke was genuinely worried that a flying object would hit him in the head and kill him.

And in the middle of all the chaos sat Anakin, who had pulled his knees to his chest as he sobbed into them, a mixture of devastation and anger combined all in one. It was obvious that Anakin had zero control over anything at that point, and rightly so. He probably didn't even know what sort of damage his Force powers were doing at the moment, too caught up in his own grief and self-loathing to notice anything else.

Artoo beeped frantically as Luke dodged his wrench, which had been on a projected course for his head before he jumped up to his feet and tried desperately to reach out to Anakin with the Force, but found that there was nothing even he could do to reach him.

Anakin had completely isolated himself.

"Anakin!" yelled Luke as he tried his hardest to get through the younger man, who was now rocking back and forth and muttering incoherent things under his breath.

"Oh Force," came Ben's troubled voice from behind Luke as he observed the mayhem before him.

"Ben!" cried Luke frantically, his eyes wide as he looked over to the blue apparition in earnest fear. "You have to do something!"

"Anakin!" yelled Ben over the destruction, his firm and authoritarian tone directed to the distressed young man.

The voice of Master Kenobi seemed to finally wake Anakin up, who opened his eyes to stare at his Master with blood-shot eyes that looked as though they could turn yellow at any point.

"M-Master, is-is it true?" he asked weakly as things started to finally settle down around him, his anger finally giving way to guilt and sadness.

"I'm afraid so, my very young Padawan," said Kenobi grimly.

Anakin closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths, his demeanor finally becoming calm enough to the point where he could reign in his wild emotions.

"I killed you," he said weakly. "I killed you, I killed the Jedi, I've probably killed countless others."

"Darth Vader is responsible for the deaths of many, but that's not something you need dwell on," said Kenobi pointedly.

"How can I not? Their blood is on my hands," he said looking down at his hands, disgusted with the acts they would one day commit. "The Entire Jedi Order, gone because of me. How am I supposed to live with that?"

"I don't know," said Obi-Wan honestly.

Anakin remained silent for a few moments before he finally pulled his knees away from him, and looked his former Master straight in the eye, a brave task to accomplish at that moment in time.

"Did she live? Did the Dark Side save her?" asked Anakin, a part of him already knowing the answer, but he needed confirmation.

Obi-Wan shook his head solemnly, "no, it didn't. When she learned of your fall, she tried to confront you, but you were so consumed at that point that there was no way you could've even listened to her. And I made the mistake of following her, which gave Vader the wrong impression."

"Wrong impression?" asked Anakin meekly.

Kenobi nodded, "you thought that she had brought me to kill you, but that was not the case. She didn't even know that I had followed her in the first place, but you were unable to see reason. You raised your hand against her and started choking her, but I intervened and we fought."

"I killed her?" asked Anakin, eyes wide and another sob starting to form in his mouth before Obi-Wan stopped him.

"No, you didn't kill her, Anakin. She was still alive at that point in time."

"But I hurt her," he said as the guilt started to rack him. "She was pregnant and I hurt her."

"Vader's actions were not excused, but you have to remember that that wasn't you, Anakin. That was Vader."

"But I am Vader!" cried out Anakin. "I chose to become him when I could've said no! If I had just refused Palpatine at the time-"

"Anakin, I don't know what was going through your mind at the time, but you need to let me finish the story," said Obi-Wan calmly.

"I already know what happens!"

"No, you don't," said Obi-Wan pointedly. "We fought and I won, but I couldn't bring myself to kill you. I begged you not too, but you were beyond reason and I did what I had to do. You tried to attack me while I had the high ground, and I incapacitated you. I couldn't kill you, Anakin. No matter how hard I tried to bring myself to end your misery, I just couldn't. So I walked away."

"You should've finished it," mumbled Anakin under his breath. "The galaxy would've been better off."

"Maybe," said Obi-Wan sadly, "but either way, I couldn't. I left with Padme, who had gone into labor at that point. I took her to Polis Massa medical center, where we learned some, startling news."

"Startling news?" huffed Anakin. "I doubt there isn't much else you could say that would startle me, Master."

"Oh I don't know about that," said Obi-Wan, a soft twinkle in his eye as he looked over at Luke, who had been completely silent to the point where it was easy to forget that he was even there. "Padme lived long enough to give birth, to her children."

Anakin's head shot up at that, his eyes going wide like saucers as he looked over at Obi-Wan Kenobi for an explanation as to what he had just heard.

"Twins?" he asked on the verge of hysteria as he ran an agitated hand through his hair. "I have- I mean, she had twins?"

"A boy and girl," said Kenobi as he looked over at Luke, who looked just as shocked as Anakin.

"A girl too?" breathed out Anakin as he finally looked over at Luke, who looked just as stumped at the prospect of a twin sister.

"You didn't know, did you?" asked Anakin softly to Luke, already surmising that either they had been separated at birth or this girl- his daughter, was dead at that point.

It was strange and foreign to even think about it. His son, his daughter, his children.

Luke shook his head truthfully, his gaze finally zeroing in on Obi-Wan, who had been staring down at Anakin with sadness glistening in his eyes.

"W-where is she?" asked Anakin after a few moments of silence.

"I think Luke may already know the answer to that," said Kenobi as he started to stroke his blue beard thoughtfully.

"Leia," breathed out Luke softly, surprised but at the same time, shocked at how much sense it made.

It couldn't be anybody else, it had to be her.

"The Princess?" asked Anakin, his forehead scrunching up as he drew his brows together. "Does she even know that Luke is her-?"

"No," said Obi-Wan shaking his head, "we had them separated for their own good, Anakin. They were too powerful together and we feared the Emperor or Vader would find them, so we sent one to Tatooine to live with your step-brother and his wife while the other was adopted by the Organa's."

"What about Padme?" asked Anakin after a few moments of pained silence. "I know she-she died, but she was returned to Naboo, I presume?"

Kenobi nodded solemnly, "we had her body sent back to her family on Naboo for burial. We made sure that the autopsy report said she was still pregnant when she died so that neither Vader nor the Emperor would try to find Luke or Leia. Myself, Organa, and Yoda were the only ones who knew the truth."

"So Vader," began Anakin slowly, disturbed by the fact that he was talking about himself, "didn't know that she had twins, or that they were even born."

"For nineteen years, he believed his child to have died with her," stated Kenobi as he stroked his beard, "until a few months ago when he discovered that the Rebel Pilot who blew up the Death Star hailed from Tatooine and bore the name Skywalker. He, however, has no idea about Leia, and we intend to keep it that way."

"At least he doesn't know that Luke has a sister," said Anakin softly, a pained expression gracing his features.

The room fell silent for a few moments as Anakin stared down at the floor, not really having anything else to say about the whole situation. However, Luke had some stuff he had to get off his chest to Kenobi, who had lied and kept information from him for quite some time.

"So when did you plan on telling me that Leia is my sister?" asked Luke as he gave Kenobi a pointed stare. "

"At the appropriate time, but seeing as things have changed, I figured it would be pointless to hide it anymore."

"So I get sent to a barren rock to live as a farmer and she gets adopted into royalty on a wealthy Inner Core world?" asked Luke crossing his arms.

Anakin let out a sardonic snort from his spot on the floor but otherwise remained silent in his brooding demeanor.

Ben sighed, "Bail Organa, who was a very close friend of your mothers, offered to adopt Leia because he and his wife needed an heir to the throne, more specifically a female heir. I'm sure you know by now that the throne of Alderaan is passed down from mother to daughter, and very rarely from mother to son."

Luke shook his head, "so not fair if you ask me."

Kenobi shook his head, "nothing about the situation was fair, Luke."

"But Tatooine?" asked Anakin, finally speaking up on Luke's behalf. "Couldn't you have taken him anywhere else?"

"There were really no other options. Tatooine was the one place in the entire galaxy that Vader would never set foot on. That's why I took Luke and myself there."

"I guess that makes sense," mumbled Anakin under his breath. "I just- I don't know Master. This is all just-"

"Too much right now," said Kenobi in understanding. "You need time to process it, don't you?"

Anakin refused to meet either of their eyes as he looked over at Artoo, who just beeped at him sadly before he rolled over to where Luke was standing.

"Yeah, if you don't mind," he said softly as he once again drew his knees up to his chest, his features void of any emotions. But deep down, Anakin was full of all sorts of emotions.

He just needed time to process it all. He needed time to sort through everything and accept that it had happened, which would be hard. He knew that he could change everything when he went back, but it still didn't take away the shame and the guilt.

Vader was him, but not him at the same time.

It was just so confusing.

"It's fine," said Luke, not bothered by the fact that he was being kicked out of his own quarters. "I'm really really sorry, Anakin, I never wanted you to get hurt."

Anakin said nothing from his spot on the floor as both Luke and Artoo started to make their way to the door while Kenobi disappeared back into the Force.

"I know," he whispered to Luke, who stopped temporarily at the door to stare down at the pitiful sight that his father, a flash of pain and guilt spreading across his face before he finally stepped out of the room, leaving Anakin completely alone with only his guilt as a companion.

"I'm sorry, too."

Chapter Text

Leia was in a fairly decent mood as she made her way down the corridor, a stack of data-pads in her hand and a hot, fresh brewed cup of caf in the other hand. She hummed lightly to herself before she made her way into to the Control Center and over to where Captain Rex was currently going over the funeral arrangements for all those in his Division who had died during the Battle of Ordun, one of the data-files in her hand falling into his empty ones.

"Good morning, Captain," she said as she flashed the older Clone a bright smile, despite the grim situation that he had been put in charge of.

"Good morning your Highness. More data to be filed?" he asked as he looked down at the pad in his hand.

"I know you're busy, but Mon Mothma and General Dodonna need these on file as soon as possible."

He sighed, "I'll see to them as soon as I'm done with this."

He wasn't annoyed, just- stressed at the task before him. He never enjoyed planning funerals, especially for those as young and promising as Lt. Barra and the other men and women who had perished. He didn't even have most of their bodies, only that of Irena Barra and two other young pilots.

Leia leaned in to briefly look down at their personnel files as well as the eulogies that had been written for the ceremony later, a small farewell given by those who had known and worked with them.

"Well, I'll leave it to you then," she said as she turned to make her way out the door before she stopped short and turned back to face him, a question on her lips as she addressed him once again.

"Do you know where Luke is? I have some reports I need him to look over."

"Saw him earlier. He's in his quarters meditating," he said, barely looking up at her.

"What was he meditating on?" she asked curiously as she placed her hands on her hips.

"Something important," said Rex, deliberately choosing not to expand on that statement. "I'm sure he won't mind your presence though."

"I hope he doesn't, cause I really need these reports done today," she said as she shifted the stack in her hands. "Thanks, Captain."

"No problem, your Highness," he said as he flashed her a bright smile before she made her way out into the hallway, her shoes softly padding against the hard floor beneath her as she set off for Luke's quarters.

She hummed lightly to herself as she smiled to all of the personnel who were also making their way through the corridors, all of them stepping aside for the Princess. She was in the middle of saying hello to a fellow Alderaanian when something inside of her suddenly went eerily still before a painful coldness took over her body, racing from her chest down to her toes and back.

She paused as a small gasp escaped her lips, her hand coming over her chest as the data-files fell to the floor with a loud clanking sound, which she didn't hear at all. In fact, she didn't hear anything other than the sound of her heart beating rapidly inside of her chest.

Something was terribly, terribly wrong.

She didn't know how, she just knew.

"Luke," she whispered under her breath, but found that that was not the right answer to that question.

Luke was fine, a bit depressed, but other than that he was perfectly fine. This was not Luke that she was feeling, but it was eerily similar at the same time.

She didn't know Anakin all that well, but not even she could deny that he felt familiar- all too familiar to her. From the moment she had met the gangly blond, teenager, she had felt as though she had known him- which was insane because she had never once met him in her entire life.

The data-files were all but forgotten as she set off in the direction that the… the disturbance was originating from.

She didn't know why she felt the need to make sure that Anakin was alright, she just knew she needed to see him. He was so young and she would be lying if she said she hadn't felt protective of him seeing as he was her friend. But in that moment the desire to check in on him was overpowering.

"Leia!" came Luke's surprised and somewhat frantic tone.

"Luke?" she asked as she came to halt, her brown eyes racing over to meet his blue ones.

He quickly closed the distance between them, his eyes boring into her as he came to stand in front of her, his taller stature blocking her from the door to his own quarters, where she had felt Anakin's presence originating from.

"What are you doing here?" he asked softly.

"I- I think Anakin is in trouble, so I came to make sure he was alright. Why? Have you sensed it too?"

He nodded, "he's- he's just dealing with some stuff right now."

"Stuff?" she asked, her left eyebrow raised. "What sort of stuff?" she demanded suspiciously.

Luke looked conflicted, his face twisting as he looked over to the door of his quarters before he grabbed Leia by the arm, gentle but commanding at the same time, which did not bode well with the Princess.

He started to lead her away and Leia was about to protest when he looked at her sternly, everything he needed to say to her conveyed in one simple look that made her snap her mouth shut.

"Luke?" she asked, her voice coming out much softer than she had anticipated. "What's going on?"

"It's hard to explain, and I want to tell you, Leia. But I have no idea how," he said as his voice cracked near the end, his blue eyes growing sadder by the second as his grip on her shoulder softened, but he still held onto her, as if her touch brought him comfort.

"You know you can tell me anything, Luke," she said.

He stared down at her for a few silent, contemplative moments before he brought a nervous hand up and brushed a strand of his blond hair away from his forehead.

"Just promise me you'll keep an open mind, okay?" he said as he looked between her and his quarters before he finally nodded for her to follow him as stepped away from the door, as if it wasn't safe for them there.

"I'll try," she said as she folded her arms across her chest and waited patiently for him to begin.

"Have you noticed anything about Anakin? Anything familiar that you can't quite place but you can feel?" he asked suddenly.

Leia scrunched up her forehead in thought at the strange, yet intuitive question.

"Think," he urged. "What does the Force tell you about him?"

"He feels-" she said softly as she searched for the right word. "Familiar. I don't know, but it feels as though I've met him before. Is that weird?"

"No," he said shaking his head. "It's not weird at all."

"Luke?" asked Leia softly, a small tendril of fear and anticipation blossoming in her chest. "What are you not telling me?"

He wanted to tell her something, but he was struggling to find the right way to do it. She could feel it, his earnest desire to share something with her. Something big.

"Do you believe in time travel?" he asked out of the blue, nervous eyes staring down at her.

Leia paused, her brain tickling at the thought and her neck tingling for some strange reason.

She wanted to say that time travel wasn't possible, only in fiction, but then again-

"Well I- I can't say that I do believe in it, necessarily, but something tells me that if it were possible, that it would be because of the Force."

"But you know it's possible, Leia. Search your feelings," he urged softly. "The Force is capable of many things."

She let out an exasperated sigh as she delved deeper into herself, her own potential and her own understanding of the Force and found no fault with what he was claiming.

"Okay," she said after a few moments of silence. "I believe you, but why are you telling me this unless-"

She paused as her mind finally connected the dots that had been right in front of her. It only made sense that somehow Anakin was from the past-?

"Is he-?" she asked as she tilted her head to the side.

"From the past? Yes, about twenty-eight years or so," he said in confirmation.

"Oh wow," said Leia as she drew her hand to her chest, the corridor around them seeming much smaller than originally.

"I know, crazy right?" asked Luke as he let out a huff. "Unfortunately, I wish that was the craziest thing about this story."

"What more is there?"

He stared down at her for a few contemplative moments before his hand came to rest of her shoulder, his fingers sinking into her brown strands that she had left loose that day before he finally looked back into her eyes, sadness flitting across them.

"What do you remember of your birth parents?"

"My birth parents?" she asked, her forehead scrunching together at the strange question.

She had never known much about the people that had given her life, only what her adopted parents had decided to tell her, which was not much.

Her father had mentioned once that her mother had died giving birth to her and her birth father had died in the Clone War, a tragic ending to a family that could've been. Leia had thought of them before, but she had never tried to find out more about them.

She was content with the family that she did have.

But when Leia had been young, she had dreamed of a woman whom she could only presume to be her birth mother. But it couldn't have been her seeing as she had died when Leia had been but mere minutes old.

She had dismissed the dreams as being figments of her imagination having stemmed from the yearning to know the woman who had birthed her.

"Nothing, I never knew them. My mother died giving birth to me and my father perished in the Clone Wars, why?"

"My father fought in the Clone Wars too, and until recently I too thought he had perished in them," said Luke with a far-a-way look in his eyes. "I never knew him, or my mother for that matter. I have no memory of them."

Leia stared up at him, trying to figure out where he was taking this before her eyes widened and her breath caught in her throat. She had a distinct feeling where this conversation was going now, and it was strange, but it also made sense.

"Luke," she began earnestly. "Is Anakin your-?"

He nodded as a pained expression danced across his features. "A younger version of him, but him nonetheless."

"How long have you known?"

"Ever since we met him. I could just feel it, you know? And then he told me his backstory and I knew. There aren't many former slaves from Tatooine with the name Anakin Skywalker, especially ones who had been trained in the ways of the Force."

"So the Force brought him here. Why?" he asked as her hand came to rest on his arm in an attempt to soothe him.

"That's the difficult part," he began slowly. "You see, during my duel with Vader on Bespin, I learned something- interesting about my father. My father never died, he just lost his way."

"Lost his way?"

"Yeah," he said as he knitted his eyebrows together. "But I'll get back to that in a minute. There's something else about Anakin Skywalker you should know."

"What?" she asked, a feeling of anticipation growing in her chest and spreading out.

"Anakin Skywalker is your birth father too," he said softly. "Which makes us siblings, twins to be exact."

Leia began to shake her head but was interrupted by Luke, his demeanor both pressing and urgent as he placed both of his hands on her shoulders, his strong calloused hands digging softly into her flesh. He was gentle, but strong in his conviction to make her see the truth.

"Search your feelings, Leia. You know it to be true.

She wanted to rebuke him, tell him that he was crazy for saying such things, but she instead found herself staring up into his gentle and kind face. An image of a woman, beautiful yet sad invaded her mind as she started to see the similarities between her and her newfound brother.

Leia closed her eyes as she searched within herself for the truth, and found it to be just that- the truth. It seemed impossible that she was the daughter of a former slave turned Jedi, but she could feel it in her heart.

She opened her eyes slowly before she turned to look over at Luke's quarters, where she could feel Anakin's distressed presence emanating from. She could feel that he was in just as much shock as she was, and she understood that he knew too.

Judging from his shock and sadness, he had just found out as well.

"Twins," she mumbled under her breath before she looked back up at Luke, a soft smile spreading across her lips. "You're my brother."

"And you're my sister," he said as he drew her into a hug, his strong arms wrapping her close to him as he inhaled deeply.

"How long have you known?" she asked as she pulled away from him.

"Ben told Anakin and I the truth only a few minutes ago."

Luke had told her that Ben Kenobi's ghost would occasionally appear to him and although she had been skeptical at first, she no longer questioned the validity of Luke's strange and Force-related statements. If she had been taught anything in theis past couple of years alone, it was that the Force was capable of anything.

"How did he take it?" she asked, curiosity laced in her voice.

"He took the news that we're his- children hard at first, but that's not really what shocked him the most."

"Oh? And what was that?" pressed Leia.

"I haven't told anybody else this, and I wouldn't be telling you this right now if you didn't deserve to know. During my duel with Vader on Bespin, I learned something very interesting about the fate of our father."

"I thought you once told me that Darth Vader had killed him," said Leia softly.

"That's what Ben told me, but I know that to be a lie. Our father never died at the hands of Vader, Leia. Vader- is our father."

Leia shook her head as her lips deepened into a troubled frown. Her mouth felt suddenly dry as she drew away from Luke, his touch, which had been comforting before, not felt like burning embers against her skin.

She didn't want to believe it, but she could feel it. It was no wonder why Anakin felt so familiar to him, and not just in the sense of him being her birth father.

She could never forget the feeling of his dark tendrils trying to break through her shields, the feeling of his gloved hand closing around her throat as he squeezed, his monotone voice low and threatening.

Sooner or later, your Highness, you will talk…

He had tortured her, and he had enjoyed it. Her misery and her pain had fueled him further as he tried so hard to break her, as if she was nothing more than a toy that he could play with until he got tired of her.

It was a triumph to her that she had not bent to his will like so many others. Despite his attempts, her spirit had not been broken and she had walked away from that interrogation, scarred but not hindered in her mission.

But knowing that the man that had done that was her own father was something Leia did not think she was ready to accept, not now not ever. She had never given her birth father much thought these last few years, but she had never imagined-

"No," she said, her voice quivering as her hands started to shake. "No, it can't be."

"I'm sorry, Leia," said Luke as he grabbed her quivering hands into his own larger ones. "I know how hard this must be for you but it is true."

"No," she said, her tone low and menacing as she stared up at her brother with newfound conviction. "Bail Organa was my father, not that machine."

"Of course Bail was your father, Leia. There's no debating that, but Anakin Skywalker is your father too. Maybe not in that sense, but by birth he is."

Leia inhaled deeply as her eyes shot over to the room at the end of the corridor where a- young Vader was currently hiding out in.

She shuddered at the prospect that all this time a younger version of Vader had been playing Rebel with them, pretending to be one of them. Just how much of them had he learned in his time here? Would he use this information in the future to destroy them?

Could he even be trusted?

"I am not denying that," she said finally after a few moments of calculated silence. "But we cannot simply ignore the fact that Anakin is Vader."

"Anakin isn't Vader," said Luke defensively. "Anakin never did any of those things, Leia."

"Not yet," she hissed. "But he will. What are we supposed to do about that?"

"Nothing," said Luke. "He came here for a reason, Leia. Now that he has seen this future, he won't let it come to pass when he returns to his own time. Besides, it's not like we can kill him. Unless you've forgotten how time travel works, we kill him and we won't ever be born."

"I'm not saying we should kill him," said Leia as she bit her lip until she could taste the blood. "But I don't want to have anything to do with him, you hear me?"

"Leia-"

"No," she said shaking her head. "You may be able to see the difference between him and that machine, but I can't."

"Okay," said Luke with a defeated sigh. "I'll tell him to stay away from you. But you know you can't avoid him forever."

"We'll see," muttered Leia under her breath as she turned on her heels and made her way down the corridor in a flurry of unprecedented rage.

"Leia!" yelled Luke, but she chose not to listen as she continued down the corridor, tears stinging her eyes and threatening to fall down.

"Leia please," begged Luke, but it was not his voice that she heard calling out to her.

"Leia please," came the soft voice of a woman, her tone both sad and pleading as she called after the young Princess.

Leia paused as she looked back to Luke to see if he too had heard that voice, but judging from the look on his face, he had not.

"Leia, please don't be mad at Anakin. He needs us."

Leia stared at him silently for a few moments as she contemplated the meaning of his words. But she felt nothing for Anakin nor did she want to help him.

It was selfish and she knew that they were being given a rare opportunity to prevent the past from coming true.

But she wanted to be selfish. She didn't want to think about Anakin or his needs.

She just wanted him gone.

"No, he doesn't need me," began Leia softly. "And I don't need him!"

"Yes you do," came that soft voice in her head, but Leia ignored it; pushing it out until she could no longer hear it.

And with that she turned on her heel and disappeared down the corridor, leaving a very forlorn Luke behind in her wake.

Chapter Text

Anakin felt as though his heart was burning as he sat there on the floor, his knees drawn up to his chest as he stared wordlessly at where his legs met the floor of Luke's quarters. He had no idea how long he had been sitting there staring at the floor as if it was the most interesting thing in the entire room, but he could only assume that it had probably been an hour at least.

He wanted to get up and do something productive, but he barely had the strength to do so, not after everything he had just learned.

He felt so pathetic at his weakness and inability to just stand up, but his shame was overwhelming and kept him sitting there, with nothing more than his guilt and his sadness.

His tears had long since dried and he was certain that he was unable to shed anymore as he gently wiped away at the crust that had formed in the corner of his eye. Usually, he was not one to cry, but he felt more than entitled to at the prospect of himself turning to the Dark Side and helping in the destruction of the Order and the Republic. Not to mention the loss of his future wife and the fact that he had two children who were currently trying to fix the destruction that he had caused, and it wasn't just them.

He had been with the Rebellion long enough to know what they were fighting for and how much had been sacrificed all in the name of freedom and justice. So many Rebels had died to try to put an end to the tyranny he had helped create and he would be lying if he said that alone didn't kill him.

How many of those Rebels had he personally murdered? All in the name of the Empire?

The very thought alone made him nauseous and he didn't even try to fight the bile that was raising in his throat as he quickly pulled Luke's garbage container over to him before letting it all out, the putrid smell permeating the air around him as he heaved into the can.

Once he finished and there was nothing more that he could force up, he wiped his mouth with the corner of his sleeve before he shoved the container aside, the smell becoming too much for him to handle at the moment.

He knew he would need to take the container out of Luke's room and probably procure him a new one, and although he was still extremely emotionally spent, he slowly stood up and let out a shaky breath as he picked up the waste bin and made his way over to the door, but just as he was about to exit the room, something on Luke's desk caught his eye.

The container in his hand was almost completely forgotten as he slowly made his way over to the makeshift desk, which was covered in data-files and as well as few tools and schematics, but that was not what had caught the young Padawan's attention.

There, staring up at him, was a small Japor snippet, much like the one he had made for Padme all those years ago. It, of course, was not the same one, but it was very similar in design to the one had given her, bearing the secret symbols and art that so many slaves had come to know and use within their community.

The slaves on Tatooine would often make good luck charms and talismans, the symbols carved onto each one was different and unique; symbolizing something that only the slaves would understand. Each one carried a different message that was unique only to itself, and that's why Anakin remembered this one so vividly. Japor Snippets were not that uncommon in the slave community on Tatooine and although Anakin had carved probably more than a few dozen in his entire life, he knew exactly who had made this one and who it had been given too.

Anakin gingerly reached down to pick up the small trinket, his eyes dancing across the symbols that he carved onto it all those years ago before presenting it to his mother as a parting gift before leaving for the Temple. It was strange, he had not thought of the small talisman that he had given his mother but seeing it now seemed to bring back all of those memories.

The symbols he had carved onto the wood represented love and protection as well the promise that they would one day meet again. Slaves on Tatooine were constantly being separated and there were no guarantees that they would ever see each other again, so this symbol had come to represent a promise.

A promise that they would one day meet again here or in the afterlife.

Anakin stared down at the talisman quietly as he let out a shaky breath before he turned it over to see his initials which he had carved out on the back before he turned it back over so that he could stare at the familiar markings.

"My Aunt gave it to me," came Luke's quiet voice from the doorway as he leaned against the frame with his arms folded across his chest, his blue gaze taking in the sight of the younger Jedi.

"Your Aunt?" asked Anakin softly as he looked over at Luke before looking back down at the trinket in his hand.

"Aunt Beru. She gave it me when I was young because she wanted me to know where I came from. Both she and my Uncle had loved Shmi and they had wanted me to know who she was and how much she meant to them," said Luke as he unfolded his arms and slowly made his way further into the room.

"I was lucky enough to have it on me when my home was destroyed by Stormtroopers," continued Luke absentmindedly as he slowly entered the room.

"I didn't know your home was destroyed by Stormtroopers," said Anakin gently as he felt Luke's pain through their bond. Whoever his Aunt and Uncle had been, Luke had loved them dearly and their deaths had left a hole in his heart that was only just beginning to heal.

"It was very tragic what happened to them," said a visibly conflicted Luke, "but if it hadn't of happened, I would have never gone with Kenobi to save Leia from the Empire and the plans for the Death Star would've never reached the Alliance."

"I guess that's one way to look at things," said Anakin as his eyes drifted back down to the Japor Snippet in his hands.

There was a pregnant pause between the both of them and Anakin could sense Luke's nervousness and curiosity rolling off of him like waves, but he remained silent as he waited for Luke to say whatever it was that he wanted to say.

"Your mother," began Luke timidly, obviously afraid that he was breaching a sensitive topic, "what was she like? I mean, I know a little bit about her from my Aunt and Uncle, but not that much seeing as they only knew her for a little more than three years before she-"

Luke looked a little bit like a deer caught in the headlights and it was plainly obvious even to him that he had just backed himself up into a corner.

"-Passed?" finished Anakin for Luke.

Luke looked at Anakin shyly, but Anakin wasn't mad at Luke for asking about his mother. Her death, even though having occurred decades ago, was still a sore topic for Anakin, but that didn't mean that he couldn't talk about what an amazing person she was.

Not to mention the fact that Luke deserved to know about his grandmother- thought Anakin blankly before he shoved it as far out of his mind as possible.

Best not to think about all the technicalities right now.

"My mother was a good person," said Anakin as he lifted his head to look Luke squarely in the eyes, "she was kind and gentle, but strong at the same time. She knew the power of self-sacrifice better than anyone I've ever known and she always managed to look on the bright side of things. She always put my happiness before her own, which was why I was able to earn my freedom and become a Jedi. If it wasn't for her, I would probably still be a slave on that barren rock with no prospect and no future to call my own," said Anakin with a shaky breath.

"You miss her," stated Luke.

Anakin nodded his head as he started to feel the familiar burning wet sensation behind his eyelids, but he fought off the urge as he took in a few haggard breaths. His mother wouldn't have wanted him to cry for her, she would've wanted him to be strong for her.

Now, be brave and don't look back. Don't look back.

"Yeah," said Anakin with a curt nod. "I miss her."

Silence flooded the room and surrounded them for a few heavy moments before Anakin managed to tear his gaze away from Luke and back down to the talisman in his hands, the catalyst for this entire conversation that seemed strangely- enlightening.

Anakin felt as though a heavy burden had just been lifted from his shoulders and it seemed for the first time in days he could finally breathe again.

Anakin gently placed the Japor Snippet back down on the desk, his fingers drifting along the carvings before he finally drew his hand away, a silent goodbye on his lips as he left the trinket be among Luke's data-files and X-Wing schematics.

"You can keep it," said Luke as he shifted his weight awkwardly. "I mean, it is technically yours since you made it."

"No," said Anakin shaking his head. "It's yours, keep it."

"You sure? It did belong to your mother," said Luke, questioning whether Anakin would want something of hers. "You could have something to remember her by."

"I don't need anything to remember her by," said Anakin as he looked over at Luke with a determined look on his face. "She was my mother, I'll always remember her."

Luke nodded his head in understanding as he looked down at his feet as an awkward silence passed between the both of them, permeating the air around them before it all became too much for them handle.

"So, this- Cliegg Lars, was a good man? He treated her well?" asked Anakin as he pried into his mother's marriage to a man he knew nothing about. He couldn't be faulted for wanting to know more about the man that granted his mother her freedom and married her, and he had a right to know what sort of man Cliegg Lars was.

"He was a good man," said Luke as he recalled everything he had been told of his step-grandfather, who had died shortly before his birth due to a chronic illness that had taken his away one of his legs some years prior. "He met your mother while she was still a slave and when he found out that her master was thinking about selling her, he bought her and emancipated her. They eventually got married a few months later and according to my Aunt and Uncle, were quite content with each other."

Anakin nodded his head, not quite satisfied with the answer but at least somewhat content with the fact that she had at least married into what appeared to be a good family. He was glad to know that she had not been alone on Tatooine, having found people to call family and the ability to settle down somewhere.

It was small, but it did bring him some long-needed comfort.

Anakin swallowed as he looked back at Luke pensively and with a great deal of curiosity to know just who Luke really was. Already within these past few minutes, he had learned of what sort of people had raised Luke but that still didn't give him all the information that he wanted.

He was just trying to get a further detailed analysis of Luke's past and upbringing, a small but efficient distraction from everything he had learned earlier.

"Were they good to you? The Lars, I mean. Where they good people?" asked Anakin.

He felt odd asking it, but he was determined to know.

"They were good people. I honestly couldn't have asked for a better family to have brought me up in the circumstances that they did," said Luke truthfully.

"But you would've preferred your birth parents," stated Anakin as he felt a sense of longing from Luke. It was small but still present and Anakin did not need to be told what it meant.

Luke had longed for his family. His birth family.

"I would've preferred my birth parents and my sister," said Luke pointedly. "You're right about that statement. Don't get me wrong, Anakin. I loved Owen and Beru and I respected them for everything they had done and sacrificed for my well-being. But that does not change the fact that I was never supposed to be brought up by them, and Leia was never supposed to be adopted by the Organa's."

Anakin didn't say anything to that, choosing to remain silent than try to even respond to what Luke had just said.

He could sense Luke's regret about his upbringing without any of his birth family and it only made Anakin's guilt grow stronger and heavier because he knew that that was his fault.

"I-I'm sorry you didn't have that growing up," said Anakin softly, "but it sounds like you had a stable home and two people who cared about you. Trust me when I say this, you would've been a lot better with them than you would've been with-"

Anakin stopped himself before he finally just decided to force the words off his lips.

"You and Leia would've been better off without me," he said sternly, his gaze not quite meeting Luke's.

"Due to the circumstances, I completely agree," said Luke as he folded his arms over his chest. "But please remember that you are getting a second chance to rectify things, Anakin."

"That brings me absolutely no comfort what-so-ever," said Anakin as he let out an irritated huff of air before he drew away from Luke, his arms crossing over his chest as he came to stand in front of the window with a terribly broody demeanor that rolled easily off of him and into the surrounding Force.

"You keep saying that I'll have the chance to rectify everything when I get back to my own time, and I even believed for a while that I would, but now I feel as though my being here is just nothing more than punishment for my actions," said Anakin as his anger started to boil around him. "Maybe this is nothing more than the Force showing me what a kriffing idiot I am!"

"You really think that?" asked Luke thoughtfully, which only seemed to fuel Anakin's fire.

"I don't know what to think anymore, Luke! Maybe this is all a big cosmic joke or this is the Force's way of telling me that I'm nothing more than a failure," said Anakin as his hands tightened into a fist.

"Maybe it would just be better if I killed myself," he said as he finally turned around to look at Luke, who was staring at him in appall over what he had just said, but Anakin didn't mind as he took a few steps over to Luke with newfound determination.

"I could just take my lightsaber out right now and finish it all before it even started," he said as he glanced down at the weapon that was hanging from his utility belt. "One swift strike and everything would be over. No more Vader, no more Empire, no more suffering."

"Y-you don't mean that," said Luke, but even he was unsure at that point and Anakin seemed to notice this as he took another step towards Luke.

The look on Anakin's face sent shivers down Luke's spine.

"Killing yourself won't accomplish anything," said Luke, his voice a lot smaller than he had intended.

"How do you know that?" asked Anakin bitterly. "Maybe this was how it was supposed to be. Maybe this is what the Force wants."

"You're really that dimwitted, aren't you?" asked Luke. "Killing yourself will not accomplish anything besides an easy way out for you, and that's not fair to us or the galaxy."

"Why? Cause you'll never be born?" scoffed Anakin as he haughtily folded his arms across his chest before the realization of what he had just said sunk in.

Anakin's eyes widened, and shame and guilt once again took control as he stared into Luke's hurt eyes; so much like his own and yet so foreign that it made his heart twist.

"Kriff, I-I'm so sorry, Luke. I didn't mean-" began Anakin as he ran an agitated hand through his hair before taking a deep breath. "That came out so wrong."

"You think?" scoffed Luke as he gave Anakin an irritated glance. "Maybe you should think before saying something like that."

"I didn't mean to- question either yours or Leia's existence, but you have to understand where I'm coming from, Luke. I mean, what would you do if you were in my position?" asked Anakin, his eyes pleading for advice on how the Kriff he should be handling this.

"I guess if I were in your position, I would do everything in my power to fix the damage that my actions caused. And I would also try to make amends with the people that I hurt."

"How do I make amends for what I haven't even done yet?" asked Anakin.

"You could try starting with Leia," stated Luke as he looked over at Anakin with a deliberate stare that subtly suggested that Leia already knew about the situation at hand.

Anakin's eyes narrowed decisively as he felt Luke's nervousness and slight guilt that could've only meant one thing.

"You told her, didn't you?" asked Anakin slowly.

"I ran into her in the hallway just after our earlier conversation with Ben," began Luke as he ran a hand through his hair. "She could sense that something was wrong and you know how adamant she can be."

"And-?" he pressed as he came to stand in front of Luke, who he noticed was a few inches shorter. It wasn't something that Anakin had really noticed at first, but ever since he had found out that Luke was his son he couldn't stop noticing the difference and similarities between the two of them.

"She uh- she didn't take it so well," said Luke slowly. "It might be best if you kept your distance, for now."

"You told her I was Vader?" asked Anakin, a little part of him feeling a bit crushed that Luke had told her. He had hoped that maybe he would be able to explain himself before she learned the truth, but it seemed as though that would not be happening.

"I told her everything," said Luke adamantly. "She deserves to know and I would never lie to her."

"I know," said Anakin sullenly as he turned away from Luke to stare out the window. "she deserves to know as well, no matter how much she hates me."

"She doesn't hate you!" As soon as the words were out of his mouth, Luke couldn't help but recoil at how ridiculous it sounded coming out of his mouth.

Anakin only gave him a pointed stare that said everything that needed to be said in that moment, which made Luke only feel worse.

"I mean- she does hate you, but I'm sure once she gets to know you-"

Anakin shook his head, "It doesn't work like that, Luke."

"You don't know that," said Luke stubbornly, "I know Leia better than you, and I know that she can be very temperamental at times, but I also know that she is a logical thinker. Just let her get over her initial anger and eventually, she'll see what a good person you really are."

"But I'm not!" said Anakin fiercely as newfound anger began to surge through him. "I don't know why you would even think that I was. Didn't you hear what Obi-Wan and Artoo said? I fell to the Dark Side, Luke. I allowed myself to be consumed with evil and look at where that got me! How many people have died because of my actions, Luke? How many people have sacrificed themselves to undo the wrong that I did?"

"That's not fair, Anakin. Vader and you may be the same person, but that doesn't make him you. You're not the one who did all of this and that means you're the one who can change things, Anakin. This is your chance to be better than him. Don't waste it because of something an alternate version of you did."

Anakin stared at Luke for a few long seconds before his gaze fell to the floor at his feet, his shame still present and evident as he turned away from Luke to stare out the window once again.

"That still doesn't change the fact that Leia hates me," he said as he folded his arms against his chest. "And I don't blame her for that. Kriff, I hate myself more than she ever could and to me, it doesn't matter that I haven't done any of those things yet because it doesn't change that fact that I did do it. You may be able to compartmentalize Vader and me, but I just can't, Luke. And I hate myself for that," he said as he let out another shaky breath.

"Anakin-" began Luke as he tried to reach out to Anakin but found that his attempts at reconnecting with him were futile. Anakin was already starting to close himself off from Luke as he successfully hid his emotions and feelings deep within himself as well as fortifying his mental shields to the point where Luke could feel nothing from him at all nor could he even reach him.

"I'm sorry, I just can't do this right now. I have repair work to see to and I'm sure you have other things you need to get done today besides talking to me. Plus, we have that debriefing in a few hours as well if I'm not mistaken."

"Yeah," said Luke as he ran a hand through his blond hair before he let out a large sigh, "yeah, we have a debriefing with Mon Mothma and General Dodonna in a few hours and- "

"-And Leia will be there," said Anakin with an indiscernible look.

"Look, Leia may be mad at you, but just give her some time to adjust. She's a sensible person, Anakin. She'll get over her anger eventually and see that you being here is a good thing."

At least, that's what Luke hoped would happen. He just hoped that she wouldn't be too- callous to Anakin when he did give the report. That was not something that the teenaged boy really needed at this point, especially when his emotions were as rampant and intense as they were.

"I wouldn't be so sure about that, Luke," said Anakin tersely as he started to make his way over towards the door, but he stopped before he could exit the room and turned to look back at Luke.

Luke thought maybe Anakin wanted to say something further, but all the boy did was simply march over to Luke's waste bin and take it away with him, but not before Luke got a whiff of the pungent odor from inside of it.

"Sorry," said Anakin. "I'll get it cleaned for you so you don't have to get a new one."

And with that, the young Padawan made his way out the door, leaving a visibly worried Luke behind in his wake.

Luke didn't say anything as he watched Anakin disappear out of his quarters and he knew that it would be useless to call out to him, not when Anakin was as closed off as he was. Luke sighed as he folded his arms over his chest before he turned around to face the blue apparition of Ben Kenobi, who had been silently listening to their entire conversation but was now only making himself known.

"Well that went- well," said Kenobi sardonically as he looked into Luke's irate gaze. "At least he didn't go on a Force rampage and destroy your quarters even more."

"Ben I don't know what to do about him," said Luke as he scrubbed a hand over his worrisome face. "Did you hear everything that he said to me?"

Ben sighed as he lowered himself down onto Luke's bed, his arms coming to rest on his thighs as he stared up at Luke.

"Yes, I heard everything."

"Then what I am supposed to do?" asked Luke as he ran an agitated hand through his hair. "He honestly hates himself and I could sense that he was telling the truth when he said things would be better off if he just killed himself. Ben, how am I supposed to reach out to him if all he wants to do is ram a lightsaber into himself?"

"It is quite concerning, to say the least," said Ben as he started to stroke his chin thoughtfully. "I can understand your frustration, Luke. I knew Anakin would take things badly, but I don't think I was prepared for just how bad it would be."

"So then what am I supposed to do?" asked a lost Luke as he stared down at his former Master with a despondent gaze.

"I wish I could give you all the answers, Luke. But I'm afraid that I can't. Anakin is a very stubborn person and it's going to take a lot more than just one person to bring him out of this depressive state that he's caught in."

Ben was silent for a few heavy seconds before he looked back to Luke with a gleam of hopefulness in his eyes.

"Perhaps it is time you took Anakin to see Yoda and hear what he has to say on all of this," said Ben gently.

"Do you think Yoda will be able to help him?" asked Luke hopefully.

Ben nodded, "I believe that Master Yoda will be able to give Anakin some insight that neither of us could give him concerning his fall to the Dark Side, and how to prevent it. And of course, Anakin will need to know more about the Dark Side if he is to confront Sidious and Vader."

"He will need to finish his training," said Luke pensively as Ben nodded.

"There will come a point when Anakin must face who he has become, and he needs to be prepared for that moment," said Ben remorsefully. "It will be the ultimate test between good and evil on Anakin's part, and it will also determine whether or not the Prophecy of the Chosen One will be fulfilled."

"The Prophecy of the Chosen One?" asked Luke slowly as his eyebrows scrunched up in confusion. "What's that?"

Ben sighed as if he was about to indulge Luke with a dirty secret that he was ashamed about, which caused Luke's stomach to twist uncomfortably.

"The Prophecy of the Chosen One was a long-awaited Jedi prophecy that foretold of an individual who would destroy the Sith and bring balance to the Force," began Ben as he shifted on the bed. "My former Master, Qui-Gon Jinn believed Anakin to be the Chosen One because of how high his midichlorian count was."

"What are midichlorians?" asked Luke with a perplexed look on his face. Neither Ben nor Yoda had ever mentioned midichlorians before and he would be lying if he said he wasn't interested in learning more about the Jedi and the Force.

"Midichlorians are small little microscopic life forms that reside in our cells. They determine if a person is Force Sensitive or not and how much potential they have."

"Oh," said Luke as he pursed his lips. "I thought the Force just chose whoever was sensitive to it or not. I had no idea it also came down to biology as well."

Ben waved a dismissive hand through the air, "-it's not something you should concern yourself with, Luke. Midichlorians do not determine how powerful a Jedi is in the Force. It only determines how much potential you have, and if you don't know how to use that potential, then it really just becomes nothing more than a number."

"So how high is Anakin's midichlorian count?" asked a curious Luke.

"About 27,000," said Ben, "higher than any other person in recorded history. Would you like to know how high your count is, Luke?"

Luke thought about it for a few moments before he politely shook his head.

"I don't need some number to determine my Force potential," said Luke adamantly. "I know where I stand and I don't need some number defining that."

Ben nodded his head in understanding as a small smile graced his lips. "I had a feeling you might say that, young one."

"So, tell me more about this Prophecy," said Luke as he encouraged Ben to continue. "What happened when your Master found Anakin?"

"Well as you know, your father won his freedom in the podrace and we took him to Coruscant to see if the Order would be willing to accept him despite his age. You see, the Order trained their Jedi from birth and some felt that Anakin was far too old to begin his training."

Luke scoffed, "I started ten years later than him and I turned out fine."

"Indeed you did, but it was a much different time back then," said Ben as he gave Luke a please-don't-interrupt-me-again look. "The Order only allowed Anakin to train as a Jedi because of his Force potential and also because they feared what would happen if he didn't learn how to control his power. However, the Council was not above making sure that Anakin knew exactly why they had allowed him to be trained in the first place."

"Wait," said Luke as he looked over at Ben with a scowl. "Are you telling me that from the age of nine, Anakin had to deal with being the center of an ancient prophecy?"

"Regretfully, yes," said Ben with a guilty expression.

"You guys actually thought that it would be okay to put that kind of burden on a child? Do you know how much scrutiny that probably subjected him to?"

"It was not one of our proudest moments," said Ben truthfully.

"No Kriff," scoffed Luke as he did his best to contain his anger. "That was not okay to do that to a child. Its no wonder he later became disenchanted with the Order. You honestly thought that that would not have repercussions on his psyche?"

"The Jedi were not perfect, Luke. We definitely had our fair share of mess ups and you have no idea how guilty I felt having to watch him try to live up to those standards that had been forced upon him. If I could change things, I would, but I'm not the one in that position."

Luke ran a hand through his hair as let out a breath that he been holding in. "Yeah, I know. It's just- I never really realized how bad things were for Anakin. I thought that once he had won his freedom that he would've, I don't know, actually have been free? But now it just seems like he traded one slave owner for another."

Ben said nothing as his gaze fell downward.

"Did it ever annoy him that he had to call you and all the other members of the Order Master?"

"At first, but I had always assumed that he just gotten used to it over time," said Ben quietly.

Luke shook his head in disappointment and dismay. It was easy to deify the Jedi until you actually looked closer and realized just how messed up they truly were.

"Things will be different," said Luke adamantly. "Anakin will change things."

"Change," began Ben as he stared out of the window with a distant look, "perhaps it is time for the Jedi to let the past die and focus on opening new doors instead of old ones."

Luke said nothing as he too stared out of the window.

He couldn't agree any more.

Chapter Text

Darth Vader stood on the bridge, his arms folded over his chest and an invisible scowl gracing his lips as he stared down at the debris field that was currently orbiting the planet below. This was all that was left of the Space Station and the Relentless, which had broken up into pieces in the atmosphere before finally completely disintegrating.

The other two Starships had managed to escape the Rebel attack, but not without sustaining heavy damage, which ultimately put one out of commission completely and the other the one needed to be sent to the Naval Yard for extreme maintenance.

Vader had received news of the attack a few days ago but had only just arrived on the Executor a few hours prior and in a horribly foul mood and an urge to strangle whoever was responsible for the detonation of the bomb, and Vader was almost completely positive that it had been that pesky Jedi from Ben'we.

It had been weeks since that strange and mysterious Jedi had escaped his grasp on Ben'we with his son and that incorrigible Princess and still, Vader did not know the identity of that boy. He had issued rewards and warrants all throughout the galaxy in hopes that someone would be able to come forward and give him any information pertaining to his identity, but he still knew nothing. But that would not be the case for much longer, that was if everything went according to plan. He just needed to be patient and wait for his spy to report in.

But even then, he could still sense that bright, shining and pesky presence that was so familiar and yet foreign at the same time. It was faint, but still, present and pulsing through the Force.

It was slowly driving him mad with the need to know who this boy was and where he was.

He knew that that Jedi had been here, as well as his son but he still could not sense where they were in the vast galaxy, only a remnant of their presence that was slowly fading away from him with every passing hour.

Vader stared down at the carnage for a few more seconds before he felt a flash of pain in his lower extremities that seemed to get worse with every passing second. His mechanical limbs often times did this to him, causing him pain every day due to the poorly installed nerve receptors that he was never able to fix or take out.

It left him in constant pain that he had learned to manage over time, but sometimes it was too much for him to handle all at once.

This was Palpatine's way of controlling of him. Keep him in pain and in constant need of medical facilities that only the Empire could provide. And there was not a single thing he could do about that…

Vader winced under his mask as a painful breath was forced into his aching lungs before the air was ripped out of him and repeated. He couldn't even control his breathing, the cybernetic trachea that had been wired into his throat along with the life support apparatus in his suit controlled his breathing.

He needed to get to his Hyperbaric Chambers if he was to relieve any of this pain before it became too intolerable.

"Milord, is everything alright?" came Piett's voice from behind him as he observed the imposing Sith Lord with his arms folded neatly behind his back and an eyebrow raised in a curious and perceptive manner.

Vader had not realized it, but he had been groaning from the pain, which his suit had garbled and distorted for everybody around him to hear.

"I am fine," he forced out as he gritted his teeth and closed his eyes, waiting for the wave of agony to dissipate.

No such luck.

"I will be in my quarters. Do not disturb me unless it is of dire importance," he bit out as he began to walk away, every step agonizing and more painful than the last.

I'll gut Palpatine for this one day, and I won't be merciful either. He will experience the pain that I do on a daily basis and I will enjoy his screams of agony as I run my lightsaber-

His commlink beeped at his side as the Emperor attempted to contact him, but Vader ignored it as he made his way out of the turbolift and towards his quarters where his Hyperbaric Chambers and his medical equipment would be waiting for him.

Officers and ship personnel quickly side-stepped out of his way while muttering formal greetings to him, all of which he ignored until he finally reached his quarters and slipped inside. He quickly stepped into the Chambers and waited patiently for the medical droids to remove his armor, or at least what could be removed.

He breathed a sigh of relief once his helmet was off, allowing the cool fresh air to touch his pale and scarred face as he breathed in a greedy breath of air, completely controlled by him and not a breathing apparatus.

He closed his eyes as he leaned back in his chair before reaching out in the Force and allowed his mind to enter into a semi-healing trance, which dulled his physical senses until he could almost feel no pain at all, a welcomed reprieve from the torment his body had been subjected to only moments before.

He allowed the Force to flow through and around him as he reached out gently to probe the tendrils around him that connected him to the rest of the galaxy. A small, almost indiscernible smile crossed his faced when he felt the familiar presence of his son, bright and shining somewhere out in the vast expanse of the galaxy.

Vader's smile soon turned sour when he felt that pesky, familiar presence belonging to that mysterious Jedi from Ben'we near his son, mingling with the boy's presence and so familiar. Vader felt as though he ought to know who this Jedi was, but the Force was obscuring him from Vader.

Only a veil, light and thin but impenetrable, barely allowing bits and pieces to be revealed to the Sith Lord, whose patience was starting to wear extremely thin at that point.

It was absolutely maddening to feel something so familiar yet foreign at the same time, obscured by the Force in such a way that still allowed Vader to feel it, but not understand it.

Just who was this Jedi from Ben'we? And why was the Force so adamant in protecting him?

They had been here with the Alliance, but the Force would not tell him anything more and it was taunting, to say the least. He could sense the Force was laughing at him, taunting him and driving him mad as he desperately searched for anything that could lead him to his son and that Jedi.

His need for his son was starting to overwhelm him, his patience starting to wear thin as the months drew on and on, causing his mind to become frenzied with the desire to possess the boy. Only then, could Vader finally get rid of his Master for good and rule the galaxy with his son at his side, as it was always meant to be.

His mother had rejected his offer to rule, but Luke would not.

"Are you sure about that?" Came Kenobi's soft yet taunting voice from the reaches of his mind.

Vader fought back a snarl as his fists clenched even tighter, the mechanical wiring in his hand straining from the pressure that was building inside of him.

"Get out of my head, Kenobi," he thought as his lips curled back to reveal his gritted teeth beneath his mask.

The ghost of Kenobi continued to haunt him even beyond the grave, and Vader could never seem to fully push him out completely. Kenobi was relentless and in death, he had truly become more powerful than Vader had ever imagined, and there was no way to keep him at bay, no matter how hard he tried to block his mind from the dead Jedi.

"You can never get rid of me, Vader. I'll always be with you, just like Padme."

The Force flared dangerously around him as he rose out his chair and let out an anguished roar before he sent a few of the medical Droids around him flying through the air until they hit the wall, but it was not enough to satisfy his pulsing rage.

"Do not say her name!" he hissed as the Force started to swirl dangerously around him like a wild animal getting ready to pounce on its prey. He could feel his eyes start to turn from their natural blue to yellow, the color of pure anger.

Kenobi had no right to even mention her name, not after what he had done in facilitating her death.

"Your words mean nothing to me," he hissed through the Force. "I will not be weakened by the likes of you!"

"If they meant nothing, my dear former Padawan. Then why did you take such offense to them?" whispered Kenobi idly. "Is it because you know they are true?"

"No," thought Vader. "It is because I have put such weaknesses behind me. I am stronger than Anakin ever was and I will not allow myself to be preyed upon by such weak sentiments. There is nothing left of the man you knew, your attempts to try and reawaken him with thoughts of her will not work. You have failed."

"Have I?" asked Kenobi simply, as if he knew something that Vader did not know.

"I am done playing games with you," thought Vader as he slumped back into his chair. "You have destroyed enough of my life already, why can't you just leave me be?"

"You know as well as I Vader that we would not be speaking now unless some part of you wanted us to be. I used to think that Anakin was dead, but now I can feel him inside of you, weakened and buried by your anger and your hate, but still alive and trying to fight back. Even now he calls to me and so long as he does, I will never leave you alone, Vader. You are no longer capable of even recognizing the goodness inside of you, and that is your weakness."

The Force started to converge in on itself until the blue outline of the deceased Jedi became visible to Vader, who simply stared at the image of his former Master with nothing but contempt. How he wanted so badly to just reach out and drain the life out of that bastard he had once called a friend, but he was only capable of destroying droids and medical equipment. Nothing he did would enable him to reach Kenobi, who was beyond the bounds of the physical world.

He would remain safe in the Force and free to taunt and goad him all he wanted, and Vader could not do a thing about it.

Obi-Wan simply stared at Vader with nothing more than pity and perhaps sadness. Vader couldn't be quite sure just what was going on through the old Masters head, but he knew what pity looked like and he would not allow himself to be subjected to such petty sentiments. He was better than that.

"Come to see your handiwork?" he asked bitterly as he stared at Kenobi, the pain in his limbs and the heavy cybernetic implants suddenly weighing him down as he glared over at the Jedi.

Kenobi shook his head as he looked down at Vader with sad, vacant eyes. "No, I have not."

"Then why are you here?" Vader bit out. "Why must you torment me? You've already won, Kenobi. You've taken everything you possibly can from me. So why come now? Is it forgiveness you seek?"

"Yes," said Kenobi simply, much to the surprise of Vader.

Vader stared up at Kenobi for a few moments before a bitter smile crossed his face and he let out a humorless laugh.

"How humbling of you. Tell me, what is it you wish forgiveness for? For turning my wife against me? For destroying my body? Or is it for taking my child away from me and letting me believe that he was dead for nineteen years?"

"That is not why I seek your forgiveness," said Kenobi as he shook his head. "I failed you, Anakin. And for that, I am truly sorry. This was never how it was supposed to be."

"That name no longer holds any meaning to me," hissed Vader as he balled his hands together into a fist. "Anakin Skywalker died twenty-two years ago at your hands when you left him to burn on that shore. There is nothing left of him to save."

"That's where you are mistaken," said Kenobi as a hopeful smile spread across his lips. "Anakin Skywalker is still alive and they both shall be your undoing."

Vader scowled as he used to Force to throw the nearest object he could reach at the blue apparition, which disappeared as the medical scanner passed through the non-corporeal figure.

"Just you wait, Vader. Your time is almost up," came his formers Master's voice from inside of his head.

"Your threats are meaningless!" yelled Vader into thin, empty air. Kenobi had finally left, leaving Vader to himself once again.

Vader scowled as he ran an agitated hand over his scarred face with his mechanical fingers, trying his best to understand what Kenobi had just told him. It made no sense and he was almost positively certain that the old geyser was starting to finally lose it.

Both Anakin Skywalkers? What in siths hell was that supposed to mean?

Anakin Skywalker was dead and gone at that point. But then again, Kenobi had seemed so sure-

Forget it. Kenobi was nothing more than a crazy hermit who had been living in isolation for the last two decades. Surely all that loneliness had gotten to him at some point.

Gibberish. That's all it had been.

His commlink beeped yet again and he knew that he could not put off talking with the Emperor any longer unless he wanted to suffer the consequences.

He quickly lowered the helmet back over his face until he felt the familiar hiss as it sealed shut, trapping him in his prison of red once again.

It was time to see what the Emperor wanted from him now.

###

Anakin did not understand Luke. He had tried to, and he had almost succeeded in his attempts to learn more about the older Jedi, who he now knew to be his future son. But every time that Anakin thought he was starting to understand his antics, Luke went and did something that threw him off guard.

It was unnerving, to say the least, and it left Anakin feeling perplexed and confused.

He couldn't help but wonder how Luke, who had been hurt and tormented by Vader, could ever look at Anakin and see something good. The way that Luke looked at him made Anakin feel as though he had never done anything wrong in his entire life, and he didn't like that.

Anakin hated himself, Leia hated him, Padme had probably hated him for what he had done to her, so why didn't Luke? How could the older Jedi even bear to look at Anakin without feeling shame and disgust?

Force, why did Luke have to be so kind to him?

"This would all be so much easier if Luke just hated me," thought Anakin bitterly as he set his hydrospanner down on the floor with the rest of his tools before he turned to look at the engine in front of him.

It was funny how he could make sense of a piece of machinery better than he could actual people, which was probably why he tended to spend more time with Droids and machines than he did with others. Kenobi had always scolded him for doing so because apparently, human interaction was more important than mechanics.

Anakin knew it was only because his Master wanted him to be able to interact with people and make friends, a trait which he had mastered when he was older, but when he had first arrived at the Temple, not even Kenobi could pull him away from his Droids and his machines.

And even to this day, working on power relays and manifolds brought him peace that he hardly ever achieved elsewhere, not even in meditation. He understood Droids and machinery better than he did people.

Better than you do your own son…

Anakin frowned inwardly as he shoved his tools away, the atmosphere around him suddenly turning sour as he rose to his feet and looked around the hangar with a steady eye. He could feel someone watching him from afar and he had a pretty good feeling he knew who the somebody was.

He turned around slowly until he could see Leia, who was across the room and staring at him as if she was waiting for him to do something. He didn't need to use the Force to know what she was feeling in that moment, and neither did she need to justify those emotions.

But nevertheless, he could them through the bond that they shared, which was not obvious but still present and still powerful enough to connect them through the Force. He had not felt their bond like he had his and Luke's, but now there was no denying that it existed, and he knew for a fact that if she had any previous training, then any sensations would've been more pronounced.

Perhaps it was a blessing that she was untrained.

Her expression turned surly once they made eye-contact and her eyes bore down on him, but Anakin stood his ground. He wasn't trying to defend himself, he was just in shock.

He had never realized how much she looked like his mother before. Even with her glaring at him, he could not deny the resemblance between his mother and his daughter. And not only that, but Leia also resembled Padme not only in looks but in stature and likeness.

With a kick like that? Must be a girl, - the Force echoed.

He finally managed to blink and internally cursed when he realized how much of an idiot he probably looked like staring at her, especially when her stare was anything but kind or welcoming.

It seemed as though hours had passed between the two before she finally tore her gaze away from him and promptly made her way out of the hangar.

Anakin watched her leave before he lowered his head in shame to stare at the floor beneath his feet. He had a half a mind to chase after her, but he had no idea what to say to her.

I'm so sorry my future self is an ass- came to mind, but he quickly dismissed that idea as soon as it entered his mind.

Perhaps it was best if he didn't say anything to her at all. She wouldn't want to talk to him anyway, so why waste his time?

He exhaled deeply before he shoved his toolbox to the side with his feet and slipped the hull plating back on the manifolds he had been working on before he too made his way out of the hangar. It was time for the debriefing and although he did not want to see Luke or Leia, or anyone else for that fact, there was no escaping it.

Luke was leaning against one of the bulkheads in the corridor outside the Council Room when he arrived, no doubt having been there waiting for him as he pushed himself away and came to stand next to Anakin.

"The quicker we get this done, the better," muttered Anakin under his breath as he gave Luke a long, pointed stare.

"I would have to agree with you on that," seconded Luke as he observed the younger man. "Just tell them what happened and be honest. They'll try to grill you, but don't let them get to you. They're just doing their job."

"I'm a Jedi, I know what an interrogation entails," said Anakin bitterly.

Luke raised an eyebrow. "Then I'm sure you'll have nothing to worry about."

"I wish that were true," mumbled Anakin under his breath as he started to make his way over to the door before he was stopped by Luke's hand on his shoulder.

"I talked to Obi-Wan earlier," he began softly. "He says that it might be best if we went to see Yoda on Dagobah and see what he has to say about all of this."

"Yoda?" asked Anakin with a raised eyebrow. "Does he even know that I am here?"

"I am sure Obi-Wan has already informed him of the situation," said Luke. "He's probably waiting for us right now."

"But does he even want to talk to me? I can only assume that we didn't part on such good terms," mumbled Anakin nervously. He wasn't so sure that he could even bear to look at Yoda after everything that he had done.

"Master Yoda is wise," said Luke earnestly. "I have faith that he knows the reason why you are here and how to help you."

"You seem so sure that Yoda holds all the answers," began Anakin softly, "but if that was truly the case, then why didn't he help me when I needed it most?"

Luke looked as though he wanted to say something, but Anakin was not finished.

"I may not know the whole story of how I turned or what was going through my mind when I did," he began as he turned away from Luke to stare at the bulkhead. "But it sounds like I needed help, and the Jedi were unable to prevent it. And that's why I turned to Palpatine."

"He manipulated you," interjected Luke. "He was only pretending to care about you until he had you under his control, and then his cordiality ended."

"I know that now," said Anakin as he shook his head. "There was once a time when I admired him as both a mentor and a father-figure. He made me believe he was my friend and I believed him, and never once did I question his kindness. But looking back now and seeing what has happened has made me come to the realization that I trusted him more than I did the Jedi."

He exhaled deeply, as if preparing to say something that was bitter and true at the same time.

"I had visions of my mother's death before it even happened, and when I went to Kenobi, he did not help me then. I know that I would not have sought his help again, and I know that I would not have been able to explain the entire situation to Master Yoda without giving away my secret. There would've only been one person who I would've turned to for help at that point."

"You're afraid that the Jedi will not be able to help you this time either, and that's understandable," began Luke as he looked over at the distressed Padawan. "But time changes people. Don't give up on people just because they failed you once."

Anakin stared silently at Luke as he processed the meaning behind Luke's words before nodding numbly in agreement. He knew that Luke was right, the Jedi were flawed individuals who made mistakes. They were not perfect, but they were people too and they deserved to be seen as such.

It only made sense that over the years, the Jedi who were left had learned to adapt and live life outside of the Code. Not to mention the fact that twenty-two years was a long time to reflect on one's mistakes, and learn from them.

"Okay," he said as he nodded his head, "I will come with you to see Master Yoda."

Luke nodded but remained silent as he waited for the door to the Council Room to open and remained in the sensor field so it would stay open for the Padawan before he too followed Anakin in. The room was bustling with people who were going to and from their stations, filing data or going over star maps and schematics.

No one bothered to look up as Anakin and Luke made their way through the room until they reached Mon Mothma's private office, where she, Leia, Dodonna, and Captain Rex were seated around the table conversing among themselves. The Clone Captain's presence was unexpected but not surprising seeing how it had been his Division which had been responsible for the infiltration of the Ordun Station, and so it made sense for him to be here.

Upon entering, all eyes turned upon the two Jedi who were standing at the door, and not all of their gazes held the same level of kindness as others. Captain Rex seemed excited to see the both of them while Dodonna greeted them with a nod. Mothma's eyes were wary as she stared at Anakin, but she managed to remain as composed and regal as ever as she stood up to greet the two Jedi with an authentic smile.

Leia as well managed to remain professional and composed as she sent Luke a tight smile while completely ignoring the teenaged boy standing next to him. It was obvious that she didn't even want to look at Anakin, much less address him.

"Greetings Commander Skywalker, Anakin," she said as she motioned to the two empty chairs at either side of the table. "Please, have a seat and we shall begin."

Luke took the seat next to Leia, much to the Padawan's relief as he too took his seat next to the older Clone, who according to Artoo, had served under him during the Clone Wars. It was strange to be seated next to someone who had known the future Anakin Skywalker, and it was obvious that Rex had known him well judging from the look he was giving the youth.

They must've been good friends in the future, but it was also obvious that this man did not know the true fate of his Jedi comrade.

"Hello," said Captain Rex as he extended his hand for the boy to shake. "I'm Captain Rex. I don't think we've been properly introduced before."

Anakin shook his hand. "Luke already told me about you, Captain Rex. It's a pleasure to finally meet you. I'm Anakin, but I think you already knew that."

Rex caught onto Anakin's meaning immediately and gave Anakin a friendly, but pained smile before leaning in and whispering under his breath so that no one else at the table could hear. "It's good to see you again, General."

Anakin nodded but said nothing further as he leaned back in his seat and turned his attention to the three people who were staring at him. He decided to focus on Mothma and Dodonna, who were at least looking at him with a semblance of rationality and lack of bias, more so than he could say for Leia, but he felt as though she was entitled to her outward expression of her disdain for him.

"Shall we begin?" he said as he put on his best fake smile while clasping his hands in his lap.

Mothma shot both Luke and Leia a nervous look that Anakin understood perfectly. She knew who he was, and she feared him. Only Rex and Dodonna remained wholly ignorant of the tense situation at hand, which permeated the air around them.

"Before we commence with the mission report, would you please state your full name for the official record?" asked Dodonna as he leaned forward in his seat to address the young man.

"Anakin Skywalker," he said as he threw out his real name, not bothering to come up with an alias. He could very easily say that he and Luke were distant cousins from Tatooine, and something told him that there were probably not that many official records pertaining to him in the galaxy.

It was a pretty good bet that a lot of history had been destroyed, and if anybody did happen to make the connection between him and his past self, then he could say that he was named for Luke's father, who was his distant relative as well.

Besides, he was done hiding behind Luke and pretending that he was someone he was not. He was Anakin Skywalker and it was about time he owned up to that.

As soon as the words were out his mouth, Luke's head shot up and he looked over at Anakin with confusion and surprise in his eyes, but it was too late to take the words back.

"Skywalker?" asked Dodonna as he looked at Anakin and Luke as if he was finally seeing the uncanny resemblance between the two Jedi. "You two related or something?"

"Cousins," said Anakin swiftly before Luke could even open his mouth, "distant cousins, that is."

"Huh," said Dodonna with a curt nod as he logged the information onto the data-file before looking up at Anakin with an encouraging nod to continue.

"Would you please recount for us what happened after your Squadron arrived at Ordun?" asked Mothma as she clasped her hands together and waited for Anakin to answer the question.

"Once we arrived at the Ordun Station, we began with the assault as planned until the TIE Fighters were deployed. Everything was going according to plan until Torren's X-Wing was hit by a TIE," began Anakin as he recalled it all from memory, which was still vivid for him.

He could've sworn he could hear Torren's frantic voice over the com as his ship spiraled out of control and hit that X-Wing, and then smoke and fire-

He closed his eyes and exhaled as he did his best to control the emotions that he had come to associate with the memory. It was still so vivid that he could still smell the smoke in his nostrils and the rock of his ship as the debris from the explosion ravaged it.

It wasn't that he couldn't handle it, it was just so fresh.

"His ship spiraled out of control and hit another nearby X-Wing. The explosion from that subjected my ship to heavy, irreparable damage that I could not control. My ship was too heavily damaged, and I had to put her down somewhere."

"He communicated the situation to me and I was able to open the hangar bay door to allow him access to the Ordun Station. It was the only place available and I knew he would be able to handle himself," said Luke as he addressed Mothma and Dodonna.

"That was a risky thing to do, Commander Skywalker," said Leia as she leaned forward in her seat to look at Luke. "You knew the objective of that mission was to destroy the Ordun Station, yet you allowed one of your Squadron Pilots to land there. What was your contingency plan for getting him out of there before the mission was ultimately completed?"

Both Mothma and Dodonna nodded their heads in agreement while Captain Rex leaned forward in his chair to address them.

"It sounds to me as though allowing Anakin to land in the hangar was the best option at the time. Besides, I'm sure Commander Skywalker had faith in Anakin's abilities," he referred to Anakin's Jedi Status.

"Rex is right," said Luke in agreement. "I knew Anakin could take care of himself."

"So, then what happened next?" asked Mothma as she looked over at Anakin with curiosity.

"I found a Lambda-Class shuttle in the hangar and was about to commandeer it when I felt the Force call out to me to save the hostages," said Anakin truthfully. He was a Jedi and he had an active relationship with the Force that not many understood, and whether or not Dodonna or Mothma accepted that was up to them.

"The Force told you to save them?" asked Mothma as she shot Dodonna an uneasy look.

"I am a Jedi," said Anakin earnestly, "I have sworn my life to following the will of the Force. Whatever it calls me to do, I shall do it."

They couldn't really argue with the Force, now could they?

"I found the informants locked in the cell block. They had both been beaten, but Lt. Barra was in worse shape than the Captain was. He told me that they had tortured her to try and get him to talk, but he refused to because he knew that she would never forgive him if he did. I managed to get them out and I told the Captain to take her and get out of there before I went in search of the laboratories where they were keeping the weapons."

"So that's when you planted the detonators?" asked Leia, unable to hide her curiosity.

"I could tell that these were extremely advanced weapons and that they could potentially do some real damage. Plus, I wasn't about to let the Empire have that type of technology," he said as he leaned back in his seat.

"So, I planted them and got the Kriff out of there. Once I was away from the station and I had notified Alliance Control, I detonated them, and the rest is history."

"Quite the story, Skywalker," said Dodonna as he set the file down. "I am amazed by the fact that you are even here now to tell the tale, but then again the Jedi never cease to amaze me."

"It is the quite the story," said Mothma in agreement as she gave Anakin a true smile. "And I must commend you for your bravery in the face of certain death. If not for you, we would not have those weapons, Captain Kaipov would be dead, and the Empire would still have that technology at their disposal."

"I agree that what you did was undoubtedly an act of heroism for which you should be commended," said Leia tersely as she nodded to Anakin, "but for future reference, I will have to ask that you refrain from deviating from the given mission. That day could've ended very differently for all those who were present and I will not have any more lives put at risk by any one person's refusal to follow orders, is that clear?"

Her tone was laced with passive aggressiveness down to the core and he knew that she was not fooling around with him. She meant every word she said it would probably be best if took it to heart.

"Crystal clear, your Highness."

"I'm glad we've come to an agreement, Anakin," she said as she rose from her seat as he did the same. "I am looking forward to working together again in the future, and with your cooperation, I'm sure we'll be able to defeat the Empire and all those who helped create it."

Passive aggressive was really the only word that Anakin could use to describe her tone, which although sounded polite and sincere, was meant to cut at Anakin. He knew that if there were not people around them, her tone would be even more hostile.

Luke gave her a hard stare as he lightly touched her arm, as if to warn her to stop before she went too far with her jabs and barbs, and she seemed to catch on to what Luke meant and turned her gaze down to her shoes with shame before she quickly hardened her gaze.

"I would like nothing more, Princess, than to help the Rebellion in its mission to restore the Republic. I have seen the destruction and suffering that the Empire has brought to this galaxy and I want nothing more than for it to end and for justice to be served," he said as he bowed his head in respect to her.

She stared at him silently for a few heavy seconds, her face blank as she searched his face for any sign of dishonesty, but found none. She took an involuntary step back before she quickly composed herself in the manner of a well-trained Politician.

"Then it seems you and I share the same sentiment, at least for now that is," she said stiffly as she looked up into his eyes, which still held mistrust and apprehension in them. "But I do not think that will last for long."

"Perhaps," said Anakin with slight bitterness in his voice as Luke placed a comforting hand on his shoulder.

"Well, this has been- enlightening, to say the least," said Mothma as she looked at the young Jedi and the Princess with weariness before she looked over at a confounded Luke. "Anakin, thank you for appearing here today and sharing with us your testimony of what happened on the Ordun Station. You are free to go now."

Anakin nodded solemnly before making his way over to the door with Luke following close behind him when Mothma's cool voice called after them.

"Not you, Luke. There are a few things I must discuss with you and Leia if you don't mind."

Both Anakin and Luke shared a look before Luke nodded and made his way back over to where Mothma and Leia were seated. Dodonna had already left the room to return to his duties and it was obvious that Mothma only wished to talk to Luke and Leia as she too gave the Clone Captain permission to return to his duties as well.

Anakin made his way out of the room along with Rex, who was trailing after the young boy as if Anakin was the leader among the two of them. It was strange, the level of respect that this older man bore for him, as if he was nothing more than a soldier under Anakin's command.

And once upon a time, he had been under his command, and it seemed as though that habit had yet to be broken. Just how much more did this man know about Anakin then Anakin did?

As soon as they were out of the Council Room and alone in the corridor, Anakin turned around to face the older man with unhindered curiosity glistening in his eyes. It was obvious at that point that they both knew the truth and so now, perhaps they could be completely open with one another.

"You and I knew each other during the Clone Wars," he stated softly, unsure of what else he could possibly say to the Clone.

Rex paused for a few seconds before nodding in confirmation as he looked at the young Padawan in front of him. So much like the Jedi he had known and fought with, but at the same time not.

"We did," he said softly as a sad smile spread across his lips. "I was your second in command over the 501st Clone Trooper Battalion. We fought together for the duration of the Clone Wars along with General Kenobi and Commander Tano."

"Commander Tano? I don't think I know who that is," said Anakin as they began to walk down the length of the corridor together.

"I didn't think you would," said Rex an expression of sadness flitted across his face, as if remembering something painful. "Ahsoka Tano was your Padawan that Master Yoda assigned to you at the beginning of the war."

Anakin stopped, "I had a Padawan? Luke never told me anything about that- "

"I doubt he even knows," said Rex sadly. "Near the end of the war, she ended up leaving the Order because of a- misunderstanding. You tried to get her to stay, but she ended up leaving anyways and I don't think you ever really got over it. The two of you were very close, you know."

"Did she die in the Purges?" asked Anakin numbly. What he really wanted to know was whether she had died and if it had been by his hand.

"No, no she survived and ended up working for the Alliance under the code-name Fulcrum. But I don't know whether she's alive or dead anymore. The last time anyone saw her, she was on Malachor with Vader," he said with anger lacing his voice at the mention of the infamous Sith.

Anakin's stomach dropped and the nausea that had plagued him earlier that day came back full swing as he controlled the urge to vomit right then and there. He hadn't even met this woman yet, and already he mourned her. She was probably dead by Vader's hand.

"I probably shouldn't have told you that," said Rex after a few moments of silence as he stared at the green-faced Padawan beside him.

"No," Anakin bit out as he inhaled deeply. "You don't need to keep anything from me. I'm glad you told me about her and I'm glad she survived the Purges. I just- I wasn't really expecting that bit of information."

"Well, it was quite a surprise for you even then. I don't think you were expecting to be assigned a Padawan so soon after being Knighted, but apparently, Master Yoda thought you two would make a great pair, and he wasn't wrong. Although, I do think she ended up driving you up the wall a few times," he said with a twinkle in his eye. "According to Master Kenobi, she was the female version of you, but I think he was just happy she was assigned to you and not him."

Anakin couldn't help but snort at that. Kenobi had probably laughed his kriffing arse off at the prospect of him becoming the legal guardian and teacher to a Padawan who was as bad as him.

It was ironic how his Master had always told him that he hoped his Padawan would be just as bad as him so that he could have a taste of his own medicine. To that, Anakin had always just shrugged, not really believing at the time that he ever would have a Padawan of his own. But now he was not surprised at the prospect. In fact, it was probably the least shocking thing he had heard in the past few days.

Anakin wanted to ask more about Ahsoka out of pure curiosity before he stopped himself. Perhaps it was best not think about her, a girl who was most likely dead because of him. He didn't want to think about all the people he had hurt and killed as Vader. Force, he could barely look at Obi-Wan anymore knowing that he had murdered him. It was even worse when he thought about Padme, which is why he had done his best not to in these past few hours.

He didn't want to think about her. He didn't even want to acknowledge her because the thought of her only brought him even more feelings of guilt and self-hatred. He may not have been the one to kill her, but his actions had brought upon her death.

And that was enough to make him want to fall on a lightsaber.

He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. "What about you? If I'm not mistaken, it was the Clones who carried out Order 66. Were you not among them?"

Rex shook his head, "no, never. When we were created, we had inhibitor chips installed in our heads to ensure that Order 66 would be carried out, but I and a few others had ours removed before the Order was issued. We were spared from partaking in the massacre, but our comrades were not so lucky."

"What happened to the Clones afterward?" asked Anakin as he turned to look at despondent Rex.

"Those that were still alive became known as Stormtroopers, but over time they had to replaced with human recruits. All Clone productions came to an end because of how expensive it was, and the Emperor didn't feel like putting any money into the Project."

Anakin wouldn't say it, but he felt bad for the Clones. They had been created and forced to serve as an army and once they had fulfilled their purpose, they had been tossed away and left to deal with everything by themselves. Forced to obey because of a piece of machinery in their heads, much like a slave chip.

He hated how relatable it all was to him.

They were silent for a few seconds as the air around them grew heavy and thick with an awkward silence that neither one of them was sure how to fill. There was so much that Anakin wanted to ask, but he just couldn't bring himself to form the words and it left him feeling confused and nervous. Maybe it was best if Captain Rex did not tell him anything else about his future. He had already learned that ignorance was bliss and he was not too keen on learning more.

"I can sense that you miss him greatly," he said gently, "your General, that is. Did you ever find out what happened to him?"

"Sadly, no. The last time I saw him was near the end of the war. He had gone off the save the Chancellor from the Separatists and it was only a few days later that the Order was issued. I never knew what happened to him until I met Luke, who told me that his father had been killed by Vader, but I'm sure you already know that."

"I did," he stated somberly.

"But, things will be different, right? You're obviously here for a reason, Skywalker. You can go back and change things."

"I hope so," said Anakin, "or else this would've all been for nothing."

"I'm sure you'll figure out a way," said Rex as he clasped his hand on the Padawan's shoulder. "You always do."

Anakin smiled at the Clone, but it didn't quite reach his eyes as he watched Rex turn to leave before calling out after him.

"Thank you for being honest with me, Rex."

He could appreciate and respect someone who was straight with him instead of feeding him lies and half-truths like Luke and Master Kenobi had been these past few weeks. He knew they had their reasons, but it had still hurt all the same. Rex, however, had held nothing back when he had been talking. He hadn't even skirted around the topic of his supposed death, which even though know he knew not to be true, was still hard to think about.

He could see why Rex and his future counterpart had been good friends.

Rex nodded, "you're welcome, Skywalker."

Anakin watched him disappear down the corridor before he too turned and made his way back to his own quarters. He knew he should probably grab something to eat before getting some rest, but his appetite had yet to return and he didn't feel much like interacting with any more people that day.

He just needed a little bit of peace and quiet and possibly even some time to meditate on everything that had happened in just the past day. He needed more time to come to terms with everything before he even talked to Yoda, a prospect which still frightened him more than it probably should have.

He had no idea what the little green Master would have to say to him, but he feared it nonetheless.

Anakin sighed as he sat down on the floor with his legs crossed beneath him as he allowed his mind to reach out into the Force around him.

It was only a few seconds later that the visions came, but Anakin was too tired to try and even hold them off as they flooded into his mind.

Chapter Text

Another dream. Another vision displaying for him the dire reality that the future held for him, another reality that he wished that he could escape from. But there was no escaping his dreams, no matter how hard he tried, no matter how much he wanted to.

This time he found himself in the Senate building, his arms wrapped delicately yet firmly around the form of a small and petite woman, her head resting against his shoulder as she too held him as tight as she could. The feeling of her, of Padme in his arms felt surreal to him as he breathed in the scent of her hair and felt the faint beating of her heart against his own chest, fast and beating to such a degree that he knew it was much more than just excitement. It was fear.

"Are you alright? You're trembling. What's going on?" he asked as he pulled away from her shaking form to stare down into her nervous brown eyes. He didn't need to be a Force Sensitive to sense that there was something wrong with her.

The look that she gave him was enough to make him fear that something bad had happened but then she smiled up at him with gleaming eyes full of love and excitement as she clasped onto his hands tightly, her much smaller hands encompassing his larger ones as best they could.

"Something wonderful has happened," she said softly as she stared up at him intently, as if to engage his reaction to whatever it was she wanted to tell him.

"Ani," she said tenderly, "I'm pregnant."

He blinked slowly at the revelation, his mind trying to process the fact as fast as it could before he could even try to formulate a response to the startling news. He had never even thought that this would happen between the two of them because having children was always something he had resigned himself to never happening. Padme had always been enough, but perhaps-

Perhaps there was room enough for a child in their lives. A child who was theirs, a product of their love and devotion to one another. He couldn't help the image of a brown-haired little girl who was the spitting image of her mother dance across his mind before disappearing into the image of her mother, who looked nervous at the uncertainty in his eyes.

"That's," he stuttered as he lowered his head to look down at her heavy robes to see the well-concealed swell of her belly, which was almost completely hidden away by her heavy garments. Now that he knew, he could sense the small life growing inside of her just waiting to be born.

"Th-That's wonderful," he said as he tried to blink away his shock and surprise. Everything was happening so fast and he felt as though he barely had any time to catch up.

"What are we going to do?" she asked as a she looked up at him with fear in her eyes.

Anakin realized in that moment how scared she was, perhaps even more than he was at the prospect of possibly having to raise and hide a child away from the public view without giving away their secret. Or perhaps, deep down, they both knew that having this child would mean giving up their secret, which was something he was willing to do if it meant being with her. But Padme was adamant that there was just too much at stake.

But Anakin didn't care in that moment. A child was perhaps the greatest gift that he could ever want, and Force did he want it.

"We're not going to worry about anything," he said as he smiled down at her. "Alright? This is a happy moment. The happiest moment of my life."

He pulled her closer to him and leaned down to give her a tender kiss as she threw her arms around him as if he was all that she had in that moment, and Anakin allowed himself to revel in the feeling of her arms around him, because he knew that this was only a dream and like all dreams, this too came to an end as the room around them started to fade away.

The feeling of Padme in his arms became nothing more than a distant memory as she too faded away from him until he was only holding thin air.

Hot, smoldering air that burned with every breath with a fiery heat that he could not escape.

His dreams always led to this fiery world, but this time he wasn't in agonizing pain with flames tickling at every part of him as they had in previous ones. He was standing on a platform staring down at Padme, who was starting to back away from him with sad and unbelieving eyes.

He could feel the darkness inside of him that was growing with every passing second and he knew that it was already too late for him. This was Darth Vader he was inside of, and the raw thrashing power that he could feel consuming him from the inside out was- intoxicating.

He felt more powerful than he had ever in his entire life and that scared him.

Is this what the Dark Side truly felt like?

"I don't believe what I'm hearing," she said shaking her head in disbelief as tears poured down her face. "Obi-Wan was right. You've changed."

No, no Padme I haven't changed! I'm right here!

"I don't want to hear any more about Obi-Wan. The Jedi turned against me, don't you do the same!" he snarled as he felt his anger start to rise up dangerously. He didn't know if he could even control it at that point.

"I don't know you anymore!" she cried out in pain. "Anakin, you're breaking my heart."

Anakin felt the same, but there was nothing that he could do to reassure her that she was not alone. His heart weighed heavily in his chest and he wanted so bad to just tell her how sorry he was, how this was not him she was talking too.

"You're going down a path I can't follow."

Vader lifted his head to look past her and over to the sleek Nubian ship that he had remembered from when they had met on Tatooine all those years ago, but that was not what Vader was looking at.

There, standing in the doorway was Obi-Wan with his hands on his hips as he stared down at him with such disappointment in his eyes. This was not the same glare that his Master had given him as a Padawan, not even close.

This was much, much worse than that.

Anakin could feel Vader's anger awakening inside of him and not even he could handle the sheer force of it as he felt his counterparts mind start to jump to conclusions. Deadly conclusions that stirred feelings of betrayal and disloyalty. And all of it directed at Padme.

No, not her. Please.

"Because of Obi-Wan?" asked Vader with such calmness that it sent shivers up Anakin's back. He was far too calm, and it could only mean one thing.

"Because of what you've done," said Padme, totally oblivious to the man behind her or the thoughts of betrayal that ravaged her husband's mind, "what you plan to do! Stop! Stop now and come back! I love you!"

"Run, Padme. For Force sakes just run!" yelled Anakin as loud as he could, but his desperate cries fell on deaf ears. He had no control here. No one could hear him.

"LIAR!" yelled out an anguished Vader as Padme turned around to look at Obi-Wan before desperately looking back at Vader.

"No!" she yelled out, but her words could never reach Vader anymore.

"You brought him here. You brought him here to kill me!" yelled Vader as he stared down at her with murderous, hungry eyes.

What happened next was enough was enough to make Anakin sick to his stomach as he felt himself raise his hand to cut off her air supply, leaving her gasping for a single breath as she struggled against the invisible force around her neck.

She stared at him with pleading, desperate eyes, as if she knew that he was there, lurking in the depths of Vader's mind but unable to help. Anakin wanted to help her, to help the children she carried, but he was helpless. All he could do in those painstakingly long seconds was just watch.

And then- fire. Hot, searing fire that ate away at his flesh and left his lungs burned to the point where he could no longer draw any sort of breath. He could feel his flesh melting off him and bubbling as he screamed in pure, unadulterated agony that was unmatched by anything he had ever felt in his entire life.

He could not escape it seeing as he had no limbs other than a metal claw, but even that was not enough to save him. He could only lay there and scream and hope to the Force that it ended soon.

Anakin lifted his head to stare up the embankment where he could see two black figures watching him, their faces veiled behind darkness as the fire danced around his vision, distorting them even further.

The both of them stepped forward into the light until it was obvious that they were both children, holding hands as they both stared down at the burning man with blank, devoid faces.

A boy and girl. One with blond hair and tan cheeks, no doubt touched by the twin suns of the desert that had owned him and his father. The girl had brown hair that had been delicately braided around her head, a few stray strands of hair dangling down in front of her eyes that stared at him blankly.

They stood hand in hand as they looked down upon Anakin being consumed by the flames, not one word escaped from their lips as they stared at him with haunted, eerie eyes that seemed to pierce his very soul.

"Help us," they whispered through the flames, their small voices almost disappearing into his own agony as he cried out in pain. "Please, father. Don't let this happen."

Anakin wanted to reply, but only screams came out of his mouth as he lifted his metal arm to reach out to them to no avail. His vision was slowly escaping him as everything around him started to slowly fade away, but their faces were still clear to him as he looked to see a man come up behind them and start to pull them away from the embankment, away from him.

"No!" he screamed as he tried to reach out with the Force but found that it would not bend to his will as it once had, forcing him to watch helplessly as his children were taken from him.

The man turned around to look down at Anakin, his face becoming illuminated by the fire around him so that he could recognize who this man was, and his heart burned with hatred upon the realization.

Kenobi looked down at him with an eerie look. Devastation, pain, sadness, and regret all combining into one tragic stare before he turned his back on his former Padawan and led the children away.

And Anakin's heart burned like never before.

He didn't know how long he laid there on that fiery shore, screaming with burnt lungs that could never draw any air and flesh that had melted from the hot embers beneath him. Perhaps it had only been a few seconds, but it had felt like an eternity before he felt the dark, shrouded presence that he had once thought kind and caring.

"Oh, my poor, poor apprentice," came a sickly, sweet voice from beside him. "What have they done to you?"

Anakin forced his eyes open as he looked over at the hideous man that was staring down at him with a pretentiously concerned face that he could tell was fake. He shuddered as Palpatine touched his burnt arm in a motion that was meant to seem caring, but Anakin could see what was really going on in his mind.

"H-help me, Master," moaned Vader through burnt, charred lips. "Please."

Palpatine smiled, "of course, my young apprentice. I will help you."

Liar. He never wanted to help you. All of this was just one big lie.

The next few moments in the dream proved Anakin irrevocably right, all though he wished he hadn't been as he found himself strapped down to a table as a saw ran through the flesh and bone of his already mutilated limbs. He cried out as he pushed against the restraints but found that they would not budge as he strained against them.

He could see medical droids all around him, chipping away at his body and turning it into something- grotesque. Anakin could only watch in muted horror as Vader's body- his body, was slowly replaced with metal until it was like he wasn't even human anymore. An abomination.

Anakin groaned as he allowed his head to roll back against the table as he opened his eyes to see something awful leering above him, the sound of mechanical breathing drowning out everything else in the room as he watched it draw closer to him, meaning to trap him within its horrid black void.

Anakin felt his metal fists clench at his sides as he tried to move his head so as to escape it, but it was pointless as the black mask was lowered over his face, trapping him inside of it with an awful hiss. Inside everything was black except for the red that filtered in through the eyepiece, washing everything he could see of the outside world in only red.

He had never in his entire life felt so isolated and so alone. Cut off from the world with only his misery as company felt like the very definition of insanity.

And so, he screamed, but even his voice had been taken away.

###

Anakin awoke with a start, his heart pounding in his chest and sweat dripping down from his hairline and into his eyes. His breathing was labored, and he couldn't seem to get it under control as panic surged through his entire body. He felt dizzy as he felt his fingers and toes begin to tingle, a sure sign that he was in the throes of a panic attack. He hadn't had one of these since he was nine, much less one this bad, but Force he couldn't stop thinking about the blasted mask and being trapped inside of it. For maybe the first time in his entire life, Anakin felt claustrophobic.

It took him about five minutes to finally calm down and his breathing slowly began to return to normal as he leaned back against the wall and ran a tired, shaking hand through his hair. He didn't know how long he sat there in stunned silence, his mind occupied by the terrifying vision he had just had. It had started off so kriffing nice and then everything had gone up in flames – literally.

He couldn't stop replaying it all back through his mind repeatedly until he was sure he would never forget it, even if he tried. The images had been all too much for him to handle and he still found himself at a loss at what to do now.

He exhaled deeply as he banged the back of his head on the cool metal wall. He shut his eyes tightly for a few long, heavy seconds before the sound of his com buzzing next to his bed brought him out of his reverie as he used the Force to carry it over to his waiting hands. It was far too early to be receiving a message from anybody, or at least it felt far too early but he frowned when he looked at the time and realized that he had overslept by a long shot due to his failure to set his alarm the previous night.

"Kriff," he muttered as he rolled out of the bed upon the realization that Luke had been waiting for him in the hangar while he slept. He had forgotten that they were going to Dagobah today and he had forgotten to set his alarm the night before in his tired frenzy.

Anakin threw on his robes and his shoes before clipping his utility belt on and running a comb through his hair. His morning breath was horrendous, so he brushed his teeth as fast as he could before he threw some clothes and a couple hygiene products in his bag before rushing out of his quarters in search of Luke, who he could tell was beginning to become impatient.

But, he decided that before he found Luke, he should probably get some breakfast to sate his hunger. Luke would just have to wait a few more minutes until Anakin found something to eat as he turned around and made his way over to the mess hall.

He grabbed something quick and was in the process of scarfing it down while walking through the ship, when he ran into the last person he wanted to see that morning. Leia looked tired and Anakin could sense that she had not gotten a lot of sleep the night before and he hoped that she wouldn't notice him as she made her way down the corridor with a data-pad in her hands.

It wasn't like Anakin wanted to avoid her, but he just wasn't ready to face her yet. Not after everything that he had learned that Vader had done to her. What he had done to her.

He felt the same way about Luke, but Luke was a bit more agreeable than Leia was. Plus, he knew that if Leia saw him, she would probably tear him to pieces like a ravenous dog, just as he would if he were in her position.

He tried to duck behind the corridor as soon as he saw her making her way towards him, but he was a second too late as her tired brown eyes looked up from her pad to make direct contact with him. There was no escaping her now as her eyes narrowed in his direction and he could feel the surprise and anger resonating from her through the Force, and all of it was directed to him.

She looked him over, frowning when she saw the hastily stuffed bag slung over his shoulder and the half-eaten piece of blue buttered toast in his hand. She stuffed her data-pad in her oversized coat pocket before she briskly made her way over to him, determination plastered all over her face.

"So, when are you planning on becoming Darth Vader?" she demanded as she placed her hands on her hips and glared up at him as she waited for him to answer his question.

Anakin grimaced both at the volume and content of her question as a few people gave them strange looks as they passed by, but Leia didn't seem to notice them as she glared up at him. Anakin wished that he could satisfy her question with an answer, but he knew that that was not possible. Kriff, there was nothing that he could even say to himself to make him feel better about everything that he had learned about himself in the past two days.

He was shocked at just how much hatred she held for him at that very moment. She hated him to the core of her very being, even more so than he had hated being a slave, and that was saying something. He could feel the pain and loss that she had suffered at his hand and he wanted so badly to just make amends with her. To somehow make it so that none of it ever happened so she wouldn't hate him so

He closed his eyes as guilt flooded through him and into the Force, where she could undoubtedly feel it rolling off him in steady waves. He knew he needed to say something to her, to show her how sorry he was for everything.

He reached down and pulled his lightsaber off his belt, which prompted Leia to visibly flinch as she eyed the weapon with wary eyes.

"Go ahead. Use it. You can end all this right now with a single stroke, Leia. You can stop that monster from ever existing in the first place," he urged as he held it out to her. In that moment he wasn't joking. He wasn't messing with her or goading her on.

He truly, genuinely wanted her to use it against him.

She stared down at the hilt of the weapon for what seemed like an eternity with evident surprise on her face. Anakin knew that she had not expected for this to happen and it was obvious that she wasn't quite sure what to do now.

"Please," he muttered as he choked back a sob. "I don't want to be him."

She looked up at him for the first time since he had made the offer, strangely, there was no longer any hatred burning in her eyes but with a sad expression that told him everything he needed to know in that moment. He felt her anger slowly dissipate as remorse took its place and her gaze softened as she shook her head.

For the first time since learning of his true identity, Leia now realized that this boy was not the Darth Vader that she had been comparing him to. No, this Anakin was just a boy who had lost everything he was familiar with and everyone he had known. He had been tossed into a bleak future to learn from the mistakes that he had not even yet committed.

"No," she whispered as she pushed his lightsaber away from her, "I can't do what you're asking me to do, Anakin."

"Why not?" he asked in defeat as his shoulders slumped and his hands fell at his sides.

"Because I now see that Luke was right. You are not Darth Vader, Anakin and now I know that you will never be him. The Force brought you here for a reason. If I were to do what you asked, then all of this would've been for nothing."

"You can't know that for sure," he said indignantly as he reluctantly clipped his lightsaber back onto his belt. "You've seen the things that Vader has done. How can you not want him dead?"

"You're right," she said softly, "I have seen the things that Vader has done, and I know for a fact that you would never do any of those things, Anakin. I can see that you're different. You are not Darth Vader!

"But I will be," he said stubbornly. "If it happened once, it can happen again."

"Then you'll just have to make sure that when you go back that it doesn't happen," she said softly as she placed a gentle hand on his shoulder. He could sense that she no longer bore the hatred that she had just a few moments ago, but her touch was still nervous and unsure, but strangely welcoming at the same time.

She still held anger inside of her, but it seemed to all be directed at Darth Vader instead of him as if in her mind she was starting to see them as two different people, just as Luke did.

Her words seemed to give him newfound hope as he looked down at her and inhaled deeply. He found that he wanted nothing more than to do what she said, to prevent this all from happening. Perhaps for the first time since they had found out the truth about each other, they were finally seeing eye to eye on something.

He nodded, "I promise, Leia."

"Good," she said as she withdrew her hand, "I'll see you and Luke when you get back from Dagobah."

As soon as she said that she was already halfway down the corridor, leaving behind a visibly stumped Anakin as he watched her disappear behind the corner. It would be an understatement to say that whatever the Kriff had just occurred between the two of them was strange and unexpected. He had never in a million years expected to see Leia finally put away her resentment towards him.

He could tell that she was not the overly sentimental type, but at least she no longer despised him. He wasn't sure what her deal was anymore when it concerned him, but perhaps he could just accept her actions without questioning them.

Anakin shook his head as he muttered under his breath before making his way back in the direction of the hangar.

Luke was exactly where Anakin expected him to be as he strolled into the hangar, still somewhat dazed from what had just transpired between him and Leia in the corridor, which was not something that escaped Luke's attention as he eyed the younger Jedi.

"I was beginning to think you wouldn't show," Luke commented as he took Anakin's bag and handed it over to Chewy, who let out a welcoming roar to Anakin before he dumped his bag into the back of the X-Wing that had been commissioned for him to use for their journey to Dagobah. Anakin had never been to the planet before and had wondered why they were not going to take the Millennium Falcon, to which Luke responded that he'd rather not lose his friend's ship to the swamp. So, they were going to go ahead and just take their X-Wings, which Anakin was perfectly fine with.

"Sorry, I- I was just talking to Leia," said Anakin as he gave Chewy a tight, but friendly smile.

Luke paused before looking back at Anakin with both curiosity and dread. "And-?"

"And- she told me that I wasn't Vader."

"She said what?" asked Luke incredulously.

"She said that you were right. That I wasn't Vader and that I never would be," said Anakin as he shook his head, still in disbelief.

Luke stared at Anakin for a few hard seconds before a smile broke out on his face as he clasped Anakin on the shoulder. "I told you she would come around."

Anakin nodded, "yeah, I suppose you did."

"What can I say? I know my sister," said Luke with a grin before he turned away from Anakin and gave Chewy a tight hug and the promise that they would return soon. Anakin hadn't expected the Wookiee to give him a bear hug, but he found himself not minding as he too returned the monstrous hug.

"Hey Chewy, could you do something for me while I'm gone?" asked Anakin as he watched Luke make his way over to his ship to finish the last minute's preparations before they departed.

The Wookiee let out a large roar as he tilted his head down at the teenage boy, waiting for him to tell him whatever he wanted to tell him.

"Watch after Leia while we're gone? Something tells me she's going to need a friend in these next few days," said Anakin.

He could sense that Leia was still trying to wrestle with her feelings and he felt as though it was good that she would have some time away from him and Luke to process everything, but at the same time he didn't want her to have to deal with this all alone. Leia was a strong woman, just like his mother and Padme, but Anakin found himself concerned about her well-being a lot more than he ever thought that he could. And after everything that she had suffered through, Anakin could say without a doubt that she didn't deserve this.

She didn't deserve any of this and neither did Luke.

Chewy roared in understanding as Anakin made his way over to his X-Wing and grabbed the orange jumpsuit that was hanging over the side, courtesy of Luke. He changed into it quickly and wasted no time in hopping into the cockpit and lowering the hatch down over him.

He wasn't sure what he would find on Dagobah and whether Yoda would be able to help him with his strange predicament, or if he would even be willing to help him after everything that he had done. Luke had assured him that Yoda would know better than that, but Anakin wasn't so sure.

All he knew was that he was honestly frightened of facing the little green Master. But there was no going back now.

Only Yoda could give him the answers that he sought and that really left him with no alternatives other than sucking it up and going. He needed to know how to fight off the Dark Side and how to defeat the Sith Lord that he had become, or else all would be lost.

Force, that was a scary prospect.

"Rogue Six you are clear for takeoff. May the Force be with you," came Leia's unmistakable voice from over the com as Anakin shoved his helmet over his head.

Anakin couldn't help but let out a small grin at the sound of her voice as he slid the visor down over his face. "May the Force be with you as well, Princess."

"Don't have too much fun without me," she said. "And make sure Luke doesn't get in too much trouble."

"Copy that," said Anakin as he gently eased the ship off the ground and followed Luke's craft to the hangar opening.

And just like that, they were soaring into the vacuum of space before the familiar blue hue of hyperspace surrounded the ship and Anakin was able to sit back in his seat and relax some. The trip would only take at most an hour from their present location, which was somewhere near the Kazan System if he was not mistaken.

Anakin closed his eyes as he listened to the sound of his breathing and the soft rattling of the ship, a sound that always seemed to bring him a strange sort of comfort no matter what. Anakin had always loved flying through space, but he did have to admit that he still was not used to the chilliness that seemed to permeate his entire being when he did fly. Even after all these years, he still was not used to it.

Most of the trip was spent in silence as the galaxy sped by them as they drew closer to the remote planet that Yoda had made his home these last two decades. Anakin had to give the Jedi credit, he had really chosen one of the most remote planets that there was in the galaxy. He could honestly say that most of the systems that they were passing on their way to Dagobah lay on the fringe of society and were all but forgotten to the rest of the galaxy. Yoda could peacefully escape Imperial attention from this relatively unknown planet and it was no wonder that he had not yet been discovered.

He could imagine how frustrating that probably was to Vader.

"We're coming up on the planet here in a few seconds," came Luke's voice over the com. "Prepare to drop out of hyperspace in three…two…one…"

They both dropped out of hyperspace and found themselves facing the green, swampy looking planet below. Anakin could already tell that the world was nothing more than a karking swamp from the looks of it and he couldn't help but scrunch his nose at the sight of it. He had always loved the green in nature, but for some reason, he had never really enjoyed too much swampiness. It was always too humid for his taste seeing as he had grown up in a dry heat, and he could say without a doubt that he much preferred the latter.

Anakin stared down at it for a few more seconds before he felt a familiar tingling presence gently probing him from the planet below. Yoda prodded him in both curiosity and morbid fascination as he searched for any sign of Vader inside of him. Luke had told him that Master Kenobi would warn Yoda before they came, and while Yoda was expecting him, Anakin could only assume that the little green Master still had his qualms as to the reality of the situation at hand.

After a few seconds of intense searching, the presence backed away in satisfaction as Yoda beckoned him forth with no apparent hostility or anger. He could tell that Yoda was excited, as if he was looking forward to studying him and the implication of time travel.

It was as if Yoda was inviting an old friend over for lunch, as if Vader had never happened.

It baffled Anakin but he didn't question it as he followed Luke down into the atmosphere, Yoda's invitation still resonating deeply within him as he lowered his ship down into the canopy of large, overgrown trees that shrouded his view of the ground.

As soon as Anakin saw the ground where he was to land his X-Wing, he seriously doubted that the Earth beneath him could support his ship, but he felt Luke's reassurance through the Force as he watched Luke land his vessel easily down onto the muddy ground. Anakin followed suit as he let out a small prayer to the Force that his ship wouldn't get eaten up but was surprised when he found the ground to be steadier than he had originally thought. He had to let out a small sigh of relief as soon as the vessel's engines were shut off and the hatch popped open, exposing him to the stagnant, dank smell of the bacteria-ridden swamp around him. He couldn't help but wrinkle his nose at the smell that was assaulting his nostrils, which reminded him of putrescent food.

Anakin lifted his helmet up off his head before he unstrapped himself and pulled himself up onto the side of the cockpit as he looked around the mossy, humid environment around him. For some reason, he found himself not really surprised that Yoda would choose this place to settle down to hide from the Empire.

"Nice place, huh?" shouted Luke over from where he stood next to his X-Wing and gathered up supplies from inside. "Maybe we should come vacation here sometime."

Anakin let out a small chuckle as he slid down the side of his vessel and landed in the muddy, wet ground beneath him. He could feel his feet sink into the ground slightly, but not enough to cover the entire bottom half of his leather boots as he started to make his way over to where Luke was.

"I think I'll pass if you don't mind," he said as he unzipped his jumpsuit to allow his skin the ability to breathe in the humid air. "Besides, I think I'd much prefer to vacation on Naboo then here."

"Naboo?" asked Luke as he gave Anakin a sideways glance. "Wasn't that-?"

Anakin was surprised that Luke had even remembered that Naboo had been- his mother's homeworld seeing as Anakin had never mentioned Padme to Luke since that day that Artoo had told him the truth. He hadn't really had the courage to talk about her, so of course Luke and Leia remained largely in the dark when it concerned her.

"You want to know more about her, don't you?" asked Anakin as he tilted his head, waiting for Luke to give his response.

Luke froze before giving Anakin an unsure look that told the Padawan everything he needed to know about what Luke wanted. She was his mother and he deserved to know about her. Everyone deserved to know about their mother, no matter how Anakin felt about the situation.

He couldn't help but cringe at the image of Vader using the Force to choke her.

"Well, I mean yes- yes I do, but if you're not comfortable- "Luke babbled before Anakin held up a hand to silence him.

"I'll tell you anything you want to know, but just beware that I don't really know her all that well. We met when we were children and that was eight years ago for me."

"That's fine," said Luke reassuringly. "My Aunt and Uncle never really told me about her because they really didn't know a lot, but I'll take anything I can get."

Anakin sighed, "I'll tell you tonight, but first, I believe that someone is expecting us." He said as he nodded over to the shrubbery where he could feel an ancient, wise presence waiting patiently for them. Master Yoda was waiting for them and who were they to keep the Grand Master waiting?

Luke followed his eyes over the dense foliage that surrounded them before he nodded in agreement.

"Well then let's not keep him waiting then," he said as he hoisted his bag over his shoulder and started to make his way through the underbrush. Anakin grabbed his own bag before he ran off to follow Luke through the trees and bushes until they came to a small clearing where Yoda's presence felt the strongest.

"Been waiting for you, I have," came the familiar voice of the old Master as Anakin looked over to where he could see a small figure sitting on a fallen tree, his entire body shrouded in the shadows.

Anakin allowed Luke to take the reigns as he stepped forward to address the small Jedi Master while he remained behind, too nervous to step forward and face the small green Master in fear of what he would have to say to him. Anakin felt as though his shame and guilt would forever separate him from those whom he had betrayed as Vader, and Yoda was no exception. He had destroyed the very Order that Yoda had helped shape over the last few centuries, and Anakin wasn't exactly sure how he was supposed to address that.

"Master Yoda," began Luke, "It is good to see you. I hope you have been well these past few months?"

Yoda grunted from where he sat, and Anakin could tell that the green Master was not really paying Luke all that much attention from where he sat observing them. He could feel the old Jedi's eyes and his attention completely on him, and it made Anakin want to shrink and slither away from his scrutiny.

"Good to see you as well, young Skywalker, but enough with pleasantries. Brought a friend, you have," said Yoda as he pointed his cane over in Anakin's direction.

"I assume Master Kenobi has told you of the situation at hand?" asked Luke as he looked between Anakin and Yoda with uncertainty in his eyes.

"Indeed, indeed. Informed me, he has," said Yoda as he clapped his hands together in obvious excitement. "Come forth, young Skywalker. Inspect you, I must."

Yoda referred to him as if he was some sort of puzzle that needed solving and it was obvious that he was dying to see if it was true that he had come through time. The Order had never heard of such a thing before and there were no recorded teachings that even broached the subject at the possibility that the Force could even manipulate time, but it really came as no surprise to Anakin anymore the more he thought about it. The Force encompassed everything, time and space belonged to the Force in ways that they would never completely understand.

Anakin looked over at Luke, who could only nod over in Yoda's way with a You-better-do-what-the-little-green-Master-says look that made Anakin's stomach sink a little bit as he slowly began to make his way over to where the Grand Master sat. The closer he got, the more of Yoda was revealed and Anakin couldn't help but notice how much he had aged in these last few years. He looked older and frailer than he had ever remembered him, but after everything that had happened to him, Anakin couldn't really blame him. Force, Anakin felt older at this time than he had ever felt in his entire life.

"Tell what you're thinking, I can," said Yoda as he jabbed an accusing finger up at the youth from where he sat. "Old I have become."

Anakin gulped, "you look good, Master."

"A liar you are, young Skywalker," said Yoda as he patted the spot on the log next to him. "Teach you better, Kenobi should have."

Anakin wasn't sure what he should say to that as he slowly lowered himself down onto the log, his weight causing it to dip down further to the ground, but Yoda didn't seem to notice this as he jumped to his feet and made his way over to the Padawan. He grabbed the boy's chin and forced it down so that he could properly inspect the face of the young man he had never thought he would see again, much less under these circumstances.

"True it is, then. Come from the past you have," said Yoda as he let go of Anakin's face, 'but a question we must ask ourselves now. Your purpose here, yet to be determined young Skywalker?"

"It took me a while to piece it all together, but I believe I now know why I am here," said Anakin hopefully, as if he wanted Yoda to reassure him that he did indeed know the purpose of him being there, but Yoda only grunted as he sat back down on the log and shook his head.

"Not my place to tell you, young Skywalker. Answer that, only you can."

Anakin shook his head, "I know why the Force has brought me here, but I can't help but feel as though there's more that I'm supposed to do."

"Know your future actions, you do, but what else?" inquired Master Yoda thoughtfully for a few seconds before he lowered himself off the log. "Meditate, on this, we should. Reveal everything in time, the Force will."

"Is that all?" asked Luke somewhat hopefully. "Just meditate and we'll have the answer to Anakin's predicament?"

Yoda chuckled, "much there is to learn from meditation, young Skywalker. Come to us, answers do when we clear our minds. But more there is to this than just meditation. Unclear, everything is."

"I need to know," said Anakin, his tone affirmative and unwavering as he looked down at the green Master. "Please, I have to know what happened and why so that I can stop this."

Yoda bowed his head solemnly, "explain everything I shall to the best of my ability, young Skywalker. What happens next though, is up to you. Ready to learn of the Dark Side, are you?"

"I think I am, but- I don't know, Master Yoda. Do you think I'm ready?"

"To be determined, that is," said Yoda with a look that made Anakin feel uncomfortable before he turned away from him and started to hobble down a small path that led away from the clearing and into the thick foliage around them. "Discuss this over lunch, we shall. Come along Skywalker's, especially you Anakin. Hear your stomach, I can."

Both Anakin and Luke gave each other a strange, confused glance before they both started to follow the little wry Master through the woods until they came upon a small hut that had been carved out of the roots of a large tree. Both light and smoke poured out of the top and Anakin could smell food emanating from within, a sure sign that Yoda had been expecting company.

Master Yoda chuckled as he watched Anakin breathe in the surprisingly delicious scent of food that permeated the air around them.

"Changed, you have not young Padawan. Still, the boy I remember, you are. Hope there may be for you yet, Skywalker."

For all their sakes, Anakin really hoped that was true.

Chapter Text

Anakin eyed the entirety of the small hut with doubt as he watched Yoda enter in through the small opening, leaving behind Luke and Anakin to figure out just how they were going to fit inside. Neither of them was by any means short and it would be difficult for the both of them to easily crawl inside the cramped hut.

Luke crawled in easily enough and Anakin was not that far behind him as he bent down and started the tedious crawl into the little hovel, practically on his hands and knees.

"Karking hell," muttered Anakin as he took his seat next to Luke and quickly ran a hand over his muddied robes, which had been clean that morning.

Luke grinned over at him, obviously finding the situation more humorous than Anakin did before he turned his attention back to Yoda, who stood over what looked to be a small make-shift cooking pot. It wasn't much, but it smelled good and it was enough to make Anakin's mouth water as he watched the little green Master stir whatever he was cooking around.

"Have questions you do, answer them to the best of my ability I shall," said Yoda over his shoulder to Anakin.

"I don't know where to start," mumbled Anakin as he looked over at his son with uncertainty in his eyes. "I think I have the gist of what happened, but there are still a few parts I'm a bit fuzzy on."

"Hmmm," said Yoda. "Important, details are. Told you much, Kenobi has?"

Anakin nodded, "I think he has, I mean, I wouldn't know if he had left anything out."

"True this is," said Yoda as he turned away from the food and pointed a stubby green finger over at Anakin. "Know most everything, you do. Aware of your son and daughter, you already are."

Anakin snorted as he turned his attention over to Luke, "actually, Artoo had to let that one spill. Neither Luke nor Obi-Wan had bothered to tell me before then."

"Bothered you, this did," commented Yoda.

"Well, yeah. I won't lie, I wasn't exactly happy with being kept in the dark like that," said Anakin as he gave Luke a pointed look.

"In our defense, we didn't want to overwhelm Anakin with that- information," said Luke earnestly as he too gave Anakin a pointed stare, leaving the two Jedi in a stalemate.

Yoda chuckled where he sat as he tapped his wooden cane on the ground, obviously amused by Anakin and Luke's interesting interaction. He held up his cane and pointed it at the both of them before saying.

"Squabbling like children you are," he said as he jabbed an accusing finger at them. "Stubborn and prideful you two are. Unyielding you both are and unwilling to put aside your differences, you two are."

At this, he gave Anakin a deliberate and sharp look that told the young Padawan everything that needed to be said, and Anakin couldn't help but lower his eyes down to his lap in understanding of what Yoda was silently accusing him of.

There was no denying that Anakin had been stubborn when it came to Luke and he had not been truly willing to put his pride and resentment towards his son away ever since he had discovered that the older Jedi had purposefully kept the secret of his future from him. He knew that he still harbored bitter and unrelenting feelings for Luke, deep down and buried so far that even Anakin had a hard time approaching them.

"Much resentment I can feel in you, Padawan Skywalker. Forgiven Luke completely, you have not," said Yoda as he leaned back in his chair to stare down at the two of them.

Anakin looked over at Luke, who was also staring at him blankly. Anakin wished to know what he was thinking at that very moment, but Luke had closed himself off from him for his own privacy. But he could tell that Luke was not angry at him, in fact, Anakin was fairly certain that there was nothing he could in the entire world to get Luke to even hate him.

"I admit, Master. I have never been the best at forgiving people or expressing myself to people."

"Struggle with relationships, you do. Taught you to isolate yourself and suppress your emotions, we did," said Yoda as he bowed his head solemnly. "Forget your mother, you could not no matter how hard we tried to break your connection to her. Ill-prepared you were for life as a Jedi and help you, we did not."

Anakin said nothing as he looked up at the little green Master before he shook his head.

"I wanted so bad to be a Jedi and I didn't think it would be as hard as it really was. I really had no idea what I was getting myself into at the time, and no one told me that I would have to forget how to love."

"Never stopped loving, you did," said Yoda. "Capitulate to our way, you never would. Shaped by your childhood, you already were."

"I tried, Master Yoda. But I knew that I would always be an outsider to the Jedi, no matter how hard I tried to please you guys. And I could never forget my mother either, not when I knew she was out there and still a slave."

"Found out her fate, have you?" asked Yoda softly.

Anakin nodded, "I know what happened to her and I know that I tried to save her, but I wasn't strong enough to. She died because of me."

"Die because of you, she did not. Killed by Tusken Raiders, she was. At fault, you are not."

"But I could've saved her!" said an agitated Anakin. "I was warned beforehand of what would happen and still I failed her. She still died, and I had to live with that. It's no wonder my future self became obsessed with saving Padme."

Yoda said nothing to that and neither did Luke, who merely lowered his eyes down to his lap while Anakin raised his head to stare up at the thatched ceiling of the hut in utter and complete defeat. There was really nothing else that he could say to that and he really didn't want to anyways.

"Why me?" he asked after a few heavy moments of deafening silence, his voice scratchy and on the verge of cracking. "Why does the Force give me these visions? Is it to torture me or to help me learn?"

"Speak for the Force, I cannot. But the reason for these dreams you have, I doubt that torture would be. Reveal everything the Force does, not to harm us but instead to teach us. Always in motion the future is and sure of the outcome, we may never be. Only possible futures based on your actions, the visions you see are, but never set in stone. Choose your path, only you can young Skywalker. Hmm."

"So, you're saying that the dreams that Anakin's future self had, were self-fulfilling?" asked Luke, speaking for Anakin at that precise moment.

"Ironic it is. A great tragedy it was," said Yoda with something akin to longing gracing his green features.

"So, I exacerbated all of this because I wanted to prevent the dreams about Padme dying?" asked an obviously overwhelmed Anakin as he ran an agitated hand through his short blond locks. To say that he wasn't a little freaked out by that prospect wasn't a little overwhelming was an understatement.

Force, he this sounded like a plot device in Alderaani literature. But then again, his entire life seemed like nothing more than backstory to some fictional character these days.

"Sithspit," muttered Anakin, not in disbelief but in utter and complete disappointment in himself. All of this had happened because he had wanted to save Padme, but in all actuality, it was his own actions that led to his downfall.

How poetic, he thought bitterly.

Yoda nodded his head as if he could sense Anakin's disdain. "Miserable, Vader is. Agonizing for him, knowing that his actions caused everything he wanted to prevent. Even here, sense his misery I do."

"He brought it on himself," interjected Anakin. "He has no one to blame but himself. He made his choice and I've made mine. I will not allow him to continue this dark crusade of his. This ends with me."

He was firm in his stance and unwavering. He was not going to allow Vader to wallow in his own grief and misery while the galaxy suffered at his hands.

If there was one thing he was sure about in his life, this was it.

"Right you are young Skywalker. Ultimately his choice it was. Be held accountable, he must be."

"I agree that Vader must be stopped at all costs," interjected Luke, 'but I can sense that there is still good in him. I believe that he can be redeemed if only we try to reach out to him."

"Believe Anakin Skywalker is still alive in him, you do?" asked Yoda as he leaned forward, his already wrinkled forehead scrunched up in intense concentration as if he was considering the possibility of Luke's words.

"I'm his son, I can sense him in a way that no one else can and I know for a fact that deep down, Anakin Skywalker still lives. Ben told me there wasn't anything good left in Vader, but I just know there is," said Luke softly. There was certainly an element of truth in his words and it resonated across the Force in a powerful way that touched Anakin in a way that made him believe in Luke's words.

Anakin could see feel the sadness that Luke held at bay and he couldn't deny it no matter how much he wanted too. Luke knew Vader probably better than anyone, even himself and Anakin had no other choice but to take his word as absolute truth.

It was a scary prospect and Anakin had no idea exactly what that meant for him. Perhaps the closest word he could use to explain it was hope.

"Has compassion for you, Vader does. More finely attuned to him than Kenobi was, you are. Perhaps truth there is to your words, young Luke," said Yoda, still in deep thought.

"If we can save him we have to try. Don't we owe him that much?" said Luke as he looked over at Anakin.

Anakin swallowed before he reluctantly nodded, "I believe you. If you think that he can be saved, then we have to try. You deserve that much, Luke."

"Learn to combat the darkness you must," began Yoda somberly. "Face your enemy, you will have to and to do that, you must confront the darkness inside of you."

"He who knows others is wise, but he who knows himself is enlightened," said Anakin as he quoted a passage from one of the early Jedi books that his Master had forced him to memorize, a feat that he found pointless at the time, but it felt strangely appropriate for this precise moment. Obi-Wan had told him that knowing thyself was the secret to unlocking all the secrets of the universe, and he couldn't be any more right about that.

Yoda smiled, "A passage from the teachings of Master Udanta, that is. A wise man beyond his years, he was."

"Obi-Wan made me read all of his texts. I thought it was stupid at the time, but I'm glad he made me study them," said Anakin with a fond smile as he remembered his late Master. Being here at this time had given him newfound appreciation than he had ever held before in his entire life, despite everything that had happened in these last twenty-eight years.

"Apply his teachings, you have learned to. Much more grown you have become, Anakin. A child you are no more, but instead a man. Ready to face your trials to become a Knight, you are."

"B-but, now?" asked Anakin as he did his best to contain his surprise and confusion. He certainly didn't feel ready to be Knighted despite how much he had looked forward to it these past few years of his apprenticeship. He had looked upon Padawan's getting ready to face their trials with quiet jealousy, but he had not understood at the time what true preparedness was.

And now that he was facing the moment he had been waiting for ever since he was imitated into the Temple was surreal and overwhelming.

Was he even ready?

"Finish your training here, we will. Then face your trials in the Dark Side Cave, you will," said Yoda as he jabbed his finger over at Anakin before adding, "Have faith in you, I do."

"Is that necessary?" said Luke as he shifted in his seat, obviously uncomfortable with the idea of Anakin going into the Dark Side Cave as he had when he had completed his Trials. His experience in that- place had undoubtedly left him changed.

It was not an experience he could easily forget.

"The only way he will learn, it is. Ready to face the ultimate trial, Anakin is and believe in him I do," said Yoda with a smile as he leaned back in his seat. "Hmmm, indeed ready he is."

"Master I-"Anakin paused. "I don't deserve this. I don't deserve your faith and I certainly don't deserve Knighthood. I couldn't possibly- "

"-Learned humility, you have. Remember a time when you would've jumped at the chance of Knighthood, I do. Prove my point, you do," interrupted the little green Master.

Yoda was right about that. Had this happened back in his own time, Anakin would've absolutely taken the chance of early Knighthood with pride and arrogance. As ashamed as he was to admit it, he had been selfish then and to some a small degree, he still was. But he had learned in his time spent here that pride and selfishness were the proverbial crux of his entire being and that his own nature had led him down a path that he believed was righteous. Instead, it had been the highway to his own personal hell.

"Just say thank you, Anakin," said Luke as he patted Anakin on the back.

"Thank you, Master Yoda," sputtered Anakin. "I am honored that you believe I am ready to face my Trials. I won't disappoint you."

Yoda's eyes twinkled with something akin to pride as he looked at the young Padawan before him that had grown far beyond what he thought was possible. Ever since he had met the former slave as a young boy, Yoda had felt that he would be troublesome, and he was right about that. But never had he imagined that that young boy would turn into someone he could have such pride in.

"Disappoint me, you will not," said Yoda simply as he jumped down from his seat and hobbled over to the entrance to the hut. "Follow me, young Skywalkers. Time to finish your training, it is."

"Right now?" asked Luke as he rose as far as he could to his full height before he followed the little old Master out of the little house with Anakin close behind him.

"Meditate first, we shall," said Yoda as he pointed his cane over to a small clearing. "Lost enough time talking, we have. Get to work we must."

Both Anakin and Luke shared a look before they both lowered themselves down to the ground, which wasn't all that muddy as they had expected it to be. They both folded their legs into the formal meditative position before they turned their attention back to Yoda, who had made himself comfortable on a nearby log.

"Mentioned disturbing dreams earlier, you did. Allow me access to see, will you?" asked Yoda as he looked down at Anakin.

Anakin nodded, "I will allow you to see everything if you must. I have nothing to hide from you, Master."

"Clear your mind to allow me access, you will? Fight my presence, you will not?" asked Yoda, obviously wishing to respect the young man's privacy.

"I won't," said Anakin as he gave the Master his consent to enter his mind. Although it wasn't against Jedi Principle to enter someone's mind without permission, it was a common courtesy to ask before entering and to only enter if absolutely needed. Anakin had never really felt comfortable with the idea of entering someone's mind without explicit permission and it bothered him to see so many Jedi skirt the line of consent when it came to mind tricks and what not. He had heard the excuse that it was okay because the weak-willed were inferior to them, but he could never bring himself to hold such an abhorrent sentiment. Free will was important to him and he didn't want to take it away from other people like it had been taken away from him as a child.

It was one of the reasons why Anakin never felt comfortable using mind tricks on anybody, no matter how "inferior" the weak minded were viewed as. He would never tell Kenobi, but it had always disturbed Anakin how he was always so willing to use them against people even when the situation did not call for it.

Yoda said nothing as he closed his eyes and reached out to the young Padawan, who easily let him access and showed him the vibrant dreams that had plagued his sleep for the past few weeks. Yoda pursed his lips as he tried to make sense of the incoming visions that were barely comprehensible. Snippets really of a past life that not even Anakin could really understand himself.

Anakin scrunched up his face in concentration as he saw the images flash through his mind once again in disturbing and confusing patterns as he let everything go through the connection that Yoda had initiated. It was obvious that even Yoda was disturbed by what he saw as he struggled to maintain the presence of the bond between the both of their minds.

Anakin could feel sweat drip down his forehead as the cool air of Dagobah suddenly grew hot and he swore that he could feel the embers of the fiery shoreline pecking at his robes. He knew it wasn't real, but he couldn't help but flinch at the imaginary heat nonetheless.

He inhaled deeply as the image of that terrible black mask danced across the reaches of his mind, hot tongues of fire dancing around the sharp black edges before it grew to consume him in a surge of black smoke.

Anakin cried out in pain as he suddenly and without warning severed the connection between him and Yoda and fell back onto his hands in surprise and shock, the panic on his face quite evident as he looked around at his surroundings. That certain image had been a bit too overwhelming for him to stomach, but Yoda had seen everything that he had needed to see. There was no reason to relieve that again.

"Anakin!" said Luke as he grasped Anakin's shoulder tightly. "Are you okay?"

It took the young Padawan a few moments to come back to his senses before he gave the older Jedi a curt but uncertain nod as he brushed off his robes, his countenance still recovering from all that he had been forced to relive.

"Hmm. Disturbing these visions are. Understand your fear, I do," said Yoda solemnly with a far-away look in his eyes.

"You never told me you were having disturbing dreams," said Luke as he looked at Anakin questionably. Anakin could tell that Luke wanted to know why he wouldn't tell him that he was having such disturbing dreams such as these, but Anakin knew the exact answer to that question.

"It's my burden to bear, not yours," said Anakin simply and with no intention to say anything else further.

"But-"began Luke before Anakin stopped him.

"-You didn't need to know. They are not your dreams," said Anakin sternly, his tone silencing the other Jedi effectively. It wasn't his intention to be rude or anything, but to point out the fact that he had the right to privacy. His dreams were personal, and Luke did not need to deal with them like Anakin did.

Luke pursed his lips before he turned his head away from Anakin to stare over at the boggy swamp intently. He said nothing further.

"Your dreams they are but struggle with their meaning you do. Help from your children may be needed in this situation."

"No," said Anakin firmly. "You may be right in those regards Master, but I will not drag Luke and Leia into my personal problems. They have enough to deal with as is and I will not burden them with my problems anymore."

"You're hardly a burden to us, Anakin," said Luke as Yoda nodded in agreement.

"A burden you are not. Wish to help you, Luke and Leia do," said Yoda.

"I know," said Anakin as he shook his head, "it's just- complicated. I'd rather we didn't talk about it for now if you don't mind."

"Respect your privacy young Skywalker, we shall," said Master Yoda simply. "Continue with the lesson, we must."

"What did you have in mind?" asked a curious Luke as he leaned forward in anticipation. Even Anakin really had no idea at that point what the training would include and whether any of them would be prepared for them.

Traditionally, Jedi Trials were done in a set of five different tests that encompassed a multitude of skills and tasks that were meant to challenge the one taking them. They were not easy, and many failed them and thus were unable to progress into Knighthood.

Anakin had never been afraid of them and had looked forward to them eagerly, but times had changed and so had he. The Trials that he prepared his entire life for were not the same ones that he would face tomorrow, and he was no longer eager to become a Knight as he had once been.

For the first time in a long time, Anakin was afraid of his Trials. No one at the Temple had ever had to face a Trial such as this before and his training had not prepared him for this. He felt as though he was not ready for the responsibilities of being a Knight nor was he ready to go through his Trials.

Yoda was adamant that he was ready, but Anakin had his doubts. Was he truly ready to face the darkness inside of him? To face the very darkness that had turned him into the monster that he had sworn to destroy?

The Force churned but gave him no answer.

Chapter Text

They ate their meal in silence and then continued with their training for the rest of the day until the sun began to set over the canopy of trees. It was then that Yoda hobbled into the hut with the purpose of making them dinner, leaving the two Skywalkers outside by themselves in the dimming light.

They had both trained long and hard that day, but mostly it had been Anakin that had participated in the lessons that Yoda had set out for them which ranged from his mental abilities to his physical attributes, that had left him feeling rather tired as he lowered himself down on the log next to Luke with a sigh.

"I can't wait until we get back to the Rebel Fleet," commented Anakin as he swatted a bug off his neck, "what I wouldn't give for a decent shower and a bed right now."

"I just want to get out this muggy heat," said Luke with a grin, "makes me almost wish I was back on Tatooine. At least the heat there was dry and not muggy like it is here."

Anakin snorted, "well at least I'm used to the heat there, but like I said earlier, I think I'd prefer it if we went somewhere a little bit nicer than Tatooine."

"Like- Naboo?" asked Luke softly from he sat as he looked over at Anakin with hope shining in his bright blue eyes. It was so blatantly obvious that Luke wished to know more about her- about Padme, his own mother and Anakin did remember promising upon their arrival to tell him about her, even though there was not much that he knew.

Anakin held his son's gaze for a few moments of silence as the hoot of a Dagobah night owl sounded somewhere over them. He sat up straighter as he pulled his robe closer to him before he turned his entire body over to face Luke, but something else caught his attention instead.

Luke's right hand seemed to be twitching- oddly. Almost as if it were mechanical instead of flesh and it made Anakin perk up at the realization that Luke's entire hand seemed to be a prosthesis, the twitching far too unnatural and robotic to be biological.

"Your hand," began Anakin slowly as he reached out and grabbed the older Jedi's hand so as to inspect it, "it's a prosthetic."

"Oh, that?" said Luke as he looked down to see his twitching hand, which had previously gone unnoticed by him, "yeah, it's mechanical. Must be a glitch somewhere in the gears from the looks of it. Probably did something to it during our duel earlier."

Anakin said nothing as he felt around the synthetic skin until he found the fold and peeled it back so he could take a look at the wiring underneath. Prosthetic limbs had always fascinated him and he couldn't deny that he held a morbid curiosity as to the mechanics of the hand, but something told him he didn't want to ask how Luke had lost his hand.

"I lost it in a duel," said Luke slowly and hesitantly as Anakin turned his arm around.

"With Vader?" asked Anakin softly as he looked up into Luke's pained expression. Anakin could feel Luke's sadness and anger rolling off him like waves into the Force as well a distinct sense of betrayal emanating from him.

"Obi-Wan had told me that my father had been murdered by Vader," began Luke, "and so when I confronted Vader on Bespin, I thought I would finally be able to avenge my father's death. But then he cut off my hand and told me the truth and I was devastated. I felt betrayed by everyone and I felt anger at Vader for what he had done to me, what he had taken from me. He offered to let me join him and rule the galaxy with him, but I knew I was better than that."

"You are better than him," said Anakin earnestly, "and you made the right decision that day despite everything."

"I wasn't the only one to lose something that day," said Luke softly as he watched Anakin pull out the hydrospanner out of his bag. "We all lost something to Vader that day and I can't help but regret that we were not able to do anything more."

"You're talking about Han, right?" asked Anakin as he began to work on repairing his son's hand.

Luke nodded grimly, "he's out there frozen in carbonite because of us and there's nothing we can do at the moment to help him. It's been months and I don't know how much longer we can go without him."

"Well, look on the bright side, he won't die in carbonite," muttered Anakin as he prodded at the synthetic nerves, "you just have to find him and then rescue him."

"If only it were that easy," mumbled Luke as he watched his hand twitch.

"I'm sure you guys will figure something out," said Anakin, "you haven't lost him yet, Luke. Have hope."

"Do you have hope?" asked Luke softly as he held Anakin's gaze, "that you'll be able to prevent all of this? To go back and save your mother and Padme?"

"I have to," said Anakin truthfully, "if I don't have hope, then what else do I have? Without it, I have no purpose and I have no direction. I have to have hope that I can save them because there is just simply no other alternative, Luke."

"You are determined," commented Luke, "I can tell you love them deeply and I can see why."

"This isn't just about them, Luke. This is about you and Leia as well," said Anakin as he pursed his lips, "and the Order and for Master Kenobi and for the Republic. I have nothing to gain at this point and everything to lose, which is why I must prevent all of this from happening or die trying."

Neither of them said anything for a few heavy minutes as Anakin worked away at Luke's hand and Luke sat in deep thought as he watched Anakin. Neither of them was sure what could or what should be said at the moment, but they could feel it in each other through their bond.

"She was a Queen," said Anakin as he broke the silence between the two of them, "elected at the age of fourteen to serve as the leader of the sovereign state of Naboo. She was so young, but also very intelligent and brave. To nine year old me, she seemed so much older than fourteen and much wiser."

"She sounds wise," mused Luke as he tried his hardest to envision the woman that Anakin was trying to describe to him. All he had to go on at that point were a few grainy blue images and what others had to say about her, and while it did give him an outline of the woman his mother had been, he still longed for more.

And he knew that Anakin could not give him what he truly wanted.

"Just a few months before I came here, she was elected to the Galactic Senate to represent Naboo, as per the request of the new Queen. I had hoped that with her having more of a presence on Coruscant that we would be able to see each other, but now I guess I know it won't happen for a few more years my time."

"Well I'd imagine that the both of you are busy with your own respective duties and activities," commented Luke as Anakin began to replace the synthetic skin, "besides, at least now you know you will for sure see her, amongst other things that two of you will do together."

Luke grinned up at Anakin as he waggled his eyebrows, which only served to make the young Padawan flush red as he made sure to give the nerves in Luke's synthetic skin a quick pinch.

"Ow!" said Luke as he pulled his hand over to his chest melodramatically as Anakin rolled his eyes.

"You're incorrigible," he murmured under his breath as he tossed his tools back into his rucksack.

"Must run in the family," said Luke with a cheeky smile to which Anakin only shook his head.

"I'd be careful if I were you, Luke," said Anakin as he waggled a finger in the older man's face, "don't forget who's going to have a say in what your future name will be, son."

Luke only laughed for a few moments before he noticed the stony expression on Anakin's face.

"Wait- you're not serious, are you?" asked Luke, suddenly very worried about what his name could become if it were to be changed.

Anakin grinned, "just yanking your chain. Besides, I think Luke's a good name. Leia too."

"Well that's a relief," said Luke, "I'd hate to see you off to your own time and wake up the next morning with a name like Humphrey or Mervin."

Anakin sniggered, "I'll make sure to add them to the list."

Luke punched Anakin's arm playfully before he held out his hand and inspected it, pleased to find that the mechanical tremor had disappeared.

Anakin grinned, "you're welcome."

Luke smiled before he let his arm drop back down to his side, eager to continue the discussion about his mother.

"So you guys met on Tatooine while you were still a slave? What was she doing on Tatooine exactly?"

"She came there with Obi-Wan and his Master. They were trying to find more parts for their ship when they came into Watto's shop. They were there because she was forced to flee Naboo due to an illegal blockade put in place by the Trade Federation."

"Wait, I've heard about this before," said Luke as he tried to recall all that Artoo had told them, "the leader of the Trade Federation, Nute something tried to have her assassinated later?"

Anakin nodded, "from what I've heard, yes."

"And it was while they were there that you won the Boonta Eve Classic and won your freedom? That's how you got to Naboo?"

"I also managed to get them the parts they needed for their ship," said Anakin, "my freedom was another bargain Master Jinn made."

"But why did Master Jinn want to free you? I'm just curious why you and not your mother as well," asked Luke.

"My mother wasn't a Force-sensitive like I am," began Anakin, "Master Jinn tested my midichlorians and determined me too powerful to be left untrained. And he could only bargain for one of us."

"And so they took you and left her behind," pondered Luke, "that seems so unfair to me."

"It was," said Anakin as he shook his head, "and no one bothered to do anything about it. When I arrived at the Temple, they told me to forget about her. But how could I?"

"I'm sorry, Anakin. I know what it's like not having a mother and being left to wonder," he mused. "My Aunt and Uncle never bothered to tell me anything about her other than the fact that she wasn't from Tatooine. When I was a kid I used to make up stories about her and the different scenarios for why she left."

"Like what?" asked Anakin.

"That she was a spy for the Rebellion or a Princess from a far-off planet and that she had to leave me with the Lars for my own safety. Now I see I wasn't all that far off," said Luke sadly as he looked down at his lap.

"I'm sorry you never knew her," said Anakin, his voice soft and remorseful as he took in Luke's sadness.

"I used to make up stories about you too," said Luke suddenly, a sad smile on his face as he looked over at Anakin.

"Really? Please, indulge me."

"Well, Uncle Owen always told me you were the captain of a spice freighter-"

"-A spice freighter?" interrupted an incredulous Anakin, "force, what other lies did they tell you about me?"

Luke laughed, "that was the only thing they told me, well- other than the slave part. But anyway, they told me you were the captain of a spice freighter and I thought that was too boring to tell anyone, so I told people you were a Bounty Hunter- and a smuggler and that it was too dangerous for you to return to Tatooine because the Hutts wanted you dead. And that's why you never around when I was a kid."

"Force, you told your friends I was a criminal?"

Luke shrugged, "at least the other kids thought that I was cool. Better than telling them my dad was the captain of a spice freighter. Besides, it was Tatooine. Most kids dads were either slaves or criminals. You know how it is."

"Unfortunately, I do," muttered Anakin under his breath. There were many children on Tatooine who never knew much about their fathers due to the fact that many of them were the children of slaves or criminals. Anakin had known many families that had been separated as well as children whose parents were nothing more than thieves and murderers.

And so he couldn't blame Luke for coming up with stories, heck even Anakin had done that as a child. It just saddened him that Luke had to resort to making up stories because he never knew the truth about them.

He couldn't help but wonder if Leia had come up with stories about her birth parents, but something told him it was not something she indulged in. Afterall, she did have two loving and kind parents who raised her as if she were their own, so why make up stories when her parents were already royalty?

"Hey, I don't mind that you made up stories. It's Owen and Beru's fault for not telling you the truth and leaving you to wonder. I probably would've done the same if I were you."

"Ben knew too, but he never bothered to tell me either," commented Luke bitterly, "and then he lied to me and tried to get me to kill Vader."

"I mean, he could've done better than that," commented Anakin idly, "we all kriff up sometimes, him especially. And trust me I know, after all, I lived with him for eight years."

"And yet you still love him like a brother," stated Luke, almost critically.

"I wasn't there, so I can't judge his actions or what he tried to do. People make mistakes sometimes and it's not worth it to hate them because of it. I'm sure Obi-Wan has learned his lesson since then."

Luke said nothing as he stared up at the stars, his mind a million miles away as he thought about Anakin's words. Neither of them said anything for a few moments before Yoda hobbled out of the hut to declare that dinner was ready. And by the time they had eaten, they were far too tired to continue their earlier discussion and instead they both chose to prepare for the next morning.

And that night, they both dreamed. But for once, Anakin dreamed of happier times while Luke dreamed of a broken-hearted man, ravaged by the loss and betrayal of a brother and a life condemned by two suns and the scorching sand.

###

When Anakin awoke the next morning, he could feel the anticipation hanging over him like a heavy cloud as the Force simmered around him, softly but ominously at the same time that made him uncomfortable. It was enough for him to know that something was going to happen, but the Force held onto its secrets and gave him no clue as to what to expect.

He could feel the heaviness in the Force, the warning as well as the foreboding that hung restlessly over all of them, but mostly it seemed to converge around him in an unsettling way. It was like a cold chill that seemed to penetrate his skin to sink into his bones and beyond, and it scared him.

He could tell that he was not the only one to feel the restless tendrils of the Force as Luke also seemed just as disturbed as he was, but neither of them addressed the situation at hand as they both ate their meal in complete silence, not bothering to talk or even look at each other.

Even Master Yoda seemed quieter than usual as he sat watching them, his legs crossed and his cane resting in his lap, a passive yet inquisitive look on his face as he watched them, although Anakin could tell he wasn't really watching him. Yoda was in tune with the Force as he did his best to understand and comprehend the unease and the trepidation that surrounded them like fog.

Anakin barely touched his food and instead chose to push it around his plate before finally setting it down on the table, his appetite all but gone at that point.

"Are you ready?" asked Luke, his quiet voice piercing through the veil of silence that had previously surrounded them.

Anakin thought about it for a few moments before he shook his head, slow at first but gradual, "yeah, I guess we should get this show on the road."

"Much anticipation and restlessness I feel in you, Padawan."

"I feel-" he paused, "I feel as though something isn't quite right, Master. I can't describe it, but something is going to happen. I can feel it."

"I can feel it too, Master Yoda. What does it mean?" asked Luke.

"Hmmm," Yoda leaned on his cane, "shrouded in darkness, everything is."

Darkness was a good way to describe just what it was that hung over them like a cloud, threatening to pour down on them at any second. It wasn't blatantly dark, greyer if anything and subtle in a way that made Anakin uneasy.

Luke sensed his unease, "do you have any clue what Anakin will see in there?"

Yoda shook his head, "a mystery that remains. Affects us differently the Dark Side does. Feeds of your fears and your desires, the Dark Side does and tries to manipulate you with them. Know what Anakin will find there, I do not know."

"Well that makes me feel better," mumbled Anakin.

"When I was in the Dark Side Cave, I found Vader in there," said Luke softly as he caught hold of Anakin's icy blue eyes, "but it wasn't really Vader, it was me."

"Did you fear that you would become like Vader?" asked Anakin as held onto his son's gaze.

"Took Vader into that cave, Luke did, and feed off his fears it did," said Yoda, "only what you take with you can be used against you."

"That was before I went to face Vader on Bespin, where he told me the truth. I guess that was the Force's way of warning me that Vader was a part of me and vice versa," said Luke thoughtfully, "I just didn't know what it really meant at the time."

Anakin said nothing for a few moments before he finally looked up at Luke with questioning eyes, "d-do you think that- that I'll see Vader in there?"

"You might," said Luke honestly, "I really have no idea what you'll find in there. It could be Vader or someone else that has haunted you, no one can say for sure."

"But ready you are," supplied Yoda as he placed a comforting hand on Anakin's shoulder, "have fear you should not. Overcome your Trials, you will."

Anakin nodded as he stared at the little green hand that rested on his shoulders before he looked back up at Luke, "there's no going back now. I'm ready."

Luke smiled encouragingly, and it was about the only thing that he could do for the younger man at that point. Anakin was nervous, but that was to be expected, but he was determined and that trumped everything else.

Anakin rose to his feet and turned his gaze over to the entrance of the cave, which did not seem as scary or as ominous as it felt through the Force. He could feel the darkness emitting from it like a beacon and he couldn't help but feel strangely drawn to it, like a moth to a lamp.

The darkness scared him and yet it was alluring at the same time. Enticing and captivating in a way that made Anakin almost lose his sense of morality, but he knew that it was only the side effects of being so close to the Dark Side.

The Dark Side always had something to offer and it was up him to resist the temptation.

"Wait," Luke said as he too rose to his feet, "won't he need his lightsaber?"

He motioned to the cylindrical weapon that sat on the log where Anakin had laid it down earlier before their meal.

"Need it, he will not," said Yoda with a wave of his hand.

"But he should have it with him," urged Luke as Anakin looked between the two of them, "you said it yourself, he doesn't know what to expect in there. He should take it with him just in case."

"Only what you take with you the Cave is," said Yoda, "bring your weapons, bring your violence, shape your experience it will. No, best to leave them behind it is."

Anakin hated to admit that Yoda was probably right on that one. If the cave was what you brought with you, then maybe it wasn't the best to bring weapons with you because of the violence that they represented.

The Force whispered to him and Anakin listened as he shook his head, "I don't think I'll be needing my lightsaber. I can feel that whatever is waiting for me in there cannot be touched by any physical means."

"It's your choice," said Luke uneasily and in obvious disagreement, "but for your sake, I hope you're right."

"Me too," said Anakin with fear lacing his tone as he slowly began to make his over to the entrance before pausing to turn back to face both Luke and Yoda.

"I-I can't actually be killed by anything in there, right?" Perhaps it was a question he should've asked before ditching his lightsaber.

"Find out you will," said Yoda, "good luck, young Skywalker. Need it you will."

Yoda's answer was not comfortingly in the least and Anakin had a feeling that he was kriffed at that point, but it was too late to turn away as he inhaled and stepped into the darkness and shivered involuntarily, not because it was cold in there but because he could feel himself becoming submerged in something- something dark.

He turned to look but found that the entrance to the cave had seemingly disappeared, leaving him completely in the dark and utterly alone, the sound of his breathing the only sound that could be heard in the enclosed and somewhat airy cave.

He let out a shaky breath as he walked further into the cave, his hands landing on the natural vines and roots that surrounded him and allowed them to guide him deeper and deeper inside. From the outside, the cave had not looked that big but upon walking inside, Anakin realized just how truly large it really was.

He felt as though he could go on forever and forever and get lost inside the cavernous space that seemed endless, and it did seem as though he had been walking for a long time before he finally found himself in a foggy looking clearing that split off into many different paths, all of them shrouded in darkness.

He looked behind him at the path that he had just walked off but found that there was nothing there anymore but a wall of impenetrable roots that seemed to be moving completely on their own, causing him to take a cautious step back.

"What in sith hells," he muttered as he turned around to see that the natural wall of the cave was indeed moving and changing, splitting and diverging and creating new and ominous openings and pathways. He could hear whispers emanating from every opening, softly at first but then growing louder and louder with every second.

Anakin closed his eyes as he tried to drown it all out, but it was seemingly impossible. The whispers were a part of the Force and Anakin had never been able to quiet the Force in his entire life. He wasn't like the other Jedi who were able to just quiet everything out. No, the Force for him had always been louder, more constant, and more maddening.

"No, no," he muttered as he placed his hands over his ears in hopes that maybe it would help muddle all that the whispers had to say.

No such luck.

He went to take a step back but his foot caught on one of the large roots that jutted out of the Earth and fell back onto the dewy Earth that moved beneath him like snakes as the roots came up and wrapped themselves around him, trapping him there as he strained against the natural restraints.

For a brief moment, he remembered being strapped down to a table as his body was chipped away at and replaced until he was nothing more than a mechanical monstrosity, an abomination of flesh and machine all intertwined until it was all one.

"No!" he cried out as he kicked his feet at the moving roots before they too were restrained, rendering him completely immobile. Panic surged through him as he shut his eyes as tightly as he could, his breath catching in his throat as he tried to inhale through the anxiety that gripped his chest in a tight vice.

He felt like a slave back on Tatooine with binders on his hands and a collar around his neck shackled to a wall in Gardulla's palace along with all the other slaves, all of them tightly packed in with barely any room to move or breathe and the stench of filth surrounding them. And laying there on the floor brought back the brunt of all those unpleasant memories that he had tried so hard to forget over the years.

He struggled for a few more seconds before the horrible sound of mechanical breathing filled the cavern around him and chilling him to the bone. He froze as he listened to the sound of the ominous breathing grow closer and closer to him with every passing second until it was all that he could hear.

He raised his head to stare at the fog that rolled slowly toward him and over him until all he could see were the dense white wisps that poured out of the opening in the mossy green wall of the cave

He could only watch in terror as a large black shape started to make its way out of the opening and toward him. Anakin shut his eyes as the sound of footsteps grew closer and closer until he could feel the- the thing right in front of him, stooping down so they could reach out their hand.

He tried to shy away from the hand that he knew would be mechanical to the touch, and so it surprised him when he found that the hand that came to rest on his cheek was most definitely flesh, skin, and sinew just as his own hands were. Not the mechanical touch of Vader, but the touch of someone human.

"Ani? Ani, is that you?"

Was that-?

"Mom?" he asked as he opened his eyes and looked around for his mother only to find that the woman in front of him was not his mother. No, this woman who vaguely resembled Shmi Skywalker was far too- grotesque to ever be her.

He couldn't help but draw in a sharp breath at the sight of her, which was sickening just to look at. Her skin was shriveled and cracked to the point where he could see bloody scabs marking her once beautiful face. Her hair was tangled and matted and her eyes-

Her eyes were yellow and sunken to the point where her cheekbones jutted out in a way that made her look starved and emaciated.

She resembled a dry husk rather than the kind and beautiful woman his mother had been-

No, whatever this thing was, it wasn't his mother. His mother was dead in this time and the mother he left behind was still waiting for him on Tatooine. This was nothing more than his imagination, or at least that's what he told himself.

He shuddered as he felt her hand caress the skin on his face before he looked up into her lifeless yellow eyes that seemed to glow in the darkness as she peered down at him, a sickly smile on her horribly chapped lips as she pushed his Padawan braid over his shoulder.

"What's wrong, Ani? Aren't you happy to see me?" she asked insipidly.

Anakin shook his head, "you're not my mother."

"Of course I am," she as her face began to twist in something that made Anakin squirm, "don't you recognize me? Don't you recognize what you've done to me?"

She gestured down to her emaciated form while Anakin looked away, not wishing to see the rest of her in fear of what he would find if he did.

"Look at me, Anakin," she said as she grabbed his chin and forced him to look up at her, forcing him to clench his eyes shut.

"No," he begged as he felt his eyes begin to sting.

"I said look at me!" she commanded, her breath warm with the smell of decay, "look at what you've done to me!"

"I didn't do that to you," whispered Anakin as he looked down at her bloodied and ripped clothing that hung off her form, "that was the Tusken Raiders. They did that to you, not me."

"Because you let them!" she wailed, "you did nothing to stop them! You let them murder me!"

"No!" yelled Anakin, "I tried to save you! I tried- I tried, but I couldn't."

He choked on his tears, "I'm sorry. I'm so so sorry."

"No you're not!" she accused, "you knew that I was in danger and yet you did not try to save me while I still had a chance! You wanted me to die!"

He said nothing as he turned his head away from her as tears poured down his cheeks. He didn't want to look at her, he didn't even want to acknowledge her. He just wanted her to go away and leave him alone.

He thought that he had come to terms with what had happened to his mother in this time, but seeing her like this, hearing her accuse him like that-

He felt like he was drowning, unable to tell up from down in all the confusion and the onslaught of guilt and regret that coursed through him like a raging river. He could see his mother lying there in his arms as she took her last breath, her frail and worn out body as light as a feather in his arms.

"And it's not just me you've failed!" screamed his mother, "you let Padme die! It's all your fault that she died and you know it!"

A sob escaped him as he saw her lying there on that table in pain as she cried out for him, pain etched on her face as she begged him to come back.

"Everyone you care about ends up getting hurt by you at some point, don't they? Obi-Wan, Leia, Luke-"

An image of Obi-Wan being cut into by a red lightsaber followed closely by the image of Leia screaming out in pain as a black shadow loomed over her before he saw Alderaan being obliterated into nothing more than bits and pieces left to float in space. Then there was Luke, injured and defeated as he clung to the side of a metal pole with only one hand, the other nothing more than a burnt stump that had been cauterized by a lightsaber.

The words, "No, I am your father," followed and Anakin couldn't help but cringe as he heard Luke cry out in pain and betrayal before he jumped down into the abyss below.

And at that moment, Anakin could feel all their pain and suffering as if it were his own and he thought that perhaps, this would be the end of it all. He could barely hold onto his sanity at that point as he listened to his mother scream in his face, accusing him of only bringing pain and suffering to their family.

She blamed him for ruining their family and told him how much they all hated him because of it. She told him how worthless he was and how she wished he had never been born and how he didn't deserve to be anything more than a slave and it stung. Her words were like the sting of a whip across his back, flaying him open until all that was left was sinew and mangled skin.

And that's exactly how he felt.

Open. Flayed. Raw.

"You chose power over your own family and where did it get you?" she sneered, "burnt and limbless and unable to even breathe on your own. Is that what you wanted? To live out every day in pain, to be weak and dependent on someone else? To have your entire family gone and knowing that's it's your fault what happened to them? Is that what you wanted?"

He said nothing.

"Or did you just want to enslave everyone like you yourself had been enslaved? Did you want them to experience what it was like having their rights taken away like you did? Is that why you turned around and helped enslave the galaxy after everything you had gone through?"

Hypocrite! Hypocrite! Hypocrite!- The Force chanted over and over as it whispered in his ear, unceasing and constant.

No, he would never wish that upon anyone, not even his greatest enemy. Or- did he?

Hypocrite, the Force whispered again into his ear, you wanted them to suffer. You wanted them to be slaves…

"And so the oppressed soon becomes the oppressor," she taunted as she brushed a stray hair out of his face, "maybe you should've never been granted your freedom. Maybe you should've stayed on Tatooine like all the other slaves. Who knows what would've happened to you, but at least the galaxy would've been better off."

Had he stayed on Tatooine? He would probably be dead by then, or worse- his mind traveled to all the other slaves that had been forced to engage- in other activities. Men, women, and children alike coerced into-

He felt sick just at the thought.

He could feel a tingling at the back of his mind, a gentle touch that was not intrusive or vicious as it brushed against his consciousness ever so slightly.

Luke-?

He grabbed onto that gentle wisp and held onto it as tight as he could, like a man trying not be swept away by the current.

Don't let it the darkness win, Anakin. Find the strength to fight it.

Anakin wanted to say something more, but when he reached back Luke was already gone. He had already broken the rules by interfering and helping him, but Anakin couldn't help the surge of newfound strength and energy that surged through him at Luke's words.

He hadn't come all this way just to be defeated by words. He was Anakin Skywalker. He was a Jedi Knight.

"You were never meant to be anything but a slave," she spat, "pathetic and worthless. Nothing more than property- "

He snapped.

The grotesque and emaciated form of his mother flew back and into the wall with such force Anakin thought she might shatter into little pieces, but it seemed as though she was stronger than he had originally thought as she pushed herself up off the ground weakly.

It was then that her whole demeanor changed. No longer was she the nasty and malicious person she had been only a few seconds prior, but now she looked weak as she looked over at him with pleading eyes.

But Anakin was not buying it.

"No," she shook her head vehemently, "no, that's impossible- you're not supposed to-"

"Not supposed to fight back?" he asked as the vines and roots began to shrivel and weaken until he was able to break free from them, "I'm not as weak as you think nor am I a slave. My name is Anakin, and I will never be a slave again. Not to you or anyone else."

He was surprisingly calm, but the anger was nonetheless there just below the surface.

"And what happened to you and Padme is not my fault," he said as he tugged off the last of the roots, his icy blue eyes boring into her yellow ones. "Nor am I responsible for what Vader did to Luke or Leia."

He stood up and made his way over to her as she tried to scoot away from him in terror, but Anakin had no intention of hurting her as he bent down to her level and stared at her hollowed yellow eyes.

He reached out and gently stroked her matted hair, "you're not my mother. You never were."

"I am only what you make me," she said, her tone much softer than it was before.

It was true. His mother had always been at the back of his mind along with the guilt and remorse that he supposed never really went away, even though he tried to push it back. Now thinking back on it, Anakin wasn't surprised that the Cave had used her to try and manipulate him.

"I know," he said as he stood up and inhaled deeply, "but I never did any of those things and I never will."

"You could have power," she begged as she grabbed a hold of his hands, "you could have knowledge beyond your imagination- just like Plagueis the Wise who could manipulate life itself. You could have the power to give life. What is purer than that?"

"Life is sacred, but not mine to give- or take," he said softly, "which is why I will never choose your path."

The Force rippled- shuddered as the light rose to meet the darkness and overpower it. The whispers faded away gradually until there was nothing but peace- serenity.

"You could've had knowledge and power," she whispered, "but now you'll never know what you could've had."

"Knowledge and wisdom are two very different things," he said, "and at what cost does that power come with? If it's what I've seen, then no thank you. It's not worth it at the price you're selling it for."

"This isn't finished, Chosen One," she said as her form started to evaporate into dark tendrils, "we'll meet again, one day. And you won't refuse us then."

"We'll see about that," he said as he watched the dark tendrils of fog disappear back into the cave along with the darkness that had once permeated the cave. Light poured into the clearing as the path back to the entrance was illuminated.

Anakin sighed in relief, glad that the whole ordeal was now finished and that he had- somehow, managed to make it out unscathed. He had faced his Trials and had probably soiled his pants in the process, but at least he made it. He wasn't sure how he was supposed to be feeling right then and there. Most of the people he knew were always excited to have passed their Trials, but then again none of them had had to face what he had just faced.

He wasn't really all that excited, just tired and in desperate need of a nap and some food.

He cringed as he stepped out of the Cave, the sunlight a little too bright for his eyes as he shielded the sun with his hand.

"Anakin!" yelled Luke as he ran up to him and grasped his shoulder, "are you alright?"

For just a moment, Anakin couldn't help but flinch involuntarily at the touch, but he then he found himself easing into the feeling as he exhaled deeply and pursed his lips.

"I'm fine," he said as he stared at Luke for a few moments, his eyes traveling down to his right hand which he knew to be mechanical. For some reason, Anakin couldn't help but imagine the blackened stump that he had seen back in the Cave. He stared at it for a few silent moments before he looked back up into Luke's brilliantly confused eyes before he found himself wrapping his arms around the older- no younger man.

"I'm sorry for what Vader did to you," he whispered into Luke's ear before he pulled away from him.

"What did you see in there?" asked Luke, his voice soft and full of concern.

Anakin shook his head, "I'll tell you later. Right now, I just need something to eat and then we can head back to the Fleet. I'm tired and I'm ready to be off this planet, no offense Master Yoda," he said as he addressed the little green Master, who had been watching them silently from his log.

Yoda chuckled, "none taken, Jedi Knight Skywalker."

"Never been called that before," commented Anakin with a small grin that didn't quite reach his eyes.

"Well, you should probably get used to it," said Luke as a huge grin spread across his features.

"Wait-" said Anakin as a new thought crossed his mind, "what happens when I go back? I'm still a Padawan in my own time."

"Much there will be to explain once you return, not just your Knighthood," said Yoda as he jumped down from the log, "make them understand you will have to."

"What about-?" he asked as he grabbed his Padawan braid in obvious questioning. It didn't feel quite right for him to take it off seeing as Master Kenobi was not here, not his Master Kenobi. But then again there was no longer any need for him to keep wearing it.

Yoda sensed his conflict, "no need there is to wear it anymore, Knight Skywalker. A Padawan you are no more."

"If it's any consolation, you have my permission to take it off," came Obi-Wan's voice as his blue form materialized in front of them, a smile plastered on his face.

Anakin stared down at it for a few more seconds before he nodded and allowed Yoda to ignite his lightsaber and take it clean off his head in such a delicate manner that Anakin hardly felt it as he clutched the now detached braid that had been with him since he was nine.

It felt weird not feeling it sway whenever he moved his head, although it had weighed barely anything it was still a foreign feeling.

"Thank you, Masters," he said as he addressed them both before he gave Luke a small smile, "but if neither of you guys mind, I think it's about time Luke and I got back to the Fleet. I wouldn't want Leia to start worrying."

"I'll go prepare the ships," said Luke as he began to make his way over to the hut to grab their things, leaving Anakin, Yoda, and Kenobi alone. The smile disappeared off of Anakin's face as he turned to face the two Masters.

"Anakin, what did you see in there?" asked Obi-Wan as he began to stroke his beard.

"I saw my mother, but it wasn't really her," said Anakin, "it was only a dark manifestation of her."

"Offer you something, she did?" asked Yoda thoughtfully.

"She blamed me for her death and for what happened to you and Padme and the twins. She said I wanted to hurt them and that I wanted her to die," he said as he shrugged himself down on the log. "She said that I was worthless and that I would always be a slave. She then offered me knowledge and power and-" he paused, uncertain.

"Offered you what, young Skywalker?" asked Yoda, his eyes trained on him.

"She offered me the ability to give life, like- Darth Plagueis," he whispered as he looked up at them questioningly.

"Hmm, a Sith tale that is, a very dark one. Said to be able to manipulate midichlorians, Darth Plagueis was. Create life itself, he could."

"That's- that's beyond unnatural," said an appalled Anakin, "only the Force can do that. Right?"

Both Obi-Wan and Yoda shared a look that made Anakin uneasy, a knot formed in his stomach as the Force rippled gently- so gently that he was certain only he could feel it.

"What did you say?" asked Kenobi, obviously trying to divert the question.

"I told her that it wasn't my job to give life and that it never would be," he said simply, "and I told her that I would never choose the path she wanted me to. I'm not going to make the same mistakes as Vader did and I will never be a slave to my choices like him."

"Resisted the Dark Side you have," said Yoda, "ready to face Vader you are."

Anakin shook his head, "maybe. I don't know, Master. I just have this feeling that it's not going to be that simple. Something else is going to happen soon, I can feel it."

"Like what?" asked Kenobi, obviously interested in just what Anakin was thinking.

"I don't know," he said with uncertainty, "I think that's why I'm so anxious to return to the Fleet. I can feel that something big is going to happen, and soon."

"Trust your instincts you should. Share this with Luke and return to Leia you must," said Yoda earnestly.

"I agree," stated Kenobi, "if the Force is trying to warn you, you must listen to what it has to say."

Anakin nodded, "but what about you, Master Yoda? Will you be returning to the Fleet with us?"

Anakin could tell that Yoda was not going to last much longer and he could feel his life force starting to diminish. It was so blatantly obvious that Master Yoda did not have long to live at that point and his days were numbered, and it made Anakin wonder what Yoda was going to do in these last few days of his life.

At most, Yoda only had weeks and surely he did not want to spend them here in isolation.

"Stay here, I will," said Yoda as he solemnly closed his eyes, "spend my last days here, I shall."

"Are you sure? You could come with us," offered Anakin, "that you won't be alone."

Yoda merely chuckled, "a caring person you are, but no. I will not be alone here," he said as he looked up at Obi-Wan and smiled.

"I've been keeping Master Yoda company here for the past few years," said Kenobi with a nod, "and sometimes Qui-Gon will even pop in for a visit."

"Master Jinn?" asked Anakin in shock, "he still hangs around?"

"Occasionally," quipped Obi-Wan, "but he mostly likes to keep on the down low."

"Huh," said Anakin with a grin, "what do you guys do for fun? Play bingo?"

Obi-Wan rolled his eyes while Yoda chuckled. Obi-Wan looked ready to make a comeback when they were interrupted by Luke.

"The ships are ready to go whenever you are," he said to Anakin before he bid the other two Master's farewell. He then tossed Anakin his orange jumpsuit before he climbed into the cockpit to make a survey of his instruments.

Anakin waved at Luke to continue before he turned around to face the two elders.

"There's something I need to tell you guys before we leave."

"What is it?" asked Kenobi.

"Back in the cave when I was talking to the darkness, it told me something and I'm not quite sure what it means."

"Say something it did? Tell us," said Yoda.

"It said that we would meet again and that I wouldn't refuse them again," he said, his voice low and uneasy, "just what is that supposed to mean?"

"Disturbing, this is," commented Yoda, "certain you are of this?"

Anakin nodded, "that's what it told me."

"Interesting," said Kenobi as he stroked his beard thoughtfully, "perhaps we should meditate on the meaning of this, as should you Anakin. There's no telling just what your vision meant by this and we should be prepared for anything the Dark Side has in store for you."

Anakin nodded, but the uncertainty remained, "I will do so. Thank you, Masters. May the Force be with you."

"And with you, young Skywalker. Until we meet again," said Yoda as he bowed his head.

Anakin held their gazes for a few moments before he bowed in farewell and walked away, unsure of what the future held for him or the twins at that point.

Until we meet again- Chosen One.

Chapter Text

Darth Vader skimmed through the data-file in his hand through the red tint of his visor as he stood in front of the large window that overlooked the overcrowded and bustling city below. He took his time as he read through the report, his back turned away from the complacent looking Lieutenant that was seated at his desk with his naval cap placed neatly on the desk in front of him.

Vader could feel his ease from where he stood overlooking the bustling and overcrowded city below, but said nothing as he turned around to face the young and noticeably ambitious young man who was charismatically different from most other men that Vader had worked with in the past.

He looked at Vader expectantly as his blue eyes drifted down to the report in his gloved hand before looking up at the Sith, who merely tossed the pad down onto his desk.

"And you're certain that this information is reliable?" he asked slowly as he watched the red-headed man straighten out his posture.

"Milord, I can promise you that my sources are completely reliable and honest," began the Lieutenant as he handed his empty glass over to one of the droids, "I would not have presented it to you if it were not so."

"And your informant remains completely undetected?"

"The Rebel Alliance has no knowledge whatsoever that we have spies on the inside," he said earnestly as the droid handed him another glass of water, "my colleagues and I made sure to cover our tracks. Not even the Intelligence Division knows about our activities."

"And what of the Rebel informant?" he asked.

"Lord Vader the Rebel Alliance is hardly what I would call- organized-" began the young Officer as he adjusted his legs, "at least, not what I would call efficient. It's easy for things to fall through the cracks. Rebels go missing all the time or sent away to another cell. It was easy enough getting one of my informants to assume the identity of one of the prisoners we took during a minor- incursion if you will."

He sipped his water.

"I hope you are right, Lt. Albrecht- for your sake," he iterated as he stared down at the round-faced young man who was almost a little bit too ambitious for his own good. If he turned out wrong- if his operation failed then it would be on his head, and neither he nor the Emperor were forgiving or merciful.

"I will not fail the Emperor or you, Lord Vader. I can assure you that everything will go according to plan and the Rebel Alliance will no longer be a menace to the Empire," he said earnestly, "all we have to do is wait till their ships stop to refuel and we'll have them."

"And your informant will notify us when this happens?" he said as he tilted his head, his eyes narrowing as he picked up the datapad and skimmed through the report, most specifically the coordinates that had already been sent over the past few weeks. It was enough to leave them quite a nice trail for them to follow before striking.

Like a predator stalking its prey, he mused as he sat the datapad back down on the table.

"Along with their location," he said proudly, "and seeing as it will take them a good while to refuel all of their ships, well- "

He smiled in delight and satisfaction as he looked up at Vader, his eyes content and his words too boisterous for Vader's taste, but he couldn't deny that the young Officer had done his job exceedingly well. A man that did his job well and asked for nothing in return was a man that Vader could respect.

"You have done well, Lieutenant Albrecht," said Vader as he placed the data-file with the rest of them on his desk, "go back to your duties and await further instructions. Speak of this to no one, do you understand?"

"Understood Milord," said the Lieutenant as he rose to his feet and bowed to the caped Sith before exiting the room, leaving the former Jedi there by himself.

Vader couldn't help the sigh as he turned to face the window again as his hands came to rest on his hips. He had been patient these past few weeks as he had waited for the informant to infiltrate the Alliance's ranks and to become situated before the intel reports had started to slowly trickle in. Then, locating the fleet had become less of an issue and had provided Vader with more time to meditate on both his son's and the mysterious Jedi's whereabouts, but still, he found that most everything was shrouded.

He still did not know that blasted Jedi's identity or where his son was, but he had taken the time to both meditate and reflect and that had given him the boost that he needed, that was until the Emperor had had the nerve to interrupt his work by recalling him to Imperial Center.

However, things were beginning to look up for him and he knew that his Master would be most pleased by the turn of events when he presented the data to him. Soon, the Rebel Fleet would be destroyed, and he would have his son and the Jedi within his grasp where they would be unable to escape. The Jedi would be taken care of properly and his son would take his rightful place by his side, as it was always meant to be.

All he needed to proceed was the location of the fleet, but he knew that that information would soon make its way to him. All he needed to do in the meantime was have patience.

Vader allowed himself to relax as he stared out at the vast horizon that was slowly starting to turn orange with the setting sun, a sight that he had enjoyed watching as a Padawan in the Temple. Years later, he had enjoyed the scene with Padme out on the veranda as they both watched the sun dip over the horizon and the night set in.

He clenched his fists as he pushed the memory away.

There was no room for such sentiments anymore. Those days were gone, and it did not do him good to dwell on such thoughts, lest he become prey to his own weakness.

Besides, he had more important things to attend to than remembering his past as he made his way out of the depressing office and into the hallway where Vaneè stood waiting.

"See to it that these reports are delivered to Admiral Piett onboard the Executor," he said as he handed his servant the stack of data pads, "Inform him that we shall be departing Imperial Center within the hour to join Admiral Reimer's fleet near Eriadu."

"It will be done, Milord," said his servant, his voice raspy as he accepted the heavy stack without complaint.

"And see to it that my meditation chambers are cleaned and inspected," he said as he felt a twinge spread throughout his lower extremities and a small burning sensation in his lungs. It had been awhile since he had last been in his bacta tank or his meditation chambers and he was starting to feel the consequences not doing so.

"Will you be heading there now, Milord?" asked Vaneè.

Vader wished he could, but he had one more thing he needed to see to before he could take the suit off and meditate and unfortunately, it could not wait.

999

Vader had always disliked the fact that the Emperor had decided to use the old Jedi Temple as his palace on Imperial Center, not because he felt it was disrespectful to the fallen Order but because he could not help the barrage of unwanted memories every time he walked through its halls.

Sometimes he swore he could see the ghosts of those who had been slaughtered within these very halls all those years ago. Sometimes he caught glimpses of the children he had murdered and other times he saw those whom he had been proud to call friend. All of them scared. All of them dead.

And while Palpatine enjoyed basking in the presence of the slain, Vader felt as though the land was cursed. Haunted by the souls of those slaughtered there, their cries for mercy echoing through the Force eternally until it drowned everything else out.

The ground had been salted and nothing good could grow there ever again. Nothing.

Vader reluctantly made his way into the throne room, which just so happened to be the former Jedi Council Chamber, a place that he had frequently visited in his youth. It looked different now, darker and far more ominous to the point where it was almost unrecognizable as the Council Chambers, but still, Vader loathed it.

The Emperor had made himself quite comfortable in the former home of his enemies as he stared down at Vader from his throne with beady yellow eyes that were hardly reminiscent of the kind blue that had often looked down on him with kindness, but that was too long ago to even bother remembering at that point.

"Master," said Vader as he forced himself to kneel despite the wretched pain that coursed through his mangled thighs where the metal melded into his flesh. He bit his lip as he forced himself to stay still and keep his mind clear. He did not want the Emperor to sense his pain.

The Emperor made no motion to allow him to rise as he leaned back in his seat and observed his apprentice closely as if he could sense the apprehension inside of him, but there was only one question that Palpatine had for him.

"Have you found the Jedi responsible for what happened at the Ordun station?" he already knew the answer to that, but he asked anyway.

"Not yet, Master," Vader said as he closed his eyes and concentrated on anything but the pain, "but I am close, very close."

"How close?" asked a curious Palpatine as he leaned forward in his seat.

"I have an informant on the inside. He will deliver the coordinates for the Fleet when they stop to refuel in a couple of days," he panted as cold, sterile air was forced down his mechanical trachea, "and then we shall have both Skywalker and the Jedi."

"A fine accomplishment, wouldn't you say?" asked the Emperor as he leaned forward in his seat, "I must say, Lord Vader, you have outdone yourself once again."

Vader said nothing as he stared up at his Master, the sound of his mechanical breathing the only thing that could be heard save for the busy traffic that flowed outside.

"I would say that this is a time for celebration, but I am afraid that I have just been informed of some rather- terrible news," he said in a rather bored tone as he tapped his fingers against his armrest.

"What news would that be, Master?" he asked, his vision growing whiter by the moment as he did everything within his power to stay upright. He knew that his Master had not simply forgotten to allow him to stand, but that he was making him kneel on purpose just to bring him pain.

It was cruel, but not unusual.

"Dr. Bantu, the Scientist that developed those weapons was on his way to one of our labs on Dantooine to begin his work over when his shuttle crashed. I am told that he, along with all three of his assistants did not survive the- accident, although I think we both know that this was no accident."

It was an assassination. Carried out by the Rebel Alliance to ensure that those weapons would never be recreated or used ever again.

Cowards.

"A most heinous act," mulled Palpatine, "I'm sure the public will be outraged when they learn that the Rebels have killed a group of innocent scientists, especially one so cherished as Dr. Bantu."

"I'm sure the news is already spreading like wildfire," deadpanned Vader.

The Emperor smiled coyly, "the death of a respected member of the Empire will always be news, my dear apprentice, but when it is an assassination carried out by a terrorist organization, well- that will always be front-page news."

"What would you have me do, Master?" asked Vader, curious as to just what the old prune had in mind for him. Even after all these years spent together, Vader still did not understand his Master or his ways.

Palpatine was still as much a mystery to him as he was all those years ago, and no less scheming.

"I am saddened by the news of the permanent loss of those weapons, but I have come to realize that this is an opportunity, not a failure," he jabbed his finger down at Vader as a sly smile crossed his lips.

Vader's stomach churned as the Force rippled.

"I have a new mission for you, Vader."

"I am at your disposal, Master," said Vader, "tell me what to do and it shall be done."

"Find the Jedi responsible for what happened at Ordun and bring him to me- alive."

"Alive?" asked Vader as he looked up at his Master, "I thought you wanted me to deal with him."

"I did, but then I sensed his power," he said with a smile that made Vader shiver, "such immense power that Jedi has, I can feel it in him. It would be such a waste if we allowed such potential to go to waste, now wouldn't it be?"

"You've sensed him as well, Master?" asked Vader.

"I must say that his identity remains a mystery, even to me, but I can tell he is quite powerful in the Force, just like your son," he mused.

"He is not my son nor is he as powerful as Luke is," said Vader, his words like acid as he sensed the disloyalty within his Master, "it is my own opinion that this Jedi is of no worth to us. He is better off dead."

"That may be so, Lord Vader," said the Emperor sternly, "but you cannot deny that he is powerful in the Force. I can sense that there is something about this Jedi, something immense and untamed. I know you can sense it as well. His potential is greater than that of Luke's."

"Potential means nothing if you don't know how to use it," sneered Vader, "you place your trust in this mysterious Jedi, but at what cost? He has been nothing but a menace to the Empire and he must be taken care of as such."

"One might say that about you, Lord Vader," said the Emperor as the Force flared dangerously around Vader, which merely brought a smile to the Emperor's face.

As if Vader needed another reminder at just how expendable he was now that both Luke and the other Jedi were out there.

No one could deny that his Master had set his sights elsewhere and that Vader would eventually be disposed of to make room for a new and shinier model. He wasn't an idiot and he knew exactly where he fit into all of this, which was why Vader had begun to formulate his own plans.

He would show his Master who the expendable one really was.

"I have done everything you have asked of me, Master," seethed Vader.

"And yet I ask this one thing from you and you dare to question me. What have I ever done to earn your disrespect, my apprentice?" he asked.

Everything- thought Vader bitterly as he held his tongue. He could've sworn he could feel a foreign presence pushing down on him and putting more weight on his legs, causing white-hot pain to seer through him.

Apparently, Vader had let that thought slip through their bond.

"It would be wise, my dear apprentice, to remember that I can bring you down as fast I raised you up," he sneered as the pressure pushing down on Vader grew heavier, "so if I were you, I would do everything in my power to please my Master, do you hear?"

"My apologies, my Master. I did not mean to disrespect you or your ways. It will be done accordingly as you have commanded," said Vader, the vocoder masking the agony in his voice.

"That is all I ask, dear friend- " he smiled as he finally beckoned Vader to stand, giving him a reprieve from the unbearable pain. A pleased look on his face as he sensed the hate and fury that rolled off Vader in hot angry waves and into the Force around them.

Vader shakily rose to his feet before nodding to the Emperor before he turned to walk out of the throne room, his eyes trailing over the red-clad guards that stood on either side of the door with their spears in hand as he did everything to keep the tremor in his legs under control. He felt as though his mechanical limbs might buckle and give out under him with how much they were shaking.

"Oh, and Vader- " called out the Emperor, "don't bother contacting me until you have found that Jedi."

Vader narrowed his eyes and clenched his fists, "yes, Master."

And all he could feel at that moment was Palpatine's sickening smile.

999

The muscles in his legs never stopped quivering and the pain didn't show any sign of subsiding as Vader lowered himself into the chair in his hyperbaric chamber with a sigh of relief. His helmet was removed with a slow hiss as the sterile and cold air of the chamber filled his scarred lungs.

It was nice to finally be able to breathe on his own, even if every breath pained him.

Vader let out a heavy sigh as he pinched the bridge of his nose, the sound of his soft and rhythmic breathing the only sound that could be heard in his private quarters along with the slight rumbling of the hyperdrive beneath his mechanical feet. He was just glad to be off that blasted planet that resembled a den of Rhodian Vipers rather than the capital of a great Empire.

He was done playing political games and being scrutinized by a Master that couldn't wait to get rid of him so that he could have a younger, newer apprentice until he eventually wore him out as well. It was a miracle that the Emperor had kept him around as long as he had, especially with his physical state, but even Vader knew that his luck was beginning to wear out. Vader had known for a long time at that point that he was running on borrowed time. Already, his Master's eyes had wandered from him to his son, to that kriffing Jedi from Ben'we who threatened everything Vader had worked for.

Palpatine's interests were always shifting, always changing and growing in ambition unparalleled than what Vader had even thought possible. And now, Vader wasn't sure what exactly he was going to do with the sudden change of plans.

He wanted so desperately to find his son, but he also knew that defying the Emperor at that point in time might not be the wisest thing to do. He wasn't powerful enough to take on the Emperor by himself which why he so desperately needed Luke.

I have no other option but to find him, and soon- thought Vader solemnly. Just a few years prior, Vader had no interest in trying to get rid of his Master much less taking the throne for himself. Before finding out that his child lived, Vader had been on autopilot, doing what his Master told him and enforcing the law with an iron fist. He had accepted that he would never take the place of his Master and that he would eventually be done away with, and he was okay with that. After all, he had nothing else to live for.

But from the moment he heard that pilot's name- his son's name, Vader had had hope for the first time in almost two decades. He knew that this was his chance to get out from under the Emperor's control and finally do away with the man that had lied to him for so many years. And he didn't have to do it alone.

Vader sighed as he leaned back in his chair, relieved that his legs had stopped quivering and that the pain had already started to subside. He reveled in the feeling of his lungs expanding within his chest to accommodate the oxygenated air for a few moments of relative silence before he allowed his consciousness to slip into a meditative state. He felt tired and the constant ache in his body seemed to weigh on him heavily as he closed his eyes to the world and slipped away.

He had no idea how long he sat there, his mind a million kilometers away before the sound of his door chime brought him back to reality. He didn't need to be told who it was to know that it was Admiral Piett who was waiting to be let in with news of the Rebel Fleets position, no doubt.

Vader had no wish to replace his helmet as he swiftly raised a hand and opened the door for the Admiral, not even bothering to look over at him as he looked straight ahead. He didn't feel exposed or vulnerable, he just had no wish to put that blasted helmet back on.

"Admiral," he greeted, his voice much softer than what the other man was used too, "what news do you have?"

"We have received the final coordinates the Rebel Fleets position, Milord," he said briskly as he clasped his hands behind his back, "and we have been informed that they have stopped to refuel and regroup, as was promised."

"How far are we away from their present location?" he asked.

"Approximately three hours. Admiral Reimer and her Fleet are awaiting your orders on how to proceed, Milord," he said.

"Tell her that her orders are to wait until we arrive, then we may proceed with the mission as planned," he said as his helmet lowered back over his head, washing everything out in red again.

"Very well, Milord," said Piett with a slight bow, "is that all?"

"Yes," muttered Vader as he waved his hand dismissively through the air, "you are dismissed."

The Admiral exited the room as Vader rose to his feet and made his way out of his chambers and over to the window where he could quietly observe the blue hyperdrive waves that encased the ship, his mind already fixated on that of his son. He knew that the situation was less than ideal, but he did not want to give up his prerogative of finding his son.

He had promised himself from the moment that Fett had brought him that name that he would find the boy and make him see the power of the Dark Side and that nothing would stop him. And Vader felt as though that promise remained true and unchanging even now.

He may have been ordered to find that pesky Jedi and bring him to the Emperor, but Vader had no intention of giving up his own personal mission.

He would just have to make do finding both of them.

The Force churned and twisted darkly, and Vader reveled in it.

999

The trip back to the Rebel Fleet was shorter than Anakin had remembered, but he supposed he had a lot on his mind as he pulled into the cargo bay and docked his ship before climbing out of the cockpit to greet the maintenance crew. It had felt as though he had been away longer than two days, but really it appeared as though nothing had changed in his absence.

Chewie roared from across the room before he grabbed Anakin in a large hug that made him feel like he was suffocating, but Anakin didn't mind as he too returned the hug with a smile.

"Good to see you too, buddy," he said as the Wookiee placed him back on the ground and turned his attention over to Luke.

"How've things been here without us?" asked Luke as he too returned the hug.

"Actually, quite peaceful," said Lando as he made his way over to them, his hands tucked into his belt as he came to stand next to the giant Wookiee.

Luke snorted, "just cause' the fun ones weren't here, wouldn't you agree, Anakin?"

Anakin smiled, "it's good to see you guys too."

"Oh, I almost forgot. Captain Rex wanted to speak with you, Luke. He said it was urgent," said Lando.

"Right now?" asked Luke as he looked down at his dirty robes is dismay, "can it wait?"

Lando shook his head, "he said as soon as you get back from Dagobah."

"Will Leia be there?" asked Luke as he craned his head to look around the cargo bay as if he was expecting her to come marching over to them.

"Nah, I got no clue where her highness is right now. Sounded like he just wanted to talk to you, Skywalker."

"Well, if it's that urgent," mumbled Luke in annoyance as he ran a hand through his mousy blond hair, "I guess I'll see you later, Anakin?"

"I'm gonna go see if I can find Leia, but I'll see you at dinner," said Anakin with a nod as he watched Luke disappear out of the shuttle bay. He could sense Luke's annoyance at the short notice, no doubt having planned a shower and a nap as soon as they returned.

Anakin couldn't help but feel his stomach twist up as he looked over at the door where Luke had exited as the Force churned around him, as if in warning.

His train of thought was interrupted as Lando started to talk to him, which forced Anakin to turn his attention away from the slight tremors in the Force. And just as soon as he had noticed them, Anakin had already forgotten about them.

"So how was Dagobah? I hear it's nothing more than a smelly ole' swamp and from what Luke's told me, it ain't no place to buy real estate."

Anakin laughed, "no, it's not the best vacation spot in the galaxy, but it was fine. I finished my Jedi training."

"That why you don't got your-?" he motioned towards his neck.

Anakin nodded, "my Padawan braid. They get cut off when we complete our trials. It means I'm a Jedi Knight now if that's what you're wondering."

"Listen, I was only a kid when the Republic fell and the only thing I knew about Jedi's was that they fought in the Clone Wars and had glow sticks. Even now I still don't know that much about you guys other than the fact that you guys are good fighters. But I have to say I have never seen a Jedi with a braid like that, not even Luke wore one."

Anakin shrugged, "it's not something I would say is essential to being a Jedi. It's more tradition than anything at this point."

"From what Luke's told me, the Jedi were steeped in tradition," mused Lando as they began to walk towards the exit.

"The Jedi have always valued tradition. It's ingrained in us from the moment we begin our training and we are taught that we must keep those traditions and pass them on," said Anakin off-handedly, "but tradition doesn't really mean anything when you're just trying to survive."

"Your teacher and Luke's teacher must have been very different people," pondered Lando as he gave Anakin an unreadable look.

Anakin almost feared that he had said too much. He wouldn't be surprised if Lando was starting to piece it all together after everything that Anakin had told him these past few weeks, but the older man simply shrugged it off and gave the youth that bright smile.

"Well, either way, I'm glad you're here, Anakin. We needed another Jedi here and I'm sure Luke appreciates not being the only one now."

Anakin allowed himself to smile, "I'm glad to be here too, Lando. I'd rather be here doing my part then not doing anything at all."

"I wish more people felt like that, kid. Heck, there are even a few people here who are about ready to give up. Nothing about this is easy, you know? I never thought I would find myself here, but times are changing."

Anakin couldn't agree with that statement anymore.

Anakin opened his mouth, ready to say something else when Leia walked into the hangar, her eyes eagerly set on him as she begun to make her way over to them. Anakin had completely forgotten what he was about to say to Lando at that moment and instead chose to politely excuse himself from the older man before he too made his way over to Leia.

"Where's Luke?" she asked as she looked around the hangar for any sign of her brother.

"He went to talk to Captain Rex," said Anakin as he nodded over to the door where Luke had exited a few minutes prior.

"About what?"

Anakin shook his head, "I don't know. He said it was urgent."

Leia nodded, "how was Dagobah?"

"Swampy," said Anakin, "and muggy with lots of bugs."

She laughed, "I meant how was it? Did you finish your training?"

Anakin nodded as he tried to keep the awkward small talk up. Not even a week ago things had not been this awkward between him and Leia, but that was before any of them knew. He supposed that the truth had made things awkward between him and Leia, stilted and a bit too formal for his taste. But he could sense just from looking at her that she felt the same way, and it brought him a little bit of comfort knowing he wasn't the only one.

"It was fine, really. Not really what I expected or what I had prepared for, but I managed," he said truthfully.

"I'm guessing it wasn't what the Jedi trained you for in your own time, was it?" she asked, her perception remarkably astute as she looked him in the eyes.

"Not at all," said Anakin as he shook his head, "things were different back then. I had always been told what to expect when I faced my Trials and what needed to be done to pass them, and I had always just assumed that I would pass them with flying colors. Never in my wildest dreams did I expect to face what I did in that cave."

He felt as though he was rambling, but Leia took it all in stride.

"What did you see?" she asked softly.

Anakin shook his head, "I saw- I saw my mother, but it really wasn't her. Couldn't have been her seeing as she died a long time ago, but I wasn't expecting- "

He trailed off, his words uncertain as he looked down at Leia.

"Your mother," she said in surprise, "Artoo told me what happened to her. Is that what you saw? Her dying?"

Her voice was soft and comforting as she looked up at him, her eyes warm just like his mother's had been. It almost hurt to look at her.

"Did Artoo tell you how she died?" he asked.

She shook her head, "not much, just that Vader had lost his mother and that it had affected him greatly. He said that she died in his arms."

"My mother was taken by Tusken Raiders and tortured," began Anakin solemnly, "from what I've been told, I held her as she died."

"Why would they do that?" she asked, a hint of anger lacing her voice, "why would they do that to her?"

"It's not what they usually do," he said in resentment, "the Tusken Raiders and the moisture farmers on Tatooine have always hated each other. There's just not enough resources or water for everybody so they've been killing each other. Tusken Raiders usually render a prisoner down for the water in their body. Some adult humans yield over twenty liters of water. On Tatooine you need at least two liters of water per day to survive. They held her for a month! I can't explain why they would waste that much water when it's so valuable there."

"That's awful," she said, her hand raised to her mouth in horror before she shook her head, "it sounds like both parties are guilty, but that's no reason to torture and kill an innocent woman. I can't even- "

She shook her head, no doubt already thinking of the implications of what she had just been told.

As much as Anakin hated the Sand People, he could understand their anger, but what they had done to his mother was still unjustifiable. But everybody knew how the natives on Tatooine were treated and he knew that the farmers and the settlers were just as guilty of perpetuating xenophobia and genocide.

Just how many Sand People had died at the hands of greedy moisture farmers? Just how many had been forced off their land and cut off from their water sources?

"A lot of innocent people have gotten caught up in their bloody dispute, my mother included," he said solemnly, "but neither party is without blame."

"I'm sorry, Anakin. I never knew that things on Tatooine were so bad," she said as she looked away, perhaps a little ashamed of the comfort and wealth she had grown up in, "I mean, Luke's told me stories and I know about the lucrative slave trade there, although that doesn't surprise me. Ever since the Emperor came to power, it's as though slavery has been legalized."

"I know… or at least, I've been told about it. What I saw in that cave though was what she must have looked like after they were done." Anakin said heavily.

It was obvious that the thought of both her father and her brother living on such a violent planet was discomforting to Leia, who had grown up a princess on a world where war was nothing more than an abstract concept, that was until she became a Senator and a member of the Rebel Alliance. She had seen her fair share of pain and suffering in the galaxy, and she had experienced more than one should ever have to.

Anakin paused as he suddenly remembered that Leia had been tortured as well before being forced to watch the destruction of her planet. He couldn't help but remember that vision from inside the cave of her crying out in pain as a black shadow loomed over her, trying to force his way inside her mind and pry open her thoughts.

He had never asked her about that, never wanted too. He knew he couldn't stomach it.

Anakin remained silent for a few moments as he lifted his head to look up at the ceiling before he looked down at Leia and inhaled deeply. He looked as though he wanted to say something, but he never got the chance to tell her before he felt a large tremor in the Force that seemed to shake the floor beneath him. It felt as though time itself had slowed down all around him as he stared over at the closed hangar door. He felt a chill run up his spine and his eyes widened before he turned back to Leia, but it was already too late at that point.

The air around them grew heavy and it felt as though all the oxygen had been sucked out of the room before an incredible heat surrounded them. Although Anakin himself had experienced an explosion near the cockpit of his X-Wing, he could say with all honesty that being in such close proximity to one was much, much different.

A blinding white light filled the room as an awful burnt smell filled the air. The sound was so intense, Anakin felt as though his eardrums would explode in his head as he felt a strong heat hit him like a ton of bricks.

And that's when everything went black.

Chapter Text

Luke Skywalker whistled as he strode down the corridor at an easy pace, a slight spring in his step as he greeted his fellow rebels with an easy smile and a glint in his eyes. He was happy to be back and he was happy for Anakin who had managed to complete his Trials without too much difficulty. He had always known that Anakin could hold his own and he was amazed at how much the youth had changed in the past couple of months since arriving, and how quick he was to adapt to his new environment.

He felt as though things were finally starting to get better and ever since he had met the man that would one day become his father, Luke had newfound hope that made all of his problems seem- fixable.

He was also glad that he had been given this chance to get to know the real Anakin Skywalker and not the broken man who was more a slave than anything else. It was refreshing, to say the least, but it also gave Luke hope that his father could be redeemed.

And hope was all that he could have at that point.

Luke rounded the corner to see the Clone Captain talking with a young woman as he escorted her down the hallway, their conversation unheard but obviously work related as he handed her a few stacks of datapads before sending her off, his dark eyes meeting Luke's lighter ones from across the corridor.

"Thank you, Captain. I will make sure that Captain Yolando receives these," she said with a polite smile as she sent Luke a bright smile and a nod.

Luke nodded down at her as she passed him by before turning his attention back to the older man, who had crossed his arms over his chest as he gave Luke a friendly but professional smile.

"Glad to see you back, Skywalker. Things were a bit too boring here without you or your companion," he said as he beckoned Luke to take a walk with him.

"We're more than glad to be back, Rex," said Luke with a chuckle as he kept pace with the Clone.

"How's Master Yoda doing these days? Been a while since I last saw him," he mused.

"About as well as can be expected," said Luke as she shook his head, "I think we both know that his time is almost up."

Rex said nothing for a few moments and it made Luke aware of just how tired the Captain was, not physically but emotionally. Luke knew it was hard to see all of the Jedi he had served with perish one by one until there were almost none left, save for him and Anakin, but even Luke knew that the Anakin that Rex had followed into battle was gone.

They were all gone, and it weighed heavily on Rex.

"So, did he complete his Trials? Is he a Knight now?" asked the Clone as he easily enough changed the subject.

Luke grinned, "you really have to ask that?"

Rex chuckled, "suppose not. I've always had faith in him no matter what the job was."

"I can see why," mused Luke, "he's relentless, isn't he?"

"You have no idea," said Rex with a far-away look in his eyes, "he was one of the most impressive warriors I had ever seen. Rash yet calculated and brave at the same time. It was scary how he could come up with a crazy plan and make it work as if he knew what the outcome would be."

"Always getting himself into trouble I'm guessing," said Luke as they came to stop in front of one of the large glass windows that gave them a clear view of the part of space where they had stopped to refuel. The stars were bright and Luke could see a pinkish orange nebula off in the distant.

It was beautiful to look at and Luke took in the peaceful sight in awe. The immense beauty of the galaxy never ceased to amaze him and he felt as though he could stare out at the stars all day long if allowed.

"So, what did you want to talk with me about exactly? You said it was urgent," asked Luke as he gave the Clone a sideways glance. Something told him Rex didn't call him here just to have a friendly chat about his father, although Rex seemed perfectly happy to relieve his younger days with the famed Jedi General.

No, there was something else troubling the older man.

"I've had this strange feeling these past few days. I can't describe it and I have no idea why I feel this way, but I've just got this feeling in the pit of my stomach that I can't shake."

"What sort of feeling?" asked a curious Luke.

"A bad one," said Rex as he shook his head, "and I know I'm no Jedi, but I've always relied on my intuition and my intuition is telling me that something bad is going to happen. And maybe I'm just going nuts, but something's been off lately, and I know you can sense it as well."

"The Force has been unusually active since Dagobah, but whatever it is the Force has chosen not to reveal it to us. I'm just trusting in the Force right now."

Rex shook his head, "I've got a bad feeling about this."

"Maybe the Force has chosen to reach out to you specifically, Captain," mused Luke, "if so, you should listen to your instincts. They are hardly ever wrong."

"I honestly don't know what to think. I've had a busy week and there's some sort of discrepancy in the outgoing frequencies that I've been trying to track these past few days," he said with a sigh, "maybe I just need to get some rest."

"What sort of discrepancy?" asked a suddenly intrigued Luke.

Rex shrugged, "looks like there may have been some unauthorized communications going out. I've filed a report, but there's not much that can be done at this point and no one seems to think it's a priority," he said he pinched the bridge of his nose. Luke could've sworn he heard Rex mutter something along the lines of incompetent morons under his breath.

"And you can't provide that evidence, can you?" commented Luke.

"I can't even trace it. For all I know, it could just be a malfunction in the system," he exhaled.

Luke shrugged, "it happens sometimes. It isn't like the equipment we have here is exactly top of the line."

Rex snorted, "outdated, really."

Luke opened his mouth to comment further on the rather sad state of their current technology when the Force trembled around them. The Force felt taut, like a band that was threatening to snap at any time. It made Luke shiver involuntarily as he turned his attention away from Rex and over to the large viewport they were standing next to. He allowed his hand to rest upon the cold plexiglass as he stared intently out at the dark expanse of space.

"Luke?" came Rex's voice from beside him, "everything okay?"

"I don't know," he muttered as he tilted his head, his eyebrows scrunched as he stared out at the black void. Something was not right, he could feel it in the pit of his stomach as the Force rippled like a pond. His breath fogged up the glass for a few heavy moments before an Imperial Star Destroyer fell out of hyperspace right before his eyes, the once clear view of space obscured by the large black vessel. It was barely a few seconds that more and more Star Destroyers began to drop out of hyperspace, all of them forming an impenetrable armada around them.

He looked over at Rex, who stared out at the sight with a look that told him that the older man was just as surprised as he was at the sight alone. They shared a look of horror before the ships began their barrage on their ship.

The alarm began to blare as the hallway around them became shrouded in darkness as the ship rocked and trembled from the force of the turbo blasters, forcing Luke and Rex to grab onto the wall to steady themselves.

"We have to get to the hangar!" yelled Luke as he went to take a step but was stopped by a sharp pain that coursed throughout his body. He sucked in a painful breath before he fell to the floor, his breaths nothing more than a painful wheeze as he clutched at the imaginary pain that was not his own.

"Luke!" yelled Rex as he knelt down next to a panting Luke, his eyes scanning the younger man for any injuries but found that there were none, "what's wrong?"

His voice was panicked as he gripped Luke's shoulder tightly and pulled him off to the side to avoid the stampede of Rebels who were frantically trying to get to their battle stations. The ship rocked and shuddered as Luke involuntarily shivered, his eyes somewhat glazed over as he panted for breath.

"Anakin and Leia," he bit out, "they're hurt. I can feel them."

"Hurt? Where are they?" asked Rex as he continued to grip Luke's shoulder.

Luke shook his head as he shivered again. He felt so kriffing cold and he had no idea why.

"Hangar," said Luke, "they got hit."

"But they are alive, right?" asked Rex tersely.

Luke nodded, "I can't sense anything else, but they are alive."

"Well, that's a start," said Rex as he hauled a shaking Luke up to his feet.

Luke exhaled deeply as he stared out the viewport, his eyes scanning each of the ships until his eyes came to rest on one in particular. Visually, Luke was unable to tell one Star Destroyer from the others, but there was no doubting which one this one was.

The Executor. His father's own personal flagship.

There was no doubt that Vader was on that ship and was determined, his presence calm but also vengeful at the same time. He had come for one purpose and one purpose only, and that was Luke.

Luke breathed heavily for a few moments, far too busy trying to reach out to Anakin and Leia to make sure that they were okay. He could feel Anakin's presence flickering slightly as if he were trying to wake up from a deep sleep. Luke reached out to him as he urged the younger man to wake up through their bond. Luke needed him to wake up, it was imperative that he did. He could still feel Leia, but unlike Anakin, she was practically comatose and there was no way that Luke could reach her.

He needed Anakin to wake up and get Leia out of there, or else Luke would need to go down and rescue them and that would just be leading Vader to them. There was no point in trying to hide from his father anymore. He had found him.

"Come on, Anakin," he whispered under his breath as he clenched his mechanical hand.

He wanted to reach out to them further but there was another presence pushing against him, probing and scanning him as it tried to gain access that Luke would not grant.

"Luke, my son. I have found you at last," came Vader's voice through their previously inactive bond.

Luke closed his eyes as he tried to erect mental shields around himself so that Vader could not feel his presence anymore, but Vader was stronger than Luke had anticipated. Luke wondered briefly if there was a small part of him that wanted to talk with his father. It was the only logical reason as to why Vader seemed to have no trouble getting past his mental shields.

"My son, do not try to fight me. You and I both know that it is pointless," came Vader's stern voice through the Force. It did not sound like his usual baritone one, softer and more human but still stern and thick, commanding and authoritarian. "I know where you are, and I will find you. Do not resist me."

"No," said Luke sternly, "I won't stop resisting you. When are you going to learn that?"

Vader remained silent for a few moments, "you're scared. What are you hiding from me, son?"

"Nothing that concerns you, father."

"Look around you, Luke. There is no way you or your Rebel friends can save yourselves now. You are surrounded. Whatever you are hiding, I will find. There is nothing you can hide from me, my son."

"What do you want? Our surrender? You know that we will never capitulate to you or your Emperor," said Luke heatedly through their bond.

"The surrender of the Rebel's is not what is at stake here, son. I do not seek their surrender, only yours."

"Keep dreaming," spat Luke, "I would rather die than give myself to you."

"As you have demonstrated in the past," said Vader, his bitterness clear to Luke through their bond, "but I am afraid that you have no other option this time. Either you surrender, or I kill everyone on this entire ship, and don't try to fool me, son. You know I will."

Vader did not falter, and Luke could sense the awful unequivocal truth that tainted his father's words. Vader would do everything within his power to take him, and that was of no surprise to Luke, much to his dismay.

Luke feared for the lives of his fellow Rebels, but most of all he feared for Leia and for Anakin. What would Vader do if he discovered the truth about them? What would happen if he found them here?

The thought alone made Luke shiver.

"Your thoughts betray you, young one. I can sense your fear for the Princess and that Jedi you've been harboring. Where are they? Is it them you wish to protect?"

Luke had done everything within his power not to reveal Anakin's identity to Vader, and he had been successful. Vader remained unaware and ignorant of the young Jedi's identity, yet he could sense Luke's desire to keep him safe. To keep them both safe.

"You cannot hide them from me forever. It would be within both yours and their best interests if you tell me where they are. I can sense your love for the Princess, my son. If you surrendered yourself to me, I could ensure her safety."

And what of the Jedi?" asked Luke with a scoff, "I doubt you would grant him the same offer."

"No, I would not," replied Vader truthfully.

"And what would happen to him if I surrendered? You'd just kill him and add him to the list of all the other Jedi you've murdered?" asked Luke.

"As much as I would love to add his lightsaber to my collection, no. Only the Emperor can decide his fate at this point."

"The Emperor? What does the Emperor- No, you don't mean-?"

"Trust me, son. I do not like it either, but I have no other choice at this point. The Emperor is adamant, and I am not able to defy him, at least not yet."

"He would try to turn him, wouldn't he? The Emperor wants him now, not me."

"Or me, for that matter. Do not worry, son. If you joined me, we could get rid of the Emperor together and prevent him from taking on a new apprentice. We could rule the galaxy together, as it was always meant to be. You could even have the Princess if you so desire, though I have no idea what you see in her."

It would seem as though Vader mistook the sort of love that he had for Leia, but Luke was perfectly happy not to correct him. He would do anything at that point to protect her and so he would allow Vader to believe what he wanted.

Luke could feel his father's desperation through the Force and he knew that his father was scared of what would happen if he did not join him, of what the Emperor would do if he failed to find Anakin. Honestly, it made Luke scared for his father and he knew that the situation Vader was in was less than ideal. And at the same time, he knew what would happen to Leia and Anakin if he didn't step in and do something.

He could still feel them onboard the ship. Anakin had finally awoken but Luke could tell that he was far too preoccupied with something to pay any attention to him at the moment. Leia was still unconscious, a prospect that did not bode well with Luke, but there was no other option at that point. He needed to buy them time. He needed them to escape.

Whether he liked it or not, now was not the time for Anakin to face Vader.

Which was why he hated himself for what he was about to do.

"I'm not going to give you the Jedi, father. I can't sacrifice my friend like that and you know I won't let you have him. Which is why I am proposing a new deal."

"Luke-"

"No, just listen to me. You can have me, father. I won't fight you, but the Jedi goes free as well as the Princess."

"My son that is hardly-"

"And I'll help you defeat the Emperor," finished Luke, "but you must agree to stop this bloody crusade against the Rebels. You know that the Empire we fight against is corrupt and tyrannical. Do you honestly believe that what your Master has done to this galaxy is for the best?"

Another explosion rocked the ship.

Vader went silent and Luke knew that he had struck a cord in the Sith. Even Vader knew that the Empire was evil, but the only reason he served it was because of his Master. It was quite obvious even to Luke that Vader bore no love for the Empire.

"I can help you father, but I do not want to rule the galaxy. I want to bring peace to the galaxy and I can sense that that is your desire as well. You never wanted any of this, did you?"

"Peace is nothing more than a lie, my son. You are naïve if you think that."

"Please, father. At least consider the possibility of what I am proposing."

Vader said nothing for a few tense moments as he contemplated what Luke was counter-offering. Really, Luke was no in position to be bargaining at all, but Vader could not say no to him.

"Fine, I agree to your terms. But I cannot stop what is happening to the Rebels. You know I do not have that sort of power."

"I had a feeling that was the case," thought Luke heavily as he felt another tremor throughout the Force.

"I will board your vessel and you will surrender yourself to me. You will be taken aboard the Executor where your presence will be hidden from the Emperor. Your friends will be allowed to escape, but you will have no further contact with them, is that understood?"

"Then we have a deal," thought Luke meekly as he closed his eyes in defeat.

Distantly, he could hear Rex's voice, but it seemed far off and vague as he stared out the window at the ensuing battle. It was a lost cause, there was nothing either him or Vader could do about it at that point and it made him feel so kriffing weak as he watched the few X-Wings that had managed to takeoff get shot out of the sky one by one. They had no other option now but to evacuate, and he had no other option but to allow himself to be taken by Vader.

He felt numb to the point where he couldn't even really feel Rex's strong hands on him, shaking him and yelling at him to snap out of it.

"-Luke! Luke, snap out of it. We have to get out of here!" came Rex's commanding voice as he gave the younger man a thorough shake that seemed to rattle his brain within his skull.

And just like that, Luke snapped out of his Force reverie as he looked over at the Clone Captain.

"Rex, you need to get out of here," his voice firm and commanding as he focused all of his attention on the older man, "take a ship and regroup with the Fleet at the rendezvous point."

"What about you, Commander? What are your plans?" asked Rex.

Luke swallowed, "I can't go with you, Rex. Not this time. I have to stay."

"And do what?" asked Rex skeptically, "wait till Vader finds you and kills you? Not a chance. Either we go together, or we don't."

"Rex-"

"No Commander. I left my General once, I'm not making that mistake again," said Rex sternly, "and if you're planning on confronting Vader then I'm staying. I won't leave you to face him alone."

Luke knew that there was more to Rex wanting to stay than just not wanting to leave him behind. Rex wanted revenge against the man he mistakenly believed had killed Anakin Skywalker, his General. Rex truly believed that was why Luke was going to confront Vader, and Luke hated himself for letting the Clone Captain believe that.

"It's not that simple, Rex," pleaded Luke, "I'm not here to fight Vader. I'm here to surrender myself to him."

Rex stared at Luke humorlessly for a few tense moments before he finally spoke, his voice incredulous and serious and totally unimpressed.

"Are you out of your kriffing mind, Commander?"

Luke laughed bitterly, "I wish I was. But no, I am not yanking your chain here, Captain. You need to leave before it's too late. I'm begging you, Rex. Walk away."

Rex gave him an icy look, "with all due respect, Commander. No. I'm not leaving, not when Vader and I have unfinished business. And there's no kriffing way I'm going to let you make a fool out of yourself. I lost one Skywalker already and I don't think I could live with myself if I lost you too."

Luke could already feel his father's presence onboard the ship, swiftly making his way over to them. Time was running out.

"Rex, please-," begged Luke as he felt his father's presence closing in on them, "you can't stay."

"Kriffing hell, Commander. What has gotten into you? Why are you doing this?" Rex sounded so confused and so defeated, it also made Luke want to run away with him.

"Rex, there's something I never told you about my father. Something I should've told you a long time ago," said Luke.

"Whatever it is it can wait, Commander. I'm not leaving you here to face Vader. You know he'll kill you just like he killed your father."

Luke closed his eyes as he heard that awful mechanical breathing. Rex must've noticed it too because one second he was looking at Luke with determination shining in his eyes and the next he had his blaster pointed at the Sith Lord, who stood ominously a few paces behind Luke.

"There will be no need for that, Captain," came Vader's baritone voice, strong and authoritarian as he stared at the both of them through the black void of his mask. He guarded his shields so that not even Luke could tell what he was feeling or thinking at that very moment. He didn't seem all that phased to see his old Clone Captain, but then again, Luke could feel nothing from him.

He had completely closed himself off.

"Like kriffing hell there is," said Rex as he kept his blaster pointed at the Sith Lord, his eyes dark and his posture tight and rigid, "I'm not going to let you kill him like you killed all those innocent Jedi."

"Rex," began Luke tersely before he was cut off by his father's ominous voice.

"Your loyalty is commendable but unwarranted. Young Skywalker will not be harmed, Captain. Now, lower your weapon and walk away," his tone unwavering and firm, but Luke could sense that he was pressing the Clone into obeying him, but Rex was not having any of it.

"And leave Commander Skywalker to die by your hand just like General Skywalker? In your dreams," said Rex with determination plastered on his face.

Vader said nothing for a few tense moments before he finally spoke, his words cornering Luke into a very uncomfortable corner.

"So, I take it Luke has not told you the truth about what really happened to his father," stated Vader as he stared at them through with his black gaze.

"I know what happened to him! You murdered him just like you murdered all the others!" he seethed as his hand hovered over the trigger, "you murdered a good man and I will not let you do the same to his son. You'll have to kill me if you want him."

"That can be arranged," said Vader darkly, "but I would prefer not to spill any more blood today, which is why I am giving you a chance to walk away before I lose my patience. It be would be wise if you heeded my words."

"Please, Rex," said Luke as he shook his head, "just walk away."

"Skywalker is right, Captain. There is more at play here than you could possibly understand. You think you know what happened to General Skywalker, but you do not. You know nothing."

The Force trembled around them as Rex locked eyes with Luke, his eyebrows scrunched up in confusion as the arm that held his blaster faltered just a little bit. He could tell that the Clone Captain was starting to sense that there was something he was not privy too.

"Luke, what he is talking about?" asked Rex as he looked between the two of them.

"Tell him, Luke," urged Vader, tell him what really happened to Anakin Skywalker."

Luke shook his head as he felt both of their gazes fixed on him, "I'm sorry I never told you the truth about my father, about what really happened to him."

"What-?" began Rex.

"Darth Vader never killed my father, Rex. Vader is my father," bit out Luke, the words like acid upon his lips.

He could feel Rex's surprise through the Force followed very closely by denial, a refusal to believe what Luke had just said to him. Luke couldn't blame him seeing as it had been just as much a shock to him as it had been to Rex, but Luke had never denied that it was the truth.

"No… T-that's not possible," breathed out Rex as his eyes widened, "General Skywalker would never-"

"-Never what? See through the lies of the Jedi?" sneered Vader, "well, I did. I saw them what they really were, and I took initiative."

Rex's denial soon turned into a sudden stab of pain as he realized the betrayal at hand. Neither of them were lying and there was no denying that any longer.

Luke could feel Rex's pain through the Force. And Force did it hurt.

"Then you are traitor," he said very simply as he raised his blaster and pointed it directly at the man he had once been proud to call friend, "and you shall pay for your crimes."

Rex did not hesitate any longer as he fired everything he had at the Sith Lord, who simply raised his hand to block the blaster bolts without any difficulty. Luke watched in muted horror as Vader closed in on Rex, his red lightsaber ignited and ready for the kill.

"It did not have to end this way, Rex," he said as he finally pulled the Clone's blaster away from him with a simple wave of his hand, "I warned you what would happen if you didn't walk away."

"You know well enough that I leave no man behind," said Rex despondently. Luke could practically feel the Clone's grief and sorrow rolling off him like waves into the Force. There was no doubt that Rex was beyond broken at that point.

"And that will be your downfall," said Vader as he raised his hand to cup the Captains neck within his invisible grasp. The older man clutched at his throat desperately as Luke quickly ignited his own weapon and drew it to Vader's mask in a threatening manner as he glowered at the Sith.

"Release him, father," he said firmly, "or our deal is off."

"You will leave with me whether or not this man lives," he said as he tilted his head down to stare at Luke.

"No!" said Luke as he charged the Sith, forcing Vader to drop Rex onto the floor so he could draw his lightsaber up in defense against Luke's blue one. They both stood watching each other as Rex's head lolled to the side, unconscious but alive and uninjured.

"I see you still have not changed since Bespin," commented Vader as Luke exhaled deeply, his nostrils flaring, "you still care too much for your friends. Commendable, but foolish."

"I would never betray them like you," said Luke, anger lacing his tone.

"It would appear so," replied the Sith sardonically as he turned his saber off and clipped it onto his belt, a deliberate show of peace to the younger man, "I was once like you, Luke. But I learned in time that friendship was nothing more than a weakness and a waste. In time, you will learn this too."

"I doubt you could even understand the meaning of true friendship," commented Luke as he too turned off his saber and clipped it onto his belt, his stormy blue eyes never once leaving Vader's black orbs, "or you would've never done what you did. I will never betray my friends, which is why I agreed to come with you in the first place."

"Perhaps you are right in that incentive," commented Vader, "and I cannot deny that I am pleased that you chose to make the right decision, despite your flawed reasoning behind it. A deal's a deal and I shall uphold my part, as I hope you will too."

"I'm a man of my word," said Luke as he turned his head to stare in the direction of where he could feel Anakin and Leia's presences. He was doing this for them, making sure that Vader wouldn't find them. He was giving them time to escape, giving Anakin time to save Leia.

There was nothing more he could for them at this point in time except keep them secret. He feared what would happen if the Emperor found out about them. And if he did this, if he gave himself up then Vader would stop trying to rip the galaxy apart in an effort to find them and it would give the Alliance time to regroup and grow their ranks.

It was a sacrifice he was willing to make.

And all he could do was hope for the best.

999

When Anakin finally came to his senses, he was halfway across the hangar with his face buried in a pile of smoldering rubble. He groaned as he felt the panic and hysteria of each individual throughout the entire ship, all of them terrified and all of them scrambling.

What were they scared of again? Something- Something bad had just happened. He remembered sensing something in the Force-

He blinked away the bleariness in his eyes as he stared out at the scene before him. People were running around, and everything was on fire and the smell was horrendous, like burnt flesh and-

He blinked again as he reassessed the muted scene in front of him, his eyes ringing and deaf to the commotion that was happening around him.

The Force was loud and overpowering as it screamed in his ears, causing him to wince and close his eyes tightly. He knew through the disorientation that he needed to get up and find someone-

His eyes shot open as he remembered talking with Leia just before he had felt that icy tremor through the Force, a warning of what was about to happen. He remembered the intense heat before he was thrown across the room and he remembered how he had not even been able to call on the Force for help.

Everything had happened so quickly.

He groaned as he pushed himself up on shaking hands, his entire body sore and throbbing from the injuries he had sustained in the blast. He could feel small bits of shrapnel embedded into his skin all over as well as the cuts and burns that riddled his body. He could faintly feel a nasty, fresh laceration over his right eyebrow that stretched down beside his eye. He groaned as he wiped the small trail of blood away with his robes before he forced himself to his knees, every movement painful and aggravating to his fresh wounds, but he was determined to find Leia.

He rose his feet as another tremor reverberated throughout the entire ship, making him almost lose his balance as he tried his best to maintain his composure. All that he could hear was that awful sharp ringing in his ears that drowned out everything else in the room and everything else was disorienting.

He looked down at the floor to see a few mangled body parts strewn across the room, the scent of burning flesh all too much for him. He felt like retching as he stared down at a severed leg, burnt and charred until it was nothing more than a black stump of flesh.

He tore his eyes away from the sight as he searched for Leia's presence in the Force. It took him a bit more time than he liked to locate her weakened and battered presence that was steadily growing dimmer by the moment. From what he could sense of her, she was badly injured and in a lot of pain, too much pain.

He contained his panic as he ran on shaking legs over to where he could feel her. He passed charred remains and columns of fire that threatened to consume him, but he barely noticed them as he knelt down in front of the pile of rubble where he could sense her and began to desperately dig.

"Leia!" he cried out as he used the Force to push the heavy parts away, his already shredded hands burning as he tore through the bits of burning rubble.

"Leia!" he cried out again as a cough overtook him. The smoke around them was thick and heavy and every breath burned, but it didn't phase Anakin. He just needed to find Leia.

The ringing in his head by that point was becoming gradually softer and the frantic yelling that echoed throughout the hangar was growing louder and louder by the second. He could hear the alarm blaring throughout the ship, warning them that they were under attack.

Anakin knew that the Empire had found them. He could feel the oncoming barrage through the Force and he could feel the presence of thousands and thousands of Imperials nearby, but it wasn't their presences that terrified Anakin.

Vader was here.

Another tremor reverberated throughout the ship as another turbo blast hit somewhere nearby. The room shook as a bit of the ceiling gave way and showered down on them, forcing Anakin to stop his frantic digging as he held his hands over his head and chucked the debris over to the side before he returned to his work.

He used the Force to push a large piece away and cried out in relief when he saw her unconscious and bloodied form. He used the Force to remove the last piece that covered the lower portion of her body away before he knelt down and gathered her into his arms.

She was as light as a feather as he secured her in his arms and surveyed her battered and bloodied body. He grimly noted a large piece of shrapnel that protruded grotesquely from her abdominal cavity. Anakin had no idea how far it went down, but he knew from his first aid training at the Temple that it was not good.

He could not simply remove it because if he did, she would surely bleed out and die within mere minutes if not seconds. It would need to be cauterized and wrapped in bacta, a lot of bacta from the looks of it and that was not including her other injuries. Her forehead was bloodied and she covered head to toe in small little cuts where small bits of shrapnel had hit her. Those would undoubtedly need to be dug out, along with his own.

"Anakin?" came Luke's voice through their bond, making Anakin stop in his tracks as he latched onto Luke's presence through their bond, his worry for the other man quite evident at that point.

"Luke! Are you alright?" he called out as all the commotion around him began to slow down, his mind far too focused on his son to pay any more attention to them. He could feel Leia's presence through the Force as he held onto her. They were the only presences he could feel in that moment.

"I'm fine, how is Leia? I can sense she is injured," said Luke grimly.

"It's bad, Luke. We need to get out of here and she needs medical attention. Where are you? Do you want us to wait for you?"

Their bond went eerily silent.

"Don't worry about me, Anakin. Just take Leia and get out of here. Everyone's evacuating ship and she needs medical attention."

"What about you? I'm not leaving without you, Luke," said Anakin urgently as he tightened his grip on Leia, her life Force slowly beginning to flicker.

"You're going to have to, Anakin. I'm sorry, but I have to stay here."

"Like kriffing hell you are!" yelled Anakin angrily through their bond, "I can't just leave without you, Luke! Didn't you sense Vader here?"

"I did, that's why I'm staying."

Anakin went silent as he numbly watched a few survivors trying to dig their way through the rubble, the siren above them blaring as the fire around them grew hotter and hotter by the second. Time itself seemed to have slowed down as the scene unfolded before him.

"Luke… What did you do?" asked Anakin slowly, his voice soft yet pressing.

"I made a deal. With Vader."

Anakin breathed in sharply, "Why would you do that?"

"I had too. He can't find out about you or Leia yet. It's not time."

"So you made a deal with him? Do you have any idea what you've just done?" asked Anakin in icy anger as the Force around him trembled.

"We made a deal. I give myself to him and he stops looking for you and Leia. We talked, Anakin. He wants to get rid of the Emperor and I'm his only hope. I had no other choice."

"There is always another choice, Luke. What if he hurts you? What if he tries to turn you?"

"He's not going to hurt me, Anakin. I can sense that he means me no harm. He needs me."

"I'm not going to let you sacrifice yourself like this, Luke," said Anakin forcefully.

"You don't have a choice, Anakin. You know what would happen if he found you or Leia."

"Kriffing hell, Luke. You have no idea how much I want to kick you in the arse," said Anakin as his eyes drifted down to Leia in dismay.

To save Leia meant to leave Luke behind, and to rescue Luke would mean Leia's death.

"He won't hurt me, Anakin. Trust me. Take Leia and get out of here. Get her medical attention and regroup with the Fleet. I'll be okay."

"I'll find you, Luke. And when I do your arse is toast, you hear?"

"Loud and clear," came Luke's voice for the last time.

And with that Luke drew his presence away from Anakin, leaving the newly Knighted Jedi feeling empty and lonely as he felt the other Jedi sever the connection between the two of them. Anakin looked down at Leia, who was growing paler and paler by the second. Her eyelids fluttered a little bit before finally closing again, a small moan escaping her lips before she fell unconscious again.

Anakin coughed as he inhaled a cloud of smoke that had started to accumulate around them. There was no escaping the smoke as he ran on shaky feet towards where the ships had been docked along the far wall. Most of the X-Wings had already been deployed, some of them far too wrecked to ever attempt flight in them. All that was left were cargo ships and a few transport vessels, and even then most of them were unflyable at that point.

Anakin made a quick mental survey of all the available vessels before his attention finally fell on a Corellian YT- 2000 freighter that was docked off to the side in the area designated for repairs and maintenance. He could tell that the ship had been under some heavy-duty maintenance previously and that while it remained miraculously untouched by the explosion, it was still in a pretty shoddy state from the looks of it.

But it was all that was left, and Anakin had no other option than to take it.

He ran over as fast as he could with Leia in his arms and pulled the ramp down. He carefully placed Leia along a row of chairs, careful not to aggravate her injuries any further before he ran over to the entrance to the ship, his eyes scanning the hangar for any people that needed rescuing.

"Help! Please, somebody help us!" yelled a voice through the smoke as Anakin squinted his eyes to try and get a better look at them.

He covered his nose to try and prevent himself from breathing in any more of the smoke before he waved the other one in the air to signify where he was. He was starting to feel the effects of smoke inhalation at that point.

Distantly he could see two figures struggling towards them, one completely dependent on the other as the upright one hobbled over to him, their arms waving in the air begging him to help them.

Anakin was about to run out to help them when the Force rippled dangerously around him, turning his attention over to where he could see the large containers of fuel lined up against the wall, where they had previously remained untouched by the fire. He could see that the fuel containers had ruptured and had spilled all over the floor and that the fire was quickly approaching.

The Force screamed in his ear as he watched the tongues of fire threaten to reach the highly flammable substance that they used to fuel their ships. He had to do something and quick.

The moment the fire finally reached the fuel was the moment Anakin raised his hands to create a Force field around the containers as a means of delaying the impending explosion. He strained against the blast of the raw energy that pushed against him, straining his abilities and zapping all of his strength.

"Hurry up! I can't hold it off much longer!" he yelled over to the two struggling figures, his neck straining and his teeth clenched tightly as he twisted his hand around to better his hold.

For a few seconds, Anakin thought he might actually succeed and be able to hold off the explosion until the two people made their way onto the ship, but then the ship was racked with another hit and Anakin lost his focus.

That was all it took for the raw energy that he previously been contained to bleed out and escape. He raised his arm to shield his face as he felt their life forces get snuffed out by the flames, his other hand coming up to shield the Freighter from the intense heat of the explosion as he used the Force to yank the ramp up.

He kept his mind focused on the shield as he ran back over to the navigation console and accelerated out of the hangar and away from the fire. He breathed a sigh of relief as soon as the ship was out and clear, but his relief soon turned into battle mode as he found himself in the middle of a space battle. What few X-Wings were left were doing their absolute best to fight off the swarm of Tie Fighters, but there was only so much that they could do against them.

Anakin would've loved to stay and join the fight, but he needed to attend to Leia and find a nearby planet or trading post where he could barter for some new ship parts. He could tell this Freighter was not going to hold up for much longer in the condition it was in.

He stared up at the group of Star Destroyers that had amassed around the Rebel Fleet and thought of Luke, whose presence he could feel burning brightly on one of them along with that dark presence he knew belonged to Vader.

Anakin shook his head as he forced himself to punch in the coordinates for the nearest trading post and launch the ship into hyperdrive, leaving Luke behind with Vader. He could feel his presence drawing further and further away and Anakin couldn't help but doubt that he had made the right decision.

He wondered, grimly, what the future held for them.