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Another Empire

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Luke began his descent into Bespin, his mind racing. After leaving Yoda, his thoughts had been full of conflict. Was he doing the right thing? No, he knew he was. His friends were in danger; they needed him. They would do the same for him, and in the case of Han, had done it already. In the past three years with the Alliance, Han and Leia had become his family, along with the rest of his squadron. The destruction of the Death Star was a weight still on his shoulders, the deaths of millions still felt in his heart and the Force. Luke shuddered in his seat, aside from saving the Alliance, there had been another advantage from destroying that technological terror.

The Emperor had been aboard.

Luke was responsible for killing Emperor Palpatine, arguably the greatest evil this galaxy had ever known. Vader had unfortunately survived and immediately took his place on the throne. Things became far more difficult for the Alliance afterward, not because of Vader, no, he was exactly what they expected. The problem was their new Empress: Lady Vader.

She appeared out of nowhere, but apparently, she and Vader had been married for ages. She was in her mid-forties, but she retained a youthful beauty to her, with long brown hair and deep brown eyes. She was charismatic and endearing, and according to Leia, the Alliance’s worst nightmare.

“She is too charming,” Leia said with a frown, “When the Empire was lead by someone as horrific as Palpatine, it was simpler to inspire systems to join our cause. Not easy, but simpler. There was no ambiguity, they were evil and we were trying to save the galaxy from them. Now...nothing appears clear anymore.”

Luke understood completely. Since beginning the new reign, Empress Vader had ordered the removal of several of the Empires more horrific laws. Slavery had been outlawed, and the preference for humans was all but removed. The Senate had been reinstated almost immediately, although the members still retained almost no real power. Several departments had opened within the government as well, offering assistance for impoverished worlds.

While the steps were all positive, the Emperor and Empress still retained all of their power, still controlled the media and still demanded undivided loyalty from their subjects with the threat of violence if not complied. The galaxy was still within the iron grip of a few individuals, with no care for the thoughts and opinions of the rest of the systems.

In the last three years, the Alliance had seen a dramatic drop in funding and recruitment, all willing to sacrifice their freedom for peace. Oh yes, he understood why Empress Vader was so terrifying.

By comparison, Vader himself had remained generally the same. The Dark Lord still ran the military with no remorse, still inspiring fear at the very sight of him. His wife was the one who ran the political aspect of the government, a realm Vader seemed willing to stay out of.

Luke guided his X-wing down onto the landing pad of the floating city. He nodded to himself; this was definitely the place from his vision. His friends were here, he could feel it.

Disembarking from his ship, with R2D2 tailing behind, Luke crept into Cloud City, his movements silent. He navigated through the corridors, dodging patrols of Stormtroopers left and right. He found himself moving further and further into the city and realizing he was becoming lost. He pressed forward, hoping the Force would guide him.

His right hand reached instinctively for his saber, holding it aloft. He knew Vader was here; he could sense it. He shuddered, his father’s killer was here, and now he had taken his friends. Luke pushed the fear building in his gut down and whipped the sweat from his brow. Now was not the time to get nervous. He would need a clear head for what he was about to do.

Dodging another patrol of stormtroopers, he found himself moving down a long, white corridor. Spotting a terminal, he stopped in front of it. “R2, try and splice into the cities mainframe, see if you can find where they are holding Han and Leia.”

R2 responded with an affirmative beep, opening the terminal and injecting himself into the computer. Luke nodded, his head turning to the left. At the end of the corridor was a large set of double doors. Something...something was calling him down there. He felt a pull towards that room, something important was inside.

“R2, keep working on finding Han and Leia. I’ll scout ahead. Comm me if you find anything.” R2 gave another positive beep before returning to his work.

Luke moved down towards the doors, holding his saber tight in his hand. Anticipation and dread welled up inside of him, sweat trickling from his bow. He felt the gravity of his movements in the Force; whatever was waiting here would impact him profoundly. He opened the door.

The room was large, circular, and very well-lit, with several other doors inside. Massive windows dominated the exterior wall, with a large white sofa wrapping around the edges of the room. The floors and interior walls were all white as well, in fact, the only color came from the occupants of the room. Four red-clad guards stood in attention near the other doors, and sitting in the center, seated at a small black table, was Empress Vader.

Upon entering the room, Luke’s heart stopped beating. Vader he was expecting, but the Empress?! Why in the galaxy was she not at Imperial Center? Even more importantly, what was she here of all places? Surely her husband would be the one to deal with a Rebel Jedi? What the stars was going on?!

The Empress looked up and smiled as Luke entered the room. “Welcome young Skywalker, I’ve been expecting you. You won’t be needing your weapon today. I was hoping we could have dinner together.”

“Dinner?” Luke said, “You want to have dinner with me?” Luke kept his saber unlit but still in his hand.

“Yes. Not an unreasonable request is it?”

Luke eyed her, biting his lip. Leia’s words about her charming nature resonated in his head. In his time in the alliance, he had never heard of the Empire attempting something as extreme as this to detain a prisoner. ‘Maybe it’s because I’m a Jedi,’ he thought, ‘Or at least, attempting to be one.’

“You can imagine why I would have a hard time trusting you, your Highness.” Luke said slowly. He would play along for now, until he figured out what the hell was happening.

The Empress nodded, “Yes, I can understand why you wouldn’t trust me. You, a Rebel Commander, and I, the leader of the Empire you work to destroy. But you and I have quite a few things to discuss.”

Luke raised an eyebrow, “We do?”

“We do indeed. Perhaps a show of good faith would help.” The Empress stood up. “I will have my guards leave the room if you will lower your weapon.” Luke looked towards the guards before looking down at his saber. “Perhaps Luke,” she said, “We can discuss the release of your friends during this conversation.”

Luke’s head shot up at that, “Why in the galaxy would you release them? We’re all wanted by the Empire.”

The Empress’s smile grew, “Lower your weapon and find out.”

Luke glanced down his blade. He had absolutely no trust for this woman, but the possibility of releasing his friends was far too enticing. He reached into the Force, seeking guidance. He felt no danger from the Empress, nor any malicious intent. Slowly, he clipped it back to his belt.

The Empress clapped her hands, “Wonderful. As promised, guards, leave us.” Without a word, the red-clad guards left the room, leaving Luke and the woman alone.

The Empress returned to her seat, gesturing at the chair in front of her, “Please, join me. I’m sure you must be hungry.”

Eyes never leaving her, Luke moved forward to the table in the center of the room, lowering himself into the chair facing the door. The Empress sat down before pulling out a small device. Before

Luke could ask, she pressed a button and within seconds a droid rolled into the room and approached the table. “Greetings, I am 3D50. I am programed to meet all culinary needs.” The droid procured menus and handed them to both Luke and the Empress.

The woman smiled up at the droid, taking the menu. “Thank you 3D50. Luke, if you may?”

Luke tentatively grabbed a menu. While glancing down at the choices, his mind couldn’t help but wander. This was, without a doubt, the strangest thing to happen to him. And considering he had been almost eaten in a trash compactor, abducted by a snow monster, and learned an ancient religion from a one-meter tall green elf, that was saying something. He made his selection and handed the menu back to the droid. Looking up, he realized the Empress had been staring at him, a fond grin on her face. Deciding her smiling at him was undoubtedly creepy, he scowled back.

“What exactly is this all about your Highness?” Luke made the conscious choice to remain respectful, for now at least. He was still convinced this was an elaborate trap, although it had to be the most involved one he’d ever heard of.

“There are several reasons I wanted to meet you, young Skywalker, the first of which is to thank you.”

Luke’s posture shot up. “Thank me?”

The Empress nodded, “Yes, thank you. My husband and I had been trying to find a way to kill the former Emperor for years. Yet you came along and managed it in just one shot.”

Luke’s mouth fell open. Even if Vader and his wife were planning a political coup, why in the spinning galaxy would they need him to kill the Emperor? By the Force, Vader was a Sith! Why would this be so challenging? Not to mention, even killing the former Emperor would be nothing compared to the loss of resource and life.

“I can tell you’re having a hard time with this. The former Emperor was a Sith Lord.”

“A SITH LORD?!”

The Empress laughed, “Indeed he was, unknown to most of the galaxy. Destroying him would have been...difficult for a number of reasons. However, you managed to do it with a single blast. Very effective overall.” She raised her glass towards Luke.

“B-but what about the weapon? The Imperial lives lost?”

“All excellent points.” She took a sip of her drink, “In regards to the weapon, it was a monstrosity. Neither Vader nor I ever approved of it, not that the Emperor would care for either of our opinions. Had we taken the throne before its destruction, out first act would be its dismantlement. Such a technological terror has no place in this galaxy.”

Luke gave her a look of disbelief.

“In regards to the loss of life,” she continued, ignoring his look, “I cannot excuse the massive loss of life associated with its destruction. However, I do believe the Emperor would have easily used the weapon on other unsuspecting world's, leading to a fate such as Alderaan. The Death Star was a military base; something we cannot forget. Alderaan was full of innocent civilians, people who did not consent to be a part of a war. Even if their government was associated with the Rebels, a fact well known now with Princess Leia’s involvement, they did not deserve death for something they had nothing to do with. For that reason, I must take a Utilitarian approach, the loss of life associated with the Death Star’s destruction is significantly less than if the monstrosity was allowed to continue to exist. And so, I thank you, Luke Skywalker.”

Luke stared at her, just stared. Leia’s words of her excessive charm rang through his ears.

Seeing his dumbfounded expression, the Empress through her head back and laughed. “Forgive me, Luke, I seemed to have slipped into a speech. Horrible habit after so many years in politics.”

Luke found the corners of his mouth pulling up, but he suppressed it. The way the woman spoke reminds him far too much of the Princess. They shared the same elegance, same passion, although for vastly different causes.

“So… All of this was to issue a pardon?” Luke frowned.

“Hardly. We could have done that on the Holovid. No, you and I have something far more personal to discuss.”

“And what exactly would that be?”

“What do you know about your family.”

Rage ignited in Luke, suddenly reminded of who he sat across from. The wife of a killer, his father’s killer. This woman, while somewhat endearing, was a monster just like Vader. “I know my father was named Anakin Skywalker.” Luke stood up, pointing a finger at the woman, “and I know your husband killed him!”

The Empress didn’t flinch at Luke’s outburst. “Who told you that?”

“What?”

“Who exactly told you that? And, more importantly, why did you believe them?”

“W-why does that matter?”

The woman chuckled, “It always matters Luke. Always question your sources.”

Luke’s eyes narrowed, “I know the credibility of my source, your Highness. The Jedi Master Kenobi. That’s who told me.”

This time, the Empress let out a full-bodied laugh, “Obi-Wan? Believe me, he, like all of the Jedi, have their own unique perspective on the world. One must take their words with a grain of salt.”

Luke made a face of disgust. How dare this woman insult Ben? As if her husband didn’t slaughter him, along with the majority of the Jedi, without an ounce of remorse. “And what? You’re the unbiased source I should follow?”

The woman smiled, “No. I am biased just like everyone else. However, perhaps you should listen to what I have to say, and form your own opinion.”

“And what?” Luke countered, “How is there a different side of the story to killing my father?”

The Empress stood, turning away from Luke for a moment. “Did you know what happens when someone joins the Sith? It’s actually rather fascinating.”

Luke stared at the back of her, his arm crossed over his chest. What did it matter? He couldn’t give one credit about the religious practices of them.

“The Sith swears themselves to the Dark Side and their master, devoting themselves to their teachings. It’s extremely important to the whole half of the religion. After swearing themselves to the Darkness, the take on a new name. Fun fact, Darth is actually a title, and the part after is more associated with a first name.”

Luke’s frown deepened, “And I should care about this because…?”

“I’m getting there. I married my husband when he still went by the name he was born to, before swearing himself to the ways of the Sith. We even had a child together, although most do not know that.”

Luke’s eyebrows shot up. A child? He certainly had never heard of that. Poor kid. But more importantly, what did this have to do with him? Why would he be the one provided this information?

“I suppose you are wondering why I would tell you this. You see, my husband, before becoming a Sith, went by the name Anakin Skywalker.”

Luke’s eyes went wide, “No.”

“Luke, Vader is your father-”

“NO!”

The woman turned around, “-and that makes me-”

“IT’S NOT TRUE!” Luke tried to back away, stumbling to the ground.

“I am your mother Luke. Vader and I are your parents.”

“THAT'S IMPOSSIBLE!”

“Perhaps you should search your feelings, young one. You know this to be true.” Luke’s head whipped around, searching for the new voice.

Vader had entered the room.

Chapter Text

Luke’s heart kicked from rapid to overdrive at the site of Vader in his trademark mask and cape. The dreaded breathing echoed in his ears, completely paralyzing him. Vader stared at him for a moment before walking over and joining his wife. He turned to her, “I take it he didn’t know?”

“Afraid so.” The Empress turned towards Luke.

“What did he think happened to his parents?”

The Empress sighed, “Apparently you killed his father.”

Luke could feel the rage around Vader though the Force. Vader whipped around towards Luke, “Who told you that?!”

The Empress answered for him “Obi-Wan.”

The anger emulating form Vader took on a new height, the fury becoming a physical weight in the Force, oppressing Luke further into the ground. “Damn him! A warrior's death was far too kind! He deserved to suffer for all he has inflicted!” Luke’s head whipped to the side as a nearby piece of artwork was crushed under an invisible weight.

“Anakin, calm down before you have a stroke. Obi-Wan’s attempts to manipulate the boy have failed; he now knows the truth and can do what he will with that information.”

“Padme, you don’t seem to understand that Obi-Wan intended to have the boy to commit patricide without his knowledge.”

“I understand that however, your anger will not serve us not; Obi-Wan is dead, there is nothing to be done for him now.”

“How can you be so calm about this?!”

“Ani, I’m not calm, believe me, I’m just as upset as you are. But Luke is here now, raging about it won’t help anything.”

Luke watched the exchange, appreciating the moment to gather his thoughts. There was no way this could be true. There was just no way. No way in the world these..these people could be his parents. But..the Force carried the truth of their words. He could feel it, and he hated that fact.

Vader turned towards Luke, “I can sense your feelings young one. Whether or not you like it, the truth still remains.”

Luke’s eyes widened at that, before scowling. His emotions swirled around him, a mix of shock, fear, rage, confusion, and even hope to leave Luke breathless.

Vader sensed Luke’s emotions and smiled behind his mask. This was even more than he had hoped for.

“Well,” the Empress began, “I understand how difficult this must be for you, Luke. Why don’t we sit down and discuss this? I’m sure we can clear up your questions.”

Luke’s mind was still in a haze, but he nodded slowly. He-he needed a moment to process this. Besides, his friends were still in danger and he had no problem exploiting this apparent relationship to try and get them free. ‘Parents or no, Leia, Han, Chewie, are my family.’

Vader walked over, grabbing Luke by the arm and pulling him up with a surprising amount of gentleness. Luke stumbled a bit before getting his footing. Luke eyed the mask staring down at him, making him nervous despite himself.

The Empress seemed to sense this, “Ani, perhaps Luke would be more comfortable if you took off the mask. It may make him a bit more...relaxed.”

Luke’s head whipped around. As far as everyone knew, Vader was injured horribly and could not remove the terrifying mask under any circumstance.

“Yes. I agree.” Reaching up, Vader detached the mechanisms of the mask and helmet.

Pulling the covering off together, Luke was not prepared for what he saw-

The face that greeted him was not horribly scarred or deformed. His skin was pale due to the lack of exposure, and the hair dark blonde and cut short. He had high cheekbones and a dimpled chin. Luke’s eyes met his and he gasped, realizing Vader had his eyes. ‘No, it's the other way. I have his eyes. I-I look like him.’ The vision he had in the cave in Dagobah rushed back to him, suddenly taking on new meaning. He shuddered.

“I don’t understand if you’re not injured, why wear the mask?”

“It’s a long story, Luke.” Vader’s voice without the mask sounded far too normal in Luke’s opinion. “Perhaps you would sit down and we can discuss this?”

Luke nodded slowly, unable to take his eyes off Vader. Without breaking eye contact, he sat down.

The Empress returned to her chair and Vader sat down next to his wife. “Now, let’s begin. What were you told about your parents?”

Luke gulped. “Well...Uncle Owen told me my father was a navigator on a cruiser.” Vader scoffed before allowing Luke to continue, “It was Obi-Wan who told me my father was a Jedi and killed by Darth Vader. Neither my aunt and uncle or Obi-Wan mentioned anything about my mother.”

Vader nodded, “It seems the Jedi intended you to kill me. Their treachery knows no bounds.” The man glanced up, meeting Luke’s eyes, blue for blue, “You were stolen from us, child. Taken from your mother as she lay in a coma, and I horribly injured by Kenobi.”

Luke gasped, “W-what exactly happened?”

It was the Empress- Padme, Luke supposed- who spoke next, “Towards the end of the Clone Wars, I discovered I was pregnant with you. Your father was a Jedi knight serving in the Republic Army and I was a senator representing my homeworld, Naboo. Over the last few years of war, democracy was waning, and corruption was becoming rampant in the Old Republic. Slowly, Palpatine was coming to power, and the Sith Lord behind the Separatist Army was still at large.”

“Around the same time,” Vader added, “I had begun becoming disenfranchised with the Jedi. Their hypocrisy was becoming taxing on me, particularly concerning their forbiddance of my relationship with your mother.” Luke looked confused for a moment, “Did your Jedi teachers not tell you, Luke? Attachment in any form is forbidden, including both marriage and children. Lucky for you I tend to break rules.”

Luke’s eyes widened, “I-I had no idea. Yo-err-they never mentioned anything about that.”

Vader sighed, “I am not surprised. You were intended to be a weapon, not to be inducted into the more rigid laws of the Order. Besides, that law is one of the main reasons I was driven away. Perhaps they wished to avoid another disaster.”

Luke glanced down towards his lap. Was he a product of a forbidden union? Did Yoda and Obi-Wan see him as a bastard? Stars, attachment was forbidden? He was attached to Leia and Han and the rest of his friends. Is that why Master Yoda didn’t want him going after them? Or was it to avoid a confrontation with his father? By the Force, why didn’t they tell him all this before he left?!

“As I was saying,” Padme continued, oblivious to her sons’ distress, “Palpatine and your father had been friends for many years. When the Order commanded your father to spy on him, it was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Palpatine revealed himself to be the Sith Lord and offered your father a place as his apprentice.”

“In addition,” Vader added, “Palpatine had promised to show me a new power, one that would allow me to keep my family safe. In exchange for this knowledge, I agreed to help him establish a new government, to take control.”

“A part of this was the eradication of the Jedi, something I’m sure you are familiar with.”

Luke nodded, “We were always taught in school that the Jedi were traitors to the Republic.”

“Partially true. The Jedi attempted to kill Palpatine when they discovered he was a Sith. An attempt to kill the current Chancellor would be high treason. However, Palpatine would have ordered their destruction regardless, it’s all a part of a war between the two factions that has

raged for thousands of years.”

Luke rubbed his arm. He really didn’t know anything about this. A thousand-year-old war? Galactic politics? Force, he was a farmer turned pilot, this all was far beyond him. He was sitting across from the rulers of the entire galaxy for goodness sake!

“To continue with our story, your father joined Palpatine, leading to a confrontation on the volcanic planet Mustafar. I had agreed to stand with your father to take power from Palpatine once he had outlived his usefulness, when Obi-Wan appeared, having stowed away on my ship.”

“I’m confused, I thought Palpatine and father were friends?”

Vader spoke up, “It didn’t take me long to realize Palpatine was going to use me as a tool, a weapon, a servant. And while his ideal government was a vastly superior model from the decaying democracy of the Old Republic, I knew this would be for his benefit alone. However, if another ruler, one far kinder and benevolent took the throne, the possibilities would become endless.” The look Vader gave his wife clued Luke into who he was speaking of.

“Obi-Wan had come to try and kill your father. I had fallen unconscious, the pain of labor had begun and was more than I could endure. They dueled, and your father was injured, rather horribly. It was then when he began needing his mask.”

“I was a fool in that fight, overconfident and stupid; it was my weakness that leads Obi-Wan to spirit your mother away.”

Padme took the man’s hand. “Be at peace, what’s done is done. And you suffered enough for your mistake.” Vader smiled at her, and she returned it. Padme glanced back at Luke, “I was taken to a medical facility off world where I had you. Giving birth was… difficult, especially without your father there with me. I cannot even remember giving birth anymore, nor do I recall what happened to you afterward. The memories were destroyed when I didn’t have enough oxygen in my brain. I fell into a coma after that, while I assume Obi-Wan took you to Tatooine.”

“I was told your mother and you died in childbirth while I was being fitted with the mask and suit. I cannot begin to explain the agony I went through, the physical pain was one thing, but losing both my wife and child…” Vader shook his head. “I lived as a half of a man for the next ten years, serving Palpatine blindly because I had simply nothing left to do.”

“It was then I awoke from my coma. I can only assume Obi-Wan and his allies thought I would never awaken. I was told-” Padme choked up for a moment, unable to find the words, “I was told my child had died shortly after birth.” Tears began to fall freely, and Vader wrapped an arm around the woman. “I also found I could no longer have children.”
Luke saw the distress pouring off Padme- no, his mother- in waves. It overwhelmed in the Force, choking him a bit as well. He could feel her suffering, her pain. He wanted to comfort her, but Vader seemed to have it covered. He rubbed soothing circles on her arms, holding her tight.

“I returned to your father shortly after that, and we began to plan in secret. Palpatine has condemned him to his suit to keep him subservient, weak. Over the next eight years, we would slowly allow your father to heal, all the while organizing a political coup to seize power. Of course, it would all be for naught when you killed the Emperor with one shot.”

“Nice work, we tried for eight years and you did it in one blow. Impressive. Most impressive.”

Luke couldn’t help but chuckle. “So, that brings us to now.”
“Indeed,” Vader said, “You can imagine our surprise when we found out the name of the destroyer of the Death Star.”

Luke’s mind snapped back to reality, “You hurt my friends to bring me here.” His voice was full of accusation.

It was Padme who spoke up, “Yes. An unfortunate situation, but you can imagine our determination to find you, Luke. We believed you dead for 18 years, and to learn you are alive and with the Alliance… Well, desperate times call for desperate measures.”
Luke’s eyes narrowed. Yes, he could understand, but it did not justify the actions either. He realized that despite everything, his friends were still far more family than the two strangers sitting across from him. By the Force, this was insanity, the idea that his parents, those he wanted to know all his life, were the rulers of the whole galaxy. 'Ruling with a dictatorship,' he reminded himself. While he could feel the truth in their words, it didn’t mean he was ready to accept it. This was all happening far too fast, he needed time to think, to clear his head. He wanted to talk to Master Yoda, to hear his side. Stars, he wanted to talk to Leia. She was always so intelligent, always knowing exactly what to do. A horrible thought entered his mind that Leia may not want anything to do with him considering his heritage. He shook his head in denial, no, Leia and Han and the rest of his companions loved him for who he was, regardless of his relations.

Luke looked up when a droid rolled into the room carrying a serving tray with several dishes of food. He had all but forgotten they had ordered dinner. The plates were set in front of the three occupants of the table, and both of his...parents began to eat. Personally, this ordeal had caused Luke to lose the majority of his appetite, but to avoid appearing rude, he began to eat as well.

“I understand this is a great deal to take in, Luke,” Padme said between bites. She handled herself with a great deal of grace at the table, as opposed to Luke’s clumsy movements, “If there are any questions we can answer, feel free to ask.”
Luke kept his eyes on the plate in front of him, “I thank you for that. I’m sure I will have questions later, but right now I am still trying to process this.”

“Understandable.” Vader responded, “You have had your entire worldview changed. I assure you we have nothing but good intentions towards you, child. You are our son, whether you are ready to accept it or not.”

“This has all happened so quickly,” Luke rubbed his temple.

“Yes, I sense your confusion, your turmoil. There is one last matter to be discussed, however, concerning your friends.”

Luke’s head shot up, “My friends-what will you be doing with them?”
It was the Empress who spoke this time, “We would be happy to release them, so long as you agree to a few things.”

Luke’s eyes narrowed, “What exactly do you want?”

“You,” Vader answered, “Or more specifically, your time. We have waited a lifetime to know our child and spent well over two years searching for you. We request, let’s say, two months of your time in exchange for the release of your friends.”

Luke gapped in shock, “That’s it? You just want my time? What happens after the two months are up?”

“Well,” Padme began, “That is entirely up to you. We won’t hold you, however. We also request you do not tell your friends of your relationship to us before the two months are up.”

“Why?”

It was Vader who answered this time, “If you were to inform your friends of our relationship and then they told your allies, they would most likely interpret your departure as a declaration of loyalty to the Empire. While I would encourage you to turn your back on that pathetic excuse for a rebellion, it should be done by your choice and not because of your honoring of a family commitment.”

Luke nodded slowly, it did make sense. And...they weren't asking for much were they? Just time to get to know one and other. While he seriously doubted this agreement was as transparent as it seemed, he couldn’t help but consider it. If this were a more traditional situation, he would happily turn himself over if it meant his friends could be freed. It was just in his nature. He probed the Force and found nothing but genuine intent from the two, and besides… what did he want? All his life, he has wanted his family. Especially his father. For whatever reason, perhaps the Force in retrospect, he could never accept that his father was gone. He knew. He always knew his family was out there, just waiting for him. And now he had the chance, the chance to know them, his mother and father. Even if they weren’t what he was expecting, how could he say no?

“If you agree to let my friends go, and to only hold me for the two months, I will accept this deal.”

Vader smiled, the brightest Luke had seen. “Wonderful. You won’t regret this Luke.” Vader held out his hand, and Luke grasped it.

The Force shook.

Chapter Text

Luke was lead out of the room by members of the Royal Guard, down to the detention block to see his friends before their release. The Emperor and Empress watched him go, only allowing themselves to relax once he was out of the room.

Letting her smile fall from her face, Padme turned towards her husband, “Your assessment of him?”

“Far more powerful than I could have hoped for. He will easily be as strong as I am.”

“Excellent. And what of his mood?”

“He has a limited control of his emotions. Many of the feelings he had during our dinner would be inappropriate for a Jedi, although the circumstances were somewhat extreme.”

“Fantastic. Anything else you could deduce?”

“He has felt a great deal of longing towards his family the majority of his life, especially his father. I imagine his desire to know us clouded his judgment or he wouldn’t have accepted this deal so easily and without question.”

Padme smiled again, turning towards her husband, “This is all so wonderful. We couldn’t have asked for a more perfect situation.”

Vader returned the smile, taking his wife into his arms, “Yes, this couldn't have gone better in my mind. The boy will make an excellent apprentice.”

Padme looked up, “Yes he will. But I do not want you pressuring the boy into that role yet. We have a limited amount of time with him in this agreement, all we need to be focusing on is assuring his loyalty.”

“He is already feeling disenfranchised by the Jedi, thanks to their lies. What fools to tell the boy this, they might as well gift wrapped him for us.”

Padme chuckled, “Perhaps. Although I imagine they assumed you wouldn’t be very rational when dealing with him. Or maybe they overestimated Luke’s loyalty to their cause. They may have assumed he would kill you regardless of your relationship with him.”

“I can’t imagine Obi-Wan being that stupid, although he may have gone senile in his isolation. Regardless, I intend to continue disillusioning him regarding the Jedi.”

“I agree to that, although please take it delicately. He’s a sensitive boy, I can tell. I don’t want to scare him off of appear harsh.” Vader scowled and Padme waved a finger at him, “I know you don’t enjoy the subtle approach, but in this case, the payoff will be worth it.”

Vader rolled his eyes, “As you command, my dear.”

“And no killing in front of him.”

“Oh, now you’re just twisting my arm-”

“Anakin. No. We need him to want to stay at our side. You have to come off as at least somewhat kind.”

Vader gave an over-the-top sigh, “Very well, although I will kill when he is out of earshot. Can’t have my crew thinking I’ve gone soft.”

“Fine. Although do restrain yourself. In the meantime, we also need to ensure he feels comfortable with us. Be warm, welcoming towards him.”

Vader grinned, “I don’t imagine that will be a problem. I barely know the boy and I already feel protective of him.”

Padme nodded, “He is rather endearing. Looks quite a bit like you too.”

“Yes, but with your stature. And your nose too.”

“I noticed.” Padme walked over toward the window. “Just think Anakin, we will have an apprentice for you, an heir for our Empire, and the end of the Rebellion all in one go.”

Vader walked up behind her, encircling her shoulders in his arms, “Yes, and an apprentice that will always remain loyal. Never has the Sith Order seen a pair that is father and son. Already I can feel the force bond growing between him and I. If cultivated correctly, he will never be able to betray us.”

“With his deflection, the Rebels will lose their finest poster boy. The moral crush alone will send them spiraling. That coupled with a new Sith Lord to contend with, and the solidification of the legitimacy of our Empire, the Rebellion will end in one swoop.”

Vader kissed his wife on the head, “Soon, my love, we will have all we have dreamed of. All the planning, all the pain, will be worth it.”

Padme turned to embrace her husband fully, burying her face in his chest, “We will be all-powerful, at long last.”

Vader’s grin magnified, holding her tighter, dreaming of their future.
____________________________________________________________________________

Luke moved through the corridors of the city, escorted by a group of royal guards. His...parents said he could say goodbye to Leia, Han, and Chewie. This was all so-so crazy. Yesterday he would have given anything to meet his father, let alone both of his parents, and yet here they are. He still couldn’t believe it, his parents were the rulers of the galaxy. They stood for everything he was raised to hate, and yet he cannot help but wonder. Did Uncle Owen and Aunt Beru know? Is that why they wanted to keep him on the farm? What would his life have been like if he was never taken from his parent? Would he be an Imperial Prince, fighting against the Rebellion? Would he and his friends be enemies? He shuddered.

From behind, he heard a series of beeps. “R2!” Luke ran up to the little droid, still waiting for him in the corridor. “Am I glad to see you! Stars, you’re not going to believe what happened.” Luke glanced towards his guards, who had allowed the young man to run up to his droid unmolested. He didn’t know how much he should say in front of them, however. “I’ll have to tell you later.”

R2 gave a series of beeps, all of which went over Luke’s head, before plugging himself into a nearby terminal. He began to display his message on the screen in basic.

‘I have yet to locate Princess Leia, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, but security cameras show they were being led to the detention block. C3PO went missing some hours ago.’

“Don’t worry about Han, Leia, and Chewie. I was able to...negotiate their release.”

‘What did you do?’ The little droid displayed. Somehow, Luke could feel the accusation in those words.

“I’ll tell you about it later. I’m heading down to get our friends released. In the meantime, try and locate C3PO. Force knows we can’t leave without him.” Luke turned towards his guards. “Is there any way you could order the location of my protocol droid. He is gold plated and his serial number is C3PO.”

The guard spoke up, “We will verify it with the Emperor, but we should be able to locate it.”

“Thank you.” Luke nodded, allowing the guards to lead him forward. “Meet me at the landing pad when you’re done R2.” He called back. R2 gave an affirmative beep before he was out of site.

The closer he got to the detention center, the worse he felt. What would he tell his friends? He already promised to avoid the truth of his relationship. Vader’s warning about seeing him as a traitor rang in his head. Would they hate him? He bit his nails.

Arriving at the detention block, he was lead to one of the cells in the far back. His mind briefly flashed back to the Death Star, rushing in to save Leia with Han holding back the troopers. Everything was simple then. His father’s killer was at large, and he was going to become a warrior and avenge him. Not exactly Jedi approved thoughts, but it was easy to understand. The guard opened the door and he was directed inside.

“LUKE!” Leia’s arms were around him in an instant, pulling him tight against her. He returned the hug in earnest, gripping her for all it was worth.

“Kid! Damn it, you got captured too? Here I was hoping for another dramatic rescue.”

Luke looked up from Leia to see Han in the corner, resting on a bunk. He looked worn out and weary. Luke’s mind flashed back to his visions; it was Han they had tortured to bring him here. He trembled in Leia’s embrace. No matter what, he needed to remember exactly who he was dealing with. Chewie gave a roar, coming over to hug both Luke and Leia, enwrapping the two of them in his furry arms.

“Ok-ok, Chewie I can’t breath!” Luke couldn’t help but laugh.

Leia pulled back from Luke, “Don’t worry, we’ll figure a way out of this. I promise you.”

Luke rubbed the back of his head. “About that. Um. Good news, I negotiated for you, Chewie, and Han’s release.”

Leia’s eyes narrowed, “What’s the bad news?”

Luke looked away, “Funny story, I may have agreed to a deal with Vader. A part of it is that I can’t give the details about it just yet.”

“Luke!”

“It’s ok! It’s all ok! I’m going to be fine, no one intends to execute me at this point! And it got you all released.”

“Doesn't mean we want you to sacrifice yourself, Kid!” Han yelled from the corner.

“It’s all going to be fine, I promise.” Luke grabbed Leia by the arms and looked her in the eye. “Please, trust me?”

“Luke,” Leia began, “I do trust you. But I also know you. I know you would throw yourself in harm's way to save us.” She grinned, “It’s a part of why I love you, but this isn’t worth it. We can find a way out of this together.”

Luke smiled back at her, “Leia, I promise everything will be ok. I’ll be back with the Rebels before you even have time to miss me. Then I promise I’ll explain everything.”

“Luke... I want to believe that. But you don’t know Vader, you have no idea what he is capable of.” The look in Leia’s eyes reminded Luke of all the suffering Vader had inflicted on the young woman. From the destruction of her home planet to the torture on the Death Star. It was horrific, and...and he was his son. This evil... he came from it. Luke shuddered.

“Leia, I know about the dangers. But I can’t leave you here. Be honest, you would do the same for me.” Luke grinned at her and she returned it.

“You got me there, I would do it for you.” Tears were welling up in her eyes. “You’re really doing this? You’re really sacrificing yourself for us?”

“Leia, I promise I’ll be back. Hell, it’s a part of our deal. Afterward, I’ll explain everything in excruciating detail, I swear.”

The tears were streaming down Leia’s face, “I want to believe you.”

“Come on, Princess, you know I would never let you down.” Leia threw her arms around Luke again, crying openly. He held her tight, tears welling up as well. Despite everything, despite Vader’s promise, he felt finality in his actions. Would this be the last time he saw them? Force, no, he wouldn’t let it be the last time, parents or not. Leia pulled away from him.

“Be careful, please. I’ll trust you, but please come back. We all need you.”

“I need you all too.” Luke let go of Leia and walked over to Han, who watched the display with a somber expression on his face.

“Kid, you have to know whatever deal you made with bucket head will backfire right? Ol’ Spooky isn’t exactly known for his honesty and kindness.”

“I know that Han, but I...I have something he wants. He won’t kill me, and I plan to get everything I can out of this. For both us and the Alliance.”

Han grabbed Luke by the collar, pulling him down to his level, and whispered to him. “If you don’t come back, I’ll never forgive you. Leia needs you, hell, I need you.”

Luke smiled, “I know Han, and I promise, it’ll all be fine.” Luke stood, “If it’s ok with you all, I’m going to take the droids. R2 is always useful, and C3PO can be an excellent companion.

Han waved at him, “Feel free. With Goldy gone, we may get some peace and quiet.”

Luke laughed at that, going over to Chewie to give him a goodbye hug. “Everything will be fine, I promise.” Now if only Luke could get himself to believe that.

Chapter Text

Luke couldn’t help but shudder as the Super Star Destroyer, The Executor, came closer into view. After a few years in the Rebellion, the site of it sent chills down his spine. A rather inappropriate reaction, considering he was sitting co-pilot to the Emperor, but it couldn’t be helped.

After saying his goodbyes to his friends, Luke was lead to the landing pad. His droids were nowhere to be found, R2 still on the hunt for his counterpart. Vader assured Luke his droids would be brought up once found, and they boarded the shuttle. Luke watched out of the corner of his eye as the Millenium Falcon was allowed to leave, escorted by a group of TIE fighters. He was still astounded the Emperor and Empress didn’t keep them as prisoners until the two months were up. Despite the show of good faith, he couldn’t get past the overwhelming feeling of dread that came over him when the ship left. It was like something precious was ripped from his arms. He was alone with the enemy.

The Empress sat in the back of the shuttle, making calls on her comm. She had disappeared once they took off, and Vader shrugged. “She always does this, always worrying, always working.”
Luke smiled a bit at that, before moving into the cockpit with Vader. The Emperor allowed him to sit as his co-pilot, a position Luke took gladly.

It was...strange sitting next to Vader so casually. He maneuvered the shuttle with a refined grace and ease, landing it in the massive ships hanger without even a bump. Vader stood up as soon as the ship landed, “Come along, let’s get you settled in.” With the force, Vader called over his mask and helmet, attaching it before disembarking.

The Empress emerged from the passenger lounge, “Senator Decci just called for a vote on the secondary weapon supply bill, and Moff Rickton had an assassination attempt against them. Second time this week. Oh, and there was another protest at the Palace, stormtroopers detained over 50 people.”

Vader turned towards Luke, “As soon as she turns her back, it all goes to hell.”

Luke nodded, keeping his mouth closed. He really had no idea what they were talking about. This was all so removed from the world he is a part of.

The hatch opened, revealing well over 100 stormtroopers assembled for their arrival. Luke walked directly behind Vader and Padme, his nerves getting the best of him. What was he doing? This was all happening so fast. Why had he agreed so easily? He should have at least negotiated a bit, but no, he just said yes without though. It was hard to believe that just that morning he had been waking up in Yoda’s hut, ready for another day of training and meditating. But there was nothing to be done about that now. He would go along, keep his end of the bargain (as if he had any other options), but remain steadfast to his beliefs. While he was still upset with Master Yoda and Ben for lying to him about his family, he did trust their teachings. Regardless of what his father is now, he was once a Jedi, and that’s what Luke would be.

Arriving on the lift, the three boarded, with Vader selecting a button using the force. Padme was entering commands via text on her comm. Luke glanced down at his feet, playing with his hands. He glanced up towards Vader, “Um, may I ask why you still wear the mask if you’re uninjured.”

Vader turned towards him, “We have only recently taken control. Changes need to be made gradually. When the time is right, we will unveil my health, among other things.”

Something in the phrasing did not sit with Luke, but he did not have time to voice it as they had arrived.

Luke was lead down a dark corridor, arriving at a set of double doors. Vader keyed in a code, revealing a large sitting room, with shiny black floors, gray walls, deep red leather couches, and several other doors. To one side was an eating area, with a massive dark marble table and matching chairs. While the suite was luxurious, it was rather bare and impersonal. Luke got the impression this was more of Vader’s domain.

It was Padme who spoke, “We will be returning to Coruscant for the time being. The journey should take about two days. We have quarters set up for you in here.” Padme led him into one of the side rooms, revealing more black and gray, but this time with an extra large bed, dresser, desk, and side table. There were two other doors in his quarters as well, most likely leading to a fresher and closet.

Padme turned towards Luke, “I understand this was a bit overwhelming.” Luke nodded, his eyes remaining on his feet. Overwhelming was something of an understatement. “We will leave you to get settled in. You’ll find fresh clothes in the closet, and you can call for food using the interface on the wall.” The woman paused, reaching out to grasp Luke’s chin, bringing his eyes to meet hers, “We are so glad to have you here. Thank you for giving us this chance to know you.” Luke’s eyes widened, unable to find any words to answer her. In an instant, she let go of his face, moving back a step. “Perhaps tomorrow you father could give you a tour of the ship.”

“Um, sure, that would be great,” Luke answered, finally finding his voice. The woman smiled at him, before leaving, closing the door behind her.

At last, he was alone.

Today, he had met his parents. At long last, after too many years, all the heartbreak, all the dreaming, all the wishing. Force knows they weren't what he was expecting, but then again, a Rebel Jedi was probably not what they were expecting either. Yet they accepted him, welcomed him. They had hurt his friends, but… how much could he blame them? What would he do in the same situation? If he found out the child he thought dead lived, what would he do to get them back? He shook his head. This wasn’t productive. He had two months with his family. Two months, and then he would return to the Alliance. His parents may rule this Empire, but his heart was still with the Rebels. He would use this time to the fullest, getting to know his family and more importantly getting whatever intel he could for the Alliance. A tour of a Super Star Destroyer would be a fantastic way to start. After he returned too, he would head back to Dagobah and have a chat with Master Yoda about why exactly he lied to him. Despite the apparent betrayal, Luke had a hard time believing his Masters had malicious intent towards him. Although encouraging to kill his father was a bit problematic. He sighed, yet another unproductive train of thought. He may as well investigate his room.

Luke moved over to the large bed, feeling the silky sheets with his fingers. The fabric was the nicest he had ever felt. Walking over to the closet, he opened the door to reveal multiple complete outfits, all done in varying shades of black and gray. Much like the mattress, the fabric was fantastically smooth. Despite the simple design, the amenities were all of the highest quality. An ever-present reminder of who owned this suite. Opening one of the doors, he found a massive fresher, with real water! He had never had a shower with real water before. Now excited, Luke ran back and grabbed a fresh set of clothes before peeling off his orange flight suit. He climbed into the shower and turned the water on hot. The heat felt amazing, washing away all the grime he had accumulated on his body. He was filthy from his time with Yoda, and the hot water was the best thing he had felt in a while. He remained under the water for some time, playing with the various soaps and gels he found inside. Finally emerging, he felt (and smelled) better than he had in ages. He pulled on the new clothes, astounded at how wonderful they felt when on. He appreciated the fabric before, but now he had an entirely new understanding of it. Moving out from the fresher, he climbed into bed. Laying down, he was once again amazed at how silky the sheets were, and how sinfully plush the bed was. After so many years sleeping in barracks with the Rebels, and a hard cot on the farm beforehand, this was the most comfortable he had ever been. He would admit there were some benefits to this deal. Perhaps mother and father would allow him to keep some of these clothes after the two months were up. Rolling over, he allowed exhaustion to take him.
____________________________________________________________________________

Leia paced up and down the corridor of the Falcon. “We shouldn't have left him there.”

“We didn’t have much of a choice.” Han responded, resting on a chair while Chewie treated yet another electrical burn from his ‘interrogation.’

“We should have done something at least! Not run with our tail between our legs as soon as we were clear to jump!”

“Leia, I know you’re upset. Hells, I’m furious! But those guards were the Emperors Elite, and that was the damned Executor in orbit above. The whole Alliance fleet wouldn’t have engaged them.” Han pulled himself up, ignoring Chewie’s protest. He grabbed Leia by the arm, stopping her pacing, “We’ll get him back, I promise, but we need to bide our time and fight a fight we at least have a chance of winning. If we got killed trying to free the kid, then he would still be stuck and the Alliance would have lost one of its best leaders.” Han squeezed her arm, telling exactly who he was referring to.

Tears welled up in Leia’s eyes, “I know. I know you’re right. But he’s like a brother to me, leaving him with that monster-” Han grabbed her fully, pulling her into a tight hug.

“I don’t want him to suffer the way I suffered under Vader. I’ve lost so much already, I don’t wanna lose him.” Leia sobbed into Han’s chest, Han stroked her hair.

“I know Princess, and we’ll do everything we can to save him, just like he did for us. Besides,” Han grinned, “Junior still owes me for saving his life in the Death Star.”

Leia looked up, “What about Hoth?”

Han shrugged, “After rescuing us from Vader, we’re calling Hoth even. But he still has to pay me back for the Death Star, and I’ll be damned if the kid is getting out of his debt.”

Leia laughed, “I’m sure Luke will appreciate that you’re only saving him because he owes you.”

“Well, I have a reputation to uphold.”

Leia grinned, pulling away from Han. She whipped the tears from her eyes, sniffing. A part of her was surprised at how horrified she was with the loss of Luke. She had lost countless friends over the course of this war, her whole planet for goodness sake! But the idea of losing Luke pulled at her heart, breaking it. There was a bond between the two of them, something more than just friends. She felt it the moment he ran into her cell on the Death Star, declaring he was here to rescue her. It wasn’t romantic, no not at all. It was more like they were family, with a bond that should never be broken. She was going to get him back, no matter what it took.

Chapter Text

Luke was having trouble keeping up with his father as they moved through the corridors of the Executor. They had been on there tour for almost two hours, and trying to keep stride with Vader was becoming difficult. Officers and stormtroopers all ducked out of their way as they passed, with only a few shooting an odd look at the newcomer touting behind as their Emperor stalked the halls. They saw the engine room, command center, weapons facility, and they were currently on track for the hanger. The sheer size of the ship still astounded Luke. He couldn’t imagine how long it would take to see everything. So far, everything he had seen was spectacular, with the latest tech and finest design. It made the Rebellion’s equipment look rather pathetic by comparison. Luke felt bad for having the thought.

“Where will we be going after the hanger Lord Vader?” His father instructed him to address him as such while in public.

“We will be joining her majesty for dinner.”

Luke nodded. He was still so uncomfortable around his father. Hell, thinking of him as his father was still such a foreign concept. The mask certainly didn’t help, making the man even more intimidating than he was alone. As for his mother, he didn’t know what to make of the woman. She seemed so endearing, so friendly. Just that morning she had greeted him with a smile as bright as Tatoo I, having breakfast with him in the main room of their suite. Her smile was as gentle as Leia’s, and it made his heart hurt. While her interactions with him were all so pleasant, so endearing, he couldn’t help but be cautious. He couldn’t shake the feeling that something just wasn’t right.

The arrived at Vader’s private hanger, touring the TIE Fighters, AT-AT’s, and other various ships. Luke was astonished at the modified TIE Advanced his father flew, examining the extensive changes Vader had made to improve the design.

“This ship is amazing! The engine design is like nothing I have ever seen.”

“I imagine you won’t be seeing it again, young one. I based the design off a Naboo Star Cruiser Mark I engine.”

“That ship is one of the rarest in the galaxy! They only made, what, 200 in their entire production run.”

“173 to be exact. I have three currently residing at Imperial Center.”

“Stars, is there any way I could have a look when we arrive?”

Vader chuckled, “Of course child.” His father regarded him for a moment, “How long have you been interested in ships?”

Luke smiled, “Since forever. When I was a child, I was absolutely obsessed with them. I read everything I could find on the topic. When I got older, I was able to save up for a T-16. I spent ages working on that ship, wringing out every bit of power from the engine.”

“It seems you inherited my interest in flying. Rather beneficial for your chosen career.”

Luke rubbed his head, “I suppose so. Ben said you were the best pilot in the galaxy.”

“A rather large compliment coming from someone who complained about my flying on a daily basis.”

Luke laughed, “Really? That was the same time he gave a lightsaber. He said it was yours.”

“Yes, I saw the saber you had. It was indeed mine, the same one I wielded in my duel against him. After I was defeated, I assume he grabbed it for himself.”

“That’s... a far cry from what he told me. He said you had left it for when I was old enough.”

“I wish I could be surprised by that Luke. He wanted to give you a connection to your father, something inspiring. Instead, he handed you a stolen blade full of betrayal.”

Luke unclipped the saber from his belt, stretching his hand out. “I suppose I should return it then.”
Vader reached over grasping Luke’s hand in his, holding the saber between the two. “I have no problem with you carrying my blade, child. In fact, I am glad it could serve you. Keep it, until you are ready to construct your own.”

“My own?”

“Of course, it’s an essential part of your training. Every lightsaber is different, crafter for the hand that would wield it.”

“W-will you show me how to make one?”

Vader smiled under his mask, “Of course Luke, I would be happy to.” Vader glanced over to the wall, checking a mounted chrono. “Come young one. We still have much to do, and time is of the essence.”

“I take it the Empress is not one to be kept waiting?”

“Your instincts serve you well. No, she absolutely hates tardiness. Despite never being on time herself.”

Luke chuckled at that, despite himself.

They moved away from the hanger, returning to their living quarters. Just as they arrived,

Padme emerged from one of the rooms, a datapad in hand. “Right on time, wonderful. I already sent for dinner to be brought up.” She handed the datapad to Vader, who had just begun removing his mask and helmet. “The budget for the next quarter was just sent in. Everything looks in order, but there seem to be some...discrepancies with Moff Kalo’s sector.”
Vader opened the datapad and began to read. “The spending seems average for a mid-rim sector.”

“Yes, I would agree. Looking closer, however, I noticed certain budget cuts across all humanitarian efforts, with the excess credits directed to ‘reallocation of displaced civilians from war-related activities’ on Dugaa. Funny coming from a planet that has never seen a rebel attack.”

“And what planet does the Moff Kalo hold his permanent residence?”

“I’ll give you a million guesses.”

Vader turned towards Luke, “Young one, what do you think this Moff is doing?”

Luke looked up, surprised. While he had followed their conversation, he didn’t expect to be included. “It sounds like this Kalo person is embezzling credits under a false charity.”

“Very good. What should we do about it?”

Luke shrugged, “Arrest him?”

Padme nodded, “Normally, yes, I would agree. However, this particular Grand Moff is extremely well-liked in his sector. Arresting him, even with the information presented, will lead to controversy and distrust for the Empire.”

“Well, could you release the information and then arrest him?”

“Perhaps, but the citizens would have to take our word against his. The shadow of the previous Emperor still looms in the minds of the citizens. I highly doubt the people of this sector would trust the word of the Empire over the promise of their beloved personal leader.”

“So what should you do?”

It was Vader who spoke next, “There are alternatives that require a more subtle approach. Leadership must use discretion when faced with these situations.”

Luke thought about it for a moment, “You could have the information leaked, and let the people decide for themselves. If it’s not coming from the Empire directly, then they may be more likely to agree with it.”

Padme smiled, “Yes, and when they express disdain for their Moff, we can come in and replace him. Anakin, do you agree to this plan?”

Vader nodded, “I’ll agree to that. I’ll make the arrangements in the morning to have the budget leaked on the Holonet anonymously. We will monitor the situation from there.”

“Excellent.” At that moment, a serving droid rolled into their suite, with a large tray of food. Padme gestured towards the table, “Shall we?”

The three sat down at the table, with Luke and Padme across from each other, and Vader at the head. The Sith Lord made eye contact with his wife for a moment, sharing in the smile on her face. That interaction had gone well, with Luke’s solution a sound one. Personally, Vader would have preferred to have the Moff assassinated quietly, but this would do for now. Luke needed to be introduced to the decisions faced by the Emperor and Empress, and including him in them now would only aid his training once he has fully renounced the Rebels. While this situation was rather simple, especially compared to the ones they normally faced, it was good to start small and allow him to adjust. Besides, Vader snickered, the more power Luke felt he had, the less likely he was to want to give it up at the end of their deal. He was their son after all.

“Oh Luke,” Padme began, “My guards brought your droids up before we made the jump to hyperspace. Apparently, your protocol droid took quite a beating, so he is being repaired. Both will be brought up by tonight.”

“Thank you, I appreciate it.” Luke took a moment to gather his thoughts, “Um, may I ask, what will I be doing once we reach the capital? I mean, I’m assuming I won’t be going out much.”

“Yes, I’m afraid you will be confined to the Palace grounds, but don’t worry, there is plenty to do.”

Vader spoke up, “You are welcome to spend your time refining your saber skills, young one. I have several dueling droids you can practice with. If you like, I can show you a thing or two as well.” Vader looked up at Luke for his answer.

Luke’s eyes met Vader’s, “If it’s just how to use a lightsaber, then I would be happy to learn.”

Vader nodded, “Very well.” Smart boy, “Aside from that, you should also spend some time in our library. If the schooling on Tatooine is as bad as it was when I was a child, and I have it on good authority that it is, you require additional education.”

“I wish I could disagree with you, but to be honest most of my education consisted of how to survive in a sandstorm.”

“A valuable skill, but do utilize your resources now.”

“For some reason, I do not think I have a choice in the matter.”

“Once again your instincts serve you.”

Luke cocked an eyebrow, “You do know I’m an adult right?”

“You’re never too old to learn, Luke.”

Padme snickered, “We won’t force you, Luke.” Vader looked taken back, and Padme ignored him. “But it would be a good way to spend your free time. Feel free to study whatever you wish, if we do not have information on it, I will have it acquired.”

Luke brightened up at that, any topic he wished? “Very well, thank you.”

Padme smiled, offers of an education can be very enticing if you have never had one. Luke could learn whatever he wanted, it wouldn’t matter in the end.

The droid returned a short while later to gather their plates. Vader turned towards Luke. “Come, there is something else I wish to show you.” Luke nodded, waving goodbye to his mother before following Vader out of the room.
____________________________________________________________________________

Leia tossed and turned in her cot, only minority disturbing her bedmate. Han just rolled over, snoring again within moments. She envied him, wishing she could get back to sleep so easily. The dreams she had been having were so odd, not to mention disturbing. She was no stranger to nightmares, especially after the Battle of Yavin. From the torture to the loss of her planet, not to mention the death of her whole family...mother and father. Leia shook her head. No, this was not the time to go down that path. The pain of potentially losing Luke was enough, not to add to the ever-present grief surrounding her life.

The dreams tonight were nothing like the ones before. Tonight, she was standing in an empty field, surrounded by gray mist. Someone was calling out to her, whispering something she couldn’t quite grasp. In the dream, she knew whatever they had to say was of the utmost importance, but no matter what she did, she couldn’t hear the message. There was an overwhelming feeling of dread surrounding her until she was eventually swallowed by it. No matter how far she ran in the dream, there was no escape, and she knew that. Leia rubbed her temples, contemplating going down to the medic and retrieving a sedative.

If Luke was here, she would probably go and wake him. She had done it before, before Han and she had gotten close, and he was always so comforting. He never got upset over the loss of sleep, always smiling so warmly, offering a listening ear and kind words.

Leia turned over, Luke was gone, and until they rescued him, she had a feeling these dreams would only get worse. She wrapped her arms around Han’s back, sinking into a troubled sleep.

Chapter Text

Luke moved behind his father, following him down the hallway of the master quarters. Wherever they were going, it must be close, considering that Vader didn’t bother putting his mask back on. He still felt...odd about the conversations he had at dinner with the Emperor and Empress. He wasn’t really sure why they would care about his opinion regarding some random Moff and an embezzling plot. A part of him felt guilty that he helped them in any way, but another part was glad his non-violent solution was taken. He didn’t want to do anything to aid the Empire, but initiating a positive solution couldn’t be all bad, right? Not to mention the money stolen would find its way back to humanitarian efforts, and that was a good thing. So why did he feel so strange?
What was even odder about their conversation was the insistence he began studying of all things. It felt, well, nice. He had never been particularly concerned with his education, all he had ever wanted to do was fly. Uncle Owen always raged against Luke attending school during the harvest, but his aunt insisted he attend regardless. Unlike many of his peers on Tatooine, he could read and write in both basic and Huttess, as well as perform simple arithmetic. While he considered himself fairly educated, being around some of the Alliance leaders always reminded him of his ignorance. Listening to Leia talk about galactic history would always send his mind spinning with just how much he didn’t know. Even Han had a stronger background, learning a great deal during his time with the Imperials. Well, he realized, he would use this time to educate himself to the best of his abilities. When he returned to the Alliance, he could impress Leia with his vast new wealth of knowledge. Besides, if he could study whatever he wanted, he could learn about the history of the Jedi, as well as the Republic. Although he knew the majority of the content in the Imperial libraries would hold a very large bias in those cases.

“Through here,” Vader guided Luke though another door, opening up to a massive gymnasium, with padded floors and walls, various workbenches along the side, and an entire row of dueling droids on the south wall. “I have a similar training room on the capital. I thought we could begin with a few basics now.”
Luke looked up at the man for a moment, regarding him. Despite the actions of Master Yoda and Ben, he was still wary of the Dark Side, and therefore, his father. Within the Force, he felt like a massive cloud of darkness, overwhelming and encompassing. Luke wanted to learn, and the childlike part of him was overjoyed at the idea of being taught by his father...he supposed just a few lessons with a saber couldn’t hurt. Even Yoda explained there were some skills that overlapped between the two sides. Realising he had fallen into a tangent, Luke gave a nod to his father.

“Very well, first, let me see your stance. Ignite your saber and take a fighting position.”

Luke nodded again, grabbing his lightsaber from his belt. He activated it with a snap-hiss, and took the basic stance taught to him.
Vader regarded him for a moment, before shaking his head, “No, your position is right but you’re not low enough to the ground.” The older man gave Luke a push on his left arm, resulting in him falling out of the position. “Your center of gravity is too high. Adjust and try again.” Luke followed his father's instructions, repeating the activity several times before finding the right position. When he had trained with Yoda and Ben, everything felt so rushed, there was no time to focus on such basics. While the activity was too repetitive for Luke’s taste, he appreciated the opportunity to improve.

“Very good, now let me see how you grip the saber.” Luke demonstrated, and his father came up behind him. “Not bad, but loosen your right hand up a bit.” Vader placed his hands over Luke’s. “Gripping it too hard can be dangerous, especially in battle. There are some maneuvers that result in either the disarmament of your opponent or the loss of their right hand. In those cases, it is critical to let go of the saber to avoid injury.” Vader was quiet for a moment, “That is actually how I lost my right hand.”

Luke turned to look at his father, “I take it you would like to avoid another mishap.”

Vader smiled, “Ideally, yes. I would prefer to spare you of that, my son.” The man moved back, away from his son, “Now, let's start with the various forms.”

The training went on for a few hours. Vader was surprisingly patient with him, offering critique when needed and providing a variety of valuable information. They went through various kata’s and techniques, building on the knowledge Luke already had as well as introducing new concepts. There were a few times when Luke felt something...strange happen. Like something was knocking at his mind, trying to gain entrance. The sensation only lasted for a second, and Luke had a hard time believing he didn’t imagine the whole thing. Despite everything, the young man enjoyed every moment of it. His father was the most relaxed he had ever seen, and he even smiled a few times.

“You have done well, Luke. We can continue this in the coming days.”

Luke nodded, wiping the sweat from his brow. “Thank you for showing me this.”

Vader smiled at Luke, “I am happy to do it son. Now come along, it had been a long day and we return to the capital tomorrow.”

Luke followed Vader out of the room. Another hot shower and bed sounded heavenly. Upon entering the main portion of their quarters, Luke and Vader found the Empress sitting on one of the many couches, with a datapad in hand. A huge smile broke out on her face when they arrived. “How did training go?”

Luke returned the smile, “It was great! Although I have to say I’m exhausted.”

Vader laughed, “That is to be expected after training with me.”

“Oh Luke, before you retire, your droids are being brought up. They finally finished the repairs on the protocol droid.”

“That’s wonderful, thank you.” Luke’s mood went up even higher.

Within moments, R2D2 rolled into their quarters.

“R2!” Both Vader and Padme exclaimed.

The little droid sent out a flurry of beeps at the sight of the three family members, rolling up to Vader and Padme, the robotic dome swirling all around.

“Oh dear, R2 come back! That’s the Emperor and Empress, you can’t just run up to them!” C3PO waddled into the room after his counterpart.

Vader’s eyes went wide, “C3PO! You, you don’t recognize us?!”

“As far as I am informed sir, you are Emperor Vader, ruler of the Empire.”

R2 gave out a few beeps, “Memory wipe? What are you talking about you overrated trash can?”

Vader turned towards his wife, “They must have erased his memories after we became incapacitated.”

Padme smiled, “Can you blame them? C3PO was always something of a talker.”

“I’m sorry,” Luke interjected, “What exactly is happening here?”

Padme turned towards her son, “Your droids were once ours, long ago. R2D2 was originally my astromech and your father built 3PO when he was a boy.”

“T-that’s insane,” Luke said, running a hand through his hair, “R2 and 3PO were the droids containing the plans for the first Death Star. We bought them off some Jawas back at the farm, with the Empire not far behind.”

“It was the will of the Force, no more no less.” Vader responded, “The droids belonging to your family found their way to you, and brought you out of the desert.”

Luke shook his head, that sounded a bit too heavy-handed for him, but he couldn’t deny what an improbable coincidence this was.

Vader kneeled down, reaching eye level of R2, “It’s good to see you again, old friend.” The little droid let out another series of beeps, “Your boosters are still offline? I’ll get them fixed tomorrow.”

“He has booster rockets?” Luke asked.

“Oh yes, I made quite a few changes to this little droid in our time together. He was at my side through all of the Clone Wars, while 3PO kept your mother company back home.”

“This is wonderful!” 3PO exclaimed, “I finally have found my maker!”

“Vader nodded, “Yes you did 3PO, and you will be serving us for the time being.”

That seemed to compute with the golden droid, “Yes sir, it would be my pleasure.” The droid moved towards the side of the room. “If it’s alright sir, I would like to power down in order to run a systems check. Those fellows in maintenance failed to reconfigure my appendage control.”

“Very well, C3PO. We’ll call if needed.” The droid nodded before powering down.

“Wait,” Luke began, “No one bothered to wipe R2’s memory?”

“Oh, I built in a protection for that, couldn't have the best astromech in the galaxy forgetting about me.” R2 gave a positive hoot.

“So, R2, you knew who my father was this whole time?”

Luke received a positive beep.

“And you chose to not tell me?”

R2 responded with a string of binary, which Vader interpreted with a chuckle, “He said he was not programmed to resolve family disputes.”

Luke shook his head, smiling. A part of him was a bit upset, but another part understood he wasn’t ready for the information sooner. And this entire thing was way beyond the programming of an astromech. Luke yawned, despite the excitement, he was still exhausted after the day he had.

“Why don’t we all retire, hum? It’s getting late, and there is much to do tomorrow.”

Luke nodded, although he noticed Vader didn’t move from his space on the floor with R2. He was currently adjusting something near the droids robotic pincer.

“Anakin, you can play with R2 tomorrow. Come along.”

“In a moment, Angel. Those fools down in maintenance did a horrible job redoing his wiring. At this rate, his pincer will fail after a handful of uses.”

Padme rolled her eyes, “Well, *I* am retiring, and I had hoped my husband would join me.”

“Don’t worry dearest, this won’t take but a moment.”

The Empress sighed, turning towards her son, “He’ll be here for hours, I suggest we go to bed.”

Luke shook his head, “Perhaps if I help, the task will get accomplished sooner.” The young man knelt down next to his father.

The Empress put her hands on her hips, “Just want I need, another one.” She laughed, “Please try to get to be soon you two.” The woman disappeared into her chambers.

Sitting with his father, the two were able to make quick work of R2’s repairs.

Vader smiled as he worked, “This little droid and I went on quite a few adventures together, didn’t we R2?”

The little droid let out a long string of binary.

“Oh come now, that wasn’t my fault. Besides, they rebuilt the statue just fine.”

R2 sent out a few more beeps.

“Now you’re just being unreasonable.”

Luke laughed out loud, “I can’t believe you can understand him.”

“It’s not that complex, I can teach you if you like.”

“That would be great.” Luke smiled.

“Well, looks like the repairs are complete, at least for this portion.” Vader made eye contact with the dome of the droid, “When we arrive tomorrow, I will do a full systems check on both of you, and make any repairs needed.”

R2 gave a positive hoot, rolling over towards his counterpart and powering down.

“Come now, let us get some rest. I imagine her majesty is not exactly happy with me at the moment.”

Luke laughed, standing up and moving towards the door leading to his quarters.

“Goodnight son.”

Luke turned. “Goodnight Father.”
____________________________________________________________________

Leia moved down through the Alliance base, her pace increasing. She had spent the majority of the day debriefing with the High Council regarding what happened on Bespin. She shuddered, retelling it was bad enough. Han’s torture, Luke’s capture… Leia sighed. The night before had been horrible, with the nightmares keeping her up until the early morning. Leia shook her head. She needed to focus.

She had just received word from Han to get down to the landing pad asap. Gods willing it wasn’t another Imperial Spy Drone

Arriving in the landing bay, she saw a large assembly of Alliance troops along with Han and Chewie surrounding a massive Corellian Freighter. The ship was huge, at least five times the size of the Millenium Falcon, and standing at the extended landing pad was Lando.

Leia’s rage ignited with the sight of the man, and she stormed over towards him. “What in the Sith Hells do you think you’re doing here?!”

“I just asked him the same thing,” Han said from the side.

“Look,” Lando began, “I’ve come here to try and make amends for what happened at Bespin-”

“You think you can make up for Bespin?! After what happened to Han and Luke!” Leia snapped.

Lando held his hands out in front of him, fearful of the young woman, “I wasn’t left with much of a choice, but I have no love for the Empire. If you’ll give me a chance, I’ll do everything I can to help your cause.”

Han looked up, “And we should believe you because?”

“Aside from the resources I can offer towards your cause, I also brought a peace offering.”

Lando gestured towards his ship, and Leia signaled to the guards to remain behind. Standing close to Chewie, Leia followed into the Freighter. Within the belly of the ship was Luke’s X-Wing. “It was left behind by the Empire. I figured you all would have more use for it than I would.”

Leia nodded, walking up and running her hand along the underside of the fighter. It was strange, she could almost feel Luke’s presence within the ship. Leia looked up, “I’ll have to speak with the council, but I will recommend you be allowed to stay.” Leia walked up towards Lando, here eyes bearing into his, “Do not make me regret my decision.”
Lando gulped, “Yes ma’am.”

Leia looked back over at Luke’s ship. She closed her eyes for a moment and felt a gentle tug. It reminded her something of the dreams from the night before, whispering words she could not quite understand. There was something about the ship, and she would figure out what.

Chapter Text

Lord Vader entered the bedchambers he shared with his wife, removing his cape in the process.

“All finished with R2?” Padme asked, sitting at her dresser, combing her brown hair.

Vader came up from behind, kissing her on the head, “Yes Angel, Luke was very helpful with the repairs.”

She hummed, “I take it you found a friend?”

Vader chuckled, “It’s natural for a child to be similar to their parents.”

Padme grinned for a moment before letting her face hardened again. “In all seriousness though, how did his training go?”

Vader's mood fell, “Fine, although he is extremely sensitive to the Dark Side, as well as fearful of it. Every time I tried to introduce the concept to him, he withdrew.”

“You didn’t force him, did you?”

“No, I remained passive, allowed him to resist as much as he needed. To be honest, he barely noticed what was happening.”

“I’m glad.” Vader scoffed, “It’s only the second day, we have plenty of time to bring him to our way of thinking. Patience will win the day here, I promise.”

Vader signed, “I know you are right, my dear, but you know patience is not one of my strong suits.”

“Oh, trust me, I’m aware. But let's look at the positives, he is already warming up to us.”

“Yes, he is. To be honest, he is far too trusting,” Vader said.

“We can address that later, for now, let’s be happy it works in our favor.”

“I agree, and once we return to Imperial Center, I will be continuing our lessons together. And some more ‘quality time’ together working on droids couldn’t hurt. He seemed to enjoy it a great deal tonight.”

Padme nodded, standing to face her husband, “Yes, and I will be including him in as many executive decisions I can, as well as provide at least some of his education.”

“Sounds productive. Eventually, I think some inclusion in military matters may help him understand the pull of the Dark Side.”

"I’ll agree to that, although save it until next month. I want him comfortable in the Palace before we uproot him again.”

“Very well, and I will make sure it’s non-rebellious activity.”

“That should be fine, but let's keep our options open. We may need to adjust accordingly to his needs.”

“I agree.” Vader embarrassed his wife, holding her against his body. “I know I should be wary of overconfidence, but I cannot help but feel this will end in our favor.”

Padme returned the embrace, “Yes, I feel that way too.” She looked up, kissing her husband, “Perhaps it's time for bed?”

Vader's hand drifted lower, “Bed huh?”

“Indeed. Perhaps you could wait a moment while I go change into something more comfortable?”

“Does it matter? It’ll be on the floor in ten seconds anyway.”

Padme rolled her eyes, disappearing into the bathroom, “I’ll be out in a moment.”

Vader grinned, sitting down onto their bed. He knew his wife would be far longer than ‘a moment’ but it was all worth it in the end. A part of him was still so shocked at the way his life had come together. He spent so many years in agony, serving a ruthless master, knowing nothing but self-hatred and loathing. For his failure to protect his wife, the loss of their unborn child, the destruction of his body. So much pain! But here he was, fully healed save for his limbs (but hey, his prosthetics were all but unnoticeable), with both his wife and son and the power to shape the galaxy into what it should be. He would endure it all again to ensure this outcome, without thought.
If there was one thing he would change, however, it would be the suffering of his wife. First for the grief of believing they had lost their child and then the...rest. A part of him considered opening up to Luke about the other few details that happened in their story, if nothing else to help the boy understand them better, but he held back. Padme had made it clear she would never speak of what occurred again, at least freely, and he couldn’t blame her. Even after eradicating every single one of them involved, the rage he felt was not quenched. He could kill them a thousand times and still, never know peace. He dug his fingers into his palms for a moment before releasing. There was nothing to be done about it anymore. After all these years, it was time to look to the future and to be honest, it had never looked brighter.

One thing was clear though, the woman she was when she had Luke and the woman she was today were not the same. Her desire for power was overwhelming and nearly unquenchable, eclipsing even his own. He swore silently, as he had done a thousand times before, to never allow her to know such pain again. He closed his eyes for a moment, breathing deep. Dark Side or Light, Jedi or Sith, he would love her forever.

The bathroom door opened, and Vader lost his train of thought. Force above, he was a lucky man.
____________________________________________________________________________

Luke was unable to wipe the grin off his face as he returned to his room. Today had been one of the best days he had in ages. He was so surprised at how natural it felt to spend time with his parents, how enjoyable. They were both so kind to him, so warm and inviting. It was amazing how comfortable he felt, despite only knowing them for two days. A part of him nagged, reminding him of all the warnings he had received from Ben and Yoda about Vader, but he pushed them down. They had lied to him about his parentage, who knows what else they could have lied about? Luke shook his head, no he wasn’t being fair either. He never heard their side of the story, and besides, he knows the Emperor and Empress can be dangerous, parents or not.

A new idea began to form in his mind, one that seemed so appealing. Perhaps he could try and reason with his parents regarding the Rebels, help them find a middle ground. It was a long shot, and force knows he isn’t a politician, but if he could bring the two sides together, he could end the war. Force, he wished Leia was here, a few days with her would lead anyone to the Rebellion way of thinking. He would take the time to remember everything she had shown him, everything she explained. The detailed arguments, the carefully worded debates. He would help his parents come to their senses about the fate of the galaxy, and finally, end this destructive conflict.

Nodding to himself, Luke got ready for bed, showing in the beautiful bathroom and changing into yet another set of luxurious cloths. Crawling into the sinfully comfortable bed, he found sleep easy, envisioning a future full of peace and equality.
____________________________________________________________________________

Leia rolled out of bed, rubbing her temples. The crono on the wall read 0300, and yet she was wide awake. She had had another nightmare, filled once again with shapeless beings telling her things she could never hope to understand. Luke was there at one point, smiling at something in the distance. She had called out to him, but he disappeared into the darkness surrounding them. Leia shook her head. This was getting annoying now. She sighed, she wouldn’t be getting back to sleep anytime soon, that was certain.

Leia extracted herself from the bed, moving quietly to not disturb Han, who was currently fast asleep on his side. She pulled on her clothing in the darkness, slipping on an Alliance jumpsuit. No need for her more formal wear at this time of night. She moved towards the exit, activating the door.

“Leia?” A sleepy voice called from the bed.

The Princess turned to see Han staring at her with lidded eyes, “Just going for some air, I’ll be back soon.”

“Had a’other bad dream?” He slurred.

Leia nodded, “Yeah, just need a moment to clear my head.”

Han sat up, “Wanna talk ‘bout it?” He rubbed his eyes for a moment.

Leia smiled at him, “I’ll be ok, you just go back to sleep. I promise to come back soon.”

“O’kay Princess, whatever you say,” Han gave a false solute.

Leia came up to the bed for a moment, kneeling down to kiss the man, “I love you.”

Han grinned, “I know.”

Leia rolled her eyes, standing up. By the time she made it to the exit, the man was fast asleep once again.

Leia moved down the halls of the Alliance base toward the mess hall, her body on autopilot. She kept circling back to the dream, specifically Luke in it. A part of her wanted to dismiss these dreams as just the product of an overstressed mind, but another part, one far deeper inside, insisted it was something more.

Leia looked up, startled that she was in the hanger bay. When had she walked here? She must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. Walking along the various rows of ships, she came to a halt at Luke’s X-Wing. High Command had agreed to ground the ship for now, until either Luke was rescued or they… found out his fate. Leia shook her head. Luke was alive. Alive and would pilot this ship again.

Leia traced the underbelly of the ship with her hand, walking along its side. She glanced up at the canopy, open, most likely for maintenance. Her eyes narrowed for a moment. Yes, there was something up there. Leia pushed a nearby scaffolding over, climbing up the side. Carefully, Leia lowered herself into the cockpit of the ship.

The Princess had been trained to pilot a variety of ships, from X-Wings, A-Wings, to even Imperial Walkers. She placed her hands on the controls, imagining Luke for a moment. She could almost see him in the trenches of the Death Star, about to make the shot that would either save or doom the Alliance. She pictured him flying through the various missions she had sent him on, all coming back miraculously successful, and the elation when she heard his voice coming over the comm announcing their return. She remembered the battle of Hoth, of him taking off to help clear the way for their transports before meeting up with the fleet. She frowned. No, that wasn’t quite right. According to High Command, Luke wasn’t seen for almost a month after that, presumed dead by the Alliance. He only appeared again to try and rescue them from Vader on Bespin. Sitting upright, Leia’s brow drew together. Where the hell did he go for that time? Leia activated the nav computer on the ship, pulling up the last entries. The destination before Bespin read… Dagobah. Where in the Sith Hells was Dagobah? And more importantly, why had Luke gone there instead of meeting at the rendezvous point? Leia pulled herself out of the cockpit, her mind working. She would research whatever she could find on this Dagobah place, and when Han woke up, they would be taking a trip.