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The Chronicles of the Force

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Once, long ago, ancient beings known as the Jedi had claimed that once when one walks the dark path, forever will they be consumed by it.

To tap into the power of the dark side is to indulge in raw emotions such as aggression, fear, anger, hatred, and passion. The Sith were well-known practitioners of the dark side and were the mortal enemies of the Jedi, who served the will of the Force and thus the light side. The power of the dark side was not greater than that of the light side, although it was comparatively quicker and easier to reach for individuals who yielded to their emotions, such as it did with the man once known as Anakin Skywalker, who was emotionally attached to his mother and his wife and fell to the temptation of achieving immortality through the dark side in his inability to let go despite the inevitable change of death due to not receiving proper guidance and help. The power of the dark side is channel by Force-sensitives who twisted their gifted ability to use the Force to acquire power for themselves, in return for allowing the dark side to override their character and consume their soul.

The Jedi wrongfully believed that once one touched emotions they are doomed to fall. It was a lesson that were taught to many students for generations to come, yet there were many Jedi and Sith who had tracked balance on both sides and managed to succeed just as there were many who had fallen.

Unfortunately, the figure known as Darth Vader was indeed a tragedy of wrongful mistreatment and judgment, having allowed the Sith to manipulate him and is a slave, lost his father figure, lost the closest person who was a brother to him, losing his wife and children.

At the beginning of the Empire, some Force Users attempted to take Darth Vader's place as the emperor's right-hand man, and he'd killed them all.

This is another reason everyone is terrified of him. Most officers in the Galactic Empire hates him, but they are too afraid of him to do anything about it. And they had reason to be. He frequently went to the front of battle lines and was the target of multiple assassination attempts. All the assassins who went after him? Dead. Soldiers who stood their ground against him on the front lines? They died too.

He would kill anybody who got in his way or got far enough on his bad side, and there was nothing any of the officers in the empire could do about it. The only man he feared was his master Darth Sidious. Not coincidentally, Darth Sidious was more feared than even this man, just being told the Emperor wanted to meet you often meant you were a dead man.

Secretly, he had held anger and sadness for what he'd done for the last many years, but he was still mourning and growing in the power of the dark side, he hadn't reflected on it.

Were they still alive, the Jedi Council would have never understood what had happened to the Galaxy and what had happened to one of their most skilled Padawan and the most powerful Knight in the Order that even combat Masters and was victorious in battle, and the monster that he had become.

He helped the collapse of the Galactic Republic, the institution he was sworn to serve and uphold and had fought for as part of the Grand Army of the Republic. He had assisted Palpatine in purging the Jedi Order, which had secured his freedom from slavery and obscurity, and had trained him into a weapon that was known across the Galaxy as a beacon of light and freedom.

He had the belief that he had murdered his wife and children, a belief reinforced by Palpatine for years. He had attempted to kill his own Master, and a man he once said was formally like a father to him, resulting in his arms and legs being cut off at the end of the battle. He was left to ultimately 'more machine than man', a pale shadow of his former self, requiring his suit in order to survive. He had only the Emperor left as his last remaining link to the man that he was, and therefore served the Emperor even though he hated him for making him what he is.

When he was a pitiful Jedi, he'd feared losing the people closest to him, whether it was by distance or death. He did end up losing pretty much everyone close to him, namely the man who found him, his mother, his Padawan, then lastly his wife. The Jedi are traitors, they could have been more supportive and helped him when he was in distress instead of telling him to detach himself from the living and everyone else around him, but they would never do that under any condition because of their precious Code which had ultimately cost the Galaxy the guardians of peacekeepers.

Darth Vader hates many beings. He hates his mother for having him leave her behind so he could have gone with his life while unknowingly leaving her for dead. He hates Qui-Gon Jinn for abandoning him and just having to die. He hates Ahsoka Tano for his painful reminder of the good Skywalker had done, and her professed love and devotion to him, refusing to leave him a second time effectively just making it harder for Vader to use the dark side against her. He hates Padmé Amidala for loving him so much and dying for it as a consequence. He hates Obi-Wan Kenobi for stealing his dear away from him, along with his children for over 2 decades. He hates Owen and Beru Lars for taking one of his children and raising him on a miserable planet when he could have lived a better life with him on Coruscant.

Out of all those people, however, there were two more people who he had hated with every fiber of his being.

Vader utterly despises the Emperor and did for a very long time. After Padmé died and the Emperor blamed the Empire for her death, this ignited a spark of hatred for his master that would stay with him forever, Vader blamed the Empire for Padmé's death and his injuries too. The Emperor had dug Anakin a pit and he'd just fallen into it. The reason Vader didn't act on his hatred was that it would not benefit him in any way, he was a killing machine, who was trained to slaughter the Jedi, and all foes of the Empire. There simply was no reason for Vader to kill Darth Sidious, because he was all that Vader had left, and this hatred for Sidious manifested itself into something useful, a weapon.

Yet, despite how much he hates the Emperor, he hated himself even worse; he hates himself for his failures. Because Vader destroyed everything that mattered to him. He betrayed the Jedi Order to save his wife, only to end up killing her and their child in a fit of rage. He dreamed of liberating all the slaves, only to end up enslaving the galaxy. He thought himself to be the Chosen One, only to end up a tool of the Sith. In the end, the power that his hatred granted him was the sole consolation for everything he had done and lost. And power is a poor substitute for everything he had robbed from himself.

Vader remembers the vision that had come to him when he'd left Coruscant for Endor, the vision of his meeting with Luke at his fortress on Vjun. In that vision, Luke had joined him, and the Emperor had arrived with fire and death. Vader realized it didn't matter whether the vision had been a nightmare, premonition, psychic warning, or delusion because it was a revelation of an event that could never transpire.

' There is nowhere Luke and I could go. Nowhere we could hide.'

Powerless to disobey his Master, Vader proceeds to his shuttle.

The largest Imperial structure on the Sanctuary Moon is the energy shield generator, a four-sided pyramidal tower that supported a wide focus dish that projected a deflector shield around the orbital Death Star. Near this generator stood an elevated landing platform, which was illuminated by brilliant floodlights. A large area of natural forest had been cleared to accommodate both the generator and the platform, something that had not gone over well with the indigenous Ewok population.

A four-legged All Terrain Armored Transport walks along the edge of the forest and lurches toward the landing platform as Vader's shuttle touch down. After Vader disembarks, he went to a gantry to greet the AT-AT. The AT-AT's hatch slid up to reveal an Imperial Commander, three stormtroopers, and Luke Skywalker, whose wrists are secure by binders.

Luke surrendered to the soldiers. He is dressed in a form-fitting black uniform, and Vader wonders if this might in any way suggest that Luke already surrendered to the dark side as well.

'No,' he thought. 'Not yet.'

The soldiers present Luke's lightsaber to Vader, who glances at Luke's gloved right hand. A new light-

'saber, he thought, and a new hand. 'Just as in my vision of Bast Castle.'

Victory, too he senses. Mastery. But lace with something else…what was it? He can't see it, quite. Always in motion, the future; difficult to see. Its apparitions tantalize him, swirling specters, always changing. Smoky as his future, thunderous with conquest and destruction.

Very close, now. Almost here.

He purrs in the pit of his throat, like a wild cat smelling game on the air.

Almost here.

The Imperial walker docks at the opposite end of the deck, and opened its doors. A phalanx of stormtroopers marches out in tight circular formation. They lock-steps toward Vader.

He turns around to face the oncoming troopers, his breathing even, his black robes hanging still in the windless morning. The stormtroopers stop when they reach him, and at a word from their captain, parted to reveal a bound prisoner in their midst. It is Luke Skywalker.

The young Jedi gazes at Vader with complete calm, with many layers of vision.

The stormtrooper captain spoke to Lord Vader. "This is the Rebel that surrendered to us. Although he denies it, I believe there may be more of them, and I request permission to conduct a wider search of the area." He extended his hand to the Dark Lord; in it, he held Luke's lightsaber. "He was armed only with this."

Vader looks at the lightsaber a moment, then slowly takes it from the captain's hand. "Good commander, Leave us. Conduct your search, and bring his companions to me."

The officer and his troops withdrew back to the walker.

Luke and Vader are left standing along facing each other, in the emerald tranquillity of the ageless forest. The mist is beginning to burn off. Long day ahead.

"The Emperor has been expecting you."

"I know…Father." It is momentous act for Luke—to address his father, as his father. But he'd done it, now, and kept himself under control, and the moment was past. It was done. He feels stronger for it. He felt potent.

"So, you have finally accepted the truth," Vader gloats.

"I have accepted the truth that you were once Anakin Skywalker, my father."

"That name no longer has meaning for me." It was a name long ago. A different life, a different universe. Could he truly once have been that man?

"It is the name of your true self," Luke's gaze bore steadily down on the cloak figure. "You have only forgotten. I know there is good in you. The Emperor hasn't driven it fully away." He molds with his voice, tried to form the potential reality with the strength of his belief. "That's why you could not destroy me. That's why you won't take me to your Emperor now."

Vader seems almost to smile through his mask at his son's use of Jedi voice manipulation. He looks down at the lightsaber the captain had given him—Luke's lightsaber. So the boy is truly a Jedi now. A man grown. He holds the lightsaber up. "You have constructed another."

"This one is mine," Luke says quietly. "I no longer use yours."

Vader ignites the blade, examines its humming brilliant light, like an admiring craftsman. "Your skills are complete. Indeed, you are as powerful as the Emperor has foreseen."

They stand there for a moment, the lightsaber between them. Sparks doves in and out of the cutting edge: photons pushes to the brink by the energy pulsing between these two warriors.

"Come with me, Father."

Luke tries to convince Vader that there was still good in him. He pleads with his father to come with him, away from the forest moon and the Emperor.

"Obi-Wan once thought as you do. You don't know the power of the dark side!" Vader's voice rises, though for some reason he had felt an ache in his heart at the mentioning of his old Master as he remembers what occurred on that horrible planet. "I must obey my Master."

"I will not turn," Luke vows, "and you'll be forced to kill me."

'I've done worse things,' Vader thought. He said, "If that is your destiny-"

"Search your feelings, Father, you can't do this. I feel the conflict within you. Let go of your hate." Luke interrupts in a vain pleading tone that Vader should have found pathetic but it was obvious he was swallowing onto his emotions tightly as he had stared at his father, trying to see if there is still the man who he had found out once been called The Hero With No Fear.

'If only I could,' Vader thought. 'If only I could.' He said, "It is too late for me, Son." Summoning two stormtroopers to lead Luke to the waiting shuttle, he added, "The Emperor will show you the true nature of the Force. He is your Master now."

Wearing an expression of sad resolve, Luke said, "Then my father is truly dead."

As Luke is escorted to the shuttle, Vader thought, 'I must obey my Master. Even if it means the death of my son...'

' And even if it means the death of me.'

Vader delivers Luke to the tower atop the Death Star, where the Emperor - without rising from his throne - used the Force to release Luke from his binders. After Palpatine orders his red-armored Royal Guards to leave the throne room, Vader presented Luke's new lightsaber for inspection. The Emperor is confident that Luke would join him as his father had.

Unimpress by the Emperor, Luke refuses to be converted to the dark side. However, his confidence is badly shaken when the Emperor confesses that it was he who had allowed the Rebel Alliance to learn the location of the Death Star and its shield generator and that the Empire is completely prepared to deal with the imminent attack from the Rebel fleet.

As Luke looks through the throne room's tall windows to see the arrival of the Rebel ships, Vader senses his son's increasing anxiety. The space battle progresses, and it is obvious that the Rebel ships are greatly outnumbered by Imperial fighters. While the Emperor remains seated upon his throne, he taunts Luke, urging him to take back his lightsaber and give in to his anger. Again, Luke refuses.

But then the Emperor reveals that the Death Star's superlaser is operational, and issues a command for the gunners to fire at will. An intense beam shot out from the Death Star toward a large Rebel cruiser, which exploded in a blinding flash.

Luke's face is contorted, reflecting his spirit. Vader watches him carefully, as did the Emperor. The lightsaber begins to shake in its resting place. The young Jedi's hand was trembling, his lips pulled back in a grimace, his teeth grinding.

The Emperor smiles. "Good. I can feel your anger. I am defenseless—take your weapon. Strike me down with all of your hatred, and your journey toward the dark side will be complete." He laughs, and laughs.

Luke is able to resist no longer. The lightsaber rattled violently on the throne a moment, then flew into his hand, impelled by the Force. He ignited it a moment later and swung it with his full weight downward toward the Emperor's skull.

In that instant, Vader's blade flashes into view, parrying Luke's attack an inch above the Emperor's head. Sparks flies like forging steel, bathing Palpatine's grinning face in a hellish glare.

Luke jumps back, and turns, lightsaber upraise, to face his father. Vader extends his own blade, poise to do battle.

The Emperor sighs with pleasure and sat on his throne, facing the combatants—the sole audience to this dire, aggrieved contest as when he had ordered Anakin Skywalker to kill Count Dooku.

'I was the victor then,' Vader thought as he uses his lightsaber to drive Luke away from the Emperor. 'And the Force is with me now!'

Slowly, Luke and Vader circle. Lightsaber high above his head, Luke readies his attack from classic first-position; the Dark Lord holds a lateral stance, in classic answer. Without announcement, Luke brought his blade straight down—then, when Vader moves to parry, Luke feints and cut low. Vader counterparries, let the impact direct his sword toward Luke's throat…but Luke meets the riposte and steps back. The first blows, trade without injury. Again, they circle.

Vader is impressed with Luke's speed. Please, even. It is a pity, almost, he can't let the boy kill the Emperor yet. Luke isn't ready for that, emotionally. There is still a chance Luke will return to his friends if he destroyed the Emperor now. He needs more extensive tutelage, first—training by both Vader and Palpatine—before he'd be ready to assume his place at Vader's right hand, ruling the galaxy.

So Vader has to shepherds the boy through periods like this, stop him from doing damage in the wrong places—or in the right places prematurely.

Before Vader can gather his thoughts much further, though, Luke attacks again—much more aggressively. He advances in a flurry of lunges, each met with a loud crack of Vader's phosphorescent saber. The Dark Lord retreats a step at every slash, swiveling once to bring his cutting beam up viciously—but Luke batted it away, pushing Vader back yet again. The Lord of the Sith momentarily lost his footing on the stairs and tumbled to his knees.

Luke stands above him, at the top of the staircase, heady with his own power. It is in his hands, now, he knows it is: he can take Vader. Take his blade, take his life. Take his place at the Emperor's side. Yes, even that. Luke didn't bury the thought, this time; he glories in it. He engorges himself with its juices, felt its power tingle his cheeks. It makes him feverish, this thought, with lust so overpowering as to totally obliterate all other considerations.

He has the power; the choice is his.

And then another thought emerges, slowly compulsive as an ardent lover: he can destroy the Emperor, too. Destroy them both, and rule the galaxy. Avenge and conquer.

It is a profound moment for Luke. Dizzying. Yet he did not swoon. Nor did he recoil.

He takes one step forward.

For the first time, the thought enters Vader's consciousness that his son might best him. He is astounded by the strength Luke have acquired since their last duel, in the Cloud City—not to mention the boy's timing, which is honed to a thought's breadth. This is an unexpected circumstance. Unexpected and unwelcome. Vader feels humiliation crawling in on the tail of his first reaction, which is surprise, and his second, which is fear. And then the edge of the humiliation curls up, to reveal bald anger. And now he wants revenge.

These things are mirrored, each facet, by the young Jedi who now towers above him. The Emperor, watching joyously, saw this, and goad Luke on to revel in his Darkness. "Use your aggressive feelings, boy! Yes! Let the hate flow through you! Become one with it, let it nourish you!"

Luke falters a moment—then realized what is happening. He is suddenly confused again. What did he want? What should he do? His brief exultation, his microsecond of dark clarity—gone, now, in a wash of indecision, veiled enigma. Cold awakening from a passionate flirtation.

He takes a step back, lowers his sword, relaxes, and tries to drive the hatred from his being.

In that instant, Vader attacks. He lunges half up the stairs, forcing Luke to reverse defensively. He bound the boy's blade with his own, but Luke disengages and leaped to the safety of an overhead gantry. Vader jumps over the railing to the floor beneath the platform on which Luke stood.

"I will not fight you, Father," Luke states.

"You are unwise to lower your defenses," Vader warns. His anger is layered, now—he did not want to win if the boy was not battling to the fullest. But if winning meant he had to kill the boy who wouldn't fight…then he could do that, too. Only he wanted Luke to be aware of those consequences. He wanted Luke to know this was no longer just a game. This is darkness.

'I can't let Luke defeat me,' Vader thought. 'I won't let the Emperor have him!'

Luke hears something else, though. "Your thoughts betray you, Father. I feel the good in you…the conflict. You could not bring yourself to kill me before—and you won't destroy me now." Twice before, in fact—to Luke's recollection—Vader could have killed him, but didn't. In the dogfight over the first Death Star, and later in the lightsaber duel on Bespin. He thought of Leia, briefly now, too—of how Vader had had her in his clutches once, had even tortured her…but didn't kill her. He winces to think of her agony, but quickly pushed that from his mind. The point is clear to him, now, though so often so murky: there is still good in his father.

This accusation really makes Vader angry. He can tolerate much from the insolent child, but this is insufferable. He must teach this boy a lesson he would never forget, or die learning. "Once again, you underestimate the power of the dark side… if you will not fight you will meet your destiny."

Vader throws his scintillating blade—it slices through the supports holding up the gantry on which Luke is perch, then swept around and flew back into Vader's hand. Luke tumbles to the ground, then rolls down another level, under the tilting platform. In the shadow of the darkened overhang, he is out of sight. Vader paces the area like a cat, seeking the boy; but he won't enter the shadows of the overhang.

"You cannot hide forever, Luke."

"You'll have to come in and get me," replies the disembody voice.

"I will not give you the advantage that easily." Vader feels his intentions increasingly ambiguous in this conflict; the purity of his evil was being compromised. The boy was clever indeed—Vader knew he must move with extreme caution now.

"I wish no advantage, father. I will not fight you. Here…take my weapon." Luke knows full well this might be his end, but so be it. He would not use darkness to fight darkness. Perhaps it would be left to another, after all, Leia to be precise, to carry on the struggle, without him. Perhaps they would know a way he didn't know; perhaps she could find a path. For now, though, he could see only two paths, and one is into darkness; and one is not.

Luke puts his lightsaber on the ground, and rolls it along the floor toward Vader. It stops halfway between them, in the middle of the low overhead area. The Dark Lord reaches out his hand—Luke's lightsaber jumps into it. He hooks it to his belt and, with grave uncertainty, enters the shadowy overhang.

He is picking up additional feelings from Luke, now, new crosscurrents of doubt. Remorse, regret, abandonment. Shades of pain. But somehow now directly related to Vader. To others, to…Endor. Ah, that was it—the Sanctuary Moon where his friends would soon die. Luke would learn soon enough: friendship was different on the dark side. A different thing altogether.

"Give yourself to the dark side, Luke," he entreats. "It is the only way you can save your friends. Yes, your thoughts betray you, son. Your feelings for them are strong, especially for—"

Vader stops. He senses something.

Luke withdraws further into shadow. He tried to hide, but there is no way to hide what was in his mind—she is in pain. Her agony cries to him now, and his spirit cries with her. He tries to shut it out, to shut it up, but the cry was loud, and he couldn't stifle it, couldn't leave it alone, had to cradle it openly, to give it solace.

Vader's consciousness invaded that private place.

"No!" screams Luke.

Vader is incredulous. "Sister? Sister!" he bellows. "Your feelings have now betrayed her, too…Twins!" he roars triumphantly. "Obi-Wan was wise to hide her, but now his failure is complete." His smile is clear to Luke, through the mask, through the shadows, through all the realms of darkness. "If you will not turn to the dark side, perhaps she will."

This, then, is Luke's breaking point. For his sister is everyone's last unflagging hope. If Vader turns his twisted, misguided cravings on her…

"Never!" he screams. His lightsaber flows off Vader's belt into his own hand, igniting as it came to him.

He rushes to his father with a frenzy he never is aware he has. Nor have Vader, at least not by his son. The gladiators battles fiercely, sparks flying from the clash of their radiant weapons, but it is soon evident that the advantage was all Luke's. And he is pressing it. They lock swords, body to body. When Luke pushes Vader back to break the clinch, the Dark Lord hit his head on an overhanging beam in the crampy space. He stumbles backward even farther, out of the low-hanging area. Luke pursues him relentlessly.

Blow upon blow, Luke forces Vader to retreat—back, onto the bridge that crosses the vast, seemingly bottomless shaft to the power core. Each stroke of Luke's saber pummels Vader, like accusations, like screams, like shards of hate.

And as much as Vader wish he could just call upon the young man's fears and error in giving into emotions, he is incapable of doing so. How? He'd killed many Jedi after the rise of the Empire yet why can't he just cut down this one too?

The Dark Lord is driven to his knees. He raises his crimson lightsaber to block yet another onslaught—and Luke slashed Vader's right hand off at the wrist.

The hand, along with bits of metal, wires, and electronic devices, clatters uselessly away while Vader's lightsaber tumbles over the edge of the span, into the endless shaft below, without a trace.

Luke stares at his father's twitching, severed, mechanical hand—and then at his own black-gloved artificial part—and realizes suddenly just how much he'd become like his father. Like the man he hated.

Trembling, he stands above Vader, the point of his glowing saber at the Dark Lord's throat. He wants to destroy this thing of Darkness, this thing that was once his father, this thing that was…him.

'Luke, no.'

The Emperor's evil cackle echoes behind him as Luke drown into darkness, Vader hopes that message reached him through the force as his son aimed his emerald blade towards his chest. He heard Sidious's dark laugh and saw him walking down towards him and his son, "Good!" Sidious cackles. "Your hate has made you powerful! Now fulfill your destiny, take your father's place at my side!" Vader reads Luke's emotions like they are a book. He can see the boy was trying to force the anger and furious emotions out, clearly trying to not end the life of his father.

Suddenly, the Emperor begins descending the stairs to the two Skywalkers - one defeated, and the other standing with his lightsaber ignited, highly conflicted. For some time, Vader had wondered what would have happened had he not turned and betrayed Master Windu all those years ago, and allowed Windu to kill him, or finished him off himself. He may have been already a Jedi Master and haven't become such a monster and one of the most feared men in the galaxy.

Vader once been a man too. It was those times when have been given the option of making a choice and not the Emperor attack dog. That same man who many depended on - a time when he was happier, hadn't been one of oppression and served for a greater good instead of serving to kill for a tyrannical monster. Now, he is the second most feared man in the galaxy. But no one knows who is truly behind that mask.

Sidious has taken everything that defined him yet the boy seems to be so determined in saving Anakin Skywalker. Vader felt emotions burning in him that he hadn't felt for a long time. Luke stares at his robotic arm then stared at Vader's lost limb which had wires and saw they were linked.

'So this is how it ends,' Vader thinks.

But then Luke deactivates his lightsaber and said, "Never!" Flinging the weapon aside, he declares, "I'll never turn to the dark side. You've failed, Your Highness. I am a Jedi, like my father before me."

The Emperor scowls. With immeasurable displeasure, he declares, "So be it... Jedi. If you will not be turned, you will be destroyed."

Still lying against the bridge railing beside the elevator shaft, Vader watches the Emperor extend his gnarl fingers and unleash blinding bolts of blue lightning from his fingertips. The lightning strikes Luke, who tries to deflect the crackling bands of energy but is so overwhelmed that his body crumples to the floor.

Luke is nearly unconscious beneath the continuing assault of the Emperor's lightning. Tormented beyond reason, betaken of a weakness that drained his very essence, he hoped for nothing more than to submit to the nothingness toward which he was drifting.

The Emperor smiles down at the enfeebled young Jedi, as Vader struggles to his feet beside his master.

"Young fool!" Palpatine rasps at Luke. "Only now at the end, do you understand. Your puerile skills are no match for the power of the dark side." More lightning and Luke collapses from the wailing he is laying on. "You have paid a price for your lack of vision. Now, young Skywalker, you will pay the price in full. You will die!"

He laughs maniacally; and although it would not have seemed possible to Luke, the outpouring of bolts from the Emperor's fingers actually increased in intensity. The sound screams through the room, the murderous brightness of the flashes is overwhelming.

Luke's body slows, wilt, finally crumples under the hideous barrage. He stops moving altogether. At last, he appears totally lifeless. The Emperor hisses maliciously.

At that instant, Vader springs up and grabs the Emperor from behind, pinning Palpatine's upper arms to his torso. Weaker than he have ever been, Vader have lain still these last few minutes, focusing his every fiber of being on this one, concentrated act—the only action possible; his last, if he fail. Ignoring the pain, ignoring his shame and his weaknesses, ignoring the bone-crushing noise in his head, he focuses solely and sightlessly on his will—he will defeat the evil embody in the Emperor.

Palpatine struggles in the grip of Vader's unfeeling embrace, his hands still shooting bolts of malign energy out in all directions. In his wild flailing, the lightning ripped across the room, tearing into Vader. The Dark Lord fell again, electric currents crackling down his helmet, over his cape, into his heart.

Vader stumbles with his load to the middle of the bridge over the black chasm leading to the power core. He holds the wailing despot high over his head, and with a final spasm of strength, hurls him into the abyss.

Palpatine's body, still spewing bolts of light, spins out of control, into the void, bouncing back and forth off the sides of the shaft as it fell. It disappears at last; but then, a few seconds later, a distant explosion can be heard, far down at the core. A rush of air billows out the shaft, into the throne room.

The wind whips at Lord Vader's cape, as he staggers and collapses toward the hole, trying to follow his master to the end. Luke crawls to his father's side, though, and pulls the Dark Lord away from the edge of the chasm, to safety.

Both of them lay on the floor, entwined in each other, too weak to move, too moved to speak.

For the first time, the Death Star rocks. The collision with the exploding Destroyer was only the beginning, leading to various systems breakdowns, which led to reactor meltdowns, which led to personnel panic, abandonment of posts, further malfunctions, and general chaos.

Smoke is everywhere, substantial rumblings come from all directions at once, people are running and shouting. Electrical fires, steam explosions, cabin depressurizations, disruption of chain-of-command. Add to this, the continue bombardments by Rebel cruisers—smelling fear in the enemy—merely heightens the sense of hysteria that is already pervasive.

For the Emperor is dead. The central, powerful evil that had been the cohesive force to the Empire was gone; and when the dark side is this diffused, this nondirected—this is simply where it led.



Damp fear.

In the midst of this uproar, Luke has manage to make it, somehow, to the main docking bay—where he is trying to carry the hulking deadweight of his father's weakening body toward an Imperial shuttle. Halfway there, his strength finally give out, though; and he collapses under the strain.

Slowly he rises again. Like an automaton, he hoists his father's body over his shoulder and stumbles toward one of the last remaining shuttles.

Luke rests his father on the ground, trying to collect strength one last time, as explosions grew louder all around them. Sparks hisses in the rafters; one of the walls buckled, and smoke pours through a gaping fissure. The floor trembles.

Vader motions Luke closer to him. "Luke, help me take this mask off."

Luke shakes his head. "You'll die."

The Dark Lord's voice is weary. "Nothing can stop that now. Just once let me face you without it. Let me look on you with my own eyes."

Luke is afraid. Afraid to see his father as he really is. Afraid to see what person could have become so dark—the same person who'd fathered Luke, and his sister. Afraid to know the Anakin Skywalker who lived inside Darth Vader.

Vader, too, is afraid—to let his son see him, to remove this armored mask that had been between them so long. The black, armored mask that had been his only means of existing for over twenty years. It had been his voice, and his breath, and his invisibility—his shield against all human contact. But now he would remove it; for he would see his son before he died.

Together, they lift the heavy helmet from Vader's head—inside the mask portion, a complicated breathing apparatus had to be disentangled, a speaking modulator and view-screen detach from the power unit in the back. But when the mask is finally off and set aside, Luke gazes on his father's face.

It is the sad, benign face of someone who is suppose to be middle-aged yet disfigure and old. Bald, beardless, with a mighty scar running from the top of his head to the back of the scalp, he has unfocused, deep-set, dark blue eyes, and his skin is pasty white, for it has not seen the sun in two decades. The old man smiles weakly; tears glaze his eyes, now.

It is a face full of meanings, that Luke will forever recall. Regret, he saw most plainly. And shame. Memories can be seen flashing across it… memories of rich times. And horrors. And love, too.

It is a face that hadn't touch the world in a lifetime. In Luke's lifetime. He sees the wizened nostrils twitch, as they tested a first, tentative smell. He sees the head tilt imperceptibly to listen—for the first time without electronic auditory amplification. Luke feels a pang of remorse that the only sounds now to be heard were those of explosions, the only smells, the pungent sting of electrical fires. Still, it is a touch. Palpable, unfiltered.

He sees the old eyes focus on him. Tears burns Luke's cheeks, fall on his father's lips. His father smiles at the taste.

It is a face that had not seen itself in twenty years.

Vader sees his son crying, and knows it must have been at the horror of the face the boy behold.

It intensifies, momentarily, Vader's own sense of anguish—to his crimes, now, he adds guilt at the imagined repugnance of his appearance. But then this brings him to the mind of the way he used to look—striking, and grand, with a wry tilt to his brow that hinted of invincibility and took in all of life with a wink. Yes, that was how he'd looked once.

And this memory brought a wave of other memories with it. Memories of brotherhood, and home. His dear wife. The freedom of deep space. Obi-Wan. Obi-Wan, his friend…and how that friendship had turned. Turned, he knows not how—but got injected, nonetheless, with some uncaring virulence that festered, until…hold. These are memories he wants none of, not now. Memories of molten lava, crawling up his back…no.

This boy pulled him from that pit—here, now, with this act. This boy is good.

The boy is good, and the boy come from him—so there must have been good in him, too. He smiles up again at his son, and for the first time, loved him. And for the first time in many long years, loves himself again, as well.

Suddenly he smells something—flared his nostrils, sniffed once more. Wildflowers, that is what it is. Just blooming; it must be spring.

And there is thunder—he cocks his head, strains his ears. Yes, spring thunder, for a spring rain. To make the flowers bloom.

Yes, there…he feels a raindrop on his lips. He licks the delicate droplet…but wait, it isn't sweetwater, it was salty, it was…a teardrop.

He focuses on Luke once again, and sees his son is crying. Yes that is it, he is tasting his boy's grief—because he looks so horrible; because he is so horrible.

But he wants to make it all right for Luke, he wants Luke to know he wasn't really ugly like this, not deep inside, not all together. With a little self-deprecatory smile, he shakes his head at Luke, explaining away the unsightly beast his son seen. "Luminous beings are we, Luke—not this crude matter."

Luke shakes his head, too—to tell his father it was all right, to dismiss the old man's shame, to tell him nothing mattered now. And everything—but he couldn't talk.

Vader speaks again, even weaker—almost inaudible. "Go, my son. Leave me."

At that, Luke finds his voice. "No. You're coming with me. I'll not leave you here. I've got to save you."

"You already have, Luke," he whispers. He wishes, briefly, he is able to meet Yoda, to thank the old Jedi for the training he'd given Luke…but perhaps he'd be with Yoda soon, now, in the ethereal oneness of the Force. And with Obi-Wan.

"Father, I won't leave you," Luke protests. Explosions jars the docking bay in earnest, crumbling one entire wall, splitting the ceiling. A jet of blue flame shot from a gas nozzle nearby. Just beneath it the floor begins to melt.

Vader pulls Luke very close and speaks into his ear. "Luke, you were right…and you were right about me…Tell your sister…you were right."

With that, he closes his eyes, and Darth Vader—Anakin Skywalker—dies.

A tremendous explosion fills the back of the bay with fire, knocking Luke flat to the ground. Slowly, he rises again; and like an automaton, stumbles toward one of the last remaining shuttles.

Closing his eyes as he slumps back against the shuttle ramp, Anakin Skywalker have every reason to believe that he is finally about to embrace perpetual darkness, about to embrace the hell that he deserves to be in.

Not for the first time, he is wrong.

Initially, there is darkness for Anakin Skywalker, a boundless shadowy realm, like a universe without stars. But then, from somewhere at the edge of his awareness, he perceives a distant, shimmering light, then heard a voice say, "Anakin."

The voice is familiar.

Although Anakin no longer had a body or a mouth with which to speak, he somehow answers, "Obi-Wan? Master, I'm so sorry. So very, very-"

"Anakin, listen carefully," Obi-Wan interrupts, and Anakin is aware that the distant light is either growing brighter or closer or perhaps both. "You are in the netherworld of the Force, but if you ever wish to revisit corporeal space, then I still have one thing left to teach you. A way to become one with the Force. If you choose this path to immortality, then you must listen now, before your consciousness fades."

Knowing he is beyond redemption, Anakin says, "But, Master... why me?"

"Because you ended the horror, Anakin," Obi-Wan replies. "Because you fulfilled the prophecy."

The light was very bright now.

Anakin's first thought is that he might be able to see his children again. He says, "Thank you, Master."

Anakin's essence passes in the Force. With the help of his old master and Yoda, he managed to learn eternal life to live in the afterlife. He is grateful that the two allowed him to see his son and the Rebellion's celebration. For far too long, the entire galaxy, as well as Anakin, have been entrapped to Sidious, but now they are all free. And it was all because of Luke Skywalker.

Anakin watches his son's future and saw what he has done and he is so proud of him. He has proven to lead the Jedi to their true path for generations to come. Eventually, his daughter and Han Solo have gotten married and had a few children together, and lived the rest of their lives together. Luke also got married to a beautiful girl who was once the Emperor's firsthand and yet he has managed to free her from the dark side and like his daughter and smuggler live the life they deserve together.

Well, this isn't their full lives as they are probably in their late 30s by now, but so far, as long as Anakin is able to see his children's futures, they are living decent lives. Hopefully, it would remain that way. A thought runs through him; a longing at living that life with them but he knows that possibility have long since been gone the moment he joined Sidious.

Anakin thinks about how many people he'd reunited with. The Jedi Council, many who had admitted the Order was flawed, and spotted the arrogance of their ways. Even so, many of the Jedi who did became one with the Force feels like Anakin is unredeemable; murdered countless Jedi, both during and after the Great Jedi Purge, supported a ruthless dictator in establishing a totalitarian regime, one that replaced the Galactic Republic which was just as corrupt, murdered an unarmed prisoner, betrayed his sworn allegiance to the Jedi Order and to the Republic, killed military officers that displeased him rather than demoting or imprisoning them, tortured his own daughter for information concerning the Rebel Alliance, stood by and watched without comment or protest as the Death Star destroyed an entire planet, and thus became an accessory to murder, served as the personal executioner and enforcer of the tyrannical Emperor, murdered the legitimate leadership of an opposing government in slaughtering the leaders of the Confederacy of Independent Systems, even attempted to kill his own wife, pregnant at the time with unborn twins, as well as his former Master, on Mustafar.

It tends to make Anakin feel excluded and leaves him to look at the portal and to stare out at his grandchildren who hopefully won't make the same mistake as he did; the children of Han Solo who he would never be able to meet; twins Jaina and Jacen, and a younger son Anakin. Truthfully, Anakin was and still is surprised as much as he is touched by the fact that Leia, the girl he tortured was willing to name her own child after him.

He satched as Luke picked up his child, Ben Obi-Wan Skywalker, and tucked him in for the night, making happiness to form on his lips as well as sadness as he realizes that could have been him with Padmé, Luke, and Leia. Ahsoka is there too and she was chuckling at Luke and Mara being the victim of Ben grabbing a milk bottle and squeezing it so tightly his father's face was splashed and he grimly wipes himself him off. At least, he hasn't killed her on Malachor.

Anakin closes his eyes as he thinks back to Malachor and had to resist the urge to clench and unclench his fists. At last, his former student is receiving a happy ending.

He knows that he would never meet his grandchildren, his daughter would always loathe him eternally, his son is never going to meet him and know the man who he was and likely remember him in his last moments.

Anakin did have a rough childhood. He was a slave with no hope of the life he wanted: The life of a Jedi. His first father figure Qui-Gon Jinn was killed within just a few days of meeting him. He had to abandon his mother for Jedi training and was taught to just leave his selfishness behind, even though it was the only thing that drove him to be Jedi. His mentor Obi-Wan, though a brother to him in every way, could not still understand him for what he was.

Then he met Padmé, someone who was his connection to a world outside of the Jedi world he was trapped in. She was the only person who led him to believe there was something worth living for. But, when he tried to see his mother, with the potential of rejoining his family, she dies in his arms. And worse, he had foreseen it in his dreams but was unable to do anything about it. The pain overcomes him and he slowly gives in to the dark side.

By giving into Palpatine's manipulations, he had believed his friends and family turned against him, but Luke cleared that fog when he had helped him overcome Sidious and to destroy the Empire.

Anakin knew there was no way to reverse his atrocities and he shall hold that regret as a consequence for eternity, even after Luke and Leia become one with the Force.

As he looks up, Anakin is surprise when a white light blinds his vision.